I was able to spend a bunch of time at Heart today, one of my favorite roasters in town. The owner Wille, pronounced Ville, is a really cool dude and i was able to glean some great tips and pointers from him in this industry. I was also able to grab lots of free coffee (precisely 4 cups: 2 cups of coffee, an espresso and a Capp. That’s why I’m still up at 1 and can’t sleep!) I enjoyed all the coffee cause its amazing and lighty roasted. Congrats Heart!
Ask anyone in the coffee industry and they will usually say that roasting is an intricate, difficult, and complicated process that takes years and years to learn. I assumed the same thing until talking to Collin, a barista and manager at Coffee House North West (Sterling Coffee Roasters) in NW Portland. He said, after hesitating to answer “I’m not gonna say it’s not intricate, cause in one way it is, but I will say this coffee roasting is simply: turning green coffee to brown coffee… reducing the moisture in the coffee, and caramelizing the sugars.” He said “I’ll put it this way, if I put you in front of a roaster, you could be roasting great coffee in 30 minutes.” Often times barista’s and roaster’s try to make roasting this artsy abstract process and claim they are the ones making a coffee delicious, when really, roasting is simply drawing out flavors in coffee that are pleasant, and reducing the ones that aren’t.
Sometimes people will say things like “I was able to draw out the citrus in this coffee,” when really, that coffee was already intrinsically citrusy and he was just simply drawing out that innate flavor profile. It’s as simple as taking a certain coffee and drawing out intrinsic qualities to produce an amazing product. Let’s skip the hoopla.
This weekend was packed full of coffee and fun. I’m rather surprised that there is not not as many innovative, young coffee shops as here in Seattle as there are in Portland. The few I was able to check out really blew me away and were amazing. There is however no getting around the fact that the origin of specialty coffee started in this city and that’s something to be respected and admired. Here’s a final overview of all the wonderful coffee I was able to find. Thanks Seattle! Until next time…
(Out of 10)
Milstead & Co.-9
Cafe De Arte-4
Stumptown 12th Ave-9
Metronome (Tacoma, Wa) -8
Victrola Coffee Roasters:
I love this place! Old brick walls, huge lite-wood tables, funky hanging lights, and great music.
I tried their:
Sumatra Linton Peaberry | Roaster: Victrola
-Fermented Plum. The coffee was pretty good, not very complex, it had syrupy stone fruit and a tea-like, pleasant finish reminiscent of a Yirgacheffe. But after the coffee’s I’ve been enjoying recently, this coffee didn’t deliver. Nothing against Victrola, I know they produce some amazing coffee’s and would love to try some more of them.
Me and a buddy are heading up the coast to Seattle to see a friend and figured we would make it a coffee tour. First stop is Milstead & Co.
What we ordered:
Debello Ethiopia | Aeropress | Roaster: Intelligentsia
-I picked this coffee out of three choices because I was craving intelligentsia. I used to have Intelli coffee at least twice a month when I was in Santa Barbara, but haven’t had any since moving to Portland. Let me tell you, Intelli is always progressing and making better coffee. This coffee on the aeropress (which really illuminates body), is wonderful. It has graceful notes of acidic fruit (lime) and stone fruit, plum and cherry. Heavy, syrupy body. Wonderful coffee all around. And even better in a shop like this.
I had heard a couple things about Milstead and knew I had to go to see what it is all about. I walked in and said to my buddy (this place is legit). You step through the two glass doors into a large room with the sound of Saturday morning chatter over lattes and steam wands spraying away. The room is lit by huge orb style lights hanging down from the high sealing creating a nice atmosphere (not to dark, not to bright). The walls are painted gray until about ten feet up it turns to white. The coffee bar had wonderful multi-colored wood and marble countertops. The baristas are crazy nice, ready to explain coffee’s and help you choose your beverage. The music was barely audible, which I actually didn’t mind. And the vibe in that place was awesome. Such a sweet place, I totally recommend it for anyone in the Seattle area, specifically Fremont.
I have tried 3 Ethiopian coffee’s today so far (extremely caffeinated right now!). All of them were from the Sidamo region in Eastern Ethiopia, Here’s a quick evaluation:
Guji | Natural Process | Beehive Pour Over | Roaster: Cellar Door
-This coffee was delicious. It had pleasant notes of jasmine, chocolate, honey, and I’m not kidding… wasabi. I tasted a bit of a smokey linger that reminded me of wasabi. Great cup in the morning.
Chilcho | Natural Process | Chemex | Roaster: Water Avenue
-Man Oh Man, if you have a chance to try this coffee, be prepared for an explosion of baked blueberry pie. I tasted a bit of higher range citrusy notes up front, blueberry prevalent throughout, juicy mouthfeel, beautiful roast profile, perfection. Dry process is risky but amazing when done right! Did this one at home with 28g to 450g ratio and about a 4 minute total brew time.
Yukro Gera | Wet-Process | Aeropress | Roaster: Heart
-This coffee has been delicious time and time again. I’ve had it by several different roasters including Sightglass and Stumptown and really appreciate Heart’s approach on more of a tea-like roast profile. It’s characterized by notes of lemonade, bergamot and strawberry with some sweetness and absolutly NO BITTERNESS. It had a wild juicy mouthfeel with citrus popping through like a nice glass of lemonade. Really enjoyed this coffee. Especially since it was prepared by national aeropress champions.
Guji – Cellar Door
Chemex – Home Brew
30 sec pre inf. – 4:00 Brew time
Chilcho – Water Ave (So good!)