Thursday, December 6, 2007

New Coffee Club and Gift Packages Launched!

Good news for the holidays: We’re launching our new coffee clubs and gift packages today! I’m glad to be getting a coffee club up and running, as our customers have been requesting it as a holiday gift idea for a few months now. The Blue Mountain Club will actually reserve our customers Jamaican coffee, which we will hold when we start running low on stock. The Organic/Fair Trade Coffee Club will be a two pound a month club, Joe’s choice, of our favorite organic and Fair Trade coffees.

The gift packages range in price and style; from 4 pounds of organic coffees and a peaberry sampler package, up to a premium gift package that includes several of our high end coffees and premium Bodum coffee grinders. There are also some starter and accessory packages that come with small grinders, storage jars and French presses. Most of the packages come in a nice wicker tray, with a personalized card. If not, they are easily added (in fact you can add a gift basket or card to ANY order you place on the website now!).

Please take a look at the new items (click here) and let me know what you think!


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Joe is Back!

Blasting through the airport I can’t resist squeezing my bag of coffee! Don’t be alarmed! It’s early in the morning and I am itching for a French press of a high quality coffee called Colombia Reserva. I have to wait ‘til I get to my destination, but this rich and scrumptious coffee stirs notes of rich caramel and sweet dark chocolate liquor.

Sitting among others, I watch stressed out moms, aloof dads and their quiet, curious youth; hungry and waiting. They watch the cold through airport windows anticipating a destination away from the comfortable corners of their homes.
I move against my travel bag and squeeze a little air out of the one-way valve, which has become the “aroma hole.” The lofty essence of my coffee permeates the immediate vicinity and I start getting looks and quiet smiles. A random eyebrow lifts from the daily post behind rimmed glasses.
Of course the attention is being given to the pleasant aroma of coffee, and not my good looks. I can’t help imagining how maybe in my own world, a random scent changing the cloudiness of a gloomy hour waiting in the crowd, would be brightened by just a few moments of volatile aromatic accolade.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Blog is Back!

Hello fans of Fresh Coffee! I realized last week that neither Joe nor I had made a post to the blog in over a month, so I decided to post an update on what’s been going on here in Vermont. Rest assured we didn’t forget about you, we have just been busy trying to make changes to our website.

I guess the most important (and evident) thing we’ve been working on is the new website, With the help of our web development team, EpikOne, we’ve built a new website, which we feel looks a lot better, and is easier to use for both our clients, and Joe and I. The site launched about 6 weeks ago, and has been going through a testing phase. We think we have worked out all the glitches, and recommend that everyone tries the site!

Some other things we’ve been working on are holiday gift options. We’ve always sold gift packages, but this year at the request of some of our customers, we are in the process of adding some new features. The gift packages will now come in nice, round wicker trays, and a gift card, making them a better looking present. Also, we will allow the addition of the wicker tray and gift card to any order, not just a gift package. We will have electronic gift certificates, and two coffee clubs (Jamaican, and the regular Fresh Coffee Club) available as well. We expect all three of these changes to take place on 12/1/8, and are really excited to launch them.

Last but not least, the biggest change for us is that we are preparing to move to a new roasting facility shortly after the new year. We’ve finally outgrown our basement hideout in Winooski, and we’re moving back to Burlington! Our new facility is about four times as big, and will allow us to warehouse more coffees, take deliveries easier and ship packages for handily. Most importantly to Joe and I: we won’t be in a windowless basement!! I’ll post some pictures of the new spot as soon as we begin to fit it up.

Speaking of the basement, it’s time to go back and pack some orders. Please let us know what you think about the new website, and have a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fair Trade 101

At Fresh Coffee Now we have a serious commitment to Fair Trade practices, and we are slowly moving our website towards offering more and more Fair Trade coffees . As I was describing some of the symbols and terms used on coffee bags in my last blog post, I realized that Fair Trade is so important that it deserves its own page, to help educate our customers so that they can make more informed decisions when purchasing coffee.

What is Fair Trade?

