company - education - coffee

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Call my name, El Bosque de Parramos

On the Ground: barismo's Jaime VanSchyndel reports from El Bosque in Guatemala for the 2014 crop. This is barismo's fifth year working with El Bosque de Parramos, and we are excited to share developments of this 100% exclusive Direct Trade partnership. Stay tuned for more info as we build up to the arrival of this years various lots.

El Bosque de Parramos
On my most recent trip to Guatemala, I had lunch and toured El Bosque with owners Miriam and son Avelino.  We chatted at length about how much the farm had changed from that 'forest of coffee' we were introduced to years ago.  They asked many questions about how the coffee was received by customers and displayed intense curiosity in our relationships with cafes and customers.  The discussion then turned towards how much Bosque was beginning to look like an estate these days with it's clean rows and well kept trees.  Given the multiple lots coming out of the farm this year, we talked about how we would brand these for them.  They insisted barismo begin to identify the farm more as 'de Parramos' to make it distinct among other farms in Guatemala that carry a similar name.  Having secured their entire harvest the last 4 years, they wanted to know what coffees/crops were my personal favorite.  I let them know the Yellow Bourbon lot we did in 2012 was a personal favorite and really spoke to me about the potential of their coffees.  In turn, they committed on the spot to keeping a nursery of Yellow and would slowly replace the older red Bourbon trees with the seedlings in this 'Amarillo' nursery. Their sincerity in the discussions left me feeling real pressure to represent them well this year.  While it's clear Miriam is a humble person who cringes at the attention of having her name on a bag of coffee, she was willing to consider making a trip to Somerville/Cambridge/Arlington to see what we do and meet the people at the cafes that have served their coffee.
- Jaime | Stay tuned for more updates here on the blog and on twitter @barismo and @jaime_vans

Canonical, Coffee Education and Tech Tips: Practical tips and advice to give you the tools to brew better coffee. Brought to you by Pete Cannon, who handles barismo's in house training, education, and technical services.

Since opening dwelltime (our Cambridge cafe) in 2011, water has become a significant focus as we began to encounter differences between how our coffees tasted at the roastery versus the cafe. When brewing, you are using water as a solvent to wash away solubles from ground coffee. How much or how little “stuff” is already in your water has a major effect on how well you can extract desirable compounds from your coffee.

Water that is good for brewing coffee falls into a much narrower range than what is considered safe to drink. Municipal water authorities are focused on delivering safe drinking water, unfortunately coffee brewing is not on their priority list. Here are the 4 basic elements to look for in water brewing:
  • Odorless. Off-smells in water are the most noticeable quality issues. This can be as simple as chlorine from treatment, or they can come from plumbing issues. Fortunately, this is usually very easy to fix (more on this later).
  • Some, but not a lot, of minerals. We have two measurements for this: Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) and Total Hardness. TDS is a basic snapshot of how much “stuff” is in your water, but it doesn’t tell you what that “stuff” is. The range we are looking for is generally between 75 - 150 TDS. Total Hardness measures just calcium & magnesium (the minerals that are best known for causing scale buildup). Some of this is good, but we don’t want too much (above 5 grains per gallon total hardness).
  • Near-neutral pH & moderate alkalinity. Ideally, your pH is close to 7.0. Alkalinity is best understood as how resistant a solution is to change its pH. If your alkalinity is too high, coffees taste flat and lack in acidity. Our alkalinity target is around 40 mg/L.
  • Very few "other contaminants". There are a handful of other contaminants that can cause bad things to happen; in our area, the biggest issue will be chlorides. Chlorides are different from chlorine — in the northeast, our most common source of this in water is road salt, and creates some unique problems. Having a lot of chlorides can make water a much more aggressive solvent, to the point where it will begin to dissolve metals and other nasty things.
The good news for most people in the Boston area is that water here is relatively good for coffee brewing. There will be some big exceptions for folks in Cambridge. Next week we'll follow up with our test results & special considerations.- Pete Cannon | barismo's training, education and technical services. Follow his updates here on the barismo blog.

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Saturday, March 1, 2014 from 9:30am-2pm
barismo at the Somerville Winter Farmers Market
Grab a freshly roasted retail bag of barismo coffee from our well stocked weekly selection, as well as a fresh, made-to-order pourover or a delicious cup of cold brew iced coffee. Catch us early cause it gets busy fast! We are there every week through the entire market. More info about the market on their facebook page or on twitter @SomWinterMarket

Sunday, March 2, 2014 from 7pm-10pm
It Takes Two, take two, at Brooklyn Boulders Somerville
Brooklyn Boulders Somverville has rescheduled their "It Takes Two" event and we will be there serving up some samples of cold brew introducing ourselves to new neighbors. If you have not been to this excellent climbing gym in the heart of Somerville and for more info on the event check them out online and on twitter @BKBSomerville