We are happy to add the amazing Guatemala Finca San Diego Buena Vista Bourbon to the offerings list today.
This is a classic coffee from Acatenango that is very versatile. Wonderful as a Single Origin espresso, this lot works well all across the medium roast spectrum. Also, keep an eye out for an excellent new Panama lot we'll be adding soon, along with some other great El Salvador and Kenya lots.
With all the collaborations that I've been doing with beer folks lately I've been thinking a lot about our two craft industries and how they match up. There are definitely regions where craft coffee is doing gang-busters and there's a lot of community awareness and support for it among the audience for craft beer . There's other regions though where we're still struggling to get folks to look for a roast date on their whole bean coffee, but where craft brews are doing really well.
In my opinion, craft beer and craft coffee share a good deal of the same audience; people who care about skilled craftsmanship and carefully chosen and cared for ingredients. Where the biggest difference between the two craft products lies is that with craft beer, outside of a few storage and temperature issues or stemware issues if you really want to split hairs, the product is delivered to the end user in a fully realized form. With craft coffee, there are still a couple steps that the end user must take and do properly in order for the end result to come out as intended.
This is not a bad thing. I believe that the act of preparing the coffee at home, a craft in and of itself, engages our audience in a way that a bottle of beer can't. It gives the end user a stake in the outcome. That being said, it is still a challenge that we face, the final preparation being out of our hands. So the question is, how do we ensure that our intentions for the experience of that coffee are met? Brewing directions on packaging is very common, and I think it's a sound practice, same with a brewing pamphlet. The only issue with these is that it's still up to the user to read them. I don't want it to seem like I don't trust the end user, it's just that I want us to think of some more proactive ways in which we can promote better brewing practices.
The other day on the social networking network, I had a thought that I shared. What if when we sold a bag of whole bean roasted coffee to someone we asked them what kind of brewer they used and then ground them a sample of what the grind should look like for that brew method? I think that this is a really easy and proactive way in which we can better address one of the biggest issues with home brewing. Yes, there are differences in grinders and their output, but even in regard to a blade grinder, if the person has a reference sample then they are more likely to get a closer approximation. So that's something, what else? What are our other big hurdles with home brewing?
Dosing is another area where the brew can go wrong, but I think that we might be able to do something proactive there as well, in the same step even. A ton of people, certainly most people, dose their brew volumetrically. I'm cool with this. I mostly weigh both my coffee and my water when I brew at home, but I also like to eye-ball brews sometimes, especially with certain brew methods. Realizing that most folks are going to eye-ball their brew at home, how easy would it be if when we dosed out the coffee to grind for their grind sample, we asked how much coffee they brewed at a time in that brewing device that they've already described to us, then weighed out the grind sample in a go cup and leveled out the beans as best as possible and then marked the go cup where that dosage of that particular coffee came to? Now, yes, their brew weight might be a larger amount than what is necessary for the grind sample, but in this case you could still weigh out the batch, make the mark, pour most of it back, and then grind what you need for the grind sample.
So, in 2 easy steps we've created a proactive way in which we can aid in making a better approximation and thusly a better cup of coffee. Now we come to the biggie, and honestly I have a lot more questions here than ideas (pretty much all questions, really). Water is definitely one of the biggest issues, here we have both the issues of quality and temperature. This is where we generally give some parameters and/or instructions and/or advice, but is there a proactive way in which we can really get the water issues resolved without just saying you should use this kind of water and it should be at this temperature for the brewing? One big problem is that if they're using an auto-drip machine, there's little that they can do as far as affecting the temperature other than brewing a full pot at a time (though heat retention is still an issue here). This is a real question I'm asking here, and I hope that a few of you feel compelled to share some thoughts. Perhaps by showing our invested interest in their brewing at home by providing both a grind and a dose approximation, they may be more receptive to any advice we might have regarding the water and we've won a bit of the battle simply by taking those steps. What do you all think?