company - education - coffee

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas hours

We will close on Christmas eve at 4pm and be closed Christmas day and the day after. We will reopen on Tuesday with normal hours.

Don't wait until the last minute for that retail bag of coffee, plan ahead.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Buena Esperanza Alfaro

Gustavo Alfaro at barismo
Gustavo at barismo
Technically speaking, Buena Esperanza Alfaro is a lot from Hacienda Santa Rosa in Huehuetenango, Guatemala owned by Gustavo Alfaro. It's a separate plot at about 1800m that we picked up because of a unique varietal. Well, it's not exactly unique, it's a varietal that rightfully doesn't get a lot of respect because where it's commonly grown is fairly low elevation (mostly in Brazil) with poorer results. We're talking about Mundo Nuevo, which would cause many a seasoned coffee pro to do a double take and question whether it could be good and why someone would plant it this high.  It's actually exceptional at this high elevation on his farm and has gotten rave reviews out of the gate from top barista locally. It was a bit of a competition to get this coffee from him after word got out about how it was cupping.  When we tasted it blind, it stood out in a big way and still holds up in production. It has been uniquely honey crisp apple (a note that shows up in many of  the Santa Rosa coffees) while floral pear blossom on the nose followed macadamia nut and nougat in the cup.  Next to the lot of Mundo Nuevo, there is some Tekisik that should have a good yield next crop for a more traditional bourbon style Huehuetenango offering. There are plans to plant some experimental lots as well, including some African varietals, so the hopes are high at the aptly named 'good hope'.

Gustavo Alfaro with Simon at Simon's
Gustavo with Simon at Simon's
The owner of Hacienda Santa Rosa is the charismatic and creative Gustavo Alfaro, a fourth generation owner of Santa Rosa. Gustavo recently came out to visit us and we chose to do a quick cafe crawl. It was a great experience where many ideas were exchanged over a lot of coffee and good food with friends. Gustavo made instant relationships among the community as we visited shops and did our best to be good hosts.

In it's essence, we were explaining both his story and the personalities of those that would be representing his coffees. Both Gustavo and those he met gained from the experience in a lot of ways.  We feel like he came away with a clear understanding for the strong community that exists here, not just the excitement, but truly the sincerity behind it.

Calen and Gustavo at Voltage
Gustavo had one strong commentary after tasting our Zone10 espresso, an all Guatemala espresso named after the Zona Viva in Guatemala City.  He wanted us to change it to Zona10 and to have just his coffees in it!  We'll take it under advisement have a special Alfaro edition in the spring with artwork based on his ideas just in time for the NERBC.  Rumor has it that a local barista is going to compete with this after meeting Gustavo!

For us, the experience was a reaffirmation to keep working hard and moving forward with big ideas.  We've been blessed by good fortune to find people along the way who understand us and get excited about coffee the way we do.  After years of hearing the critics, many people are coming around to the same seriousness we feel about coffee.  We feel like Gustavo is one of those people and are looking forward to working with him in the years to come.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gift Ideas: Classes, coffee, and samplers

Looking for quick gift ideas, try one of January classes:

For something unique, reserve one of our samplers:

Or try one of our newly released coffees:
For orders online (to meet the Holiday rush) please specify in the message at checkout if the items are a gift, if you would like us to waive shipping to pick the items up in store(169 Mass Ave, Arlington, MA), or if you would like to delay shipment to the week before Christmas.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Pour over cheat sheet

Here’s a quick cheat sheet to help you get the most out of your home Hario V60 and Buono kettle set-up.

Before you pour:

1) Temperature: After your water is done heating, make sure it is the correct temperature. All of our coffees have a recommended brewing temperature on the bottom left side of the front label.

2) Rinse: It’s important to rinse the filter. Doing so helps to get rid of unwanted paper-y tastes and also helps ‘stick’ the filter evenly inside of the V60 Dripper. This also pre-heats your v60 and Linkrange server (or cup). You can do this with the water while it’s cooling down to the ideal brewing temperature. Just don’t forget to toss the water before you brew!

3) Fresh: Grinding fresh should be the last step prior to actual brewing. This and a fresh roast can ensure the freshest cup of coffee possible.

v60-Side view Pre-Infusion:

Place the coffee in the filter and make a small divot in the center of the grounds. Start from the center of the bed of coffee and, in a spiral, work your way to the outside of the V60. At this point, you only want to evenly wet the grounds. Start your timer, and wait 15-20 seconds (or until the bloom stops bubbling and settles). You should see the coffee begin to expand, or bloom, and then settle slightly during this phase.


After the coffee has bloomed, start pouring again from the center of the coffee. Work the stream of water in a spiral evenly toward the outside of the V60. Be careful not to touch the outermost edges of the coffee bed with water. This prevents water from running directly down the side of the V60 without passing through the coffee. Continue to pour evenly spiraling in and out until you have reached the recommended yield (end brew volume) for your V60.

After you have finished brewing, the bed of coffee should look concave as opposed to flat. This is a sign that the coffee was evenly extracted.

Other tips and recommendations:

1) When you are pouring, the water should look like it’s falling from the kettle, almost like a tail. An aggressive pour can result in channeling, and improper extraction. You can place your free hand at the top of the kettle to help control the flow rate. A kettle gicluer helps to control the flow rate even further and is a highly recommended addition to your V60 set-up.

2) If the time for the water to drain from the grounds and enter the range server after your final pour takes longer than 30 seconds, your coffee might be ground too finely. If the water drains through the bed of coffee quickly after the final pour, your flow rate might be too fast and the grind too coarse.

3) A 1 cup v60 takes 2-3 minutes for a brew while a 3 cup takes 3-4 minutes. See our brew guides in our shopping section.

