The Pilot's Blog

Cold Brew Coffees in a Can

Cold Brew! You’ve probably noticed, but we’re absolutely rabid for this stuff. More caffeine, less acidity and all-natural to boot? No brainer. As we slowly convert everyone in the city to our canned goodness, learn why we love it!

We have had Nitro Cold Brew in our cafes for A little over a year now. The cold brew goes in the keg, comes out the tap, and as it does so it’s infused with Nitrogen gas. While Nitro has been bubbling around the coffee industry for a handful of years now, it’s still brand new in the scope of coffee (history). After seeing it take hold, it’s safe to say that this trailblazing innovation is here to stay. Nitro has quickly become one of our hallmarks. And that’s why we had to send it home with you.

Nitro and Cold Brew

Roasterie Cold Brew and Nitro in Cooler

From the beginning we’ve always wanted you to take us home. Well, our beans, that is… We love offering spaces and cafes to work, meet, play, chat, interview and be apart of our town. But we also love earning the privilege of being apart of your daily ritual. A right earned hopefully more by deliciousness than anything, but we’re happy as long as you’re enjoying the fruits of our passion. However we can help. If customers are enjoying our beans at home, how could they enjoy our cold brew at home?

With all of this newfangled, exciting Cold Brew, we kept thinking about people who love it but don’t live near our cafes. People on the road. People going camping or those just wanting the autonomy of drinking our product without needing to stop by one of our cafes. And that’s when the canning line came about.

The canning line was a new opportunity for us to learn and grow. Every time we try something new, it’s a chance for us to not become stale. As much as possible, we try to keep ourselves on our own toes. And journeying through a new endeavor, like the canning line, is a perfect opportunity. Not only were we desperate to get our cold brew in your hands in the most convenient form possible, it’s a chance to develop our skills. Learning the machine, creating positions and adjusting our production for a new line of coffee was the fun part.

Nitro Cold Brew cans before filling

Empty Nitro cans and the canning line

We had to overhaul the process with which we made cold brew. The canning line was a massive purchase and a bold move, so it makes sense that changing the way we run a few things was necessary. While we needed to change and we were hoping to revolutionize cold brew production, we never make any adjustments in our process without the due testing and experimenting. Flavor is always king at The Roasterie. Anything from the grind size in our cafes or the exact amount of time we steep our cold brew–and even the decision to steep versus other methods–are all the product of rigorous trial and error.

This process was manifest in our transition from cold brew cans to nitro cans. Because nitro is made almost identically to Guinness, that nitrogen content necessitated us learning how to can with the widget in the bottom. The widget is a plastic device that stores additional nitrogen gas until the tab is popped and ultimately helps give Nitro that vicious head of foam and the creamy texture and cascade. While it’s awesome to slurp right from the can, give it a very hard pour into a glass and be entranced by the cacophony of textures and the fireworks of bubbles.

Nitro in a glass

Nitro Cold Brew in a tulip glass at The Roasterie Factory Cafe

Cold Brew Cans have become quite popular, but perhaps not more than with hospital staff in the area. For the graveyard shift workers the cans have been a tremendous help. The higher caffeine content is appreciated in the long, late hours of the night. Patients love them, too, and are able to order a can right to their room. Not to mention, that in a hospital the concerns of health are paramount, and the lack of any preservatives, sugars, carbs, calories or artificial flavorings make the cans a truly guilt-free treat.

Cans are also terribly convenient. They do need to be refrigerated, but leaving them in an ice-chest will do the trick. Grab a different kind of six-pack for the next camping trip you take. Heading to the lake? Throw a few in the cooler and forget about all the extra baggage and hassle of bringing a coffee brewing system to the campsite. The beauty of the can is that it’s ready the second you pop the tab, and not a second later.

Our Nitro only comes in 12 oz cans, but the cold brew is made in 12 oz and 8 oz sizes. If you’re sensitive to caffeine or just need a little bit of a pick-me-up, the 8 oz cans are a great choice. They’re little, but they’re powerful. Cold brew is taking the coffee world by storm, and at least in Kansas City, we’re doing our best to lead the charge.

