Caravaning: in Andalucia

“Caravaning” is a term chosen to describe the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and passions with different cultures. In November of 2014, our owner Pete and his lovely wife Krista went to Spain where, 500 years ago, the greatest caravaning of all took place. They confined themselves to the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, which is called “Andalucia”, the portal of the Old World meeting the New World.

This portal in Andalucia was first opened with Christopher Columbus discovering the Americas. He and the others who followed began the “Great Exchange”, where the two exchanged traditions, food, disease, religion, and architecture, to name a few.

Yes, coffee is an Old World gift in this “Great Exchange”. Here’s a fascinating quote:

“The North Africans and Arabians first discovered the rich brew that came from the coffee bean. It was not introduced to Europe until the 17th century because Arabian sultans closely guarded the plants and controlled production. The Turks finally introduced coffee to the Mediterranean through trade with Venice and in 1650, the first coffee shops appeared along the canals of the Italian city. In 1683, coffee was first sweetened with sugar. By 1700, the coffee plants themselves had found their way to greenhouses in Europe. One of these plants traveled even further to the French colony of Martinique in the care of a military officer. It flourished in the abundant rainfall and warm temperatures and soon spread throughout the Caribbean and South America. The Portuguese then introduced coffee to their colony in Brazil and the South American coffee empires were born.”

Some of the foods, spices and pleasures the New World brought the Old are: tomatoes, tobacco, chili peppers and corn. And the Old World brought to the New: bananas, tea, lemons, and… …  coffee.

From this premise of caravaning as an exchange, this series is will cover our personal adventures in Andalucia, Spain. Be forewarned, this is home of the Flamenco, gypsies, Andalucian horses, Costa del Sol, bullfights, and the ancient Moors!

  1. “The Great Exchange” from a paper published by the Mariners Museum, 100 Museum Dr., Newport News, VA 23606.

Evolution of the Northwest Espresso Bar, Part 3

Serving Size

Welcome back to a look at the evolution of the Northwest Espresso Bar! Last time our topic was the changes in the marketing of coffee beans in the espresso bar, from “Columbia” to “Colombia Supremo” to “Colombia Rafael Lot 1681”. Today, I would like to talk about changes in serving sizes in our Espresso Bars.

In 1990, the Northwest was just beginning to explore the neighborhood espresso bar. Starbucks had expanded to Portland and was defining the “Third Place”, (meeting place), concept along with American definitions of espresso drinks. There were also a few independently-owned espresso bars that had contrary definitions of espresso drinks.

Our American interpretation of espresso twenty-five years ago was based on milk and, oftentimes, sweet flavorings. While Italy was serving espresso in small ceramic cups of 2 to 6 oz., we started out serving in 8 to 12 oz. paper cups. Wanting to keep it simple in my own shop, I served everything in a 10 oz paper cup my first year–however, there was a lot of variation in sizes in different espresso bars for the same drink during this era.

As our espresso bars matured in the 1990’s, many followed Starbucks, the market leader for the masses.  They introduced nomenclature for their drinks: “short” (8 oz.), “tall” (12 oz.).  Then came “grande” (16 oz.). In our American tradition of “bigger is better”, soon the “Venti”, a 20 oz. monster, arrived.  So in the mid-1990’s, there evolved consistency in sizes regardless of where you purchased your espresso. The new standard was and is to some degree today: 12, 16, and 20 oz., with one lid fits all.

With the “Third Wave” of speciality coffee arriving, the progressive shops are shrinking drink size and focusing on a more authentic Italian presentation of espresso. In other words, less milk and syrup. So the cup sizes have gone to 8, 12, and 16 oz. for a latte, and many have ditched paper for smaller sizes to serve a traditional 6 oz cappuccino cup and saucer along with a 1-2 oz. espresso in a demitasse.

Today when my Barista sees me coming, I’m glad to see my 2 shot Flat White in a 5 oz cappuccino cup!

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.






Culture Snapshots: The San Franciscan Roaster Co.

coffee, oregon coffee, coffee roaster, craftsmanship

At our warehouse, we work with three of the best coffee roasters available. The San Franciscan Roaster Co. is based in Carson City, Nevada, and produces beautiful machines from all American materials. We love the stellar craftsmanship that goes into each of these roasters and the great support we always receive.

