Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lead On

The New Year is almost upon us and it's going to be a big one for Bean & Leaf. We acquired 25+ new accounts during 2008 and we are confident we can beat that number in 09. Please feel free to let us know if you find someplace that should be carrying our coffee. From restaurants to cafe's to organic/natural food stores, we are eager to expand into all parts of CT and your help in making that happen is greatly appreciated.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Coffee Solutions.

Whether you're new to coffee as a profession or renewing your commitment to success through quality, our Elements of Espresso workshop series provides all the tools you need to achieve excellence in espresso.
Class starts tomorrow at 9am. I can't wait.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Growth!

Bean & Leaf continues to grow! I am roasting several times a week, bagging lots of beans for clients and farmer's markets and always on call for when Lu says she's starting labor.

Bittersweet Bakery in East Granby now brews Bean & Leaf. Nature's Grocer in Vernon is also serving our fresh organic coffee. It's Only Natural in Middletown continues to tear through pounds of beans. Citrus Juice Bar, Alchemy Juice Bar and and the elegant restaurant Mangetout are all on board. Cafe Svago in Ridgefield is brewing the most of all our accounts and I am thrilled to be roasting for them.

That is why it is my absolutle pleasure to introduce Downright Music & Art in Collinsville as the newest addition to the Bean & Leaf team. They are already doing amazing work in their space teaching music and art to kids, holding events and building community, but now they are going to add a cozy cafe to their repertoire of awesomeness.

First brew will happen this month and I will let you know when they are go!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ending August?

Somehow or other August is coming to a close and I really can't believe it. That means in a few weeks I'm going to be a Dad and it also means that the true coffee-season is upon us.

September and October should bring a marked uptick in the number of cups of hot delicious brew served and with the rate that I am roasting coffee that is going to mean additional days of roaster activity to keep up with demand.

I can't wait!

Also in September we will be vending at the Taste! Organic Connecticut event at the Topmost Farm in Coventry CT. All three of the farmer's markets we attend continue through September and with kids back in school and everyone back from vacation I have a feeling they are going to really take off. Stop by Billings Forge in Hartford on Thursday mornings, the Simsbury market at Sismore Square after 3pm on Thursday or 11-2pm at the Nathan Hale Homestead on Sundays to pick up bags and have a cup.

This Sunday at Coventry is Blues and Brews and I can't wait. There will be a bunch of local and and craft beer brewers and I can't wait to give them a try.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

GreenDrinks at Bean & Leaf!

We're having a GreenDrinks gathering at the shop tomorrow night. It's a chance for like-minded people to get together and talk about the eco/sustainable/environmental challenges facing us today, what we can do about it, what we have done about it and how we can help each other.

Stop by. Start a conversation. Bring your business card and a nice organic wine or beer. Bring a thought or two about something you've been thinking about and share it around with the group.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Great Success

Today was a good day for Bean & Leaf. Through storm and weather and traffic Hugh and I showed up and installed a beautiful Bunn brewer at our newest account. I cannot wait for the coffee they are going to brew in that machine. Every batch at our shop is precise and delicious through an identical machine. The old machine we just switched out for this new account was the exact opposite. They are going to be psyched.

Our new account is in Ridgefield which is a great little town in western CT, south of Danbury and just east of the New York border. This town has been participating in the EPA's Community Energy Challenge and we are hopeful that fresh, organic and eco-friendly will be key selling points beyond the obviously deliciousness of our coffee.

We are thrilled to be roasting for Cafe Svago, and if you are ever in the area please stop in and have a cup.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Emergency Order

Here is a very interesting article from the NYTimes that tries to address the many different things you may have heard about whether coffee is good or bad for you. And the good news is that on the whole, coffee is definitely a good thing.

What a week. I was at the farmer's market on Sunday when I get a call from a brand new client with an emergency coffee order. Their usual coffee distributor didn't show so it was up to Bean & Leaf to fill up their hoppers and keep them brewing. Putting the finishing touches on this new account and once everything is fully functional and locked in we'll have another shop serving our beans all day every day.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Summer Sunday

Someday I hope to have a blog for Bean & Leaf that is filled with tales of our adventures to the source of our beans. But for now, though you'll have to contend with reports from the local farmer's markets instead of distant coffee farms.

Coventry was again a very good market for Bean & Leaf. Lots of repeat customers, and even better, previous customers bringing over friends and family to pick up a cup and buy some beans.

I have my bagging cut out for me for next week. It's Dog Days there on Aug. 3 which means even more people stop by because it's a great big doggie-fest there, too. Bring your pooch and come on up.

After the market we stopped at the Bidwell Tavern for some lunch and a pint. They have about 20 different sauces for their wings and the 2 we had were amazing. Looking forward to trying the rest!

On the way out we also drove by the Mansfield Drive-In and Lake Wangumbaug. Now call me crazy, but a morning at the market followed by a dip in the lake, lunch at the tavern and then a drive-in movie to cap off the eve sounds like a wonderful way to spend a summer Sunday in Connecticut.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Not Express-O

Next time you stop by, ask for an African Espresso on ice. So good. It is our two African coffees, one of which is roasted two different ways. The three roasts are then blended one to one to one. That's three parts coffee and all parts goodness.

And if you do or don't like it, let me know.

The rain is starting again, but the humid lingers. Keep your coffee cool and dry.

Oh and it appears Costa Rica is in the lead for current favorite. It leads by two whole votes! The poll closes tomorrow night so remember to vote early and often.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Livebloggin a Roasting Session

Bins are washed, labeled and ready to go. Was aiming for 4pm, but everything takes longer than expected when it's roasting time. Gonna do many loads efficiently today. Hoping to set myself up for the week and be ready for the markets to come and bulk orders. I can supplement and bag on Wednesday.

