Monthly Archives

April 2018

The Cafe Imports US Tour Is Coming

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Cafe Imports is getting the band back together and hitting the road one more time. This May, the 2018 Legendary Coffee Tour is heading to 10 cities around the US, and they are bringing with them their “greatest hits, brand-new releases, and even a few deep cuts from the archive.”

Kicking off on May 4th in Minneapolis, the Cultivar Caravan will focus on “the history and significance of coffee varieties,” which will of course be presented along with a cupping. Along with a “set list of favorites,” including heirloom Ethiopian types, Typica, and Bourbon, Cafe Imports is bringing a completely unknown variety that came their way via a Banexport cupping in Pitalito, Huila, Colombia (which co-owner/green coffee buyer Andrew Miller described as “Holy *@!&” and scored an astounding 94 points).

The Cultivar Caravan will also include not coffee things to taste, “as a way of exploring and understanding the ways that different varieties can contribute to diversity of flavor, as well as to simply show some love to the diversity of flavors this weird, wild world has to offer us at every turn.” The event will then be followed with free food and drinks for all attendees.

The full list of stops for the 2018 Legendary Coffee Tour are:

May 4: Minneapolis, MN, Cafe Imports Warehouse
May 7: Kansas City, MO, Messenger Coffee
May 8: Springfield, MO, Classic Rock Coffee Co.
May 10: Chicago, IL, Metropolis Coffee Roasterie
May 15: Coeur d’Alene, ID, Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters
May 17: Tempe, AZ, Tempe Public Market Cafe
May 23: Austin, TX, Wild Gift Coffee
May 25: Dallas, TX, Communion Cafe
May 30: Boston, MA, Pavement Coffee
June 1: Philadelphia, PA, Rival Bros. Coffee

The Cultivar Caravan is free to attend, but space is extremely limited, so an RSVP is required. To reserve your spot, follow the links above to your stop on the tour.

Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

*all images via Cafe Imports

The post The Cafe Imports US Tour Is Coming appeared first on Sprudge.

Source: Coffee News

Teaching Barista Skills To Refugees At A Beautiful Mess In Amsterdam

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refugee barista training amsterdam netherlands

refugee barista training amsterdam netherlands

The last time Sprudge reported on how the coffee world was helping Syrian asylum seekers in the Netherlands, a simple, very human-level initiative was underway. The objective was to pair refugees and longtime Dutch residents with similar professional interests, encouraging the two parties to go on a coffee date and trade career tips. The setting was the Amsterdam Zuid franchise of cafe Anne & Max, which provided free beverages and an inviting third space.

Today, nearly two years later, thanks to a program offered by the Amsterdam foundation Refugee Company, this same segment of the population, which once may have accepted a coffee gratis, is learning how to make coffee professionally. And it is not just any coffee, but specialty coffee by Dutch roaster Bocca.

A nationwide coffee supplier and trainer, Bocca partnered with the Refugee Company shortly after the foundation moved its operations into the Bijlmerbajes in July 2016. The country’s most renowned bajes—local slang for “jail”—had recently been vacated and turned over to Lola, an organization that repurposes empty buildings. Entrepreneurs and small businesses moved in, and alongside their offices and ateliers, Lola birthed various refugee-staffed enterprises, including a hotel, a boxing school, the acclaimed restaurant A Beautiful Mess, and Kahwa coffee bar.

refugee barista training amsterdam netherlands

Kahwa was also where Bocca taught the refugees the fundamentals of being a barista. The lessons began in January 2017. Back then, the former prison felt far more spartan, as Bocca account manager Jeroen Vos observed last August.

“You have to imagine that when they started here, there was nothing in this building,” says Vos. “There was no wood, there were no plants, there were no colors. It was cold.”

He was addressing the dozens of people who had filled the half-garage, half-foyer-like space for a graduation ceremony. Sixteen refugees from Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, and Syria had freshly completed the training.

“In five months’ time, they exerted a lot of effort, did a lot of work, and it became a very successful little business here,” Vos adds.

Boris Montanus, Bocca’s head trainer for the project, called the students one by one. Abiding by the community’s convention, he used only their first names. They were handed diplomas and—no Dutch festivity goes flowerless—cellophane cones holding a fuchsia gerbera daisy or pink and white lisianthus. Depending on a recipient’s preference, Montanus spoke English or Dutch, and shared a personal anecdote or accolade about them.

refugee barista training amsterdam netherlands

“You were here when the machine broke down, right?” he said to a graduate named Kosai. “He lifted up the cover of the machine and he put his hands inside it, to help,” he explained to the audience. 

