Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rwanda Cup of Excellence Coffees

All of our coffee is specialty coffee. If you've taken a tour of our roasterie, I highlight the fact that there are very few defects, e.g. over-ripe, under-ripe, black, insect damaged, broken beans. In addition, our coffee is roasted to my version of perfection, and then ground and brewed perfectly. That's a short summary of specialty coffee. Although we roast and serve only specialty coffee, there are some extra special coffees- the Cup of Excellence Coffees.

Below is the description of Cup of Excellence from the Cup of Excellence website
The Cup of Excellence is a strict competition that selects the very best coffee produced in that country for that particular year . These winning coffees are chosen by a select group of national and international cuppers and are cupped at least five different times during the competition process. The final winners are awarded the prestigious Cup of Excellence® and sold to the highest bidder during an internet auction.
In a few weeks, I expect a delivery of two very special lots of Rwandan coffee. The first is Rwanda Kirorero Lot #11 which has notes of pear, citrus, lemon, with a tea like finish. The second selection is Rwanda Nyakizu Lot #19 which has fruity notes of Rhubarb, peach, strawberry, with tremendous brightness.

Last year, we devoured 66 lbs. of 2010 Cup of Excellence Honduras Finca Fernandez. It had glorious notes of banana, banana foster, vanilla, dark chocolate, pipe tobacco, citrus, currant- let's just say that it was like manna falling from heaven. Anything that you liked, you could taste it in the coffee.  I expect that the two lots of coffee from Rwanda will be equally spectacular.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Yemen Mocca Sanani and Why do the angels drink it?

There are about 100 lbs. of Yemen Mocca Sanani left in my holy green bean room. I'm beginning to miss it like you miss a dear friend who is about to leave town for 4 months. Before we say our farewells, I'd like to share some information about one of my favorite coffees that causes me to claim, "The angels drink Yemen Mocca Sanani."

Mocca (you say Mokha and I say Moka) was the main port for San'a, the capital of Yemen. Mokha was a famous port for coffee from the 15th to 17th centuries. Mocca Sanani also means from San'ai but originally was the name of the special arabica beans found in Yemen. Our Yemen Mocca Sanani has strong notes of chocolate which reminds us why many Americans order Cafe Mochas or Moccachino. These are often a combination of espresso, hot chocolate, and milk. Mocha used to be the port city of San'a, but they moved the city because of some sand bar issues. You should also know that there are some Ethiopian beans that are called Mocca Harrar because of their similar shape to the Mocca beans found in Yemen. It is believed that the Yemen coffee was brought over from Ethiopia Harrar region during the 6th century or earlier. Chocolate was never imported or exported in Mocha.

If you pay attention to what is happening in the world, Yemen and especially San'a are experiencing painful growing pains and the people are revolting in the city of San'a and elsewhere.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Another fantastic mistake: The Mystic Blend

This week, we shut down the coffee roaster for a few hours and did some much needed maintenance. We replaced some parts before they failed and tuned it up so that it now roasts with a smile. However, we allowed too much space between the face of the roaster and the roasting drum. For 10 hours yesterday, about 5 lbs.beans dropped into a pan inside the roaster and accumulated all day long. There were so many orders to complete that I could not shut off the roaster, let it cool down and then fix the problem. I decided to place all of the beans that accumulated in the roaster pan into a bucket and Julie named it the "Mystic Blend." I roasted the full 5lbs today after fixing the roaster.

So, with mystery blends, there are two possible outcomes. One, it's horrible and barely palatable. Two, it's one of the best coffee blends I have ever tasted. The outcome was fortunately the latter of the two. Get it while it lasts because it tastes like a chocolate milk shake- notes of banana, chocolate, and milky cocoa creaminess. I call this a great mistake.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Return on Luck: ROL

What's Luck Got to do with it? This was the title of one of my favorite recent business articles found in the New York Times. It was cleverly written by Jim Collins and Morton T. Hansen.

The authors discuss and study a new metric, Return on Luck or ROL. Businesses talk about ROI, Return on Investment, but we don't talk about ROL because it's not discussed until you get lucky and you capitalize on that luck. 

Mr. Collins and Mr. Hansen write about people who are 10 times more successful than others in their same industry. They call them "10x-er"
For example, Bill Gates grew up lucky. He is the product of an upper middle class family and we went to a school that had one of the rare Teletype that was connected to a computer in the 60s and early 70s. Truly, he was born at the right time. 
But then...
  • His friend, Paul Allen, saw an article in Popular Mechanics about the Altair computer.
  • They then guessed that Basic would work well to make a personal computer out of the Altair
Then some luck again:
  • Mr. Gates went to school at Harvard where they had a PDP-10 mainframe computer that Mr. Gates could test out the Basic program.
But then, he got a warm introduction to the Altair CEO- got hired, and spent several days programming, debugging, and installing Basic on the Altair. He seized the opportunity presented to him by luck and made the most of it.

