In April I had the pleasure of touring some of Baltimore’s finest coffee establishments, including the city’s newest addition, LaMill—a transplant from LA. This sparkling new shop opened last November by the water’s edge at the Four Seasons in Harbor East.
As I approached, there were plenty of suits passing by as well as an Audi R8 parked out front—environmental features you rarely find in the neighborhoods of most independent coffee shops, but a good sign of the specialty coffee market’s growth.
The open space greets you with a standard bar layout, a pour over stand up front, alongside a custom painted La Marzocco Strada and several Mazzer Robur grinders. I ordered an espresso and a syphon of Guatemala at the bar to share with my companions and was handed a number for my table.
The coffee was delivered to my table by the barista along with a heavy cloth napkin, which added a simple but incredibly valuable detail to the experience. The espresso itself had an earthy Italian profile and was roasted a bit dark for my preference, but the Guatemala from the syphon was sweet, clean and quite enjoyable.
While I was admiring the space, Kris Fulton (manager) came out with a plate of the shop’s other specialty—fresh cut beignets from Michael Mina. Kris admitted to recognizing me and wanted to be sure we didn’t leave without trying them.
The plate was decorated with an assortment of sauces including a meyer lemon curd, Valrhona chocolate and a luscious butterscotch made with Macallan whiskey. They were the perfect compliment to our coffee and may have even outshone it.
Kris was fantastic as he spoke with us about LaMill and the business relationships that brought them to Baltimore to help develop this Four Seasons location. He also talked about their Saturday morning coffee clinics that teach customers about coffee brewing and appreciation in a comfortable atmosphere—pastries included.
The space is connected with two other restaurants (Wit & Wisdom and Pabu) in the sprawling rear lobby of the hotel which blend together nicely while maintaining their individual character. LaMill is clean-lined and modern, while providing a warm atmosphere through it’s unique lighting and dark wood textures.
If you’re visiting Baltimore, you don’t have to be staying in the Four Seasons to stop by this beautiful shop for a treat. There’s outdoor seating in the summer and it’s a great starting point to walk along the harbor and take in one of the city’s nicer views. LaMill is a welcome addition to the Baltimore coffee scene, which currently includes staples Spro and Woodberry Kitchen—and soon to be joined by Artifact Coffee.
If you’re a roaster or aspiring roaster, one of the best roaster events in Europe will be taking place in Stockholm this October. The Nordic Roaster Forum is an intimate educational experience to further the knowledge and skill of specialty coffee roasters.
I attended last year to help with the event and the cuppings, lectures and parties were all fantastic experiences. You can watch the videos from last year forum on Vimeo
Nordic Roaster Forum is a 2-day seminar where 65 roasters will gather to learn about varietals, processing, sourcing, trading and roasting. The program is a mix of lectures, cuppings, dialogue and social networking. Farmers from producing countries will speak about the coffee and the trade from their perspective. Roasters will reflect and talk about their approach. We will cup the coffees processed by these farmers and roasted by the roasters.
Three weeks ago, I shared the announcement of Coffee Collective’s new roastery and coffee bar opening this summer in Copenhagen. Since then, I’ve been down to Denmark to meet with Klaus and tour their beautiful new flagship in Frederiksberg.
The new roaster is warming up, the Über’s been installed and a lovely row of stools are lined up at the brew bar waiting for customers to wear them in. As soon as the final permits are received, this incredible new space will be open—for what I imagine will be the most unique coffee experience in the city. Stay tuned.
On my 4th day in Colombia, I spent the morning in Bogotá before catching an afternoon flight to the northern coast. Once all of my official business was done for the day, I had time to visit Amor Perfecto, a local specialty roaster who recently opened up a showcase coffee bar and education lab in the city.
Amor Perfecto, owned by Luis Fernando Velez and Jaime Raul Duque, is also the home of Ever Bernal, the current Colombian Barista Champion and was the first coffee company in Colombia to have someone compete in the World Championship. The Amor Perfecto roastery, which is just a few blocks from the café, is also home to Colombia’s first Loring SmartRoast.
The shop only features coffee grown in Colombia, but it offers a rotating selection from regions around the country. The first coffee I had was an AeroPress of the Boyacá, which is a fairly unknown coffee growing region just a few hours northeast of Bogotá. It has a very spicy chocolate taste profile that I don’t normally prefer, but it was really unique compared with the other coffees I’d been drinking all week.
I sat down with Luis and Jaime who told me about all the classes they provide to customers, from basic cupping to learning how to roast their own batch of coffee. Their goal is to provide an environment and experience where someone can come have a nice cup of coffee and relax, or if they choose learn everything they want about the process.
