A New Home for BoiseCoffee

BoiseCoffee has moved! Our new home is http://BoiseCoffee.org. Hosting this blog away from the WordPress.com environment will allow me more flexibility and allow me to provide even better material for you. Thank you for your continued support, and see you over there!

The Coffee Guy

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The Coffee Experience: Passion and Stumptown

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Passion is one of those free-radicals in life that is hard to define, and even more difficult to harness. It is often the reason, the why, behind what makes something that is great, great. While it might be hard to explain, we know it when we see it.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters is one of the biggest names in the third wave of coffee, and they are unquestionably passionate about what they do. But passion isn’t derived from a business as a whole, it comes from each individual person.

Stumptown released a video where they highlight just that: the people that make them who they are. Each person tells their story of why they love what they do, and why they think it’s important to the coffee process as a whole. Katie Berstein, a barista at Stumptown, gives a particularly powerful quote that she got from her dad. “How you do anything is how you do everything.” Check out the full video below.

STUMPTOWN from Stumptown Coffee Roasters on Vimeo.

And that’s it, isn’t it? Coffee is worth being passionate about because in all the details about roasting, brewing, grinding, tamping, and pouring it becomes clear that this process is a reflection of a much larger lesson. Working with others to create something beautiful  is a part of the human experience that makes living truly worth it. It connects us all.

The next time you purchase some coffee and brew that first drip or take that first sip, take a moment to appreciate the many individuals that went into putting that cup together. That coffee has been hard-earned by the passion of many sets of hands.

The Coffee Guy

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Something To Brew To: My Coffee Playlist

A little over a year ago I wrote about how music is integral to what I dubbed “the coffee experience.” What I’ve found since then has only reinforced this belief. I’ve created a Spotify playlist that I have aptly named “Coffee.” It’s great to brew to, and I’ve found that it’s a great playlist to simply chill out with. There’s all kinds of music: everything from pop to more obscure folk. I’ve embedded it below, or you can go straight to it on Spotify here. Listen in and share with friends!

The Coffee Guy

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Chilmark Coffee Company is Passionate About All the Right Things

bagfadedSince starting this blog, I’ve run across many different types of coffee shops, roasters, and enthusiasts. Very few of these folks, if any, have been boring, and nearly all have been excited about their company and product. The ones that truly stand out in my mind have something different than excitement, however. These people talk about coffee differently than the others – it’s not simply a business to them. And coffee isn’t just a commodity to be consumed and traded for cash. Rather, they use words like “collaboration,” “community,” and “uncompromising vision.” I include myself in this group of people who see coffee differently than simply a way to wake up in the morning. It’s a passion, and it’s an acknowledgement that when people work together they can truly create something beautiful.

Chilmark Coffee Company is one such company. In fact, those three words used above are pulled straight from Chilmark’s website. They’re all about pulling together experts together to perfect every stage of making a great cup of coffee.

The Snapshot
Chilmark Coffee Company sources and roasts everything so you don’t have to. They have a store that is open seasonally (starting in about May), but they primarily sell their product through 13 other markets, farm stands, and cafes. The full list of where to find Chilmark Coffee is here. Additionally, you can purchase Chilmark online.

You’re not going to find a bunch of coffee gizmos and gadgets on Chilmark Coffee Company’s website. As they put it,

We aren’t selling you 30 different coffees and all kinds of accessories you can actually buy locally at your neighbors family owned store; we’re giving you an invitation to our select breakfast party; let’s say it’s part of a starter kit for a new day.

You can buy Chilmark bag-to-bag, or you can hop on their 6-month subscription service for $30 a month. You’re hard-pressed (pun totally intended) to find a better subscription deal than this online.

 
The Coffee

Chilmark Coffee Company sent me two coffees. Their Costa Rica: Tarrazu Asoproaaa, an estate coffee, and their Honduras: Seydi Argueta, a Certified Organically produced, Fair Trade coffee.

TwoBagsI tried the Costa Rica in my Clever Coffee Drip Brewer, Aeropress, and french press. After brewing in the Clever the coffee gave off a rich butter nut smell. It had a full taste, and the richness matched that of the scent. In the Aeropress I noticed the flavors tended to pop a bit more – the chocolate really poked through here. As was expected, in the french press the cup was overall more full bodied and heavy. This medium-roast was a very well rounded coffee, and I found I immensely enjoyed it regardless of the brew method.

The Honduras was my favorite of the two, and it actually produced the best cup of coffee I’ve ever made with my Clever. The grounds had a very bright smell to them, and when they were extracting a sweet aroma filled the entire room. The Aeropress seemed to not pull quite as full-bodied a cup as the Clever, but that could have been due to some over extraction on my part. The coffee has bright initial notes, like lemon, and it finished with a nice spark on the the tongue as well. In the French press the cocoa and caramel notes really came through, though the bright citrus was still evident to some degree.