He described another barista named Rafi: “He was really, really tense every time I tried to examine him, but he kept sending me beautiful pictures of latte art, so I knew he could do it.”

“Samir may be the loudest barista I’ve ever met,” Montanus said, laughing. Turning warmly to the diploma recipient, he added: “Here you are, man.”

Onlookers stood clapping and digitally documenting. Some leaned on the wood furnishings, rudimentary though brightened by photography, paintings, and pillows. Two geometrical pendant lamps twinkled over Kahwa’s two-group La Marzocco Linea Classic and Ceado E37S grinder. Passing through the machines was a seemingly bottomless supply of Bocca’s Fatima espresso, washed Catuai and Bourbon beans from Brazil.

refugee barista training amsterdam netherlands

The ceremony dovetailed with a meet and greet, allowing members of the city’s horeca industry to get acquainted with the graduates as potential hires. In intimate group conversations, refugees gave glimpses of their past lives.

“I know coffee. I come from East Africa,” noted a former security guard from Eritrea, while also sharing a newfound appreciation for the drink’s taste. “The way they roast the beans is very nice.”

An Iraqi talked of having had some coffee-serving experience back when working at a shisha lounge, though he lost the opportunity after the venue was bombed. “Alles is weg,” he said—Dutch for “Everything is gone.”

refugee barista training amsterdam netherlands

Months after the graduation ceremony, a second group of refugees was in the thick of the barista course. Montanus had just returned from a trip to Ethiopia and was showing photos of coffee. Yosief from Eritrea and Ben from Zambia politely glanced at his phone, though the red cherries and green beans appeared far less exotic to them than to Montanus’ usual Dutch trainees.

“You’ve seen more coffee than me,” said their teacher, reminded that at Kahwa he could usually zoom through the course’s agricultural history, given the students’ backgrounds. Anyway, demanding more visual attention that day were the steamed milk hearts that Yosief and Ben were working on.

“First, swirl. All the bubbles out.”

“Start high and then bring it low in one go.”

“Most Dutch people will find this to be too little milk.”

The constant feedback had a positive effect on the forms appearing in the foam.

refugee barista training amsterdam netherlands

Kahwa was as hospitable a place as it had been in the summer, but the sun set early during these fall afternoon lessons. The season’s quickly cooling temperature made attendance seem like even more of a commitment. Many visitors would reach the Bijlmerbajes by metro. The stop is about a 15-minute walk from the Refugee Company’s headquarters, though arriving as such means having to follow an awkward path. It is so narrow that two pedestrians can barely pass each other without one having to step off the pavement into the marshy flora. On wet days, small black slugs speckle the way. Should anyone forget that the hunkering six towers once housed the country’s most notorious convicts, the moat and the concrete wall serve as reminders.

The barista class met twice weekly, but it had to be woven into the time-consuming bureaucratic requirements that asylees must simultaneously navigate. Ultimately, they are expected to pursue Dutch language and integration courses, settle into permanent housing, and secure work. Behind the bar, students had to demonstrate the ability to pull an espresso, steam and pour milk, clean an espresso machine, and dial in a grinder. A form hanging on the wall listed these skills and, if they struggled, “we just did it again and did it again,” Montanus said. “It was a bit like pre-runs for a barista competition.”

Besides common English and Dutch words in “hospitality slang,” as another posted printout termed them, the trainees were kept up to speed with specialty coffee lingo (the synonym-spawning flat white was particularly conducive to quiz material).

refugee barista training amsterdam netherlands

In December 2017, Yosief, Ben, and two Syrian classmates had their own graduation. That made for a total of 20 refugees who, within the year, completed the training with Montanus or his former Bocca colleague, Jasper de Waal.

One especially passionate diploma-holder was Rafi, the tense yet talented latte artist Montanus had praised at the August ceremony. When Sprudge caught up with him half a year later, the 24-year-old was balancing intensive Dutch classes with work as a part-time barista and waiter at Restaurant Merkelbach.

“Bocca gave me everything to really make me a barista, so I can say that I’m really a barista,” he says, sipping an espresso at Merkelbach on a day off.

refugee barista training amsterdam netherlands

Before moving to the Netherlands, Rafi had what he described as an internship with Costa. But before transitioning into a job with the multinational coffee company, he had to flee, leaving his hometown of Lattakia, Syria. After finishing his current studies, he hopes to attend hospitality school and pursue a career in coffee.