Along with their selection of coffee and a small assortment of baked goods, Amor Perfecto also offers single malt whiskey pairings with their coffee—an incredible dream come true. Sadly, I didn’t have time to stay and experience the pairing, but I look forward to doing so in the future. Unique pairings like this are something I’d really like to see and experience more of in the world of coffee.
The coffee shop and lab are on the ground floor of an old two-story home that’s been renovated to contrast a history of textures, modern lines and delicate woods. The modern furniture is illuminated by the natural light that washes through the front windows, the enclosed courtyard and translucent ceiling above the lab.
Upstairs are several rooms that include a dedicated training lab and classroom for teaching employees and friends in the industry. Everything about Amor Perfecto is considered and focused on growing the knowledge and capabilities of the baristas, roasters and interested customers engaged with the company.
If you happen to live in Bogotá or are visting Colombia for an extended time and need any kind of coffee gear, this shop is probably your best bet. Along with their coffee bar and coffee roasting duties, they are Colombia’s official distributors of AeroPress, Bodum and Nuova Simonelli espresso machines.
Amor Perfecto is a great example of how passion for coffee goes far beyond serving it. Because of their passion, the customers and baristas in Colombia will benefit greatly from the energy and quality brought to the city. Since the World Barista Championships took place in Bogotá last year, there has been a new found interest in discovering what coffee can be to Colombia besides just an export. It was great to meet the people at Amor Perfecto who are helping lead the way.
For months now, there have been rumors that Denmark’s darling specialty coffee roaster, Coffee Collective, was expanding—as well as their interest in a Loring Smart Roaster. Less than a year after opening a new shop at Torvhallerne, those whispers have been confirmed with more details and an exclusive first look inside the new space.
4 ½ years ago The Coffee Collective opened their microroastery and coffee shop in a small basement in the at the time dodgy street ”Jægersborggade”. Since then the collective have opened another coffee shop at the food market Torvehallerne and is supplying coffee to shops all over Denmark. Now the time has come to get more space for roasting amazing coffees and at the same time try out yet another kind of coffee shop experience.
For the past few months the collective have been renovating an old factory building in the picturesque Frederiksberg. It will house a larger roastery with a 35 kg Loring Smart Roast, a larger office space and a coffee bar unlike any other in Denmark. Here The Coffee Collective wishes to focus more on the flavours in coffee rather than brew methods, and show just how different coffees can taste.
There will be a changing menu of brewed coffees, signature drinks and even a cupping session will be on the menu. The goal is both to get more people to focus on what they can taste in coffee as well as experience some of the amazing drinks from the barista competitions.
The roastery will be visible through a large glass wall, so you can see how the green coffee is transformed into brown, roasted beans. And all along you can relax in the shop while sipping the same coffee. Transparency is key, both in the coffee shop, the roastery and the way we do business. -Coffee Collective
While an opening date hasn’t been confirmed, I’d guess if you’re coming to the Nordic Barista Cup, you’ll have a chance to visit. Congratulations to Klaus and the crew as they continue to expand. Looking forward to walking across those liquid glass floors.
ST.ALi, one of the newer additions to the London coffee scene, is going through a bit of a change. They announced yesterday that they are parting ways with their sibling in Australia to blaze their own trail in London. I’m excited to have worked with Tim to help create the new face of Workshop Coffee Co., who will continue adding great value to specialty coffee in London at both their Clerkenwell and Marylebone locations.
Yesterday, the following announcement was shared on the ST.ALi website:
Friends, there are some changes a-foot.
In April 2011, we opened our Clerkenwell cafe under the same banner as some friends in Australia. Following shortly after, we opened our Marylebone coffeebar under the same arrangement.
The response from local customers and visitors alike has been wonderful, overwhelming and humbling, due in no small part to our fantastic team, and the guests we take care of everyday.
However, due largely to the constraints of an arrangement stretched across 10,000 miles, the time has come to blaze the trail on our own. On April 16th, the London operations of ‘ST. ALi’ and ‘Sensory Lab’ will undergo a name change, becoming Workshop Coffee Co.
So, aside from the name, what changes? Well, nothing else changes. The same friendly staff and the same dedicated owners continuing to develop, refine and improve what we do. The same great food, and the same delicious coffee.
We look forward to seeing you soon,
I’ve visited both locations in the past year and wrote about one of them last August. Both shops are a must visit when coffee touring though London, and Clerkenwell is great for a meal as well. All my best to the team at Workshop as they begin writing their new story.
If you haven’t been following the in-depth coverage of the US Barista Champion circuit over on Sprudge—you should be. But if you’re new to this whole thing, take a look at Hybrid Media’s coverage of the Big Central regional (focusing on MadCap baristas).
This is the best video I’ve seen of a barista competition so far. It does a great job capturing the highlights with a nice energetic flair—and is there anything better than a high definition smile from Ryan Knapp (back-to-back North Central Champion)?
