Later this week, our department will have the opportunity to represent McMenamins at the Specialty Coffee Association of America's annual symposium being held in Portland this year. This is sure to be a highly informative event filled with the excitement that will come with having the year's largest coffee convention right down the street. As we gear up to attend workshops, see new products, and meet coffee professionals from all around the world, there is one event I am looking forward to above all else – our own Meet The Growers presentation...Read More
I'm pretty astonished at how little has been published about coffee, and about coffee roasting. There are some all-you-need-to-know books out there, but they all seem to be pretty outdated. There is of course, plenty of info online, however this can prove to be challenging to compile and turn out to be an untidy read (considering all the copying you'll need to do to).
There are a few staple books that most coffee roasters and enthusiasts seem to give collective thumbs up to: Mark Pendergrast's Uncommon Grounds (Basic Books, 1999) is a sprawling, comprehensive account of the history of coffee and how the product achieved its global reach. I really enjoyed the pace of this book -- Pendergrast makes the reading of coffee history exciting and compelling, and although the historical content is dense, I found it a hard book to put down. I have found several other books on the subject of the history of coffee, most notably: Stewart Lee Allen's The Devil's Cup (Ballantine Books, 1999) and Bennet Alan WeinBerg and Bonnie K. Bealer's The World of Caffeine (Routledge, 2001).Read More
As you enjoy your coffee each morning, do you ever wonder where it comes from? Did you know that when coffee is first harvested it looks drastically different? The bean that helps millions of people wake up every day is actually the seed of a cherry. Right off the tree, coffee is a small, round, dark-red piece of fruit that resembles a grape. So how does this become a cup of coffee? After harvest, the cherry needs to be processed. The various processing methods that are used in the coffee industry each affect the taste of the bean in their own way.
In the wet or washed method, the fruit is removed from the seed which is then dried. This generally produces a clean, lightly bodied, acidic cup and is widely used in Central American nations such as El Salvador and Guatemala, among other regions. After harvest, the cherries are brought to the wet mill where they are sorted in tanks of water. The ripe fruit is dense and sinks to the bottom of the tanks while the unripe and defective cherries tend to float at the surface to be removed along with any other unwanted material.Read More
Throughout history, courageous explorers and adventurers have introduced rare and exotic foods that over time have become commonplace staples of our modern-day diet and culinary acumen.
Famous men such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, and Sir Francis Drake each returned from their adventures in Asia and the new world to their homes in Europe bringing plants and vegetables that would later transform western cuisine; their names are eternally secure, framed in our national conscience-synonymous with having changed the globe for better or for worse. Tangentially, Gabriel De Clieu is not well known; his name is not commonly found amongst the roster of monolithic characters that are recognized as great men, and yet De Clieu is the man who brought coffee to the new world.
Coffee has often played a part in revolutionary activity. It was the drink of choice for the great intellectual minds of the Enlightenment period. Coffee fueled the feverish discourse of 18th-century philosophers and thinkers who were bent on casting off tyranny and the burdens of old-world superstitions. Voltaire practically lived on caffeine, and Isaac Newton was known to haunt London's coffee houses. The royal establishments of Europe looked askance as the great minds of the day started to question the authority of the old order, their cups brimming over with the thinkers drink, their minds sharpened, wide awake and poised for the promise of the future.Read More
This year Portland will host the Specialty Coffee Association of America's Annual Convention. As we at McMenamins Coffee Roasters are preparing to participate in this important and exciting event, an opportunity presents itself to discuss the label "specialty coffee."
For a coffee to be designated "specialty," it must be rated 80 or above on the Specialty Coffee of America's scale of one to 100. This rating system looks for any defects as well evaluating the color, moisture content, aroma and a variety of other criteria that pertain to the overall quality of the bean. Beyond this however, the term refers to an entire industry focused on high-quality coffee where all aspects of production are constantly being improved upon.Read More
The newest product to come out of McMenamins Coffee Roasters is our seasonal offering -- Fireside Blend. This is a mixture of two of our finest coffees that work together to enhance the warm, nutty chocolate tones in one another and combine to create the ultimate beverage to enjoy throughout the chilly winter months in the Pacific Northwest.
This new blend required much research and experimentation to develop. Here at the Roasters, we are continually working to create new products that represent our commitment to quality. One important tool we use to achieve this is coffee cupping. This is a traditional coffee industry technique and can be seen as our equivalent to the more widely known art of wine tasting.
At the end of last summer, we represented McMenamins coffee roasters at the Hawthorne Street Fair in SE Portland by providing samples of our iced coffee at the Bagdad Pub. Although everybody we met that day was very pleased with the smooth, strong taste and the refreshing qualities of the product, they were often unfamiliar with it. So here's the story...
Three factors lead to success in making an extraordinary iced coffee: 1) bean quality, 2) coarseness of the grind, and 3) extraction method.
With all coffee products, the first step is to select and roast the beans. For our iced coffee we use McMenamins house blend, a mix of Sumatran Mandehling and El Salvadoran Santa Rita beans that are brought to a medium roast in small batches using our L25 Probat roaster. The result is a blend that possesses a smooth taste with hints of chocolate and hazelnut. Once our beans are roasted and blended, we have the base needed to achieve the desired result. The next thing to do is grind the beans coarsely. Since coffee begins to oxidize and lose flavor immediately after grinding, this is done directly prior to brewing.Read More
It takes a good 13 to 14 minutes to complete a medium-to-full city roast. There are two stages that punctuate the transformation of the product from green, turgid beans to fully roasted aromatic coffee.Read More
As you may or may not know, McMenamins roasts its own coffee, and for nearly a decade we have been providing the entire company with our own distinctive blends and single origin coffees. Each year we craft and process about 50,000 pounds of Arabica coffee, which is carefully selected from the major growing regions of the globe. One might ask, "How do they do that...how do they roast their own coffee?"Read More