June 10, 2013
I had the opportunity to get over to Greenwood’s Neptune Coffee () this morning with Mark Barany () for coffee and conversations and geshas. The owners at Neptune were kind enough to pump out brews of a couple different Geshas for us to try from the MICE WBC event (roasted by the folks at Ninety Plus).
I think there are loads of opinions out there about Gesha coffees—some good, some bad, some misguided—but I will say this—the coffees were beautiful and bright, and had some extremely unique characteristics. Probably one of the most pronounced tasting notes I’ve ever experienced in a coffee came from the Perci (Panama)—tasted like cherry cola and strawberries.
It was a great experience, and a huge thank you to Balthazar and Christine from Neptune for dishing it out, to Mark Barany for the ride, and Mike Cannon () for bringing it in from .
Lots is happening at Neptune, and I’m hoping to get a feature out soon.
June 8, 2013
I’ve been in Seattle for about two weeks now and have had the chance to check out quite a bit of the city. The coffee scene is good, but the city itself is what’s hard to beat. It seems like everywhere you go you’re surrounded by water, lush vegetation and foliage, mountains in the distance—but you’re still in the city. It’s a fantastic dynamic and one that will be hard to leave.
I’ve been to a few shops so far—the brand new Slate Coffee brick-and-mortar in Ballard, the revamped Neptune Coffee (now serving Kuma Coffee and Velton’s), Milstead & Co. (!), and Stumptown on Pike. There’s still so much more to do and see, and I’m really excited about visits to La Marzocco, Slayer, and Synesso. Finding myself feeling extremely lucky to be out here for the summer!
June 26, 2012
I’m starting to see more and more space between each filter doodle—I used to try to do a filter every day to chronicle what I learned or brewed that day. Thankfully, it’s not because I’m losing steam—my time is split between this project, maintaining a balanced lifestyle, and being involved in some neat collaborations and freelance drawing projects. I try not to write a ton on here—it’s not my favorite thing to do, and I don’t feel like I have a ton to add that’s worth talking about—but I feel a need to thank the coffee community for being such a support, and for making this year such a special one for me already. I anticipate some really cool things in the future, and I appreciate each and every time I get to peel back the “internet curtain” and actually meet folks in the industry. So, thanks.
It’s always exciting to receive a new coffee—but its even more exciting to receive a new coffee from a roaster who’s raving about said coffee. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a bag of Panama Carmen from Kuma. Mark Barany—head roaster at Kuma—sent it over to me, knowing that the Panama Elida Estate crop from last year was one of my first loves.
In a conversation last week, Mark described the Panama Carmen as being full of “dried bing cherries, caramel, perfumed lime blossom, and green grapes.” It’s an extremely aromatic coffee—in fact, during brewing, I think it smells like berries and creme.
Be on the lookout for its launch in the near future—it’s a nice coffee to add to your queue. Also, if you’re a Kuma fan, check out the Chemex t-shirts we teamed up on—there aren’t many left!
June 4, 2012
Finished off one of my favorite coffees of the year this morning via Pourover.
The Kochere from Kuma is one of the more unique Yirgacheffes I’ve had, in that it didn’t have any blueberry notes.
Highly recommended in a press.
May 25, 2012
Last weekend, I traveled out to the Pacific Northwest to work on a project with Clive Coffee in Portland. I’d never been to Portland, but I’ve obviously heard tons about it thanks to social media, conversations with friends, and yes, through Portlandia.*
Last month especially, Portland was in the spotlight thanks to SCAA. As I sat back and painfully watched the event unfold via twitter from Ohio, I was able to gather some pretty good coffee suggestions that got me excited to visit.
It was an extremely short trip that put me in Portland for a total of 40 hours, but while I was there, I got to visit some great spots I’d wanted to get to for some time.
Clive Coffee Showroom
I met Mark Hellweg a few months back at Coffee Con in Chicago. We had chatted before the event about collaborating on a project, so it was nice to reconnect in Portland and actually see the project come to fruition.
I had some time on Friday to browse the showroom with Jenn, a worker at Clive. Jenn is talented on a letterpress and has found a niche at Clive working in the office and designing labels, bags, advertisements, etc. She talked about about her love of coffee and how working at Clive has really taught her a lot about espresso.
The Showroom itself is beautiful, and is very much set up like an Apple store in that you can browse, look, and use the equipment before you purchase. The right wall is lined with shiny home espresso machines that any coffee lover would like to have, and other displays show porcelain pourovers, espresso tampers, kettles, and other equipment.
