Coffee Common is Crossing the Pond

06.16

Coffee Common at TEDGlobal

After what seemed like forever, we’re back and we’re going international! Coffee Common will be gathering a whole new team to participate in TEDGlobal2011 this July in Edinburgh, Scotland.

For all the details, head over to Coffee Common.

posted by on 06.16.2011, under Design, Misc.

Interview w/ Pete Licata – 2011 US Barista Champ

05.11

After taking four regional titles and coming in second place at the USBC finals twice, Pete Licata from Honolulu Coffee Co, is a prime example of persistence who has reaped the benefits of never giving up. There was an incredibly talented group of competitors in this years US Barista Competition, so it was no easy task to take the top prize.

Pete’s presentation, which shared his journey from fruit to cup, along with the quality of  his drinks—prepared with self-picked and self-roasted Hawaiian coffee—brought home the US Championship title, making him the first to do so with Hawaiian coffee. I recently talked with Pete about his win and what he’d be doing if it weren’t for coffee.

It’s been over a week since winning the USBC. Has it sunk in? Are you ready to represent in Bogotá or have you re-immersed yourself into training?
I still don’t think it has sunk in yet. I haven’t really had time to think about being some champ, probably because there is another competition just 5 short weeks after the USBC! I have literally been running all over with my mind racing about all of the little details I need to take care of in order to be prepared for WBC. I feel I will be ready to represent in Bogotá, but my training mode this year is FAR more extensive than anything I have ever done before. As of right now I have hulled my coffee and roasted a sample batch. Next is going to be practice runs in between roast days, high altitude training (Colorado and maybe Mauna Kea), and finding the perfect touches in smallwares.

Will you be changing anything about your routine for the WBC or are you completely satisfied with it? I will never be satisfied with my routine until there is nothing negative that can possibly be said about it. I am taking in my judges’ feedback and information and going to revamp what I can. Obviously I feel good about my routine, but I am my own horrible critic.

Could you summarize your signature drink and the concept of your presentation? Let’s start with the presentation. The concept was to tell the story of the coffee, as well as my own, in the journey it took from the fruit to the judges’ cups on the table. I didn’t just want to say “look at what I did,” but rather “look at your coffee and what a fantastic journey it takes to get to you.”

Aside from telling the story, I tried to emphasize a balanced espresso by explaining each element and building the blend from the ground-up. This is where my sig drink came in. It was a highlight of the honeyed coffee I used in order to give a representation of my first tastes, as well as delving into the honeying process itself.

The drink was 3 tastes—a tea made from the cherry skins and parchment that the mucilage had dried onto (to represent tasting the cherry right off the tree), a French press of a lighter roast (to represent cupping the coffee for the first time), and a single shot of the coffee at a longer espresso roast (to represent pulling shots and understanding how the coffee would fit into the overall blend).

You harvested and roasted the coffee you competed with, which gives you a rather strong and unique connection with the entire process from fruit to cup. Was there anything during the experience that surprised you, that you weren’t aware of previously? I didn’t realize just how many spiders live in coffee trees in Hawaii.

If you could get consumers to understand just one thing about coffee, what would it be? That coffee is an agricultural product. It needs to be fresh (green and roasted). As economic and environmental factors change, prices will too. Just like the price of your milk or fresh produce.

Do you have any creative talents outside the realm of coffee? I am remarkably talented at consuming really tasty beer.

If it weren’t for your passion of coffee, what would you be doing with your life? Probably translating Japanese and raising a family…

Congratulations to Pete, Honolulu Coffee Co and everyone else who helped support you along the way. Thanks for talking with DCILY and good luck at the World Barista Championship in Bogotá.

[photo via USBC2011]

posted by on 05.11.2011, under Interviews, Misc.