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Third Wave Coffee

Third wave coffee is (arguably) the most recent wave in coffee history. While the first wave made coffee ubiquitous across all nations, and second wave changed the way Americans consumed coffee, third wave has had as big of an impact. Third wave coffee can be boiled down to one paramount facet—the coffee itself. The goal became not to customize taste or sell as much as possible, but to extract and reveal as much flavor as possible out of a single cup of black coffee.

Black Coffee

20th Anniversary Mug with black coffee.

As a result, coffee got real, real nerdy. People began to (rightfully) scrutinize every aspect of coffee from seed to mug in order to learn what makes a fantastic coffee. Different regions of the world have unique flavor profiles, and even coffees from opposite ends of the same country may have a marked difference in taste. Similarly, coffee connoisseurs want to know how the coffee was processed—or, how the seed of the coffee cherry (commonly called the bean) is removed from the fruit. Allowing the fruit to dry around the seed will yield a sweeter, fruitier cup than a washed coffee that has the fruit removed from the very beginning. These third wave coffee shops could feasibly roast and sell beans sourced from small growing operations that could never sustain the business of larger giants.

Furthermore, the desire for transparency stems from the fact that coffee is such a labor intensive crop. There is a long history of exploitation and forced labor in coffee and sometimes buying from third world nations can lead to inhumane working conditions. The market soon demanded transparency and information out of their coffee companies. Such information helped discerning customers understand what flavors to expect from a coffee but also ensured that workers in these other countries were receiving a fair wage for their efforts.

A scenic vista of coffee farmlands

In order to differentiate themselves from the giants of Caribou and Starbucks, early third wave coffee shops focused on being small, unique and superb. Everything from the flavor of the drinks to the aesthetic of a café became a challenging ground for identity. Not only is the atmosphere of a third wave coffee shop unlike anything so commercialized, but it also encourages local shopping. Coffee shops became a source of home town pride, with a sense of protectiveness—as their beloved coffee house is only available in one specific town. That sense of pride is only furthered as third wave shops begin to express opinions about coffee through coffee. With this most recent wave, every variable of coffee making becomes an avenue to express a philosophy about how the coffee should be roasted, ground and brewed. Aside from being the favorite haunt of hip teenagers and telecommuters, third wave coffee shops may live, breath and bleed a particular philosophy about how to prepare coffee—and their customers as well.

The dynamic between 3rd wave shops and their public is more flexible than larger, 2nd wave operations. Coffee in general was stepping away from a formulaic approach and entering a more experimental phase. In some ways this perspective shift focused more on the journey than the destination. With so many variables in the preparation of coffee, each was viewed as a tributary for exploration and discovery. Vertical integration rose as a handful of coffee companies started buying machinery in order to roast in-house—completely transforming the definition of ‘fresh’ coffee.

Plant Cafe

Southwest Boulevard Plant Cafe.

Certainly the sheer freshness of roasted-that-morning coffee made a difference, but truly, many of these coffee companies are looking for more control. More capacity for learning, experimentation and ultimately expression. Second wave coffee almost held a ‘good enough’ attitude towards making delicious drinks—once a drink tasted right, the goal was then to rinse and repeat that same process. Third wave is closer to gourmet dining: few 3 Star Michelin Chefs will tell you they’ve reached their pinnacle. There are always more techniques to master, more experiments to run, more influences or knowledge to obtain. Like athletes, artists or musicians, one can always improve on something about coffee.

There’s always room for improvement, and moreover, room for innovation as well. We’ve written before about recent innovations in the coffee industry, but it’s worth mentioning again as those inventions are driven by the spirit of third wave coffee. With an unwavering focus on the taste of coffee sans syrups and milks, the only route for exploration came from how to brew the coffee itself. Cold brew looks at lessening acidity via heat-less extraction methods. Pour overs use a drip-brewing method but remove all automation for unparalleled control and precision. Either via principles of flavor extraction or via skill and finesse, these innovations let the beans’ flavors stand alone.

