company - education - coffee

Sunday, February 28, 2010

NERBC 2010

The dates on the NERBC are the 19th through 21st of March. If you want to sign up to volunteer or to compete, visit and register.

If you are visiting from out of town we recommend getting a hotel here:
Homewood Suites by Hilton® Cambridge-Arlington
1 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, Massachusetts, United States 02474
Tel: 1-781-643-7258 Fax: 1-781-643-7298

Ask about the special rates for the barista competitions and remember these are massive suites which are nicely furnished and did I mention, big!

Events and special offerings available for people in town will be posted next week.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chia-Ming tea visit

Chia-Ming is a relatively famous tea producer in Taiwan known for it's Honey Cicada Black Tea. In our visit to them, we found out more about this particular tea as well purchasing another pristine Oolong from them.

The Oolong is a semi ball style Dah-Yeh (broad leaf) cultivar. For this elevation, the broad leaf cultivar is quite ideal and produces a sweet clean cup. We were visiting Chia-Ming as this tea was being packed post processing. The leaves are beautiful and unfurl with each steep to reveal nearly perfect preservation of the pick. This doesn't surprise because Chia-Ming is know for it's superior processing skills.

Jia Meng Teas drying

The other tea, Cicada Honey Black, was the byproduct of a unique method noted for it's use of tea green leafhoppers. Normally considered a pest or associated with novelty teas, this particular tea uses these little pests to produce an exemplary experience. The folks as Chia-Ming have learned to identify a specific type of bitten leaf as an ideal pick that when processed to an exacting methodology results in one of the more unique teas experiences you can have. This black tea yields strong aromas, complex sweetness, and a very distinct cup.

I admit being skeptical about this tea coming in. I had sampled it before through other sources and had what I can only describe as skunky results. Once I arrived at the farm and cupped through all of their lots, the distinctions became clear as to our preferences. We took the silver medal competition lot which was picked as the favorite in the competition by the tea research facility manager in the area. Compared to the gold medal lot, which Chia-Ming also submitted and won, it came as so distinctly special that it was better in our opinion than the more singular gold medal lot.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fulu Red Oolong

Another novel tea process from Shin-Fong, this Fulu Red Oolong (fully oxidized translated directly as red rather than black) is something out of the ordinary. The natural floral notes of Taiwanese high mountain 'terroir' come through the excellent execution of a paochong or 'balled' tea from a chin-shin varietal. What makes it particularly novelty is the full oxidation which provides a beautiful amber hued red liquor and warmth in the cup profile of gentle honey and caramel tones of this semi balled Oolong varietal.
This tea took a little getting used to. We had to find a balance point in how we brewed it. It did not take long for us to figure out that we were treating it incorrectly. Once we tuned in our brew temps, this tea really excelled as one of our favorites.

The cup color is beautiful with amber red hues. Strong aromatics of rose hips and straw flowers dominate the cup profile yielding to a clean and sweet aftertaste. The flavor is warm and invitingly pleasant but the aromas are what make this tea particularly unique.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Doppleganger espresso

We were playing with shots of the new Wabi series today, Doppleganger.

Shots were coming out taffy cherry with a raspberry nose. It was not a 'fruit bomb' so acidhounds will be disappointed. The fruit comes more taffy than tart, notably better as you let the coffees rest and clarify. We recommend this for a day 7-12 off of roast window. Any earlier and it can be a little unruly with the fruit.

This will hang around for a couple of weeks and then we`ll move on to some new coffees. We have a couple of new arrivals to talk about soon, more on those later.

The crema on this pairing is very persistent but also a little lighter in coloration. With the blend contents, that makes sense but should be noted. I thought it better to post it as is, having been openly critical of other roasters using color corrected photos on their bags or in marketing materials.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Tea Tasting - Friday Feb 19th, 4pm - 6pm

We will debut our teas on bar this weekend with an open house tasting. The event will be informal and we will offer up each of our new Teas during that time slot.

