Coffee

Mexican Coffee by Caleb Savage

We’ve said before that a great cup of coffee is a coffee you enjoy drinking. While some see it as a polite non-answer, we truly believe that while there are strict standards to determine quality as well as scientific answers to how we taste, ultimately, your preferences in taste, the information you have about the coffee, and the setting in which you drink the coffee all determine your overall enjoyment of the coffee and therefore, its perceived greatness. While we work hard to source, prepare, and serve some of the best coffees available to our friends and family in Downtown OKC, every once in a while a coffee comes along that excites us for more than just checking the boxes for quality in care and cup. Heart’s Mexico Miramar Especial is one of those coffees. It’s not just that it’s a great cup of coffee, (it is) but the story of Specialty Coffee in Mexico is too good not to share with you.

Hecho en México

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Coffee has been a vital part of Mexico’s economy since the late nineteenth century. Often ranking in the ten largest coffee producing countries and accounting for around sixty percent of the world’s supply of organic coffee, our southern neighbor is a coffee producing machine. So why is Miramar Especial the first Mexican coffee ever roasted by Heart or served in our shop? A handful of issues arise: Mexico’s government began investing in the need for organic certification on coffee as the emerging specialty coffee market began shifting to a focus on quality, followed by a national bankruptcy which crumbled institutional support for farmers, and, in more recent history, issues with la roya or coffee leaf rust has decimated entire crops, causing a dramatic and devastating decline in production, due in part to rising temperatures. But these reasons alone aren’t the only things making it difficult for the best coffees being grown Mexico make it to the United States.

Drift: Mexico City

A magazine devoted to coffee, culture, and city, Drift Magazine prints dives into cities around the world with a passion for coffee. In its sixth volume, Drift captured the emergence of specialty coffee and the passion that comes from having coffee growers so close to consumers, roasters, and baristas in focusing on Mexico City, “the most populous and one of the oldest cities in North America.”

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If you go to Africa, they don’t have many specialty coffee shops. If you go to South America, they are starting to have specialty coffee shops. But, for example, they don’t have brewing methods yet because it’s expensive. Mexico has the U.S. in the North, and that gives us huge access to machines, equipment, and industry trends. But we also have the fortune of being a coffee-producing country. We can have coffee from our backyard and the technology from the North.
— Carlos de la Torre, Café Avellaneda (Drift: Mexico City)

With a growing specialty market, coffee professionals are developing relationships with producers and farmers to serve the highest quality coffees from southern states like Oaxaca, Veracruz or one of the twelve other coffee producing states in Mexico in cities like Mexico City, and Guadalajara. More than pride or novelty, cafes and roasteries are investing in specialty coffee in Mexico to close the knowledge gap from consumer to producers, to mitigate the effects of La Roya, and to support farms and co-ops that international buyers might avoid paying premium prices for when a similar scoring coffee might be found in Peru or Colombia for a cheaper price. It’s not all doom and gloom for Mexican producers though, with four coffees scoring above 90 points in the 2018 Cup of Excellence competition, with all 28 winning lots scoring above 86 points, with the winning lot selling at $100.20 a pound.

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Miramar Especial

The coffee we are featuring comes to us from the state of Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s most southern states and one of it’s most well known coffee growing regions.

From Heart:

“Miramar Especial was our favorite lot produced by the Sierra Mixteca co-op. The co-op is located close to the village of Guadalupe Miramar, in the State of Oaxaca. Sierra Mixteca is relatively small, with only 15 members. Our lot is a mix of entirely Bourbon and Typica varieities. Once the cherry has been picked and depulped, the farmers dry ferment their beans for between eighteen and twenty-four hours, then the coffee is washed. The farmers of Mixteca utilize both patio drying as well as raised parabolic beds.”

We’re thrilled to be able to share this special coffee with you! We taste notes of milk chocolate and guava.

Why Does Water Quality Matter? by Caleb Savage

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Let’s say you have a cup of coffee in the cafe. The coffee is clean and sweet, with a bright acidity. It’s balanced and enjoyable. As it cools, the coffee becomes sweeter and the acidity changes subtly. You buy a bag and take it home. Using all the right tools for the job and following your favorite brew recipe, you nail the pourover. You take your first sip. It’s dull and flat. The acidity is harsh. The overwhelming note present in the cup is one: coffee. What did the barista do that you didn’t? Is it worth buying the best coffees for home if you can’t make them taste the same way at home?

