company - education - coffee

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.