“I want to have my own cafe. That’s my dream,” Rafi says. Ideally, he added, his business would yield a whole chain of cafes, spanning the Netherlands, Lebanon, and one day, Syria, too.

In the meantime, a new hospitality course for another group of refugees has begun at the Bijlmerbajes. Bocca continues to provide the barista training, though Kahwa as its own entity no longer exists. Earlier this year, the bar merged with A Beautiful Mess and reopened in March as part of the restaurant’s vibrant renovation.

A Beautiful Mess is located at H.J.E. Wenckebachweg 48, 1096 AN Amsterdam. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Karina Hof is a Sprudge staff writer based in Amsterdam. Read more Karina Hof on Sprudge

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Source: Coffee News

4 Coffee Things People Are Buzzing About This Week

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What a week we’ve had in the coffee world. Monday feels like weeks ago, but it wasn’t. It was on Monday. So instead of throwing anything else new at you, we’re going to take a look back at the things that got people buzzing on the social medias.

#BlackCoffeePDX: With a sold out show in Portland, Oregon that raised $2000 for Brown Girl Rise and Sankofa Collective NW, the #BlackCoffeePDX event from Michelle Johnson was a smashing success, with much of the conversation continuing on Twitter.

For those unable to attend, the audio podcast and video will be dropping very soon, so watch this space!

Coffee ASMR: Some call it creepy (me), some call it tingly (me again, but in an uncomfortable way), but autonomous sensory meridian response (or ASMR, as in, “sucks to your ASMR“) videos are here to stay. And now, there are ASMR videos for coffee lovers. So if you want to fall asleep I guess, or whatever it is you do to these videos, now you can do it with coffee.



Compostable Bags: Staff writer Anna Brones, whose excellent piece on compostable coffee bags ran a little over a year ago, checks in on the degradation process after some six months in the compost heap. The results thus far have been mixed.

Stirring Coffee: Early this week, we reported on the Stricle, an electronic coffee stirring devices looking to replace stir sticks. We weren’t super psyched on it because, well, it’s kinda dumb. The responses on social media haven’t been much better.

What a week. We’ll see you back here on Monday.

Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

The post 4 Coffee Things People Are Buzzing About This Week appeared first on Sprudge.

Source: Coffee News

Green Coffee Movement: Royal Coffee In Tokyo

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royal coffee tokyo japan craig atkinson

royal coffee tokyo japan craig atkinson

Coffee is adept at crossing borders. From the coffee we drink to the machines we brew it on, this is one of the most international substances known to man. That’s part of the fun—the global connectivity, and the endless possibilities and outcomes contained therein. In late March 2018, our partners at Royal Coffee Inc. held their first-ever international outreach event series in Japan. This four-part event series was titled “Green Coffee Movement,” and hosted by Royal GM Richard Sandlin in Tokyo, Osaka, and Gunma.

royal coffee tokyo japan craig atkinson

Richard Sandlin (center) in Tokyo.

Sandlin is helping spearhead the company’s ongoing growth in Japan, with an eye towards more events and future expansion. In this way Royal joins an ongoing effort at cultural and business exchange between Japan and the United States, which has roots going back many years. On the American side, brewing products by Japanese brands like Hario, Kalita, and Takahiro have long been popular choices for brewing in the cafe and at home; beautiful cold drip towers and siphons made by brands like Oji and Yama continue to draw oohs and ahhs in American cafes; and Japanese entrepreneurs like Hiroshi Sawada and Hidenori Izaki have opened popular cafes and remain in-demand consultants. Meanwhile there are a growing number of American coffee brands branching out to Tokyo and beyond, including a growing number of proprietary cafes from Blue Bottle; a wildly busy Verve location at Shinjuku Station; and a dedicated wholesale partnership for Stumptown at Paddler’s Coffee, now with multiple locations in Tokyo. 

