As many of you know, we recently held a pretty unique event here at the Blanchard's Coffee Co. Roast Lab. We teamed up with Grid Magazine, 804&1/2, Relay Foods and Thrive Coffee to hold a large coffee cupping for the purpose of using crowd sourcing to choose the next direct trade coffee and farm we would feature at Blanchard's. Additionally, that coffee will be featured in Grid Magazine's Makers series and we'll donate a portion of proceeds from sales to a local charity.
The event was a complete success. Nearly fifty coffee fans piled into the Blanchard's Coffee Co. Roast Lab and, after introductions, we dimmed the lights and talked, via Skype, with Raul Valdez of the San Rafael Urias Estate in the Antigua region of Guatemala. Raul's coffee was ultimately the favorite of the crowd compared to the excellent Costa Rican and Honduran coffees also on the list.
We had a blast and it was awesome to see so many folks coming together to cup coffee, especially sustainable coffee with direct ties and greater financial benefit to the farmers who grow it. We hope you'll enjoy some photos from the evening!
What, exactly, is coffee cupping you ask? Well, first of all, it is something that needs to happen a lot more in Richmond (which is why we're getting started!).
Without getting too verbose and digressing into a technical explanation of the process--coffee cupping is the method by which coffee professionals analyze flavor and aroma characteristics of coffee.
There are a vast array of brewing techniques out there, many of which we've talked about here, but the simplest, purest expression of coffee extraction is cupping.
In the simplest terms possible, the coffee is allowed to steep in a cup of hot water. The spent coffee grinds float to the top to form a crust which is broken with a spoon releasing the coffee's aroma to be observed. After the aroma is noted, the spoon is used to capture the extracted coffee which is slurped over the palate and the spectrum of flavor and texture characteristics are observed and noted.
It is an excellent, informative and highly ritualistic process that really focuses participants on the inherent characteristics of the featured coffee. We're working with Grid Magazine and designers Ali Croft and Tim Skirven to choose and promote a new, unique, direct trade coffee and we think the best way to pick something that our fans and customers will love is to, well, let them (you) pick it!
We're roasting a ton of new coffees in test batches to narrow down the field and then we'd like to invite you to a cupping event to rate the best of those selections and whatever you choose will be our next featured farm direct coffee!The cupping event will take place Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at the Blanchard's Coffee Co. Roast Lab.
Our space is limited and preparation is crucial to a great cupping event so we'll ask that you sign up for a spot
so we'll be ready for you. We look forward to seeing you and sharing a great coffee experience!
How many of the things that you eat and drink can you trace back to its very beginning? Are you a part of the "eat local" movement? Are you proud of fact that you met the guy who grows your kale, the gal who gathers your eggs, the folks who brew your beer? How about that cup of coffee (or three) that you drink every single morning?
We think it is a big deal to know where your coffee comes from and what it takes to get it to your cup in the morning; that is why we are beginning a series of coffee education events like the one we had last night in partnership with SlowFoodRVa and Alchemy Coffee.
Take a look at some of the pictures from the event!
We started the evening off with a tasting of the first recorded coffee blend, Mocha Java - a blend of Indonesian and East African beans - as Eric Spivek of Alchemy Coffee walked us through the historical origins of coffee and how it came to be a beverage enjoyed worldwide.
Stephen Robertson of Blanchard's Coffee Co. walked us through farming, harvest, processing and procurement practices and how that all relates to the Slow Food Movement and the world economy.
We then took the class down to the Roast Lab where Stephen demonstrated coffee roasting and Eric talked about brewing techniques. With Press Pots, Chemex, Clever Drippers and Melitta Drippers, we tasted Ethiopian Harrar, Papua New Guinea, Guatemalan Huehuetenango and Sumatra Mandheling.
There were tons of questions, answers, laughs and everyone went home with a bag of freshly roasted Dark Roast Ethiopian Harrar; and hopefully a better understanding of how they get that cup of coffee that starts their day.
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to get information on our next Coffee Ed. event!
There are so many coffee lovers out there who are drinking several cups of pricey specialty coffee a day and have absolutely no idea what it takes to get that coffee from where it was grown to their cup.
I'll be the first to admit, I spent the first several years of my career in coffee not knowing that information, and when I finally learned, it was an eye opening experience that totally changed my outlook on this product that is so deeply intwined in so many of our lives.
Please join us Tuesday, January 15th at 6:30pm in the Blanchard's Coffee Co. Roast Lab
as we team up with Slow Food RVA
and Alchemy Coffee
to present Coffee: Farm to Cup; an exploration of what it takes to get our morning coffee, who is affected and how to make the best of the whole process for everyone involved.
We'll also have roasting and brewing demonstrations with some samples for you to take home as well as any of our coffees available for purchase if you're looking for something specific.
Please RSVP here
as space is limited and we need an accurate head count to make sure the event is best for everyone who attends. We hope to see you there!
Raise your hand if you follow Blanchard's Coffee Co. on Twitter and Facebook.
If you didn't raise your hand you should get on the bandwagon. As much as we try to blog about every cool thing that comes down the pipes, some stuff slips through the cracks--but we rarely miss a beat on social media.
Perfect example: If you were following our Twitter and Facebook feeds Friday evening you probably saw something about a Saturday morning espresso tasting idea. That idea, by the time it was confirmed around 10:00pm Friday night, became known as PopUpEspresso, and if you didn't come out, you missed something pretty special.
For those of you that missed it--here's the story:
I put out a question on Facebook and Twitter around 8:30pm Friday night asking if there was any interest in an espresso tasting Saturday morning--I didn't have anything to do and I needed to be out of my house for a few hours, so I was looking for something interesting to get into.
Enough people expressed interest so I decided to run with it, and at 10:00pm, I announced on Twitter and Facebook that I would hold a PopUpEspresso. What is that you ask? Think of it like a surprise espresso bar. There is no set schedule, no set format--I announced the times and the rules Friday night for the next morning.
This time around, the rules were simple: Come, taste espresso and/or macchiatto, rate it, comment on it, stick around, socialize, ask questions and learn about coffee--if you want to purchase coffee beans, fine, otherwise, leave your money at home. The rules may be completely different next time (and there will be a next time) but they will always be posted ahead of time so you'll know.
This Saturday's event was a great success. We had a bunch of visitors, lots of new faces, and some great feedback on the several espressos we were testing out. Old friends and new friends stuck around, socialized, got highly caffeinated and learned tons of new stuff about coffee and what goes on at Blanchard's on a daily basis.
It is pretty exciting to see how energized an idea can become, even after only a short period of time, so we're already planning the next one! If you want to participate then keep your eyes open for our posts on Facebook and Twitter--it'll be here before you know it!