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Roasts: Buying it...


waves2ya
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Thought I'd venture a thread that is not oft discussed on Coffeegeek and doesn't seem (at least recently) to have been fleshed out here...

Yes - I'm perfectionist about many things; I've got my modes of making coffee down. But I ain't getting to roasting (this statement will result in many a good natured flame at CG - and orig post goes OT into waxing poetic about homeroasting); don't have the time, don't have the place - I can't afford to get obsessive about yet another thing. My wife will disown me...

So I am willing to pay for good roasting. Good roasting as defined by great bean knowledge, 'crack' precision, accurate dating and the rest of the art that goes into cooking the bean. I've got a pretty good roaster in my little nabe (Montclair, NJ) - and I know that buying local's a good thing 'cause coffee fades quickly.

But I get my espresso from... St. Louis. I swear by Barry Jarrett's "Espresso Taliaferro" and at $8.95 - this is worth sending away for. In fact, Barry's quite the roasting maven...

http://www.rileys-coffee.com/DarkRoasts.htm

Anyone know of other master roasters that make paying the shipping worth it?

~waves

"When you look at the face of the bear, you see the monumental indifference of nature. . . . You see a half-disguised interest in just one thing: food."

Werner Herzog; NPR interview about his documentary "Grizzly Man"...

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I know Barry, and you could do a lot worse. I tasted one of his espressos at this years Roaster's Guild Retreat in Colorado. Good $hit, man!

There are lots of good roasters out there. My espresso is very good, as well.

Look into Intellegensia (sp?) in Chicago. There's a big following on their Black Cat Blend.

Check out CounterCulture's espresso. They're in North Carolina.

Go to www.roastersguild.org. You don't need to register. You can check out the websites of RG members. Maybe you'll find something you'd like to try.

We'd appreciate it!

Joe

You gonna eat that?

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BTW, home roasting doesn't require alot of time or space to do well.

moo.

:blink:

~waves

"When you look at the face of the bear, you see the monumental indifference of nature. . . . You see a half-disguised interest in just one thing: food."

Werner Herzog; NPR interview about his documentary "Grizzly Man"...

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I've heard great things about Barry - both the quality of his product and the passion he shows for the coffee business.

Here are some places to consider trying for mail order coffee, especially espresso:

Espresso Vivace

Espresso guru/pundit and "brew temperature Nazi" David Schomer (a loving appellation from his fans) sells his blends and varietals mail order. You may or may not like the style of his blends but the quality and freshness are assured.

Alterra Coffee

Milwaukee area roaster with a an excellent reputation in the Midwest and beyond

Coffee Emergency

This is a pricey and very small scale supplier - he roasts on a modified gas grill and his Code Brown espresso blend has been getting consistent raves from people discussing it at coffeegeek.com - many claiming that it's the best espresso they've ever tried.

Intelligentsia Coffee

Chicago based with a large following. Their Black Cat espresso blend is well known. Caffe Artigiano in Vancouver BC actually imports this stuff to use as their house blend. Rumor has it that it's really optimized for commercial espresso machines - results at home may be slightly different.

Gimme! Coffee

Ithaca NY based roaster who has now expanded to NYC as well. I've heard great things about their Platinum Blonde blend. Haven't tried it but I have tried their Leftist espresso blend. It has a definite following but is roasted a bit dark for my taste.

Stumptown Coffee

Last and certainly not least are the superstars of the Portland OR espresso scene. I've been to one of their cafe's and these guys really do it right. Their Hairbender espresso blend is well known and popular.

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Here are some places to consider trying for mail order coffee, especially espresso...

...Maybe you'll find something you'd like to try.  We'd appreciate it!

Thanks for some great ideas...

In fact, weak culinary soul that I am, I ordered some Kona from that Hawaiian roaster I name dropped in the 'indigenous coffee' thread. Having bought Kona from the usual suspects and, tho' I guess the beans were good, the roasting each time was poor - thought I'd give these guys a go.

Will try others - and post notes when brew is noteworthy...

~waves

"When you look at the face of the bear, you see the monumental indifference of nature. . . . You see a half-disguised interest in just one thing: food."

Werner Herzog; NPR interview about his documentary "Grizzly Man"...

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Kona really suffers if it's over-roasted - the subtleties are lost.

