Culture Snapshots

Evolution of the Northwest Espresso Bar- Part 2

We left off talking about how “coffee jargon” in the last 25 years has evolved in my neighborhood espresso bar. Today, I would like to examine the evolution of sourcing and marketing coffee origins.

More and more information about coffee is demanded by consumers of the espresso bar. 25 years ago, we sold more blends and darker roasts, and when we sold origin coffees, little if any more that the name of the origin was given. This was my first offering of coffee: House Blend, Espresso, French Roast, Viennese Blend, Colombia Supremo, Dark Mexican, Decaf Costa Rican.

Our best seller was the House Blend.  No other descriptors were found on the tag of this coffee in a bulk bean dispenser. As the name implied, this was our signature coffee.  When people asked more about the coffee, we did not know so we asked our roaster.  They told us it was a proprietary blend of Central and South American coffees and roasted to a “Full City”.  So we dutifully began sharing this tidbit, which seemed to satisfy our customer base.

Looking back, it is interesting how much we talked in the espresso bar about Roast Color and how little about the farm or farmer.  Definitions have changed radically on Roast Color as well. The holy grail used to be “Full City” which we defined as that place in the 2nd crack of the roasting process where the coffee would turn from a light brown to a darker brown just prior to releasing oil to the surface. Today, “Full City” more commonly describes a roast color and develpment that is much lighter. On a whole, lighter roast color is preferred today than years ago.

Today, we know and our customers demand information about the farm and farmer(s).  We also want to know the treatment of the people and land. The new jargon often found on coffee labels include ethical issues like: fair trade, direct trade, sustainable, bird friendly, and organic. We may also talk about how the coffee was processed at Origin such as what pulping method and drying method was used.

So give me a bag of that Brazil Zinho pulped-natural, lot 8218, Peaberry that supports a music school for disadvantaged children in Campos Altos!

Pete Miller started in the coffee business 24 years ago. In a personal quest for community and an interest in the emerging coffee house scene, Pete opened a thriving espresso bar in Newberg, Oregon. When he stumbled upon an old cape cod house for sale on Highway 99W near George Fox College (now University), he moved his family of four into the house and opened the coffee shop in the one car garage.


The post Evolution of the Northwest Espresso Bar- Part 2 appeared first on Caravan Coffee.


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