The thing about artisanal things

The coffee roasting I do is probably best defined as artisanal. That word tends to conjure the image in most people’s minds of a skilled craftsperson working tirelessly to produce masterpiece after masterpiece in his or her chosen form, and to a great degree, that image is correct.

Most of the time.

The fact is, however, that even for the most skilled craftsperson, things sometimes go wrong. And so it is with coffee.

This summer I’ve been having quality problems with some of my coffee, especially my Tanzanian Peaberry Mt. Meru Estate. Something has just been off with it. Between two batches roasted one right after the other to the same time and temperature, one will under roast and one will over roast. One will crack quickly and heavily where another will never crack. This problem has generated the first complaints I have ever had about the quality of my coffee, to the point that I feel I need to discuss it here.

I will be the first person to admit there is a problem. The fact is I haven’t quite solved it yet. Coffee roasting is a complex process at any level, but in my little roastery I have to deal with a variety of variables that makes the problem more complex than most. My roastery is not climate controlled, so I have little control over temperature and humidity. Both of these factors do things to the beans, and in the case of the Tanzanian, I suspect the wild swings in humidity we’ve had this summer are the culprit.

On the upside of this problem, it has forced me to revisit my roasting process in a very direct way. I’ve even added new, more precise equipment to help me sort out certain specific factors that contribute to the quality of a roast. Yet, even with those factors in place, the problem persists, and I continue to work on it.

So, with all that said, I want to pass on to you, dear coffee drinker, this reality: if it’s bad, don’t drink it, even if it’s artisanal and even if you paid a lot of money for it. If it’s bad and I roasted it, let me know. I will replace every ounce of coffee I’ve roasted for you until it meets your satisfaction.

And, that last bit is why artisanal coffee–or food or clothing or whatever–is superior. We artisans care about what we produce and want to make it right. I hope that fact alone continues to earn your business.

DLH

Exciting! New! Coffee!

It’s exciting to me anyway. I am in the process of adding five new coffees to my lineup for 2013:

  • Monsooned Indian Malabar
  • Caracolillo Coffee Mill Mocha-Java
  • a Paupa-New Guinean
  • a Fair Trade Organic High Grown Peruvian
  • Zimbabwe AA- Salimba Estate

The Malabar, P-NG and Zimbabwean coffees will be all be City Plus roasts more than likely while the Mocha-Java will be a City Plus or Vienna roast and the Peruvian will be a Vienna or an Espresso roast.

I will let you know once they are available!

DLH

Introducing Classic Italian Espresso Blend

Based on the recipe from Sweet Maria’s, Classic Italian Espresso Blend is a full bodied, full flavored coffee with just a hint of acidity and bitterness that one would expect from an espresso blend. It is great as a drip brewed or pressed coffee, but it’s even better made in a moka pot or espresso machine. This blend will be available starting 7 July at the Piqua Farmer’s Market, and you can also pick some up at the Covington Farmer’s Market (Facebook) or the Downtown Troy Farmer’s Market.

DLH

Breaking things in

Well, all of the parts of the new roaster arrived over the weekend, and right now, I am engaged in the process of breaking my roaster in with the hope of doing my first test roasts tonight. If all goes well–and I expect it will–I should be back to roasting on a normal schedule tomorrow.

In the mean time, I should also pass along the fact that I will be selling coffee at the Downtown Troy Farmer’s Market at least for the month of June. I will decide toward the end of June whether to do the rest of the season based on sales during the four weeks I know I will be there.

Also, as promised, I will be adding some new coffees to my lineup, specifically Brazilian, Guatemalan Villa Herminia Estate, Mexican Turqueza Estate, and Mexican Chiapas Free Trade Organic. In the near future, I will also add a classic espresso blend, a house espresso blend, and a dark roast blend. If all goes well–again depending on sales–I plan to add more varieties toward the end of the year.

Finally, and unfortunately, the run-up in commodity prices has hit the coffee market pretty hard over the past year, causing some single origin coffees to go up as much as 50 percent in price since last year at this time. Because I price my coffees based on my wholesale cost, I have no choice but to increase my prices in order to cover the cost of buying green beans. Most of the increases will be between 1o and 20 percent ($1 or $2 per pound).

Stay tuned for further developments.

DLH

The last of the Coatepec and a nearly perfect dark roast

Today was something of a sad day as I roasted the last of my stock of Genuine Mexican Coatepec (it is no longer available), but on the bright side, I nailed the dark roast I was trying to achieve with it. The finished product has definite hints of chocolate, caramel, and  (I know this will seem strange to some) freshly tilled earth. It’s beautiful, and I’ll miss having it.

On the bright side, I will be replacing the Coatepec with a similar coffee (Mexican Altura). Unfortunately, it’s a lot more expensive than the Coatepec I’ve been roasting, but it will be there for southern Mexican coffee fans.

Speaking of new coffees, I will be adding two new varieties to the mix soon as well: Mexican Chiapas FTO and Mexican Turqueza Estate (sense a theme here?). We’re also experimenting with new blends to add to our current very popular House blend.

Stay tuned, there’s always more coming.

DLH