Tuesday, January 31, 2006

roaster on the way

so my roaster is on the way. the interesting thing about this roaster is that it is entirely electric. generally, commercial roasters run on either propane or natural gas. but this one is small enough (5 1/2lbs per batch) to run on 220 power. it *may* be here in time for my birthday, along with 75lbs of green beans. likely, it will live in the garage since it has been future-banished from the breakfast nook in my mother's kitchen. those hot san antonio summers will be lovely to roast in.

but nothing's gonna rain on my parade now. in a few days i'll be doing what i've wanted to do for several years.

Friday, January 27, 2006


so what beans did i purchase and get samples for?

from gillies coffee i purchased 25lbs each of:
brazil cerrado 17/18 (screen size)
sumatra grade #1 lintong fancy prep
costa rica shb estate tarrazu

i got the brazil because it's cheap and i can burn through batches as i learn to roast.
the other two are coffees i have some familiarity with so i can compare my roasts with my memory of them. coffees change, of course, from harvest to harvest and even intra-harvest as they lose moisture. but i will be more familiar with a sumatra's flavor than i would, say, a papua new guinea.

and from inter-american coffees i got as samples:

Yemmen Mocca Matari
Ethiopian Harrar
Brazil Cerrado Natural Oberon
Sumatra Gr 1 Mandheling

brazil because it's the same type bean and probably similar in flavor profile to the brazil i got from gillies. plus if i eventually blend for espresso i may use brazil as a base.

yemmen because, well, it's amazing. gran cru amazing.
harrar because that's one of my all-time favorite coffees: ripe raspberries and cherry wine wildness.
sumatra, well, as i said, i'm perhaps most familiar with that coffee, although the mandheling will be pronouncedly different than the lintong. mandheling may be more muddied versus the lintong which i feel has been showing up as quite cedar-ey in the mouth and nose the last couple years.

anyways...if you want to purchase some of my coffee i should be getting my one pound and five pound bags next week as well. so another week after that i can start fulfilling orders. drop me a comment here if you're interested in buying coffee.

spending spree

so today money's been flowing out of my hands and across the internet like water. after an infusion of cash to get this thing started, i purchased a roaster today, some cupping supplies and about 75lbs of green beans to mess around with. i'm also getting some samples sent from some importers, giving me more greens to play with. i call it play money because it's like free beans to practice with. once i can get the roaster set up and can get my bearings on it i can begin approaching end-user clients with some samples of my own to see if they would want to use my coffee instead of the coffee they are currently using.

so why would they want to do that? well, price for one. i can likely beat their current prices because i won't markup the profit as high. and i will generally deliver my own beans so that's an extra savings i can pass along to the clients. anyone who can get the same or better quality for less money is going to do so, i would think. plus i'll be pretty much local for all my clients so if they are in a pinch and need more coffee right away...can do.

excited to finally get going. this is it.

Friday, January 13, 2006

i have mentioned clover in this blog before but thought i would update now that this press release has been distributed. i'll get one soon enough for brown. but not at first. can't justify the cost for opening.

Coffee Equipment Company Launches Revolutionary Brewer
Introduction of Clover 1™ brings the specialty coffee industry its highest-quality filter coffee, by the cup, in under a minute.

Starting Tuesday, January 10, some of North America’s premiere coffee roasters will take delivery of a breakthrough new coffee brewer, Clover 1. Vancouver B.C.’s Caffè Artigiano will be the first to launch Clover 1, the only commercial, single-cup brewer that delivers speed and flexibility along with un-compromised coffee quality.