Keep tabs on this and mark your calendar to have a chance to taste these absurdly fresh harvest teas.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Chin-Suan Oolong

A Tea farm

Shin-Fong submitted this lot of Chin-Suan cultivar which placed with an excellence award in competition. Above and below are photos which show the care given to their Oolongs though this is not the actual section the competition lots came from. This farm is known for consistently producing quality teas for many years and the farm owners have a reputation for hard work and honesty. Their diliginet work shows in the beauty of their farm and the pristine care for their teas. While the lot is not certiifed organic, Shin-Fong grows the majority of it's teas organically with the desire to get certified in the near future. This is a labor intensive process when done the correct way they are doing it but the results show through in the cup.

New Peak Oolong

This particular Oolong is traditional in that like many high mountain Oolongs, it has a distinctive fruitiness. Apricot, peach, and other tropical notes come through from the second steeping on. The natural aromatics known to be a signature of good Taiwanese Oolongs through in it's fragrance.

The first steep comes with fragrant pear and honeyed beeswax undertones. This gives way to defined sweetness, and apricot fruitiness, and balanced body in later steepings. This tea is defined by balanced and freshness.

Shin-Fong Grandpa Tea

New Peak Assam

Shin-Fong is a small farm in Taitung that does a few very interesting teas. This particular tea is an example of that uniqueness. In our new direct trade tea series from Taiwan, we will be focusing on unique and special teas from throughout the country. Shin-fong is one of our core estates we found in our travels to be exemplary of hard work and good intentions. Many of their teas are grown organically with the intention of getting certified soon.

New Peak Tea Farm

Known as Grandpa's Assam, this fully oxidized black tea is produced from a traditional Assam cultivar. The trees themselves were planted in 1965, having been abandoned at one time, they were then reclaimed to be grown and cared for with organic practices. The level of care and meticulousness in their farming shows in the pristine look of the trees themselves. At some parts of the Assam grove, the trees have been left to continue growing freely to act as wind breaks as can be seen in the first photo. The Assam picks are rolled paochong style which is not normal for an Assam. This tea however is full oxidized as a black tea which matches well with it's Assam varietal. This combination of factors makes the tea distinct in how it is ideally brewed over multiple steeps, as the tea will need time to open and release it's flavors.

Cup character consists of round caramel aromas that lead into taste notes of candied yam with hints of spice and winter melon. This tea is big bodied with refined tannins but can easily be over extracted due to it's unique processing method. It opens easily in later steeps and is reminiscent of a traditional sweet after a meal drink in that area of Taiwan which consists of sugar and cooked down winter melon.

We have a limited supply of this tea until next pick so move quickly if it sounds interesting.

Classes and updated brew guides

Classes are online for signup. Class size will be limited so sign up before they fill.

We will also be updating our list of brew guides and expanding our education section to include video materials and illustrated guides. Keep an eye on it or bookmark it as it grows.

1 cup cloth woodneck

Monday, February 01, 2010

Some specs for the new water delivery system

Before there are knee jerk reactions and people start comparing the LB-1 to a boiler, it's not.
Here's what I know about it's specs:

- The LB-1 is 90% energy efficient because it is a system that only functions when in use.
- Temperature adjustment is instant: Can be changed via digital set point on display
- Current version has timer on display
- Plugs into household 110v outlet
- Takes a water input of a simple 1/4th inch john guest fitting.

- Directional point and shoot water dispersion from 'wand'.
- Adjustable flow rate.
- Largest flow rate seems to be around 8-9 ounces a minute. (It's designed for pour over so there doesn't seem to be a need to go any faster in testing it for pour over).

That's it, a water delivery system that plugs into a standard socket, hooks up to a standard inlet, and gives precision water temperatures and adjustable flow rate on demand. Oh, and the water comes out freshly heated, not stale and reboiled numerous times, so the coffee tastes better.

No cut up counters required to install, no electrician to wire a new plug, and no 200lb boiler. Just a table top, easy to move, and simple to install tap that is ready to go. Beautifully simple, just don't ask me how they did it. Something about PhD level engineering problems being solved and the patent is pending.

I won't try to project what the usefulness of this item is. I'll let the rest of you think about the implications of having freshly heated water from a movable and easy to use energy efficient hot water source.