Water Ave. Coffee
After a short visit to the showroom, Mark and I went next door to Water Ave. to grab a sandwich. The actual shop portion of Water Ave. is a bit of an experiment and an extension of their Coffee Education classroom and roasting facility.
While we were there, we took part in a cupping with some new coffees from some of the farms that head roaster Brandon Smyth visited. It was a great experience, and I learned that I am subpar at cupping. Everyone else seemed to have a very audible and pronounced technique that left me in the dust and coughing a lot. Regardless, it was fun to compare coffees with the roaster, and to get different perspectives from the others involved.
I left Mark back at Clive and walked up a few blocks to find Coava, one of my must-sees while in Portland. I had a nice chat with the barista while she made me some Reinelio Lopez from Huila, Columbia in a Kone. The shop itself has a really cool, workshop feel, partly because it shares its space with Bamboo Revolution, a manufacturer whose design and products utilize bamboo.
Besides the beautiful brew bar area, and their exclusive use of the Able Kone for drip brew, one thing that sets Coava apart is their open space which features a an exposed roaster, as well as old bench tools used for tables. A beautiful space with beautiful coffee. One of the best I’ve been to.
I met up with Keith Gehrke of Able Brewing and we headed over to Heart Roasters for a chat and some coffee. I ended up not taking any pictures, but really enjoyed my time here as Keith talked through his philosophy on brewing, why he designed the Kone, and what’s next for Able Brewing. Keith has a real passion for the products he makes, and I was blown away while he explained the many steps that a Kone goes through before it ends up in your Chemex. I’m really excited about his latest project, the Kone Brewing System, which is currently featured on Kickstarter and is accompanied by a fantastic video.
We finished our drinks and headed across town to Barista, where Tyler Stevens prepared our drinks. Coincidentally, Barista was featuring Kuma Coffee in their espresso while I was there. I’m a big fan of Kuma, so it was nice to have their coffee pulled by such a talented barista.
Tyler shared his love for peanut butter pretzels and poured a perfect macchiato. Really enjoyed the shop overall — it has a bar-like atmosphere to it, and the baristas are extremely professional and approachable. I wish I could have visited their other location as well, but time was short.
My final coffee stop in Portland was to Sterling Coffee, a small stand outside of a local Trader Joes. I’d heard great things about them from some baristas, as well as my hosts, Ryan and Liz.
What Sterling lacks in size, it makes up for in personality and appearance. The baristas were dapper in vests and ties, and served up drinks on a one-group Synesso in what felt like a living room from an old estate. We enjoyed a flight of espresso – which was basically a pairing of two espressos. Our visit was short, but I really appreciated the conversation with the guys and was excited to hear about an upcoming roaster partnership they’re taking part in. Should be some good stuff down the road for Sterling.
Portland was as unique and weird as I expected it to be, but I loved it. Everywhere I went, it seemed that people took pride in what they were doing. Thanks to everyone who took the time to talk with me and take me around – it’s much appreciated. Hopefully, I’ll be back out to the Pacific Northwest soon.
*I assumed people in Portland would be annoyed that I watched and enjoyed Portlandia, but was surprised to find that most people I talked to also enjoyed the show.
April 18, 2012
A few months back, I was approached by Mark Barany of Kuma Coffee, an up and coming roaster out of the heart of Seattle, to doodle a picture for his next line of mugs. Since then, Kuma has become my favorite roaster and Mark has become a friend of mine as we’ve worked together and even coffee crawled together out in Seattle. I really appreciate the care he puts into his work.
The doodle was a lot of fun, and it gave me a chance to research some Seattle spots and really start to understand how the coffee scene in Seattle works. The end result was an awesome diner mug exclusively carried online on Kuma’s website.
The doodle itself features some familiar Seattle sites, as well as a few local coffee spots.
From left to right:
1. Empire Espresso
2. The Fremont Troll
3. Space Needle
4. Probat Roaster: how Kuma makes the magic happen
5. Kuma on Stoneway
6. Cafe Bambino
The mugs themselves are really great – a solid, thick-walled ceramic diner mug with a nice shape and good feel.
I know Mark has already sold quite a few, and they’re limited edition, so be sure to snag one before they’re all gone. Might as well grab some coffee while you’re at it – you won’t regret it! Mark does an incredible job with each coffee he puts out.
Get your mug and coffee here: Kuma Coffee
March 21, 2012
About a week ago, Amber surprised me for my birthday by booking a trip for us to fly out to Seattle for the weekend. She set it up so that while we were there, Mark Barany, head roaster at Kuma Coffee would pick me up to Saturday morning hitting up great coffee joints all over Seattle.
