farmhouse Tops February Coffee Review
In their February cupping of coffees of blends, Coffee Review awarded our seasonal, organic farmhouse their highest rating of the tasting with a 91 rating.
A dynamic and seasonal coffee, farmhouse is tied to nothing but the best ingredients of the season. The current version of farmhouse is comprised of 40 percent El Gavilán from Quilanga, Ecuador, and 60 percent La Frontera from Jaen, Peru.
"It is a coffee with uncompromising character that is fully revealed by a roast light enough to let us taste the fresh fruit and floral notes and ... pungent cocoa," observed Coffee Review cuppers, who recommend farmhouse for "lovers of fresh, aromatically arresting breakfast coffees."
Visit Coffeereview.com for their full assessment.
The Road to Carbon Neutrality in 2011
After a fascinating and surprising first foray into carbon-footprint measurement at the end of 2009 – a project to track the carbon footprint of Finca Mauritania's coffee from seed to cup – we decided to commit wholeheartedly to carbon neutrality for the company. We set a target date of 2015 because, to tell the truth, we weren't entirely sure what we were signing ourselves up to do.
Every once in a blue moon, a project surprises you by progressing more quickly than anticipated and this Counter Culture's carbon neutrality is a great example of that variety of rare surprise: I'm thrilled to announce that it we reached our five-year goal in only two years and achieved carbon neutrality at the end of 2011 by offsetting our 576-tonne greenhouse gas footprint through tree-planting and fuel-efficient stove construction in Central America.
For more about our road to carbon neutrality, please see my post in our Sustainability section.
Back from the Road: The Good Food Awards
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Good Food Awards ceremony in San Francisco and spent time rubbing elbows with some of the culinary greats in chocolate, cheese, pickles, charcuterie, preserves, beer, spirits, and, of course, coffee. It was a double pleasure, because I was there representing Counter Culture as a winner for the second year in row, and, truth be told, I was really excited that our winning coffee was from Haru – the Ethiopian Cooperative in Yirgacheffe we started buying from last year.
The theme of the evening – time and time again – went back to how the specialty food movement is just getting reborn, and how important it is to have knowledgeable consumers. Personally, Steve McCarthy from Clear Creek Distillery left me with the most memorable message: our companies need to stay focused on creating great products and let them speak for themselves. Essentially saying that the brand will happen if your products are always great. It is a simple message but one, as a person with "quality" in my job title, I took to heart.
The event was great. San Francisco is beautiful. Here is to this coming year ... where we will work as hard as possible to put out nothing but great products! And, hopefully pull a hat trick in 2013 at the Good Food Awards.
Gear Spotlight: Bonavita Electric Kettles
Allowing total control over the variables that govern proper extraction, handcrafted brewing accentuates coffee's unique characteristics. It doesn't take much in the way of gear to produce a fantastic cup of coffee by hand, really. Plus, it's fast and easy.
With that in mind, we're always on the lookout for elegant, effective tools for small-batch brewing. The Bonavita electric kettle has a gooseneck spout, which offers ideal water flow for pourover coffee brewing – slow and controlled. The kettle heats water to boil in less than 3 minutes (remember to let water cool a minute or so to off-boil for best results) and can be set down on any countertop.
All of us here at Counter Culture have a Bonavita electric kettle, and brewing great handcrafted coffee in our home kitchens has never been easier.
Note: The USPS will observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 16. As such, all Flat Rate Shipping packages for that day will ship via UPS Ground. We will roast, package, and ship all subscription installments on Tuesday, January 17.
Meister on the Science of Brewing Coffee
Recently, I have been mulling over the great coffee conundrum: How is it possible that something so simple can also be so complicated?
Think about it – brewed coffee only has two ingredients, right? Ground coffee beans and water. They should go together effortlessly and flawlessly every time, right? Just like peanut butter and jelly, a perfect, always-delicious combination that's the easiest thing in the world to synthesize.
Except, well, it's anything but easy.
Sometimes, when I think about all the things that impact the way that those two ingredients interact, I get a little lightheaded. How much water, and how hot should it be? How much coffee, and how coarse or fine a grind? How long should I let them hang out with each other, and in what kind of brewer?
Hold on a second, sorry. I'm suddenly a little dizzy. (Just kidding. Sort of.)
But it's true – to coffee-driven people in constant pursuit of that perfect cup, the sheer number of variables involved in bringing two seemingly simple ingredients together can be overwhelming and maddening. Or, it can be an exhilarating challenge – the thrill of the chase! And, it's for the latter group of bean-heads that we've created a new series of labs: Brew Science I, II, and III, all designed around exploring what it is that makes delicious coffee delicious, and, hopefully, to help coffee-lovers learn how to troubleshoot problematic brews.
Want to unlock the mysteries of grind size, dwell time (the duration of water in contact with coffee), agitation, even temperature? Then this is definitely the lab for you. In Part I, we examine the aforementioned variables, brewing batches of coffee in Clever drippers. Part II introduces both a new set of variants and a slightly more complicated brew method: The pourover cone, as designed by Counter Culture and developed by Bonmac. Part III is super-exciting, especially for brew geeks: We'll simply be playing around and trying to dial in on a host of different extractors, such as Chemex, Aeropress, and, yes, even a vacuum pot!
So if you're gearing up for that New Year's Resolution you made – you know, the one about brewing and drinking better coffee in 2012? – now's the time to mark your calendar for all three parts of Brew Science. Hope to see you there!