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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Roaster Spotlight: Arsaga's

Today's roaster spotlight is a long time Fayetteville shop. My very first experience in coffee was my dad taking me to their first store on Block St. for a cappuccino. They were instrumental in fostering my love of coffee. They will always hold a special place in my coffee filled heart. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Arsaga's Discount Code

Good News everyone!  The good people over at Arsaga's have a gift for you. It's a coupon! Use the promo code freshpress when ordering and get 15% off your entire order until August 31, 2013! How amazing is that?

Coffee Spotlight: Arsaga's Kenya (Nyeri) Peaberry

Today's coffee sample is the Kenya Peaberry from Arsaga's Fayetteville Coffee Roasters in Fayetteville, Ar. 

FACTORY: Gatugi Factory
COOPERATIVE: KIri Mara Cooperative
REGION: Located on the eastern slopes of Aberdare ranges; 140 kilometers North of Nairobi City in the Nyeri District
ALTITUDE: 1,700-2,100m
VARIETAL: Arabica (SL and Ruiri 11)
PROCESS: Hand-picked, wet processed, and gradually sun-dried
CUP: Vibrant, bright notes of rose hip.  As the cup cools, clear notes of blueberry and tropical fruit.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mr. Peaberry, a Series of Unfortunate Events?

One day, Mr. Coffee, a well to do coffee bean, was walking home from his highly sophisticated job on Wall Street when he came across a charming dervish of a coffee bean.  This odd coffee bean was smaller and round, unlike Mr. Coffee who was a little bigger with a flat side.  Being a generous and benevolent  bean, asked this odd bean if he was OK.  The round bean introduced himself as Mr. Peaberry.  Mr. Peaberry began to talk with Mr. Coffee about his work on Wall Street.  Mr. Coffee was obliged to share his love of work with his new acquaintance.  However, Mr. Peaberry was not impressed and began to show an air of superiority about all things of which Mr. Coffee spoke.  This began to offend Mr. Coffee and he eagerly looked for a way out of the conversation.  Mr. Peaberry, either through malice or indifference, began to talk louder and faster leaving Mr. Coffee no exit from the conversation.  Finally, Mr. Coffee could take no more of the insolent Mr. Peaberry and struck him while loudly shouting, “Shut up, shut up!”

Monday, July 22, 2013

History Lessons

The French Coffee Romance

Coffee has had a rather dramatic existence.  Maybe not necessarily as a plant, it seems rather dramatic to say a plant is dramatic in the first place.  However, coffee as a commodity has had a very dramatic existence.  All throughout history, coffee has been causing strife and happiness.  Unfortunately it has been mostly drinkers that get the happiness and mostly the farmers and workers that get the strife. 
There is one man in particular that had a rather dramatic life because of coffee.  His was Captain Gabriel de Clieu. has a small smattering of information about de Clieu but very little insight to his involvement.  If you will, take a moment to see just how one man let coffee take him half way around the world.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Submission Guidelines

There are many more roasters out there than I can feasibly find and contact with any regularity.  So if you are a roaster or know of a roaster, you can submit yourself or your favorite roaster(s) and I will contact you/them for an article.

There are a couple of requirements that roasters need to meet in order for them to fit into the style of my blog.

1. The prospective roastery must have retail sales.
2. The prospective roastery must have online sales.

That is really all the rules.  I am trying to focus mostly on the un-charted coffee culture of the midwest and southern US so they will sometimes receive higher priority than the other roasting communities like the west coast.  That doesn't mean I won't do those areas, just that preference will be given to the others.

That being said, if you want to submit a roastery to me you can email me their contact info.  I look forward to hearing from you and can't wait to share your favorite coffee with everyone else.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Roastery Spotlight - Onyx Coffee Lab

Today's roaster spotlight is a local to me coffee shop.  I have known these guys for several years.  We actually started in coffee around the same time and with the same company.  I really like where these guys are taking their coffee and their vision for the local coffee culture.  If you are in, or visit, Northwest Arkansas, you should definitely put Onyx on your list of shops to visit. 

I asked Jon, the owner, a few questions about Onyx and what they are doing.  Here is what he had to say.

FPC: Tell me a little about yourself.
Jon: My name is Jon Allen.  I am the Owner/Roaster/Green Buyer for Onyx Coffee Lab.  I've been working in coffee since high school as a barista for Arsagas, but it wasn't until i started roasting that I really committed to coffee and began studying it extensively.

FPC: How long have you been in the coffee industry?
Jon: 11yrs

FPC: How long have you been in your current position?
Jon: 1 year for Onyx, 2 years for Anonymous Coffee Roasters (their wholesale roastery), and 4.5 years as owners of two Arsaga's.

FPC: What do you like most about the coffee industry?
Jon: I like all the aspects of the production line.  I really enjoy meeting the farmers and producers.  I love working with coffee geeks on the roasting and profiling.  Finally, the barista's who serve and are the voice of the final product.  Each point has it's responsibility to a good cup and I really appreciate all the hands that are involved.