The V60 system is one of the most clean and satisfying brew methods around, but it can take many tries to really get it down. As long as you are using the correct temperatures and dose, maintaining an even flow, and distributing the water correctly, in no time you will be making pour-overs that rival some of the finest coffee-bars around. - Steve J.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Follow barismo on twitter!

Over the coming weeks through Christmas we'll have several offers on twitter, make sure you follow us to catch these limited offerings and specials!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Cupping without the brand

One of the most powerful exercises in coffee is doing a blind tasting.  We often do this with our coffees and others as well as triangulations (one coffee in each set of three is different and must be identified) in shop.  If you have interviewed for a job, you may have been asked to complete a triangulation during the interview and know all too well what an experience it is.  It is a great equalizer which can rattle or disarm even the most cocky barista.  It can quietly convey that there are always challenges or more to learn in this industry.

I recently talked to a few students doing an article for the Harvard Crimson by walking them through a blind cupping of 'house coffees' around Harvard Sq. Too often, when evaluating a coffee we are heavily influenced by the perception we have of the roaster/shop that produced it and this exercise was about tasting coffees not judging brands or methodology.  It's fair because there is a lot of money and energy put into branding but gems can be missed due to this same bias and brand perception.  What I gained from the exercise with these students is that once you take the brands away, the coffees don't always have that much to say but with the brands attached, the expectation can easily lead the discussion.  I was personally given a bit of validation when the only two single estate coffees on the table were identified immediately (our Bosque at Hi Rise and an El Salvador from Clover Harvard Sq.) by both myself and these self proclaimed coffee illiterates.  Alternatively, it was a bit of a let down in that those were the only two clearly labeled as to what the origin farms were.  It was a tremendous exercise and we'll be doing it again soon.

To organize a good cupping for a small group, we recommend having at least two roasters on a table and enough coffees to have a minimum of 3 (but up to 7 makes for a better challenge).  (we recommend our sampler for aspiring cuppers)  Start with 8 grams of coffee (medium-coarse grind) per 5 ounces of water in each cup.  Use water off boil and pour directly over the grounds.  Let dwell for 4 minutes and then break the crust with a gentle dipping of the spoon at the surface of the cup.  Do not stir or dredge the bottom of the cup.  Afterwards, skim the remaining floating grounds off the cup.

Record the dry ground aromas and make note of any variation between the three cups of each set.  After the water is poured, make note of the hot aroma.  It is best to evaluate the hot aroma a minute in and come back to evaluate it at 3 minutes when it has developed more.  Look for sweetness, cup variations, and distinct (pleasant and unpleasant) aromas.  A critical point is aroma at the break (when the crust is gently disturbed 4 minutes in) as it is the best chance to catch interesting aromas.  Once the surface floaters have been skimmed and the cup has cooled enough to taste, this is the hot cup evaluation.  Roast notes are most prominent here and therefore it's hiding some underlying characters.  Once the cup has cooled considerably, the cold cup evaluation can reveal fruit, acidity, and also defects or roast problems (such as grassy notes, moldy, etc).  A quality roasted coffee will remain similar from dry aroma to cool cup but the flavor characters will become more prominent during each phase.

To set up a good blind cupping, we recommend adhering to a few rules though:
1. Shut up.  There is nothing worse than watching the first person to speak lead the rest towards a set of descriptors or favorites.
2. Let it cool.  Many defects show up in the cool cup and a great hot coffee can really fall apart as it cools.
3.  Keep your notes... yours.  Write it down and stick to what your impressions are.  This is keyed up by following step 1 and documenting everything through in step 2.
4.  Let everyone in.  Don't hog the space, you can always return later.  There is nothing more telling (and distracting) than someone lingering at a particular cup.
5.  Keep the suspense.  Save the reveal until the end and have a good discussion about what was tasted first.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Limited Release El Bosque Sample Pack!

We are offering a sampler pack online of the regular (12oz) bag of El Bosque lot with a (8oz) bag of the Yellow Bourbon micro lot and a (8oz) bag of the Red Bourbon micro lot. This is a limited offer that will run up to Christmas and incidentally makes a wonderful gift.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Why we don't pre grind coffee

The basic tenets of good coffee are the 4 F's:
Fresh crop
Fresh roast
Fresh grind
Fresh brew
As a quality focused roaster, we strive to adhere to these core ideals as they are the fundamental building blocks to a great coffee experience.  Some of these items are much less complicated than you may think.  Fresh crop can be either a date off harvest or it can be about packaging the the unroasted coffee better than the traditional jute bags of old.  Protecting the coffee in Grainpro or vacuum sealing it in some cases can preserve the life of a coffee substantially.  Packaging can protect the coffee from cross contamination, prevent rapid aging, humidity contamination, and many other issues that may affect flavor.  What temperature unroasted coffees are stored at can also play a role in how a coffee ages and how fresh it is.  A warehouse in the summer heat and humidity of the deep south will fare much worse than a temperature controlled (cool) and dry storage site.

We take pride in fresh roast being the only area roaster to place our roast dates so prominently on the front of every bag.  We feel like the roast date is a badge of quality.  Where other roasters may hide their roast dates or place arbitrary best by dates months out to make inventory easier to sell, we know many coffee connoisseurs value knowing when it was roasted and we aim to serve them.

Fresh ground is the one where we often get into a tricky situation.  We are the only roaster in the area that sells wholesale but doesn't ship preground coffee to accounts or retail consumers.  For many reasons beyond the obvious staling of preground coffee, we made it a policy not to grind.  We do lose some wholesale clients on this, namely many restaurants, but feel it's essential.  We feel it can be a serious disconnect to expect a wholesale/retail customer to pay for premium coffees and then brew/serve a less than premium cup.   We also have a policy in store not to grind bags for customers (and don't have a bulk grinder for this) based on the same idea.  Fresh is better, but paying $18/12oz bag of preground coffee that obviously won't taste like an $18/12oz bag of coffee should if ground fresh probably isn't a good value.

