Waking up on Saturday was rough. Hungover and unimpressed with myself, I decided to open the book I'm reading to where I left off the previous day. The book is HOW NOT TO DIE by Michael Greger, M.D. I just happened to be reading the chapter on liver disease, which seemed fitting since I had chosen to overindulge on sake the previous evening. So when I read this particular sentence on page 149, I felt a sense of hope. It said, "Specific plant foods have been found to be protective of the liver. For instance, starting out the day with a bowl of oatmeal and (surprisingly) coffee may help safeguard our liver function." (M. Greger pg 149) That was all the information I needed to get off my ass and do what I needed to do...I mean I AM coffee and I AM oatmeal!! So I made a big bowl of oatmeal, and an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe pour-over.
So, now I'm asking myself why this factoid is a factoid. What is it about this particular food pairing that makes it a winner? Well, oatmeal has a lot of fiber. Coffee contains lots of antioxidants. The university of Scranton published a study that showed coffee as the number one source of antioxidants consumed in the US Diet (R. Santos; D.Lima pg 24). Really, US? Come on! Our number ONE source of antioxidants can be found in our Americanos rather than our apples? I find that pretty funny, and maybe a little bit sad, but who am I to judge?! I just know that I feel good when I have coffee and oatmeal for breakfast.
GROK is the word of the day!! To grok means to understand something intuitively or by empathy. The word was coined in the novel Stranger in a Strange Land written in 1961 by Robert A. Heinlein. Grok is an English word that actually was derived from Martian, which is the language of the planet Mars. So that is pretty dang cool. It feels kind of awkward using the word in a sentence. Let's try it ...
"I GROK coffee."
"Sam just formulated a sentence to help others GROK the meaning of the word GROK."
"In a worldwide effort to grok each other on a daily basis, we believe our tolerance and understanding of the human race would expand to new heights."
From the book The Little Coffee Know-It-All by Shawn Steiman, Ph.D. opens by saying, "This book is dedicated to everyone who wants to grok coffee. May the commitment be invigorating but not too jittery."
Lets all GROK together, and make it a grokking awesome day!!
We are almost there. The espresso machine is all set up and pulling beautiful shots, the drip station is almost finished, and we are putting the finishing touches on the roaster. I am anticipating being open in the middle of April, as long as our inspection goes well. I don't see why it wouldn't. For the next couple weeks, I will be sanding the outside of the trailer - hopefully I will be finished with that by the time we open. We will see! We also have received our signs, which look amazing! Mary Coy with Superior Signs did a wonderful job. So - we're getting there! Almost there! Let's go! WAHOO
3/13/2017 0 Comments
This past Monday I kind of wanted to burn this mother down!
The morning started out alright, and then the Dodge wouldn't start. Damn Dodge. We had to walk to the shop in 20-degree weather. Upon arrival, we immediately turned the espresso machine on to make some much-needed espresso, and the machine started leaking. Luckily my husband is a genius and he fixed it.
Yay? I don't know. Since moving to St. Francis life has been a colorful blend of construction-related problem after problem with some amazing high points, new experiences, red-beers, country drives and total chaos mixed into the equation. Hm. Sounds like life!
Just FYI - The building we bought turned out to be the biggest piece of shit in town, and we had to replace the roof as soon as we got here. Had we seen this place prior to purchasing it, I'm not quite sure we would have pulled the trigger. From opening the motorcycle shop to building out our loft to getting the coffee shop open, sometimes I have ask myself if all of this is really worth the trouble. There's a little voice that tells me it just might be:)
Just a side note - for those of you who do not know what a red beer is, I suggest you try one. Drink about 60 milliliters of your beer (out of the bottle of course) and replace that with 60 milliliters of tomato juice. You will be pleasantly surprised by the refreshing, red-neck-y outcome. It is one of my new favorite beverages right after a well-pulled espresso, sauvignon blanc from the Marlborough District of New Zealand, Broke-Ass Red from Argentina and 19 lager.
Now I'm thirsty. Is it happy hour yet?
3/13/2017 0 Comments
Our first shock came with our very first purchase - the cost of our refurbished Ambex YM-2 roaster. Instead of spending the $1,500 - $2,500 that our internet research suggested, we spent $6,000 (included shipping).
Word to the wise - researching coffee bean roasters online without consulting industry professionals or dedicated trade forums will lead you in the direction of cheap equipment that will, sooner or later, force you to spend more money and be sad.
Thanks to the advice of a few professionals in the industry, we ended up with a solid piece equipment instead of a shoddy piece of shit!
3/13/2017 0 Comments
Its been eons since my last post, and there is a perfectly good explanation for that. My coffee bar and roastery (Fresh Seven Coffee) is still not effing open! However, we are FINALLY in the final stages of almost being open for business...thank the lord. If we were not almost there, I would be in fetal position crying for my mom, which has happened once or twice in my adult life, but that is getting totally off topic.
This has been a long journey. There have been several times I have considered giving up and asking for my job back at Royal Coffee Bar in Phoenix, Ariz. Being an employee was fun! As an employee, I wasn't responsible for day to day operational disasters and/or costs. At Royal Coffee I got to practice my latte art, learn about coffee, interact with amazing people and collect money. I could leave my job for the day, shut off my brain and drink a glass of wine or read a book or just sit on the couch and eat French fries. It didn't matter, as long as I was alert and charming during actual work hours. It was also nice to get paid for doing something fun. It never really felt like real work, which is probably what lead me to the crazy idea of opening my own coffee shop in the first place.