Fair-trade coffee is coffee that is purchased from farmer cooperatives as opposed to large coffee plantations. Farmers are ensured at least $1.26 per pound of coffee – a rate at which a farmer can support a family of five with adequate nutrition, health care, and education. In the current coffee market, because of speculation and flooding of the market by cheap coffee grown on industrial-sized plantations, the price that most farmers receive has fallen below $0.50/lb, which is not enough to cover the cost of production.

Although the outspoken motive of fair-trade is to support individual farmers and communities, also embedded in its philosophy is environmental conservation and sustainable agriculture. Eighty-five percent of fair-trade coffee is organic, in contrast to regular coffee, which uses pesticides and fertilizers, including DDT, that then contaminate local watersheds and can harm the health of workers. Regular coffee is usually grown on large plantations with methods that cause erosion, deforestation, and loss of biodiversity.

What are the goals of Fair Trade?

  • To improve the livelihoods and well-being of producers by improving market access, strengthening producer organizations, paying a fair price and providing continuity in the trading relationship.
  • To promote development opportunities for disadvantaged producers, especially women and indigenous people, and to protect children from exploitation in the production process.
  • To raise awareness among consumers about the negative effects on producers of international trade so that they exercise their purchasing power positively.
  • To set an example of partnership in trade through dialogue, transparency and respect.
  • To campaign for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.
  • To protect human rights by promoting social justice, sound environmental practices and economic security.

How does Fair Trade help farmers?

Fair Trade guarantees producers a fair price for their product (at least $1.26 per pound) that enables farmers to cover the costs of production, reinvest in their farms and meet their families basic needs including health care and education. Fair Trade creates direct links between producers and importers, bypassing various intermediaries who take a share of the profits. Fair Trade is not charity—it is a market-based approach to increasing small farmer self-sufficiency and generating more resources for community development and environmental conservation.

In contrast, conventionally traded coffee is part of the larger “free trade” system, favoring larger producers and multinational corporations, often at the expense of local communities and the environment. Under conventional trade, coffee prices are determined by a volatile international market. The world market price often falls below a farmer’s cost of production and leaves farm families in a struggle for survival. Even when the world market price is relatively high, family farmers get a small fraction of that price, with the lion’s share of profits going to intermediaries.

In summary, Fair Trade coffee is an amazing thing. It allows you the consumer to actually impact the life of someone growing your coffee thousands of miles away. I strongly urge you to spread this information around to friends, family and co workers. Help make a difference in the world, while enjoying coffee of the finest quality!


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Coffee Bag Symbols: What do they mean?

A few weeks ago, I received some nice comments thanking me for the info on Jamaican coffee, and I’ve decided to devote a series of blog posts to other frequently wondered, if not asked, questions regarding coffee, and related subjects.

One question I hear a lot while doing coffee demos in supermarkets is “what do those symbols mean on the coffee bags?” This is an easy one to answer, and might be informative for our readers!

The first and easiest to explain symbol is the “Certified Organic” symbol.

If a coffee has been certified organic, it guarantees that the coffee is grown without chemicals, which poison people and the environment. The land the coffee is grown on, in fact, must be chemical free for at least three years. To gain the right to use this logo, the land and coffee must be inspected by an independent, 3rd party company. The certifying entities have begun to include criteria regarding sustainable farming techniques, making higher and new standards for organic certification.

The next, and in my opinion most important symbol on a coffee bag is “Fair Trade Certified.”

Fair Trade is a trading partnership between coffee purchasers, and producers, which guarantees economic justice for the often impoverished producer by setting a floor price at which coffee is purchased for. The details in this social and economic partnership are complex, and I will devote my entire blog next week to try and explain it. Suffice to say for now that at FCN, we only drink Fair Trade coffee, and are trying to slowly convert our catalog over to Fair Trade as quickly as possible.

The last symbol I will go over today is “Bird Friendly” (also known as “Shade Grown.”)

Simply put, “Bird Friendly” coffee is coffee that comes from farms in Latin America that provide good, forest-like habitat for birds. Rather than being grown on land that has been cleared of all other vegetation, “Bird Friendly” coffees are planted under a canopy of trees. Because of the shaded, forest-like setting created by these canopy trees, coffee produced this way is called shade-grown. Not only are “Bird Friendly” coffees shade-grown, they are also organic.

