April 29th, 2016
while redrafting our coffeebar menu for 923 sw Oak discussion arose about the next five years of minimum wage increase, and increasing pricing on the menu. In eight years minimum wages will be above 14 an hour, and there will be tips on top of that- but what will a cup of coffee cost. we know about the 5 dollar costs of pourover coffee in LA, and the 8 dollar coffee in Japan. Perhaps a lot of the thought work should be focused on relative prices in the area- if everyone sells a 5 dollar cup of drip coffee then customers will not feel bad. Its a different story comparing even a dollar difference. I now feel easy about a 5 dollar pint of beer, but not as easy about 6. The talk of wages is very important. Its also important to know that someone who earns 15 dollars a day in the service industry, and someone who earns 15 dollars a day in a desk job- they both take home different amounts of money. dollar for dollar the service people always will take home more because in Oregon the rule of thumb is not to claim all of the tips on your tax return. Income tax, Social Security, and Medicare take a big split of what does not go into a workers pocket. Desk workers probably know that a large chunk of income goes to pay taxes, but service industry people avoid those taxes, and receive in the end more for their money per hour. Maybe this is well deserved, but lets think about what that money will buy you.
Our espresso has been simple, which we think is perhaps more imperfect, and more beautiful. Espresso blends in Portland are often made with more than three coffees, which are usually shrouded in secrecy, because they are protecting their blend against other roasters? or because they are using their cheap coffee, or to get rid of their overstock? Maybe they do none of these things but they surely are not being honest. Honesty may not be the best term but can they tell you the ratio, how much they paid the farmer, and can they tell you if they purchased the coffee intentionally because it was lovely or was it a mistake and they are masking the flavors in a blend. actually many many roasters focus on using cheaper coffees. Is espresso made by us totally awesome- no- but there is a certain beauty in it we believe. Our espresso today- the Kochere, Yirgacheffe- cost us 4.75 a pound green, add on top of that a 20% increase for mass loss during roasting as water weight (among other compounds)escapes. sometimes we also hear that a coffee is too nice for espresso. But on our end each coffee, we feel, tastes or behaves better. I guess that is what we want to do, provide something enjoyable.
In other news….
There has been a level of genius/lo-tec in our labels. We have been hard pressed to do away with packaging waste, material waste, while also making a label which looks ok. I think the material we are using now is for painters tape. it is paper with a gummy back. different than a sticker, although i wonder if it is not vegan (hmm). as of this week we just gave up stamping our jars and have attempted to print on this roll paper stock. It is considerably difficult to get it to feed correctly, but the image looks crisp. You will notice this new label on the shelves and on your porch. We are unsure how the toner will hold up, but it truly is a timesaver and looks great.
April 10th, 2016
There is a new coffee package on the shelf at your local grocery store- from more than a few different roasters using the words “biodegradable”. But how can polyethylene be biodegradable?
Polyethylene is plastic. it is used to line milk cartons, and coffee cups. There are paper coffee bags that are lined with polyethylene, and in general it is a thin plastic film, used for plastic bags- probably with BSP. We are almost positive that plastic is not biodegradable- but that word has many definitions which do not exactly match up with ecological sustainability. The question at each step is- is this necessary.
The long and short is that no- coffee is not necessary. We started this business as a vice. a necessary evil tied up in the economics of global trade, displacement, colonialism, Christianity, world wars, and plastic packaging. Let us even mention the large amounts of fossil fuels roasting, those roasters who choose to heat their space with a roaster while also running air conditioning. To their defense let us look toward a time when having ice and refrigeration are considered wasteful.
Let us be thoughtful. we should not believe these smooth words like Biodegradable. we should be thinking of the impact of what we do. Maybe bring your own cup to the coffee shop? We certainly appreciate you who appreciate. I really do not like having to sell coffee cups and plastic lids. What would make us most happy is to be part of a business where more than not we see thoughtfulness, and mindfulness.
Great- now that we have guilt tripped you, let us tell you…. This past week we ordered ten cases of mason jars from Target, which were shipped in eight large boxes, each containing two smaller boxes, each box containing one box of 12, quart mason jars. These are remarkably cheap. we are not even able to wholesale directly from the company for this price. The company is called Jardin corporation and they own kerr, ball and 20 other different companies. right now its a moral dilema where to get glass from.
We also received nine N44g Shure Phono Styluses, samples of coffee from El Salvador, parts from Synesso espresso machine manufacturer, and tires from bike tires direct.
March 27th, 2016
Having a little trouble getting our google photos to show on our website with the new script/encoding that google is using. so now we will tell our story with words.
David and Jeremy have been roasting with me lately, and whats more we have been cupping every production roast of coffee between the three of us. Cupping the same coffee roasted 15 different ways can be challenging, and educational, if backed up with expert notes. This has led us down the path of re-addressing our datalogger (nonfunctional as of now), and asking ourselves how much the build up of oils on our roaster’s bi-metal thermometer lags the readings. Then we get afraid that if we actually clean the thermowell, that things will be so drastically different we wont know where to start….
