Tag Archives: roaster

Espresso Test: This is a test

A friend of mine and I travelled yesterday up to Cary, NC to Crema Roasters to get a couple pounds of espresso.

Kevin gladly responded by saying, “You want some espresso I am working on?” Meaning it was going to be a test.

“Sure thing.  You got my attention”

  • Ethiopian Guji
  • Costa Rica La Pastora
  • Columbian Hvila
  • Brazil Pedre Grande
  • Sumatra Mandilin

Well if this is a test, please let me grade this with a “Oh, my word!

Look, I am not trying to toot my own horn, either.  But, Mark said the espresso tasted better out of my machine (Faema).  Kevin’s is a temp stable La Marzocco FB/80.  This almost has to be a temprature issue – IMHO.  I know that machine runs hot, almost 205.  I am running in the 199-201 range, according to everything Shannon and I discussed.  Ahh, alas I need a Scace of my own with a data logger.


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!

Ethiopian Korate – Crema Roasters

It is about time somebody other than me has written about this stellar coffee and more importantly this stellar roaster!  If Mark Prince would get a pound of this stuff he wouldn’t talk about Esmeralda nearly as much.

Be careful, he is like me,  Chemically Imbalanced!

Double Shot’s Latte Art Competition $$$

Double Shot Cafe Latte Art Competition

Double Shot Cafe Latte Art Competition

$185!   Why not $200 or $150?

Anyway, take a look at this latte art competition sign they made.  Look at the dang picture of that latte art.  How in the world?

Mt. Victory Coffee and Tea

About a month ago, I was driving through a little town that I blaze right through very often when I am running produce back and forth from North Carolina to Michigan.  The town is Mount Victory, OH.  The little town has a website that is not your normal “home page” for a town, either.  To be honest, I just about hate, almost any “small town website” out there, including my own home town.  But, M.V has a nice site with some great information about the town.

Most importantly, the website is currently featuring the newest member of the business community.  It’s name: Mount Victory Coffee & Tea.

When I was blazing through for the first time in about a year I almost locked up the 18 brake drums on that truck at the stop light, even with the “green light” blaring at me and several trucks right behind me.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing: A coffee shop in the absolute middle of no where!

So, after about a month, I finally was able to drive through during business hours and I pulled over to the right across the street from the shop.  It is the old downtown type of building in small town mid-west America!  The building is a fantastic old antique shop that the new owners spent over a year tearing up so they could build up.  I wish I had pictures, but my HTC  Touch phone, for some reason, was malfunctioning on me.

Immediatly I met the owner, Jerry Salyer.  He had a local friend in their and they were just chatting and I came in desirous of espresso and capps.  I quickly looked around, very warey to get a look at the equipment and how well it was taken care of  before I ordered.  Sometimes I go in small places like this and the best thing to do is kindly ask for a Coke and walk out the door after paying! LOL!  But, Jerry had a brand new Rancilio two group machine and a Mazzer Super Jolly grinder.  Everything was extremely clean.  The Fetco system was brand new.  Everything was brand new.

I quickly asked about his roaster (Jerry, don’t hurt me, but I can’t remember the roaster) and I had never heard of them.  But, the espresso he provided me was rich, a bit dark for my taste, but it surely had some Sumatra there, as it had a bite.  There was a hint of chocalate as well, trying to round the roast off a bit.

I was impressed! But, I became more impressed with Jerry as time went along.  We talked about his desire: “To make the best, the very best, coffee and espresso in the area.”  I think “area’ is the key word.  If that is the desire, he has that tied right up, as there isn’t anything like his shop in over 100 miles, easily.  But, if you take “area” to be a vast large area of several hundred miles, he may have some competition in the up state, Columbus, and Cincinatti.  But, that is OK!  I like the attitude and at the rate he is going he can actually have the best coffee in the state.

He spent time at Coffee Fest ATL a short time ago and went to every lecture  he could and his partner and girlfriend did the same.  Every lecture dealing with anything, they were there.  He told me that it was his life’s goal to do this shop and now they are on there way.

No, there is no Latte art.  No Jerry didn’t even know what “Third Wave” meant.  And he doesn’t have any tatoos, that I could see.  But, Jerry is as Third Wave as you can be at this stage and as we talked about Third Wave principles and concepts, it was clear that Jerry has the same desires and wishes as we do.