It was my first time doing a “coffee crawl,” and it was a fantastic experience. I got to visit some beautiful shops, taste expertly prepared Espresso, and learn some great stuff from Mark all the while. I also learned about soda water, and that you can get sick if you drink too much coffee – something I never wanted to admit. Here are some highlights:
Stop 1: We started the day off at Milstead & Co., a beautifully designed shop in Fremont. Andrew was working the bar, and served us a shot of Coava’s Benjamin Miranda Honduras that he’d been tweaking on his machine. I was a bit confused when I was handed a glass of soda water and a spoon, and I felt naive asking what to do with it. Turns out you use it to cleanse your palate between sips, so you can get the full taste with each drink. Good to know.
The bar at Milstead & Co. is the prettiest I’ve come across. Different types and shades of wood adorn the sides and front, and the entire shop has a clean, modern, yet rustic feel to it. A great first stop – I’m not sure a visit to Seattle would be complete without a stop at Milstead – at least for a coffee or tea lover.
Stop 2: Kuma on Stoneway is a small shop tucked away in a seemingly quiet neighborhood. It was a bit surreal approaching the shop. I had done some research on it while I was doing the Kuma mug doodle, so it was neat to actually visit the shop. Mark spent time talking to the barista, making suggestions, and eventually, we ended up with the smoothest, fruitiest shot of espresso I’ve ever had. Quite nice. A bit cozy and crowded, but homey.
Stop 3: Trabant is a two-story shop located in the U Disctrict. Trabant has a lot of stainless steel and piping, if I remember right, and it makes for a great grunge effect. We had good conversation at the bar with Lorrie, and I had my first taste of 49th Parallel – a great macchiato using their Epic. Ask Mark about the special souvenirs they hand out there.
Stop 4: I loved the look and feel of the Victrola shop and roastery, but was completely underwhelmed with the espresso I was served. A really beautiful shop with a lot of natural light pouring in through the front. It’s nice to be able to sip your coffee and gaze in at the Roasting Room near the back. I’d like to return for a second experience to let them redeem the espresso I tried. Really a pretty shop and a nice roasting area.
Stop 5: I don’t think my coffee crawl in Seattle would have been anywhere near complete without a visit to the Stumptown Roastery. In all honesty, this was the most complete, enjoyable coffee stop. The design throughout the entire shop is simple, full of wood, and creates a comfortable atmosphere without being overly cozy. I ordered a chemex and walked around with Mark. One of the cool things about this location is the openness of the roastery.
After we grabbed our drinks, we walked downstairs to see where all the roasting magic happened. It was a great atmosphere to drink coffee in, and hearing Mark talk about all the origins and some of the farmers he recognized on the burlap sacks Stumptown had in storage really brought the entire experience full circle.
Final Stop: On the way to our last stop, we both hit a wall. At this point, I couldn’t even think of drinking more coffee, which is unfortunate, because our final stop was to Empire Espresso. The gang at Empire served me a waffle rather than espresso and had to painfully listen to me try to describe our morning – I wasn’t very coherent and had a hard time remembering. Such great people work at Empire, and I think they have massive potential. the individual care and connection they have with their customers is almost unheard of.
I want to thank Mark for taking the time to take me around Seattle. I learned a ton, and got to experience first hand some of the coffee culture I’ve been trying to connect with through my doodles. Can’t wait to go back.
A Handsome wannabe?
January 11, 2012
I’m very excited to be partnering with Kuma Coffee on their next line of mugs, t-shirts, and hoodies. Kuma is roasting some incredible coffees – rumor has it that the Kenya Gichatha-ini Mark just put out is the best coffee in Seattle right now. Excited that they’ve chosen to use a custom doodle from me for their products.
This picture includes: Seattle Space Needle, Kuma Coffee on Stoneway, Empire Espresso, Cafe Bambino, Mark’s Probat roaster, the Fremont Troll, Panama Elida Burlap, and a custom “engraved” bottomless portafilter.
A lot of fun for me to do, and I think the mugs are going to look great – especially holding some freshly made and freshly roasted Kuma.
A big thanks to Mark Barany over at Kuma.
January 9, 2012
This morning I busted out my bag of Kuma’s Panama Elida Estate after a weekend lull. Fantastic choice. Aeropress’d at 17g:212g, water at 198F. Can’t wait to get my hands on Kuma’s two new Kenyas.
Had a great chat with Mark from Kuma last night – the guy works so hard and is doing some fantastic things out in Seattle. Check it out: Kuma Coffee