Tuesday 30 October 2012

New wave coffee

We recently holidayed in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco and soaked up as much amazing 'new world coffee' as we could.

The best coffee shops in Edinburgh are already 'new world' in various ways and we're looking forward to seeing more and more of it. from a small business point of view there's also heaps of opportunity.

The best coffee on our trip included a combination of all, or most of, the following. Obviously their baristas are superb and very knowledgeable, but in addition these coffee shops:
  1. know the people (personally) who grow their coffee and work with them from planting, through processing, to delivery and ongoing improvement
  2. know on-the-ground people who source great coffee for them (and then they go out and meet them to choose the best)
  3. pay their coffee farmers better than average wages (and give them better conditions) because they ask more from them and need them to be educated and totally committed to every detail from soil to cup
  4. roast the beans themselves, or source them from a local small batch roaster, and serve them to customers within the optimum number of days
  5. have organised tailored roast(s) with a local roaster, just for their coffee shops
  6. change the beans they offer customers on daily/weekly/monthly basis, offering seasonal variety as well as super high quality
  7. offer several, if not all, brew methods with appropriate beans to suit
  8. offer personalised brews and creative coffee concoctions they've come up with
  9. take the time talk to customers about what they want and how they want it
  10. offer tastings and other education sessions
  11. have great branding and shop fit outs
  12. sell their own merchandise in their shop
  13. sell coffee paraphernalia (those cool gadgets that you can't help but want)
  14. are equally fussy about everything else they sell in their shops - organic, locally sourced, high quality food, drinks, products
Here are some examples

Victrola in Seattle - roast their own coffee - if we had to pick a favourite for the whole trip, their cappuccino shown would be it -incredible rich, oily, deep, complex, luscious.
Barista in Portland - use a range of local roasters - fantastic coffee - fantastic brand which you could buy on a t-shirt in the store. if we had the choice of getting a standard 'Edinburgh' tourist t-shirt or cool and unique 'Edinburgh coffee shop' t-shirt to remember our trip, we know which one we'd go for
Stumptown in Portland - they pretty much tick everything on the list above and are local legends who are now also on the east coast. shown above is a chemex in the traditional big mug with 'half and half' instead of milk which softens their bolshi brew (their cappuccino is genuinely pulse quickening). We found the majority of the classic American coffee, that is simply referred to as 'coffee', to be french press made in bulk and poured into self-serve urns. It generally packed a big punch.and was very tasty. Stumptown also makes a 'cold brew' packaged in what looks like an old fashioned brown beer bottle with metal cap. this is simply coffee and cold water left to sit and then sieved and bottled - surprisingly rounded and rich  -  stumptowncoffee.com
Ristretto Roasters in Portland - these guys roast their own great coffee. shown is their own creation 'con panna' which seemed to be a double macchiato with coffee cream piped into the top - incredible. They, along with most of the coffee shops we visited had free wi-fi and pretty much acted as an office for students and workers of all shapes and sizes. That's just the way people do business in Portland!   -    ristrettoroasters.com
Blue Bottle Coffee Co in San Francisco - these guys are coffee gurus and roasters in San Francisco. Without detracting from their fantastic coffee, they've taken merchandising to a whole new level with branded drippers, an extremely cute coffee alphabet colouring-in book (R is for ristretto was one of the pages) and a lovely, substantial 'blue bottle craft of coffee' book    -    www.bluebottlecoffee.com

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