Into this milieu steps Royal, with Sandlin as a not-so-secret weapon. He’s lived previously in Japan; his spouse was born in Sendai; he speaks the language fluently, and has even contributed writing on Japan’s coffee scene to this website. This showed at Royal’s recent event series, attended by a relaxed mix of roasters, baristas, industry notables and coffee lovers, with whom Sandlin chatted with casually in Japanese.  

royal coffee tokyo japan craig atkinson

The Tokyo event was held at FabCafe, and Sandlin treated the crowd to a crash course on Royal’s services as a green coffee importer, including the company’s detailed record keeping on every facet of inventory. This information, as per Sandlin, helps inform Royal’s customers before, during, and after their purchasing of the beans. Joining Sandlin at the event was the microroasting brand Ikawa, and the application MineDrip. These two were introduced once Royal’s presentation was completed, after which the group broke out into a series of stations focused on Ikawa’s sample roasting prowess, a comparative tasting area, and a demo station for MineDrip. 

royal coffee tokyo japan craig atkinson

The evening in Tokyo closed with a cupping, featuring a half-dozen current offerings from Royal’s catalogue, available to potential customers in Tokyo. What followed was an open exchange of flavor perceptions, as much a chance to mingle as it was a formal evaluation. The Tokyo coffee scene, though deeply international, is also quite close knit, and during events like this one you see the familiarity and camaraderie that is happily part of coffee life here. It’s not just people in the same industry at the same event, going because they feel obligated, but people with the same love and passion for coffee. Into this steps Royal Coffee of Oakland; it’s a lovely fit.

Craig Atkinson is a freelance journalist based in Tokyo. This is Craig Atkinson’s first feature for Sprudge Media Network.

Disclosure: Royal Coffee Inc. is an advertising partner on Sprudge Media Network. 

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Source: Coffee News

Seattle’s El Diablo Coffee Needs Your Help

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el diablo seattle washington

el diablo seattle washington

El Diablo Coffee, a Seattle institution almost two decades old, is being forced to leave their space and find a new home. The coffee shop, located in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood, has been serving coffee to their community since 2000. Recently, the building they’ve operated out of for the last 18 years changed hands, and they’ve received notice that they need to vacate the premises by the end of the month. In response, they’ve launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $75,000 in order to cover the gap and keep their workers employed as steadily as possible.

Originally founded by Terri Sullivan, the shop was bought out by Jill Killen, who also owns Cloud City Coffee, in 2010; the original owners were looking to sell and found the ideal buyer in Killen, who was drawn to the space because of its community focus and friendly atmosphere. Over the course of Killen’s tenure there, she’s put a lot of money into improvements, including converting storage space into a kitchen, adding a back patio, upgrading the restrooms, and working to fix the electrical, which is still not reliable. “I’ve put probably $50,000 into the space that I won’t get back—it stays with the space,” she said. Over the last eight years, she’s also had three different landlords, whom she described as absentee. “They just want the space rented, then they sell the building. Rinse and repeat.”

el diablo seattle washington

Photo courtesy of Jill Killen.

Last year, Killen learned from the building manager that the building had changed hands. When she brought up a new lease agreement to the management company, she tried to negotiate as low a rise as possible due to the repairs she had had to make and some conditions that were still subpar. “I said I didn’t want to pay more without upgrades,” said Killen. “I was already at or above market rate, compared to buildings with new plumbing and new electric.”  The management company allegedly reported back to Killen that the new landlords agreed that the electric needed upgrading. “I asked again for a lease,” said Killen. “I asked many times over the spring and summer. They said to hold tight, the electric problem was complicated. I wanted to do upgrades to my space and was waiting to hear back so I could start. Things were falling apart.”

The notice to vacate came on April 2nd, with a deadline of 11:59 pm on April 30th. “The courier handed it to a barista and said ‘this has to be hung in the window.’ My barista called me freaking out. Rent was paid.” After calling the management company and her old landlord, she finally got ahold of the building manager. “After four phone calls, Ben returned my call and said it was true and that this was ‘the hardest part of his job.’ The landlord was doing improvements on the space and El Diablo was in the way.” When Killen asked why the notice was so short, the building manager allegedly responded that he was only required to give 20 days. “He said he didn’t agree with how it was handled, but he was just a broker doing his job and didn’t own the building. He said they wanted to move in a different direction.”

el diablo seattle washington

Neither the building manager nor Diablo Coffee’s landlord have responded to Sprudge’s repeated request for comment.

So what’s next for Killen and El Diablo? According to Killen, they just signed a lease on a space that used to house a Mexican restaurant. The shape of the new space, which includes a full-service kitchen and is about three times the size of the old space, will change their service model slightly, but Killen is resilient and ready to see potential changes as positives. “We’ll need an expeditor/delivery person and a system with table numbers, but it will allow us to do other things such as expand our menu,” says Killen. “We had run out of electric amperage and space in the old cafe. Many people left because of seating issues. So there’s lots of positives.” The obvious downside: “The cost of moving is enormous. Between physically disconnecting and moving things we have to build counters, add floor drains, and more.”