Some argue that we are currently in the midst of the fourth wave of coffee. Whether that’s true, what the fourth wave will look like, what attributes will change the industry as we know it—all of those discussions are open to debate. But, as of now third wave coffee has borrowed from the wine industry, the farm to table movement and a fiendish craving for information. And, above all else, a love for that delectable black brew is necessary.

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Second Wave Coffee

The first wave of coffee made it available to people of all classes, all across the world. Then, suddenly, the gatekeepers to the land of coffee changed. The old guard was a waitress named ‘Flo’ who wandered diners with a glass Bunn pot of coffee offering to “top you off, there, hon.” In the first wave of coffee, marketing, packaging and agricultural practices brought coffee to the customer. Some might say they killed coffee’s mystique—instead of a sumptuous brew from a foreign land with a curious cognitive effect, it became an advertising jingle.

With second wave coffee, the new guard was defined by people with skills, training, and oftentimes, angst. (That last attribute is and always will be a fertile bed for artistry.) These new gatekeepers stood behind a bar stocked with impressively loud and complicated machinery. In that regard, coffee regained some of its lost enigmatic qualities. Quite literally, the average customer had to approach coffee again. The customer had to walk up to the bar and claim the beverage they ordered. Both within the café itself and in the world at large, second wave coffee flipped the tables of deliverance. First wave took coffee to every kitchen but second wave brought everyone back out into the world. You had to go to the coffee.

The change from delivery to expedition is a result of the change within coffee culture and American culture, too. Coffee became a reason to go out—much like the effect on Western Europe in the 1800’s, America realized that aesthetics and atmosphere can be reason enough leave one’s home. The combination of second wave drinks that were unattainable at home and the rise of cafés becoming cool spots to hang out led to another defining characteristic of second wave of coffee. We, as a nation, realized that catching up with old friends, dates and even job interviews could be conducted in the comforts of a coffee shop. Students could study for long periods of time in chic spots that also fueled their grades.

What perhaps most notably marks the second wave, though, is how it spread and homogenized. The foremost example of a second wave coffee shop is Starbucks. At one point in their history the Jittery Green Giant was opening a new café every business day. Branding combined with franchising made a priority out of guaranteeing a consistent experience across every Starbucks worldwide. A Caramel Macchiato in Lewiston, Maine, needed to taste almost identical to a Caramel Macchiato in Heidelberg, Germany. Though it is undeniably a good business model (their earnings speak for themselves) it has drawn them away from their roots of serving freshly roasted coffee beans. Those roots shrank over time, and after a $3.8 million takeover, Starbucks began brewing lattes and selling pre-ground coffee. These origins are arguably more 3rd wave than second, in the sense that the original focus was on quality as opposed to consistent quantity. Be it the demands of the world at the time, a brilliant example of marketing or the convenience of global franchising, Starbucks took off.

Another change with second wave coffee was the sheer level of customization that these shops afforded. In the 1960’s, if you weren’t a fan of the sometimes bitter taste or earthy tones inherent to many coffees, you simply avoided it or perhaps drank tea. By the late 90’s, you had an arsenal of milks, flavors, and syrups at your disposal. Which fit right into the American ‘Have it your way’ economy. And in terms of branding, this capacity for personalization only instilled more fondness for particular locations. People started to develop recipes for concoctions that were their drinks.  Not only did the market widen with new coffee converts, but it also instilled a sense of artistry. One wasn’t simply ordering a very large coffee with milk and artificial syrups, one was ordering with jargon and foreign phrases.

This realization, that coffee is much deeper than it might seem borrowed some from the wine industry. In the midst of the second wave of coffee consumers and baristas alike began paying attention to origins of coffee beans, growing conditions and methodology. Methodology in general became a factor as the populace came to understand all the elements of a great coffee. Everything from the steaming of the milk, to the pulling of the shots to the art in the latte itself became noticeable. And somewhere in the second-and-a-half wave of coffee, true aficionados would base their patronage on these elements or skill sets.

