Class Recap: Citric Acidity Palate Training by Caleb Savage

For our second palate training, we tackled citrus fruit and acidity in coffee! After a quick recap on how we taste, we used World Coffee Research’s Sensory Lexicon to identify the differences between lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit and how they related to the types of acidity found in coffee.

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A Palatable Consensus

Our ability to describe what we taste in unique. Each person’s likes, dislikes, allergies, experiences, and preferences all shape their understanding of how and what they perceive from the characteristics of what they are trying to describe. For instance, someone with a nut allergy may never describe a coffee as tasting nutty in a positive way or even be able to describe the difference in taste between a pecan or an almond. This is what makes palate trainings so helpful! By being able to compare like foods to each other, groups of people can begin to expand and develop their palate based on the experiences and palates of each other.

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Acid: Flavor Enhancer

Although coffee is only a mildly acidic beverage (with a pH of 5), the various acids present in coffee help showcase the relationship between the notes of coffee and the growing conditions and farming practices of the farm and country in which the coffee originated.

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Some fun facts about specific acids and their relationship with coffee:

Citric acid occurs naturally in coffee plants as a byproduct of photosynthesis.

Phosphoric acid is only found in coffees grown in phosphorus-rich soil and is responsible for the sparkling-sweet acidity so often found in East African coffees.

Chlorogenic Acid degrades rapidly during the roasting process but is one of the easiest acids to perceive in coffee. Why does a lighter-roasted coffee taste more acidic than a darker-roasted coffee? Chlorogenic Acid.

Shout out to Driftaway's blog and to Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood's The Coffee Dictionary for the resources used for this class.

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Modbar by Caleb Savage

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We love the way a cup of coffee tastes when made using a Chemex. We also love serving our friends coffee as consistently and efficiently as possible. For us, the solution came in the form of Modbar’s Pour Over system. Using Modbar allows us to spend more time with customers while also allowing us to serve more customers quality brewed coffee alongside our espresso offerings on the Victoria Arduino Black Eagle. Here’s a little more info about Modbar and their systems from Modbar team members Will and Lena:

“Modbar was created by two bandmates in Fort Wayne, Indiana: Corey Waldron and Aric Forbing. The idea started percolating in Corey's mind in the early 2000s while he was working as a barista and roaster -- he wondered why he had to have a big bulky machine on the counter getting in the way of his conversations with customers. He imagined there must be a way to move most of the machine under the counter and leave only the coffee service above. Corey turned to his friend Aric, an industrial designer, to bring the concept to life. Early on, the pair found support from La Marzocco and brought the first modular, undercounter espresso machine to the market in 2013.”

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Modbar debuted their Pour Over system alongside their Espresso and Steam systems at the SCAA Expo in Boston in 2013. “Originally, Aric & Corey wanted to offer a hot water tap to complement the espresso and steam systems but found that there were already some good options available for that. Their thinking then began to incorporate a by-the-cup drip coffee option, and they found that there weren't any options that allowed for both manual and programmed/automatic use, so they got to working on what eventually became the Pour Over System we know and love today.”

Modbar Espresso

By moving all of the boiler’s and technology under the counter, Modbar’s Espresso system eliminates the need for a mini coffee-creating wall between barista and customer, leaving only the group heads and steam wands on bar. This sometimes confuses coffee consumers who take the absence of a big machine on the bar to mean the shop doesn’t serve espresso.  

Photo courtesy of The Boxcar

Photo courtesy of The Boxcar

“It's kind of a two-edged sword: we want the 'gear' to disappear in order to highlight the process, the barista's hands and their crafting of the beverage. But then I'm also like, 'Hey! Our machines are really good looking. Notice them!' We can't have it both ways, but I still want to. Our system is great for that reason - the guest can see their drink being constructed. Most latte fans have never seen an espresso shot pouring. It also makes the barista have to up their cleanliness game, which I love, as everything is on display. No more hiding the mess behind or under the espresso machine.”

