47 Tips To Make Pour Over Coffee Like A Barista

Our partner, Handground, recently released an amazing article and quoted Kat Stauffer, Caravan’s Tasting Room Manager on brewing through the Able Kone. She says,

“The Able Kone tends to brew best with gentle agitation. After the bloom, pour gently through the center until about 300 ml of water has been reached. Gently break the crust then return to a slow and steady stream pouring down the middle.”

Read the article for yourself here! We’ll be getting new grinders from these good folks in the Tasting Room May(ish).

 

Celebrate with Us: National Fair Trade month

fair trade coffee

October is the 9th National Fair Trade Month, and with many of our coffees certified Fair Trade and all our coffees bought at better-than Fair Trade prices, we are celebrating. But what exactly is Fair Trade? The words have become buzzwords, a certification, a movement. Perhaps you, like many other coffee lovers, will only drink Fair Trade-certified coffees–and your dedication to justice is worthy of applause. Again the question: what IS Fair Trade, and why should we care?

Today, 168 million children are trapped in negative labor situations. The coffee industry is well-known to be one of the worst for child labor exploitation and sub-human working standards. The average coffee farmer barely breaks even financially, and his workers are seasonal drifters, whose children pick in the fields from dawn til dust beside them. Education is spotty or non-existant and food and shelter, especially in off-harvest seasons, are iffy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then, look at the life of the average coffee farmer in, say, northern Peru. Usually he has to take out a loan from the local umbrella cooperative to make it through the year until his coffee harvest comes in. Once the coffee is sold–to the lowest, quickest bidder, because he doesn’t have resiliency to wait for better prices–he makes just enough to pay his workers and pay back the loan, only to start the sordid cycle over again. He is preyed on by coyotes, or unscrupulous coffee buyers, and can’t develop the time and education needed to advocate for himself in the international coffee forum.

This is why Fair Trade coffee exists. If a coffee is certified Fair Trade, it is guaranteed to have been purchased at better-than commodity-market prices, to have been produced under fair working conditions without child or slave labor. The farmers have access to education and micro-loans, and as many middlemen as possible have been eliminated.

While Fair Trade is not the ONLY kind of buying that puts justice for the producers foremost, we are proud to roast multiple Fair Trade coffees, including the Organic Sumatra Mandheling. Thank you for joining in with the just coffee revolution!

Home Roasting 101

Home Roasting 101

Welcome to the wonderful world of home roasting!  I like to tell people that if you can make fried eggs, you can roast your own coffee. It is a great way to enjoy incredible fresh roasted beans, control the roast color and method, and gain a sense of pride knowing that you are drinking your own handiwork. Roasting your own coffee is easy to get into. Please do not be intimated by all the information out there. Relax, enjoy your time, and most importantly, drink that coffee! I’ll provide some basic steps below:

Step One: Buy Awesome Unroasted Coffee (Green Beans)

The first and arguably the most important step is finding the right green beans. Look for responsibly-sourced coffee. If you have any questions about what that means check out our blog on it. Here is a link to the green beans that we sell. Just remember, your coffee will lose weight during the roasting process, sometimes as much as 15 percent.

Step Two: Get Familiar with Roasting Coffee

Coffee is roasted to temperatures of anywhere from 350-450 degrees Farenheit, or more! It can take from 10-30+ minutes per batch. Below are the different stages in the roasting process.  This information can be found in Home Coffee Roasting by Kenneth Davids. I highly recommend this book!