Update 4:15pm: the vacuum cleaner is my enemy.

4:25pm: Fired up the machine. Decaf is first. Decaf is always first.

4:40pm: The machine has to heat up so I took that opportunity to fill up the rest of the green coffee. Tanzania light, Colombia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Sumatra medium, Tanzania dark, and Sumatra Dark to finish it out with a smokey bang.

5pm: Colombia is in. Now we start to have fun.

5:15pm: pulled it early on the Colombia because it's nice light. Not too light, just not quite to crack 2. For flavor.

5:30: The roaster changes how it roasts over the course of the session. Slow and sorta chuggin along in the beginning, then after a few batches it really starts to crank. I feel like I'm driving a motionless train of flame when I fire this baby up. Costa Rica is rotating now. And it smells great.

5:42pm: I'm taking Costa Rica to crack 2. I don't care what anyone says. We haven't gone there yet and today is the day.

6:10pm: first portion of the Tanzania blend just went in. This part is a light light roast, to capture the earthy, tart flavor of the beans. The shop is getting busier, too. I'm sometimes surprised by the number of people in here in the evenings, but the music, poetry and other attractions definitely draws a crowd.

6:30pm: Settling up from the week's farmer's markets just put a pause in the roasting session. Probably good, though. Gave the machine a second to cool and chill before getting on to the heavy roasts of the evening. Brazil is going deep and then I'm pushing it to the edge of a French roast for Sumatra and Tanzania. That's gonna smoke the place out!

6:50pm: Brazil is sizzling, but I'm not afraid.

7:20pm: Sumatra always messes with me. Either it goes hot fast and I have to pull the e-brake on this runaway flame train, or it pauses long and steady right at 412. The good thing is I was aiming for a medium roast so the 412 pause is okay. Next batch when I'm going for oil and smoke that pause would be bad news.

7:30pm: just dropped in 15.45lbs of Sumatra. It'll probably yield around 11lbs of roasted coffee. Anyone have a guess as to where those 4lbs go?

7:45pm: the doors are open in anticipation of mucho smoke. Taking Sumatra past 2nd crack is an event.

7:50pm: calls in the middle of cracking = burned beans. Luckily I just hung up on the boss to make sure the beans come out right. He was cool with it.

8:00pm: Last batch. Good session. Didn't let the machine go racing off into the 440s or allow a batch to slow roast and scorch. Definitely looking forward to a shower when I get home cause tending this beast is no cool task. The beans tumble and twist slowly browning in the extreme heat until they are cracked and ready for us to grind and brew. All week people will be drinking today's roasts and that makes me very happy indeed.

8:45pm: Espresso and house blended. Black & Tanzania blended. Farmer's Market equipment unloaded and now I just have to weigh out some tea for a client and I am on the road home.

9:10pm: done and OUT.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Choices

Bag coffee or post on blog? Actually that's an invalid choice because coffee must be bagged before tomorrow's deliveries so really it is a question of post on blog or get a good night sleep?

First I'll bag then I'll see where I'm at. Got some pics of what Farmer's Market Day is like for me so I'll try and get those up so you can see what Bean & Leaf on the go is all about.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Great Success!

Sailfest was a great success for Bean & Leaf. Saturday the 12th was our 364th day open, and it was our best one yet.

As for me, work is getting crazier by the day. Soon I'll be so far over my head I'll be swimming in roasted coffee beans. I've added another farmer's market to my schedule for a total of 3 which means lots more roasting, bagging and cruising the highways of CT. Thursday is now a very full day with the Hartford market in the morning and then the Simsbury one in the afternoon. But I love doing them. It is a great way to connect with the community and really get a chance to talk to people about what we are trying to do at Bean & Leaf.

This morning was a great opportunity for that, too. I had a presentation at my Leads Group for the New Haven Chamber, and it went very well. I talked about the History of Bean & Leaf, the History of Coffee and then How We Do Things. People were engaged, enjoying the coffee and peppering me with questions. Everyone left chatting and talking which is exactly what coffee should do, and one of the reasons coffeehouses were briefly banned in 17th century England by Charles II. Too much talking about too many things the Crown didn't want discussed.

More updates will be coming more often I swear. It's just damn tough with those gorgeous summer nights out there and after a full day of driving or roasting or meeting with potential clients, jumping on the computer to write seems really tough. A beer in the back yard with the paper and a breeze seems so much more appealing. No matter. I feel so much better when the blog is fresh and new, so never again will 2 weeks go by without a new post. Count on it!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Upcoming Events

Farmer's Markets are springing up all over the place these days, and lots of them want Bean & Leaf there serving coffee. We can't do all of them, unfortunately, but we will be at the Coventry Farmer's Market on Sunday July 6th. They are even doing a Farmer's Fare that day and our coffee will be the perfect compliment to those fresh buttermilk pancakes, free-range eggs and grass fed breakfast sausage. I just hope we can keep up with demand! 2 weeks ago there were nearly 5000 people at that market.

The following weekend it is Sailfest in New London, and that means Bean & Leaf will be one year old! So if you are in town for the fest, make sure to stop by, say hi and have a drink.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Opening Day

Looking forward to the start of the expanded Farmer's Market here in New Haven this weekend. Wooster Square has been rocking all year, but now some of the neighborhood markets are up and running and we are lucky enough to have an account near Edgewood Park in the Westville section of New Haven.