This new iteration of a very old drink transformed how many areas of the globe viewed coffee. Rescued from the mundane rituals of Monday morning, evolving public social spaces and even forging a new avenue for a self-expression—second wave coffee turned the coffee world on its head. As peoples’ tastes turned to more complicated drinks, those tastes brought them out of their own kitchen and into the coffee shop. Second wave coffee is still alive and well, though the past 8-10 years have given rise to the reactionary third wave.

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First Wave Coffee

When it comes to the culture surrounding coffee and café history, the term ‘wave’ has been coined and used heavily. First, second and third wave coffee is defined by distinct characteristics and driving forces of the marketplace. This week we’ll dive in to First Wave Coffee, and the next waves we’ll discuss in successive weeks following. Without further adieu, let’s dive into the advent of coffee’s ascension to king of the cups.

While the exact date first wave coffee began is debatable, it lies somewhere in the 1800’s. After the Dutch proliferated coffee trees throughout the world in the 17th century, much of Western Europe took after the coffee craze. As we discussed last week, cafes and the café culture shook European societal norms to their roots. Suddenly, people of all classes, ages and professions were intermingling in a common place over a hot cup. The change in society coupled with a legitimate fondness for the brew drove coffee production to a monumental scale in a short amount of time.Nescafé_tin_Classic

Will H. Bovee changed the coffee industry in America, and the world, by selling pre-roasted ground coffee in tin cans. At the time, the 1850’s, coffee drinkers had to buy green beans, roast and grind the coffee themselves before having a cup. Taking away two arduous and lengthy steps in making coffee helped it become more accessible and easy to brew.

Moving into the 20th century, first coffee transitioned from an exotic and stimulating drink to a staple in every modern household’s morning. Far from taking place overnight, this shift in perception and consumption took several steps. Some of the first steps involved were innovations like vacuum sealing and instant coffee. Both furthered the viral spread of the brew. Combined with the prohibition of the 1920’s, coffee was on a meteoric rise.

Vacuum sealing kept coffee fresher for longer, allowing distribution from large coffee companies to grow. The method was developed by Hills Bros. Coffee and has become a 736px-Washington_Coffee_New_York_Tribunestaple for any perishable goods shipping. Another hallmark of first wave coffee was instant coffee. Invented by Japanese-American Satori Kato dehydrated coffee and made it soluble in water. Instant coffee’s ease of use and caffeine buzz made it indispensible as a battlefield ration of WWI, and at home the marketplace was dominated by novelty and convenience. This was the era of frozen dinners and electric razors—anything that could be ‘modernized’ was. Instant coffee became such a staple that, according to an article on craftbeverages.com, up to one third of coffee being imported in to the US at the time was being turned into instant coffee. (This trend took a notable nosedive after the 80’s, but we’ll talk more about that next week.)
While the initial reaction to coffee in Europe was marked and sweeping, America’s adoption of the beverage was greatly boosted by the aide of advertising agencies and two major coffee giants: Folgers and Maxwell House. Folgers had several notable advertisements such as their classic slogan “the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup;” however, Maxwell House was 675px-Maxwell_house_coffee_newspaper_ad_1921the dominant advertiser of the era. In 1924 their advertising budget was $276,894. Adjusted for modern inflation rates, their budget was $809,353. The very next year, in a study of Consumer Goods, Maxwell House was cited as the most well-known coffee brand in the US.

Perhaps the final stage in first wave coffee was the introduction of the Mr. Coffee automatic drip brewer. Before the automatic drip brewer was invented in Germany in 1954, and then made popular with the Mr. Coffee version in the 1970’s the stovetop percolator was coffee making method de jour.

