Coffee is Magic.

May 01

Malheur

Recently I discovered what is now one of my favorite beers. It’s the Malheur 10, blond ale, bottle conditioned from Belgium. Belgian beer is known for it’s intense sweetness and for many this can be to much. I do enjoy a good Belgian but it’s not typically a beer I would order that often. Not until I found this gem. 

I found it at Quinn’s in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle not far from where I live. Having some after work drinks with a couple of friends I decided to try something I’ve never had despite knowing they had many drinks I know I enjoy. The Bar is known for having an extensive beer menu with many different styles and having a staff that is very knowledgeable about them. 

When I ordered the beer the waiter asked “have you had this before” with a very excited glow. This got me excited to try it and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It is now not only my favorite Belgian beer but one of my favorite beers in general. 

I decided to write a short post about this 1. because I have a goal to blog more often in general and 2. because I think it’s a great idea to be willing to try something new in a situation where you know what you already like. Who knows you may find something you absolutely love. 

To learn more about this beer vist their website http://www.malheur.be/en/malheur-10/  

Nov 14

Elusive Butterfly

So I’ve been thinking about the subject I’m going to write about in this post for quite some time. I get to travel a lot in my current job and I’m thankful for this. In doing all of this traveling I get to go to lots of amazing coffee shops and drink enough amazing coffee to make myself sick (and I do make myself sick). Something that I’ve noticed is that many of the best places that I’ve visited are doing an absolutely fantastic job brewing coffee! This is great right? Yes it is great that we are brewing amazing coffee but I’ve noticed that for almost everyone that is brewing this amazing coffee it’s still just not good enough! This troubles me and I’ll tell you why. While I do think its great to continue to strive for better brewing and quality when we are already serving amazing coffee. It troubles me that we are still not happy with it - what kind of message is this sending to our customers?

"This troubles me" - John Cage↓

I often hear great coffee professionals talk with their customers after making a quality brew to order cup and say things like “how is it? its a little off I hope its okay”. Often times I get to taste these brews because of the extra that is left for the coffee professional to taste and I’ve never had one that tasted “a little off”. I think that we tend to jump to conclusions when a brew goes a little over or under the desired time or we pour in a spot that we normally don’t. Now maybe the brew is not perfect but guess what it’s manual brewing and it’s not going to be perfect every time (if ever).

What happens next with many people in coffee that I see is that they develop this idea of what all of their brews should taste like. It’s as if they are chasing this one golden cup of coffee that they had once that has now become like an elusive butterfly to them. The reason I think this is a problem is because these coffee professionals are brewing amazing coffee day in and day out. Yet they still seem to think that the majority of their time should be wrapped up in discussing brewing and how to make it better. This leads to a lot of complaining about equipment and how it’s not good enough and a whole lot of could’ve, should’ve, would’ve. 

So to wrap this up my point is we need to work with the tools we have and we need to be happy with what we are serving or take it off the menu. I really believe that we should be focusing a little less on how we are brewing coffee and instead focus on who we are serving it to. We should be trying to figure out what our customers think a good cup of coffee is and focus less on what we think a good cup of coffee is. I’m excited to hear so many people talking about customer service and how important it is, so lets put it into to practice and make it the main focus in our day to day operations. If you are still really worried about your brews, take some back to basics brewing classes and get that coffee tasting sweet!

ColeCoffee 

Nov 04

Camp Pull A Shot

Camp Pull A Shot 2012 was much more amazing than I had anticipated. Having been the previous year I thought I would know excatley how it would go down and what I would get out of it. I was wrong. 

I came into LA the night before Camp and I thought I would be able to make it into Camp a night early like I did the year before to help with any setting up. Well I got stuck in LA so I threw out a general text and in minutes a coffee professional I hardly knew before Camp was willing to come pick me up, cook me food, let me stay at their place and drive me to Camp the following day! Alexandra LittleJohn you are amazing and I’ll never forget what you did for me that night. It’s these types of interaction that make Camp so amazing. Building new friendships and new bridges all while expanding your professional development.

Arriving at Camp the following day everything seemed about same as the year before. Checking in and getting your awesome camp gear (backpack, tee shirt, flashlight, water bottle etc). After checking into my cabin I headed up to the Main Tent and after a small discussion I decided to take my level 2 test. (I had taken all the course work for level 2 the year before but did not pass the test.) I super crazy proud to say that I passed!

Later that night we had our first team challenge which was coffee trivia. All the team challenges are fun and it’s a great way to get to know many people from all over the country. I was picked by my team to be the team leader which was a great experience and I learned so much from my team over the week. At the end of the first night there was no big party just a lot of great people hanging out around a campfire having a few beers and chatting about everything coffee. These campfire discussions are some of the most valued discussions I’ve ever had in coffee. Special thanks goes to Lorenzo Perkins.

Katie Carguilo adding wood to the fire.