Amelia's Deli is the name of the place, and starting tomorrow, they will be serving Bean & Leaf exclusively. Gonna start them off with some extra strong iced coffee and some hot Costa Rican and then soon they will be offering a few single origins, a house blend and some decaf. It is exciting to have the farmer's market right there, and we are hopeful that word will spread quickly that delicious coffee is only a few steps away.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fun for the Whole Family

Last night the Bean was hopping. Tons of people outside and quite a few inside as well. There were kids running around outside, conversation and laughter over cups, spoken word from the stage and the grind of beans about to be brewed from behind the counter. The whole family was there, all 3 generations, as well as a gaggle of friends and customers all hanging out, enjoying the gorgeous summer eve.

It was an amazing sight to pull into the parking lot and see.

I had been on the road all day, from Farmer's Market to coffeeshops to restaurants and beyond and seeing everyone there having fun made every mile of the road worth it. I can help make Bean & Leaf flourish by spreading our coffee far and wide and I have so much fun doing it.

Leads are coming to me quicker now. I have a network of people and accounts throughout CT that acts as ears and eyes, identifying opportunities for Bean & Leaf, and sending them my way. I'm always eager to hear about great restaurants, new coffee houses and any other place that fits the style and ethos of our shop. Please let me know anytime you see someplace that looks good!

Wait, you didn't know we had an ethos? Of course we do! Even Walter knows how important it is to have an ethos. Stop by, have a cup and hang out and you'll see what we're all about.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

West Side Roastery

SF is a coffee-lover's heaven. That city loves to drink and eat as local as possible and coffee is no different. I tried Philz where each cup is made fresh, The Beanery out in the Sunset where they roast their own, and Ritual, the coffee mecca of SF, out in the Mission.

Ritual Roasters blew them all away. They have a similar philosophy to Bean & Leaf, and it showed in every cup I tasted there. Their drip coffee is made via French press and all the beans are roasted in their machine right there in the shop. It was amazing to have a chance to watch the roaster at work and talk to her about temp turnarounds, first crack, sourcing beans and how even the change in weather can affect a batch.

Bluebottle Coffee and Flying Goat were two other roasters I had hoped to stop by and see, but they were too busy and just not set up to have guests into the roasting facilities. Both roasters were very friendly, though, and I was able to talk to each of them for quite a while and pick their brain about our craft. There is so much to learn, so many things to know and an immense number of variables when roasting the perfect bean that it is amazing to get a chance to talk to and watch other people do this work.

Building a great coffee community is very important to me, and I know that everything I learn while speaking to other roasters will enhance and expand what Bean & Leaf can do. Hopefully I will be able to return that favor many times over.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sidamo Success

Next time you're in the shop, ask for the Sidamo. I am roasting it very lightly, only a touch past first crack, but the flavor is amazing. It has the kick of a coffee roasted far longer, but the complex earthy flavors are still clear and present in the initial sip.

I tried it with a heavy roast and it just did not taste right. In order to figure it out I decided to start at the beginning with as light a roast as possible, and then work up from there to find the sweet spot. Turns out the sweet spot is right at the beginning.

Taste Testing

Today was a farmer's market at Billing's Forge in Hartford. Typically Bean & Leaf is there on Thursdays, but we gave Monday a shot this week. Ice coffee sold well, and I'm looking forward to more good days in the heart of Hartford.

Tomorrow I'll be roasting at the shop. If you stop by and say hi I'll be sure to let you taste some of the fresh coffee. Last week 2 customers were a big help. I had them taste some lightly roasted beans and others with a slightly heavier roast and, of course, they each liked a different cup. Therefore the solution became obvious. The Black and Tan-zania Blend. You get the earthy, cocoa hints of the light beans and then the strong, full coffee flavor of the darker beans. It's a perfect balance, and a fun way to draw out the best of an amazing bean.

Later on in June we will definitely have a coffee cupping. Look for a signup sheet in the shop in the next few days, or feel free to drop me an email if you want to participate. (just be sure to fix the address, I broke it to prevent spambots from grabbing it.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Conditions Are Perfect

New beans for the roaster. They are special and unique and deserve my undivided attention. Tomorrow I'm going to spend the day with our three new offerings and see if I can discern their each perfect roast. I've got a good handle on the Tanzania at this point. Sidamo is close but needs a slight bit of tuning. A tiny bit slower and slightly longer could bring out the beauty of this bean. If not I have other methods for success. Costa Rica will be a new adventure tomorrow. I believe second batch will provide the perfect conditions for this virgin spin.

To any of our loyal customers, if you would like to comment or review our humble store feel free to give us a review on Google, or provide a write-up on Yelp! We are here to serve you the most delicious coffee and tea possible, so please let us know how we're doing.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bean Seed

The search is on. I have 1 goal and 1 goal only for the next 2 months. Find a coffeeshop to take our beans. Find 2 even. 10! But let's start with 1. Anywhere in CT we can send fresh beans practically overnight to keep another coffeehouse stocked full of fresh, fantastic coffee.

The bean is actually the seed of the coffee tree. Time to plant some new Beans in other nearby towns. If you ever have a cup of coffee you hate, tell us about it. If you hear of a shop going in around town, let us know. If your local shop doesn't have organic and fair-trade coffee bother them about until they do!

It's gardening season. We need to grow!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Weekend!

Another busy weekend coming up for Bean & Leaf. On Saturday morning from 9:30am - 1:30pm I will be at the Whitneyville Food Center offering tastings. I think tomorrow will be Yirgacheffe and Brazil, unless of course our new green beans arrive and I get roasting tonight.

Sunday is a full day of work on our super-secret Bean project that is finally nearing completion. When we roll out this creation people are going to step back in awe and then jump up and down with delight. We can't wait to finish and roll this baby out!

