the gentle softness behind making drinks

October 17th, 2017

or how staring at your phone is like someone watching a television while at work. Watching your server paying more attention to something else than to you.

Professionally when i get a phone call (unless its a work call), I go outside so as not to disturb others. Reading a book, Playing magic the Gathering, working on your laptop… well- I think that working is noble, and Magic the Gathering (or having the guts to play it) is awesome.. really i cant fault any customer.. but often it is wrong for the workers to be on their phone while being in the spotlight. spotlight?

A drink should be attentive to the conditions. should the cup be warmed to what level depending on humidity and temperature in the room. should we focus so much on latte art that the cup fills just above the rim and is impossible to easily carry and or lift to your mouth. does your server even have the faintest idea of nuances between drinks other than size. should customer service matter. yes.

recently someone told me that a 5 oz latte and cappuccino are the same drink- of course they are not. When we opened 7 years ago i think we were under this myth as well. not only are there differences in drinks, there are regional differences as well to be aware of. try and order a 5 oz latte and a 5 oz cappucino next time from your server and see what happens.

We will not say that we do it better, or consistently, but customers know. when you get served an iced americano is it cold? luke warm? does the crema or espresso float, or mix. and would your server care. yes hopefully. do you want it hot on top and chilled below. personally i would like it cold, but the crema still floating on the surface. id like the espresso poured on top of the water with ice, and a spoon to gently stir the water below to chill from the bottom up but keep the cream of the espresso on top.

actually ordering a 5 oz latte and a 5 oz cappuccino would be a good trick for your server. also interesting in Portland would be (or any city) if prices are different.

there are differences.

smoke and face masks

September 5th, 2017

wildfire smoke was a light snow at 4am, so we decided to bike to work, as normal. Wore a light mask, the cheap kind you find at most Japanese convenience stores, and the breathing was better. Masks are great at keeping particles out, but not firesmoke, however we have a great nose here.

Loaned Justin my eye protection for his 20 mile delivery route, and Japanese mask. Later i got our North 5500-30s mask- typical for paint and sanding with n100 filtration (the best you can do before chemical filtering for fire smoke), and it was awesome. With the N100 filters the air was easy, and smelled ok. while the light paper masks improved things a little the full rubber seal of the North mask is 20 times better. we have some other very serious disposable masks made by 3M, with an air out valve, made with white fluffy material, but they are very hot, and of course not as good as the rubber seal.

At the roastery we installed serious air filters on all of our windows, the kind meant for cigarette smoke and chemicals, and then had our large fan drawing air through the space. This protected the coffee from soot and particles, and helped considerably at the start of the day, but its still lightly smoky inside the room now, probably from going in and out all day, and also the seals.

Currently I am working from the storage room, with two doors between me and the outside world. Our green coffee storage room is also positively pressurized with both air conditioning and humidity control. The air is great here, and its cool.

While i did not see a single biker this morning wearing a mask or even a bandanna, i think they are still very needed. I got lightheaded biking this morning, and heard reports that others felt the same while riding. dont be afraid to look nerdy- goggles and mask really help.

7 year anniversary

August 13th, 2017

August marks our coffee shops 7 year anniversary, and maybe 11 or 12 for Courier Coffee Roasters. We remember at ten years the Half & Half cafe had already become legend at 923 SW Oak, and the memories of Portland’s first Taco del Mar had all but been forgotten. Rocco’s Pizza was always awesome, and in the first years we could run out between orders to pick up vinyl from Jackpot on 9th and Burnside.The block where the Zoobombers gathered, where the Sprockettes drank coffee.

When Courier opened we charged an astronomical two dollars for a pourover coffee. The building tenants wrote us hate messages and destroyed what little furniture we had in some weird misunderstanding. Our front door was a very popular spot to shoot up, sleep, and sometimes while we were still inside closing or opening. But it was the best of times as well.

Somewhere we read that originally the building housed electricians? or a supply house, or a school for journeyman?

Its been awesome.

On other fronts- the roastery is now a proud owner of one of those huge 42 inch warehouse fans! We got a “Master” belt drive van for decreased vibration and extended motor life. And our basement is so full of coffee its increasingly difficult to move. Downtown we have already started Shaved Ice Saturdays- the ice we are getting is amazing, and our blades are sharp. We are increasingly learning the importance and way to treat ice at different temperatures. Handmade everything of course. Wages for everyone increased very sharply last month. We still dont know how to work with increasing cost, but we are outpacing Portlands minimum wage by a bit. No one can have it both ways we guess, and of course its amazing to be able to drink coffee all the time at work.