These are some of the ways, in my opinion, to increase your ROL:
  1. Do you have a well crafted 30 second commercial at your fingertips at all times that fit the situation? If I introduced you at the cafe to someone who needed your services, could you turn the intro into closed business? You must be well prepared for meeting anyone who is in your target market.
  2. Bring business cards everywhere- If you are so successful that you don't need to carry business cards with you, then don't. It drives me absolutely mad (crazy) when someone who clearly needs and wants more customers, doesn't bring them whenever he/she leaves home or the office. 
  3. Be highly visible and be credible when you're visible. Be a homerun king- hit it out of the park with every customer. 
  4. When you receive a great warm introduction, be prepared for anything, but just be prepared.
  5. Talk to everyone- You never know who and what they know.
  6. Convert leads into closed business. When someone says, "Here's a lead," respond to them, "Thank you for the referral, but I don't want to mess it up- could you please call them and set-up an appointment for me to meet them." In that way, your referral partner must call the lead, toot your horn and explain your business to the lead, and then set-up an appointment. If they are not prepared to do that 
The authors conclude with this great advice:

Getting a high ROL requires throwing yourself at the luck event with ferocious intensity, disrupting your life and not letting up. Bill Gates didn’t just get a lucky break and cash in his chips. He kept pushing, driving, working — and sustained that effort for more than two decades. That’s not luck — that’s return on luck.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Costa Rica La Amistad Organic

One of our best selling coffees is Costa Rica La Amistad. This is a cool coffee. The cupping notes are extraordinary- sweet, chocolaty, filled with luscious raisin notes, and finishes with cinnamon and pepper.

The large family owned farm is located in the extreme southern region of Costa Rica on a mountainside over 3900 feet above sea level. The family helps maintain the integrity of the rainforest by leaving bands of primary forest in between parcels of land used for coffee cultivation. In this way, wildlife have a corridor by which to travel back and forth through the rainforest. The farm maintains a low-tree canopy, in effect, shade grown to allow birds to flourish and to lower their need for more rain. The harvest begins in October and runs through March. Clear, fresh water that runs from the rainforest is used for the milling of the coffee. It is also used to generate power to run the machinery. 

This is a great example of a farm that is not certified Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance- it just is.  They maintain strict organic growing processes, assist in the bio-diversity of the rainforest and recycle the water used in the milling process. Simply, it's a great cup of coffee- great for you and great for the environment.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Do you have Espresso beans? It depends on what you mean.

We are often asked, "Do you have espresso beans?" or "I'm looking for an espresso roast." Any coffee varietal and any coffee roast profile(light to dark, city roast to French Roast) can be a great espresso if the following conditions are met: The coffee beans are fresh; the coffee is freshly ground prior to tamping that allows the coffee to be extracted between 25-30 seconds; the coffee is tamped down with about 30lbs. of pressure; the espresso machine heats the water to the proper temperature for that particular bean; 9 bars of water pressure is pushed through the puck of finely ground espresso; the portafilters and group heads are properly cleaned and finally, the espresso coffee produced has a tremendous aroma coming from its impressive crema, there is a balanced flavor profile with the proper degree of complexity, depth, mouthfeel, and interesting flavor notes.

Therefore, the best question to ask is: "What coffee would you recommend for espresso?"

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cooking with Chazzano Coffee

Here are a few products that use Chazzano Coffee in their ingredients:

1. Atwater Block Brewery, Vanilla Java Porter
2. Bacco Ristorante, Espresso Biscotti
3. BNektar Meadery, Ethiopia Harrar Mead, and a top-secret Mead TBD
4. Dave's Sweet Tooth, Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Toffee
5. Royal Oak Brewery, Java Porter
6. Corden's Chocolate, Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans (Ethiopia Yirgacheffe)

The greatest part of working with these awesome companies is testing the products!

