Your bread and butter – The importance of a clean machine

For those of us who have ever worked in or owned a coffee shop, we are all probably very aware of the expense of an espresso machine. To get a good quality machine that will be used a lot in a coffee shop or restaurant, these can range from $10,000-$25,000 depending on the specs you need for your establishment. When I first started working in the coffee industry as a barista years ago, I was amazed by this cost!

That being said, with the amount of money we invest into this piece of equipment which essentially is our means of bringing in customers and making a profit, we should recognize the importance of keeping a clean and healthy machine.  

Long story short, there are two key ingredients to consider when keeping up with machine maintenance. Firstly, coffee beans have oils. These can be both a blessing and a curse for coffee lovers. The oils in coffee can produce the wonderful flavors that coffee lovers cherish, but they can also be the reason for a drink to have an awful taste.

Espresso Machine

These oils will cling to most anything they can in your espresso machine and coffee grinder, they will get old and start to bring strange flavors to your coffee. It is so important to clean your machine at least once a day by backflushing with an espresso machine cleaning agent of your choosing; it’s even better when this can be done twice in a day’s service. Your espresso grinder also needs to be cleaned daily by washing the hopper, vacuuming out the grinds from that day’s use, and brushing down the accessible interior and exterior parts with a soft-bristled grinder brush. We also recommend running a product such as Grindz™ through your grinders every one to four weeks, depending on usage. This natural product helps soak up the oils in your grinder, preventing build-up and extending the life of the burrs.

The second thing to think about to prolong the life of your machine is to have a good water filtration system in your line before plumbing into your espresso machine. In a lot of areas in the USA hard water is prevalent in the water system and this can play havoc with your machine. By having a good water filtration system you can prevent the buildup of limescale in the boilers and pipes which in some cases can lead to having to send the machine away to a specialist to go through an acid bath to remove this limescale. This can be costly in terms of service and you are unable to open the shop if you don’t have your espresso machine.

 

Take care of your espresso machine and other equipment; they are your bread and butter.

El Salvador Las Isabellas: A love affair with coffee

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Almost 15 years ago, a young man in his early 20’s came into my store-front with some green coffee and a big smile. He told me his name was Francisco Valdivieso and that this coffee was from his family farm back in El Salvador. It wasn’t every day that I met someone like this in Newberg, Oregon, so I was intrigued to say the least.   

He told me about his family history and how, as a young boy during the peak of a civil war, his father moved their family from El Salvador to Oregon to start a new life. Meanwhile his father’s brother, Uncle Ricardo, stayed in El Salvador to manage the family business.

Their coffee farm is located in the western region of El Salvador and has been in Francisco’s family for over 120 years. Hiding among the farm’s shade-grown coffee plants are numerous Mayan ruins. Archeologists have dated some of these sites at over 3,500 years old.

Fascinated by this story and this young man, I took his sample of green coffee with the promise to “cup” it and let him know what I thought. Maybe it was the bias I had developed toward Central American coffees after my first trip to Costa Rica, or maybe it was the excitement of being a part of such a long lineage of coffee farmers. I don’t fully remember. What I do remember is feeling that we needed to offer this coffee to our customers.

I was compelled to acquire this coffee even though, at the time, we already carried a good selection of Central American coffees. I knew the importance of being passionate about the coffees we offered and working with growers who share in that passion. This was one of those coffees and the beginning of our love affair with it.12301711_1272294759462571_6385008008557665071_n

In 2006, my wife Krista and I were invited to take a trip down to the farm in El Salvador to meet the family that had stewarded this coffee farm for the past 120 years. It was a journey of a lifetime that left a mark on me as a person and instilled in me a commitment to seek out and partner with the amazing, vibrant people who grow coffee all around the world.

11219641_1281180785240635_7301883589676014227_nFour years after we first started offering this coffee, we were told that it would no longer be available to purchase. We were heartbroken, but this is not an uncommon situation in the specialty coffee world. It is easy to forget that coffee is an agricultural product subject to growing seasons and fluctuating markets.10170805_1286824291342951_7325454862719768089_n   

A few months ago, I learned that a local restaurant chain had purchased a container of this green coffee and that there would be a possibility of snagging a few bags “off the back of the truck” I was ecstatic! I had a chance to reunite our customers with a unique piece of Caravan history.