At the shop itself, on Saturday night Bob Anderson is performing and then on Sunday at 2pm is open mic poetry. I will get up there one of these days, but unfortunately for Sunday I'm already booked.

The photo above is also from Chris & Missy's trip to Brazil. That shot is from above and shows how the beans are dried after being picked. The got that shot riding in the copter you see to the right!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Barcodes and Brazil

ShopRite in Manchester now carries Bean & Leaf. Gotta get the font right on the barcodes and then we are good to go. I had no idea, but it turns out that the barcode font is kinda like Windings. Each number is transformed into a thin bar just like Windings turns letters into crazy graphical images. But even before we could put those barcodes on our bags, we had to purchase the actual number allotments from a national barcode organizer and purveyor.

I had no idea barcoding was so complex and interconnected, between all different stores and a national database. But obviously, it makes sense. How else could it possibly work? So much of the world is like that. Apparently complex and intricate but then suddenly totally obvious when you look at it from the correct perspective. Take coffee beans themselves. Until you see a roaster in action the fact of the roasted bean is somewhat difficult to envision. What it looked like before roasting. The color of the fruit and the shape of the tree it is grown on.

After all, by the time you buy the coffee off the shelf in a supermarket it sits cold and brown within air-tight, decorated packaging. But to achieve that deep chocolate brown or bright and oily sultry sheen, those seeds-of-the-coffee-fruit must be toasted perfectly. Sometime stop by and buy a bag that's still warm from the roaster.

Chris and Missy got to see the life of a bean from start to finish. That's a rare treat. I step in when the beans are already dried, bagged, shipped and sitting on the shelves in our shop. That's when I load them into the roaster and cook them up for griding. Chris & Missy saw the very trees these amazing seeds came from. These pictures are from that trip.

Breaking My Fast (Drive North)

The breakfast I look forward to
every time I drive eye ninety-five north:

Coffee barely cooled from Diedre Diedrich into
an espresso perfectly pressure pulled
with a buttered muffin hot from toasting
as the studious study computers
and one another
in the brightly roasting light
of morning in the Bean.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Organic Growth

May is already spiraling out of control. On Wednesday I roasted more than I ever have in one sitting (standing), and already there is more to do. Despite the weather, I have roads to travel and deliveries to make tomorrow. From Hamden to Hartford and then back down to New London I will be out there in a car filled with coffee spreading our beans far and wide.

After that there's more to bag for early next week, espresso to blend, new coffees to roast and so much to taste as we start into this summer season. The perfect ice-coffee is near at hand. A machine for traveling and brewing all wrapped into one is nearly completion. Restaurants and coffeeshops throughout CT are starting to serve our coffee and a thousand different farmer's markets are out there for us tap.

I can feel my brain stretching and expanding as I find new accounts and make new contacts. Between the New Haven Chamber, GreenDrinks, a local business leads group and the current purveyors of Bean & Leaf bags, I feel like I am being tossed like a bean in the roasting drum. But I can take the heat. I love it, actually. I love finding more people that enjoy what we have to offer and are eager to help us to grow. It is spring, after all, and we are flourishing like a vine, out of control.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Double Whammy

This coming Saturday is both the Fairfield Earth Day Celebration, and an attempt at the World's Largest Coffee Break. I will be involved with both, hopefully at the same time!

Here's a few different takes on the perfect espresso. My favorite kind is the next one, preferably from beans I personally roasted.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Local and Large

Just as I hoped, things are definitely picking up in the wholesale department. May is going to be off the hook. I'm aiming to pump out 50 bags / pounds every week (minimum) and it's starting to happen on a regular basis. As soon as the next 4 big accounts start up we are going to be in over our heads in a wonderful way. Because when we are buried in bags and the roaster is churning daily, that means things are going really well.

Ridgefield Organics and Specialty Foods is a new customer, as is Bill Smith Studios in New York. Both places are big into being 'green' and organic so we are thrilled to be associated with them. Another new client is ION Restaurant in Middletown. They are vegan / vegetarian with an extreme local focus and it is fantastic to have them brewing our beans for their customers.

This an account that I am really excited about. I love that people will be finishing their already amazing meals with a fresh and delicious cup of coffee or espresso. Hell, go ahead and get a mocha with that avocado ice cream if you want. I had a taste of that dessert on Monday and it was surprisingly good. Lu, of course, knew she was going to dig it and she did. Thoroughly.

This week there's some other special Bean & Leaf activities in the works. I can't say more until I see it for myself, but stay tuned.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fresher Faster Fun

I labeled and loaded 50 bags of beans yesterday and they are nearly sold. Add on a few 5lbers, some tasting samples and extra-strength brews for iced-coffee and suddenly it's time to roast again. More beans through the machine is the goal but I can see a threshold beyond which it is going to start to get crazy.

I can't wait.

Already the afternoons get away from me, even when I get to the shop while the sun is still young. Soon I'm going to need assistants, more space for roasted beans and most definitely a machine that can take the pain out of bagging. That's the one spot that hurts when it is time to distribute large quantities of beans.

But here are the good things: You are getting hand crafted coffee beans. We don't have much space to store so the beans are insanely fresh. I take your order, roast the beans, bag them and then deliver them. It doesn't get more hands on than that.

Best of all, we are growing every week and that means more beans, fresher and faster, and that is so much fun.

The pictures you see in this blog were taken in our shop by Scott Brunza, last weekend. They are owned and operated by him and if you want blown-up copies of our sick roaster and fresh delicious beans for your home or office, just let me know and I'll pass it on.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Always More to Learn

I have yet to attend a coffee cupping, but I am eager to do so. Especially after reading this description of the process.
I'm also looking forward to taking roasting lessons at some point. Diedrich, the company that built our roaster, has lessons. But I've read that those lessons are more 'roaster operating instructions' and a sales presentation. They do, however, build a sweet machine. Every week I look forward to playing with it again.