 
Final Thoughts

Coffee in handI feel honored to have reviewed Chilmark Coffee Company. They represent everything that is right in the coffee community right now. They’re in it to make a quality product, and to make sure all parties along the way get fairly treated. Their commitment to excellence makes them stand out, and I highly recommend their coffee.

You can find Chilmark online in several places:
Website
Twitter
Facebook

The Coffee Guy

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Java Bean Plus Review

Java Bean Plus describes themselves as “Wholesale custom roasted coffee” with “freshness guaranteed.” Their focus is to offer the highest quality product with the most informative customer service currently available.

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One of the banner’s from JBP’s website

I’d like to start off by saying that my experience may have been unique due to two factors: first off, I’m not a customer. Java Bean Plus generously sent me three samples of their coffee for this review. The great thing is that they were kind enough to send them for free. Unfortunately, this means I didn’t get to interact with their customer service department – I’ll talk about that in a bit. The second reason my experience with Java Bean Plus was probably unique is due to the fact that this review is long overdue. Being a part-time blogger and a full time student, it’s taken me far too long to get to this post. I’d like to publicly thank Java Bean Plus for their patience with me!

Those two points aside, I feel as though Java Bean Plus is worthy of a quality review because of their clear dedication as a wholesaler.

On their website they list three points that set them apart from competitors:

1) Unlike many other coffee and tea suppliers, we don’t compete with our customers. We will not sell to individual consumers for home use

2) We aim to ship all orders within 24 hours. We understand the importance of your order and your need to maintain a fresh stock of coffee and tea for your customers

3) We are dedicated to quality and service. If you are not satisfied with your order please call or e-mail us and we will be sure to refund your purchase

The Snapshot
Java Bean Plus’ website feels cold and calculating to me, robotic even. There’s not a sense of community here – it’s simply an online store. Browsing around and looking for various coffees feels like a generic experience. “Freshness guaranteed” doesn’t sound like a rallying cry to me, it’s actually the bare minimum of what I would hope for from a quality coffee supplier. That being said, their promise of providing information to small business on a case by case basis seems like it would be indispensable to a local coffee shop trying to get on their feet.

What JBP lacks in the overall feel of the website, they make up for with their clear focus on the customer. Small businesses reign supreme: JBP will allow you to pick bag colors, use a label you design, and customize a variety of other factors. “Customer Service” is a link that appears on the top right of every page on the website. You can contact them by phone, email, form on the website, or even by sending a letter to their address. In small business little things make a huge difference, and it seems like Java Bean Plus hit the nail on the head in this regard.

 

The Coffee
Java Bean Plus’ website is full of different headers and menus used for shopping for different regions, roasts, and types of coffee. They sent me three coffees: the Guatemala Antigua, Mexico High Growth, and Costa Rica Tarrazu.

The Guatemala Antigua had a rich flavor, but not a very full mouthfeel. It was definitely the most mild of the three, with a low acidity. The flavor was constant, and each sip provided wave after wave of deliciousness. While I’ve never licked a tree in my life, the word “dogwood” came to mind as I sipped the brew. Take that for what it’s worth!

The Mexico High Growth was straight up bitter the first time I brewed it. High acidity gave it a poor aftertaste that I wasn’t a big fan of. After using both my Aeropress and Clever to brew various cups, I realized it was actually a very complicated coffee. Something must have been off in the brewing process for my initial taste test that muddled the notes and caused the coffee to taste bad. I gave it a chance and came away with another opinion. The coffee itself smells fresh, like tilled soil with hints of fruitiness and some flowers. In that sense the acidity definitely peeked through and gave it a  unique zing. While I initially didn’t like the coffee at all, I ended up appreciating it the most out of the three.

The Costa Rica Tarrazu had a rich, carmel-esque smell when I brewed it. On my initial taste, the first word that struck me was “depth.” The coffee had an earthy mid not with a bright aftertaste, leaving your tongue dancing and waiting for the next sip. There were definite hints of oak.

 

Final Thoughts
Java Bean Plus isn’t something I would recommend to the average consumer – which is a good thing. They aren’t trying to cater to the average consumer. Instead, they are trying to bring good, quality specialty coffee to businesses that will cater to the average consumer. And quite frankly, they are perfect in that regard. Their website may not be the flashiest on the web, but it is functional, and it is easy to find coffee in. I found their coffee to be delightfully delicious.