It has been seven years since Caravan has offered El Salvador Las Isabellas and I am happy to announce that it is available once again! With its smoky fragrance up front and rose petal and cinnamon finish, this coffee will not disappoint. 

It is available online and in our tasting room. (BUY ONLINE)

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).

 

Caravan’s 2016 Road Map

We are going on a Road Trip!

And your Caravan Team has a Road Map for our 2016 road trip. This is going to be a great adventure. Like every good Road Map, we’ll show you where we are now, where we are going and the path that we will take.  

First of all, this road trip began in 1990, 25 years ago when we started the longest running espresso bar in Oregon. So, this is just another leg in our journey – one that is filled with confidence, excitement, and readiness. Our adventure in coffee has been rooted in community and seeking quality with respect to all concerned. Our brand and style has changed over the years, from Magic Carpets to Camels, and now the iconic Travel Trailer. All that to say; we are “Well Traveled”.

As we jump into this Road Trip of 2016, you can expect our Mission and Core Values to remain the same. What is changing is a refining of our brand and our business.

We will be releasing a unified theme that will be carried out in our blend names, packaging, web site, and all printed material. We also will be refining our coffee offerings to a smaller number of blends and origins that will allow us to do a better job on presenting the best to you. These transitions will happen over the course of 2016, with an anticipated full release in the winter of 2016.

As an example of this blend refinement, we had 4 different Dark or French Roast styles of coffee that were offered in 2015 and we now have one. Instead of eight different decaffeinated coffees offered, we now have three, of which are all certified organic, fair trade, and naturally processed.

We have also refined our origin sourcing of coffee to selections that are all certified through our strict social and environmental criteria, (see “Statement of Sourcing” at www.caravancoffee.com). We are committed to giving back in a bigger way, both locally and globally. This coming year, our giving commitments include a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, a Water Sanitation Project in La Plata Colombia and a Socially Conscious Coffee project in Bahia Brazil.  

So let’s get rolling down the road for a fun-filled 2016! 

– Pete Miller, owner & proprietor

Customer Spotlight: McMinnville Fire Department

Recently I was given the opportunity to visit one of our newest customers, the McMinnville Fire Department. As I walk through their halls, I am in awe of the stories I see on the walls. Heroism unites each of the pictures: people going above and beyond the call of duty, putting their lives on the line in order to save others. I can only imagine the hurt of loss and the moments of relief that are bound to fill the air I’m breathing. I’m not sure I can ever say thank you enough to the brave women and men of this fire house for their incredible service to the community. Even more amazing to me: many of these heroes are here on a voluntary basis.  

coffee, coffee subscription, giving back, mcminnvilleNot only are these wonderful people saving those in need but they’re bettering the community through helping out in a multitude of ways, most notably at this time of the year with the Toy and Joy campaign. The McMinnville Fire Dept is a collection point for this campaign whose “mission for 100 years has been to promote the spirit of helping children and families of our community during the holiday season.” 

At Caravan Coffee we are blessed and thankful to be able to be serving these wonderful people our hand crafted coffee. The community of the McMinnville Fire Department is a beacon of hope in times of severe need, so let’s raise our cup of coffee to them and acknowledge that they are worthy of our thanks!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year everyone!

Chris McMullan, Sales and Service Rep

 

Caravan Coffee: 2015 Recap

New Roaster

This year we said goodbye to our old roaster, Cisco, and welcomed our new roaster Franc. Franc is also a 25lb roaster but with some added features that give us more manual control over our roast profiles.

New Roaster (20 of 24)

New Salesman

In September welcomed our new salesman Chris McMullan to the Caravan Family. Chris has been doing a great job in his first 3 months and we are excited about his future here at Caravan!

Ethiopia Trip

In February our Master Roaster Paul Allen travelled to Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. During his trip he was able to visit the coffee mills where they process and pack the coffee. While he was there he came across two amazing coffees, Ethiopia Sidamo Peaberry and Ethiopia Abaya. This trip was a great opportunity to not only see where our coffee is grown but also see the changes happening in the lives of the people who grow it.face, girl, ethiopia, coffee

Barista Showdown

In June Caravan hosted the third annual Barista Showdown. We raised over $1000 dollars for the Newberg Area Habitat for humanity. We had baristas from all over oregon and a few from out of state compete and in the end the winner was Cole Werfelman from the South Store Cafe!

The Face of Ethiopia Coffee

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You could ask me her name and my reply would be, “I don’t know”. It’s what she is saying, without words,  that captured my attention.