Extraction

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Coffee brewing is chemistry. Since making coffee is all about proper extraction, (moving all of the good flavors present in the coffee bean to the water/coffee solution) coffee makers should work to optimize how coffee flavors are extracted from the beans and preserved and perceived in the resulting cup of coffee. Variables like time, temperature, particle distribution (grind), the ratio of water to coffee, and agitation during the extraction process all help extract flavor, but it is actually the composition of the water itself that extracts flavor from the coffee bean.

Buffering

The minerals in water, specifically magnesium and calcium, do a great job extracting the acids and sugars present in the bean and the Malliard reactions that have occured from roasting the bean that give sweet caramelized flavors like vanilla or nougat. So, theoretically, the more minerals like magnesium and calcium in your water, the more you will be able to extract from the coffee bean. However, since we drink coffee, and we’re primarily concerned with the taste of extraction and not just the overall ability to extract, we need a buffer, namely bicarbonate, in the water to balance the chemical changes in the water to preserve the acids as they move from bean to cup. Dashwood and Hendon’s Water for Coffee recommends a 2:1 ratio of general hardness (minerals) to bicarbonate to provide optimal extraction for specialty coffee. To hear more about Water for Coffee, check out Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood’s 2015 Re;co Symposium Lecture

What it means

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Companies like Third Wave Water are working to take the research being done by coffee professionals and make it accessible to the average consumer. You can find Third Wave Water Packets for Pourovers and Espresso in the shop. The team at Barista Hustle has some great info on making your own water recipe if you’re interested in learning more about how various coffee professionals optimize their water with easy to use recipes.

New Milks and Sustainability by Steve Willingham

For the month of July, we’re bringing back the Maple Pecan Cold Brew!

Maple Pecan Cold Brew

If you’re not familiar with this special from last year, it’s a bit of our house made 14-hour cold brew, Malk pecan milk, and maple syrup. Sweet and refreshing for the hottest days of summer.

We’re also continuing the Oatmeal Latte that we re-launched a few weeks ago.

This drink is simply espresso, brown sugar, and oat milk. We first featured this drink in 2016, but we found it difficult to consistently get the oat milk that we were using. This is no longer a problem thanks to our friends at KLLR Coffee and their distribution, so this drink won't be disappearing at the end of its run on the specials board. It will just find a home on the secret menu

Our specials board looks like it has a theme this month. Everything on it is vegan.

When we started Clarity in 2015, we had two alternative milks on the menu: almond and soy. Then we discovered how delicious coconut milk could be and added it as a special and then, eventually, as a permanent addition to the menu.

Since day one at Clarity, we’ve had sustainability on our minds. Serving coffee has an impact on the environment no matter what precautions we take, but we know we can mitigate that impact through intentional decisions and expanding our non-dairy options to fit all sorts of tastes.

Alternative Milks

Last month, we added oat milk as a permanent offering. Now, with pecan milk added on for the Maple Pecan Cold Brew, we think it’s a great moment to talk about what alternative milks can mean for coffee, namely sustainability.

When we look at a drink like a latte, the milk actually accounts for two-thirds of the carbon footprint. Using a plant-based milk alternative significantly decreases that footprint. Almond milk, for instance produces less than half the emissions that dairy does, even after accounting for the longer distance it has to travel.

Coffee is hugely affected by climate change. In fact, a study in 2015 estimated that land suitable for growing coffee will be cut in half by warming temperatures by 2050. The warmer weather has already caused an increase in pests and diseases that have actually caused national emergencies in coffee growing countries. The impact on the rest of the coffee supply chain reminds us of our responsibility to the environment.

Here are a few of the things we’re doing as a company to be better.

Reduce

The most important thing you can do to limit your environmental impact is reducing what you use. We take that seriously and always have. For instance, we worked with TAP Architecture to use the latest in lighting technology. Every light in our entire space, save one, is LED. Most of our coffee equipment has the ability to go into an energy saving mode at night, so we can both reduce energy usage and limit the wear and tear caused by heating and cooling the machine daily, a nice compromise.

And this effort continues even now. Last month, we installed new insulation in our ceiling and on our heating and cooling system to make that part of the space even more efficient.

Clarity Coffee Latte

An even bigger impact, wasted coffee and milk plague both a coffee shop's carbon emissions and their bottom line. When we get together for training, we keep more than just quality and extraction on our minds. Part of the job of a great coffee professional is to limit the amount of coffee, milk, and other materials that are wasted.