The thing that I love most about a great cup of coffee is that it is the result of the combined efforts of people from all over the world. Everyone from the grower to the barista has a say in how the final product will turn out. I am happy to say that Java Bean Plus does their job in that process well.

The Coffee Guy

Find Java Bean Plus here:
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Rosetta Roastery – Diversity in Singularity


Last summer I spent a week at an Aunt & Uncle’s house in Virginia. One night, my cousin and I went out, got some food, saw a movie, and hung out with one of his friends. On the way back to his house, we had an incredibly memorable conversation about life, family, love, and future. As we conversed, music was playing in the background – Mumford & Sons to be specific. It’s interesting because now, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, if I hear a Mumford & Sons song, I think back to that night and the memories that were made. Perhaps you’ve had something similar happen – some association of a taste, smell, or song with imagery, or a memory of some kind.

In the coffee community we use strong words to describe the taste or smell found in a cup of coffee. Words like “nutty,” “fruity,” or sometimes specific phrases like “notes of cherry.” These words aren’t meant to put the coffee in a box, and we’re definitely not saying that those cups of coffee will taste exclusively like cashews or a fruit salad. Instead, they are meant to be guidelines that describe the overall feeling that the coffee produces. That’s why two people who are tasting the same cup of coffee may analyze it slightly differently. Overall, they should be similar, but not necessarily exactly the same. The coffee experience is an artful process – often subjective, but always beautiful.

Rosetta Roastery takes this to the next level, yet does it in a way that is simple and effective.


I first learned about Rosetta Roastery after I completed my review of the Haas Coffee Collective last year. Both companies are located in Cape Town, South Africa, and both are passionate in their love of quality coffee. Rosetta Roastery only roasts select single origin coffees from some of the top coffee farms, estates and co-ops around the globe. Regarding their selection of coffee growers:

They are stand-alone gems… bastions of quality… beacons of hope. The reason we can say this with such confidence is because our sourcing model is so thorough. We painstakingly cup, sample, cup, sample, cup, sample, and finally source single origin coffees precisely for their unique flavour profiles.

Rosetta Roastery’s website

Rosetta provided me with three coffees: Yirgacheffe Ethiopia, Chimbu Png, and Nyeri Peaberry. Each bag came with a description on the back, yet it was a description unlike any I’ve ever come across. Rather than listing what the coffee tasted like (fruity, bright, dark, etc) each had a small story. In an attached letter that Rosetta sent with my coffee they stated:

…each coffee receives a mental snapshot, or written personality with its various flavour and aroma notes woven into the description. We find this helps our customers engage with each coffee in a manner worthy of the unique creation that it is.

Below are the snapshots provided by Rosetta, immediately followed by my review for each 0f the three coffees that I received.

Nyeri Peaberry – Kenya:
The pistol landed with a thud, its walnut grip upsetting a glass of St Julian red. Muzzle smoke curled lazily upward, the air of flint infusing with aromas of black cherries and spices as the spilt wine advanced towards the Captain’s veal. Outside a train rumbled past.

I found the Nyeri Peaberry to be syrupy, with hints of caramel. It was, quite frankly, bursting forth with flavor. Bright accents were present from the first taste, and staid constant the whole way through. My first cup seemed very acidic, but after perfecting my grind and press I found it to only be mildly acidic, yet extremely tasty. The cup got better with time, and each sip was accompanied with a strong aftertaste. Had I not seen any of the beans, the intense flavor was a dead give away that this was a peaberry.

Chimbu – Papua New Guinea
The villagers were overjoyed that Max was abroad for the summer. His niece Virginia had arrived in town, and her mild, sweet demeanour was a welcome change to his lunacy. As she passed by, her floral sundress and strawberry blonde locks certainly did nothing to mar my view of the orchards.

I experienced the Chimbu as being stronger than either of the other two coffees I received. Smelling the whole beans reveals deep, beautifully scented notes of fruits and flowers – like a well tended garden. The brew itself had very warm notes overall, with some floral hints. The taste was constant throughout the cup, and extremely enjoyable.

Washed Yirgacheffe – Ethiopia
While Lake Como is lovely at this time of year, it’s always ruined by those horribly gaudy celevrity galas – red carpets, black ties, orange skin. I prefer more elegant thrills; the subtle hint of honeysuckle on a spring breeze; a fragrant cup of Earl Grey tea, the warm citrus scent of marmalade on toast.

The Washed Yirgacheffe was my favorite of the three coffees tasted. It was incredibly fruity, like a blueberry and peach combination. The coffee had an incredibly rich scent, both as beans and as brew. With a flash of taste at the beginning of each sip, this coffee caught my attention over and over again. Like a musk, it was enticing and kept me coming back for more. Each sip ended with the crazy fruity notes described earlier and an incredibly sweet finish.