Mount Victory Coffee & Tea is going to be just fine.  And, when in season, I am making my trips up and down that area (like in the morning!)  I can’t wait to stop by and have some espresso and capps with Jerry and the folks in Mount Victory, OH.

Third Wave Coffee, a Conversion :: Part 1

Subtitle: First Wave, Second Wave, 2.5 Wave and Third Wave.

I intend on defining the Third Wave concept, adding some personal points to the definition and giving my experience with Third Wave.

Third Wave.  That just sounds cool, doesn’t it?  I guess the first time I heard of  the concept called “Third Wave” it must have been on the Portafilter.Net Podcast.  What is Third Wave?  The theory was first proposed by Trish Skeie of Zoka Coffee and I think the best summary of it that I can find is

“Her theory goes like this. The “First Wave of Coffee” was the post-World War II era, a time when coffee was simply consumed, not enjoyed. The war forced the production of quick, easy foods and instant coffee reigned supreme.

“The “Second Wave of Coffee” started in the late 1960’s with the birth of companies like Pete’s and then Starbucks. Specialty grade Arabica coffees began replacing lower grade Robustas as cutting-edge roasters and baristas gained appreciation for the nuances of different roasts and origins.

I would like to add here that I think that the second wave is also probably best described as a “selfish wave.”  A wave of wanting to be identified with a brand.  For example, not starting with, but surely popularly inserted into the Mike Myers movie called “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)“, Hollywood started placing $B in movies and TV spots all the time.  A practice which goes on to this day.  Even when they either can’t get the “rights” or get paid for it via product placement, studios regularly will take a cup with a $Buxy style logo on it and put a heat sleeve around the cup and stick that cup in a actor’s hands in front of the camera.  Thus, American’s, especially, follow the stars and therefore people want to be identified with pop culture.  I think it is safe to say Starbucks was a big part of “Pop Culture” in the United States for the past 10 or so years.

Here I will add “a wave;” or better called a ripple:  Two and a Half Wave (2.5 Wave).    These are the “coffee shops,” bakers, deli’s, restaurants and other various businesses who are trying their best to whore off of the crest of the Second Wave.  Who have no desire for coffee, may not even drink the stuff, and could care less about any thing we would consider “best practices.” Their coffee is usually, gush, worst than Dunkin, Starbucks, or anything else decidedly Second Wave.

“Fast forward to 2007 and we find ourselves here in the “Third Wave of Coffee”. According to Trish, it’s the evolution of coffee drinkers toward a deeper appreciation for the uniqueness of different coffees. Today it is quite common for customers to ask for a certain country of origin (Ethiopian, Sumtran, etc) when ordering their coffee. Here at our Coffee Bar, many of our customers know the name of the farming co-op that grows their favorite coffee along with the roast profile and other unique attributes of the bean.”

Jody Treter. (2007). Bean Activist: Third Wavers, Decommodification of Coffee, Retrieved 08/18/08, from source.

Here is a walk on Google regarding Third Wave and it is very much worth reading from several sites and blogs on this topic.

To put it simply, Third Wave coffee is the love and appreciation of coffee.  Whatever benifits the coffee as a final product and what is in the coffee’s best interest is at the heart of Third Wave coffee.  Everything and everybody involved every step of the way is centered on the coffee; Not a barista, a roaster,  not money, not a company, not an individual, not a farmer, broker or real estate agent is more important than the coffee that fills a cup at the end of the chain.  To me, that is Third wave coffee.

So, what is the fuss?  I really don’t know.  I listened to all of the pf.net podcast and one thing I could garner was is the fact that Jay Caragay (pf.net co-host) was always thinking the concept was b.s.  The problem with that podcast is you never know when one of the host, or both, are b.sing.  So, he may well have been fully behind the concept, but calling b.s for the fun of the show.  There is a couple podcast where Trish is on the air with the guys and at least one podcast that has Third Wave actually part of the debate of the show.  BTW, Trish had a blog on Zoka and I read her post regarding T.W, BTW I can’t find her blog,  at all – even through Google.

