Heart <3 the Wood Mistral

This is SOOOOO seXy! So much so that it puts the “X” in sexy.

Heart Roasters fancies tasty coffees, understated cool decor, and sexy espresso machines. To fulfill their hearts, they have custom fabricated wood side panels and group caps on their La Marzocco Mistral. See below for drool inducing wood+metal goodness.

Heart’s wood Mistral

Oh yeah, they roast coffee, too. Did I mention the man behind Heart is “the” Wille Yli-Luoma?

Roasting hearts.
A badass bar featuring a custom Mistral and a custom painted Synesso.

Ritual’s New Digs

Sweet beans of Esmeralda! Ritual‘s new roastery looks tight! Located in downtown SF, just south of Market St, it forms a nice midpoint in the downtown coffee corridor that includes Blue BottleSightglass, and now Ritual.

Here are a few pictures from their Open House:

Eileen, the one who puts the ritual in Ritual.


Big open space at the new roastery. It’s for roasting and operations use for now but there may be a retail cafe in the future.
Eileen and her GB/5.

Turkey + Coffee + Alcohol

That’s what we’ll be consuming away from work on December 24 & 25 and January 1. Since turkey, coffee, and alcohol don’t make a good combination in the tummy, we will be closed on those days.

How to Chemex by Verve

Verve‘s Truby and Baca servin it up! La Marzocco”s picture book makes a cameo in the bg.


Also featuring how to drink espressos in Santa Cruz:


A Very Special Barista

This is truly an extraordinary of story of someone born with a defect but, through opportunity and training, she was able to work as a trained barista at Em and Jerri’s Coffee Company. Written by Gina Palandri of Espresso Partners.

I had the pleasure of meeting Em about a month ago, after she was referred to us by Kevin Kapaun of Specialty Java, a local Minnesota roaster. Em came to Espresso Partners’ Minnesota training facility, accompanied by her job coach Jerri Reisner, and her mother Tami. This would be their first barista training, and would unknowingly end as one of my most rewarding.

Em was born with a congenital birth defect, called Agenesis of the Corpus Collosum. The corpus collosum is the fibrous tissue that connects the two hemispheres of the brain. It is basically the “train station”, where all of the electrical impulses of the brain pass through. When Em was born, her parents were told to institutionalize her, as she would not be able to walk, talk, sit up, or function in general. It was soon learned, that repetition and routine were the keys to assist Em in her every day functions and tasks.

Em’s parents, long time small business owners in their town, along with some other members of the community, decided  that the town  needed a coffee house. The town’s economy was ripe, for a new small business that would allow people to have a great place to meet, as well as a place to have an awesome cup of coffee. They decided that this could be an amazing opportunity for Em, who most recently was employed by the Goodwill Industries in Independence, IA, to become a barista and an entrepreneur.  Jerri Reisner, Em’s job coach was to be a partner in this venture.

Em has two job coaches, who have worked with her and supported her, in this new adventure into the galaxy of the coffee community. She is getting assistance from Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation, and the State of Iowa Work Force Development has taken a special interest in Em. They have contracted with the University of Iowa to film her, as they are doing a documentary on self-employment for adults with special needs.

When we began, I had no idea what a barista training program for special needs young adults, would entail. But as we moved forward, a lot of great tools were thought up. Utilizing the automatic and efficient design of the La Marzocco Swift grinder, we placed bright orange dots of paint to help line up the portafilter with the grinder collar. Similar dots were also used on the groups of a La Marzocco Linea.

Audible clues, like an almost “growl”, were emphasized to teach the tightness of the portafilter when it is properly placed firmly in the group head. Using the automatic, volumetric touch pads on the Linea, we created a system that matched each drink size to a particular button.

Initially, Em’s parents were a little nervous about her steaming milk. But after coming up with a tight procedure of milk sounds, smaller frothing pitchers, and larger faced thermometers, we practiced and practiced until she finally nailed it. Fabulous flash cards were designed by Em’s job coach Jerri Reisner, with pictures, the “words” and descriptions.  The great flash cards are used for memorization.  Some day, I imagine that latte art will be a possibility.

Currently, the staff at the coffee house includes Em, her two job coaches, and a few other special needs young adults. One of the great benefits to her staff is that they are all paid minimum wage, instead of the $1.50- $5.00 that they could possibly be making at other employment opportunities in town.