SCAA Expo 2011 – Day 2

05.01

My second day of the SCAA Expo began with a lecture titled “Craft Brewing by Hand in a Café Environment.” The session consisted of 4 industry professionals discussing their individual brew-by-the-cup environments and their advice on creating or switching to a similar program. The panel included Kyle Glanville (Intelligentsia & Coffee Common committee member), Jay Caragay (Spro Coffee), John Piquet (Caffe d’Bolla) and Anthony Rue (Volta Coffee). Each panel member shared thoughts supporting the decision to only offer brew-by-the-cup coffee—not that I needed convincing—and discussed the benefits of doing it.

A few memorable quotes from the session:
“The Japanese treat both their food and drinks with great respect.” -John P.

“Define a standard of excellence for your company and stick to it. You will be rewarded.” -John P.


“Empower and trust your staff.” -Anthony R.


“When the customer leaves, we want them to be stoked on their experience.” -Jay C.


“Batch brewing in conjunction with by-the-cup will force by-the-cup to take a back seat. -Kyle G.


“Coffee under $2 should be over—pronto.” -Kyle G.


“You have to be fearless when you go all-in with by-the-cup brewing. -John P.

The second session I attended was about developing a social media strategy for your business. Tara Shenson, New Media Manager of the SCAA, was extremely engaging and delivered a pretty comprehensive talk on new media tools. Though I didn’t learn anything new—Tara warned it was a beginner’s course—I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I had a number of fine coffees this morning at the Counter Culture pop-up café. The sun-dried Sidamo was pulling pretty fantastic as a single origin espresso.

The Bunn Trifecta was in full effecta next to the Brewers Cup stage. I stopped by for a demo and a cup of the Hacienda la Esmeralda that’s being used by the competitors.

I spent the second half of the day watching the remaining USBC semi-finalists compete. My top pick, Sam Purvis from Coava Coffee, sadly didn’t make the final six.

However, the North Central Regional Champ, Ryan Knapp from MadCap Coffee (and owner Trevor Corlett)—who were both favorites of mine—have both advanced to the Finals. Good luck guys!

After the finalists were announced, about 400 attendees headed to Saint Arnold Brewing Company for dinner and some fine Texas beer thanks to the guys at Cuvée Coffee.

Another full day of good coffee and friends at the SCAA Expo has come to an end.

 

posted by on 05.01.2011, under Misc.

SCAA Expo 2011 – Day 1

04.30

Today was my first day at the 2011 Specialty Coffee Association of America Expo in Houston. It’s the year’s biggest coffee event and host to the United States Barista Championship and Brewers Cup. There’s coffee pouring from every corner of the convention center, more tote bags than you could ever fill and rows upon rows of syrups, smoothies and tea that seem a bit out of place.

This being my first coffee expo, I quickly learned the best thing about the event wasn’t the free swag or tables of new products—it’s the people. The incredibly passionate people who make up the specialty coffee industry. To be surrounded by people who inspire you and continue to push the limits of what they do in search of ways to be better, is an incredibly energizing feeling—though it could just be the caffeine.

I spent the first part of the morning tasting coffee from around the world at the “Best of Origin” area. There were about 12 coffees to try and I made it through about half of them—the coffee from Ka’u Hawaii surprised me the most, it was quite nice. Next I sat through a lecture about developing a training program for baristas, but found most of it to be pretty basic, common sense stuff.

After the lecture I met up with 2/3 of Handsome Coffee Roasters and hit the showroom floor to do some window shopping and make the rounds. Here are some highlights.

First stop was the La Marzocco booth to try a shot of Ryan Wilbur’s competition espresso, pulled on a Strada.

Checked out a demo of the EsproPress, a microfilter press pot which created a surprisingly clean cup.

Discovered the company responsible for producing some of the nicest coffee packaging on the market, including Intelligentsia, Verve and Social Coffee Co. Now I’ll be prepared when I’m finally hired to design someone’s coffee bags (hint).

Got to see the new Baratza Essato, a weight-based grinding system. Cool, but definitely overkill for a home-brewer. I can see the benefits for a small volume café, but I think it ultimately has limited use.