“Bird Friendly” coffees are the only coffees on the market that are certified as shade-grown and organic by an independent third-party inspector using criteria established by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center of the National Zoo. These criteria are based on years of scientific research.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to chime in. Look for my next post which will be all about Fairly Traded coffee.


Monday, July 30, 2007

The Price of Excellence, Part II

Why is Jamaican coffee so rare and expensive?

Jamaican Coffee is often known to be the “rarest, most expensive” coffee in the world. Both the high price and rarity stem from the low-yield farms that are growing beans in the region. In the mid-fifties with the introduction of the Industry Board, farming for quality, not quantity, became the priority. That being said, the thing that hurts Jamaican coffee consumers the most is Japan.

That’s right, the little island that is the same size as California consumes more Jamaican coffee than everywhere in the world - combined. To be specific, Japan buys 90% of all coffee grown in the Blue Mountain region. The US, in comparison, buys 2% of the coffee, with the remaining 8% taken mainly by the UK and Europe. Why does Japan get so much you might ask? Because they are willing to pay for it! In America prices are now between $35 and $50 a pound for Jamaican coffee; in Japan try $60 to $75 per pound!

Another rumor is that in the early 60’s when Jamaica was almost wiped out by a hurricane (perhaps Hurricane Flora on 10/5/63?), Jamaica sold out the futures on a certain percentage of coffee in return for financial aid from Japan. This is total coffee conspiracy theory and I can’t back it up with facts. I have one friend that owns a farm in the Moy Hall co-op, which is how we source our coffee, and he’s never mentioned the hurricane. Until we get some evidence, it will just be something Joe and I talk about at the office, but it seems a likely story to me.

So, the moral of the story here is this: Jamaican coffee is amazing, but it comes in small quantities. If you like it, you’ve got to be willing to pay for it! The prices are going up steadily as word gets out and demand increases, but the farms yield the same amount of coffee (or less if they are damaged by hurricanes like 2 years ago with Hurricane Rita).

How to try Jamaican coffee: We offer Blue Mountain Mavis Bank coffee as of now, and are working hard to get some from the Moy Hall co-op. Give it a try and tell us what you think. I’d love to hear some feedback (hopefully positive) so I can convince Joe to let me post another blog sometime soon.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Price of Excellence, Part I

Please excuse this interruption of the usually scheduled blog: Joe has been on vacation in Alaska for a couple weeks, and while I am down here roasting beans in his place I figured I could simultaneously hijack his blog and see what happens. Shhhh! Don’t tell him, and he might not notice…

As you can imagine while selling coffee for living, I field all kinds of questions about coffee every day. If they are technical questions about roasting, making espresso or the specific qualities of any particular bean, I immediately refer the person asking to Joe. He knows a lot more about that stuff than I do! I find that when I try and quote him, much of it gets lost in translation. More and more often though, and especially lately, people want to know about Jamaican coffee. Some questions include, but are not limited to, “is it really the best coffee money can buy?”, “why do you run out so often?” and “why is it so damn expensive?” So while I’m here “borrowing” Joe’s blog, I figured I could give a brief history of Jamaican coffee, and at the same time try and answer some of everyone’s questions.

A Brief History of Jamaican Coffee

Coffee was brought to Jamaica way back in 1728, while it was a British colony. The first governor, Sir Lewis Hawes, brought this addictive little bean over to see if it would take on the newly conquered island. Suffice to say that it did! For the next 200 years, coffee grew on the island and wasn’t considered anything special, although they did import quite a bit of it and it was the favorite of the Queen of England (the current Queen, Elizabeth II, only drinks Blue Mountain coffee).

By the early 1900’s Jamaican coffee was becoming recognized as some of the best coffee you could get into your cup. They started producing more and more coffee, and at some point after World War II the sheer volume they were producing was leading to poor quality as not enough attention was being paid to the important details of growing the crops. This led to the English government forming the “Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica” in 1953.

Jamaica would shortly thereafter become independent of the UK, but adopt the Industry Board into its’ fledgling constitution. From there, the current system quickly developed. The government created five co-operatives that every farmer in the region had to sell their beans to: Moy Hall, Wallenford, Mavis Bank, Langley and Silver Hill. The board started grading the beans on their shape, size and texture, creating 4 categories for the coffees: #1, #2, #3 and triage, from highest to lowest quality. After the farmers sold the beans to the co-ops, the co-ops would then process them, barrel them and sell them.

