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Showing posts from August, 2014

Can Specialty Coffee be Mass Produced?

Sam’sClub has recently begun selling “FIREHOUSE COFFEE ROASTERS” whole bean coffees in their clubs here in the Phoenix Valley ( ). FIREHOUSE claims to be exclusively a Specialty Coffee roaster, so I had to try a bag. After sniffing each type through the vent while physically abusing the poor bag, I decided to try the “Island Blend”, which is described as “South Pacific coffees with sweet & complex notes. Wonderful aromatics”. That is about as specific as my horoscope today – You will be presented with great opportunities if you know where to look – but it did smell good.

Starting up

Now that we are ready start brewing coffee for people, I am finding it very difficult to get over the first hump.

Challenge 1: Fear and doubt leading to paralyzing over-analysis
We worked on our business plan to the point of realizing we don’t have enough data to put together a sound business plan. Decision made: do a test. We have a good plan for our test, but it keeps getting stalled because we are unsure about what we are doing. How many options do we offer? Where do we go? How do we manage grinder noise? And a thousand other questions.

Diner Coffee

We have been talking about specialty coffee the whole time here, with good reason since we want to brew specialty coffee. This Chick-Fil-A coffee has got me thinking though: Does specialty coffee go with everything?

Chick-Fil-A Specialty Coffee?

Can specialty grade coffee be produced at a mass level?
Chick-fil-a has put an effort the tell people that their coffee is direct trade and specialty grade. Though I don’t buy that their direct trade actually helps the communities as much as they claim, I do like that they are working to cut out the middle man. That’s just good business sense. I don’t think we need to always make good business decisions pretty with pious make up. Now the real issue is the coffee. Is it as good as “specialty grade” makes me think it will be? I am going to say the answer is both yes and no.

Tasting Cheap Coffee

As I have said in previous posts, I’m cheap. Let’s just call it what it is. I like to get good stuff for as little money as possible, often times sacrificing some quality for price. Sound pretty typical of American buying practices? Darn toot’n. So why do I find myself constantly frustrated with the coffee I drink? Easy answer: I’m drinking crappy coffee.

Brewing Methods - Pour Over Part 2

Proper pour over technique is a matter of great debate and a fair amount of science. In fact, there should be a college course on pour over brewing technique! There would certainly be enough material to justify a full semester, and entire generations could be saved from wasted years of drinking terrible coffee.

Obviously, one blog post is not enough space to nail the mysteries of the universe, much less to fully discuss proper pour over technique. To be honest, I have not reached 100% pour over technique mastery, even though I can consistently produce a wonderful cup of coffee awesomeness.
We can, however, get the basics down well enough to make great coffee and troubleshoot most problems. This post applies to pour over equipment such as the Hario V60, a Melitta, or the Able Kone.

My thoughts on the Fair Trade Debate

I have been casually following the responses to the study completed at the University of London claiming Fair Trade does not do what it claims. I will openly admit right now that I do not have all the facts, so this is my opinion. Please feel free to comment so we can discuss.
The article by Nora Burkey posted on Daily Coffee News ( had one major point that I really grabbed hold of. I really don’t like adding large quotes, but I think she says it best:
“Fair Trade was never about paying a fair price to farmers in exchange for making sure that all their workers were treated well. In fact, Fair Trade was never equipped to manage farmers or development projects at all. Fair Trade began with a commitment to buy only from cooperatives. By belonging to an organization, small landowning farmers can achieve direct market access through said organization instead of selling their coffee to coyotes…