Category Archives: Coffee Business

Time to say goodbye to the coffee world

Well, if you didn’t already figure it out.  I have to C O N C E N T R A T E on some things that makes it so that I can’t be focused as I would prefer on the “Bean Chaser Blog.”

I appreciate friends like Jason Dominy, Jim Hoffman and crew, Mark Prince, Dan at HB, Chemically Imbalanced, Tonx, Shannon Hudgens, Kevin & Regina @ Crema Roasters,  Geoff Corey, Scott Conary, and I will even thank Nick Cho, and I can’t leave out the team at Octane and by name Tony.  The home roasting ability of George Holt.  Finally, I thank, the professional roasting of Intelligensia Roasters and Counter Culture Coffee.

There is no certian order to that list.  Some listed had a HUGE impact on my life and I will be forever thankful.  And there is some there that taught me a huge lesson on what not to do (I mean that good and bad).  I will have forgotten some, I guess.  It’s is unavoidable.  Some people I have there faces in my head and I can’t remember their names.

If I hadn’t found Mark Prince in a Google search for “French Press” this would have never been started and I hadn’t have ever messaged Tonx, I would have never found Hudge, and thus, I would have never had my first INCREDIBLE shot of espresso (single origin, mind you).  If I hadn’t found Hudge I wouldn’t have this massive two group Faema in my kitchen, which in the words of my brother-in-law “is the first and last thing you see in that house.”

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Well if you don’t know who they are or who he (on the shirt) is I guess you could ask in the comments section.

This is idol worship, but I like it!

This is idol worship, but I like it!

Courtesy of Portafilter.net

Running into Helios Cafe in Raliegh and end up meeting important peeps!

rich_futrell_s Hmmm, I quickly with a rush blow into Helios Cafe in Raleigh to grab some Counter Culture whole bean for the press and some espresso to tide us over until the Square Mile comes in and “lo and behold” Rich Futrell is sitting there getting wired up on espresso Aficionado.

I had never met Rich, but dude was there and with the very limited time we had we were able to talk shop!! I wish I had much more time, but I had my sister’s family and mine in the Excursion waiting!

Good to meet you Rich and I hope we can run into each other again very soon!

While I was there I got a pound of Counter Culture’s Espresso Aficionado, Ada’s Finca Mauritania, & Kenya Kangocho (a personal CCC fav).

Can’t wait until the morning when I can get into this stuff.

Square Mile Roasters of London chosen for the Holidays!

Square Mile Coffee Roasters is on top of my list this year.

Nikki and I wanted to do something this year out of the ordinary…and that we did. As much as I love Counter Culture Coffee, I live within an hours drive of the place. I was really wanting to do something different this year. Nope, not Intelli, either. They were my introduction into the specialty coffee world. What about West Coast? There are some fantastic roasters out there, like Stumptown or even Ecco Cafe.

But, after some discussion, we landed on Square Mile. Me personally, I just kept coming back to them in my head (good marketing guys). They are working on some special stuff. I like the fact they work with small batches and small numbers of those batches. In other words they don’t have 30 different beans for sale, just six or so and they have rather limited quantities of those beans.

I have an inordanant amount of trust in James Hoffman’s and Stephen Morrisey’s ability and skill and Anette Moldvaer‘s nose and taste buds. All are champions! And I am laying trust in that. I have heard some comments, which shall remain nameless, that swear by the stuff! Honestly, one said the “Winter Espresso” was disappearing in milk. I just can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t a batch error. Afterall, you can’t get every batch perfect. It is coffee, not the Bible.

Anyways, I can’t wait. Here was my order:

That Santa Rita natural has my mouth watering thinking about it.

I will need more coffee for the holidays. That is only four pounds. I am leaning on Stumptown, but your thoughts are important and I desire your comments!

Starbucks has the most “skilled baristas” in Charlotte!