Why “Blue Mountain?”

The coffee is called “Jamaican Blue Mountain” because it is grown in the Blue Mountain Region of Jamaica. The Blue Mountain range gets its name from its’ low lying cloud cover, which forms a mist that often makes the trees on the mountain look green. Coffee grown in the region is required by law to be grown between 2000 and 5500 feet above sea level. The mountains reach 7500 feet in height, but the area between 5501 and 7500 feet is recognized as “preserved forest” by government law. The growing conditions in the Blue Mountain range are considered ideal by coffee growers world wide. Between the rich soil, heavy rainfall and easy drainage off the sides of the mountains, this coffee is basically perfect.

Why it is so rare, and expensive?
Click here for Part II...


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tampering with the Tamper

I heart Tamping.

Tamping is the process of securing the coffee in the portafilter basket to ensure a flat surface for water to flow evenly through the coffee grounds. Water will find the easiest path through the coffee. Knocking the side of the portafilter to mid-tamp loosens the grounds in the filter basket. By knocking it, you'll have quality tamp without disturbing the "puck" when jossling it around.

The owner of a café in Denver I used to work for showed me this tamping method. I learned to tamp in four directions: north, west, east, south, with a center push to smooth the top surface. This is the best method because it pushes the coffee into the sides and bottom creating a solidly packed puck.

The LaMarzocco Swift grinder uses volumetric dosing and tamping to provide consistent and reliable service through shift changes and thousands of pounds of coffee. The screw-like tamper uses only 8 lbs of pressure opposed to the 30lbs recommended by hand. The Swift tamps along with the grinding so that it tamps all the way through with even 8lbs. The result is layers of perfectly tamped coffee forming the puck.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Art of Espresso

To attain the best espresso shot - achieving that sweet, viscous, balanced espresso - is only possible with CLEAN equipment, proper grind, tamping (this is a whole chapter) and water temperature. Experience will also make you more comfortable with the machine. When I first tried using the machine, I remember how loud and daunting it was. Once you get used to it, it gets easier, although mastering the details can take years.

Extraction mostly depends on water pressure, water temperature grind, and tamp. Ideally, it should take 18-28 seconds to pour 1.5-2oz. Its appearance should be a cinnamon brown and uniform in color. If it's bubbly and has dark spots, this indicates that the water is too hot. If it only shoots .5oz the grind is too fine. If it could fill a 12oz cup, the grind is too coarse.

The caffeine content of a two ounce espresso is roughly 80mg. An 8oz cup of drip coffee has around 100mg. This figure varies depending on brew method. Espresso consists of three parts. In a cup, it would be the bottom, middle, and top. The base is the bottom and the “heart” of the espresso. It contains soluble particles suspended as viscous liquid. The moving part, called the suspension, settles like a Guinness beer. The top, called crema, is created by the dispersion of gasses, air, and carbon dioxide into liquid at high pressure. The emulsified oils form a foamy texture on the surface.

Espresso blends differ depending which coffee house you visit. At FreshCoffeeNow, I try to keep ours mellow and rich. I've played around with a bunch of different coffees blended in different ways. Now I have a simple blend which I think best suits my taste. Our espresso blend is very full-bodied and syrupy with a smooth bourbon and chocolate flavor.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Time for Another Espresso

Some days are a cloud aloft in transition, slowly creeping towards the next distant horizon. A vague point appears peering like a faint beacon. This is your goal. Munch on a little snack. Have an espresso. Talk about how tired you feel. Get some support. Be one with the countertop. Rest, fart, moan and distress on and on about how it’s unfair of the rain, and oh, the rain.

Perfect time in my opinion for another espresso. I look at the machine, shiny and familiar, sitting, watching, and waiting. The hopper is full. The coffee smells like caramel dirt.

“Push it Joe. Push the button.” I push the button. Screeching, numbing, pulsing, radiating, aching balding head. I dose, skimming the excess grounds off the top. I tamp; north, south east, west, center. Appropriate water temperature, correct grind, suitable tamp, acceptable cup, proper time criteria. The golden brown color of the cream works. The body is syrupy, the taste sweet and nutty. The aroma, deep and intoxicating. The day…a little better.