Fresh brewed is the easy one that everyone gets.  Brewing fresh is the final aspect full of caveats and variant methods.   We like to offer and suggest per cup or on demand brewing as much as possible because it makes a difference.   The coffee always just tastes better when brewed in smaller and fresher batches, what's smaller and fresher than a cup at a time?  We have many brew guides on the blog and even some helpful bits of barista info in shop you can pick up when you drop by, so don't hesitate to ask. 

We might also be the only roaster in the area with an all per cup bar as well but the biggest contrast is definitely the preground issue.  The reasons laid out are why it isn't an option on our online site nor in store, we hope you understand and look forward to your continued support.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A new roaster modification

For several months, we have been discussing and planning a roaster modification that was a little tricky to predict.  After a lot of discussions and then a few tests, we have moved into the production phase of testing.  The modification was a simple addition of a baffle to direct convection of hot air and thereby increase efficiency on the outside of the roasting drum.  Size, placement, and material were something we spent a lot for time on beforehand.  We currently have them installed on both roasters.

Initial results have been noticeable increases in aromas and clarity.  All roasts from the 21st on have this modification and you will notice a positive difference in your favorite coffees.  Special thanks to Luminarecoffee's Andrew Coates for help in the design and installation.

Friday, November 18, 2011

New limited run espresso: Reanimator and Linnaean St.

The current espresso project is a lively and juicy shot with very interesting aromatics.  This lighter brighter espresso is an impressive match of three very different coffees. It's made up of Guatemala El Bosque, Colombia Matambo, and Colombia San Sebastian.  Sebastian is the base with an extremely clean and sweet profile topped with a light pear aroma.  Bosque and Nazareth intermingle adding both a deep berry punch to the cup but also a strong aromatic citrus component.

The other current project is the return of Linnaean St. espresso blend.  It's a classic in our lineup that many of our early supporters still talk about.  We are even going to do a bit of a throwback label to do it justice.  This blend is light, bright, and aromatic.  When rested properly, the pairing of Kenya Othaya, Guatemala El Bosque, and Colombia San Sebastian are very expressive.  Much like the old 'L Street' blend, this has very nice aromatics and goes for a fruit punch feel.  Given that Simon's (which is coming up on 10 years as a cafe) was the inspiration for this blend, it's also going to double as a celebration blend of sorts.

We are offering both on the website as a package until Christmas.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hawaii Five, Limited Release

The limited release coffee we are offering this week, is Kainlaiu, an excellent Hawaiian coffee that Silas was able to arrange for us. We have only 5 available online and a few more in shop so get yours while it lasts! Here is a excerpt explaining how this Maragogype varietal coffee came to be...

"At the very top of this 20 acre farm, about two acres of Maragogype varietal was accidentally planted five or six years ago. The seedstock for this varietal came from the nearby UH-CTAHR extension station, which maintains a varietal collection. Somehow when the pickers were collecting seed for planting, they wandered onto some trees of Maragogype."

"Our friend Miguel Meza cupped a mixed harvest lot last year and while a little faded and un-ripe picked, saw a lot of potential. Miguel had the farm do a test batch of natural for the last picking in 2010. Beginning with the new crop in October, he had them keep the harvests separate. The cup possesed a very unique peach-apricot flavor and had very heavy mouthfeel. The next three big harvests, (November, December, and February), the picking was much riper and the cup pretty fantastic."
"Through Miguel Meza who served as a production consultant we were able to secure this meticulously processed and well-grown coffee. This is the prefect example of a coffee that under the right conditions does not have to be at a high growing elevation to produce an excellent cup. We appreciate the hard work of our partners and are proud to share with you some of the best coffee to ever come out of Hawaii."

- Silas Moulton, barismo green buyer

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tea Tasting - Saturday Nov 19th 3pm

Saturday @ 3pm, we will have a flight of teas available to taste from Shin Fong farm in Taiwan:
Fulu Red Oolong
Organic Fulu Red Oolong
Chin Suan Oolong

New Peak Oolong

Space is limited to a first come first served basis so show up early!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Espresso Series

We have very few constants in our espresso lineup as we switch components based on what's seasonably available.  The one profile that hangs around is the Clockwork espresso.  This will be a blend of coffees for a consistent profile even as the components may change seasonally.   Look at the component list and percentage ratio for each change and there is also a subtle version number on each label for major changes.  We based the original artwork for that espresso on Clockwork before the Clock.

Pictured: 'Clockwork' original print by Tim Borrego

Soma EspressoSoon to return will be our Soma espresso which uses our most expressive coffees for a stellar and uniquely balanced but still complex espresso.  The Soma has been a standard of our lineup for a long time and it's been missed.

Aside from those two concept espresso, we have the ever changing 'Wabi Sabi' series.  These change constantly and are often special experiences of coffees paired for unique flavors.  With the Wabi espresso, it's about changing it up and offering a new look as different estate combinations become available.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Espresso philosophy

'What if you took a wine approach to blending? Two or three high grade varietals blended together for something even more complex. Instead of putting together inferior parts, use components that were great as separate pieces.'   From a 2006 barismo blog excerpt.