Also.... not all Kona is created equally. The issues of terroir, which are well known in the world of fine wines, are equally important in coffee quality. There are some truly great estate Konas and others that are darn good but still lesser coffees. Finally we have the issue of subjectivity. Have you had truly outstanding Kona that was a very memorable drinking experience or rather.... have you heard/read that Kona is a world class coffee and haven't yet found one that seems to meet that expectation?

I find that people often expect Jamaican Blue Mountain or Kona to be a sort of "in-your-face" transcendent experience that is earth-shaking and markedly superior to any other coffee they've ever tried. My own highly subjective experience has been different. I've found Kona to have delicate fruity notes and spice tones that are subtle. The outstanding JBM I've tried has been great because it was so well balanced - more so than any other coffee I've tried.

There's is a definite point of diminishing returns in high quality coffees. A good quality properly roasted arabica at $8 - $12 per pound is so much better than $2 - $4 per pound supermarket coffee that one might almost consider it to be a completely different beverage.

Jump up to $20 - $35 per pound specialty coffees like Kona or JMB and the corresponding increase in quality based on higher price is not necessarily an indication of markedly "better" quality. rather, it's a function of supply and demand. These varietals are grown in limited amounts in specific areas and have particular qualities not really duplicated by other coffees.

I can't justify drinking these pricier coffees on a regular basis due to my personal budget but love making a pot to enjoy with friends on special occasions.

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For what it's worth (cribbed from my "Commercial Espresso Tasting" thing I'm finishing up) here are my current favorites.

Stumptown Hairbender – A very soft and subtle espresso. More velvet glove than steel fist; finessed and polished. A complicated espresso, with lovely sweetness and a caramel fruit finish. Floral and spice aromatics, reddish brown crema with a bit less persistence than desired. A thick, honey-like espresso with a gorgeous Guinness cascade. Very high-toned fruit notes hold through to the finish, where the caramel fruit is balanced by a soft dark chocolate note. Can be perceived as acidic or sour by those expecting a dark roast espresso. A challenging blend, where minute grind, temp and extraction time adjustments had dramatic results. Very nice as a straight shot and truly wonderful in short milk drinks – but gets a bit lost in lattes et al. When poured as a cappuccino it was totally mind-blowing - the fat showcased the smooth balance while the complex flavours and acid in the foundation held up to the milk. This is a coffee lover’s espresso and a barista’s espresso.

Doma Vito’s Blend – Big and bold, but still balanced – a lovely modern PNW espresso. Pours with a heavy and very persistent red toned crema. Aromas of dark chocolate and burnt caramel lead to a rich and bittersweet first taste. There is a lovely, high-toned caramel apple note and a huge body and mouthfeel. The finish is thick and syrup like, dominated by bitter chocolate. This is a heavy espresso, great for cold or tired mornings. As a straight shot it is intense, but not overwhelming. In short milk drinks it opens up magnificently, dominated by lovely sweet varietal chocolate tones and a soaring fruit-spice-vanilla note and a finish that is wonderfully caramelly.

Doma Ruby Blend – An amazing personal statement about espresso and taste. This is lovely in the cup, with a gorgeous golden-red crema and lovely honey, fruit and berry aromas. An incredibly complicated espresso, with a round profile and gorgeous mid-toned stone fruit notes on a foundation of polished chocolate and soft roast tones. The finish is bright, with citrus and honey tones. As a straight shot this is lovely and polished - a balanced experience that is soft on the palate. In short milk drinks it softens dramatically, becoming a bit muted though still quite enjoyable. A bit lost in long milk drinks.

Intelligentsia Black Cat – This is the over-hopped IPA of espressos. Big, bold… it hits like a hammer blow on the palate. The espresso pours thick and dark, with very dark, thick and persistent crema. As straight espresso, this is dominated by strong chocolate and spice notes and a very thick mouth-feel. This is not a balanced espresso – but that’s not the goal. It’s intense and powerful – which has the result of making some drinkers happy, and some unhappy. In particular, there is a "baking chocolate" note in the finish and an “anise” note in the body that some might find off-putting. Thick nut flavours and complicated spice notes dominate the mid-palate, and the finish is pure bittersweet chocolate. There is a hint of caramel in the cup, but overall this espresso trends more towards spice and bitter than sweet or sour and fruit. As a straight shot it is intense and nearly overpowering. In short milk drinks, the chocolate softens, though the spice still cuts through the fats – a very nice drink. In tall milk drinks, the chocolate becomes buttery and sweetness emerges while the spices soften and become balanced. Very nice! This is an espresso for those weaned on the old Seattle style espresso, who want something with balls.