Monday, October 3, 2011

El Salvador Apaneca Elite

For the two coffee catering events, one at BNI-GRO in Pleasant Ridge and the other at Painting with a Twist in Ferndale, we are brewing fresh roasted french pressed El Salvador Apaneca Elite. I'm in a good mood. Business is booming. Life is good. Therefore, I'm serving a $36/lb. coffee for catering. What makes the Apaneca Elite so special? First, it's grown over 4500-5250 ft. above sea level. This is significant because plants grow and develop slower at higher altitudes. Therefore, coffee grown at high altitudes develop slower over a longer period of time and often produce exceptional flavor profiles with tremendous complexity. In addition, coffee grown over 4500 ft. above sea level are called SHB (Semi-hard Beans) and SHG (Strictly High Grown). Roasting them to a Vienna or French Roast often brings out great sweetness instead of rich pungency generally associated with dark roasted coffee. In other words, they don't burn or char very well. In addition, each coffee cherry is hand picked when they are at the peak of ripeness. Most coffees are sorted out later, but the coffee workers pick the ripest coffee cherries. Finally, (there's more?) they are sun dried until they read 12.5% of moisture and then they are set to rest a period of 60 days! This coffee is organic and fair trade. It is inspected and cleaned so lovingly that it's almost a shame to drink it. Yet, I must, with a great big smile on my face

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Being Mindful

Find a teacher or spend time with people who are smarter than you.

The beginning of the 6 orders of the Jewish Book The Mishnah (commentary on the 5 books of Moses) teaches us to find for yourself a teacher (k'nei l'cha rav). Find someone who is smarter or wiser and figuratively sit at their feet. Professional singers have voice teachers throughout their career. Psychiatrists see psychiatrists. I have been blessed in my life to have many people, including my wife, Lisa, who have filled my life with wisdom. Recently, I have been introduced to Chef George Vutetakis, who wrote a brilliant book, The Vegetarian Guy (www.thevegetarianguy.com or twitter @thevegguy). Chef George owned the great Inn Season Restaurant in Royal Oak for 20 years.

The following is what I've begun to learn from Chef George:

Chef George discusses how your mood when you cook (or roast coffee) changes how the food tastes. I was discussing this with Melissa and Dave Bihl at my cafe while another lovely customer, Genevieve listened patiently. She then volunteered that her husband makes Love Toast every day for her. However, she knows when he's angry or upset, when the Love Toast doesn't taste the same. This is just a reminder that whatever we create, we need to do it with love, passion, and with a smile on our faces. I hope that every time that you walk into Chazzano Coffee Roasters that you feel that joy that we do...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A New Obsession-Turkish Coffee

Chazzano Coffee has gone to the dark side, but in a good way. We now serve Turkish coffee. We brew coffee at Chazzano Coffee Roasters in French Presses, Vacuum Syphon, Pourover, Espresso, Iced Pourover, and Toddy Cold Brew. We analyze the flavor profile when we brew coffee with the French Press- what is an ideal brew time? 2, 3, or 4 minutes? Well, it depends on the coffee and the notes that you wish to extract. Do you stir the coffee when it's brewing in the Vacuum Syphon brewer? It depends on whom you ask. We stir the coffee when it's brewing and when it's cooling down to fully extract the coffee flavor. We carefully cup every single coffee roasted at Chazzano Coffee to make sure that the particular brewing method brings out the best flavor profile.

However, Turkish coffee brewing is completely different from all of the other methods. I've been reluctant to tread on that path of Turkish coffee because there are so many different traditions of brewing Turkish coffee and they all reside in Detroit. For the Yemenite, Israeli, Chaldean, Albanian, and Greek and dozens more, the Turkish way is the only way. In addition, each tradition has different methods of brewing the coffee-sugar, cardamom, rose water, or pistachio grains. Some cultures boil the coffee 4 times, other 3 times. To stir or not to stir, that is also the question. I have finally found the courage to learn the art of Turkish coffee, despite the many acceptable ways to brew it.

I purchased an Ibrik (traditional Turkish coffee pot) and a butane burner. In all of the discussions about Turkish coffee, one question remains: What kind of coffee works best as Turkish? I have 40 different coffees and they're all fantastic, but what will work best as a slow boil, and quick boil 3 times? My first choice was Ethiopia Yirgacheffe because it has sweet notes of citrus and chocolate. You know my motto: Put sugar or cream in my freshly roasted coffee-what happens? G-d cries and an angel loses its wings. I was worried that black Turkish coffee wouldn't taste authentic. On the first try, it was the best cup of Turkish coffee, ever-smooth, with the usual grittiness, a fantastic aroma of citrus and chocolate. If you want an awesome cup of coffee, start with crazy fresh roasted coffee.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Kosher Coffee? Really?