These combined facets of high-cost branding; at home drip machines and instant coffee, combined with an emphasis on ease & affordability all signal the hallmarks of first wave coffee. From the initial exposure to such a foreign concoction in Paris to entire cul-de-sacs waking up with Folgers in their cups, first wave coffee stretches the longest period of time. While it certainly established coffee as a necessity to modern day living, it is criticized for sacrificing flavor and transparency for a cheap brew. Today we’ve come a long way by having direct, handshake relationships with individual farmers and keeping the taste of our coffee at the highest priority. Though many of the practices of first wave coffee run contrary to what we strive to be as a coffee company, we have to admit that without first wave coffee it’s impossible to know if we’d still be around. All we can say is that now we’ve found a better way.

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Philanthropy at The Roasterie

Fazenda Lagoa

Brazilian coffee farm Fazenda Lagoa

Danny O’Neil’s interest in philanthropy started early. As a kid in Iowa, he knocked on doors to sell everything from magazines to pizza dough mix to raise money for his school. Fast forward several decades to founding The Roasterie and his interest in giving back had turned into a passion that burns as bright as his love of sharing the world’s best coffees with his customers.

Over the years Danny realized that the two concepts—helping others and providing an excellent service or good—are not mutually exclusive. In terms of business practices, excellence wielded deftly can sustain and grow much more support than a good cause on its own. In practical terms, Danny wanted to make sure that it’s as easy as possible to do the right thing.

Here’s just one example. After a Herculean effort to find the greatest coffees in Brazil, Danny finally found ‘the one.’ While it was, undoubtedly in Danny’s opinion, the best Brazilian coffee, the price was simply beyond his price range. So he put his instincts for giving back to work. He asked the community about its needs; how could he help make a difference? “Daycare,” they said.

For an extra $.15 per pound, the coffee went from being a high-cost commodity to an investment with a tangible, smiling return. He was investing in humans. Before long about 60 children were enjoying their new day-care facility.

Call it serendipity, divine providence or just the immutable law of unintended consequences, but at the time there was a shortage of coffee pickers in that particular region. Now that someone in the village could provide care, education and a watchful eye over children, a number of women were now available to help pick coffee. They suddenly transformed their finances into a double-income household.

Not only does The Roasterie get a fantastic coffee, but the communities from which those coffees originate are teeming with benefits wrought from a touch of foresight.

Before long coffee buyers and producers started following Danny’s example. When workers feel fondness and gratitude—however minute or overwhelming—the quality of work improves. And not only had the quality of life improved, but the care for the product improved also. Eventually coffee companies from Italy, Germany and Japan started following Danny’s example in the areas they sourced from.

Soon a kitchen, showers and computers along with satellites for the Internet were added. Having ready access to these amenities benefited the children, families and ultimately the community as a whole. Everything from a hot meal to a modern education was provided, or at least available, at the daycare. A school here in Kansas City got the opportunity to Skype with the school in Brazil for an E-foreign exchange.

Admittedly, there were some selfish interests in doing all this. Danny’s goal was to create a stable community that could ensure such superb coffee would be there next year. Danny also changed how business was conducted by suggesting a multi-year contract agreement. With a three-year contract in place, Marcelo, the farmer, could invest in proper care of his crops even in bad years.

Danny altruistic journey has come full circle—from helping his school in Iowa to helping to build a school in Brazil. At The Roasterie we leap at the opportunity to help others. While we want to give back and improve the quality of life for all who interact with our company, we also want to make sure that such improvements aren’t just flashes in a philanthropic pan. And the best way to do that is to align our philanthropy with our own goals. By innovating in our operations, investing in human beings and helping communities we’re able to improve our own business.

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Industry Trends: Chill Out with Nitro

best strong coffee

Cold Brew Nitro Glass

The world of coffee is constantly changing and evolving. Cold brew, or toddy brewing, recently came into vogue as caffeine addicts struggled to down a 20-ounce piping hot latte in 97-degree weather with 84 percent humidity. Hello, Midwest summer!

The cool news – sorry, couldn’t help it – is that cold brew is as simple to make as iced tea and has a number of advantages over ‘regular’ coffee.