Our espresso philosophy since the beginning (even before we roasted) was that transparency matters.  Knowing is identity and that's a big part of our philosophy.  We tell you everything that's in each espresso down to the percentage.  Limiting the amount of coffees blended to mostly pairs and using more expressive coffees has been a big part of our program.  The following is an excerpt from one of our espresso back labels that states it best:

The Case for Transparency in Espresso Labels
Ingredients are where quality starts. What goes into an espresso is the preface to quality of roast, freshness of brew, or all of that fancy gear. Knowing what components build an espresso is the most powerful variable in that it develops a sense of awareness for your own personal preferences to the specific ingredients. Knowing what you like and do not like is easier when the components are listed on the bags. Having a sense of what those farms or origins taste like together retains some identity of the unique components. Identity is important for farms when leveraging better prices paid for coffees.
Historically, roasters have created espresso blends by mixing in agey or past crop coffees, lower grade coffees, and softer or low grown coffees. Knowing the contents is a powerful instrument in judging the value of an espresso. Some roasters are reluctant to give up prized recipes for their espresso blends, but the more progressive roasters should be proud of their components and those unique ingredients.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

In-shop manual options video

Our interim barista, Tyler Ferris, gives a simple overview of the manual brew methods that we offer in-shop at barismo. Tyler will be at dwelltime in Cambridge once it opens up.

Many of our customers are familiar with our offerings at barismo. However, a large number of people that stop in and visit us have never seen such a thorough per-cup drip program in action. We seem to answer this question quite a bit: could you tell me about your manual brew options?

It was great for us to write the script for this video, it has even helped some of our newer staff to better articulate our per-cup program. We were able to break down our three manual drip methods to give you an idea of why we use each method and perhaps peak your curiosity about ones you have not tried out yet.

To read a bit more on filters and depth filtration check out some earlier posts by Jaime that our readers have found useful. Feel free to stop by 169 Mass Ave in Arlington and we can offer recommendations about which coffees like to use for the different methods or answer any other questions you have about our per-cup options.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Some of our favorite espresso pairings of the past

Aside from long list of coffees we have roasted as single estate espresso, we've had quite a bit of fun creating some unique pairings.  Here's a top 5 of the ones I miss with a little info on the name schemes and if we might bring them back for a return appearance.

1. The first really fun espresso we did was Linnaean St. Espresso.   This was a project specifically over at Simon's (1736 Mass Ave) but it took on a life of it's own for a little while.  The idea was paying homage to a Cambridge coffee shop institution.  It's been a long time since we've had a coffee from Brasil so rebuilding this Brasil/Costa Rica/Kenya profile would be unlikely.  I'd love to do a run of something similar around the Holidays, maybe call it our Christmas only espresso.   We might even bring back the vintage label style for that... maybe not.

2. Doppelganger espresso was just us having a ton of fun.  There were several versions of this but the idea was take two amazing Kenyan coffees and turn them into a challenging espresso.  Doppelganger was a clever one because the pairings were often 1:1 lending the name some humor.  We still get people asking when we are going to do another run of this and we are thinking about it but found Ruthangati to be too strong to be paired with Othaya.

3. SOMA espresso was our flagship espresso for a long time.  There have been three iterations but the idea was pairing up the best of Zone10 and  Doppelganger by pairing two Guatemalan coffees with a Kenyan coffee.  The name was a misleading one intentionally for all the things it could mean (and probably doesn't) but we are planning on bringing it back very soon.

4. Zone 10 was a personal favorite and had a huge following among our regulars.  People still ask about this coffee though it's been off the shelf for some time.  The name came from Zona Viva (Zone 10) in Guatemala City, Guatemala.  Zone 10 is a bit of a tourist and restaurant/club area but also an area where many coffee brokers ply their trade.   Zone 10 was a pairing of our best Guatemalan coffees offered as espresso and we'll bring it back in month.

5.  Homunculus Espresso was a pairing of two Ethiopia coffees along the lines of Doppelganger naming schemes, this blend had a very specific intent inspired.  By pairing 30 percent of a washed Sidamo with 70 percent of a washed Yirgacheffe, the deep floral of the Yirgacheffe was dominated by the smaller portion of Sidamo.  The Sidamo in effect was running the show even though it was a smaller component.  We'd love to bring it back but maybe next year.

Honorable mention:  The Villain Espresso was one of those pairings that got out of hand.  It was hugely successful in spite of it being one that was not uniformly loved among the staff.  A Brasil with an El Salvador intended to be traditional and a bit boring, it was heavy bodied and milk chocolate in the best way. We may or may not find a way to bring this back but the name was tongue in cheek being contrary to what we had done before.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bosque tasting and direct trade lecture Saturday

On Saturday, November 12th, Barismo will be hosting a public tasting of El Bosque, the newest product of our Direct Trade Relationship program. The tasting will be offered from 12PM till 3PM. Following the tasting, Barismo’s Green Buyer, Silas Moulton, will give an in-depth presentation on Guatemala’s Bella Vista Mill, and the harvesting and processing of the El Bosque coffee. The presentation will also expound on the definition of direct trade and explore the cultivation of those relationships. Both events are free, and open to the public and coffee professionals alike.

Event Details:
El Bosque: Public Cupping
Saturday, November 12th, 2011
12PM - 6PM
169 Massachusetts Ave.
Arlington, MA 02474


Sunday, November 13th, 2011
2PM - 5PM
1736 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138

Stephen J.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The barismo video series launches

We have started shooting videos around the shop here at barismo. This is our very first and we have more in production that we are excited to share with you. Each video takes a brief look at topics that are crucial to how we approach coffee, be it buying, roasting, or brewing. We have different members of the staff participating so you will also have a chance to get to know who we are as well.

To set up this first video, we asked Silas Moulton our Green Buyer to talk about Microlots. This year from El Bosque we were able to produce some excellent coffees with varietal lot separations, just one of the many great things that our Direct Relationship Coffee Program has been able to offer us this year.