I visited a number of coffee mills in Ethiopia earlier this year. This one was in northern Ethiopia, the Abaya district. It was pleasant and sunny with the quiet hum of work being achieved. The Girma Dry Mill is in the village of Gwangwa where the coffee is laboriously checked for defects by women young and old.

There is a relaxed atmosphere as they all sit on the ground with piles of green coffee at their feet. We are talking up to 100 people here. They are agile and precise. Obviously the camera bring smiles all around. I am hoping it is because they are noticed and appreciated.

Today I look at the coffee in our warehouse here in Newberg, some 8500 miles away and see five bags of Ethiopia Abaya natural. I wonder if she touched some of the coffee seeds herself?​

–Paul Allen, Caravan Roastmaster

Christmas Blend, From Magis to Snowflakes

We have a long tradition here at Caravan Coffee of offering a seasonal blend that is introduced this time of year, “Christmas Blend”. This tradition includes both special packaging and the coffees that are blended together to create this popular coffee.

First of all the packaging of the Christmas Blend started out not even being called “Christmas Blend” but rather “Magi’s Blend”. Our Caravan Coffee branding started out with an Arabian Theme that included coffee names such as Bedouin Blend and Midnight Mirage with images of camels and the dessert. Along this same theme, we introduced our Christmas Blend with the ancient story of the Magi coming to see the King. Contrast this branding and name to our current Christmas Blend with snowflakes and a camping trailer!

Now, for the important piece: the coffee flavor profile which is developed with the season in mind. We concentrate on the sweetness of this Holiday – whether it is grandma’s pie, chocolate from your spouse, or fruit cake from Aunt Betsy. Also we consider the natural aromas of Christmas that includes cedar or pine, and spice. Our Roastmaster presents several different options for our team after many experiments to highlight aromas and flavors of Christmas. The result, “HO! HO! HO!, Merry Christmas to all, And to all a good night!”  

Meet the Roaster: Franc!

We are delighted to welcome our beautiful new Series-2 San Franciscan 25-pound roaster, “Franc”, to our team. Franc replaced faithful “Cisco”, and takes his place next to “Frannie”. With next-level controls and brand-new manufacturing, Franc enables us to provide even better coffee to you.

Sometimes Coffee

School has started once again, and I take my cup of coffee in hand and reminisce while my teens head for the schoolbus. I reminisce because it hasn’t always been this way. I used to take my coffee in hand to bolster my resolve, and head into the dining room where my homeschoolers awaited my instruction in grammar, resisted my assignments in math, and sought to avoid history like the proverbial plague. Actually, homeschooling wasn’t always like that. I also remember all the times I savored a hot cup of Columbian or Yirgacheffe while cuddling on the couch with my current first-grader, helping him/her sound out words to the scent of South America, or leaning against the kitchen counter sniffing the fragrant steam of my second-cup-of-the-day before correcting the day’s’ schoolwork. I have 23 years worth of these accumulated homeschool moments under my belt, and sometimes coffee and school mornings take me on a sentimental journey.

bandBut this fall, it’s not only my last two teens that are going back to school. It’s me. Pursuing a degree in Graphic Design, I wave goodbye to the kids and head to my own 8:00 class. Math book? Check. Backpack? Check. And of course, coffee in my to-go cup. One day in the mad dash to usher the crew off with lunch, permission slips, and musical instruments in hand, I forgot coffee, and I didn’t even notice until about twenty minutes into pre-algebra. Eyelids drooping, brain grinding between neutral and low gear, the longing for a fresh French-pressed cup of joe took center stage. Sometimes coffee is all that wards off slumber. So of course I made an emergency run between classes. No time for French press, thank you. I order an iced coffee and by the time I was sitting in English class, my brain had begun to function once more. It turns out that coffee is as necessary to school as my math book and pencil.

IMG_8115[1]I have a half an hour between the end of my classes and the arrival of my teens, at which time I will morph into mother mode, dispense snacks and how-was-your-day questions, and figure out what to make for dinner. But the time before I hear their footsteps on the porch is mine. I drop my backpack in the corner and kick off my shoes. Check my emails. and breathe deep in this lull before my orbit intersects two other full-on worlds. And then I make coffee. Because sometimes coffee is the only fitting way to commemorate special moments in life.

Leslie J. Wyatt