Instead of using a high temperature and a short amount of time, cold brew dramatically extends the brew time (up to 24 hours) in order to extract the coffee’s flavor and caffeine. The end result will be roughly 33 percent more caffeinated but roughly 66 percent less acidic.

Here’s why: hot water draws out any natural acidity or oil in a coffee bean, so using cold water extracts the flavors and the caffeine exclusively.

So why not just pour coffee over ice when you’re ready to chill out? The distinction between iced coffee and cold brew lies in the water temperature—iced coffee was brewed hot and then cooled whereas ‘cold brew’ was never introduced to hot water. Aside from giving baristas more jargon, there lies the dramatic difference in the process and end result.

But if the concept of drinking cold coffee is new to you … well, strap in. Even more recent than cold brewed coffee is The Roasterie’s cold brewed Nitro Coffee. Almost identical to Guinness on tap, Nitro is kegged and hooked up to a nitrogen gas tank. As the coffee is pulled out of the tap (yes, coffee on tap), it’s infused with nitrogen gas for a smooth finish and gentle effervescence.  Because this is cold brewed coffee, the benefits of lessened acidity and higher caffeine content still apply. The nitrogen adds a creaminess in both flavor and texture.

You’ll find our Nitro Coffee on tap at our cafes in Leawood, Brookside, Southwest Boulevard, JCCC, as well as at Children’s Mercy Park, Brown & Loe, Snowball in St. Joseph, and for the employees at both Rego and Hufft Projects. Watch this blog to learn when we’ll have it available in cans. You read that right: robust, smooth and lightly effervescent coffee in cans. You’ll want to start making room in your refrigerator now.

And of course, you can find cold brew java at all three Roasterie cafes. Although the cold brew is popular during warm weather, it still provides a refreshing choice year ‘round.

 

HOME BREW: Having a pitcher of cold, ready-to-go coffee sitting in your fridge not only makes hectic mornings easier, but also the extra jolt of caffeine might not hurt, either! Making cold brew coffee in your own kitchen is a breeze.

Grab 12 oz of coarsely ground coffee, two qts of cold water and a pitcher (make less if you’d prefer, just scale back the recipe proportionally). Pre-ground coffee will work fine; just try steeping for closer to 12 hours instead of 24. Add half of your coffee and wet the grounds evenly with half of your water. Repeat. Then, stick it in the fridge and then let it sit for 12-24 hours!

The only trick with cold brew is how to strain the coffee grounds from the cold brew—we recommend transferring the cold brew to a different container and filtering the grounds at this step. Cover the new container in a coffee filter or cheese cloth, or, use a French Press if you have one since the mesh filter in the press will strain the grounds for you. We’ve tried make-shift tea bags for our cold brew but it doesn’t extract flavor nearly as well.

One important caveat: Making cold brew might require some trial and error because your favorite bean or blend for brewed coffee might not work as well as a cold brew. Don’t worry—try our cold brew blend, which is made with this specific method in mind.

Purchase online https://www.theroasterie.com/coffee/signature-blends/cold-brew or at the Leawood, Brookside or Plant cafes.

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Special Feature: India Temple Mountain

At the Roasterie we take great pride in buying, roasting, and selling the best beans the world has to offer. We also take a great pride in bringing extra special coffees to Kansas City and getting as many people to try them as possible. One of our newest offerings, the India Temple Mountain, is one such coffee.

Not long ago people in the specialty coffee world would think we are crazy for not only buying coffee from India… but referring to it as “extra special.” For many, many years India was just not producing specialty grade coffee due to a lack of knowledge around how to craft the product. Coffee plants can be very fickle and need just the right conditions to flourish and produce good coffee. Elevation, soil, and sunlight are all factors in what can make or break a coffee crop. It took a while but farmers in India have learned from the mistakes of their ancestors and are finally producing some truly exceptional crops.

