Archive for August, 2009

New CCR sign at Little Red Bike Cafe

Monday, August 31st, 2009

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KeeganMeegan did this rad Courier Coffee sign, for our friends at LRBC. They are a small press and bindery on the south edge of the eastside industrial area, where Division meets the river (actually Ivon street, one south of Division). Their shop is part of EM Space, a center for book arts. Keegan and Katie, of KeeganMeegan, have a love for hands on printing, reflected in their collection of letter, and printing presses. EM Space holds classes and workshops, and has its own large collection of working presses. About once a week we drop off a glass jar of coffee to KeeganMeegan. We think their newest sign is rad! Huge thanks to LRBC, who contracted the artwork, for supporting Courier Coffee in all we do, and being one of the best coffee friends ever.

New coffee and lightning socks

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

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New coffee arrived Monday at CCR. It was delivered by a huge semi-truck. We were perhaps mistaken when we said that Courier received its first semi-truck delivery one month ago. Looking back I see that the cab and truck on our last delivery were one, and that it perhaps was not the genuine article. Monday our first honest to goodness semi-truck arrived, bringing literally a ton of coffee (2000 lbs) at one in the afternoon. It was perhaps magical that Alex and I caught the truck at all. We had just pressed some coffee, the day was bright and beautiful. Standing in our shop, we heard/felt the truck. Both our heads turned, catching sight of its logo. Trucks had been visiting Hawthorne all day, but this was different. We did not recognize the branding, and the truck noise had stopped. Alex and I without words, started slowly walking out, through the parking lot. Thats our truck!!

It was impressive to see the truck back into our neighbors parking lot, during their noon rush. Between the telephone poll and the metal posts sunk into the lot it was tight. Our driver totally rocked! Otherwise we would have had to stack our bags in the middle of the boulevard. There was no lift gate, and no palette jack. We carried the coffee to the dge of the truck where Alex rolled it off to stack. Enter Matt Sperry, just arriving to work after a long night at the hospital, perfect. Then we had a great time moving our new coffees to the cellar.

El Salvador Palo de Compana finca Alaska- red and orange bourbon varietals. Super full in your mouth, juicy, spice, red wine, oak, smoky. The sugars remind me of wine sugars. Although this is a washed coffee, the fruit sugars are big. It reminds us of perhaps syrah, with hints of spice and oak. When the cup is hot we find tangerine, kumquats, and lively citrus. There are all sorts of juice notes as the cup cools. Roasting this coffee is going to be rad.

Also, there were other coffees on the truck. One might be on bar at Little Red Bike 4823 N. Lombard tomorrow morning- limited.

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About Courier

Monday, August 24th, 2009

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Three work at Courier Coffee- Matt, Alex, and Joel.  Here we are heating up some water and citric acid. Matt stirs with a screw driver .

We mostly taste, sample, roast coffee, but we also supply equipment, keep inventory on parts and replacements for our accounts. Much of what we do is learning, and staying tuned to our coffee friends.

Our location is normally referred to as just 40th and Hawthorne, Portland, Oregon. What we really mean to say is that we are in a converted garage building in the back corner of the parking lot of a Thai/Vietnamese restaurant.

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We roast coffee on a 25 pound, gas fired, SanFranciscan roaster, manufactured by Coffee/PER, a small company once located near San Francisco and now operating in Fallon, Nevada. Sherman Dodd started Coffee/PER after 25 years working/rebuilding Probat roasters, because he decided that he could build a better roaster. One of the main differences is that the SanFranciscan is made from mild steel, not cast iron. This is a much more forgiving, and less brittle material. A second difference is that there are four identical motors operating the roaster, instead of one, or however many a Probat has. Anyway, the drum of the roaster rotates against the front plate. The drum itself is solid steel, except the very far back of the drum, which is perforated steel. The flames are below the drum and the hot air, from the flame, gets drawn through the back of the drum, and out through the front plate by means of an artificial draft created by a hot air exhaust impeller.

So, basically, our roaster is awesome! The instructions say it does 25 pounds, but we normally drop 18 pounds in, yielding us roughly 15pounds roasted coffee. Our average roast time per batch is 12-13minutes.

Oh, and we deliver all of our coffee by bicycle! Our accounts span from 72nd and Flavel (deep southeast Portland for some), all the way to the base of the St Johns bridge. We actually loop around Portland a ton. Add on top of this that we move espresso machines, coffee brewers, grinders, and all sorts of things all on our bicycle, sometimes even three bags of green coffee on one bike!