Killen is particularly concerned about service disruptions for her staff. “We just need money for the move. We weren’t anticipating this.”

el diablo seattle washington

She’s hoping El Diablo has proven its value over time and that the community will continue to invest in their continued existence. “I’ve come to love this neighborhood and our kind neighbors,” Killen tells Sprudge. “We’ve gained so much diversity and it makes me proud to come in and see a variety of clientele. The neighborhood has rallied around us in the past.” She’s hopeful that both the local community and the larger coffee community will lend a hand to keep El Diablo operating. So far, the support has been strong: the campaign is trending on Kickstarter and has raised nearly $20,000 of its $75,000 goal. To help El Diablo manage the gap and keep their employees as secure as possible, you can donate here.

RJ Joseph is a staff writer for Sprudge Media Network. Read more RJ Joseph on Sprudge.

All photos by Neil Oney unless otherwise noted.

The post Seattle’s El Diablo Coffee Needs Your Help appeared first on Sprudge.

Source: Coffee News

The 2018 Indianapolis Cup Is Coming May 6th

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Indianapolis, there’s a coffee festival coming your way next month, and coffee is bringing some of its best friends along for the ride! Taking place May 6th at the Biltwell Event Center, the 2018 Indianapolis Cup will feature some of the Midwest’s best coffee roasters, breweries, distillers, and bakers. Pretty much everything you would need to live a very good life.

Created by Tinker Coffee, this year’s Indianapolis Cup will feature 25 vendors, including Tinker, Quills Coffee, Carabello Coffee, The Abbey Coffee Co., Indie Coffee Roasters, Mile Square Coffee, Bee Coffee Roasters, Pilcrow Coffee, and Utopian Coffee Company. To balance out all that caffeine, there will be beer from Flat12 Bierworks and Centerpoint Brewing, kombucha from Circle City, booze from Cardinal Spirits, and a handful of bakeries and ice creameries.

Sponsored this year by Modbar, Genuine Origin, and Atlas Coffee, proceeds from the Indianapolis Cup will go to Project Alianza, who provides education to children on coffee farms, and Big Car Collaborative, an Indianapolis-based non-profit arts organization.

Tickets for the event range from $15 to $35 for general admission and VIP, respectively. GA tickets “provide guests the opportunity to sample coffees, beer, wine, and baked goods from all vendors, participate in product demos, and expand their knowledge of the coffee industry,” per the press release, with the VIP tickets providing “access to a private coffee cupping featuring coffees from Tinker Coffee, Quills Coffee, Carabello Coffee, and The Abbey Coffee Co.” Tickets can be purchased via the Indianapolis Cup’s Eventbrite page.

It all happens Sunday, May 6th from 10:00am to 4:00pm at the Biltwell Event Center. For more information on the event, visit the 2018 Indianapolis Cup Facebook event page.

Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

*top image via the Indianapolis Cup

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Source: Coffee News

In Austin, The Henry Brothers Expand Houndstooth On Their Own Terms

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houndstooth coffee austin texas anna brones

houndstooth coffee austin texas anna brones

This Texas tale started out as a family affair: When Sean Henry started Houndstooth Coffee in 2010, his brother, Paul Henry, came to work for him as a barista. Since their initial launch, the brothers have continued to gradually expand the company, which now runs six cafes: three in Dallas (where Sean is based) and three in Austin (where Paul is based), as well as the roastery Tweed Coffee. Their latest addition is a new cafe in East Austin that offers coffee during the day and extends into the late hours with beer, wine, and cocktails.