While our very own ‘Bean Baron’, Danny O’Neill, was traveling this last year he had a chance to cup our India Temple Mountain and was immediately blown away by the bright, clean, and exciting cup. He knew he had to get this coffee to Kansas City no matter what it took; in this case it took buying the whole crop of the coffee. Now, you may be thinking this means we will have this coffee for a while… but you would be mistaken. We have moved through half our inventory in less than a month and a half and it looks like demand is only going to grow. I would recommend buying a bag (or five) now and giving them away as presents, birthday presents, or just to treat yourself. We nitrogen flush each bag which ensure peak freshness for 6 months.  Coffee crops can very year to year and you may not get a chance to try this coffee ever again.

The other thing Danny brought back with him was a ton of great photos. Check out the India Travel Photo Gallery to get an idea of the adventures that took place!

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20 Years of Research Proves Coffee Is More Than A Drink

Anyone who knows a coffee lover most likely knows that when offered a cup, there is only one option:  take it and savor every sip.  Coffee enthusiast are amongst the most passionate consumers in the world; and now they have even more reason to scream from the rooftop about the product they love so much.  A recently released study shows that coffee is indeed more than just a drink and includes 20 years of research to back it!

CoffeeHealthBenefits

Read the full article here:
http://www.businessinsider.com/harvard-scientist-explains-coffee-2015-11

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The Other Side of Coffee – The Roasterie goes to Costa Rica (2015)

PastoraCoffeeCrops

For the days of January 18th – January 24th, my coworkers and I were guests and companions on a true coffee exploration. We were flown to Costa Rica, where we visited multiple coffee farms across the country. Each farm was another classroom, offering lessons in how coffee is grown, harvested, processed and exported. As team members of The Roasterie, my companions and I were very familiar with how coffee is processed and roasted after its importation into the United States. However, now we had opportunity to see what happens in a coffee’s country of origin, and we made sure not to waste it.

CoffeeCherriesTruck

The farmers were welcoming and encouraged a hands on experience from the very start. We used all of our senses to experience coffee on every level of production. We picked the cherries from the tree, tasted them, observed and attempted to assist as farmers delicately and efficiently sorted the quality cherries from the bad, and best of all, saw the inner workings of the coffee processes. We witnessed fully washed, semi-washed, and natural coffee processes. But what was truly irresistible at each farm were the honey processed coffees. Yellow, red and black; it was a surprise to see that each farm was producing coffee in very specialized ways.

Growing and Picking

During our multiple-hour bus rides through dream-like Costa Rican landscapes and culture-rich cities, something we became quick to recognize were the coffee crops. Imagine crops in Kansas, Iowa or Nebraska. Corn crops and wheat crops grow in planted rows for miles and miles on flat plains throughout the mid-west. Coffee trees are remarkably similar. Miles and miles of rows of shaded and unshaded coffee trees – down the slopes of mountains, sometimes nearly a mile above sea-level. Farmers and workers on these plantations will gather together in the open beds of trucks, drive around the winding curves of the roads engineered to the mountain’s edge. When they reach the farm, they will go out with baskets tied to their waist, and spend the day picking the best cherries from the trees.

CherryBasket

 

CoffeeCherries

In one of our trips to a farm in Tarrazu, we had a coffee picking competition in which we were instructed to pick our cherries quickly and efficiently, bust most important, selectively. The coffees should be a plum-purple, uniform color when picked. Green or bright red cherries should be left on the branch where dark purple or wrinkled, blackish cherries should be tossed as overripe.

Processing

From these sloping crops, the cherries are driven by truck to mills – sometimes owned by the farmers, sometimes not. Shortly after entering a farm or mill, we would often be confronted with what are referred to as “African Beds.” These beds would have a different set up each time. Sometimes in rows, sometimes in long, winding lines up the side of a mountain path, sometimes in bunks, sometimes covered in a tarp, sometimes in a tent, sometimes directly in the sun. These beds were being used to lay out natural and honey processed coffees.

AfricanBeds

One of my favorite mill and farm experiences was on the La Pastora farm, which exists at the highest altitude of any of the farms we visited – 6,000 feet above sea level, and produces fully washed, semi-washed, natural and honey processed coffees. The name of this farm may be familiar if you are a Roasterie Regular. One of our 2014 Reserve Coffees came from this farm, you would recognize it as our La Pastora Black Honey Processed coffee.