On the second day I stepped in and out of classes that I had already taken the year before. I also had the chance to spend some time touring the facilites with Ildi Revi and Peter Giuliano. After that I took Sensory Skills for a second time and if you have taken this class you’ll know why taking it multiple times is beneficial. It’s a very intense class thats helps you learn to taste Sweet, Sour and Salty. The amazing Dan Streetman led the class this year. This is a class you must pass to become a Q-Grader so it’s a really important one for me. This was the only class I took for this day and it gave me a lot of time to reflect on what I was learning and more importantly what I was becoming a part of. 

Later that night we had a Symposium at Camp. This was hands down the highlight of Camp and super motivating to me especially because it was about getting customers excited about Specialty Coffee. Peter Giuliano started it off with an intro of what Tracy Ging done while still with the SCAA. Then something amazing happened he introduced the SCAA Board of Directors! This was huge to me, they came to camp to listen to us the Baristas! In their intro speech about who they were and why they did at the SCAA there was something mind blowing said. “Baristas are the future of Specialty Coffee” So not only were they here to listen to use but to learn from us. After this Chris Schooley led everyone in a roundtable discussion. To sum it up the main point was from a customer standpoint “when your excited I’m excited”. 

A collage from the focus group that Tracy Ging put together for SCAA.

Day three at Camp started off earlier for me as far as classes go. I knew I would like this class but I really had no idea how much I would get out of it. Organic Acids and the Chemistry of Coffee GE255 is a must do for any dedicated coffee professional. I have been studying acids in coffee on my own for about 3 years so I was not sure how much I would get out of this class. The class was so well presented and so well taught I now have a much clearer understanding of what I had been trying to teach myself the last few years. It’s classes like these that will really show why the BGA, RGA and SCAA are so important and amazing. Moving on from that class I headed into CP158 Golden Cup Fundamentals. This is a required class to become a Golden Cup certified Technician  (which I plan on becoming). In this class led by the amazing Rusty Angell we learned about the brewing control chart and how to navigate it without a computer. The station instructors were none other than the SCAA brew crew. After a full day of learning I headed up to give some Level One Exams! Their were so many people waiting to take their level one and everyone that was a certified examiner was called upon to help. Shortly after all the exams were finished being taken the final team challenge started. Our team was the only one to finish our Signature Drink with mystery bag of ingredients before the power generator died! Oh well. Not to long after this the closing ceremony began. This is where you get your testing results and all the thank you’s and tears come out. This is also the only night this year that there was any partying. Oh and there was partying! I’ll leave the details to those who were at camp but I’ll leave one parting photo.

So for some final thoughts about Camp. I love the BGA and the SCAA and I believe they are doing more than anyone or any organization on the planet to push Speciality Coffee forward. I’d also like to note that if you don’t like something about the way it’s being run then you should become a member and be the change. We need change all the time and we need passionate talented people from the bottom up. People also often ask me about the value of camp. I’ll say this I’ll pay out of my own pocket year after year to come to camp and I know it will be worth it every time. I’ll take classes I’ll volunteer and I’ll be there every year. Last thing I have to say is I can’t write a thank you list long enough to name everyone that deserves it. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR EVERYTHING YOU DO!

Colecoffee xoxo

Dymaxion.: The Power of Expectation or, Coffee and The Placebo Effect -

petergiuliano:

So I became interested in the placebo effect recently, due to some non-coffee discussion I was having with some friends. I became fascinated- while I always thought of the placebo effect as people deluding themselves into thinking they are feeling better after taking a sugar pill, I came to…

Aug 02

#BL: Coffee Shop Rules of Engagement -

nickcho:

benleventhal:

We spend a lot of time judging coffee shops by their roasts and pulls and machinery. I’d like to suggest another, equally as important criteria: morning service.

Other than live-in family and, in some cases, overnight guests, those who do not brew coffee at home on the regular must also deal with…

Baristas: Think of this as ‘tough love’ : if you can’t accept his points, you may be in the wrong business.

(Source: benleventhal)

#BL: Coffee Shop Rules of Engagement -

benleventhal:

We spend a lot of time judging coffee shops by their roasts and pulls and machinery. I’d like to suggest another, equally as important criteria: morning service.

Other than live-in family and, in some cases, overnight guests, those who do not brew coffee at home on the regular also communicate…

(Source: benleventhal)

May 14

Dymaxion.: On How Women Basically Invented Specialty Coffee -

petergiuliano:

In 1978, Erna Knutsen was giving a speech at a coffee conference in Montreuil, France on the concept of special coffees coming from special places; drawing a link between the idea of terroir and coffee. The term she coined during that speech was “Specialty Coffee”, which gave a name and an…

May 01

Dymaxion.: Why you should stop cold-brewing, and use the Japanese Iced Coffee Method. -

petergiuliano:

First of all, let me say that I am predisposed towards iced coffee. My grandfather- who I idolize still- drank iced coffee starting at about 10am, and all day during the summer.

That said, iced coffee has something of a bad name among coffee aficionados. Hot coffee is seen as the natural way of…

Mar 26

Wet Mill: Varietal Expression -

wetmill:

While my experience pales in comparison to some of the others contributing here, I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring.

I agree that variety is a better predictor of flavour than country of origin, but I don’t really believe that variety is a particularly good predictor. Origin, by and large,…