After leaving there last week after another on site training, I saw Em making mochas, lattes, and pouring coffee.  I left Em & Jerri’s Coffee Company realizing that anything is possible on this planet earth.

Follow Em on Facebook @Em and Jerri’s Coffee Company

Intelligentsia @ NADA Art Fair

NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance, that is) Art Fair was held recently in Miami Beach and Intelligentsia to pair spectacular coffee with spectacular art. WBC Champion Stephen Morrissey, USBC Champion Michael Phillips, and David Latourell were there to pull shots from two classic semi-auto La Marzocco Lineas and to provide entertainment. More pictures on David’s Flickr.

Stephen Morrissey and Michael Phillips getting serious behind the Linea

SF Coffee Scene*

*Well, due to limitations in my travels last week (Thanksgiving), this is only partially representative of the city, not of greater SF or the Bay Area, which I hope to fully document someday.

SF is HOT! For coffee, that is. Roasters there are certainly bringin’ it with their coffees and their visions for the Third Wave (or Fourth Wave, for that matter).

Justin pulling shots on Four Barrel’s double Mistral

Take Four Barrel, for example. Ask the people there about what coffee most excites them right now and, to my surprise (and initial horror), they said DECAF! Now, I’m philosophically opposed to decaf and the only good decaf I’ve had was a decaf espresso from Verve a couple years ago. To my pleasant surprise, Four Barrel’s decaf espresso was amazing! Of the beans used in their decaf is the Ethiopia Mordecofe, a coffee hand picked by them for decaffeination (as opposed to coffees picked by decaffeination companies). Mordecofe is offered three ways at Four Barrel – decaffeinated, washed, and natural (highly recommended!).

Four Barrel has recently reopened their back alley bar, this time with a built in bar instead of a cart. The idea is to offer a more limited but more personable approach to customers that come through the alley. It will be operated by their head trainers and/or baristas in training from their wholesale accounts. It’s a terrific concept and I’ve had amazing shots in the back bar.

Down the street on Valencia is Ritual. The cafe is busy busy BUSY (which is a good thing)! Soon they’ll move the roaster and green bean storage to revert the area back to dining room style seating for a more intimate setting. On the coffee side, they’ve recently started offering Panama Esmeralda in special handmade packaging (very cool cardboard and spray paint!), just in time for the Holidays.

Blue Bottle’s cafe (with their Mechanical Paddle Linea) and roastery in Oakland. Note the warm Californian sun. How we so need it in Seattle.

Hop on the BART to Oakland and there is Blue Bottle‘s new roastery and a small cafe. The place is spectacularly clean (by that I mean clean and clean/sharp looking). In addition to the standard roasting/packaging area for coffees, office, and tech/training room, there is a cool presentation room, a full kitcken/bakery (they make killer chocolate chip cookies and $9 waffles), and a see through cupping room. If it wasn’t for the coffee equipment, the place might be mistaken for an art gallery.

Mechanical Paddle Linea at work at Blue Bottle’s BUSY cafe at SF Fisherman’s Terminal.

Back to SF side of the Bay at the Ferry Building (a touristy place for foodies) is one of Blue Bottle’s cafes, a very busy one at that. Featuring a Mechanical Paddle Linea as their main production machine, each espresso shot is expertly soft pre-infused for a nicely rounded, rich taste. With the Mechanical Paddle, the barista has more control (with variable pressure) over the soft pre-infusion process and thus requires a very well trained barista to continuously pull shots while there are a dozen people waiting in line.

Perhaps one of the most exciting up and coming roaster is Sightglass, just south of

Jerad and Ally of Sightglass. Pulling shots on their Slayer. Construction is afoot behind the wall of canvas.

Market in downtown. While their new roastery and cafe is still under construction, they are selling drinks on their cart to the passerby. Currently offering Verve coffee until their own roaster goes live (hopefully sometime later this month), they make fantastically prepared drinks every single time. With a huge space, a beautifully designed bar, and an u-shaped balcony seating area overlooking everything, this will be one of the most awe-inspiring coffee destinations for some time. If you go, be sure to try their mocha, which uses a specially sourced chocolate. It’s literally a chocolate cherry bomb.