CherryMucilageRedHoneyIn a prior Pilot’s Blog update made on June 24th, 2014, we explained the honey processes, yellow, red and black. We explained what “honey” means and what kind of coffee these processes produce. This post can be found here. For just a short recap, coffee comes from a coffee cherry. When you break that cherry open, you find two seeds covered in the mucilage of the cherry. Mucilage is a gooey, sticky substance made up of natural sugars and alcohols within the cherry. Think of the gooey, translucent tissue surrounding gestating aliens in The X-Files. It’s just like that. No? You don’t want to think of it that way, because that’s disgusting, and Roasterie coffee is delicious? Well then, think of…HONEY! Mucilage is like honey, it is sticky and sweet and made up of sugars. (And who would want to buy a “Black Mucilage Processed” coffee? Black Honey Processed? SIGN US UP!)

Based on the moisture and sugar content of a crop, some seeds will be chosen to be Honey Processed, which can be broken down even further into Yellow, Red or Black. These coffees are de-pulped but not washed, so they are still covered in thick, sticky mucilage. BlackHoneyCoffee They are then laid out on beds, usually over a period of 5-8 days. The amount of sunlight the seeds receive, dictates whether the “honey” is yellow, red or black. Yellow receiving the most sunlight, where black receives the least. We spent a lot of time tasting coffee seeds in the midst of their honey process. The texture of the seed’s husks is weak and crunchy, and the surrounding mucilage tastes sweet and surprisingly similar to Honey Smacks Cereal.

The effect of these processes is a sweeter coffee, though that sweetness varies in its exact flavor profile. They will not necessarily of the rich, berry sweetness of a natural processed coffee, but will have a notably different flavor than a washed coffee.

It was interesting to see that every farm we visited was using these specialized Honey Processing methods on their coffee. After seeing the process up close, it will be exciting to watch the possible rising trend of Honey Processed coffee out of Costa Rica or perhaps globally. And for a Roasterie connoisseur, I would keep your eyes peeled for new Honey Processed and Costa Rican coffees in 2015…

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Life Saving Beans

With New Year’s resolutions finally upon us and promises of healthier living bouncing around our heads, it can be overwhelming with a seemingly endless stream of “experts” insisting that you have to cut out one delicious thing after another. You end up wondering what is left to enjoy? It is natural to consider the the health benefits of what we consume most on a daily basis. For a lot of us, coffee is absolutely an everyday beverage. There are many rumors about the adverse health effects of coffee but we suggest you grab a cup of job and take a look at some recent finding on the health benefits of coffee before you remove, in our opinion, the best part of the day.

1.) A study by Jiang X., Zhang D and Jiang W. in 2014, which looked at the effects of drinking two extra cups of coffee daily had on more than a million people, found a 12% decrease in diabetes risk for every additional two cups of coffee consumed.

2.) A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which studied more than 229,000 men and 173,000 women ages 51-70, showed that the risk of dying from any cause was reduced by 6%, 10% and 12% for people who drank 1 cup per day, 2-3 cups per day, and 4-5 cups per day, respectively.

3.) A 2014 study of over 1.2 million participants showed that compared to non-coffee drinkers, people who average 1.5 cups per day saw a 11% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk and people who average 3.5 cups per day saw a 15% reduction.

4.) H. Qi and S. Li found in their study that coffee drinkers who consume 3 cups per day are 28% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.

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These health benefits are not just derived from caffeine intake but also the fact that coffee is rich in polyphenol antioxidants which have powerful disease-fighting properties, according to Dietitian, Lois Ferguson. Recent studies have shown that coffee contains four times the amount of antioxidants than green tea, which has long been considered a herbal remedy. Read more on The Roasterie.com.

So, if you are looking to fulfill your New Year’s resolutions and live a healthier lifestyle, shop The Roasterie and purchase some lifesaving beans.

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