It has been a great exercise and a lot of fun for us to revisit and articulate our core principles. Also don't forget to watch the outtakes at the end, enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Understanding the 2011 label

For every retail bag barismo provides detailed brew specs on each coffee roasted for espresso (look for the tamper icon) in the following format near the bottom of the label:

That last line provides a suggested date to which bags can be rested in unopened packaging to degass. Degassing is important for espresso because unlike drip coffees, espresso is brewed under pressure which can cause the CO2 trapped in coffee from the roasting process to bond with H2O yielding H2CO3 or carbonic acid. This yields a slightly sour or metallic undesireable taste. While resting some is ideal, resting too long is simply staling and pleasant volatiles will escape. Remember though, we provide brew specs to help repeat how we are serving on our bar to our preferences. The coffees at barismo often have a large range of brew specs where good results can be had on a range of machines and grinders.

Front label specs
For drip, the items covered are similar. Below the roaster's mark is the approximate temperature in Celsius. Look for the bean icon to be gram weight of suggested dose followed by the approximate volume of water in milliliters.

Since our preferred method is to brew by the cup, we offered a level of detail that makes repeating those tasty results at your local coffee bar much easier. We don't put a rested date because drip is best consumed in the first two weeks after roasting. After opening, keep the coffee in it's one way valve bag closed tightly to keep out of oxygen, heat, and moisture contamination.

To scale up for drip brewers, we recommend an 8g per 5oz starting point.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Back labels

Barismo retail
We have been running a campaign of back label information that ranges from specific coffee information sets to general concepts that help you get great coffee brewed up.

Our front labels are some of the most detail rich in the industry. We take pride in the level of information we have to offer refined specifically for each coffee. The back labels look to expand upon those concepts. Great coffee isn't simple, so we are always looking for ways to provide as much helpful information as possible to you.

Keep an eye out for the range as there are multiple in each series geared towards all the key concepts that go into creating a great cup of coffee.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Limited release bags

El bosque red
We have been doing a limited release series of bags. They have a new style wrap around label to separate them from other offerings. Look for the wrap around label (see El Bosque Red on the right) and be aware it might be a fleeting glimpse!

These limited edition lots will be available online and in small quantities in store. We will be launching a weekly offering available of a specific limited lot that is being roasted each week that will start the 15th with the CoE winning Colombia and move on to our Limited release Hawaii Margogype lot, then the Bosque varietal lots (as a sampler), and even an offering of the hugely popular Gildardo Gutierrez Colombia Micro-lot in the fourth week!

Since we have so little of these coffees, we'll be offering them back to back to keep things interesting!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Interview with our green buyer

Silas Moulton is a certified Q-Grader and the main organizer of the direct sourcing program for coffees and tea at barismo.  Please enjoy this interview with Silas completed by Tim Borrego.  Please welcome Tim to our contributor list on the barismo blog. 

I sat down with Silas, just as everything was winding down at 169 Mass Ave in Arlington, about a quarter till close. He was dialing in shots, trying to get a good taste of a new espresso in our line-up when we started. "Tell me about the first time you met Jaime" I asked.
"I was working at Peet's Coffee at the time and had just gotten back from Central America." Silas began, "I saw an article in the Boston Globe talking about east coast coffee shops that were pioneering good coffee and I didn't believe it was actually true." He specified what article he was talking about, "The one with the photo of Jaime looking really angry smelling some coffee." He laughed to himself, his shoulders shrugging three times in rhythm. "I walked into Simon's to check it out for myself and there he was, behind the counter, so I ordered an espresso." And? "I was blown away at how not mediocre it was, I mean it was sweet and just, you know, tasted good."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lucid ink blot!

Lucid espresso

For lucid, a two Colombia pairing, we decided to play off the name and do a Rorschach ink blot look to the label ink.  It's actually an outline of Colombia filled in and mirrored to get the 'blot' look.  Simple, fun, and it shows a little thought went into it.  It also has been rather tasty lately!

We try to do special labels for the espresso pairings/blends, some get more complex than others.  See the Clockwork labels and the Soma ink if you are really curious.  For the single origins, we have stuck to the countries and color coding.  It's worked as I find myself missing that 'green' bag when it's not on the shelf!  It gets complicated when there are multiple offerings from the same country on the shelf so we encourage you to save old labels of great coffees and write on the white space what you liked about them.  If we know the exact coffee you loved, it makes things easier when searching for a similar one.

Voices of the barismo team

In the interest of keeping new content coming out of the tremendous amount updates coming into the shop, we will have multiple contributors to the blog/twitter/facebook platforms. Some really good content being put together including video shorts, enjoy and tell your friends.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

El Bosque '100% todo bien'


The coffee you know and love, that broke your heart with it’s departure last year, is back to ruin your life again. You want to say no, but you can’t, because no other coffee can quite make you feel the way this one does. The good thing is that it is better than ever and there is more of it this year. There are even two separate micro-lots, one red bourbon and one yellow bourbon coming soon.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Footnotes from barismo

Realized today that four of the full time (read that as people not headed to dwelltime) staff at the roasting operation have been to a coffee producing country and visited a half dozen or more farms a piece.  One being our intrepid green sourcer who has been well traveled the last year.  That experience really helps in understanding what goes into a great cup of coffee or in the least having a perspective of how complex it is when you sit down and think about it.

Dedicated bunch of people if you ask me (including myself in that back patting session!).  The point is that for a tiny little company, it's kind of a cool thing that we have been able to attract such a good crew.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Don Mayo La Loma as SoE!

One of the most impressive shots we've got has been the refined profile we are running on the La Loma. It's been such an impressive shot lately on the bar that it ranks up there.  Interesting depth, balance, and wonderfully distinct aroma.  Tangerine, brown sugar, and peach when pulled short.  A little longer volume pull and it becomes more toasted almond with more developed/darker sugars.  We are going to begin setting more of Loma aside for bar service until we run out.