Monday, May 14, 2007

My Brother Larry

My brother’s name is Larry Greene. Woodworking and cabinetry are his trade. He said to me one time that he was thinking of changing his name to Lorenzo Verde. Something with more flair as to augment his businesses image to attract more clients. He started going over this in a deep Spanish/Italian/muddled fake accent. “bon journo, ima Lorenzo Verde! I mova da wooda with a sharpa toola.”

I am better at making fun of the French accent. Do French people drink coffee? They must. French press. French roast. French vanilla. Café au lait. Oui oui!

I have had a few compliments on the French roast I roast. It’s an organic blend balancing heavy, robust body with even, smooth acidity. I try not to burn out all of the flavor from my coffee so I set a desired temperature which exposes oils on the beans but not so much that they become saturated and sticky with oil. I guess you could say my French roast is a full city + with a robust characteristic. Giving the impression of a dark roasted coffee with hints of carbonization but retaining the complex, taste profile of the coffee. Give it a try, and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear your feedback.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Steamed Milk

Milk comes from a lot of different animals; goats, monkeys... even pigs and giraffes. But here at the Blue Star Café, and many other cafés around the country and the world, we use milk that comes from an animal called the “cow”. These are large cumbersome animals who mope around grassy areas eating and chewing. They produce copious amounts of milk which we procure to use for many things including coffee drinks. Steaming milk can be done right and wrong. I believe foam belongs in the ocean and not in your latte or cappuccino. Textured milk is the consistency of paint, thick and creamy. What you don’t want is foamy milk with huge tasteless bubbles.

To make textured milk, you begin by plunging the steam wand into the milk and turning it on. Introduce air into the milk for the first few seconds of steaming, then use the rest of the time to incorporate the bubbles you made in a cyclone of milk to get velvet texture. You end the process by turning off the steam when you reach the desired temperature which is between 140 and 160 degrees. I spin the milk in the pitcher to make it shiny. I usually have time to make a “rosetta” atop my lattes and cappuccinos. I rock the pitcher side to side and it lies out across the mug and I give a stem by swiping through the top. If I have the time, I make butterflies, people, logos... you name it, I make it.

What would you like to see at your café? I make a delicious Earl Grey Latte. Earl Grey in a tea bag steeped in a little water to get the flavor moving and to warm up the cup. I introduce Vanilla flavor and a dash of cinnamon before pouring my perfectly textured milk. I would be interested to hear new recipes or ideas, so please feel free to post.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Never a Bad Monday

It’s easy to see what all the fuss is about coffee. Wouldn’t you be aroused in the morning once you smelled the caramel aroma of organic Bolivian coffee? I roast and brew coffee for a living so I get to smell it all the time.

It’s one of those beautiful things no one thinks of, but coffee never has a bad Monday. Coffee can be bad – but no matter how bad it is, it makes the most terrible days a little better.

You look at your horse standing there in the morning light, its breath pluming, the glistening frost on its back. Bluffs and plateaus loom in the distance…it could be worse. You’re out in the middle of nowhere – You have nothing but a fire, a pot of boiling water, and some fresh coffee in your Bodum. Your handy, travel French press suits you well dosed with Nicaragua Segovia fair trade.

Keeping the tradition of the wild, you toss your cushy travel chair aside and sit on the rocks…

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Roast Master

I loved my little, red 1979 Volvo 242 - her two doors and wool seats and lack of air conditioning - she was always dependable; an absolute joy even in 100 degree heat. On sunny days, I'd get into my car and go to the café where I worked to amp up on some double espresso shots for an hour or so. When I got back into my boiling car, I was buzzing. Everything had that 60's high-school yearbook fantasy picture fuzz on it. Driving while impaired on caffeine, I tried not to hit anyone while flying through the city in my ancient, beat-up Volvo, singing and restlessly agitated by the caffeine.