If you are a regular customer of Chazzano Coffee, you probably know that you shouldn't bring food into the cafe and that I have a higher proportion of Jewish customers than other cafes. If you want an explanation about what kosher means concerning coffee, please keep reading. However, if you are now sitting on your porch in your pajamas, sipping some Ethiopia Yirga Cheffe, and noting how the lemony notes are dancing on your tongue, while the chocolate notes are covering your palate with a creamy euphoria, just put your tablet computer down, now...

According to the Jewish Bible, observant Jews do not mix meat and milk. No cheeseburgers, no veal cutlet parmigiano. There is a prohibition in the Torah (Jewish Bible), "Do not cook a kid (baby goat) in it's mother's milk." Over thousands of years, the Rabbis developed more laws to protect the basic sentiment of the law. Jews are also prohibited from eating anything from a pig or any fish that doesn't have scales and fins. No pork, no shellfish, no meat and milk on the same plate. Hey Frank! What does this have to do with coffee? I'm glad that you asked.

Chazzano Coffee Roasters is supervised by the Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Greater Metro Detroit. This Kosher authority is the highest authority in the land because they are the most strict. Judaism contains the concept of a slippery slope- if you cut corners, eventually you'll cut more than that. Traditional Judaism teaches us put a wall around the Torah and Jewish Law. Chazzano is considered Kosher, because we follow the following Jewish laws found in Jewish tradition.

*We are not open on the holiest days of the year including the Jewish Sabbath (from Friday night to Saturday night).
* All food brought into Chazzano Coffee has the highest level of kosher supervision by some Orthodox Jewish authority.
* We do not flavor our coffee, therefore there is no possibility that our coffee which is just a roasted seed from a coffee tree, has touched non-kosher food.
* All outside products made for Chazzano Coffee is supervised by an Orthodox Rabbi from the supervising kosher authority.

Why does an Italian-American Jew with a Jewish mother and Italian father keep Kosher?
It is a way to strengthen my communication with G-d.

Chazzano Coffee is certified Kosher and Kosher for Passover.
Good Coffee Makes You Sing.

Friday, July 15, 2011

New Nicaragua Maragogype Las Nubes Andrea Castro

If you haven't read my last blog about this awesome and unique coffee, you should. I just cupped the Nicaragua Las Nubes and it is incredibly interesting. Here are the cupping notes:

As a Full City (medium) roast, you'll experience fruit forward notes, with a sweet scotch and winey finish.

The Vienna Roast (dark) is the most interesting: Cinnamon, French toast, chocolate, tremendous sweetness, maple syrup, and caramel.

I'm roasting this limited edition, never to be tasted again, coffee, fresh to order. I will custom roast your pound of coffee, either Full City, Vienna, or French Roast.

$40/lb. Whole Bean or Ground for French Press or Drip

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Nicaragua and Coffee Mathematics


The 32lbs. of Nicaragua Maragogype Las Nubes (the Clouds) from the Andrea Castro farm from the Matagalpa region will arrive tomorrow!

Why is this coffee so special? There are a plethora of reasons. When we cupped the coffee, we tasted notes of banana, peach, chocolate, marzipan, salsa, and much more. In short, it was like manna falling from the heavens. We also bought the entire crop of 38 lbs. The Andrea Costra farm is owned by women; the coffee is picked and sorted by women. The coffee is sun-dried or dry-processed/natural processed which helps bring out the crazy fruity notes . The coffee is strictly high grown (SHG) which means that it is grown above 1200 meters above sea level. It takes high grown coffee a longer time to develop, therefore increasing the tremendous flavor. Strictly high grown coffee beans and extremely fertile soil is a great formula for amazing coffee.

Why were women chosen to be the president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer of the Las Nubes Cooperative? They were believed to be more prudent! My 38 lbs. was so precious that they did not use machines to sort out the bad coffee beans, they didn't want the good coffee to be damaged.

Why did Andrea Castro have such a small crop of 38 lbs? Some coffee farmers are so poor that they cannot afford fertilizer for their crops. The lack of fertilizer causes farmers to produce lower yields. Andrea Castro works on other farms to help support her family and to help sustain her own farm. The partnership with Gold Mountain Coffee Roasters, Las Nubes, and Chazzano Coffee Roasters is allowing Andrea and other coop members to receive the highest return on their coffee. Chazzano Coffee is hoping to continue to help Andrea and other farmers of this coffee cooperative produce higher yields and bring more money home to their families.

