Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Coffeehouse Hours in the PDX 2009

Just because it's Thanksgiving, doesn't mean you don't need your coffee. Your first choice if you are staying in town is to swing by Coffeehouse Northwest between the hours of 8am and noon. Coffeehouse Northwest will be serving all espresso drinks plus homemade eggnog for free! All your generous tips will go to Sisters of the Road.

Below are a few special Thanksgiving hours listings from your favorite neighborhood coffeehouses:

Albina Press, NE Albina and SE Hawthorne, 7am - 2pm
BARISTA, 539 NW 13th in the Pearl: 8am - 2pm
Crema Bakery and Cafe, 2728 SE Ankeny St., 7am - 6pm
Little Red Bike Cafe, 4823 N. Lombard : 8am - 2pm w/ Thanksgiving food specials!
Lyrik Cafe, 2035 NE 39th: 8am - Noon
Posies Cafe, 8208 N. Denver Ave., 6:30am - 2pm
Random Order Coffeehouse and Bakery, 1800 NE Alberta, 6:30am - 1pm
Red E Coffee, 1006 NE Killingsworth: 6am - 3pm
Ristretto Roasters, 3808 N. Williams Ave., 6:30am - Noon
Speedboat Coffee, 5115 SE Foster Rd., 8am - Noon
Stumptown, Belmont and Division, 7am - 4pm
Sweetpea Baking, 1205 SE Stark St., 9am - Noon w/fresh pumpkin pies for purchase!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

At The Cupping Table: Ristretto Roasters

Back in the heat of August, I think it was, Ristretto Roasters set out the blue dishes and little white bowls at their N. Williams location for a cupping of three of their roasts.

(I took many photos of the event and then promptly lost my data cable so I was unable to upload the photos for this blog post until now.)

Ristretto Roasters is led by Din Johnson who has put together a great team of baristas some of who were on hand to take me and many other devoted Ristretto fans through the steps of a professional cupping.

And I say "professional" because also on hand were some of the farmers and coffee experts from South America who joined us in the sniffing and slurping. These guys are the ones growing the beans Ristretto uses and they were a lot of fun to hang out with. They handed out shirts to lucky cuppers and showed us all up when it came to the slurp.

When we arrived we were all given a sheet of paper to write down our aroma and tasting notes on the three roasts on the table. There was a Guatamalen, Brazilian and Ethiopian roast if I remember correctly.

All three were very different from each other from the first dry sniff (grounds only), to the last slurp.

What has always amazed me is how a single coffee can travel over many different aromas and flavors by going through a hot water pour, agitation and finally a cooling off period. Each step brings out different pieces of the coffee's personality that some people would comment that while they thought they knew which coffee they would enjoy most based on the dry sniff, but once they slurped the cooling coffee, their opinion totally changed.

In the end it was the Guatamalen roast that was the crowd favorite. Nobody much cared for the Ethiopian, but that may have had something to do with our biased South American guests.

Ristretto puts on quite an impressive cupping with great care given to the coffee and they really let the participants feel out the coffees for themselves and share what they liked and didn't like.

While it could be easy for coffee professionals to simply dictate to the cupping newbie what they should taste and smell, I think it's important to listen to all the participants' opinons. We are the ones buying the coffee, and we may not be coffee experts, but we know what we like.

I've heard some people in the coffee business dismiss the public cupping because for some roasters the subtle differences in a coffee just don't come across an untrained palate. Or that there is just too much information to distill in such a short time with a coffee that there really is no point.

But even if we bumble our way through a cupping or two, I think a lot can be learned and appreciated in a public cupping.

Ristretto will be holding more cuppings in the future so look out for those. Kudos to Din and the staff at Ristretto for putting on a great show.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I ♥ PDX Coffee

Heart Coffee and Roasting

2211 E. Burnside
7AM-7PM Everyday

Heart Coffee and Roasting has just opened up shop on E. Burnside and they are ready to show you that the fun has only just begun here in Coffee City, USA.

First off, Heart Coffee seems to have no fear of letting the world in on their passion. Most of the time the roasting is a private affair where the victories and defeats of man vs. machine are hidden from view of the consumer.

Taking center stage is the largest and most expensive-looking roasters I've ever seen. More like a Damian Hurst work-of-art-in-progress than coffee-producing machine, having the roaster out in the middle of the cafe is a bold move.

The dangers of micro-roasting are many. I've heard that the difference of even a few seconds in the roaster can make a huge difference to a batch of beans. Sometimes that difference is only perceptible to the most refined palates. But even still, we'll see if roasting to a crowd will make a difference in the cup over time.

Heart Coffee is one of the more fascinatingly decorated coffeehouses looking like a biology classroom with sleek updates.

There are diagrams of animal innards along with the detailed drawing of a human heart. Everything is cut open and ready for examination at Heart Coffee.

Equipped with a custom espresso machine and a vac-pot station, Heart Coffee currently has five roasts up for your tasting. Kenya Muthewathi, Ethiopia Yirgacheffe grade 2, and El Borbollo’n for single origin espresso; Ethiopia Mordecofe for drip; and Ethiopia Mordecofe and Guatemala Finca Villaure for siphon brewing (aka, vac-pot).

But, that is what they have today. Tomorrow it could change. A fantastic continuation of what Portland is quickly becoming known for, Heart is roasting, brewing and selling coffee with quick turnover. This gives them great control over their product and visitors to their shop will get the freshest brew available.

The Guatemalan is a big stand-out for me. It dances around your mouth giving off tones of cocoa and citrus in the front and cooling to black and blueberry flavors. For a coffee lover these coffees are amazing to taste.

Paired up with this sparkling new coffee is one of the best, and hardly seen baked goods in town. Random Order Coffeehouse and Bakery is supplying Heart Coffee with their top-notch muffins and pies, filled with mostly local fruits. Hopefully this signals a movement toward seeing more Random Order goods in coffeehouses all across town.

So, needless to say Heart Coffee is a must-see for any Portland coffee drinker. Taste the local goodness today, and, well, probably read about it in the New York Times later.