Lucid has been excellent and we were tracking it down on a cafe crawl being served at Simon's the last few days next to Clockwork and at the new Hi-Rise has been getting plus plus reviews on some seriously good shots of the Lucid as well.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

(the message of) Good coffee locally

There is tremendous excitement about the local coffee community and the big movements recently in our area.  A lot of it is warranted because things have grown leaps and bounds the last three years.  We are proud of the influence we've had and watching people we've trained move around plus shops responding to the heightened competition.  The bar is raising though we often wish it would raise faster and with more purpose.  It has not been a cohesive movement nor one that often has a clear message shop to shop.  Message is defined by mission statement, something most indie coffee shops owners don't have time to think about because they are too busy trying to survive.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Running low on El Cashal

Don Ruben's El Cashal has been a solid coffee in our lineup but we are now winding down our offering of this coffee.  We're into our last couple of weeks roasting this.  No fear as we have several good coffees coming out shortly.  Check out this slide show of photos from Silas' visit and grab a bag before it disappears. 

Monday, October 03, 2011

Meridiano and Lucid back in stock!

El Meridiano and the wildly popular Lucid Espresso are back and on the shelves.  These Colombia offerings are a big favorite and we are excited by how well they are coming out.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Notes from the interwebs

We've had poor luck with restaurant coffee as consumers and have found dining establishments to be a hard sell to do better coffee (of course our idea of better is a pretty lofty goal).  We've got some places locally that do a good job but as a restaurant community in Greater Boston, there's not much to be proud of with the coffee services in high profile restaurants.  The solution is complex and not necessarily a clear cut one that can be pitched as a package to interested restaurants.  The initial investment is often too steep given the impression fine dining has about coffee costs.  Seeing something like this coverage of Canlis and the progressive program there makes us think things will get better over time.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

barismo just turned 3!

It is always customary to look back before looking forward.  Some people forget quite easily we've only been around for a little while.  Yes, we've been doing events, challenging others, and pontificating all things coffees for several more but the little coffee roasting shop tucked away in East Arlington just keeps on growing and we are diligently beginning our 4th year!

We want to thank everyone who supports us at the coffee bar, online, and through wholesale relationships.  We are particularly appreciative with how vocal those who support the shops that support us can be.  It's been an awesome year and we can't wait to get our new space open to present what we feel will be a very progressive concept.

The roasters will keep running but our little coffee bar will expand it's hours to Monday-Friday 8am-6pm, Saturday 9am-6pm, and Sunday 10am-5pm.  We may be closed in the near future for two days of remodeling but we'll keep you in the loop.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

El Salvador San Jose is back

San Jose is back on the shelf and really clicking as an exceptional filter coffee.  We were so happy with the clean fruit (light body) and soft floral lavender aroma.  This is our second year sourcing this coffee and we are ecstatic to get such a great lot to work with.
Pickers at San Jose

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Something missing on your brew bar

In recent trips to coffee destinations to see their per cup bars, one aspect was missing almost universally at every stop.  Temperature.  That is really a tough one to leave ignored and really calls into questions the credibility of the per cup movement.  If temperature is not a factor and every brew varies, then per cup brewing for many shops is just a fad or just about style points.  It makes one feel that it's not a movement towards fresher brews crafted one cup at a time but rather a trend that shops need to carry to fit in with the 'cutting edge'.  This is frustrating but also makes for heartbreaking visits to other shops seeing Syphons brewed at almost boiling temps, pour overs that two in a row are completely different cup to cup.

In some ways, we are lucky to have been instilled with a strong cynicism for the larger coffee culture we're supposed to be part of.  It can isolate us sometimes but we get less caught up in trends.  These days, we've been less interested in what is happening in the larger coffee culture and more focused on doing what we want to do but being lumped into the per cup movement, having this contrast matters to us.

One of the really nice things in shop is what were are doing with the Luminairecoffee prototype.  To do a pour over for any method, you walk up to the tap and get started.  You can set temperature, ending volume of water, and total time (if you are lazy) and it will figure out exactly the flow rate and adjusts to compensate while hitting the temp you set.  So, we often do the pre-infusion in such a way that the grounds are saturated to a balance point and then use the time/volume settings for the rest of the brew.  Since it measures the water volume/flow rate as it brews, a scale is unnecessary (aside from measuring grounds).

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Reposo Espresso!

Reposo is another stellar addition to our Wabi series of espresso.  A simple pairing with elegant results within the same origin but from different estates.  We chose to match 30% Don Mayo Mt. Canet and 70% Rio Jorco Los Lobos. (Please read our travel logs from our spring visit to these estates).
We tested this offering in a few high end cafes and got really positive feedback so we are releasing it online as well.
This is a sugary cup of maple, almonds, tangerines, and complex red fruits.  It has a wide range of specs where it pulls well but we recommend it for straight shots only.  Grab a bag online in our new shop.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cold brew coffee tasting Sun Aug 21th, 11am-3pm!!!

Starting at 11am on Sunday the 21st of August, 2011 we will have a cold brew bar. For the same price as one cold brew, we will rack a tasting flight of four different coffees in smaller portion cold brewed to peak flavor perfection.

You've heard the comments about cold brew and the controversy on both sides for and against it. See if the origin character of a Kenya and it's fruit floral flavor notes come through. Evaluate sweetness and depth in a Costa Rican dialed in to peak sweetness. The proof is in the cup so we aren't going to hide anything, come by and try it.

Seeing as our biggest critic(s) have never even tried our version of cold brew, we recommend they consider joining us and setting the date on the calendar. See you there.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Event at Simon's August 27th, 8pm

Looking for awesome coffee to push through until the late hours on a Friday night? Simon's on 1736 Mass Ave is having an after hours event put together by some of the barista there to drink coffee, socialize, and get down with some mad brews.