Why the excitement over Clover 1? The development of the specialty coffee industry has taken an interesting course over the last twenty years. Though the traditional coffee beverage of the North American consumer has been filter coffee—affectionately known as “drip” after its most common brewing method—the principal focus of quality-minded roasters and cafés has been on espresso. Many technical improvements have been seen in espresso machines and much labor given to espresso blends over this time, leaving filter coffee to languish, ageing in air pots or burning on the office coffee maker. Yet roasters have always understood the glory of individual, single-origin coffees. Much like wine, coffees exhibit the complexities of place, season, and process, bringing forth characteristics of each growing region, each coffee varietal. Until now, roasters have been hamstrung by the state of filter brewing technology, either making large batches that stale, or delivering individual servings in a painstaking, messy and time consuming process. As Doug Zell, CEO of Intelligentsia, says “Clover will revolutionize our customers’ appreciation of single-origin coffees.”

How has this been accomplished? "We set out to design a brewer from a unique point of view.” says Zander Nosler, The Coffee Equipment Company's president. “We asked ourselves, if we were a roaster/retailer, what kind of filter coffee maker would we want? We arrived at three key principles to guide our design process: brewed quality, speed, and customization. Clover 1 is an embodiment of those principles." The machine employs the innovative Vacuum-Press™ technology, which borrows from the two traditional methods considered best for brewing filter coffee: the “French press” and the vacuum brewer. Both of these technologies were developed well over 100 years ago, and take five minutes minimum to deliver their brew. Now mechanized with Clover 1, the brew time is shortened to about a minute, while the quality remains. Other developments that help achieve this enormous leap include computer-controlled water temperature regulation and volumetric sensors for correct water dosage. The most important aspect of all of these technological advances is that they are completely customizable.

Recognizing the individuality of single-origin coffees requires that each bean receive its own treatment. Grind size, coffee dose, water temperature & volume, extraction time, all these parameters are at the barista’s fingertips. And since each cup is brewed individually, these can be reset cup by cup, using Clover 1’s intuitive user interface. All of sudden, the roasters’ customers can chose any of their coffees and receive the highest-quality brew in about a minute.... Clover 1 delivers not only quality with speed, but provides enhanced retail sales opportunities for the benefit of both customer and business.

Clover 1 is just the first in a line of commercial level, single-cup coffee brewers planned by The Coffee Equipment Company. Headquartered in the hub of North American coffee culture, Seattle, the company is a research, design, and manufacturing company focused on creating the most innovative hardware solutions to the specialty coffee industry’s unique needs. The single group Clover is available now with a list price of $7995. Multi-group models will be available mid-2006.

Press Contact
David Latourell
Coffee Equipment Company

paths not to take

i've been living. and thinking. sometimes geeky attention to a niche of a niche profession is a great thing. it is probably the cause of an untold number of advances in an untold number of fields of discipline.

but sometimes, maybe usually, it results in attitudes of superiority toward people who are not considered in an 'inner circle,' myopic vision, and loss of touch the the everyday, everyman world of reality. no discipline lives in a vacuum. coffee is no exception.

rock stars will kill coffee. humility in all things or greatness in none. that is my mantra for brown. brown exists for coffee, not coffee for brown, or for me.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

which path to take?

so many areas of expertise to pursue, so little time. in the world of coffee, as in any field, there are any number of areas of specialization one can choose for oneself. in my world, some of those options include:

* origin. building relationships with farmers and co-ops in growing countries. the corollary to this are the fair trade, organic, bird-friendly, shade-grown and otherwise sustainability movements.

* roasting. worlds of information await anyone willing to unlock the secrets of beans as they lost moisture and darken under the careful gaze of a roaster.

* cupping. being a technical 'taster' of coffee. 'cupping' coffees is a noble pursuit that has many similarities (noteriety not being one of them) to a professional sommelier.

* espresso. ah, espresso. the grand prix of coffee. all the guts and glory of coffee in its purest form. tons of branches of study here, including milk and beverage construction.

* technical stuff. the latest and greatest equipment designed to coax the best of the beans.

...and so forth.

any and all of these roads are worthy of further exploration. which will be mine? a lifetime could be devoted to each. no one can do them all well, i fear. but wouldn't it be fun to try?