On the day we visit the new Austin location, Paul is wearing a button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up. I can see a bit of Texas tattooed on his arm. I ask him about it and it turns out it’s actually the same logo that’s on my espresso mug: the state of Texas on one side, the Houndstooth fedora logo on the other. He brings up his childhood—he was raised in the suburbs of Dallas—and I ask him how being Texan plays into his business. “There’s a hospitality and swagger to Texas that’s hard to find elsewhere,” he says. “There’s something magic about it.”

houndstooth coffee austin texas anna brones

The Henry brothers have worked to bring that magic to the new location, which is intended to be more of an all-day hangout than just a cafe for morning fuel. “It seems a lot of people don’t hang out in the same place in the evenings that they do in the mornings,” says Paul. To help facilitate that idea in the new Austin space, Houndstooth is drawing from its experience with its successful Dallas cocktail bar Jettison. “We want to borrow a little bit of what happens up there and bring it down here,” says Henry. Cocktails at the East Austin Houndstooth will include Jettison favorites such as the Red Headed Oaxacan, a smoky agave version of a Penicillin with reposado, mezcal, ginger honey, lemon, and a spray of Bowmore 12-year-old Scotch whisky, and the Earl’d Fashion’d, made with bonded bourbon, orange and Angostura bitters, and maple syrup smoked with Earl Grey tea.

houndstooth coffee austin texas anna brones

But while there are alcoholic drinks on offer, the space feels more like a comfortable neighborhood hangout than a chic bar. Paul tells me the story of his grandfather, who was known for wearing a fedora (another nod that Houndstooth makes to family heritage). One day his grandfather was eating at a restaurant in Lubbock, Texas, where he was a regular, and accidentally left his fedora behind. The next day when his grandfather returned, the hat was waiting for him. Paul likens this to the feeling that they are trying to create in all the Houndstooth cafes, one that’s focused on hospitality and community, ensuring that everyone feels welcome. “I see you, I know you, you’re safe here,” says Paul.

houndstooth coffee austin texas anna brones

Order the house blend at Houndstooth and you’ll be served Timepiece, another family nod, this time to the Henrys’s father, a watch collector. Besides passing along watches to his sons, their father has also passed along a business sense. “For years my dad would say, ‘Do the right thing,’” he says. “As long as you live within your means, you’ll be fine.” The company has never taken outside funding, and as Paul puts it, “We do things that make fiscal sense.”

houndstooth coffee austin texas anna brones

But that doesn’t mean that they’re not willing to try new things. On the contrary, they are open to new ideas and challenges, but with a healthy dose of pragmatism. “We try and make our own mistakes but we try not to make the same mistake twice,” says Paul.

Despite a lot of growth over the past few years, “we’re still a personal company, a family company,” says Paul. That means putting a big focus on investing in their staff. Most of the Houndstooth staff is full-time and they all have company health insurance. “What I love is helping our staff become who they want to become,” says Henry. That focus on people, be they staff or customers, is ultimately what weaves all of the elements of Houndstooth together.  

“If we can bring good people and good coffee together, we can create a pattern that will last a long time,” says Paul.

Houndstooth Coffee is located at 

Anna Brones (@annabrones) is a Sprudge.com staff writer based in the American Pacific Northwest, the founder of Foodie Underground, and the co-author of Fika: The Art Of The Swedish Coffee Break. Read more Anna Brones on Sprudge.

The post In Austin, The Henry Brothers Expand Houndstooth On Their Own Terms appeared first on Sprudge.

Source: Coffee News

Kiosko: The Portland Cafe That Keeps Its Heart In Mexico

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kiosko portland oregon giovanni fillari

kiosko portland oregon giovanni fillari

It’s a quiet Saturday morning in Portland, Oregon, and coffee professionals Lucy Alvarez and Angel Medina are settling in for the day at their 14”x 14” coffee bar. The duo are glad to be home—they just arrived back in the city from a trip to Mexico, visiting coffee farmers in the Colima region, in the villages of Arrayanal, Yerba Buena, Cofradia, and Suchitlan. Alvarez and Medina pride themselves on their personal connection between the origin of the roast, their coffee shop, and their families. You can taste it in every cup of coffee served at Kiosko, their small coffee shop nestled on the SW bank of the Willamette River.

Alvarez and Medina opened back on July 1, 2017 with intentions to infuse the Mexican-American experience into Portland’s coffee scene. Starting out as a fundraiser for a national pro-DACA initiative, Alvarez and Medina went from small-scale roasting to shop owners overnight. Throughout the process, they’ve stayed true to their roots as small business owners with a deeply felt Mexican heritage.

kiosko portland oregon giovanni fillari

kiosko portland oregon giovanni fillari

Back in 2016, Alvarez was in school for pre-med, while Medina worked at the Portland headquarters for Airbnb. His role there was as a tech-y sounding “Launch Experience Agent,” focused on advancing the customer experience in Latin American countries. But then coffee started creeping into their lives in a big way. At home, Medina fell in love with roasting coffee on his Behmor roaster. At first he primarily roasted for personal use, but eventually started sharing with friends, and that soon led to other opportunities.