Next time you grab a pourover, check out the system just behind the Black Eagle and let us know what you think. Also, to see Modbar’s Espresso and Steam Systems in use, head south and see our friends over at The Boxcar of Moore!

Class Recap: Evolution of Specialty Coffee by Caleb Savage

What is Specialty Coffee and what makes it so special? Today we dove deep into the history of coffee production and consumption to learn more about the drink we love! We sampled coffees of various styles as we walked through the history of coffee consumption in the United States, using Mark Pendergrast’s “Uncommon Grounds” as our guide. Here's a quick recap:

While we don’t know precisely when coffee first began being cultivated intentionally, we do know that by the first printed mention of coffee in the 10th Century, coffee had been grown in Ethiopia and Yemen for hundreds of years. By way of colonialism, religious missionaries, and trade, the coffee plant made its way first to India, then to the Caribbean and Latin America, on to South America and, back to Africa throughout the 1700s and 1800s.

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Meanwhile in the US, coffee grew in popularity in spite of the temperance movement and various movements throughout the health and religious communities to ban caffeine. As the Industrial Revolution took off, so did the mass production of consumption of coffee. Prior to the 1880s, most coffee drinkers roasted and ground their coffee at home for each cup. Technology and manufacturing meant that small, regional roasters who existed in more urban communities could expand their operations and compete at a national level.

Prior to the 1880s, most coffee drinkers roasted and ground their coffee at home for each cup.

Economic instability and a heavy demand for coffee at the lowest price helped degrade the quality of coffee, with some roasters using inferior coffees that lacked the flavor and body of Arabica coffee for a higher yield at a lower cost.  Enter Specialty Coffee.

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Tired of coffee that lacked flavor or quality, new, independent roasters popped up offering coffees based on origin with a focus on preparation and quality. This emphasis provides more opportunities for farmers and producers to gain exposure and improve the quality of their offerings. Further, this new market makes coffee similar to other growing craft industries like beer or wine.

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Hydro Flask by Caleb Savage

Hydro Flask was founded in 2009 in Bend, Oregon with a mission to “save the world from lukewarm.” We etched our logo on  their 12oz coffee cup because they do exactly what we want them to: whatever you want. Whether you’re looking to keep your latte hot after the walk back to work, your cold brew icy during a road trip, or trying to make your coffee habit a little more environmentally friendly, Hydro Flask is our choice.

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Smart Cups

Sure, everyone loves holding onto a warm cup of coffee as we brave the gale force winds to get from one place to the next, but that warmth comes at the expense of your caffeinated beverage of choice.  The more warmth you feel, the less warmth your latte has to give. Same thing with iced drinks. 98 degrees at 11AM means you want your coffee chilly. You have a choice to make: strike a balance between ice and drink and finish it before it gets too warm or pack it full of ice and have a watered-down cup full of disappointment. Hello, Tempshield!

Hydro Flask’s Tempshield technology works to keep hot drinks steamy for up to six hours and cold drinks chilly for twenty-four. Plus, there’s no heat transfer. Sure, your hands won’t be warmed by coffee’s loving embrace during those cold winter months, but that’s what gloves are for.

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Straightforward, Versatile

Open that one random drawer in your kitchen. You know the one. Count how many random thermos lids, caps, and O-rings you swore would work with another bottle. Imagine not having that. Hydro Flask’s approach to hydration management means offering a variety of sizes and styles while standardizing things like the size of the opening of the containers and applying the technology that makes Hydro Flask great to all of their offerings. The level of purity in the stainless steel walls of each flask that means today's Sun-Dried Ethiopia doesn’t tastes like yesterday's Vanilla Latte is also in their tumblers and sixty-four ounce growlers.  

Hydro Flask works hard to make sure the drink you ordered is the drink you get in your meeting later that day. They help us use less paper and plastic on the days we need a cup on the run. They also look pretty sweet. We’re stocked up and ready for all of your gift-giving events and exchanges, but as it goes with cabin pressure in airplanes, make sure you have one first before you buy one for your neighbor. Check them out in our online store as well.