Roasting Mathematics:
Did you know that every pound of coffee that we roast shrinks 20%? I need to roast about 1.2 lbs. of coffee to produce 1lb. of coffee. When I roast 132lbs. of coffee from those huge jute bags, it produces only 106 lbs. of roasted coffee. Therefore, the 32 lbs. of green beans from the Nicaragua Maragogype Las Nubes Andrea Castro farm will produce, after roasting, only 25.6 lbs. of roasted coffee!

Nicaragua Maragogype Las Nubes (Cooperative) Andrea Castro (farm) Matagalpa Region:

Large cup of this coffee: $4.50
Small cup of this coffee: $3.25

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Chazzano Mystery Blend

Many of our customers ask, how do you create your blends and why? The answer is that some of our blends are purely accidental. For example, six months ago, I accidentally mixed Decaf Peru with Ethiopia Harrar. The result was terribly bland. I left it languishing on my green bean shelves until Friday. I wanted to roast the Indonesia Bali and perhaps experiment with the roast profile. I placed about 5 lbs. of Indonesia Bali in the top hopper, forgot about it, and then placed the Decaf Peru/Harrar mixture on top of that. I realized what I had done, roasted the Indonesia Bali /Decaf Peru/ Ethiopia Harrar to full city, and cupped the result.

This blend is awesome when it cools- notes of raspberries, pineapple, and brown sugar. Ask for a cold brew of the Mystery Blend today and tomorrow. One of the best blends we've created, ever.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mommy, where do coffee beans come from?

If you've taken a tour at Chazzano Coffee Roasters, you might have heard me talk about coffee cherries. You may have heard about my crazy hope that my coffee tree seedlings may produce coffee cherries. Above, you'll see the coffee cherries growing on Coast Three Coffee farm in El Salvador. There are two coffee beans in each cherry. The cherries are handpicked from the trees because it is highly impractical to machine pick coffee grown on mountainsides.

Then the coffee is milled and processed. Will it be dry processed or wet processed? How much water do you have around your farm? What is the preferred flavor profile for your particular coffee varietals? Below: The cherry and most of the outer layers of the coffee bean have been removed and the coffee beans are drying out in the sun.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Brewing Temperatures

Have you ever had an incredible cup of coffee at Chazzano Coffee Roasters, brought some beans home or to the office, opened the coffee bag, were astounded by the fantastic fragrance, ground it fresh, brewed it, and...it wasn't as fantastic as the coffee that you had at the cafe? Well, it could be your brewing temperature.
French press, drip, pourover, and vacuum syphon must all be brewed within the sweet spot of coffee brewing, between 195-205 degrees fahrenheit. If it's below 195 degrees, you will experience an under-extracted brew, and above 205 (near boiling), you'll experience an over-extracted brew.
Here are some hints to brew the best cup of coffee. For french press coffee, boil water and wait 30 seconds for the temperature to reach 200-205 degrees. For the usual cheap drip brewers, use this secret method. After you place the ground coffee in the brew basket, fully wet the grounds in the basket with hot water. This trick will help the coffee "bloom" and begin the flavor extraction process. When you turn the machine on and brew the coffee, the grounds will already have a head start. This will mitigate the usual lower brewing temperatures that make drip brewers my least favorite method of coffee brewing. In addition, make sure that the coffee is finely ground for the drip brewer.
Finally, enjoy the process. Enjoy life. Drink fantastic coffee.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

La Nubes Andrea Costa Nicaragua Maragogype

You know that we have over 40 different single origin coffees available and another 15 blends. I look for the best specialty coffee available. Smart farmers sample different areas of their farms that may cup at a different level than the rest of the crop. Here's the problem: If a farmer has 50 hectares (2.471 acres) of coffee trees and discovers that 1/5th of the crop contains coffee that has a superior flavor profile, should the farmer seek to sell the portion of the crop at a higher price and possibly lower the quality of the entire crop? That's a tough question.

You've enjoyed some of our awesome microlots like Brazil Moreninha Formosa, Honduras Cup of Excellence, Yemen Mocca Sanani, and Honduras Finca Las Canas. We have now secured some incredible microlot coffees from Nicaragua. The first selection is an Andrea Castro Nicaragua Maragogype. They produced only 38 pounds of coffee and picked out (by hand) only the best beans for us! This is an extremely small offering, now, of 32 pounds. (Did you know that 32lbs. of unroasted coffee beans produces only 25.6 lbs. of roasted coffee.)

Maragogype is a large bean that is a mutation of a typica coffee tree. Each of the farms in the Las Nubes (The Clouds) Cooperative is managed by women. How cool is that?

Our 32 lbs. of coffee...

Vacuum packed bag.JPG

Just wait until you taste this coffee! It will become part of your bucket list.