Coffee

Coffee Questions: Brewing That Works by Caleb Savage

NOT JUST HERE FOR THE CAFFEINE

“What’s the best way to make coffee at home?”

Coffee making can be pretty frustrating. We want good coffee. We want to make it in a way that’s both fun and relatively easy. We don’t want it to break the bank. Why? Because we want coffee to be both utilitarian and pleasurable. We want it’s caffeine, but we want also want it to be sweet, well-balanced, and enjoyable. We want it to help us wake up in the morning so we don’t want a setup that requires us to be alert to be able to do it well.

Caleb Teaching Coffee Class.jpg

So how do we balance making great coffee without having to have the best equipment or follow a complex set of rules to get your first sip of caffeine?

The best cup of coffee is a coffee you like to make and drink.

Sipping Latte.jpg

The Balancing Act

We can divide home brewing into a couple areas to determine the best setup for anyone: Interest, Time, and Cost.

Interest

Do you enjoy learning about where coffees are from? Do you follow recipes when you make coffee? If you want good coffee, but don’t have a lot of interest in the details, there are some great automated brewers that make Specialty quality coffee at home!

Time

Are you looking for a coffee setup that allows you to start a cup and be out the door five minutes later? A stovetop kettle might not be the best choice. Also, avoid hand grinders. If you have the time and interest, you can sip slowly and think critically about the coffees you make and make slight adjustments to your recipe until you’ve found the program that works best for you.

Cost

Sometimes we have a lot of interest and time to make great coffee but are missing the budget to have the “perfect” setup. Don’t sweat. Sometimes small improvements to things like water, coffee quality, or temperature can have dramatic results on the finished product!

Coffee Class Sipping.jpg

THINGS WE LOVE

“What equipment should I get?

The equipment we sell comes from companies we believe in. We use and sell Acaia scales, XF brewers and kettles, Chemexes, and Baratza grinders. If you are considering a new kettle or brewer, ask us about why we love the gear we use.

We also love helping you make the best coffee you want to make. Our team loves finding the gear or solution you need the balances your interest, time, and budget. Stop by the shop and chat with your baristas about the best set up for you.

Coffee Class Fellow Kettle Pouring.jpg

Coffee Questions: What is Terrior by Caleb Savage

Every so often, we get a question at the bar related to coffee or our thoughts on coffee that we feel should be discussed on a larger platform. We started a series of posts called Coffee Questions where we try to answer those questions and leave as a resource to anyone looking to learn more about the industry, brewing, or anything else! Click here to check out other posts in this series!

For our October Palate Training, we tried some Dick Taylor Chocolates from Madagascar, Belize, and Brazil and discussed the role different environmental effects have on the outcome of coffee, chocolate, and most other plant products! Factors like what variety of plant is being used, where the coffee is grown, sunlight and water received, and other decisions being made by farmers can all make a significant impact on the quality of the your morning cup of coffee. We can wrap all of those ideas into a single idea: terroir.

Terroir. /terˈwär./ Tear-wah. Yes, we’re bringing French to the blog. Pardon.

Overhead Coffee Mug Wood.jpg

Are Red Delicious Apples even Moderately Delicious?

I don’t think so. I’m more of a Granny Smith fan. Gala is okay, but save the Red Delicious for applesauce. I don’t want it. What’s with the apple rant? Gala, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious are all varieties of apples. We can categorize them under that broad category of “apple” and you recognize them as they are, but no one would say that a Granny Smith apple tasted the same as a Red Delicious apple. Like apples, coffea arabica, the species of plant we use to make coffee has dozens of varieties grown around the world.

How does variety affect coffee?

Thanks to World Coffee Research, we can learn more about the different Arabica varieties, their susceptibility to various diseases, and other information farmers making decisions about profitability would be concerned with.

The variety of coffee plant grown can have a significant factor in the outcome and profitability of coffee, but it’s not the only factor.

Elevated Sweetness

In general, the higher elevation a coffee is grown, the better we will be able to achieve more sweetness & better developed flavors in the cup. Why?

Because temperatures are lower at higher elevations, coffee cherries mature more slowly which allows for more and more complex sugars to develop in the fruit. These sugars get stored in the seed that ends up becoming what we know as roasted coffee beans and when brewed, result in sweetness in your espresso or coffee!

CloseUpCoffee.jpg

For coffees grown at lower elevations, farming decisions like shade and controlling access to water can mimic the benefits of higher elevation.

Care Creates Quality

At the end of the day, terroir is the set of environmental factors that affect the quality of our end cup of coffee, and more importantly, the sustainability of our industry, and the profitability of coffee producers.

For most coffee farmers and producers, developing coffees to their fullest potential is about increasing profitability and providing for their families and employees. This dedication to quality leads to higher premiums for their coffees and recognition from the coffee community. Therefore, a producer armed with the right tools, knowledge, and experience can temper potentially negative environmental concerns to cultivate excellent coffee.

We love getting to share great coffees with you every day. These coffees come from roasters, importers, producers, and farmworkers working hard to ensure that only the best is harvested, sorted, roasted, and brewed for you. If you’re curious about learning more about the coffees we serve, just ask a barista next time you’re in the shop!

Chocolate Palate Training: Class Recap by Caleb Savage

Last weekend we hosted a chocolate palate training and discussed how environmental factors impact the taste and quality of coffee!

Chocolate Class.jpg

Using our Dick Taylor chocolate bars, we tried chocolates from Belize, Brazil, Madagascar, and a 58% milk chocolate bar using the same chocolate from Madagascar! Like coffee, the taste of chocolate can vary based on where the plant is grown, how the cacao or coffee bean is harvested and cared for, and how the product is roasted and prepared to be served.

Dick Taylor Chocolate Bars.jpg

Afterwards, we compared the chocolates to KLLR Coffee’s Guatemala Ranferi Morales, a coffee from Southwestern Guatemala with a sweet milk chocolate body and tart grape acidity.

Curious about coffee growing and processing? Check out our overview on coffee from seed to cup!

Chocolate Tasting Sheet.jpg

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

FullSizeRender.jpeg

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.”

Drift Mexico City.jpg
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.

heart mexico.jpg

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.