If you want to see pure frustration and dissapointment check this Barista Exchange post out from Jason Dominy, “Starbucks has the most ‘skilled baristas’ in Charlotte”.  

It truly is sad to see an article like that.  I wonder what the editor’s selection critera and such were.

Cafe Culture in the U.S.A is sometimes pure poisonus

Poisonus is a strong word.  And no, I don’t mean every cafe, just some of them.  Not even a majority, I don’t guess.  

It is just that sometimes I walk into a smoke filled joint like I did the other day at “The 76” in Grand Rapids, MI and one of the first things that hit me was the old U.S.S.R flag hanging from the cieling.  

 

U.S.S.R Flag

U.S.S.R Flag

So, then I started to look around.  These people really were not socialist.  They were stuanchly, very much communist.  There was probably as many anti-war articles and pics as there was wallpaper in most old ladies homes.   I saw more pictures of George Bush in a negative light than I saw espresso beans.  

It was evident these people were young, probably under 25, and thus never lived one minute under the “old threat.”  For some reason, they have the idea that the U.S.S.R was the place to live.  Never mind Stalin killing as little as 5 million and as much as 60 million of his own people and never mind the dang engineered famins that kills scores of people.  

As she handed me my cappuccino, which was rather Starbuxy to say the least, I mentioned the flag.  The lady glanced upwards at it and said, “Yeah, real sweet isn’t it?”  I replied, “Oh yeah, I miss those days of standing in line for bread all day and then having a KGB agent beating my wife to death because she has a Bible on her night stand.”  The girl almost went cross eyed!  

I am here to tell you they aren’t teaching true history in school anymore.  Not in High School and surely not in College.  If they did, people would think differently about all those images of a “young Castro” pasted all over the walls.  

It would almost seem the younger the kids are making the espresso the politically dumber.  The fact is they didn’t have to live through the Cold War and don’t understand it. They just assume it was another “war” and they are against “war” at all cost.  And no, I don’t think because someone believes differently than I do they are dumb or stupid.  Far from the correct answer. It is just that sometimes, like this instance, you know for a fact they have been absolutly brainwashed.  Utterly brainwashed.  

I also am aware that the U.S.A isn’t perfect.  There are problems and the answers have alluded people for years and will continue to do so.  The framers wrote in the pre-amble to the constitution on the first line the following, “…in Order to form a more perfect Union…” and I think that is fitting.  We aren’t perfect, but we are striving for it.  I will declare that while we do have our problems we also have more positives than ever before.  We are the greatest country to ever exist on the face of this earth in almost every category one could imagine.  

The moral of the story?  Stop acting like idiots and make some good coffee.  Make the coffee the story, not your crazy ideas.  You might like the results.

More blithering about aweful espresso. It is making me physically ill

Remember my post about Mickey’s Pastries in Goldsboro taking an add out in the paper for an experienced barista?  Well, what a bunch of crapola.

Look, gloves off.  I have been nice the past few weeks about going into places and getting espresso, capps and coffee that just sucks.  It would be different if I was going into a Starbucks or some cracked up truckstop, but I am going into places that should know better, but they don’t. After reading a post on the Barista Exchange entitled “you serve bad espresso…..an you should be ashamed…..igot razors in my car if you want” and then replying, I am just sick of bad espresso and coffee.  It isn’t that bad when it is some cracked up joint that doesn’t care (or doesn’t have a history of caring) for the products they sell, they just want to sell’em (like a convenience store: no reason to care if the coffee sucks or not).  But, it is sick, absolutely gut wrenching, when you go into a place historically renown nationwide as being a stalwart and essence of quality.  Mickey’s Pastry has two people that are Certified Master Baker’s, which it is a rarity to have two CMBs on staff.  She has been in Cooking Light Magazine and I have read the article.  There are only a few CMBs in the United States, period.

