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          Archive for June, 2009

          Half & Half Cafe, 923 SW Oak

          Sunday, June 28th, 2009

          IMGP2996 by you.Half and Half Cafe is one of two Portland coffee shops serving Courier Coffee. It is around the corner from Powell’s Books on Burnside, Rocco’s Pizza, Jackpot Records, and Veloshop. It is also neighbor to Reading Frenzy and the Independent Publishing Resource Center. We love the Half and Half and their bright yellow cups, wonderful people, deviled eggs. I’ve been coming here since they opened in 1999 and was delighted when they decided on our coffee.

          I’ve always gotten a double espresso at the Half and Half. When I worked another job downtown, the espresso at the H&H kept me going. Later, coming back from school on holiday we visited the H&H. Now I enjoy going there when it is a little slower, enough time for me to get a quick espresso and chat with the kids working. In the afternoon bikes pile up outside, people gather. Check out their new yellow chairs for sitting out front!

          IMGP2969 by you.

          And they do a pretty sweet job at espresso. The past few months, espresso has been great. On our end, we’ve been keeping the mix the same 50/50 Sulawesi Toraja washed process and natural process Ethiopia Sidamo, organically grown. We like to communicate about the espresso a lot. Often this comes out as a bunch of writing on the paper bags the coffee is delivered in.

          The H&H is serving espresso at 199.5 degrees Farenheit. Temperature is set using a Scace Device, which we think measures 2 degrees higher than if one were to use real coffee grounds and a bead probe to calibrate (or so we hear, but haven’t gotten around to testing ourselves). The pressure on the Scace is 96 psi. Each group uses a 0.6mm brass flow restrictor (three generations back in Synesso technology; later stainless steel discs; now synthetic ruby). The temperature on the Half and Half’s machine is super stable.

          What you should have learned from this lesson: CCR loves H&H.

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          External gearing rocks; working on finca Palhu; love from Italy.

          Friday, June 26th, 2009

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          Server error last night, oh my gosh! And just when I was about to burst with CCR news. Yesterday was mad crazy awesome. It all started two days ago when I got a text message from Italy, which was followed quickly by a phone call via Skype from Brian Mumford, one of the kids at the H&H. He called to have us deliver coffee to his girlfriend on her birthday. How sweet is that? So yesterday we delivered a bag 0f Guatemala finca Palhu to her door with love from Brian!!! (The night before delivering -10 hours since roasting the coffee – I cupped two batches of finca Palhu of that day to find my favorite. I chose the lighter of the two.)

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          Later on (still yesterday) I biked downtown on one of our mini bikes to receive the newly built-up cargo bike. It’s so so rad: Phil Wood rear hub (36 hole anodized black with room for a nine speed Sram cassette), disc mounts, mineral oil Shimano hydraulic brake. Ryan of Veloshop put in a ton of work. He gave us one of his brake levers and had to reface and redrill the rear disc tab by at least a millimeter (since it was welded on crooked- C.A.T. we love you). Oh my gosh, and the hub has five bearings inside. It rides like a dream. This set up is heads above the old Shimano Nexus redline internal 8-speed. But when I rode off down Burnside after ending the day at the Half and Half I immediately lost the chain by doing something silly. Then I kept stopping in my highest gear and really had to work to get myself going again. When was the last time I had an externally geared bike? Elementary school-Huffy. Anyway, we’re ecstatic over getting the cargo bike back: THANK YOU RYAN! AND THANK YOU VELOSHOP.

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          Cuppings, Veloshop at work on the cargo bike

          Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

          Saturday, samples of green coffee arrived in five 80 gram bags. I slept on these till Monday night. My sample roasts were done in a steel drum that I turned by hand over a propane torch. The spit that holds the drum I made from two shelving L-brackets, a pair of vise grips, and a scythe.