We are super dedicated to keeping our work hands on, local, and awesome. Currently we are wholesale only, working with our coffee friends, but we totally sell coffee to individuals. Of course, it is our friends, and our friends friends, and the people who keep up with our clients that keep us going. Welcome to team Courier Coffee!!!

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loving Perierra Creperie

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

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Ham & Gruyere with an egg, and mustard!

Loving Perierra Creperie, you will find us their almost daily eating a Ham and Gruyere crepe, or perhaps just checking in on their coffee supply. Currently they are pressing up Guatemala Esquipulas de Chiquimula finca las Nubes, our super juicy, tangerine milk chocolate, late july crop arrival coffee from Don Fabio Solis’s farm. The crepes are totally awesome, and we pretty much dream of eating them all day long.

Gruyere is a Spanish cheese, and after the egg is laid down a few loops of mustard before the crepe is folded over. Start to finish the entire process is about three minutes. The result is super delicious, and addition of an egg to your order is highly recommended. Of course, they have probably twelve different crepes, and at least five milkshakes, but we find a special attachment for the Ham and Gruyere.

Perierra Creperie is located on 12th and Hawthorne, bike commuter nexus for the eastside.

Tuesday- Saturday 8am-3am. Sunday 9- late

sample roasting

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

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Roasted samples of green coffee last night at home in my garage. Our sample roaster is basically a solid steel drum on a spit, turned by hand, over propane flame. A few magnetic thermometers are stuck on the side for reference, next to a small door to spoon samples out. On the far side of the drum a larger hinged door, with a latch key, is for dropping beans in, and pulling finished roasts. Next to the roaster sits a leather glove.

Our sample roaster was made for us by Sherman Dodd, who started Coffee/PER, manufacturer of the SanFranciscan roaster. Five years ago, I contracted Sherman after exhausting a short list of referenced local welders. I spent months on a few different designs, finally deciding upon one, and faxing it over to Sherman, who agreed to make it for me. He made a few upgrades to my design and the result was awesome.

For the first year of roasting in my garage, the majority of my time was spent with this roaster. Now we roast in my garage only to do small samples, sent to us by green coffee sellers. The table next to the roaster is full of tools and forgotten bike parts, while behind is my collection of bikes.

Anyway, last night five samples of coffee from El Salvador were roasted, that were cupped out today. Since much of the flavors were hidden today by the freshness of the roast we will also be cupping these out tomorrow, and maybe after that.

window blog

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

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Sunday Parkways locks down streets as my cell phone blows up

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

It is Saturday afternoon and I am roasting only the coffee I need, plus a little extra. I have deadlines to hit. I must get to Selgris before open, and Two Tarts and H&H before they close. Midway through this run additional orders come in.

This morning was difficult. I knew and was planned for Hash Restaurant and 72nd avenue pub, but the phone call alerting me that Toast would need coffee before 9am was unexpected. I receive the call at 750am.

The cargo bike has a 35pound box of stainless steel airpots, plus the coffee I was delivering to Hash. I am at my house leaving when I get the call from Toast. Planning to skim some of Hash’s coffee for Toast when I receive phone call number two alerting me that Toast is completely out of decaf coffee. At this point I am in Sellwood and things are radically altered. I now have an hour to skim coffee from the H&H and gather what little decaf I have at the roastery- 72nd Avenue Pub is placed on the backburner.

As I make my way from downtown to the roastery streets that I did not even know were part of Sunday Parkways start to be blocked off. My route is shifted as streets start to close. I could of course bike through, but I am weary of Sunday Parkways. Arrived at the roastery, switch to a faster bike and book to Toast.

Now I am back at the workshop, having taken coffee from the H&H cafe I must now roast them more and travel back. The following is a map pulled from the Sunday Parkways site. It looks great for family’s with small children who would like to get out and ride their bicycles. Also today is Portland Century, who I crossed paths with multiple times this morning.

Click to see a larger image of the map.

bike service call to Vancouver Washington, leaking 3-way solenoid valves

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Yesterday at three I was hastily packing tools for a trip to Vancouver, Washington. I wanted to travel light and fast, but needed large adjustable wrenches, open box wrenches, and some beautiful screw drivers. Threw some rain gear in bag, extra tube, bike map clipped on porteur rack, ready to go, no fenders.