Vivace Vita – An intensely complicated and personal espresso. Pours with a dark brown and red crema and a fast-moving cascade effect. This has unusual aromatics, dominated by deep spice tones (allspice?) and a warm hummus note. There is an interesting slightly "funky" flavour note similar to what is found in very good Sumatrans. In the mouth, this is a heavy espresso, with a foundation of earthy rustic chocolate and spice, and nice mid-toned fruity acidity. As a straight shot this may not be for everyone - it is intense and concentrated and almost overerwhelming. In short milk drinks the chocolate becomes more refined and the spikey flavour profile rounds out. In tall milk drinks it becomes smooth and polished. I love it in a macchiatto!

Vivace Dolce - A classic Italian espresso with the most gorgeous Guinness style cascade when pulled correctly. Beautiful red-brown crema that was thick and persistent. A very very balanced espresso. Smooth, with notes of honey and semi-sweet chocolate. Bright fruit - plum and berry and a hint of pear in the finish - balance the incredible sweetness. The finish is smooth and heavy on the caramel. This is one of the true classics of American espresso. Pulled as a straight shot, preferably ristretto, this is to many the benchmark for the style. It's a fabulous drink - well worth trying, and for many worth adopting. In short milk drinks it flattens out and is entirely lost in tall milk drinks.

Zoka Palladino - Another classic Pacific Northwest espresso - but this time softened and smoothed out. Thick reddish crema that cascaded gorgeously when pulled. Beautiful floral aromas with a spicy pepper and berry note. In the cup this is a sweet and soft espresso with interesting spice tones and some mid-palate fruit. Hints of roasty smoke and a late palate bitter bite lead to a dried cherry and caramel finish. As a straight shot this strikes a mid-point between the intense and almost harsh flavours of some PNW espressos and the classic Italian style. It is medium bodied and sweet - but with some roast notes. In short milk drinks the sweetness and smoky tones are transformed into a lovely milk chocolate flavour and the bitterness is softened. Very enjoyable indeed. In tall milk drinks, the coffee is assertive enough to hold up to the milk, becoming more noticably fruity and losing some of the spice notes.

fanatic...

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As a Pacific Northwesterner relocated to Chicago, I can recommend the Stumptown, the Vivace Dolce, and the Intelligentsia. They are each very different. I can't speak to their suitability for milk based drinks - I'm almost exclusively a purist for straight espresso, with the occasional cappucino tossed in during cool mornings. I agree with most of malachi's comments. The stumptown makes the best cappucino of the three whereas the Vivace Dolce gets muddled and indistinct. For me, there's little harmony with the Intelligentsia Black Cat ... a jagged, energetic conflict in the cup. This could be my ratios and technique ... it certainly has more character in a cappucino than the Dolce.

For straight espresso the Intelligentsia and the Stumptown illustrate extremes of bold to subtle. The Dolce falls somewhere in the middle but elevates to genius with a ristretto. Unfortunately, I haven't mastered consistent pulls with my Silvia so I end up wasting a lot of beans. This can be a concern when you're paying $6 a half pound plus shipping. The droll - or excessively cheery, depending on your perspective - observation is that burning through those extra beans ensures that they're always fresh.

Ciao,

rien

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  • 1 month later...
As a Pacific Northwesterner relocated to Chicago, I can recommend the Stumptown...

'k...

When I started this threads I hadn't thought about the various kinds of coffees, and brewing methods; really - it's drip I go through. Tho' many roasters signature coffees are 'espresso roast' brew, I find drip and drippers the day in and out grail. I approach my pedestrian cup of morning joe with the alchemic passion I do my espresso - and have found capable roasts for drip elusive.

Again, many thks for Stumptown rec's as I've started from this thread there...

~waves

"When you look at the face of the bear, you see the monumental indifference of nature. . . . You see a half-disguised interest in just one thing: food."

Werner Herzog; NPR interview about his documentary "Grizzly Man"...