FPC: Why do you do what you do?
Jon: I love people and I love coffee.  This business allows me to work directly with both in a personal manner. 
FPC: What is your mission?
Jon: Mainly we are trying to create the perfect cup through artistic and scientific endeavors. 

FPC: When roasting the Colombian Valle de Cauca, why did you choose this specific roast level?
Jon: We chose this particular coffee especially for the cherry notes. Cherry is not very common in a lot of coffees and we wanted to accentuate that aspect.  We tried it at a medium roast and it just lost all the cherry flavor.  

FPC: So what is your favorite brewing method for this coffee?
Jon: Kalita Wave brewer.  I have been liking the flat bottom pour over lately.

Origin: Colombia
Region: Valle de Cauca
Farm: fina de Herrera
Altitude: 1600m
Varietal: Caturra & Typica
Certifications: Organic & Rainforest Alliance
Process: Washed
Cup: cherry, lemon zest, milk chocolate, mouth watering acidity

You can order this coffee at
Follow them on facebook at
@onyxcoffeelab on twitter
#onyxcoffeelab on instagram

Now go get you some of this great coffee and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Acidity and Coffee, not what you think.

A lot of people I know have an opinion on how acidic they like their coffee.  Most of the ones that prefer low acidity coffee say that the higher acidity gives them stomach problems.  Now this may very well be the case.  Coffee is acidic.  It is usually around a 5 or so on the pH scale but it can range from 4-6.  But when someone in the coffee industry is going on and on about how they love the acidity of this coffee or that coffee they are speaking in different terms than pH.

Acidity, in reference to coffee, is speaking about how bright and/or dry the coffee feels on the tongue.  Acidity is experienced on the back and undersides of the tongue in a way that is similar to red wine.  In coffee, it is usually a desirable attribute that brings a refreshing and mouth-cleansing quality to the cup.  It should not be confused with a sour taste.  Sour is referring to a sharpness that is usually unpleasant.  You actually want some acidity in your coffee.  Without some level of acidity coffee tends to be flat.

You will hardly ever see a coffee in a store described as being acidic.  This is because retailers believe that most consumers do not fully understand what is meant by acidity and do not want to confuse them.  Instead, you will find words such as bright, dry, crisp, sharp, or vibrant.  This just means that you will get something akin to a dry red wine feel on the back of your tongue and not that this coffee is going to eat the spoon you use to stir it.

Where the coffee is from has a fair amount to do with the acidity.  East African coffees, especially Kenyans, are well known for having a higher acidity.  How the coffee is processed also contributes to the acidity.  Washed coffee typically has more acidity than the natural processed coffees.

Quality of coffee can also be a determinant in acidity.  If the cherries are picked before they are fully ripe they will not have fully developed their flavor profile and have less sweetness.  This can happen on farms where they are not as selective about which cherries are picked.  These coffees are generally sold as a cheaper bean.  To an extent, in coffee, you get what you pay for.

You can get around some of these problems on the roasting level.  Roasting to a darker degree will reduce the acidity you taste in a coffee.  This is the only way some coffees will taste good by any means.  The darker you roast the coffee the less of the actual flavor of the bean you will taste.

If you don't like the taste of acidity in coffee, and not the pH of coffee, then you should look into a darker roast of coffee or a higher quality of coffee.  If you dislike the pH acidity of coffee then you should try a different brewing method, which I will talk about later so stay tuned!

How do you feel about acidity?  Let me know in the comments below. Don't forget to like us on Facebook Google+ on Twitter as @fpcoffee and on Instagram as freshpresscoffee.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Coffee Review - Onyx Coffee Lab's Colombian Valle de Cauca

Welcome to the very first coffee review here at Fresh Press Coffee.  For the first coffee, I have a Colombian Valle de Cauca from Onyx Coffee Labs.

ORIGIN: Colombia
REGION: Valle de Cauca
FARM: fina de Herrara
VARIETAL: Caturra & Typica
CERTIFICATION: Organic & Rainforest Alliance
PROCESS: washed
CUP: cherry, lemon zest, milk chocolate, mouth watering acidity

Brewing Process:
Water: 135g
Coffee: 9g
Acidity: bright
Body: medium/light mouthfeel
Flavors: lemon, mild cherry sweetness, and slight chocolate finish

Notes: The aeropress had the brightest acidity of all the methods, medium body and all the flavor characteristics on the bag were present.  This made a very nice and moderately clean cup.  If you like a cleaner cup this is the method you should use to make this coffee at home.

Brewing Process:
Water: 135g
Coffee: 9g
Acidity: medium tartness
Body: medium mouthfeel
Flavors: lemon and chocolate sweet

Notes: The melitta came out pretty much just medium all across the board.  It was neither too tart nor sweet.  The cup was about middle of the line between clean and heavy bodied.  The flavors were good yet slightly muted, the cherry was hardly there at all but the sweetness still came through. Overall it was definitely a good cup but don't expect all the characteristics of this coffee to show up.

