The Good Food Awards “celebrates the kind of food we all want to eat: tasty, authentic and responsibly produced.” This year’s Awards Ceremony will be held in the iconic Ferry Building in San Francisco. Read more…
All posts tagged roaster
Visions Espresso‘s Coffee Enhancement Lounge will be hosting round 3 of Barista Round Table, an interactive and highly involved forum for coffee professionals – managers, baristas, roasters, techs, et al. Wonderfully hosted by Sarah Dooley and Jared Mockli, the BRT is a means for all to come together, unencumbered, and simply geek out on all things coffee.
While some may argue that Seattle’s coffee scene has been lagging behind other progressive specialty coffee markets such as SF, NYC, and Portland, it does not necessarily represent all of us here in Seattle. Granted, there are indeed plenty of people (consumers and professionals alike) ok with the status quo of dark(er) roasted coffees or mysterious blends and defend tirelessly of Seattle’s “coffee city” repute. At the same time, however, there are also many of us that are actively working to further our understanding and appreciation of specialty coffee, collaborating with each other as well as many other leading establishments elsewhere. BRT is such a place where these people come together.
Perhaps it is a confluence of the economy, bad public policy, stagnant demand, a dash of complacency, and Seattle’s passive aggressive culture that have discouraged many progressive Third Wave cafes from opening up. Nonetheless, there are a handful of relatively new (within the past 1-2 years or so) and excellent places that are worthy of at least a visit by the most discerning amongst us.
- Urban Coffee Lounge - Baristas Andrew and Laila came in 2nd and 3rd at 2010 NWRBC. Features Stumptown coffee prepared with care and precision.
- Zoka Kirkland - Their new cafe is a daring departure, with two machines (one dedicated to single origin espressos) in a sexy urban setting.
- Tougo Coffee - Serves Stumptown and Ritual (only place in Seattle!).
- Dubsea Coffee - New cafe serving Stumptown coffee, bringing specialty coffee to an area of town (White Center) not previously accustomed to specialty coffee.
- Stumptown Seattle - Always pushing the quality above all else, of course.
- Makeda Coffee - Little shop in a sleepy neighborhood of Phinney Ridge, serving Seven Roasters coffee
This is not a comprehensive list of course (let’s not forget Aster, Trabant, and many more but keeping it short here to get to the point). Perhaps it is due to Seattle’s inherent culture of understatedness and avoidance of attracting attention to oneself that most of these establishments are not very well known (Zoka and Stumptown notwithstanding).
The point is, the BRT is a manifestation of the kind of progressive efforts a dedicated group of us in Seattle are actively pursuing. If you’re in town, this is your chance to geek out.
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?
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 Bottle, Sightglass, and now Ritual.
Here are a few pictures from their Open House:
*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).
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.
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.
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
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.
In “The Most Important Drink of Your Day“, GQ magazine hits home with the point that, “why pay $4.79 for a watery latte that was lovelessly made on a push-button machine that could be safely operated by a 4 year old?” (They’re referring to a superautomatic espresso machine, by the way)
In the “Golden Age of Coffee” (as they call it) that we now live in, “there’s now a wealth of coffee in America so rich and flavorful it’ll remind you why you originally fell in love with the stuff.”
Other than killer coffee and quality, what else do these featured coffee roasters have in common? They’re all customers of La Marzocco, of course.
Mojo Bicycle Cafe is a bike shop and coffee bar! Featuring a La Marzocco Linea pulling De La Paz‘ espresso. Also brewing Ritual on drip. They carry Felt, Swobo, Jamis, Rock Lobster, and Kona bikes. They pull a mean shot, especially for a place that’s not 100% specialized in coffee.
Bikes and coffee go very well together. We need more of these kind of shops people!
In Jeremy Tooker’s newest venture, he combined lots of wood furniture, open space, wall mounted dead animal heads, dedicated cupping table, and, of course, awesome coffee. All of this resulted in what’s commonly referred to as Four Barrel Coffee in the Mission district of SF. Recently, they have just turned one year old, and they are sure doing well, pulling kickass espressos on their double Mistrals. They roast onsite and, if you’re in town, definitely check them out! They are literally down the street from another seriously excellent roaster, Ritual Coffee.
Over the weekend, Stumptown Coffee Roasters hosted the Producers Panel, a presentation and discussion on the state of the coffee industry on the producers side. For those who have not had the opportunity to visit origin, this was a fantastic way to meet those responsible for their dedication and hard work on the other end of the supply chain. The panel took place at Seattle University, which was followed by a tasting of the coffee represented by the panelists at Stumptown’s nearby cafe & roastery. Coffees were enjoyed on the espresso machine (as single origin espressos), chemex, and pourover.
Even if you have been in the industry for some time (but haven’t visited origin yet), this has to be a sobering experience. In his own words, Ngatia, a coffee farmer from Karatina, Nyeri in Kenya, passionately spoke of how Stumptown and a small handful of other progressive coffee roasters are purchasing their coffees through the “second window” in Kenya’s coffee exchange. This enables him and his coop to receive up to twice as much for their above par quality coffees. Through their collaboration with Stumptown, Ngatia’s coop was able to increase their production by about 40% in the past couple years and is on track to almost double their current level in the coming year.
The farmers were very grateful for such progressive roasters to work with them via the direct trade model, and just as so for this opportunity to visit Portland and Seattle and meet those who enjoy their work. In fact, for most of them, this was their first trip outside of their respective countries.
This event has become an annual tradition at Stumptown. Hopefully, this will also be commonplace at other roasters as well.
Ok, I’m sooooo flying down to LA for coffee.