That café had an unbelievable machine from space. The agtron control system and mass spectrometer used to determine roast degree was impressive. She was dialed in, roaring, turning, and exiting. Blue, silver, chrome, brass, and coffee oil. For some, a coffee-roasting machine is like a big steam engine.... like a huge tractor when you were a kid. Some people when they see it say, "Wow, that’s a big coffee maker!" or "Hey look, a gigantic coffee grinder!"

Roast science has been evolving for a while now, and people discovered that coffee is the most aromatically diverse food or drink on the planet. There are over some 850 volatile aromatic compounds, many of which are still misunderstood. The roast master controls the induction of heat and air over a time period, and this determines how these sugars,chemicals, and compounds react with each other, and ultimately determines the quality of the roasted product.

Density and moisture content are major factors when roasting. Also, barometric pressure and humidity effect how air and temperature work with the beans in a roast chamber. Whether you are using a drum roaster or a fluid bed air roaster, this technical information can affect the quality, finish, and degree of roast.

Each coffee from its different growing region has unique properties and is analyzed, tested, tasted, graded, and so on. I take information like density and moisture content and roast the coffee to magnify its individual characteristics. I try not to dark-roast coffee because it loses a lot of delicate aromatic and taste properties due to carbonization of sugars and other factors. Many customers favor a dark roast, so I do try to make a blend of a few coffees with different taste profiles and roast them a slight degree darker then a medium roast to get a rounded full-bodied cup while still preserving the aromatic and taste properties.

If this information is useless to you - don’t worry! My French roast rocks! Try it!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Morning Routine

How do you make your coffee? What role does coffee play in your life? Do you start your day in the morning by waking up early to get your cup of coffee and the morning paper? Or do you wake up in a rush, dash to the café, and grab a drip coffee to go?

I’m a lucky one, I wake up and begin the day with a cup of coffee and an article or two (usually just the weather and horriblescope). I can vary my coffee choices, since I have a couple different machines. I went on eBay and purchased a nice espresso machine for my home so I can gloat about it to my friends, saying, “My new machine makes better espresso than the machine at work”—no one cared. My other machine is one of our Bodum French presses.

I believe the French press is the best device to use. It's simple to operate, easy to clean, and small enough to fit in your cupboard. No dangling power cords, no “on” switch, free of paper basket filters and under-the-pot warmers that develop tetrahydroxycyclohexanecarboxylic acid (quinic acid - c7h12o6) in the coffee, which destroys a pot of coffee as badly as a percolator does.

The French press delivers a delicious cup of coffee full of natural coffee oils and particle suspension so you get the fullness of the body and crispness of acidity on your palate. Some folks don’t like the sediment in the bottom of the cup. I don’t drink the sediment. I did notice, however, that if I get a cup of drip coffee I automatically go for the sugar and cream, but this is not so with a French press coffee. With the French press, I enjoy the natural flavor characteristics much more the taste of sugar and cream. It’s laughable when a customer buys a $10 pot of Jamaican Blue Mountain and asks for some cream and a packet of Equal. But I just say, “Sure, no problem!”

Thursday, March 22, 2007

New Espresso Blend

Sometimes, I wear all white when I work in the café. After an hour of making lattes, I end up looking like I just replaced some brakes. Today, I have apparently made that choice. I wear topsiders. Sometimes I drink unsweetened tea. Enough about me…

It’s been a fascinating week here at FreshCoffeeNow. We have been working on a new espresso blend. Espresso is touchy because when it’s brewed in a machine all the qualities, defects, acidity and body come alive. It is easy to mistake a great coffee for a great espresso blend. Making a blend you start with a base, enriching it with coffees of various flavor profiles to reach a desired result. Trial and error, testing and re-testing will ensure a good product. I will continue to update you on the progress.

We have been trying to get rid of one of the best coffees ever this week, as well. I can’t tell you what it is because we don’t have much left, but I hate to see it go. Ok, Ok - it's Bolivian Fair Trade! Shhh!!! My choice for favorite coffee this week, however, is the Mexico Pluma. This coffee has unbelievable quality for the price. I can’t say enough positive things about it. It has a medium to full body, which supports a subtle earthiness and bakers chocolate balance that makes for a truly remarkable cup. I would choose this coffee over most because of its rich character without being over powering. Please let me know what you think about it. I’m off to work on my espresso blend, see ya next time!