Today we laid out the internals of a Mazzer Major doser assembly- thinking about how to rebuild it better to suit our purpose. Yesterday we gave our shelf on bar a new shelf liner. A few days before that we restocked our tea- so now we have Ginger, Rooibos, Chamomile, Peppermint, English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Kyushu Sencha, and Chinese Sencha- all except the last (from Foxfire) courtesy of Jasmine Pearl…
If I have not been that present downtown I have been a little more everywhere else. The amount of tasting and thought that is going into the roasts these days is more than fun. We even had a productive OSHA meeting three days ago, where we discussed the type of ear protection that would be useful around the shop. I personally feel that this (tax season, training new roasters) is probably the most relaxed of all time before my six week old daughter grows up, and hopefully the most productive. Listening to the talk about our bar I am reminded that it is a small place, which i think we could make more purposeful.
For the customers of our bar- a behind the scenes dilemma/challenge with equipment and space will be refrigeration. It is like tetris, and the challenge of making cold brew, chilling glasses, creating bubbly water will continue to increase. but perhaps this balance is what makes things fun….
Anyway. Thank you for being with us. we will continue to work on serving you better. if you need to contact us at all call or text me-joel .
February 19th, 2016
Ryoku Margaret Setaka-Domreis, 2.69kg.
We raced to the hospital last Wednesday afternoon after an alarming report on the ultrasound, which later turned out a false assessment. She was actually due today, but we, given the option for her safety induced labor last week. Nothing went as planned but everything turned out well, and she is improving an already terrible sleep pattern that i have. After working on espresso machines, and making coffee, chatting to customers, babies are entirely different.
Courier staff pulled together to make the deliveries happen in my absence. Special guest roaster Alex Geddes prepped the coffee, and everyone gave up their freetime to make things happen. The roastery has actually got a lot more exciting the last week.
Downtown the fill solenoid on our Fetco HWB-5 kind of slowly went out. Typical of what we do we just harvested parts from something else to make it work. Since things always happen in sets the shifter cable went out on the cargo bike (probably a 15 minute fix), but yesterday we did all deliveries in the high gear.
Besides being years behind on paperwork, and super tired, things are going very well here at the roastery. We received new coffee last week and it is all on bar being served. all the best from us-j ccr
January 28th, 2016
A number of new things are happening.
Our bar will be a place to register to vote (look for box in corner). We have started to carry/are in transition/ and will be serving new Earl Grey, English Breakfast, and Kyushu Sencha tea courtesy of Jasmine Pearl Tea Company. Sakiko and I are having a baby girl roughly around the 19th.An amazing article just came out on TSITE Japan- check it here, courtesy of Masa, writing by Sakiko (disregard the part about drowning small children if you cannot read Japanese). We are now boiling all our water at the roastery with White Gas on our three burner Coleman campstove (educational). There is a new place in St. Johns serving Courier- Becka- Israeli Breakfast spot in the Brasstacks St. Johns location- Think delicious Israeli food 7am-2pm only through February.
Now- on the deeper front- the front bearing on the SF-25 roaster is not entirely in good health. We have plans to pull it, but wrecking the housing is surely a possibility. On a happier side we have added a beautiful set of Wiha torx drivers to our toolset courtesy of Hall tool, mostly because someone put their phone in the laundry.
Alex Geddes (now Spielman Coffee Roasters) and I have both been discussing gas flow on the roaster lately. My opinion is that it is no problem, but Alex seems to think the roaster has less power. Yesterday at Extracto Coffee roasters hanging out behind the scenes our attention was guided to an amazing clear gas inlet tube with a floating pressure indicator (cannot remember technical term). This tube is totally awesome and when Chris (Extracto) returns from Ethiopia we are going to have to ask him on this.
all sorts of stuff is happening that we barely can talk about. someone made off with our blue recycle bin at the roastery. Baked potatoes were put on hold at the coffee shop (but wait- i have a bag of potatoes sitting next to me as i type). In the midst of all this it is hard to fathom the next few weeks. There are a bunch of Colombian “microlot” samples coming to roast and cup. We have one very lovely new Colombian from La Estrella farm that is here, but on very short supply. Since I am doing all the roasting and delivering i think the next few weeks will be tough. There are birth classes to attend, coffee to roast…
January 13th, 2016
Max and I tasted some tea today (unimpressed). We both agreed it was good, but… lacking. In order to find new tea, or a company to work with there will be some soul searching. I think we have something that meets our standards now, but losing Foxfire tea is a very large juncture for us, and we want to do this right.
We are (about to blow your mind) serving baked potatoes in an even more limited amount than our pastries, housemade. Each garnished with a touch of ‘fleur de sel.’ We continue to experiment on our own about potatoes, and we want you to remember our concept comes from a very near past where potatoes were used as pocket warmers. On these cold mornings a hot potato may just be the perfect thing. While we have talked about sweet potatoes we want to really work first on the basics. They will be red potatoes organically grown in either Washington or Oregon. These will be wrapped in foil and available between 8 and 10am ish. Other garnishes will be coming soon, and we have to admit this will certainly not be a money maker, but who would not want a hot potato.
