Education

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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Let's Talk Tea: Class Recap by Caleb Savage

Let’s talk tea. Oklahomans love tea. Even as soda becomes less and less common in restaurants, you can almost always find tea on the menu served in two forms: black or sweet. In fact, it’s not terribly uncommon to go to a restaurant in our great state, order an iced tea and receive a sweet tea instead, but we aren’t here to discuss our state’s sugar consumption.

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Last Saturday we hosted our first tea class led by Aria & Caleb, examining the history and production of tea, discussing blends and single origin teas, and of course, drinking a lot of tea! We couldn’t have done this class without having an opportunity to talk to Sam Duregger at Woodshed Tea or serving fantastic teas from Urban Teahouse and 49th Parallel!

What is tea?

Tea comes from the dried leaves of the Camellia Sinesis plant, an evergreen with two main varieties. The plant is grown in places like China, Taiwan, Japan, Iran and Turkey as well as Sri Lanka, Kenya, and India. Countries like China & India have been cultivating tea for thousands of years, developing rituals, improving quality, and working tea into the culture of their communities.

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Plantation to Teapot

Since tea growing can be highly regional, it’s hard to set clear steps on how we get from plant to teapot. Practices on how and where plants are grown and how the leaves are dried and processed to be used for tea can be highly specific.

Tea leaves are plucked according to how the leaves will be used. Lighter teas are often younger while teas like Oolongs or Pu-erhs often use mature leaves. The leaves are then withered to lower the moisture content of the leaf to retain flavor and then the leaves will be rolled, oxidized, or fermented depending on their desired tea. Well-produced teas are then sorted removing inferior or smaller leaves and defects discarded.

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Current Offerings

You can always find a variety of teas in the shop as we always keep a black, a green, an Earl Grey blend (for London Fogs), a Chai blend (for Chai Lattes) and one or two seasonal teas! All teas can be served hot or iced.