Thank you for being with us. best!

4th july 7am-noonish open

July 4th, 2017

closing early. come by for coffee.

June 25th, 2017

Japanese shaved ice (Kakigori) will take off for real June 15th at the shop. Follow @ssshavedice on Instagram for the times and details as it gets close.

For a little background the shaved ice project starts with Sakiko, part owner of Courier. Her and i met at the coffee bar, later we got married at the coffee bar by David (funny guy who works in the morning), and so we became partners. Sakiko is an editor and writer in Japan, who came to Portland before Portland was known in Tokyo. One of Sakikos interests is Kakigori (shaved ice).

So we brought a manual Kakigori machine (Kakigoriki) back from Tokyo as a checked piece of luggage. Carrying a 56 pound machine on the train along with other luggage is tough. jumping in and out of trains, using the escalator. We ended up buying a little cart to make it easy, but traveling with a Kakigoriki is not, entirely, easy. Neither is, bringing this machine to Courier whenever we do shaved ice, or carrying it up the ladder to stow away. Thankfully we have a car, otherwise the machine, the crates, the 16 month old daughter- well, we have not talked about bike trailers yet.

Japanese shaved ice probably differs by style and the type of the machine from say, Hawaiian, or Vietnamese. The blade is very sharp high carbon tool steel which is meant to cut ribbons from crystal clear ice. This should produce almost “snowball making snow,” if the ice is too cold then it will produce powder- which won’t take any liquid if you pour condensed milk on top. Flavors commonly almost always include sweetened condensed milk as the sugary part. But if you want to really know, then you should come try it at Courier on the days we make.

a month ago when the power went out the blocks of ice in our freezer saved all of our other product. we moved these to the refrigerators and kept the temperature in the safe zone for food products.

Projects lately include digging through our 600 plus records at the roastery, trying to figure out their origins. We got a new Milwaukie corded drill and some rivets and have been refurbishing an old higgens toolbox. We are trying to refurbish our silca pumps- recently retapped the threads and have new leather. Piles of free firewood at the roastery from all our cut up palettes. and probably the most thrilling thing lately has been fixing the gate hinges for the backyard so that the latch always catches. we are very proud of this work as we accomplished it with zipties, a few beer caps, a bic pen tube, and brass compression nut.

the roastery is hot. its 80F now, but once we turn on the 1200F afterburning the room will hold at a 100F. its always summer at the roastery.

shop closed today due to power outage

May 23rd, 2017

there was a fire in an underground vault yesterday evening. we will be without power all today. hopefully enough ice in our fridges will keep them cold enough for the day.

May 15th, 2017

Last time we cut up the pallets. The next step was biking 300 pounds of pallette wood 5 miles deeper into southeast Portland. A normal 20 minute ride took one hour. We fell over three times on an uphill climb, once nearly missing a parked car. It was awesome. Distributed nice clean small cuts of wood to a community garden for their fire pit or building pleasure, then sections of partial cut palet with nails to my yard? for planting beds.

The coffee at Jackpot went super smooth- brewed all the coffee pourover style using gold plated filters from Zip. The first batch we attempted a different method- which while sludgy tasted great.

The last week we bled, and flushed the mineral oil from the cargo bikes rear Saint hydraulic brake line. super easy- nice and tight. except we ruined a half used set of pads. the oil was pretty dark. We pushed oil from the calipers up to the handlebars while keeping the line vertical. pushed some to flush out, and another to bottle up in the line. cleaned the ceramic pistons with some degreaser first and then a ton of rubbing alcohol before pressing them back in. lucky we have extra pads always for the saint pistons- although 50-60 dollars a pair, but the cargo bike needs those cooling fins on the pads for sure.

some may have noticed that we replaced our chairs downtown that were from IKEA (yellow)- with some vintage 1970′s chairs (orange). We are working very hard on those cheap yellow chairs with different disposable allen wrenches here at the shop. The issue with our orange chairs is that they are orange but the reason for the switch is because the yellow ones were falling apart.