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Have you tried the offerings from George Howell's new operation Terroir Coffee ?

He's a very well known and highly respected guy who had a chain of coffeehouses in Boston back in the pre-Starbucks days and, among other activities, started the Cup Of Excellence program that recognizes and rewards excellence at the source from individual coffee growers. I haven't yet tried any of their coffees as I rarely have coffee at home these days (I'm around it at work constantly) but have heard very good feedback on both their bean quality and their roasting style/consistency.

On a related note... I had the good fortune to meet and chat this past weekend with Dave Haddock of Counter Culture Coffee (Durham NC based). That's an outfit that is really on the ball, both from a quality standpoint and from a socially conscious and ethical perspective. I haven't yet had a chance to try their drip coffee but the espresso I sampled at Java Passage in Charlotte's South End was excellent. Counter Culture sells through Whole Foods (not sure if they do so outside of the Southeast but they're worth looking for) and a large percentage of their product is Fair Trade, certified organic and in many cases shade grown / bird friendly as well.

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My Stumptown delivery just arrived.

Those Dino Q threads are making me want to pull some ribs (or buy some pulled!).

The Terroir Coffee site is very impressive. Only thing I found curious was the 12 oz pounds that are sold; and I queried 'em - they say...

We strive for freshness in every aspect of the production of our coffee. We

have found that an average consumer drinks 12oz of coffee between 5 and 7

days. One lb often takes longer than a week to consume. Since our coffee

only lasts 5 to 7 days once the seal on the bag is broken, we have found

that 12oz packages are more suitable.

Now - being that you are in the coffee biz and all - I wonder if this isn't more bizarre than earnest. I mean - let's say you drink enuf to last 5 days. Well, you'd easily finish a 16 oz lb in a week (that's, er, me.). And even if you don't (u r the 12 oz in 7 day profilee), shouldn't the house pound be priced accordingly? It's not like they are selling $8 pds over there...

Oh well. I would like to see his spoon... (The Tick: "Spooooon!")

Gonna pester my local Whole Foods about Counter Culture coffee; would be drop dead ridiculous if I could get yet again another great thing from the Fresh Fields group. They are going to conquer the planet (really; check out corp practices. My favorite 'best in class' model for a service based quality programs).

Great to hear biz is keeping ya socked in - gotta love that!

~waves

"When you look at the face of the bear, you see the monumental indifference of nature. . . . You see a half-disguised interest in just one thing: food."

Werner Herzog; NPR interview about his documentary "Grizzly Man"...

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Hi all,

Just to be transparent, I work for Terroir.

We switched to 12 oz about a year ago. I didn't really get mixed in that entire debate. But, I can assure you that there is absolutely NO intention to deceive. No where do we call it a 12 oz pound (let me know if you see that listed anywhere). We simply call it 12 oz.

To many people 1 Lb was simply too big, especially if they wanted to try more than 1 coffee. We like people to try more than one coffee at a time; it's a learning experience. As we are a small roaster and our costs are honestly probably higher than any other roaster in the world, it simply wasn't cost efficient to package both 8 oz and 16 oz bags. We want our dollars to be put into our coffee quality, as it currently does, not frantically pouring capital into trying to manage different size bags (I know that sounds silly but, it was also very real for us).

There are many roasters out there who sell 12 oz packages. Allegro at Whole Foods is one of them, btw.

I wasn't really involved in the management of this decision but, that's how I feel towards it. We can continue this dialogue if you wish. I can assure you that our COFFEE is more perfect than our fault-filled small/new company is; that's what we're about and what we celebrate. My apologies.

Our prices will always be higher than most other roasters. But, that's simply a reflection of the coffee quality (green flying, green freezing, roaster/green R&D, QC, green price etc.). There's simply nothing we can do about that without compromising quality somewhere. Though I can't do this for everyone, I can buy you a bag or 2 of coffee waves2ya. Just e-mail me at peter@terroircoffee.com

I'm being honest, so I hope no offence is caused. Thanks for your time.

-Peter

Sample Roaster

Edited by SL28ave (log)
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Wow!

Listen - I was curious/little skeptical about the 12 oz 'unit' dilemma - but it did not mean I wasn't going to try your brew; can see from site you folks are passionate, umm - perfectionists. And that can be worth a premium...