Had a cup of Square Mile’s Santa Lucia on the new Kalita pour-overs that Nick Cho recently started importing.

A Hario hot-brew iced coffee maker. While it’s pretty clunky looking, it creates a nice cup of coffee. The clear plastic funnel is filled with ice, and a double strength V60 is brewed on top of it—melting the ice and cooling the coffee simultaneously. Unlike cold-brew systems it retains some of the coffee’s brightness that I enjoy, but is often stripped away.

Some new products from Hario. I love the double walled press pot. Beautifully designed, with wood where most companies would use plastic.

A couple of former World Barista Champions (Stephen Morrissey & James Hoffmann) announcing the semi-finalists of the USBC.

The Championship trophies made by Reg Barber. Two more days before we know who they’ll belong too. Congrats to all the semi-finalists and good luck!

 

posted by on 04.30.2011, under Design, Misc., Products

Not Without Coffee

04.20

Ashley E. Rodriguez is a former chef turned teacher, blogger, and mother who publishes a beautiful food blog called Not Without Salt. The site is filled with culinary adventures, recipes, and photos that all make you want to #popitinthegob. In March her family took a trip from Seattle to Portland and visited a few of the top shops in town—Coava, Barista, and Heart. The photos from their trip are fantastic and I wanted to share a few before sending you over to her lovely site to see the rest.

See the rest of the photos at Not Without Salt

posted by on 04.20.2011, under Misc., Recommended Roasters

Coffee Common to Enlighten TED

02.19

I’m excited to announce (and be a part of) this incredible new project making its public debut this month at TED in Long Beach, California.

Coffee Common is a collaborative gathering of top baristas from around the world, making coffee from top roasters around the world, who source their beans from the best farms they can find. For a week, some of the biggest players in the coffee industry will join together to introduce the open minds of the TED audience to the culinary delights of exceptional coffee. If the coffee industry had an All-Star game, this would be it.

This will also be the first public event shared by Common, a new collaborative brand. Under the banner of Common, like-minded businesses join forces to benefit people, communities, society and the environment. Since the participating roasters believe in the importance of building relationships with farmers and the overall quality of life at origin, there are many shared values that Common believes are important for coffee consumers to understand.

The experience and thoughts of the baristas and TED participants will be captured on the Coffee Common website. Ideally, the alliance will continue beyond TED to keep promoting the truths of great coffee. Show your support to see that it does.

We of Coffee Common gather as a community with shared values. We understand coffee as the most complex and extraordinary beverage in the world. We believe that great coffee requires study, experimentation, craftsmanship, and humility. We believe that great coffee is, at its best, a collaboration of an empowered coffee farmer, an artisan coffee roaster, a dedicated barista, and an enlightened consumer. We believe that collaboration can be an act that promotes global economic prosperity, social parity, cultural exchange, and culinary expression. –Coffee Common

More info about Coffee Common, TED, & Common

Photo Credits: TED / Marla Aufmuth

posted by on 02.19.2011, under Design, Misc., Recommended Roasters

Show Your Barista Some Love

12.22

This is going to be my last post of 2010 and I want to dedicate it to the talented baristas who make every visit to our local cafés an experience we cherish. Wether they’re hypnotically circling the bloom of a Chemex, pouring latte art that makes us smile, or pulling a shot that’ll have our eyes roll back in our head—this goes out to all those who love coffee so much, they’ve made a career out of serving the best cup they can.

Good luck to everyone registering for the United States Barista Championship in the new year, and for everyone else, remember to tip! Cheers!

posted by on 12.22.2010, under Design, Misc.

King of Tamps

12.16

If you’re a cyclist, you most likely know the name Chris King. He makes the Rolls Royce of headsets (the component that helps connect and rotate the front fork & handlebars). They are one of the most expensive headsets on the market, but they last a lifetime and their smooth performance is top notch. The design of Chris King components continue to lead the competition and their brightly anodized metal always stand out.