School of Coffee seems to be more instructional and intensive and that sounds good to me. On the other hand Ambex sounds more like a field trip than a class. There's just a few too many exclamation points in that schedule as well as a group photo shoot that I'm not quite sure about. Then there's Boot Coffee which also has the benefit of being located only a skip and a jump from San Francisco.

The class I like the best, though, is this one in Guatemala.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Offer on the Table

Roasts went well. It's crazy how many beans we tear through in that shop. What's even crazier is how many more we're going to need on a regular basis very, very soon. The Bean is about to blow up. In the good way. That wasn't a threat.

While I was roasting a few customers peeked over to see what was going on, and I was thrilled to have a chance to tell them how it all works. The process is very simple and direct, but getting the roast correct for each type of bean is split-second art in motion. I love it.

The funniest moment of the day, though, was walking into the Bean at 9:30am-ish. Sgott and Maya were rocking it behind the counter, and before them was a line of over 50 people who were all over 65 years old. Most were far beyond that. Another 30 people were already sitting down.

It was the largest line I have ever seen at the Bean and it was a hilarious and somewhat frightening sight. There was a show up the street and 4 buses had delivered these people to the town of New London. One of the guys loved the place so much he said he wanted to buy it.

"Make me an offer," I told him and he laughed all the way back to his friends. When he got there, I overheard his conversation.

"I'm buying this place, Joey!" he said, and I could tell that part of him truly wished he could. He got what the Bean is all about. And everyone, of course, enjoyed their beverages and bagels. Unfortunately only $3.80 in tips were left by those 80 people. Doh! I gave Sgott and Maya my share.

But truly, that line was the last thing I expected to walk in to this morning. I was shocked!

Also next week at Fiddleheads we're kicking this up a notch and gonna offer a $2 coffee tasting instead of just cups of coffee. We'll have a few different origins there that you can sample and then you get to walk away with the type you like best. Because that's just how we like to roll. So come by and enjoy and tell your friends, too!

Roasty

Roasting day tomorrow. I need to push some of these beans a little further along the roasting scale. I want 2 drops of oil on every fifth bean and a few with a sheen.

I need the patience to wait out first crack and the reflexes to beat crack #2 before it punches the beans' flavor right out the exhaust into the spring New London sky. I know I have it in me. Every roast is more fun than the one before it. Every time I learn something new.

Stop by and say hi if you're in for a cup and can smell a roast in the air. (image via my friend Steph via Cafepress!)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Green Rocks Inn!

It was another busy weekend for Bean & Leaf with music on both Friday and Saturday nights, the Fiddleheads farmer's market on Saturday, and morning tastings at two different stores on Saturday and Sunday.

One of my favorite things about this job is pouring a cup of coffee for someone who has never tasted our beans and watching their eyes light up when the brew hits their buds. They are always surprised and appreciative of the quality of their cup.

Today Bean & Leaf spread west. Down the Merritt then up Rt 7 to Green Rocks Inn where I had the pleasure of meeting with Barbara and Kim who are the proprietors of this eco-bed n' breakfast. We originally crossed paths at GreenDrinks last Wednesday and they expressed interest in serving organic coffee and tea to their guests. I was thrilled to be able to help them out.

Their place is incredible. It is a gorgeous house on a wooded hill and the interior is both spacious and warm, as well as impeccably decorated. This is the kind of place where you go to spend a quiet weekend with your spouse and end up walking out with brand friends in the other guests, and the people that own the place. It has that warm, friendly, welcoming energy, and best of all, everything they do is eco-friendly, organic and sustainable. We are very excited that they will be serving our beans and leaves and we are definitely looking forward to a relaxing weekend in their warm, stylish rooms. Plus, we'll get to hang out with Barbara and Kim and that is a definite bonus.

I do forsee a few problems, though. Once there my wife will a) not want to leave, b) insist that we take on all of their green practices and procedures for our house a c) completely redecorate.

I'm willing to risk it though so that she can relax for a bit and I don't have to do the dishes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fiddleheads Vendors

There will be a bunch of vendors at the Fiddleheads farmer's market tomorrow from 2:30-5:30pm and it would be fantastic to see more customers take advantage of that. Now that spring is here we have enough wonderful produce and fresh products to sustain two markets. We know there is more than enough need for it, we just have to get the word out, and you can help us to that!

Below are some quick links for some of the vendors at Fiddleheads on Wednesday. Please spread this information far and wide, to whoever you know that lives near New London.

Here's the flyer. And here are some of the vendors, picked out of an organic hat so in no particular order:

Four Mile River Farm
Meriano's Bake Shoppe
Stonewall Apiary
Breads' n' Cookies
dagmar's desserts
Keifer's Kettlecorn
Nature's Edge Farm
18th Century Purity Farm
Two Guys From Woodbridge

And lots more here.

Also, Fiddleheads can be found in the MySpace universe at this location. Friend them up yo!

I have more vendor info to add, and if you have any questions you can always leave a comment and I will contact you, or email me directly: chrisg at bean-leaf.com

See you at the market!

Two Guys From Woodbridge

Perry is a mainstay of the farmer's market circuit in CT. And it's a good thing, too, because that means I can count on amazing greens as often as we need them. With a pregnant vegetarian wife in the house that means we go through a lot of microgreens.

Bringing home a bouquet of their produce is both beautiful and delicious!