We won’t serve you a drink that isn’t exactly right and reliably tasty, so the occasional drink has to be tossed. What we can do is limit the amount of mistakes that happen through a constant training effort and utilizing the latest technology to avoid inconsistency.

We work to be consistent in dosing out and steaming milk, so we rarely steam more milk that we need, which would be poured down the drain. Then we use a milk pitcher rinser to quickly rinse milk out. And that’s not just to save time. It saves thousands of gallons of water per year versus rinsing in a traditional sink.

And when it’s time to clean them more thoroughly, we use products from Seventh Generation and Better Life to make sure nothing harmful ends up in our sewer system.

Reuse

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Sometimes you need to take your coffee to go. No judgments here. We have disposable cups available every day. And if you’re able to bring your own cup, we’d love to put your coffee in it. Don’t have one? We have Hydro Flasks available in black or white.

But when you can, we love for you to stay and enjoy your coffee here. Not just for sustainability’s sake. We also just love having our friends here drinking coffee with us. Next time you stay, we have reusable cups in all shapes and sizes to fit perfectly with the drink you’re enjoying.

Drinks that are traditionally stirred, like cappuccinos, espressos, and the like, are served with a small spoon to eliminate the need for disposable stir sticks.

And just recently, we added reusable totes to our shelves for those who are interested in cutting down on disposable grocery bags. Keep an eye out for these new totes and the Hydro Flasks on our online store.

Recycle

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There are two recycling bins here in the store, and we take it seriously. We go through dozens of gallons of milk, tons of La Croix, and plenty more each week, and every last carton, can, and bottle is put into the recycling bin.

At first, we were packing our recycling up at the end of each day and taking it to a large bin, but after a few months of that, we partnered up with Fertile Grounds to do a weekly recycling pick-up. They’re an outstanding organization and if you have any recycling or composting needs, I highly recommend them!

What’s Next

Aardvark Paper Straws

Improving our sustainability is a constant process. There’s always something more we could do.

The next step for us is to eliminate our plastic straws by working with the paper straw company Aardvark. Our aim is to have this going by the beginning of August. Stay tuned to the blog to learn more about Aardvark, paper straws, and why it matters.

Good Folks Coffee Roasters by Caleb Savage

“The best cups of coffee are usually when you aren’t thinking about tasting notes, brew method, and extraction, but you raise the mug to your lips for another drink and realize it is all gone. That’s our goal with every coffee.”

Good Folks Coffee Roasters

Founded as Argo Sons Coffee in October 2010, Good Folks Coffee Company was founded by Matt Argo in Louisville, Kentucky with a passion to make “a positive impact on everyone that is a part of our coffee chain.”

After travelling the world over eight years in the Army National Guard and several trips with his wife to Africa, Matt “developed a love for coffee -- particularly the social aspect and the economic impact it has in producing countries." He knew he wanted to start a business after his military contract was complete, and already loved to travel and work with people from different cultures and backgrounds. Coffee seemed to be a perfect fit.

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Coffee Travels

In the search for “sweetness, balance, and complexity,” Good Folks “traveled to Guatemala to cup and purchase some fresh coffees. Several unique coffees that we purchased are currently on the water between Guatemala and the US, and we are excited to share the stories of the farmers, as well as the coffees themselves. A few of the coffees are experimental processes and/or rare varieties, resulting in some very small lots.”

Coffee + Bourbon + Louisville

While Good Folks doesn’t have a Brick and Mortar store front, you can find their coffee in Louisville at cafes like Please and Thank You, North Lime DonutsPearl Street Game & Coffee House, and restaurants including Proof on Main, Butchertown Grocery, Bar Vetti, and Decca.

Beyond coffee, “The Louisville Slugger Museum and Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown Louisville are must-visits. Keep an eye out at Evan Williams for a bourbon barrel aged coffee from yours truly. A quick stop at El Mundo for a house margarita (or two) and nachos with pork is a great option,” said Matt.

Now on Bar: Congo North Kivu

Good Folks Congo North Kivu is our first coffee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo this year! We’re serving Kivu on Espresso and Pourover and we’re really enjoying the nice pairing of sweet chocolate and bright peach notes in the cup! This coffee will only be on bar for a short time so stop in and let us know what you think!