My first Word!

I remember my mom, each morning, in her fuscia night gown, coming down stairs into the kitchen to make coffee. She would point at the coffee jar on the counter and say “mmm, coffee…” It said COFFEE on the side of the jar in gold letters. So, at a really early age I learned to read, and my first word was coffee. My mom told me this, years ago. Being the smart lad I am I tried to prove it to one of my co-worker friends the other week. I said to her, “I’m serious, my first word was coffee, go ahead… call my mom!” I gave her the number and she called. My mom answers the phone and was asked,

“What was Joe’s first word?”

Mom says, “I don’t remember what it was.”

I grab the phone, “Mom, it was coffee, remember? You told me this a while ago!”

As it was clear I was disgruntled, she said “Joey, (she calls me Joey sometimes) I don’t think it was coffee, I could be wrong.”

“Mom, you told me it was coffee ok, so for future reference when I have someone call you and ask what my first word was, it was coffee, ok?”

I hung up the phone in disbelief and continued to tell my friend that my mom said she remembered all the sudden. The ploy was unsuccessful.

My parents must have had a hidden agenda while raising me. I was named Joe. Joe means coffee: “cup of joe” and so on. My last name is Consentino, very similar to cappuccino. It even rhymes.

Interest in coffee began early for me. I attended school for my early years, of course. When I turned 16 all that learning had become boring, so I started working at cafés’ and coffee roasteries. I was mystified by the steaming, shiny machine on the counter, which I wasn’t allowed to touch until I was trained. I am still mystified. I find myself staring at the milk as it cyclones in the pitcher. Its velvet texture, shiny when I swirl it, touches the espresso. It mixes with the cocoa and sugar and works itself under and around. I get so much pleasure making drinks for people who are exited to get something special. We try giving people a great experience here in the café, as we do with our online customers. Our coffee rocks. Try it!


Roasting Coffee

Half asleep, I stumble towards my window and push the curtain aside. The blinding glare of the morning sun wakes me abruptly from my slumber. Arriving at the café by noon, I enjoy a quick shot of espresso before gearing up for my ritualistic bagel and cream cheese—free of charge, of course. These bagels are unquestionably good, but unfortunately, I have developed a deep, habitual yearning for them. The first time I tried these things; I wasn’t impressed. They were gooey in the middle and crusty and burnt on the outside and I was dumbfounded at the size of the hole in the middle. “No bagel should have a hole that big,” I said with conviction.

A solid year has passed. Many events took place during this time, and I found myself connected to these bagels by cosmic force; as if a ray of nuclear energy grabbed hold of my lymph nodes and tugged until they—I stopped and turned to witness an alarming sight. In a large, crumply, brown, innocent paper bag they sat. I could smell them, burbling with gasses omitting an odor only these…things…could produce. A smell so inviting no mortal man in his mid-twenties (who was perhaps a little chubby) could ever resist. A matter of life or death was at stake. Only one man at this hour, in this place, on this stool, wearing these tighter-then-need-be pants, could save the world from such an unforeseeable ending... I’m fond of Montreal-style bagels: honey boiled, stone hearth-wood fired, and hand rolled. When you cut into these bagels, toast them with some maple-walnut cream cheese; it’s heaven. But enough about bagels, my real passion is coffee.
Deep in my lair below the café I stand (at will) for hours roasting coffee beans while I listen to the familiar sounds of the cafe above me. Today I'm roasting Tanzanian peaberry beans. From afar these beans might look like traditional, everyday beans, but Tanzanian peaberry beans are round like cylinders and have very distinct characteristics. Unlike other beans, they take all the nutrients for themselves—so the taste is lively and exciting. Here at FreshCoffeeNow, we have peaberry beans from different farms located all over the world, which result in coffee beans with very unique attributes. For instance, a Tanzania peaberry is winy and tart with an earthy balance while a peaberry from Sulawesi might be more syrupy or woodier, but still sharp and snappy.

Comparing just these two slightly different beans, you can guess how diverse bean varieties are worldwide. Remember this on your next trip to buy coffee, and be bold enough to try some different blends because each one produces a different aroma, taste, and emotion.

Love always,