Angel Medina unveiled his roast to the public for the very first time in support of United We Dream, an immigrant youth-led foundation built to recognize and support DACA recipients. When customers donated $10 to United We Dream, they received a half-pound bag of Medina’s “Kickstarter Blend.” The couple received 48 orders during the initial roll-out, with Medina and Alvarez hand roasting and bagging their coffees in half-pound batches on the Behmor, 15 minutes at a time.

“When I grew up, my family had this saying ‘do what you can with what you have,’” Medina states.

kiosko portland oregon giovanni fillari

This would be the beginning of their aptly-named roasting company, Smalltime Roasters. The couple went on to open Kiosko a few months after that to have more space to function and to establish their identity within the community. Slowly but surely they were falling into coffee as a life pursuit. 

“We didn’t have as much experience with espresso machines because we’re pour-over people,” Medina tells me. “So we got a machine a week before we opened hoping people wouldn’t be turned off by our latte art,” he laughs. Once a loose end in their launch plan, espresso drinks are now a favorite at Kiosko. Here in Portland, the shop has built a glowing local reputation for their innovative and boundary-pushing latte creations, including fan favorites like the mango sticky rice latte, maple bacon latte, and candied yam latte.

kiosko portland oregon giovanni fillari

The most popular drink here is the “True Mexican Mocha,” made with espresso, textured milk, house-made Mexican hot chocolate powder, cocoa nibs, freeze-dried raspberry dust, and dark chocolate shavings. Kiosko’s creative approach also extends to their pour-over methods. Medina constructed a new contraption called the “Copper Flower” (pictured below), which he’s convinced is the optimal way for expressing his coffees as pour-over. “The science behind it is to extend the extraction process without compromising the taste,” Medina says. A washed process Mexico Colima is the most common brewed cup served in this method.

kiosko portland oregon giovanni fillari

Since Kiosko has found their rhythm, they’ve had the ability to shift their daily focus to providing a unique experience. “We wanted to create the warmth and passion for coffee. It’s an extension of our home,” Alvarez says. The reciprocity can be seen in Kiosko daily; as Alvarez and Medina learn more about the community they serve, the city of Portland is exposed to the couple’s unique take and hospitality and heritage. “We feel love from the community,” Medina tells me. “When people walk by, we want it to feel like they are in a different country.”

Not only is Kiosko enticing new customers, they also attracted a staff of like-minded coffee professionals from similar backgrounds. Alvarez and Medina are both descendants of Mexican immigrants from the Jalisco area—a three-hour bus ride from their last round of farm visits—and the baristas on staff at Kiosko are of Puerto Rican, Peruvian, and Guatemalan lineages. Amid their shop growing in popularity, Alvarez and Medina still support groups that align with their personal upbringing. Last winter, they raised money for We The Dreamers, an undocumented-led group focused on their narrative through art. Kiosko bagged and sold single-origin Mexican coffee and donated the sales to the group.

kiosko portland oregon giovanni fillari

kiosko portland oregon giovanni fillari

These days, Kiosko is trading in what they deemed “starter” equipment for better options to support their workflow. They recently added the La Marzocco Linea Classic espresso machine, installed by Black Rabbit Service Co. They have the Zenith Eureka high-speed grinder and the G4 ThermoPro brewer from Wilber Curtis Company to round out the gear in their shop.

This story would be enough—a tiny cafe with deep roots and a huge heart, putting out some of the most innovative coffee drinks in the competitive Portland market. But there are no signs of slowing down for Kiosko. Alvarez and Medina are working on plans for their second and third locations, focused on a bigger footprint, improved efficiency, and a focus on highlighting the coffees of Mexico. Kiosko is creating a buzz in the community around their experience, and Portland is a better place for it. 

kiosko portland oregon giovanni fillari

Kiosko is located at 1816 SW River Dr, Portland. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Giovanni Fillari is a social media manager at Nike and the publisher of @coffeefeedpdx. Read more Giovanni Fillari for Sprudge.

The post Kiosko: The Portland Cafe That Keeps Its Heart In Mexico appeared first on Sprudge.

Source: Coffee News

This Coffee Stirrer Is Eco-Friendly, So Why Do I Hate It?

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There is a lot of waste associated with coffee shops. It is a sad fact that many in the industry are painfully aware of and actively trying to curb. But sometimes, even with the best of intentions, the results are… confusing. Take for example, the Stircle, the new in-counter electric coffee stirrer. It feels like its heart is in the right place, so why can’t I not hate it?