May 1st, 2017

Installed a new Grove Gear wormgear reducer box on the SF-25 San Franciscan roaster, have not aligned the box properly yet to get a nice chainline. Last week our keystone worked itself loose and we scuffed up the paint a little re-setting the Martin 40 tooth sprockette, using an interesting tool steel spike like crowbar (oTc 7164). This was in order to line up the keyway. Too hasty installing the gearbox.

This week we cleaned out most of the 9-block pallets from inside the roastery. Since we cannot find a pallet person, or find a taker on craigslist for these things we had to cut them up for firewood. De-spelled the myth that pallette wood was soaked in chemicals by talking to a few folks, so its ok to use for a fire or woodstove. Must have been between 2-3 hundred pounds of wood we biked back home, turning a 20 minute ride into an hour. Cuts were made with an old Skillsaw which continued to cutout because the hot and ground wire kept connecting, our fix for this continued to get better.

The Shutter Precision dynamo hub on the cargo bike is working awesome. It is so sweet to have a rear and front light always on. We used a piece of chain from the roaster to hold the Supernova seatpost light firmly, and later some security screws for all. Very much thinking of making my next personal front hub a dynamo hub.

While we have the new coffee from Uganda, and two new Kenyan coffees we are still thinking about how best to roast them. Our espresso Guatemalan coffee continues to challenge us but lately its gotten a lot better- as it always does when there is less than a hundred pounds left (ASDEFLOR cooperative, Todos Santos Cuchumatan, Huehuetenango, Guatemala 2016 crop).

Brewing coffee for the line at Jackpot on Record Store Day went ok. Only was able to use one glass thermos, but the main challenge was pourover brewing such a huge amount. More than sure some of that coffee was made way too strong- but it got there- and it was the first preview of one of our two new Kenyan coffees. We brewed using gold plated steel Zip filters (Germany), into quart jars, grinding courser than normal and timing to 3 minute brews especially since we were using super super freshly roasted coffee. Decided wisely not to offer cream or sugar, but put the main effort into clear labeling of the farmer, and lot of coffee.

April 20th, 2017

sample roasted new crop Guatemalan coffees yesterday, we have locked in our order for two new coffees from Huehuetenango and its now a matter of shipping.

Free Courier Coffee this Saturday for the line at Record Store Day on Hawthornes Jackpot records. Unsure what to make- new Uganda coffee arrival? for this record store day we want to do something interesting- going against the grain. We know, and have pushed, stainless steel lined airpots (or thermoses). Pretty much every coffee shop and roaster in the city uses these because they tend to break less than glass thermoses, and can hold a little more volume. But glass keeps heat better, and also tastes better since there is no steel to react with the oils. Money over quality is what it breaks down too. sure your coffee is rad if you toss it every 40 minutes after brew, and honestly coffee that sits in a steel thermos for a few hours is surprisingly ok. but glass is best. so for this record store day we will be brewing ahead and serving in glass lined carafs.

We still expect new crop kenya and uganda in tomorrow. also we recieved more kenya and colombia samples last night which we will roast and cup today.

April 17th, 2017

the new teapots on bar are from Sanjo, Niigata, Japan. They were made to order, and are a product of our recent trip.

New white cups arrived today- Ancap- made in Italy. These will be our third round of cups for the shop, and our second time ordering Ancap. The first time we stocked ACF, or FAC in brown, along with Gretchen Vaudt’s hand made cups.

New crop Kenyas are in, well almost, they will arrive in Portland Friday, along with new crop Uganda coffee. Our Guatemalan samples got delayed but new crop Guatemala coffee is so so close. New lot of Sulawesi is also going to start being on bar at the end of the week.

At the roastery we have a new front wheel for the cargo bike- with a Shutter Precision dynamo hub, laced to a G-Sport ribcage rim. This is our first foray into Dynamo lighting, and we picked up Supernova front and rear lights. The mounting needs work but its going to be awesome, well, unless they get stolen.

We are swimming in pallets that no one wants to reuse (stacked inside our small space), time to make firewood.

lastly but most importantly Vanilla prices are crazy, despite that we give out Vanilla syrup as a courtesy, times are changing. Vanilla is very scarce after the category 5 hurricane wiped out 70% of Madagaskars Vanilla bean. We wholesale it for $375 a pound currently (eighty beans in a pound last count). Madagaskar produces over 90% of the worlds Vanilla. Did you know that Vanilla comes from an Orchid, and it takes three years for this orchid to bloom and when it does there is only a day the flower has to be pollinated.

soon soon-ccr