Free (or Near Free) Information

Ok, so I seem to get asked this question alot so I figured why not write a full blog post about it on my website and then I can just send people here for from now on.

People want to know where to find information about the coffee, and I happen to know where to find a lot of that information. So lets get started:

***Oh yeah, after adding a bunch of material to the roasting section, it became apparent I needed to add this disclaimer (which particularly applies to the roasting material but also the other sections to a lesser extent!!!). Just because I recommend certain information, it does not imply that wholeheartedly I agree with everything voiced by said source. Roasting, in particular, is both science and intuition, there’s a lot of good information out there, but a lot of those answers are just leading to more and more questions that we don’t know the answer to yet. You still need to be aware of the different methodologies currently being used by the industry. If for no other reason, than at least to try it and know that it doesn’t work for you***

Barista:

Books:

The Professional Barista's Handbook: An Expert Guide to Preparing Espresso, Coffee, and Tea First Edition Edition. Scott Roa. The first really really good book I read that was written specifically for baristas. I think its about 10 years old at this point but I still see a lot of people using the guidelines in this book ( as well as a lot of people violating of the guidelines in this book :< ).

Everything But Espresso. Scott Rao: A concise, informative book about brewing coffee. Includes information about troubleshooting your brewed coffee, water composition, cleaning and maintaining equipment, etc.

The Coffee Cuppers Handbook or Basics of Cupping Coffee by Ted R. Lingle: Need to read and practice pretty much everything in this book if you want to have a career in coffee.

Podcasts:

Cat and Cloud Podcast: Honestly, this podcast has been hard for me to keep listening to in the past 6 months or so (about when they opened their coffee shop) but you can go way back to the beginning and learn basically everything you’ll ever need to know about opening a specialty coffee shop from these guys. They are smart and very open about their opinions. Specifically, their episode with Jen Apodeca was outstanding, but really, with these guys, there’s really no excuse to not just start at the beginning and listen all the way through.

Shop Owning:

Books:

Everything But Espresso by Scott Rao: Important for shop owners too.

Podcasts:

Cat and Cloud Podcast: For reasons cited above.

Coffee is Me Podcast : Weird name but super great info. There’s stuff about opening a shop, creating espresso blends, roasting coffee, promoting your brand, running a successful kickstarter campaign, etc.... It’s all relevant and important.

Keys to the Shop: Ooph… this one is dry and hard to listen to. Which is unfortunate because it is packed with really, really great information. But boy, howdy, it feels like homework. Do your best.

Roasting:

Books:

Everything But Espresso by Scott Rao: Also good for roasters.

The Coffee Cuppers Handbook or Basics of Cupping Coffee by Ted R. Lingle See above.

The Coffee Roaster’s Handbook. Scott Rao. Well, if you weren’t aware. This is a very controversial book. Scott put a lot of stuff out there and drew very definitive lines in the sand. Some of it I agree with, some of it I don’t. Regardless, however, I 100% believe that if you want to be a competent roaster, you need to read this book and you need to implement the principles in it. Then, you have to decide if the product has improved or not. If you cant decide, then do it again until you can decide. It’s a simple yet very involved process but there’s just no other way of growing as a coffee roaster.

Modulating the Flavor Profile of Coffee. Rob Hoos. I would rate this one as maybe a… 7/10. Its got some good stuff but .. idk… its also quite difficult to put what he says into practice (which is why I struggle to fully recommend it). Last year, I took a roasting class by this guy at an SCA event and the class had so much good information. It was a total crash course in coffee roasting, and I learned a ton. Which makes it so unfortunate the book wasn’t quite that.

Podcasts:

Coffee is Me Podcast (again): For all the reason cited above. The one with Gwilym Davies is perhaps one of the best coffee related podcasts I’ve ever listened to, it’s a 3 parts series though, so listen to all 3.

Cat and Cloud Podcast: The one with Scott Rao has some really good stuff.

Keys to the Shop: Specifically go find the one with Rob Hoos. Tons of good roasting info.

Coffee Roasting Navigated Podcast: Short and great. No reason at all to not listen all the way through.

The Exchange Podcast: Also a short but very informative podcast about coffee roasting. It is a little insidery, but for coffee roasters its all good stuff. 10/10

Youtube:

Roaster School Online by Millcity Roasters .

I’m going to come back to this and add a bit more later. There’s also some pretty good trade magazines I can recommend. But just doing this took me around 2 hours. Hope it helps someone out there!!!


Quick Update

Just a super fast update. I got some very nice new coffees in and you may also noticed I trimmed my list down a bit. I still carry a wide varieties of coffee, but I decided that to better help you folks out, I would just pick the top 2 or 3 coffees every time I get a new shipment in. Also, I am moving soon and ... getting a new roaster? What?   More details to follow!

Coffee Selection

So. I was thinking of doing some blogs on commonly asked questions I get. One of those I hear all the time is, 'so... where do you get your coffee?'  So... because this seems to be a common question, lets tackle it!

The first thing we should address is who I get my coffee from. So, most coffee roasters of my size usually go through coffee importing companies. These are companies based mostly in large port cities, which is where they warehouse their large holdings of green coffee. Coffee importing companies are one of the most important links in the overall coffee chain, as they are the ones who are responsible for finding the good stuff and logistically getting here. For companies like me that prefer to purchase direct trade coffees, or coffees from single estates and small coops, your coffee importer is like, your number one guy, the one you need to have the most strong, positive relationship with.  Its nearly impossible to try all the coffees out there so I rely heavily on my importer to know what I like and to alert me as to when these coffees are available or when they are almost out.  