Brewing Process:
 French Press
Water: 135g
Coffee: 9g
Acidity: low
Body: medium heavy
Flavors: lemon and cherry with mild chocolate

Notes: This had the lowest acidity of the group, but it wasn't missed.  The rest of the cup more than made up for the lower acidity.  Although the french press has the heaviest body, it is not too heavy.  I would rate it cleaner than the majority of coffees I have had in french press.  This is the only brewing method that brought all the flavor characteristics out in full.

Brewing Process:
Water: 630g
Coffee: 39g
Acidity: mild tartness
Body: medium light
Flavors: cherry and chocolate with a slight citric tartness

Notes: The drip brew was a quality cup. It wasn’t exceptional, but it was good.  It was another medium for the most part.  The acidity was lower than expected but the clarity and body was on the lighter side and helped carry the overall cup.  The flavors were pretty good, the cherry was the most prominent of the three and the lemon was hardly noticeable.

I think this coffee performed very well through all methods.  They all brought the majority of the flavors to the cup.  I did like the french press method the best for this coffee.  It showed every characteristic of the coffee.  It was a little cleaner than most coffees made through a french press.  And if you don’t like french press, this coffee will make you change your mind on that.  The aeropress was the next closest performer.  The only drawback is that it doesn't bring out quite as much as the french press.  It is pretty clean so if you prefer a lighter bodied coffee, this is a great way to drink it.

Check back on Wednesday for the roaster spotlight.  You can learn all about the roaster and where the coffee is from as well as where to buy it.  In the mean time, let me know what your expectations are in the comments below.

Don't forget to like us on Facebook Google+ on Twitter as @fpcoffee and on Instagram as freshpresscoffee.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Location, location, location

As with most things in life, there are certain criteria that make things better or worse and coffee is no exception.  Where it is grown imparts a certain flavor to the cup.  Enter the coffee belt.  The coffee belt is the region between the Tropics of Cancer and the Tropics of Capricorn.  This belt is the ideal climate for producing mature coffee cherries.  It typically has high altitudes, moist environments, and fertile soil.
There are three main regions of coffee when you look at the map in this way.  There are the American, African, and the Indonesian areas.  All three create a distinct growing region.  The differences in each region add to the specific taste qualities of each coffee varietal.   Rainfall, humidity, altitude, amount of shade, and soil all contribute to the flavors in the cup.  

There are many different micro climates in each region that can have an effect on the bean but for the most part the following characteristics hold for each region.  The amount of variables that contribute to the bean from the environment for each farm would fill several books so this is just a brief overview of some very general factors.  

The Americas
This region includes the Central and South Americas.  This region produces more coffee than the other two regions.  

Central American coffees tend to be wet processed and I can almost always taste some level of chocolate in them.  Most of my favorite coffees are from Central America.  I especially like Costa Rican and Guatemalan coffees.

The South American coffees, especially Colombian, are probably what most people are familiar.  I would say that these coffees have the most 'coffee' flavors of all the coffees.  They are generally mild and aromatic.  I find them to have a bit of nutty flavor to them, mostly peanut (especially in Brazilian coffees) but some hazelnut or walnut, and a mild milky chocolate.

African coffees are some of the most cherished among coffee lovers.  It is commonly believed to be the birthplace of coffee.  This region includes all of Africa and the Middle East countries such as Yemen.  The biggest characteristic of African coffee in the cup is the fruit flavors.  African coffees typically are very bright with flavors ranging from blueberry to orange and grapefruit to cherry with a winey finish.  I have had some natural processed Ethiopian coffees that are so fruity they smell like herbal tea when grinding them.

There are many islands and countries in this group.  Basically it is everything to the East and South of India.  I would consider these to be the most eclectic of coffees.  These are the ones you either love or hate, there is usually no middle ground.  These coffees tend to have a very earthy taste to them such as oak and ceder.  Most people just say they taste dirty and musty.  Indonesian coffees seem to be more hit or miss than the other regions.  I really like a good Sumatran with those deep woodsy flavors and dark chocolate.

What is your favorite locale for coffee and why?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Coffee Crusted Beef Tenderloin

From time to time I will be posting recipes that incorperate coffee or just go really well with coffee.  Here is one from a good friend of mine.  You can check out more amazing recipes on his blog.  

1/4 cup of espresso ground coffee from Arsaga’s of course
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t table salt
1/4 t freshly ground pepper
1 t paprika,( spice house 1/2 hot paprika)
I think if I had some ground ancho chilies,  I might trade the paprika for the rich flavor of this dried pepper.
Mix to combine,   then coat your fillets with some olive oil and build a nice layer of the coffee mixture on the steaks.   To allow for the flavors to combine and the meat to come to room temperature,  set this on the counter for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 450F.   Bring a well oiled (peanut oil is best) cast iron skillet up to temperature on the stove top,  heat until almost smoking, place the well rubbed fillet on the skillet and cook for about 2-3 minutes,  when the meat releases naturally from the pan, turn the fillet and place the entire skillet in the oven.   Cook until meat reaches an internal of 125F,  allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before serving
If you give this a try, let me know how it went.