18th Century Purity Farm

Paul and JoAnn grow the sweetest of apples. It was wonderful to watch the smiles spread across people's faces as they bit into those natural delights.

Their motto is great, too. Sample the Past, Enjoy the Present. Stop by for a bag of apples or pick up many other fresh traditional fruits and heirloom vegetables.

Keifer's Kettlecorn

This is one of my favorite parts of the Fiddleheads Farmer's Market.

When Raina straps on the helmet, pours the oil, dumps the magic kernels and starts to stir like mad I know an utterly addictive snack is on the way.

She and Adrienne pop the corn outside with a fantastic set-up, and the smell it sends wafting through the streets of New London is amazing.


I brought home a sample for my pregnant wife Lu and when I went back last week she demanded a larger satchel.

In fact I just devoured some today, and it was only slightly less incredible than it was fresh out of the cauldron.

Breads' n' Cookies

So much deliciousness in such a small area. The kids love the cookies, which I guess means I'm a kid, too.

Mary Grace bakes everything herself and the love and care she puts into her work is scrumptiously evident. Sandwiches always taste best on from loaves baked fresh.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Upcoming Opportunities

Today I roasted with a specific audience in mind. Early in the AM tomorrow I am going to stop by Klekolo in Middletown. I was in there last week to check them out, and I love what this coffeeshop is all about. They take any and all beans, sample them, and then if they like them they add them to the already extensive menu. If not, the beans are cast into a bin and discarded forever. I hope my roasts are up to par.

I will also be doing a tea demonstration for It's Only Natural, and soon they will be serving our coffee. They are all about local, fresh and organic which is a natural fit for Bean & Leaf. We're thrilled to be working with them and I definitely plan on sticking around for lunch.

Wednesday night is GreenDrinks in Fairfield, and I will be there serving coffee. Yirgacheffe will definitely be one of the brews, as well as decaf, but the third offering is up for grabs. Whatever tastes best when I'm at the Bean Wednesday morning will be the call.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Brain Protection

This is very good news for me, because I'm already a little nutz, and apparently caffeine will help prevent any further deterioration.

Roasted yesterday which means lots of sampling today to see how they all came out. On top of that, I had to swing by Fuel again, and that meant a double espresso, obviously.

The end result being that I am posting this blog while running in place, juggling with one hand and talking on the phone.

Monday, March 31, 2008

On Shelves Now!

Just did a dropoff of some fresh and delicious coffee at Lena's Cafe and Confections in New Haven. They have us on their shelves right by the door where you can't help but smell the beans as soon as you walk in, and now they are also brewing our coffee to-go, or with a meal. They have an amazing brunch menu and I'm really psyched this store is selling our coffee by the cup.

At Fuel last week I did a tea sampling / demonstration. Tea is a big part of what we do at Bean & Leaf. I mean, it's right there in the name, exactly half of it! In fact, we have far more teas in the shop than we do types of coffee. Although in truth some are tisanes, botanicals, pooers, rooibuses (rooibi?) or yerba mate, all which are most definitely not actually teas. To be a tea, you must be Camellia Sinensis. The rest are herbal teas.

So last week, I pranced into Fuel with my delightful tea basket, laid out some table cloths and then started unloading the implements-of-tea. The owner and I were sitting at a table towards the back, but as I took out the various cups and packets, the rest of the staff gathered around. We tasted 1 tea, 3 botanicals, some macha tea and a yerba mate. It was really tons of fun. I knew Fuel was a good place to do this for the first time because the staff there is awesome and it's just a cool local place. They were way into it and one of the guys that works there knew quite a bit about teas and herbal teas, so it was a great conversation all around.

One thing I mentioned during the presentation is how interesting it is to see people drink their tea at Bean & Leaf. People pop in for a coffee to go or get some lattes to sit with their friends and chat, but the tea people are cut from a slightly different cloth. There is a process and a ritual to their beverage. They have a timer. They add and adjust water, then fine tune with honey. It is clear they are enjoying their tea in a different way than you would a cup of coffee, and it's amazing to see. Obviously this isn't everyone, but because of the elegant way we give people this beverage, they do seem to respond in kind.

There is no tea equivalent to the espresso. It's just not the way things are done!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Busy Bagging Beans

Whew! What a week! Wednesday was the first weekday Farmer's Market at Fiddleheads, and to be honest, it was a little slow. There's talk of moving it deeper into the afternoon going forward, and I do think that'll help. We did start to get a pop right around lunch and after, but if we were still up there at 5pm when people were leaving work, I think we would definitely see more traffic. Letting all that delicious coffee go un-drunk is criminal!

Spent that afternoon roasting away, then labeling, then waiting for more labels, then a mad-dash race to Staples before it closed that I couldn't even find, then a futile search through Wal-Mart for the right labels, then glorious success when Missy found some printable stickers that weren't exactly the right size, but actually worked perfectly.

That my 8:55pm dash through New London in a vain search for Staples and labels actually led me to the parking lot of a barely-open liquor store was well-timed and correct. As a result we were able to sip Harpoons while weighing beans and the mad-dashery of the day was left behind as we banged out bags and got psyched for all the happy people that would have our coffee the next day.

Thursday I did a tea tasting and demonstration for a local coffee shop that went really well. More on that tomorrow.

Then Friday -> Saturday happened
, which should never be spoken of again.

Today I was back in action and off to the shop ready to roast some more. Tomorrow I have a meeting with Steven Winter Associates in Norwalk and I am very much looking forward to tasting some coffee with them and talking about why SWA and Bean & Leaf are a perfect match.