If you want to take a look at what some common importer websites look like here are a few I have used in the past:


Royal Coffee

Bodhi Leaf Coffee

Olam Specialty Coffee

Looking over just the offering page of the first one listed, Royal Coffee, can be very daunting lol. Multiple farms, regions, processing methods, warehouses, supplies., price, elevation, varietal, the list goes on and on.  The properties of specialty coffee can seem endless, but that's what makes every single cup special!

The next part is the funnest one: call up or email your importer and get some samples in. The pics below are a few years old but the process is always the same. Get a ridiculous amount of samples, sample roast them up in the air popper, and the cup them all blind. I like to use SCAA cupping sheets and preferably group the samples by region, but its not necessary.  You can cup any samples against any other samples you want, just depends on what you're trying to find.   From there its just a matter of price and availability. Some popular coffees are quick to go and the price of coffee does depend on the futures market price of coffee so it goes up and down regularly. 

The last thing I'll say about selecting coffee is that when I first started I would try to represent most of the popular regions by just picking the best of each country I sampled. Which is a fie way of doing it. But over the past few years, the increase in micro-lots of coffee by planting different varietals and using different processing methods has made this process both archaic and cumbersome. My current process is to just find the best coffees that represent what I feel are common flavor profiles. For example, a common flavor profile for an Ethiopian coffee would be sweet, wild, fruit forward with chocolate and blueberry notes. Well, flavors like that can be hard to replicate but the natural processed Bali's can come pretty dang close. The same with some Sumatrans and Papua New Guineas I have been trying this year.  So, instead of just picking an Ethiopian to have an Ethiopian, I much prefer to just have a clean, sweet, berry/fruity coffee from anywhere that does a good job producing that style of coffee.

Hope that helps explain some things. :-)

My Slayer Espresso Journey

So... Big news everybody! I am now the first certified technician in all of Arizona for Slayer Espresso Machines. I went up to Seattle last month and spent 3 days learning every thing there is to know about all 3 of their machines. I will have some more big news in the future as far as selling the machines go , but for now. Check out some of these fun pics from my Journey to Seattle. 

Coffee Fest Anaheim 2016

So... Just got back from Anaheim a few weeks ago and had a great time. It's so nice to see the specialty coffee community is still growing and still offering new and improved ways of enjoying coffee every year. This year was definitely 'nitro toddy' heavy lol, with more than 10 booths offering different versions of nitro toddy. 

I was also fortunate enough to see Gino of Riviera Coffee enter the in the 'Worlds Best Espresso' competition, which was very educational for me.  I also met a number of new green coffee importers so I am super excited to get some new samples in and work on finding the best possible coffees I can get a hold of. 

I included a bunch of pictures below of my trip :-)

Nitro Coffee

We are proud to announce our first nitro coffee project has finally come to fruition. The folks at Refuge Coffee, here in downtown Phoenix have kindly allowed us to take over one of their beer taps to bring you fresh, fully nitrogenated cold brew coffee. 

The Refuge is not only a locally owned coffee shop that serves up great coffee, wine, beer and delicious food but they were opened in partnership with the Catholic Charities here in Phoenix, where all proceeds from the shop go back to the Catholic Charities. And if that weren't enough, they also employ and work with veterans to help integrate them back into a normal working routine as part of their core mission statement.

I can't recommend this shop enough, Please check it out if you get the chance.

For anyone curious about my Nitro coffee, I have recently begun to use a Nicaraguan Jinotega Single Estate bean. It has very nice acidity balance and a clean profile, which I always like for my cold brews. I roast the coffee, let it degass for 24 hours, grind it and brew it in the cold brew fashion for 24 hours, then extract the coffee, infuse it with 100% nitrogen (no beer gas mixture) for another 24 hours and then finally it is ready to drink! 

 

Futuro

Had a chance to stop by one of downtown Phoenix's newest shops, Futuro, last week. Futuro is located at 909 N 1st St, just south of Roosevelt. From what I can tell, the shop is owned by the owner of the hair salon, but was set up and is managed by Bill Kennedy, a former Cartel employee for years.

When you first walk into Futuro, you immediately notice how clean and stripped down the shop is. It's almost feels like you walked into a apple store, only it smells alot better. The menu is very limited and simple, but has a few local-inspired drinks as well.

I ordered a simple double shot of espresso and the person I was with ordered a hot mocha. The barista spent about 10 minutes on my espresso but  I noticed she had to adjust the grind twice and was weighing out every single shot so I was happy to wait. 

Before I get to the drink itself, they have a very nice equipment setup. They use a newer Fetco I've never seen before (I noticed it had an LED display for programming) as well as Mahlkonig grinders and a Marzocco Linea  espresso machine. They also use 44th Parallel out of Vancouver BC. Super jealous lol.

As for my shot of espresso, it was very nice. I'll probably get to it on my other blogs, but it was definitely comparable to the shots I've had recently at Ocotillo (Sightglass coffee) or from Be Coffee (Huckleberry Roasters). It was bright but very well balanced. The mocha my friend got was also very good, not sweet at all like you would expect, but more of a bakers chocolate flavor profile. The prices for all the drinks I thought were a bit high but I think they are pretty much the new norm for 3rd wave shops.