Thanks for all you do, Bill, Matt, and team!

San Franciscan Roaster Co. / Nevada

Create Your Own Holiday Coffee Tradition

The holidays are a time to gather friends and family to your home, a time for food, drink, and merriment! This year, why not add a dash of coffee culture to your holiday party?

In traditional Ethiopia, an invitation to attend a coffee ceremony is considered a mark of respect and an invitation to friendship. This traditional ceremony lasts approximately 3 hours, and is done almost anytime a guest comes to visit.  Green coffee is roasted in a pan over the fire and then ground by hand, using a mortar and pestle. It is then poured from a height of one foot into small drinking cups and sugar or salt is added, depending on the regional recipe. Guests drink 3 of these smaller cups, with each one being seen as a different step in the transformation of the spirit.

While you may not have time to dust off your mortar and pestle, or roast your beans fresh over the fire, the idea behind the tradition is simple: coffee invites friendship and warmth into a home. So next time you find your house full of guests, whether it be at the holidays or not, offer them a cup of your favorite Caravan roast prepared in your favorite way. Explain why you love this particular coffee and why this method is your favorite. Embrace the ritual and welcome your guests in the time-honored coffee tradition.

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 Evolution of a Northwest Espresso Bar – Part 1

“Give me one of those X’-press-O’s, please!”

In 1990, when we opened an Espresso Bar in the rural county of Yamhill, there was a big learning curve for all of us. Definitions and language were just developing for baristas and customers. Here are a few developments of communications heard at espresso bars in my community over the years.

20 plus years ago:  

  • What is “X’-press-O”?
  • What is “Supremo” about Columbia (sic) Supremo?
  • Is this your sample cup? (Referring to the small quantity when ordering an espresso.)
  • What is a “Late’-Tay”?
  • $1 for a cup of coffee!  (Asked by a cowboy who can get a cup for 25 cents).

10 to 20 years ago:

  • What is a “Ri-strict-to’” ?
  • Where is La Minita Costa Rica?
  • What is an Iced Vanilla Latte?
  • What is a “Ma- Chi’-to’? (macchiato)
  • $2 for a cup of coffee! (Asked by the cowboy who can get a cup for 25 cents.)

Last 10 years:

  • What is “Flat White”?
  • What is “natural” about Brazil Zinho Peaberry Pulped-Natural?
  • What is a cold press coffee on nitro?
  • What is Cortado?
  • $4 for a cup of coffee! (Asked by that same cowboy who can get a cup for 25 cents.)

As you can see, we are all making progress in our coffee literacy as a whole.  And for the cowboys in our Espresso Bars, you’ve got to love ‘em.


* 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.

Lionheart Coffee Company

Lionheart Coffee Company

“Courage, bravery, and above all else, compassion.” That is the tag line of Lionheart Coffee Company that will be opening up in a few months in Beaverton, Oregon. Lionheart is spearheaded by Kaisa Kincaid BuLionhearttcher and Ben Reese (as well as their fantastic spouses Ryan Butcher and Lauren Reese). Lionheart’s aim is to cultivate intentional relationships in everything they do and provide an atmosphere where every aspect of coffee can be experienced.

Caravan is pleased to partner with Lionheart Coffee Company! Lionheart’s goal is to build community and live the ideal that we are all stronger together.  Kaisa and Ben (as well as Lionheart) live the quote of Mother Teresa that says, “Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love.”  They want to make the world a better place through giving back their time and finances.  Ben and Kaisa stress that Lionheart is the avenue to accomplish this aim.

Lionheart has almost all of their funds for opening and they are running a kickstarter for the remainder funds.  We cannot highly recommend this company enough.  Here is the link to their kickstarter and don’t be afraid to give generously! Check out their video below:


For more about Lionheart see their incredible Oregonian interview!

Snapshots: The San Franciscan Roaster

coffee, coffee roaster, oregon coffee roaster

The San Franciscan Roaster Company has moved from its long-time headquarters in the remote town of Fallon, Nevada, to the state capitol, Carson City. Still, we–along with countless other coffee professionals who have visited over the years–will miss that cramped and well-loved space where some of the best coffee roasters in the world were made with art and ingenuity.

Fallon SFR HQ / The San Franciscan Roaster Co. / a year ago