So, not willing to “commit” to the concept of Third Wave I reluctantly would talk about it amongst baristas, roasters, and other coffee lovers.  I just didn’t feel comfortable, in fact, I felt awkward.  As much as I love coffee, and even though I have a two group Faema in my house running off of 220v and plumbed in, plus a professional food grade Mazzer Mini, a professional grade EspressoCraft tamper and can pour latte art (read “trying”) I still don’t fit in with baristi.  So, therefore I don’t feel comfortable talking with them about Third Wave concepts.

Imagine John Riley talking smack about espresso.

Imagine John Riley talking smack about espresso.

When I go to Octane in ATL, (and guys don’t take this wrong) I don’t fit in at all.  I know it may be because I am the only one there that is just sitting there talking about coffee.  It also could be that I probably intimidate the “daylights” out of everybody because I just pulled up across the street with a 80,000 lbs truck!  “What is that trashy truck driver doing walking over here?”  Everybody else is buzzing around talking about all sorts of crap and the ONLY thing we have in common is the Toscano in the grinder and in the cup.  Every coffee establishment I go to that is decidedly Third Wave I feel like I am freaking people out when I start talking about coffee in a dedicated, knowledgeable fashion.  Sometimes they slow down at whatever they are doing, listen a little, and look at me funny.  All I probably have said at this point is “Wow, the chocolate notes in this espresso is rather prominent.  Kind of Brazilian in nature.  Almost has a Sumatran kind of ‘zing’ to it, dontcha think?”  By this time, the poor barista is thinking of calling the manager up as if I was a customer with a gun! Just think of John C. Reilly (Step Brothers the movie) or even Jack Black (All sorts of stupid stuff) walking in and talking like that?  You would stare too.

When I introduced myself at Coffee & Crema to Shannon, said, “Hi, my name is Wilson Hines, I am a “coffee geek.”  Shannon smiled and quickly stuck his hand out.  I didn’t know how else to introduce myself, I figured he needed to know I had high expectations, as geeks do.  We have been friends ever since!  Oh man, Shannon and I have had some crazy coffee discussions.  We even refer to the pf.net podcast like Bible verses, LOL!  Such as, “According to PF podcast 52 Jay said……”  I don’t know why Shannon and I mixed so well together, but we did.  But, when I packed the family in the car and went to both Murky locations in D.C I had a mixed bag of descriptor!  We went to Arlington first and they thought I had lost my mind dragging a wife and two kids 220 miles for a shot of espresso and a couple of capps.  What can I say, I wanted to see the place!  When I pulled up at the Pennsylvania Ave location they already knew we were on the way!  They welcomed us warmly.  It was odd, one place thought we were crazy and the other place was like Shannon’s reception, we really had a good time at the Penn Ave location.  I bet Liz pulled twenty shots of different grind settings.  We were trying everything in and out of “the book.”

Out of the remainder of places I have been, I have had more of the “odd” look than the “excited to see somebody who cares look.”

I still think we have a long, long, long ways to go in educating our baristas, even at a Third Wave shop like Octane, Open Eye, Coffee & Crema or anywhere else, and I am not so sure if we will ever get to the point the Third Wave concept envisions.  The fact of the matter is you must have employees.  The second matter of fact is you can’t do but so much to ensure those employees are truly in love with the product.  You can have certifications, mandatory training at a roaster or in-house, or any other method you want, but at the end of the day, you still have got to hire somebody and that somebody you have probably doesn’t come home at the end of the day after pulling shots to sit at the computer “learning lingo,” working Barista Exchange, and posting or whatever on Coffee Geek or Home Barista.   In fact, I think BE has had a good and effective impact on getting the Average Joe Barista online and communicating with others.  And lets face it, BE is decidedly Third Wave!  One thing I don’t buy about the Third Wave concept and I don’t know if this is a perceived idea of mine or a perceived idea of the industry; But, there is an idea that you have to be a screaming liberal, tree hugging, tattooed to death (tastefully or not), Bush hating, “rent a protester” that you would only imagine at a G8 Summit Protest!  Trust me, I am none of these.  I am not the guy on the opposite end of that rope either!

But, I am naturally a Third Wave coffee enthusiast and convert.

Next…”Two and a Half Wave,” what is going wrong and what we have got to do about it.