See the poster here, put it on your calendar as there will be some unique offerings on the table.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Einar Oritz Colombia Microlot as espresso!

Einar sorting coffee

We are running low on the Einar Ortiz which has been getting rave reviews as espresso. It's the last of the vacuum packed micro-lots until another round of Gildardo Gutierrez comes through. Silas makes his rounds in Colombia again in a few months looking for follow ups to the success we had in the last set of picks.

Seeing Einar Ortiz's lot become an exceptional favorite has been the end of an excellent run from Colombia this year. Exciting to see and we are looking forward to future lots. Enjoy this one while it lasts.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Iced Coffee

There are four basic types of iced coffee that are used and I'll cover them briefly:

(The Boston Globe is about to let loose a big article on iced coffee so here's our take on it!)

Standard iced coffee: Brew a regular drip brew and refrigerate it. It's the easiest way to make cold coffee by far but the least interesting flavor profile. We recommend glass only for storage containers and consume quickly after brewing due to the short shelf life. Flavor profiles are similar to regular hot coffee but thinner, weaker and often less interesting.

Double strength over ice: This can be made with varying portions of coffee to water and some people even add water after brewing. The idea is to brew straight over iced and drink immediately. While it's fresher, in theory it sounds great, but this type of brew shocks over the ice and acidity is stronger while body and texture are lacking. Varying methods of this have been around for as long as drip coffee has been around. In fact, Starbucks recommends this method as their own suggestion for iced coffee so it has wide acceptance for it's ease in preparation. Doing this as a per cup pour over was also recently misreported by the NYTimes as being 'Japanese Iced' method (we should call regular pour overs 'Japanese Hot Coffee' by that example). It is not however a method we particularly find rewarding across the board for all coffees and is by no means the most complex or absolute ice coffee method available. It tends to work better on coffees that are lighter roasted but not for medium or darker roasts.

Cold drip: There are many versions of this worth trying but the most obvious is what persistently is called Kyoto Style Coffee. The complex version relies on a needle valve where room temperature water drips at rates as slow as one drip per second through the grounds. This may takes several hours to drip through. On the larger scale brewed at room temperature, the resulting brew can change radically as it rests and can turn quickly into less pleasant flavors. This slow drip style results in heavy base notes and winey flavors. We have found that brewing at room temperature yields some unpleasant results so we use a variation of this. We've used a simple medium cupping grind loaded into a pour over or Syphon top with filters in place works well with ice in the refrigerator. Loading ice on top of the grounds and keeping the whole process chilled takes several hours longer to brew but can produce a really interesting cup. The key is not having an excessively coarse grind and brewing cold. This allows more origin character to come through and produces excellent coffee. This method works better for medium and darker roasts.

Cold brew: Much like ice drip, there are versions and caveats to this particular full immersion method. The classic version of toddy is to take a bucket of water and load a large cloth bag full of grounds much like steeping tea. This is typically done with french press grind and at room temperature. With such a coarse grind causing so much under-extraction, very few origin characters come through and the dominant flavors are cocoa, toffee, and caramel. This brew can oxidize, sour, or simply turn while being brewed at room temperatures that are hotter than normal so be advised. The sediment that is a byproduct can be quite acrid so storing for any period of time can also have varying results. We actually disavow this method in that the results are often silty, rancid, and lacking in complexity. We choose to use a variation on this we have experimented with extensively that we think is exceptional:

'full immersion' cold brew (aka Reposo Frio)
For this you will need:
Gram Scale
Large Carafe (Glass) or Midzudashi
Burr Grinder with adjustable settings
Bamboo Stirrer or tablespoon
Coffee filter (metal or cloth)
1 liter of clean filtered water
60-80 grams of medium roast whole bean coffee

1. Grind the coffee to a medium grind (cupping grind for professionals). This would be coarser than a drip grind but finer than a french press grind.

2. Load the ground coffee into the carafe.

3. Pour water over the coffee.

4. Stir vigorously.

5. Place in the refrigerator for 18-24 hours.

6. Gently stir the crust of floating coffee and let rest in the fridge again for 20 minutes to let grounds settle.

7. Pour the coffee through a filter. We recommend a cloth filter for the best texture and a pristine sediment free cup. Please ask for cloth care suggestions while in the shop or through email.

This style cold brew has complexity and character with great texture, mouth feel, and body. the key is using cold water and storing cold throughout the process. The choice of coffee is how we tune the flavors we want so you can have fruit, florals, and special character as well so explore the range! The other upside is that it's stable and stores well for several days in glass carafes with lids if cloth filtered. At the resulting strength, it can be diluted with one part water but we recommend drinking it at full strength with smaller portions. A 5oz gibraltar glass with one ice cube being my favorite serving.

Friday, August 05, 2011

364 Broadway

Check up and follow our new retail project for 364 Broadway in Cambridge, MA. Check out this vintage photo of the neighborhood!

Old Hubley's Photo

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

barismo gets Cantabridgian

We at barismo are working on a project to move into the left part of the building at 364 Broadway in Cambridge. It's not a small project by any means. The coffee program alone is far and above what the bar has been set at and we also have a lot to prove when it comes to doing a food program there as well. the expectations are extremely high and there is a tremendous amount of work right in front of us.

The story of barismo started a long time ago as a coffee blog but few people know we actually worked quite hard to move into the neighborhood just down from 364 five some years ago. the intention being that this neighborhood was one that would really get what we do. At that time, we had less aspirations in roasting and visions of doing something different than what unfolded at barismo's Arlington location.