Great answers - got some coffee to go through but I've found good roasters rare and I'll be dropping you folks a line.

Thanks!

~waves

"When you look at the face of the bear, you see the monumental indifference of nature. . . . You see a half-disguised interest in just one thing: food."

Werner Herzog; NPR interview about his documentary "Grizzly Man"...

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Hi all coffee lovers-I'm new here. I'm a coffee roaster in California and I am working on my espresso roast and blend. Since I don't have a "real" commercial type of espresso machine I have to rely on others reviews and critiques. I am looking for some baristas with good brewing and reviewing skills to sample the beans . My intention is to keep at it until I can get it right,so it may take a while. If anyone is interested , I will send out samples for you to try.

Thanks--Joseph--

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  • 2 weeks later...
... many thks for Stumptown rec's as I've started from this thread there...

Stumptown's Hairbender is really excellent; enjoying that cup of espresso and will buy again (after pounding around a bit more on this, er, well beaten roasting path). Has one of the most impressively rich crema's I've seen while remaining boldly even - toeing the line but not going over...

Also purchased their El Salvador Montecarlos Peaberry (Cup of Excellence). As posited prior, this of the elusive drip/long candidates, was - ok. Best with just about nothing in it (like, black. or almost black). Made me realize that my notion of an early morning cup of joe (drip) has a little half/half in it and is kind of a vat of joe. Not every bean's gonna stand up to that regardless of pedigree.

Maybe Terroir next...

~waves

"When you look at the face of the bear, you see the monumental indifference of nature. . . . You see a half-disguised interest in just one thing: food."

Werner Herzog; NPR interview about his documentary "Grizzly Man"...

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  • 5 months later...
Here are some places to consider trying for mail order coffee, especially espresso...

...Maybe you'll find something you'd like to try.  We'd appreciate it!

Thanks for some great ideas...

In fact, weak culinary soul that I am, I ordered some Kona from that Hawaiian roaster I name dropped in the 'indigenous coffee' thread. Having bought Kona from the usual suspects and, tho' I guess the beans were good, the roasting each time was poor - thought I'd give these guys a go.

Will try others - and post notes when brew is noteworthy...

I'll figure this "Post" thing out eventually. Starting with the right coffee is every bit as important as the roast. If you want a consistently great coffee, arguably the best in the world, search out LaMinita from Costa Rica. Better than any Kona or Jamaican Blue Mtn.

Edited by MrJim (log)

MrJim

www.u-roast-em.com

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Interesting site, Mr. U-Roast-em; maybe one day... And I am familiar with LaMinita, can be quite delicious...

On topic - I have recently tried Dean's Beans (www.deansbeans.com & available at many Whole Foods, if you ask) and they really live up to the hype. Quite something to find supermarket coffee (ok, in a she-she supermarket) that is fresh and professionally roasted.

Their Rattlesnake & Uprising (breakfast blend) are very good...

~waves

"When you look at the face of the bear, you see the monumental indifference of nature. . . . You see a half-disguised interest in just one thing: food."

Werner Herzog; NPR interview about his documentary "Grizzly Man"...

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Sorry, but though I don't have anything to add to the list of coffees above, I must comment on Dean's Beans.

I don't dig a company that decides to wage war on another coffee company. Dean's Beans did just that, waging a battle against the Newman's Own Organics line of coffees, provided by Green Mountain Coffee. To use half-truths to take a cheap-shot against a company that has done many good things in our industry sucks. Green Mountain chose to take the high-road during this whole thing.

So, I will say: Dean's Beans sucks.

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So, I will say: Dean's Beans sucks.

Too bad you didn't include links in your 'argument'; anyhow, googling 'dean's bean's', 'GM' & Newman's pretty much puts the picture together. That fellow at DB's is pretty passionate about fair trade coffee, maybe more so than most. But it is a serious situation and sometimes radical folk shine a light in uncomfortable ways to get things done expeditiously.

And - on topic - DB's roasts better than any Green Mountain I've had off the rack.

Edited by waves2ya (log)

~waves

"When you look at the face of the bear, you see the monumental indifference of nature. . . . You see a half-disguised interest in just one thing: food."

Werner Herzog; NPR interview about his documentary "Grizzly Man"...

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  • 3 weeks later...

Aldo's Two in Greenport, Long Island (NY).

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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