Now, the beauty of Chris King bike parts are available for the most indulgent, bike loving baristas everywhere. Designed in collaboration with the American Barista & Coffee School in Portland, OR—the $75 tamper is definitely pricey, but damn sexy.

Chris King Tampers

[photo via fixedgear on Flickr]

posted by on 12.16.2010, under Design, Misc., Products

DCILY x PDX coffee tour

11.22

Last week I visited Portland, Oregon to see friends, speak with design students at PSU, and drink as much coffee as I could. I hadn’t been to Portland in 3 years and the coffee landscape had grown quite a bit. With a list of roasters and cafe’s to visit—which grew with each person I met—I explored, tasted, cupped, and enjoyed some of the best PDX has to offer. I also met a lot of the super friendly, super knowledgeable people behind the regions top coffee scene who continue to experiment and push coffee into new territory.

Sadly I forgot my camera, so the only photos I have come from a lowly iPhone. Enjoy.

I spent an entire day visiting 4 Stumptown locations. Above, the Belmont shop had a new, custom La Marzocco Mistral on the bar. Lovely

Right next door to the Belmont shop is the Stumptown Annex. A brew bar with no espresso machine. Just a great selection of beans and a relaxed environment to learn about coffee brewing, buy some beans, or take part in a complimentary cupping (every day at Noon and 2pm). I took part in the first one with a spread of 4 different Colombian origins and for the second, I just hung around to watch the brew demo. The crew at the Annex were great and up for talking about everything from the export issues in Ethiopia, to their favorite AeroPress techniques.

The next day I stopped by one of Portland’s newest roasters, Water Avenue Coffee. It’s a nice clean shop not far from Spirit of 77 (the best sports bar I’ve ever been to). I really loved the custom concrete pour over bar and the blue neon coffee sign. Joe from Reno let me hang out a bit while he closed up and talked about the barista school they run in the back of the shop and brewed up a nice sweet cup of El Salvador for me.

Next up was Coava (koh-va), which isn’t far from Water Avenue, and home of the K-One Kone filter they designed for the Chemex. Also open for less than a year, this shop is absolutely beautiful, my photos don’t do it justice, so be sure to check out the gallery on their website. The entire space is huge with the coffee bar tucked into one corner. A wood shop studio shares the space and there’s a collection of amazing tables on display throughout it. At first I wasn’t sure if I was in a furniture showroom, a workshop, or a cafe and hesitated to sit down.

I had a cup of Costa Rican Helsar brewed up with the Kone. I really enjoy how well the Kone retains the bright flavors and a bit of sediment, but not as much silt as a French press. Matt then pulled me a fantastic shot of their Honduras El Limon while we talked about the Kone. He quickly began to speak more like an engineer than a barista. Keith was busy roasting, so I didn’t have a chance to meet him, but I’m sure they’ll still be there next time I’m in town.

I also stopped into Barista for  a shot from Sightglass roasters in SF. I always appreciate cafes that serve a variety of beans. There are too many good roasters out there to stick with one. These are friendly guys worth visiting in a nice shopping district of Portland called the Pearl.

On the morning I left, I met some friends at Crema, a nice cafe and bakery that serves Coava and Stumptown. The barista, Skip, made me a delightful cappuccino with Stumptown’s Hairbender and then brought over a shot of Coava’s El Salvador Santa Sofia to send me off to the airport on a good note.

I know there are a lot of great places I never made it too, but it would take more than 4 days to visit them all. I really wanted to stop by Heart Roasters before I left, but I ran out of time. They just turned a year old and I’ve heard many good things about them. Feel free to share any other cafe’s or roasters in Portland in the comments. I’d love to know about the gems I missed, so I’ll have more reason to go back soon!

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posted by on 11.22.2010, under Coffee Touring, Recommended Roasters