As I mixed our House Blend I listened to some amazing poetry at the shop today, and that happens every Sunday afternoon. So please stop on by and listen in, and if you're feeling brave get up there and speak some words. One of these days I may even take the stage and torture you with some scrambled metaphors and elusive imagery of my own.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Roast & Bag, Then Repeat

We've got over 65 lbs of coffee to roast, bag and then deliver this week. That's good, but it's not good enough. I want to be pumping out at least 200 lbs a week in the next few months. More than anything we need a coffeeshop to go ahead and sign on up to let us roast coffee for them. We'll be oh so good at it!

If anyone hears of any coffeeshop opening anywhere in the great state of CT, we want to know about it. You can send me an email here (but fix the @ sign as I don't want the robots scooping up my email address), or tell someone at the shop.

Also, next time you stop by, make sure you ask for the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. We roasted a batch on Sunday that is just delicious. Robust, well balanced with a slight hint of chocolate right in the middle of the flavor explosion, it is a cup you will want to keep on sipping long after you are done.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Get Cracking

I was at the Bean three days this week. It's starting to feel like a second home, and I like it. Roasted and bagged on Thursday while the puppets played onstage. Then Saturday Lu and I were in there early to fill up some Bunn's with delicious brew, bag a few more beans and then head over to Foodworks II for a late-morning tasting. Met some great customers and sold a bunch of Yirgacheffe and Guatemalan bags. It was a lot of fun to tell them about the shop, about how and why we roast the beans the way we do, and invite them to stop by say hello. Lu was selling bags left and right. No one got away without being specifically directed to exactly the coffee they were looking for, and they were psyched to have our help.

Learning to describe the taste of the coffee properly is challenging but fun. To educate myself I keep taking little sips of each brew, trying hard to identify the flavors and differences. By the time I'm done with a tasting, the fresh caffeine has filled me with superpowers and I go out of the place through the window and then run down the block with my car on my back. I feel as though I have 'been shot out of a cannon' as my brother likes to say.

I've also enjoyed learning to identify the beans on sight. Some have a lighter crease, others are uniformly dark, while still others have a larger variation in size within a batch. There is so much to learn about coffee that doing this work isn't just fun with lots of potential, I also feel like I'm expanding my understanding of the world. Until Bean & Leaf I had no idea that oil was the only thing humans love more than coffee.

We roasted a batch not-quite-to-French today for espresso. According to this guide it was probably a Vienna roast. It was the first time I've roasted into second crack, and I was shocked at how quickly the beans went black and oily. Those are getting brewed tomorrow as part of my assault on the tastebuds of coffeelovers throughout the state of Connecticut.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Proof is in the Puppets

The Boxcutter Cabaret was at the shop tonight, and as I drove north on I95 only 4 exits down the road I realized I had left my camera at home. But no matter, I figured, there would be photos. Then I would speak to the person who took them and give them my email address and ask them nicely for some copies of their wonderful photographs for this blog. And, at the very least, Missy would have her camera, obviously.

But you'll notice something about this post. There are no photos. That is because no one had a camera. And looking back at tonight's raucous, raggedly, lively and wonderful puppet show I can see how photographs would have diminished and flattened the loose and hilarious essence of this night.

Sometimes, you just have to be there to see what happens. Sometimes, the live event is all that matters.

And a lot of people did show up. Packed, in fact, would be the way I would describe the shop tonight. Standing room only, even! But you'll not believe me, I know. Which is why the photographs would have come in handy, to prove the packedness of the place tonight. It was amazing to hear the applause and laughter and see vibrant theater tonight, in the Bean & Leaf shop.

Thanks for coming down if you were in the crowd, and if not this time we can't wait to see you next.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

E-Newsletter

The latest Roasting Bean e-news letter is out, and you can find it here.

The Roasting Bean archive now lives over to the right, under Links.

Update: We're MySpaced over to the right now, as well. Friend us up yo! We like friends. And if you're on Facebook please join the Bean & Leaf group. (that link won't work unless you're a memberduh) Truly there is nothing better than getting poked by your customers. Unless it's getting superpoked. Obviously.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Looking Forward

We have a lot of plans for this blog, so we hope you stop by often.

We are going to have a customer profile every week where we talk about some of the people that have been stopping by the shop since it opened. We will also have interviews with some of the fantastic vendors that are selling our beans in their shops.

Since I am new to the whole coffee thing, I have a lot of catching up to do. I need to fully understand the entire life-cycle of coffee--from seed to cup--in order to properly represent Bean & Leaf. As I delve into that research I will write up what I find so that together we can have a deeper appreciation for this ancient beverage. If you know of a particular book that I should be reading, please let me know in the comments.

There are lots of goings on at the shop so you can expect to hear recaps of all the fun we're having, as well as reports on tastings, markets and outside events where our coffee and tea are served.

This blog is also about the people that created this business, so very soon it will be time to tell the stories of Chris & Missy and their wonderful kids, as well as Hugh, Missy's father and Katie, her sister. Employee awesomeness will be mentioned here, and if there's time you may even get to hear a bit about me, too.

Of course, another thing that I've got to cover in this blog is the coffee itself. New origins, particularly good roasts, a blend we find divine, all of that will be fully documented here on Freshly Roasted.

The only things we ask are that you use that comment link and tell us what you think, that you send us any pictures of Bean & Leaf events, and that you stop by the shop and try the new offerings and say hello.

Coffee and tea are community beverages, drinks to be shared with friends with lively discussion and lots of laughter. We would love for this blog to reflect and enhance the amazing community already centered around our shop, and we need your help to do it!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Essence of Earth

Bean & Leaf loves farmer's markets. Not only because it's a great chance to offer our organic coffee to exactly the type of people that want to drink it, but also because we just love fresh, delicious produce. It is a chance to meet the people that work hard every day to grow amazing food, and that is so much fun. There is nothing better than eating food that was picked only a few days or maybe even a few hours earlier. That essence-from-the-earth adds a depth and richness to the meal that is unmistakable. It is exactly the same ethos we bring to roasting our beans and steeping our tea, and we hope you can taste it in every cup.

