Sunday, November 25, 2007

Java Passport

We sample a lot of coffee. Most of it is good, but every once in a while, we find one that just jumps up off the cupping table and makes itself known. Those are the coffees that I add to our portfolio. If you're the adventurous type and not too shy to try something new, we think that you'll find the Java Passport to be your cup of tea, so to speak.

The Java Passport is simple and it works like this: you tell us how much and how often you want your coffee, we make a selection from our exceptional coffees, custom-roast it, and ship it out to you.

I realize that in this day of choice, the idea of letting someone else choose is anathema, but you gotta trust me on this one. We won't send you crap. If you're game, click here for the order form.

Each selection will come with tasting notes and information about the farm or region from where the coffee comes. So pack your bags, grab your travel mug, and join us as we explore the world through the little brown bean.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Saturday Night's Alright for Roasting

Cooling it down
20lbs of Papua New Guinea in the cooling tray

As I walked out to the roastery, the crisp night air reminded me that winter had finally arrived. I lit the roaster to warm it up while I weighed out the coffee… 20 pounds of Papua New Guinea and 20 pounds of Bugle Blend. With its 75,000 BTUs of heating power, the roaster broke the chill in the room as it came up to temperature. I loaded up the hopper and let the green coffee drop into the drum with a whoosh. The coffee began its rhythmic shoosh-shoosh as it was tossed about inside the drum. I plotted the time/temperature profile, adjusting the flame as the roast progressed. Every few seconds, I could see a little finger of flame peek out from the fire box. Soft pops, not unlike the sound of popcorn, signaled that the coffee was entering first crack, when the remaining moisture in the bean bursts out in a puff of steam. The scent of grass changed to bread as the coffee darkened and neared the final stage of roasting. I pulled a sample of beans, looked... smelled… close, but not yet ready. I pulled a few more samples with the tryer, a small scoop that inserts into the roaster, and could see that finally, it was ready to drop into the cooling tray. Moving quickly, I turned on the spinning arms of the agitator, cut the flame back, and lifted up the drum door, releasing the chocolate-colored beans from the roasting chamber. The beans cooled quickly as the agitator stirred and the last bit of smoke wafted upward.

I love my job.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Simon's Coffee

Simon's Coffee

I found myself in Cambridge, Massachusetts last week and since I'd heard good things about Simon's Coffee from Jay Caragay, I hiked over to check it out. When I say "hiked," I mean it literally, since I know nothing about the Boston/Cambridge area and walked approximately 3 miles from the MIT subway stop to Simon's. Little did I know, a convenient stop was only a few hundred yards from my destination, but I could afford to lose some weight anyway and isn't it supposed to be all about the journey?

Simon's uses coffee from George Howell's company, Terroir. George is one of the good guys in the coffee business and true to his company's name, wants you to know the land from where his coffee comes. I ordered a single espresso and the staff informed me that they didn't do espresso "to-go" (not that I would ever think of doing such a thing). The barista did his thing and passed me the warm demitasse over the bar. The mottled mahogany crema released a wonderful aroma that covered my palate with tastes of leather and tobacco, ending in a slightly floral finish. The body was slightly thinner than I prefer, but overall, it was a very good espresso.

The next time I'm in Boston, I know where I'm getting my coffee!

Simon's Coffee Shop
1736 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA