Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Colombia Villa Maria Caldas Supremo

In December 2012, we began selling a great new coffee: Colombia Villa Maria Caldas Supremo. When it's clear that a coffee is so extraordinary that it's worth offering it to our customers, I begin to investigate the coffee plantation and learn everything possible about the coffee.  There are so many variables that are involved in the flavor of the coffee beyond the country origin or continent. It's impossible to accurately explain every variable, but here are a few reasons why it's important to know where your coffee comes from.
Don Balvino and his Maragogype Coffee Trees

1. The word Terroir is well-known among wine connoisseurs to describe the region, the soil, the altitude, and climate in which the wine is grown. This Colombian Coffee is grown in Villa Maria, Caldas, Colombia.  The farm, Estate La Meseta, is well known for its good farming practices.

2. When you see the word, Supremo, you might think, "Hey, this coffee must be SUPREME." It may be, but supremo really tells us the size of the beans. Our Colombia Medellin Excelso  is another example of bean size. Supremo is the largest of the beans except for a natural mutation called Maragogype, also called Elephant beans. Excelso is the next size of beans. Specialty coffee beans are separated according to their size because each size bean will have different flavor profiles. In order to retain consistency, it's important to have a bag of coffee with the same screen size. Often the larger beans have greater complexity, but it's important to not judge a bean by its size only. There are a plethora of variables that go into an awesome cup of coffee.

3. The Altitude:
This special coffee is grown over 3300 ft. above sea level. Coffee grown at higher levels are denser beans that often have greater complexity, acidity, and exhibits floral and fruity notes. Denser beans that are often characterized  as SHB (semi-hard beans) or SHG (strictly high grown), can be stored longer and retain their flavor characteristics longer.

4.  The coffee varietal:
Each coffee cultivar (varietal) has different flavor profiles. Some popular cultivars are bourbon (pronounced boo-rbon (with a french pronunciation of the "on"), caturra, and typica. Bourbon, sometimes called Yellow Bourbon, is planted all around the world- in Brazil, Rwanda, and Indonesia. The different cultivars, the different altitude, and different soil quality will all contribute to the quality of the cup. There are problems with monoculture- when the same cultivar is planted in the same field. Monoculture invites coffee pests that find one tree interesting and then destroy the entire crop. Below is the family tree of the Colombia Villa Maria Caldas!

The Colombia Villa Maria Caldas Supremo is one of my all-time favorite coffees. With notes of peanut butter, chocolate, and almonds the mouthfeel will remind you of peanut butter because it seems to stick to the roof of your mouth. It's best brewed in a French Press or drip.

What makes me giggle about the Giggles Blend?

The Giggles Blend was my first creation of a coffee blend. Before Chazzano Coffee Roasters or Chazzano Cafe, there was the Giggles Blend. I have a strange sense of humor that I inherited from my mother, of blessed memory. My puerile, sophomoric, and extremely dry jokes would produce giggles from my wife. Hence the name. The creation of a blend is completely unscientific. The main questions when tasting a prospective blend are, "Is this blend special? Is the flavor profile different from any of the single origin coffees that I roast? Does it enrich your life?" When experiencing a blend, do you stop after a few sips and sigh while exclaiming "wow?" If the answer is no, then it's not right for you. Rarely do we dislike the taste of any of our experimental coffee blends. It's just that we have so many awesome coffees that the blend really needs to be so awesome that it literally changes your life.

The Giggles Blend has a syrupy mouthfeel with intense spicy aromatics, with the sweetness of nutmeg and cinnamon. It is a blend of four different coffees from Ethiopia, Indonesia, and Central America.  The Giggles Blend has a huge body when brewed in a Vacuum Syphon and intense cardamom, nutmeg, and peppery notes when brewed in a French Press.

What were my next two creations? Frank's Blend #1 and The Lunch Cafe Blend. 

Here is a partial list of the coffee blends that will change your life:

Jen's Blend
Klaire Bear's Tropical Summer Blend
Lisa Lisa Blend
Talia's Burrrr Blend
Tres Arias
Frank's Blend #2
Frank's Blend #3
Creamy Dreamy
Tre Monti Espresso Blend
Domani Blend
Jennifer's Peppermint Blend
Rachel's Wedding Blend
Winter Blend
Namaste Blend

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ageing gracefully is possible with fine cuts of beef, but not with coffee

We will not sell coffee that is more than 2.5 weeks old in the cafe, and we remove coffee from the shelves of major specialty markets when the coffee is over 3 weeks old. The plain truth is that coffee that is over 3 weeks old should never be sold- it's stale. Try this at home. When you buy coffee beans from Chazzano Coffee, (ground or whole beans-see my previous blog post), drink the coffee every day for 2 weeks. Force yourself to notice whether the coffee changes at all. Take notes on what you taste on the first day and every day until you finish the bag. Do you still taste the same notes on the seventh day with the same intensity as the first day? When does the fresh roasted, awesome coffee begin to smell like "normal" coffee? 

Next time you go to a supermarket, check out the roast date on the bag. What...there's no roast date? I knew that- there's often a GOOD BY DATE on the bag. How many months will the coffee still be "fresh?" If there is no "date roasted" printed on the bag, you're soon going to buy a very stale and flavorless bag of coffee with very cool and beautiful packaging.
Green Coffee Beans

Chazzano Coffee Roasters ships coffee throughout the USA and even to Guam. We'll deliver to your doorstep whether you live one block away from the cafe or...in Guam.

What happens to the unsold coffee that is over 3 weeks old? We donate the coffee to homeless shelters and low income housing groups because even if our coffee is old, it's still younger than most of the coffee that you  can pick up at the local supermarket.
Fresh Roasted Chazzano Coffee

Green unroasted coffee beans can last for years under the ideal conditions. Roasted coffee really lasts only 3 weeks until it becomes stale. The good news is that old coffee can't hurt you physically- only a piece of your soul dies. Life can be short. Why would you want to drink old coffee?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What's with the yarmulke, dude?

Chazzano Coffee Roasters is a boutique roasterie that observes the Jewish dietary laws (Kosher) and Jewish Holy Days. We close from Friday evening to Saturday evening in observance of the Jewish day of rest (Shabbat). In addition, the owner (me) wears a kippah, yarmulke, or some kind of hat throughout the day. What's up with that? Since we have begun to sell Chazzano Kipot, I  need to explain why I wear a kippah (or kipa). You should also know that there are no subjects that are private to me. Feel free at any time to ask not only about coffee but also about Judaism and my observance of the Jewish laws. 

There are two main words for the kind of hat that I choose to wear: Kipa (kee-pah), the Hebrew word, and yarmulke (ya-muh-kuh), the Yiddish word. Another English word, skullcap, is not really used at all. Simply, I wear a kipa because it shows respect for G-d. Some scholars have stated that it covers our head to remind us that our intellect is not even close to G-d's wisdom. It is also a sign that you are an observant Jew who keeps Kosher, the Jewish Sabbath, and that you live an ethical life as defined by G-d and the Torah (The Jewish Bible). There is also an element of humility- wearing the hat is a sign of humility towards G-d and love for living a Jewish life.

So, why don't all Jews wear a kipa? For one, it would negatively effect their career growth and therefore hurt their family. I own my own business. If you don't want to do business with me because I am an observant Jew, the feeling is mutual. Wearing a kipa is a source of pride because there was a time when even  non-observant Jews who didn't have any outward signs of their Judaism were not treated equally to non-Jews. Some Jews don't want to seem different from anyone else. There are many reasons why some Jews don't wear a kipa today and all of those reasons are valid. That is why I love being an American-harmony of different beliefs is respected and nourished, mostly.

Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews all have different traditions and beliefs about the wearing of kippot. 

Finally, I wear my new Chazzano kipa because I am proud to be a Jew, I want to show reverence towards G-d in my own way, and I want to show my pride in owning Chazzano Coffee Roasters.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Purchasing a French Press

The best way to brew coffee (not espresso) is with a French Press. With a French Press, you can control the extraction of all of the coffee flavor and you can control the temperature of the water. Here's a video of how to use a French Press.

There are so many places, online and brick and mortar stores, that sell French Presses. However, the advantage of using Chazzano French Presses is that if you break the glass, we can replace it.

2-cup, 4-cup, and 8-cup Chazzano French Presses

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

To Grind or not to Grind, that is the question...

One common question at Chazzano Coffee Roasters is, "Should I grind the beans at home, or should we have you grind them?" I then ask, "How are you brewing the coffee?" And then, "What kind of grinder do you have, a burr or whirly blade?" Who should grind your fresh roasted coffee? The answers are found below.

Grind them at home if:

  • You brew espresso. It is difficult to get an awesome shot if the espresso is not absolutely freshly ground immediately before extraction. Before you buy an expensive espresso machine, make sure you have a quality burr grinder.
  • You enjoy the aroma of freshly ground coffee filling your home with the sweet smell of freshly roasted coffee and....
  • You have a burr grinder that can grind the beans perfectly to the proper consistency for your particular brewing method.

Burr blades grind the coffee bean consistently and do not heat up the grounds. They are more expensive than the whirly blade grinders, but a great grinder is a must for a coffee fanatic.

Whirly blade grinders are cheaply priced, but you get what you pay for. The ground coffee is course on the top, fine on the bottom, and the grounds are warm to the touch. The warmth of the beans is a sign that they are cooking a bit, and therefore there is a chance for a change of flavor profile. Not good for espresso or French Press- not fine or coarse enough!

Let us grind your coffee if:
  • You brew your coffee using either French Press, Pourover, or Drip and your pound of freshly roasted Chazzano Coffee is consumed within 1.5 weeks.
  • You have a whirly blade grinder and the flavor of your coffee will be compromised if you grind it.
  • You're unsure about how to properly grind your coffee at home and fear making a less than perfect cup of coffee.
  • You live with a light sleeper and you don't want to wake them up.

"Is the coffee fresher if I grind it at home or if you grind it for me?" This question also gets asked with this one, "Do the beans need to degas for 1,2,3 days...or can you use them immediately?"

The interesting aspect about freshly roasted coffee is that the flavor profile changes constantly, not wildly, from the time that it is roasted until it's staling after 2 1/2  to 3 weeks. So, bring home a pound of freshly roasted Chazzano Coffee, brew it one way (French Press, Pourover, Espresso) for 7-10 days afterwards and you may enjoy a slightly different cup of coffee each day. The natural flavor components of the coffee continue to break down and morph into different combinations throughout its short, fresh life. Some coffee lovers experience a complete break down of flavor after just one week, others prefer their beans three days after roasting. Do the beans need to degas (expel carbon dioxide) for a few days after roasting? It depends on your palate. In my opinion, not with medium roasted coffee. There are some extremely light roasts that I've felt needed to "breathe" a bit before brewing, but that is rare. My advice is to use the coffee immediately unless you believe that the flavor is preferred after a certain number of days. If you have strong opinions either way, please comment below. Let's discuss it.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Tea at Chazzano Coffee Roasters

When you look at the new item that came in the mail from Zen Tea Traders, you may be confused about what Chazzano Coffee is selling these days?!?!

Are you finished guessing? It's a Pu-er cake aged since 2004 from the Yunnan Province, in the town of Xishuangbanna (pronounced sig-song-banna). Xishuangbanna means "twelve thousand rice fields." (You'll rock the crossword puzzle in the Shanghai version of the New York Times.) This tea is grown on one of the six famous tea mountains in Xishuangbanna. These mountains provide excellent growing conditions for Pu-er and the soil quality helps with the unique taste profiles. Like the movie, "There's Something about Mary," the same could be said about the soil for various tea, coffee, and wine growing regions, "There's something about the soil." The reason that some Ethiopian coffees have notes of blueberries is that the same chemical that makes blueberries taste like blueberries is found in the soil in that region and when the coffee is roasted a certain way, those chemicals can be part of the aromatic signature of the coffee. The age of the tea, the terroir (region), the altitude grown, and brewing duration dictate the flavor profile.

Tea is crazy complicated and complex- the brewing times, the amount of steeps, and the temperature depend on the type of tea. For Pu-er, we brew it at boiling, eight different brewing  times.

Here is the schedule of steepings:

1st- 20 secs
2nd-30 seconds
3rd-60 seconds
4th-1 min 20 seconds
5th 2-minutes
6th-3 minutes
7th-4 minutes
8th-6 minutes

The tea is removed from the wrapping and we use the Pu-er knife to extract a small amount from the cake.

We brew our coffee and tea in French Presses because it looks great and it is easy to get the full extraction of the coffee/ tea flavor.

Here is the first steeping of the Pu-er tea.

Here are my cupping notes for this awesome tea, aged since 2004.

1st steep: sweet, with a melon ball finish
2nd steep: bold in back of palate, tremendous richness
3rd steep: sweeter, more mouthfeel in front
4th steep: creamy, no bite- very minty
5th steep: sweeter than the 4th, mint note remains
6th steep: light, light colored cup, sweet honeydew notes linger
7th steep: even more honeydew notes, very light body
8th steep: It reminds me of the 4th steep- creamy with no bite, but a bit of roughness in the middle of your palate.

Here is a map of the region where this tea was grown...

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