Brought to our attention by Mashable, the Stircle is designed to combat the very real problem of waste in coffee shops, particularly the 400 million—by Amron Experimental’s count, the company behind the Stircle—stir sticks thrown away every day. But the solution feels a bit overdesigned, no? It’s like if you got a bunch of Silicon Valley tech bros in a room and said, “We need you to design a new stir stick, not recreate the wheel,” and all they heard was, “create a new stir stick that is a wheel.”

According to Stircle’s website, the device “costs 99% less to run than stir sticks and it stirs better.” Dubious claims about “stirring better” aside (because what does that even mean? Surely this can’t be a real, verifiable claim), the Stircle ranges in cost from $345 to $490, depending upon whether you get the basic or advanced model. A cursory search yielded a box of 1,000 coffee stirrers for $3.40. For the same cost as a basic Stircle, you can get 101,470 stir sticks (144,000 for the advanced model). I don’t know how many stir sticks your cafe goes through a day, so you’re going to have to do that math yourself to figure out how long the Stircle will have to be operational for you to break even—not accounting for energy costs or maintenance—never mind costing 99% less.

But it’s not about savings, it’s about keeping plastic out of landfills and saving trees. Call me old fashioned, but what ever happened to spoons? Reusable spoons. Yes, they require water to wash, but surely the water lost in spoon washing (which PS: cafes are already washing anyway. Surely there is room for a few more) is paltry in comparison to what it takes to design and produce an electronic stirring device. And you don’t have to go on that $350 ride.

Maybe I’m on the wrong side of history here. In 20 years when there’s a Stircle in every coffee shop and all the empty landfills have been turned into parks and community gardens, I’m going to look like a real dum-dum. I’ll wear my well-earned shame on that day. But until then, give me a spoon.

Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

*all media via Amron Experimental

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Source: Coffee News

In Seoul, Anthracite Coffee Fuels The Hapjeong Neighborhood

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anthracite coffee seoul south korea michelle hwang

anthracite coffee seoul south korea michelle hwang

Anthracite is hard coal—the mineral’s purest form, containing little filler, it burns as clean as coal burns, and built the world in the wake of civilization’s transition from primarily using wood for fuel at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It makes sense, then, that the Seoul-based Anthracite Coffee was founded in a factory, in the city’s Hapjeong neighborhood.

In total, Anthracite has three locations within metropolitan Seoul, as well as a fourth on Jeju Island, all catering to a mix of tourists and locals.

Formerly a shoe factory, the original Hapjeong space is marked by concrete walls, stone floors, and exposed beams. Its ample seating allows for patrons to soak in a kind of moody, industrialness that stands in stark contrast to the newer cafe and roasting space in the Hannam neighborhood, for instance.

anthracite coffee seoul south korea michelle hwang

anthracite coffee seoul south korea michelle hwang

There, each floor is replete with massive windows that lend themselves to the light outside, and you can clearly see the roasting process on display in the back, as well as enjoy an indoor pseudo-green space.

Regardless of which location a person visits, however, every Anthrocite features the same selection of coffees, all roasted by Anthrocite, whose bags bear the images of stark, angular pieces of coal and names like William Blake and Pablo Neruda. Anthrocite’s lattes are at once smooth and assertive, with a nutty, spicy, almost chocolatey flavor that goes well with one of the many primarily French-inspired baked goods on offer.

anthracite coffee seoul south korea michelle hwang

Anthracite is serious not only about providing excellent coffee drinking experiences, but also about educating folks on what they are imbibing. To this end, public cuppings are offered weekly on Tuesday evenings. Additionally, for patrons who are interested in diving deeper into the art of coffee brewing, Anthracite offers home barista courses throughout the year. From the information available on the webpage, the course provides instruction on a variety of coffee related subjects, from coffee history and varieties, sensory evaluations of coffee, and an array of extraction and brewing methods. At Anthracite, not only can you have your cup of coffee, but you can learn more about it, too.

Anthracite has multiple locations in South Korea. Visit their official website and follow them on Facebook.

Michelle Hwang is a writer who splits her time between California, Paris, and Seoul. Read more Michelle Hwang for Sprudge.

The post In Seoul, Anthracite Coffee Fuels The Hapjeong Neighborhood appeared first on Sprudge.

Source: Coffee News