          Tuesday morning we cupped the coffees, discussed. Later in the day, we cupped some batches from our production roasts. This morning (Wednesday) we cupped the five coffees twice. A pretty fun tasting (see the apres cupping picture below). We each had three cups of each of the five coffees — two Indonesia, two Guatemala, one El Salvador. Later I found out that both the Guatemala are pre-ship samples-nice. Pre-ship samples come from coffees that either still at origin or are moving from origin to destination. Many times we taste coffees that have already been purchased and are being held in the U.S. We call these “spot.” Spot coffees are much easier to predict and to acquire. Someone has already taken the risk of purchasing to bring it to the country. Also most of the shipping has been done, and the spot samples that are sent out are pretty close to what one would actually receive, barring shipping damage. Pre-ship coffees still run the risk of being damaged during shipping/holding. The upside to tasting coffee before it arrives/ships is that roasters get a better picture of what is coming. Today we decided on the Guatemala Aldea La Granadilla (city) finca (farm) las Nubes. This coffee is still in Guatemala but should be in a container and on a boat soon.

          IMGP2967 by you.Other news: This morning our cargo bike frame made its way to Veloshop, with an extra bike thrown on the front and some coffee deliveries. Ryan of Veloshop accepted it and has been working on it through the day. He says it should be ready either today or tomorrow.

          28th and Glisan, Dove Vivi cornmeal crust pizza

          Monday, June 22nd, 2009

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          Cornmeal crust pizza from Dove Vivi and Guatemala Huehuetenango finca Palhu coffee roasted 6.19.09, 9 am. Where was I the last two nights? Saturday I was at Dove Vivi with Chris Merkel and Sunday I went with my dad, sister, and our friend/house guest Emily for a Father’s Day celebration. Dove Vivi does serve Courier Coffee, and for the next few days they will definitely be serving Guatemala finca Palhu (finca means farm). But we loved the place before our coffee relationship developed.

          Courier Coffee loves this sweet neighborhood pizza shop for so many reasons. Evan and Ali of Little Red Bike Cafe put us onto them a while ago. In fact, the first time I ate there was at a big group gathering for LRBC’s anniversary. We had a table of at least fifteen. It was awesome: friends just kept arriving and adding to our group, and E&A had pre-ordered everything. E&A also knew all the servers, and we all got introduced, which made us (me, at least) feel super special. Fast forward several months and I’m not only delivering them coffee but doing bicycle scavenger hunts with the staff’s friends and family, eating their delicious pizza almost weekly, and going there to celebrate my own events.

          The pizza I’m having for breakfast this morning (left over from last night) is Corn Cashew and Brie+Grape. (Corn Cashew: vegan roasted red pepper, cashew cheese, fresh sweet corn, caramelized onions, chives. Brie+Grape: whole roasted garlic, carmelized onions, pine nuts.)

          Oh! Yeah, and the owners of Dove Vivi are my age, have also started their own business, are a young couple in love, and make their pizza themselves every night with their friends. And everyone working there is beautiful (i.e. we secretly have crushes on all of them).

          Coffee gets delivered to Dove Vivi about twice a week in glass mason jars of 0.7 lbs, whole bean. The coffee is kept back on a shelf near the big wooden work table, and staff french press it to order.

          8 am – 9:30 pm: roasting, bushing, missing spokes.

          Friday, June 19th, 2009

          Friday. Tired. Waited most of yesterday for our first truck delivery of coffee shipped through CWX. Much of our green coffee comes up from Emeryville/Oakland via semi-truck. For the last three-and-a-half years we’d shipped with Redwing Coffee and Baking, meaning that if we both had coffee coming along the same route we have it placed on the same pallet. This saved us on shipping fees with the added benefit that I didn’t need to be present when the coffee arrived. But Redwing is no longer. Though I guess moving coffee the mile up Hawthorne was often a trick. A few times we did trips with the cargo bike, which can do three bags max but is much better with two. Mostly we’d used my Toyota Corolla, which can do about 900 pounds. Then we found out that Zipcar’s minivan can do 900 pounds, and without rubbing… Well, anyway, yesterday — for the first time ever — we received a truck delivery directly to our door. It was great, but then again we spent practically all day waiting for it on the porch. At the last minute we found out the coffee had been misdirected to Cellar Door Roasters on 11th and Harrison. Luckily, Jeremy at Cellar Door helped sort things out, and we got our beans.