So, with the CMB background I would figure that Melanie Daniels (CMB) and Mickey’s Pastries would take the same care and effort and funnel that into espresso and coffee.  Of course I know there is a learning curve.  Of course I understand that it will not be perfect at first.  But, there are few essentials I truly figured they would have taken care of first and foremost.

I walked in and a young lady came up to the counter asking if she could help me.  I asked “Did you fill the barista position?”  She said, “What is that?”  And I pointed to the LM Linea.  She said, “Oh, no, Melanie does it.”  So, I said, “I can order an espresso then?”  She replied, “Yes.”

Melanie came out about two minutes later never making eye contact, never saying “hi.”  She ground the shot, never wiping the portafilter after coming out of the group and tamped it with an RB.  Never flushing the Linea.  Pulled the shot which “went blond” immediately and poured in about 12 seconds.  That Espresso Toscano was just literally massacred.  Then, to completely finish whacking any tendons that may have been holding the skull to the upper vertebrae she poured it into a Styrofoam cup.  Yeah, that is right…Styrofoam, not even a paper cup.  Because she didn’t bleed the temperature off of the machine it was surely boiling and I didn’t taste a thing but hot, muddy water.

After she pulled it, she never looked at me and put it up on the counter, starting to walk off I said, “Hey, Melanie!  Have you had a hard time finding a barista?  I saw your ad in the paper.”  She finally made eye contact with me and said the following twice, “No, we really don’t have a need.”  She then, turned about face and walked off.  Weird.  Just weird.

So, what did a walk in on here?  A tax write off?  I know she had at least $7,000 (if used) if not $12,000 (if new) worth of equipment.

Melanie, if your reading this?  Don’t get mad, get better.  Get some cups from espressoparts.com and find out as much about Espresso Toscano and coffee, how precious it is and how hard people work to make it spectacular, as you found out about the rest of your fantastic products in your bakery.  That bench with the coffee equipment is a black eye in that shop.  It is just as bad as having tray after tray of baked goods in your display and then on the end having some cakes that a three year old made with mommy. Another thing, about the equipment, there hardly any better equipment that can be purchased; There are a couple machines better and a few grinders better, but they are rarely chosen.  You have a La Marzocco Linea, a Mazzer Super Jolly and a Reg Barber Tamper.  You have the tools of about 80% (my number) of  the best professionals in the world.  Whether it is Murky Coffee in D.C, Octane in ATL, and the list just goes on and on, the LM Linea and the Mazzer SJ are the workhorses of fantastic coffee the world over.

And I am going to ask a serious question here: Where in HADES is Counter Culture Coffee here?  All that talk about espresso, coffee integrity and sustainability and all that.  Look guys, her whole bean on the shelf was roasted in mid-June.  I know you trained her, I could tell she had some practice.  But, what gives?  Are things so bad your salesmen have to talk people into purchasing the equipment that have no education in coffee, no compass to work off of regarding quality?  I know you sold her the drip blend for the walk-ins for years and that is fantastic.  It probably should have stayed right there.  I wonder how long it took you to talk her into the idea of buying $7k to $12k of equipment (or was it a write off).  You (CCC & Melanie) may say “is this any of your business?”  Yes, yes it is.  It becomes my business when I see somebody continuing the thought process in their customer’s mind that espresso is nasty and cappuccinos and lattes need two shots of syrup to hide the coffee.

I am just tired of seeing the same senario over and over and over with no “letting up.”  And on top of that, this time they dropped it right in my backyard.  I sit here looking at places where I would DIE to setup shop and create a fantastic product and atmosphere for people.  I sit here with no money and nobody with to develop a business.  Mrs. Daniels and CCC, if you desire, call me, write me, respond here or whatever.  Just Google me and get my address and phone number.  I am not hard at all to find.  Now, rip me.  Respond here and tell me what you were thinking.  Defend yourself.  Or just blow steam off on me.  Call me the idiot.  Call me the “coffee snob.”  Or you could call me (or somebody) up and ask for some advice.  You DO have a market.  And you CAN “have a need.”