While at the SCAA last month, we ran into the founder and creator of the Behmor home roaster, Joe Behm, and had an excellent conversation with him. We had been thinking about looking into expanding our home roasting options (given that the iRoast is MIA these days) and were interested in the Behmor 1600, so it was great to get the opportunity to see it in person.
Our favorite thing is that it has smoke suppression technology, so you could theoretically use this in your home without your co-inhabitants kicking you and all your freshly roasted coffee to the curb. It is purported to roast between 1/4 lb. and 1 lb. of green beans to a medium roast — although we have heard that it has a tough time with the higher end.
We can’t wait to get them in the store and play around with them — watch this space for a crew review as soon as possible!
With Portland’s Stumptown representing strongly for the West Coast and Durham’s Counter Culture keeping it real for the East Coast, Chicago’s Intelligentsia brings up the middle, melding it all together and offering a similar brand of java-love to folks in the Midwest and beyond. These three companies feature multi-city locations, direct trade values and a commitment to both the art and science of great coffee — to paraphrase Intelligentsia’s David Latourell, it’s about consciousness.
Flavorwire recently sat down with Latourell to discuss Intelligenstia, what it’s about, what the contemporary coffee movement is focused on and what’s next. We loved his references to slowing down and understanding what you’re ingesting, what you’re taking in and why. Sure, a lot of us drink coffee for its caffeine perks, but it’s more than that to a lot of people around the world and it’s good for us to take a step back and appreciate that. We recommend reading the interview — which also includes Latourell’s tips for finding great coffee and great cafes.
Back in May, we wrote a little bit about Italian vs. French Roasts, but lately we have been sampling a lot of different roast and blend types and decided to read more about the basic theory behind roasting and blending. In our research, we ran across Kenneth Davids’ excellent table describing the different roast styles and their corresponding flavor, so we thought we’d reprint it here for easy future reference.
The big question that was on our mind was in regard to dark roasts: Peet started an American tradition back in the 60’s by taking his roasts well into the very dark brown degree and we wondered why. Particularly because, for us, the darker roasts just aren’t as complex flavor-wise, so we were curious about his roasting theory — one that would ultimately be imitated by the founders of Starbucks and eventually influences hundreds of small specialty roasters around the world. It seems that it’s largely due to the fact that, when taken to a darker roast, the oils and sugars caramelize in a manner which imbues the roast with a bittersweet tone — if it’s not taken too far, it will still retain much of its richness and will also feature less caffeine. However, and we think this is where we have often found ourselves, when the beans are taken to a really dark black brown, they’re just charred at that point — dried out little husks with little to no coffee oil or sugar leftover, so very little can be imparted during extraction.
So while we personally prefer something in the medium brown range, we’re glad we now understand why all the dark roast lovers out there are such ardent fans. If you want to learn more about roasting and blending — as well as pretty much anything else to do with coffee — we highly recommend picking up Kenneth Davids’ book.
Right now, however, you can check out his handy reference table after the jump.
One thing that we really love about the world of coffee is its diverse economic lifecycle: It’s putting food on the table and roofs over the heads of millions of people, from its cultivation through its brewing. A rather rich and unique dimension of this portrait is that of the small espresso or coffee shop — and we found a couple of examples of really cool independent businesses that are worth checking out.
First up, Redeye Roasters in Hingham, MA. Based out of a brightly colored truck, Bob Weeks founded his java-on-wheels when he elected to change up careers and get out of the advertising business. In 2006, he started roasting his own beans out of his house and in the subsequent three years has grown to distributing them in specialty groceries around the Boston area. This excellent profile goes into detail on Redeye’s past and present.
Another great little operation we ran across is the Celtic-influenced White Horse Coffee and Tea Co. in Sutherlin, OR. Owner Kristin Lusk has been roasting and brewing coffee and teas to an exotic bird aviary backdrop for the last 11 years — and you can balance their Kilted Ladies of Hell blend with a cinnamon roll that measures 10 inches across! She’s been taking in “stray” exotic birds like cockatiels and parrots so often that her roost has expanded to nearly 100 birds.
If you live close to either of these businesses and have had the chance to sample their goods, let us know what you think!
Maybe your days of rocking knatty dreads are over, but you can give a little shout-out to your quasi-Rastafari roots by imbibing in Rohan Marley’s new papa-inspired coffee beans.
According to this interview in the Jamaica Observer, “My father came from farmland of Nine Miles,” Rohan recalls, “There, he learned a deep respect for nature and humanity – respect that helped guide his life and ours. He said he would return to the farm one day. That was his dream.”
Incorporating the Rastafari ideal of ITAL (pure, vital foods), Rohan and his business partner Shane Whittle work to partner with farms around the globe that are engaging in ecologically and socially sustainable cultivation practices — organic, shade-grown, ethically-treated workers and environmental balance are some of the attributes they look for when sourcing their beans. Their own beans, cultivated in the world-renowned coffee growing region of Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, are similarly produced and they firmly believe that coffee grown in this manner just plain tastes better. From Rohan’s own experience, he draws on early memories of his grandmother hand-hulling and roasting wild coffee cherries for her daily cup of coffee and he seeks to embody this rich, handcrafted and smooth flavor in all of his coffees.
Marley Coffee has five different blends on offer, each name inspired by one of Bob Marley’s songs:
- Simmer Down – Swiss water decaf
- Lively Up! – 5 bean espresso blend
- One Love – Ethiopian Yirgacheffe
- Mystic Morning – Wake up coffee
- Jammin Java – Bold full city roast
Well, maybe just New York City — but if you ask any of its residents, that is the world.
Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters founder, Duane Sorenson, is expanding their artisan roasting business from it’s Pacific Northwest roots directly into the heart of the city that never sleeps. As coffee lovers, we know that the complexity and diversity of flavor in coffee rivals the oft-lauded wine, but it’s an appreciation that hasn’t transcended coast to coast. Sorenson wants to change that by introducing the Big Apple to freshly roasted coffees and changing their perception of what coffee can be.
They’re one of our favorite roasters in Seattle and so if you’re in the NYC area and interested in expanding your coffee palate, definitely check them out.