Coffee

Why Coffee Freshness Matters by Caleb Savage

Coffee is a fruit

Coffee beans are the seeds of a flowering fruit tree. Because coffee beans are the seed of a plant, the seeds serve as incubators for future plants filled with all the sugars, acids, and cell structures necessary to supply a new plant. When roasted, these compounds can be tasted as the sweetness, acidity, and bitterness we love in a great cup of coffee! Without these compounds, a great coffee can taste flat or dull.

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What kills freshness?

  • Sunlight

  • Heat

  • Oxygen

  • Moisture

  • Time

How long does coffee stay fresh?

Using resealable, valved bags like the ones our friends at KLLR Coffee use, coffee is best in the first two weeks after the coffee is roasted. The further you get away from the roast date after the first two weeks, the more the acids and sugars present in the coffee will degrade. What do you do with three-week-old coffee? Drink it! When we talk about freshness, we’re talking about coffee in it’s most ideal form, not that it’s bad, dangerous or should be discarded after it’s no longer fresh, just that it’s no longer the most ideal!

Meet: The Atmos

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We love Fellow. From their XF Brewers to their kettles, Fellow consistently makes quality coffee equipment that looks great too! With the Atmos, you can combat the effects of sunlight and oxygen and extend the life of your coffee without introducing changes in temperature or risking exposure to moisture.

The Atmos Vacuum Coffee Canister removes oxygen from the canister (and your coffee) by twisting the lid back & forth, meaning don’t have to worry about batteries or having to keep weird tools on hand every time you go to make a cup of coffee!

By removing oxygen from the environment, the process of sublimation or the loss of coffee flavors through oxygen, can be slowed and the coffee itself will retain its bright, sweet flavors longer!

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!

49th Parallel Coffee & Tea by Caleb Savage

49th Parallel Coffee Roasters is a coffee and tea company founded in 2004 by brothers, Vince & Michael Piccolo. Now with three cafes, a tea sourcing program and a doughnut shop called Lucky’s, Vancouver’s 49th Parallel is an exceptional company valuing relationships with producers to ensure the they are able to serve the highest quality coffee and tea available. We spoke to Gianluca Zavarise about 49th, Vancouver, and 49th’s coffee and tea sourcing.

Photo courtesy of 49th Parallel

Photo courtesy of 49th Parallel

City & Cafe

Photo courtesy of 49th Parallel

Photo courtesy of 49th Parallel

Vancouver, British Columbia is home to an exceptional coffee community, and 49th leads the pack. Each 49th Cafe has its own Lucky’s Doughnuts and their downtown location currently serves breakfast, burgers, egg sandwiches, and more! But Vancouver is more than just a continuation of the Pacific Northwest’s coffee dominance.

If you make your way to Vancouver, the 49th team recommends a walk or bike ride along Stanley Park, A visit to Grouse Mountain, Lynn Suspension Bridge, and Kitsilano beach or Jericho beach for an evening sunset. For experiencing the city's urban culture, the team recommends checking out  Gastown, Robson Street for shopping, Mount Pleasant, Chinatown, or Yaletown.

The Source

Focused on “open communication and strong business partnerships with coffee producers”, 49th seeks to make “financially sustainable [decisions] for all involved – especially for those who make a living growing coffee.”

From their website:

“49th Parallel has two coffee buyers who travel throughout the year to Central America and Africa to source the highest quality coffees. The most cherished thing about the sourcing program is that 49th works with many of the same producers each year, building strong relationships. This not only guarantees the best coffee but also benefits the producers and their communities. 49th pays a premium for these coffees often paying producers 3 to 4 times the commodity market price.”

Coffee farmers in Honduras. Photo courtesy of 49th Parallel

Coffee farmers in Honduras. Photo courtesy of 49th Parallel

We’re serving Ecuador Gilda Carrascal and Ethiopia Mesina as well as a new green tea, Yellow Mountain Tip. It’s easy to taste the intentionality and care 49th Parallel puts into its offerings. Stop by the shop and try them before they’re gone!