The idea initially surfaced in May 2011 while I was working at Royal Coffee. My husband, Kale and I were preparing to leave the United States for an eight-month, around-the-world excursion. We talked a little bit, at that time, about opening a coffee shop in Denver upon our return to the states. But it wasn't until a few months later (October 2011) that our idea began to take form. Every morning (right before the power would shut off for three hours) we had our coffee at a smaller than small coffee shop in Pushkar, India that boasted "real Italian-style coffee." The simplicity of the shop, as well as the owner's dedication to his customers made us feel happy while sitting there, enjoying our coffee. The cafe was called Honey Dew, Cafe and Restaurant. It was constantly busy. All coffee was served in a beat-up moka pot with steamed milk and sugar on the side.
Sitting in that shop made me miss working at Royal, and my husband suggested we open something small and simple upon our return to the states. Thus began our initial planning stage. We bought a children's drawing pad on the street as well as some pencils and began sketching our ideas.
We pretty much had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We knew we wanted to keep the operation as simple as possible without compromising the quality of our coffee, so we decided to construct a small mobile kiosk. We also wanted to roast our own beans, so we began researching roasters. Our idea was to roast beans at the kiosk and brew coffee in a moka pot on a cook-top surface. Our initial plans made opening a coffee cart seem quite inexpensive. We were looking at no more than a $12,000 investment to complete the setup. HA! Ignorance is awesome when you believe you are on the verge of serious innovation! Fortunately we were passionate about our endeavor, and after eight months of traveling from country to country we were more than motivated to make it happen. According to our naive calculations, we would be up and running by the summer of 2012. Although things have not gone as planned, we've learned a lot along the way, which will hopefully make us better at what we do in the long run.
The first major change we made in our plans came with our decision not to move to Denver upon our return to the States. We took advantage of an opportunity to purchase a building in St. Francis, Kansas, which is my husband, Kale's home town. The cost of the building was cheap. Kale could run his business out of the front half of the building and we could build a loft in the back half. Our coffee cart would be mobile, and the coffee-service locations would be at events and in front of our building.
St. Francis is in the northwest corner of Kansas, in what is referred to as the "Tri-state" area where Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas meet. St. Francis is approximately 250-miles east of Denver. Our hope and long-term dream is to be able to spend most of the year in St. Francis, and a good portion of the winter either traveling, or visiting family in Phoenix, Denver and Texas. At the present time, that plan along with all of our other plans, is still very much a work in progress. But I believe we are getting there.
When I consider how far we have come since that October morning at the Honey Dew Cafe I feel grateful for having the passion, balls, perseverance and healthy level of insanity to keep moving forward despite many bumps in the road. I truly don't think I would have made it this far without my family ... and my coffee ... and my wine:)
3/13/2017 0 Comments
There are few things I value more in life than my morning Americano. It ranks right up there with my evening glass(es) of Kim Crawford. I always look forward to that first sip. Of both. While wine allows you to relax into the relief that your day is behind you, coffee prepares you for what the day might throw in front of you. Wine denotes the close of your day, while coffee mentally prepares you for it. In celebration of that morning mental preparation (or should I say caffination), this blog will focus on coffee. More specifically, a coffee bar. My coffee bar. Fresh Seven Coffee. Because the shop is not yet open to the public, this blog is like my morning coffee - a preparation for things to come. It will be a summary of the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of opening a coffee bar...
Among the world's coffee-producing countries, Sumatra is known as one of the heaviest and spiciest single-origin varieties due to the volcanic soil, growing methods and processing practices specific to the region.
Most of the coffee produced in Sumatra, which is a huge Indonesian island off the country's coast, is semi-washed on the farm after harvest and then overnight-fermented in tanks to soften the mucilage layer, which is then removed while they are still at a high moisture content. According to Cafe Import's Web site, "This process is directly responsible for the classic flavors people love in a Sumatran coffee: earthy, smoky, meaty, savory, and bold. Clean cups are especially valuable, and the base notes of that Indonesian profile can be nicely complemented by some sparkling acidity."
This morning we decided to experiment. First, I brewed our new Sumatran coffee as a pour-over, which brought out a lot of sweet red bell pepper. The mouth-feel was on the heavier side, which wasn't a surprise because it is our heaviest green coffee and looks almost blue before roasted. Then we tried the same origin (Sumatra) as a French press, and sipping this extraction made me feel like I was pouring fresh warm caramel sauce all over my tongue. The Sumatran cupping notes from the farm suggest sweet red bell pepper, caramel, floral and lemongrass.
Different brewing methods will highlight different cupping notes, thus making the caramel, floral or lemongrass more dominant depending upon the grind and the method used to extract the coffee. I would guess a cupping score of 86 for our Sumatran coffee, but I have to check with Sally, our green buyer, to be sure. Kale has been keeping the roast on the lighter side of full city for these beans, dropping them at a lower temperature, and not letting them cook for too long. A 12-oz bag of whole beans costs $14.