There’s a new Nordic coffee roaster to keep your eye on in Ålesund, Norway named Jacu Coffee Roasters. I first met Anne Birte and Gunnar last fall when I attended a coffee and chocolate pairing at their shop, then called Brenneriet.
At the time, Anne Birte told me of their future plans to begin roasting and gave me a sneak peek at their new rebrand, which I loved from first sight. We kept in touch after I left Ålesund and she even used two photos of mine in the re-design of their shop—mounting them like pillars on the sides of their front door.
Jacu’s name refers to the Brazilian Jacu bird, who like the Civet cat in Indonesia, is known to seek out and eat the finest coffee cherries. While Jacu (thankfully) doesn’t sell bird poo coffee, its goal is to be just as discerning when looking for the best coffees to roast and serve to their customers.
The branding, done by Tom Emil Olsen, begins with a beautiful custom wordmark that with a slight modification transforms the letter “J” into a simple icon of a Jacu bird.
The system is very thorough, designed with modular elements and economic methods of branding various pieces of collateral. There are stamps, wax seals, and embosses that all add beautiful hand-touched flare to envelopes, coffee bags and business cards.
The matte black, resealable bags are labeled with printed kraft paper that share taste and aroma notes along with basic origin information. The bags look and feel elegant, while also capturing the warm colors and textures many people associate with coffee and natural foods—a feat that can be difficult to execute well.
The café (and now roastery) has been updated along with the brand, including warm walls of wood, shelves full of coffee and a shiny new roaster. Next time you find yourself in Ålesund, be sure to visit Jacu’s revitalized home for some of the best coffee in town.
So far, the coffees I’ve tried from Jacu have been quite enjoyable (especially the Honduras, Montana Verde). Although none of them were very unique or exciting, for a new roastery, they’re off to a great start. In a country known for its high quality specialty coffee and high coffee consumption, Jacu will have no trouble finding themselves in good company. I look forward to seeing what coffees are sourced and how their offerings develop in the future—maybe something from Nordic Approach.
Earlier this week I wrote about the “Roaster Collection” bags, inspired by coffee roasters, but the “coffee roaster pant” is a true collaboration with one. Blue Highway, founded by two Swedish brothers who are both denim craftsmen and historians, teamed up with Stockholm-based specialty roasters Johan & Nyström to develop the perfect work pant for long days and hard wear at the roastery.
Beginning the project, Blue Highway visited the roastery to size up the employees who would be wearing them and learn about the work done around the roastery to better design for their intended environment. The project was born out of a mutual love of craft and quality in each respective field. Blue Highway drinks coffee while making jeans and J&N wear jeans while roasting coffee—it was divine providence that they work together.
Johan & Nyström has a number of 15 employees working at the roastery, and the idea of allowing them to work in custom made denim pant inspired by the old times came up when we got in contact with them because we had the idea of carrying good coffee at Unionville, for those interested in having a talk and sitting down for a cup. So we thought it would be a great idea to build a bridge between the quality thinking between their enthusiasm behind coffee, and our for the love of good denim. So me and my brother of Blue Highway sat down with the mission to create a pair of work pants suitable to wear during the everyday work preformed by a coffee roaster. –Blue Highway
The resulting product is a classic 1940′s inspired work pant that’s meant to hold up to long days manning a Probat, lifting burlap, and packing and unpacking coffee.
About the design features; the main object was to create a pair of work jeans that’s suitable to wear for long days and hard wear. So we decided to use a thick 14oz redline right hand twill with a deep indigo color. A fabric that’s durable and which will wear out nicely with time, and also its of the same type used in work clothes in USA around the middle of the last century.
The fit is a high rise with a wider leg, a true 40s style, much like early dungarees. We constructed the pants using one type of copper coloured thread and at some places we decided to use triple needle seams for more durability. Although this is not made using a triple needle chainstitch machine, we did it using our one needle lockstitch. It sure took some time but we felt very pleased with the result. The back pocket design is made inspired by an old French workwear design from the 40s, wear the side of the backpocket is fastened in the sideseem. This allows the wearer to have easy access to the backpocket, even if you are carrying tools seated down. One of the detail was to turn the yoke seam downwards instead of upwards which is the more common, this will allow your hand to slip down more easy in the backpockets, without a edge that could be annoying. –Blue Highway
Although Swedes didn’t invent jeans (they did invent the zipper), their passion for quality denim is unrivaled. Sweden is home to many leading jean companies, including Acne, Nudie, Cheap Monday and Denim Demon—so it’s fitting that Sweden’s leading coffee companies are making friends with some of them. For about 3000SEK ($440) you can have your own custom pair of Blue Highway’s made at their shop Unionville in Stockholm—or stop in and enjoy a coffee while getting an old pair patched up.