Happy new year- ccr
January 10th, 2016
Roasting coffee for LUCLAC right now. Since we are attentive this statement will only be true for the beginning of the type. There is great care in the french roast coffee… (roasting). even in darkness there will be a gradient of development throughout the seed which will affect the final product.
LucLac serves Vietnamese style coffee, however we take it lighter than you would in Vietnam, yet still black all the way (there is a color gradient however) through without any sourness or acid. Many think that we roast lighter/medium roasts of coffee, but we do about two batches a week that are darker. The quality of the coffee, we feel, always comes through into the final product, and while normally roasters seem to not care about things like french roast and decaf it should be cared about. The only bummer for us is that we only get to roast about two batches each a week of dark roast and decaf, maybe a few percent of what we roast weekly.
Topic two- Kyocera Dura XV Plus- everyone says they are slow, but what they mean is that there is a weird glitch. We raved about this phone a month ago, but then, it started lagging terribly. At the beginning of december it fixed itself and now is sharp as ever. In the last month we also changed the way we carried our phone and have been driving (gasp) much more. We have left our phone in the middle of intersections on rainy days. In puddles in the gutter overnight. Have accidentally had the phone fall into a cup of coffee. But the thing is this phone is awesome. It gets charged once a week as well and no sooner than every four days, and we use it for work.
Topic 3- beer can stoves the perfect gift. We started writing this post pre January, and we are thinking about gifts. Well its now too late to advise but a few of you may remember years ago when we were making campstoves to boil water at the roastery. Matthew Sperry of Courier introduced us to the Penny Stove, and we have about eight of these at the roastery. Just prior to gift giving we tried our hand at making them again and we remembered that they take a little more finesse than we remembered. fueling them with shellac thinner is probably equally great and terrifying.
Whenever we post (and i can believe other roasters do not post) there is so much information we want to tell you about.
Happy New Year to all. Thank you so so much for being with us.
December 22nd, 2015
Holiday at 923 sw oak- closed christmas day and new years day only.we may close an hour early christmas eve depending on if anyone is in the shop.
We have stocked the shop well with prepackaged coffee this morning. In addition we have coffee ready to be packed. Actually the decaf today should be amazing. Kenilworth Coffee and No Wave coffee are getting retail later today for resale roasted today. If anyone would like to swing by the roastery for coffee please send me a text with your name, what you would like etc. I actually have to do christmas shopping and was hoping to do that wednesday, however i will try to be available early morning and evening for pick up, as well as roasting custom orders for people to get thursday morning.
November 21st, 2015
we got a bike odometer- come nerd out w us and talk about miles and load. courier has one big tip for the winter- Sandersons safety.
tuesday was a tiring day this week. 55 miles of wind and rain. we did kind of an amazing job keeping the packaging dry.
december we will be having open hours at the roastery on hawthorne. Thanksgiving day we will be open the morning only. friday there will be a late start.
October 30th, 2015
two unrelated stories-
The unofficial first year we had a Micron computer running Windows ’95, a dial up internet connection through Eugene costing maybe 90/year, a fax machine off craigslist, and a crummy landline/answering machine- the year was 2004.
In 2004 most people had cell phones. After we got a business licence we decided to get a Samsung flip phone- and today we are now on our fifth flip phone. Mid summer we did acquire an iphone- which no one has the number to, but business phone remains the flip phone.
Enter our new Kyocera. Sadly there are no options anymore for phones like this, but this has got to be the raddist flip phone ever. Texting with gloves, in the pouring rain. the action on the buttons is really nice. it also has noise dampening, and so far people have mentioned that they hear us super clear. also it organizes messages in threads by person. It has been a week so far with this phone and the thrill has not worn off- looking forward to the next five years with this phone!!!!
Sometime around 2003? Peets opens the first coffee bar in Portland- and it was revolutionary (for six months). This is at their Broadway location which is still (almost) the same. The concept? order coffee like beer, or like at an old fashioned soda fountain (which ive heard of but never seen). No point of sale, no lines, just belly up to the bar- sound familiar? After all the research using that ’95 windows computer, and painstakingly coming to the same conclusion of this is how it should be, someone had already beat us there (for a short while). Two local coffee favorites were also later to build the same idea- with the same failing- where either the staff, or customers, revolted against the idea. The point is that Peets Coffee has had some great ideas- but perhaps what they work against is our culture, or maybe they are not working hard enough.
Its rainy and that means seats inside our shop are difficult- dont worry we are working on that now. we are also waxing and waterproofing our gear, and atempting to fix our brakes for the cargo bike. New lot from Rwanda arrived today- Ingoboko cooperative farmers, Rutsiro district (lovely winey accidity, just did a small batch, will be downtown tomorrow).