Home Coffee Roasting: Romance & Revival

These roasting stages are:

  • Unroasted (Green Coffee): Hasn’t even touched the roaster. Very hard and dense. Chewing could lead to chipped teeth and grinding will ruin grinder. Be patient Jedi, you’re almost there!
  • Light Roasted (yellowish in color): Hard, crunchy, just beginning to roast.
  • First Crack (light brown in color): Toasted Grain flavors, high acidity, tea-like in character. Builds complexity as it roasts.  This first crack sounds like popcorn popping. 375+ degrees.
  • Beginning of Caramelization: Oils begin to move from inside to outside the bean, bean expands dramatically in size. 400+ degrees.
  • Just Before Second Crack: The brightness, nut and fruit notes of coffee are found here. 400-420+ degrees.
  • Second Crack: The second crack sounds much more tinny than the first, yet it can still be heard. Pay close attention here.  Chocolate notes and smokey aspects begin to develop. 425+ degrees–think Full City roasts.
  • Dark Roast: High tobacco notes, high smoke flavor and smoke can be seen. Roasting much more will result in a fire. 440+ degrees–think French Roast.
  • Fire! Fire! Burnt and crispy. Not recommended. 460+ degrees. Fire extinguishers may be required.

Notes:

  • As soon as you are finishing roasting, COOL the coffee as fast as you can! Not cooling will bake the coffee. Baked coffee, unlike Baked Alaska, is not pleasant!
  • Smoke, smoke, smoke. There is lots of smoke when roasting. Unfortunately, the smoke does not smell like delicious coffee. For the sake of your friends and family, find a way to manage the smoke such as roasting outside. My first roasting experience resulted in my wife banning me from roasting in the kitchen!

Some other places to find good information on roasting coffee is Sweet Maria’s and Instructables. Paul Allen’s blog on roast color is found HERE (entitled “Into the Light”), and my blog on the different styles and waves of coffee is found HERE (entitled “Who’s on First”).

Step Three: Get The Gear

There are many different kinds of roasting equipment, everything from the simple cast-iron skillet to expensive professional home roasting equipment. Here, I will list a few of those along with a link to a place to buy them. Just remember, there are many more out there then what you see here. Feel free to do some further research.

Whirley Pop

Whirley Pop


West Bend Air

West Bend Air Crazy

Fresh Roast

Fresh Roast SR500


Behmor 1600

Behmor 1600

Behmor 1600


Hot Top Roaster

Hot Top Coffee Roaster


Cast Iron Skillet

Cast Iron Skillet



Step Four: Wait, Enjoy, Repeat!

As with all good things, there is a small waiting period. After the roasting process, your fine coffee is releasing crazy amounts of CO2. This impedes your ability to really taste your new delicious creation. By waiting 24 hours you will begin to fully smell and taste the glorious riches of fresh-roasted coffee. And if you are anything like us over here at Caravan, once you taste fresh roasted coffee you’ll never go back!

Final Note

Messed up? Didn’t get to first crack? Baked your coffee? Burnt your coffee to a crisp? Caught it on fire? Blew a fuse? Smoked up your house? Caught your roaster on fire?

It’s OK! If you’ve done it, chances are I’ve done it… at least twice! Keep trying. The first time I roasted coffee I ended up baking it the first three times. Making mistakes is totally natural and happens to all of us. However, give it a few more chances and you could be in for a real treat!

If you have any questions feel free to contact us HERE at Caravan Coffee. Happy Home roasting!

-Marcus

Tea 101: Orange Pekoe

black tea, orange pekoe, tea, caravan coffee

Tea 101: Orange Pekoe


Tea is the second-most consumed beverage in the world; bested only by water. How much consideration have you given the tea served at your coffee shop or drive thru?

All tea comes from a single plant, the Camellia Sinensis. An evergreen bush, tea is grown predominantly in Southeastern Asia. Although scientists believe Yunnan Province in China to be the birthplace of the tea plant, both Indian and Chinese mythology stake legendary claims to its discovery.

Before the advent of tea cultivation, two genera of Camellia Sinensis thrived in the wild. The “China bush” is at home on the foggy mountainsides of Southwestern China and produces a small, tender leaf during a short growing period. Separated from China by the Himalayan Mountains, the “Assam bush” prefers the jungle-like conditions of Northeastern India and yields a large, broad leaf that can be picked year-round.

black tea, tea grading, 101Tea Leaf Quality

When describing the size of tea leaves and their origin, the term Orange Pekoe is used. This term has nothing to do with the taste of orange. Rather, Orange refers to the Dutch noble House of Orange-Nassau, which brought tea to Europe during the 18th century. Pekoe refers to the top bud of the tea plant. To be classified as Orange Pekoe, the tea must be composed purely of the top two leaves and bud of the tea plant.