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Rosetta Roastery wrote to me saying that they are passionate about exposing people to the diversity of coffee. By focusing on single origins and not blending roasts, they hope to show that every coffee is unique and delicious. Providing one single type of coffee at a time allows Rosetta to advertise the incredibly variance that each individual roast can bring to the table. Diversity in singularity is the mantra I would give them.

Quite simply, Rosetta Roastery is accomplishing two great things at once. First, they are providing a quality product by ensuring they focus on one roast at a time, getting each one perfect. Secondly, they are benefiting the consumer by educating them on what great coffee tastes like. And, as I found out by sipping on their delicious roasts, great coffee doesn’t have to be mixed from places across the globe.

You can buy the coffees reviewed here, and several other roasts as well, by visiting Rosetta Roastery’s website.

If you’re new to the coffee experience, Rosetta Roastery is a great place to try quality single-origin coffee and get started on your new coffee adventure. If you’re a veteran coffee drinker, Rosetta is an excellent place to expand your palette as it provides coffee from all over the world. And, being a single-origin roaster, you know exactly what you’re getting and where it’s from.

The Coffee Guy

Rosetta Roastery social media info:
@RosettaRoastery
http://Facebook.com/RosettaRoastery
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Wandering with Peregrine Espresso


As a whole, the East Coast of the United States has a pretty poor coffee scene. I understand that that is a blanket statement – but bear with me for a minute. It’s not that people don’t drink coffee – quite the contrary, actually. They drink a lot of coffee – it’s just really, really bad coffee. There are actually people that debate, in thick New York accents, whether Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts has a better brew.

When I heard I would be spending some time in Washington D.C. this summer I was ecstatic. I’m big into politics, and I couldn’t wait to be at the heart of the American political system. Still, I had a bit of apprehension due to my previous knowledge of East Coast coffee.

I decided to do what any self-respecting internet user would do in the same situation as me: I went to reddit. I’ve been subscribed to the coffee subreddit for some time now, and I really appreciate the wealth of knowledge that the baristas, coffee shop owners, and coffee fanatics bring to the table there. Here’s the best response I got, from user gbeier. He sent me a list of coffee shops worth checking out.

Having a bit of time today, I decided I would check out the first place on gbeier’s list, Peregrine Espresso on Pennsylvania Avenue near the Eastern Market metro stop. It’s a busy Sunday here at the Eastern Market – plenty of people coming and going. Walking up to Peregrine Espresso I was greeted by the most welcome of sights – a coffee shop full of people conversing, laughing, working on projects, and reading. As I’ve written before, community is extremely important to me when it comes to the quality of a coffee shop. Washington D.C. is known for having tightly knit communities of people, and the area around Peregrine Espresso seems no different.

The menu is simple, with only your basic choices on the overhead board. The store seems, for all intents and purposes, like any other coffee shop you might stumble into. And, in fact, even Peregrine’s name seems to invite the wandering foreigner. From their website:

Peregrine (per’e-grin,-gren)
1. Foreign; alien.
2. Roving/wandering; migratory

[Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin peregrïnus, wandering, pilgrim, from Latin, foreigner, from pereger, being abroad]

I asked the employee running the register what he recommended for a pour-over today. He said he enjoys the Cico De Junio right now, so I ordered a cup.

Taking another look around at Peregrine’s Pennsylvania Avenue shop, the word that can best describe their overall appearance and feel is simplicity. Creative and slightly abstract art spots the walls, light wooden tables and chairs stand on a dark hardwood floor. The color scheme of the room is white, green, and brown. The entire company seems to speak of getting back to basics, which is actually very refreshing in a world of “Venti-three pump-half calf-170 degree-carmel macchiatos.” Sometimes it’s nice to be greeted with a simple room and a simple menu.

The barista made my pour-over with expert hands. And actually, the baristas at Peregrine Espresso are experts. Their shelf of trophies from barista competitions speaks to that. I knew I was about to indulge in a delicious cup, and I wasn’t let down in the least. The Cinco De Junio was incredibly fruity and bright. It spoke of tropical fruit and danced on my palette before going down incredibly smooth. The cup was both crisp and creamy to the last drop, and it left me wanting another. In fact, after I’m done writing this review I may just get one to go.

Peregrine Espresso’s website contains the same simplicity as the rest of their brand. Check out their barista bios, brewing tips, and home page with their latest news.

The baristas are friendly, the wifi is free (password: espresso), and the community is rich. There’s even a bulletin board in the front of the store with upcoming community events and other such information. I highly recommend Peregrine Espresso to the wanderer, the Washington D.C. native, and anyone in between who enjoys a great cup of coffee.

The Coffee Guy

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