After months of discussion, we just recently secured a lease for the space and a build out is being done as I write this. Let me step back a bit though, as during the process leading up to this a daughter came our way and our company shook up internally in a way that changed who we are allowing us to really take this project on. We parted ways on good terms with some people who really defined our early days thankful they had been there and added some really good backers who see and support our vision. In a way, we landed a bit flat footed in hitting the next stage of reaching into the neighborhood to share our ideas and getting into the politics of daily life in Cambridge City Hall.

We are now reaching out to the Cambridge neighborhood for support of this project. It's a long process and involves getting the word out person to person. We are now looking for signatures, letters, and people to speak on our behalf to show just how much support there is for what we want to do in that neighborhood. Since we've been trying to get in that block for years, we knew this was a neighborhood that had the right group of people for what we do and we are finding overwhelming support for what is going to be a huge project. We still need more supporters to get us through so please take some time to read more about our plans for the space by visiting

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Event this coming Saturday June 18th @ Simon's

We will have v60 hand pours of our newly arrived Costa Rican Coffees this weekend from 10-5 Saturday the 18th. It will be the first chance to try these coffees and see fresh crop offerings.

We have a lot from Rio Jorco that cupped amazingly this year. We also have a few new lots from Don Mayo, a follow up to last years Don Mayo Mt. Canet offerings that were so popular.

Save the date, bring a friend and talk to our green buyer about our buying practices and his travels to Costa Rica to visit the farms and mills we sourced these coffees from.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Updates for May 1st

Some new things are happening that have kept us extremely busy in shop. It kept us from participating in the NERBC this year or having time to visit the USBC among a long list of other things.

The first being that Hong gave birth to our first child, a daughter named Sofi on April 7. Since then, we have been blessed with this wonderful distraction that keeps us grounded and quietly focused. I promise never to tie her allowance to whether she will drink coffee with no milk (Ridiculously enough, I've heard stories an industry old timer nearby did this with his kids).

While short on time and working hard to keep things moving, our priorities have obviously been focused away from what is happening in the industry at large. With that being said, we somehow found the time and resources to sign a new space. We will be opening a new coffee bar concept in the following months. It is a barismo sponsored project but is really a complete and separate business from what barismo does and will carry a new name. A preview of what is to come will arrive in two months: A manifesto reflecting the mission statement, the rules for submitting coffees for the guest program, and a public review process that provides a feedback loop. We are planning on an event schedule of rotating speakers and unique industry topics as well. As to the gear on bar, it will be a new template for the modern coffee bar, able to do quality and volume without compromising. On the whole, we feel it will be one of the most thoroughly developed and well thought out coffee bars in the nation from day one. We intend to put the Boston metro/greater Cambridge coffee scenes on their respective heels.

A lot of this reflects what barismo was at it's core, in the beginning, or one could say the vision the founders of the company had (still have?). Holding a higher bar of accountability for the products we serve and communicating the reasons behind that will be a key aspect of this new project. I expect to ruffle a few feathers with the approach we will be taking but it's inevitable. We've been quietly working towards this over the last six months and the excitement about the space is building. The work is just beginning and we have a lot more still to do. We are about to turn 3 this year, in September, and have a strong appreciation for the hurdles we have overcome to get where we are.

In shop, we are quickly running out of several coffees. The despair of empty space in our storage can only be buffered by the serious amounts of coffees scheduled to arrive shortly. We have some fresh new Colombias on the shelf and a slate of El Salvadors arriving soon. To follow that, we have Costa Ricas coming in and then finally some new lots from Guatemala. A busy slate of new coffees this summer!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Event this coming Saturday April 2

Our green buyer, Silas is back and will be in this Saturday to field questions and inquiries about our upcoming offering list. Curious about the changes at El Bosque and want to get an update, this is the chance. Want to get more information on our buying practices, this is the chance to ask those questions.

Silas just returned from Central America and has a lot to share. We will have a coffee or two on bar from his trip to Colombia on the bar that day as well!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Event: This Saturday pour over bar in Lexington

Our trainer will be at Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington this Saturday (05MAR) to present several coffees on v60. So you probably heard all the hubub about per cup in the NY Times, this is another chance to see what the fuss is about at another local up and coming shop.

v60- Spent grinds
Chris will be there most of the day offering up several coffees of our coffees that are ideal for hand pour, so come out and support progressive american coffee at it's finest!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Notes for Mar 1st

First off, it has been a rough past few weeks for Simon Yu (owner of Simon's) and his family. Simon had been quite ill for the past few weeks and was hospitalized. It looks like Simon is making a solid recovery and gets to go home today. While we may not see him back at the shop any time soon, it is good to finally hear positive news about him. While he was out, the turnout and support of customers at Simon's has been exceptional. it reminds me why I have such a soft spot for that place and the regulars who frequent it (having worked there myself in the past). The place is packed and people are always checking in to see what the status is with Simon. The staff have done a great job picking up the slack so Simon can take his time to recover but we will definitely have to have some kind of welcome back party when Simon is ready to make a return.

In shop has been really quite busy as Silas romps around Central America visiting farms we are buying from and looking for new connections. The trip has been quite successful so far and it looks like 2011 will be a year where we really expand our offering list within the countries we are working with. he will return with tons of travel logs and photos at the end of next month.

We have a couple of new faces in shop helping pick up the slack and get some projects going we have been talking about for a long time. More to come on those projects soon, but keep an eye out for changes. We reorganized our roast schedule and have been doing a lot of things to get ready for a busy year. This includes auditing accounts, evaluating our shipping methods, and in some cases cutting ties where it just wasn't working. We love the account representation we have right now and are happy to see the growth they have undergone and progress made. It is a bit overwhelming to sit back and think about the support we get locally and the following we enjoy at places serving our coffees. We are lucky to have some awesomely loyal customers. I often find myself taken aback by how willing they are to go to bat to tell others about what we do.