I zigged over to Vancouver Ave, following it as it turned into MLK, and over the bridges into Vancouver, Washington. The bike/pedestrian route is by no means clearly laid, and I did lose my way, but made it before the doors locked at my destination.

My project for the afternoon a three group Synesso Cyncra espresso machine, property of Clark County. On the phone reports were about the middle group not activating the water. When I arrived the middle group was operating, except with minimal flow. Upon removing the front panel I notice all three brew group seals failing, definitely a lesson here. Quickly removing two of the brewvalves I cleared the corrosion, remounted them, trimming the surface with a knife, and tightened the bolts mounting the valves so tight one wonders if it was too tight. Time was definitely my enemy last night as I only had one hour, and lack of proper surfacing supplies.

At least the ride was pretty. I must confess, I installed each of these valves a month ago, having resurfaced each group, and with brand new o-rings, careful to properly tighten. It truly baffles me, how all three of my installs failed, and of course I must go back to rework the fittings now. This troubles my sleep, and it probably will until I can get back and be assured that my seals are tight, and my work area clean. It helps that the ride is nice.

The sky had begun to darken with clouds as I left Vancouver. The bridge was tight, and I passed for the second time that day the Custom Gold Teeth sign. Getting lost, I found a new way back. For about ten blocks I was paced, on a residential street, by an ice cream truck that was mixing its ice cream truck music. Tools heavy on my back, I stopped to get some tortillas, and then cut home to sleep.

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Alex bikes new espresso: Brazil Cerrado fazenda Chapadao de Ferro

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

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Alex left this morning with 63 pounds of coffee. He has two stops downtown, an office, and Half and Half Cafe, before crossing the Broadway bridge and biking out Interstate to Little Red Bike Cafe. From there he goes to Cafe Under the Bridge, crossing the St. Johns Bridge and bombing down highway 30 back to downtown Portland. Making a few checks/deliveries in downtown Alex then goes to deliver coffee to Produce Row Cafe, followed by the crepe cart on 12th and Hawthorne, Perierra Creperie.

Alex is bringing the last few pounds of our current espresso to LRBC and H&H, along with our brand new espresso: Chapadao de Ferro. H&H will be getting into this last batch pretty much immediately, while LRBC will tap into it mid Friday. Then it will be time for something fresh and radically different, a single origin, natural process coffee, from Cerrado, Brazil. The family farm, or fazenda, is named for the huge volcanic plateau on which it rests. Chapadao de Ferro, in Portuguese, literally translates to ‘really big plateau of iron.’ The plateau is the highest elevation in all of Cerrado, and the mineral content in the coffee is apparent. Fazenda Chapadao de Ferro is run by the Delarisse family, who raise cattle as well as coffee, very common we hear for this area. The espresso we are sending out today is a 50/50 mix of two roasts that are each slightly different, roasted yesterday at 255pm. Moving to a traditional natural process coffee the espresso should be more sweet and full, and totally different.

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learning about 3-way solenoid valves

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Last week I had a chance to daily sample our espresso at the Half & Half, and often to compare with our espresso made at the Little Red Bike Cafe. At the same time back in the workshop we are learning a bit more , specifically on the control valves that allow water to flow from the group heads and thus make espresso.

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Almost all espresso machines in use today have a 3-way solenoid valve, made by Parker, that is connected to a switch/button/paddle, for each grouphead. The Solenoid is basically a gate for the water, its natural position being closed. A coil of wire in a black box surrounds the mechanical part of the valve. When a current is run through this coil it creates a magnetic field that pulls the core of the valve down, opening the gate for the incoming hot water, closing the lower opening, and allowing water to run through the valve to the shower screen of the group.

The newer style of valve cores utilize synthetic ruby seals. These are superior to the older Viton seals because of their longevity and resistance to corrosion. Inside the core, and pushing behind each of the two ruby seals are two springs, making sure each ruby will seat evenly. Synthetic ruby is grown in a laboratory, and it is very rigid with just enough give on its surface to seal nicely.

The downfall of synthetic ruby versus Viton, is that inadequate rinsing of detergent may lead to residue temporarily gluing the ruby to the seat, causing temporary valve failure.

What we are really learning about this week is what happens when seals and seats do not perfectly match up, and also what happens when switches go bad, since the sign of these problems may often be the same. All week long we will be exploring seats and seals at the workshop. We know that we have some valves that are not working nicely, and so we are going to see if we may flip the ruby discs and clean the seats.

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