After being picked, tea leaves are placed in meshes to sort out their sizes. Fuller leaves stay in the top meshes while broken or crushed leaves (“Broken Orange Pekoe”) fall to the bottom. The tiny remnants of the sorting and/or crushing process result in fannings (because they are “fanned” away) or dust (swept from the bottom). Because the surface area of these particles are smaller, tannin (natural in tea) is released quicker (after 1-2 minutes) often resulting in a bitter or astringent taste. A larger leaf has a broader surface area and thereby can be steeped longer before tannin is released (3-5 minutes). This results in a fuller, smooth flavor.

– Kat Stauffer

Who’s on First & the Waves of Coffee

abbot and costello, who's on first, coffee waves

Who's on First & the Evolution of Coffee

In one of the most recognized comedic skits of the 1900’s, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello have a hilarious exchange as Abbott explains to Costello that the men who play for his baseball team are named Who, What, and I Don’t Know, thoroughly confusing him in the process. Great skit! Yet, what does this have to do with Coffee?

In many ways coffee can be just as confusing. There are many different styles and eras of coffee. In her circa-2003 industry-defining article, Trish Rothgeb explains the first three waves of coffee. The first wave is known for its canned, pre-ground, mass-produced coffee, as many of us drank growing up. When envisioning the first wave, think “The best part of waking up is folgers in your cup,” and picture your granny’s percolator on the back of the stove.

Who’s on first? Folgers and Maxwell House.

The second wave of coffee is seen as a reaction to the first and began in the late 1960s. It is in the second wave that artisan-style coffee began to come to fruition–think sourcing great coffee and then roasting it to a French Roast. The second wave brought specialty coffee mainstream and introduced words like “latte” and “barista” to our vocabulary. It was really the second wave that made what we do now in coffee possible by building a culture around coffee.

What’s on second? Peet’s and Starbucks.

Yet, there were some who did not like 20-oz. cappuccinos and caramel macchiatos. Their aim was to do everything the artisanal way and move to a lighter roasted style of coffee that allowed the unique character of each coffee to shine through in the cup. This third wave is characterized by direct sourcing and a focus on sustainability as well as a simple approach to drinks–menus often don’t offer syrups, and cup sizes may end at 12 oz.

I Don’t Know? Stumptown and Intelligentsia.

Some say there is another coffee wave emerging. This wave will be different from all of the rest and has not yet been entirely defined. The common theme is, “you’ll know it when you see and taste it.” So why do these waves matter?

coffee , barista, latte art

In the last part of the skit, Abbott tells Costello that I Don’t Give a Darn is playing shortstop. When thinking about these terms it is easy to say, “I Don’t Give a Darn, just sell me great coffee.” Yet, built in that statement is the desire for great coffee. Excellent coffee, like everything well-done, takes practice and constantly evolves.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter Who’s on first, What’s on second, and I Don’t Know is on third. What matters is our aim and vision for coffee. What will leave a lasting impact is our goal for excellent coffee, responsible sourcing, and environmental and economic sustainability.  Even if we do not care about the definition, coffee lovers will fuel a fourth wave, a fifth wave, a sixth wave, etc.  These waves mean that we are constantly improving in every facet of coffee.  If we are to get there, we must continually evolve how we source coffee, how we roast and prepare it, and our environmental and economic impact. Whether you’re drinking first, second, third, or are way out in left field: I think we can all agree to that!

– Marcus

“Who’s On First” available at: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/humor4.shtml

Ms. Rothgeb’s articles is available at: https://timwendelboe.no/uploads/the-flamekeeper-2003.pdf