          I wish I had a picture of Scott, our Con-way driver, but instead I’ve got a picture of Little Red Bike Cafe’s old Mazzer Major doser mechanism (their espresso grinder). There is some metal on metal action each time the doser part pivots on the center hole. Well, now the hole is no longer round and has carved out a nice oval. These things don’t use bushings at all, so I’m going to drill the bottom plate center hole wider and set it up with some bronze bushing. In the meantime, LRBC recieved a bottom plate assembly that is part of their old Super Jolly grinder — and it’s working well. Still, I like to keep parts together instead of transplanting them.

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          Midday it started pouring rain. Alex was on the floor replacing five spokes that just “fell off” his rear wheel. I was trying to bush the doser and an aging lawnmower (that, at this point, no longer works). Then we cupped coffee, which had lost all its marking — pretty neat. Anyway, it’s dark again, and I’ve got to get out of here so i can get back within nine hours to get out to LRBC with some of the coffee we got yesterday: Guatemala Huehuetenango finca Palhu.

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          window blog

          Thursday, June 18th, 2009

          Five roasts, different batches. More Brazil Perdizes de Minas fazenda Nossa Senhora de Fatima!

          Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

          Our coffee tasting at Little Red Bike Cafe went awesome. Evan and Ali cleared everything but the espresso machine from the bar; and good thing, because we had many, many cups. We tried samples held back from a few of the NSF roasts from the last week. (I think we had June 4th, 6th, 7th, and two roasts from the 12th.) The two oldest roasts were like a faded oil of bergamot, or, at least, the lightest and most delicate. I think what came across clearest is how different one coffee may taste as it ages, or from batch to batch. It was also a lesson in group tastings (I made lots of notes to myself). Thank you everyone who came, and thanks to Little Red Bike Cafe for hosting!


          Cupping at Little Red Bike Cafe, 2 pm.

          Monday, June 15th, 2009

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          Today at 2 pm we are having an informal cupping at Little Red Bike Cafe. Everyone is invited. We will be bringing several roasts from different days of our Brazil Perdizes de Minas fazenda Nossa Senhora de Fatima coffee. The varietal is Icatu and it is a traditional natural process, organically grown coffee. Rumor has it Evan of LRBC has made some cold press Kenya Mchana, and Ray could be making some interesting single origin espresso. This is LRBC’s day off, so the pace should be a little more laid back than usual. 4823 N Lombard at the intersection of Fiske.

          Eye candy to tide you over til tomorrow.

          Friday, June 12th, 2009

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          This is another picture of my Sprout Cycles rack, made from the dead parts of my old Surly 1×1 frame. The fork-mounted supports were once the Surly’s chainstays. All the welds were done with brass and silver. This rack has totally saved my back since the rear wheel of the cargo bike went out of commission. It’s great for piling boxes. Though it might slow me down a bit — and it’s much more difficult to balance at a stop — it’s much more fun than using just my bag.

          I currently have a choice stock of large cardboard boxes from a shipment of our vacuum sealed green beans. I’ll usually select my favorite box and use it on the rack til it won’t hold. Then it gets recycled. I guess this only keeps staying awesome for as long as this dry weather holds up. But, I guess that closing the box flaps may keep our coffee dry for a little longer. Anyway, this rack: awesome.


          salty espresso

          Thursday, June 11th, 2009

          That’s right. Brazil Cerrado fazenda Chapadao de Ferro, roasted on the 9th. It’s got a salt taste — not salt salt; but mineral, old dead volcano salt…and a certain floral-ness(?). Very pretty as espresso. On the table for the upcoming week.