Solving Coffee Problems

Decisions are never easy, but I guess when it comes to selecting the house blend you will offer under your own name, it gets even tougher. Foodworks II had three blends from us: earth, perfect and moonless. The staff got together and tasted them, and across a handful of people the answer came back... tied. Well, earth and moonless tied, and perfect lost by 1. But now we have to figure out a way to help them decide between the two blends.

Perhaps a public tasting will solve the problem for them. We'll go into the store, make a big pot of each blend and let their customers sort it out. After all, this isn't only about what the staff at the store likes, but what their patrons will enjoy, as well. And if it has to come to blows, so be it. In the end, one blend will stand above.

Went to GreenDrinks tonight at iPark and it was a great event. Talked to some people who have horrid coffee in their office and so I'm going to go in let them taste how good it can be. They will be floored by the naturally occurring flavors. They are a green building company, and so they need to have our beans.

Also met the owners of a village store that is *the* morning stop-off in their town. Their building is a protected historical location and they want to fill it with organic and sustainable products, including fresh coffee and tea. We can help them do that. They seemed very excited about the idea of biodegradable cups, lids, stirrers, etc. Little do they know they won't even need sugar or cream.

Our coffee is sweet and delicious all on its own.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Rare and Delicious

I cannot wait until the day I get to walk into a new store or coffee shop and start talking to them about our coffee, and I get to say to them, "Here, try this. I roasted these yesterday." And then watch their eyes light up when the sweet brew first hits their lips. Coffee that fresh doesn't appear very often.

Luckily, I won't have to wait long. Got a second lesson on the roaster and next time I'm on my own. It is a fairly straightforward process, but there are a lot of variables that can change the outcome of a roast. The amount of beans, how hot the roaster is before you start, vents, flame level, all kinds of little adjustments that will change the way they taste after they have cooled. I am very excited to learn the subtle intricacies of a perfectly roasted bean.

Also had to do a delivery this morning, and it was tons of fun. They were so happy to have our bags arrive. Foodworks II is a great natural food store on Main Street in Old Saybrook, and we are thrilled to be selling there. Right now they are also trying three different blends, and one of them will become their specialty house blend. We'll have a tasting there in 2 weeks (Sat March 21).

Speaking of tastings, the Whitneyville one Saturday went great. Even though it was pouring out the store was quite busy and a lot of people had a sample. We served Huehuetenango and Rwandan and the huehue only won out by a bit. 11 bags, total, out the door, and lots more ready on the shelves in a great central location. The pics, obviously, are from that event.

Tons more great stuff is coming up for Bean & Leaf. We're working on getting into several more stores and we hope to have some caterers serving our beans before too long. But the day we get a local coffee shop to carry our beans exclusively will be a very good day indeed. I'm certain it will happen soon.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Tales From the Road

Traffic is off the hook in this little town of New Haven. Was just over in West Haven talking to a potential tea-buyer and the roads were clogged all the way back to the apartment. The return trip should have taken ten minutes but instead took nearly thirty. But no matter, that's how it's got to be. The only way to get people to purchase our beans is to go there and show them how amazing they taste. You cannot sell coffee or tea over the phone.

Then the there's the issue of the sale itself. Every one is a different experience, and I have to make sure to approach each person as an individual. That's easy. That's what I do. Some want to know about the source of the beans. Others want to know about our roasting process. Their questions determine what I focus on. The most disconcerting experiences are when the person I'm selling to knows more about coffee than I do. That will change the more I do this, obviously. Already I can identify individual origins by taste.

However, the one thing I have to keep an eye on is my tendency to talk quickly. I like to tell people everything about our beans and all the reasons they should have them in their store and how great it is that we use wind-power to run our store, that we have compostable bags, special house blends and everything else all at top speed because I've had, yup, you guessed it, lots and lots of coffee. I have to remember to slow it down and let it flow.

Really, all I have to do is hand them some huehue and let the beans speak for themselves. I'm just there to carry them around. Fast.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Flavors Buzz

Coffee is good for you.

It's even better when it's grown without pesticides and chemicals. And when the growers are compensated fairly for their amazing beans, their lives improve.

They get the beans to us and we roast them perfectly.

But the best part is when the just-cooled beans are shredded between burrs, then saturated with water, allowed to drip into your cup and then splashed across your tastebuds causing a cascade of flavor that keeps you up till 2:30am thinking about it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Hamden Coffee Tasting

Bean & Leaf will be doing a coffee tasting on Saturday March 9 at the Whitneyville Food Center, located at 1248 Whitney Ave, Hamden, CT. We'll be serving at least 2 of our favorite coffees, one of which will definitely be the amazing Huehuetenango and the other will probably be our perfectly balanced House Blend.

We will be there from 9:30am to whenever the coffee runs out, but fear not, our beans will be available on the shelves starting that day.

It is a rare experience to have a chance to taste a variety of coffees at the same time. Usually you stop in for a cup, drink it and call it a day. On the weekend maybe you brew up a pot and enjoy it with the paper. But how how often to you brew up 3 pots, each made of different amazing beans, and then taste them side by side?

Much like wine, coffee has subtle and surprising flavors that truly come to light when you can taste one after the other. So if you are in the area, come on down and taste some beans roasted only hours before they are brewed for you.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Coffee Fest, Coffee Art

I know it’s last minute, but I’m really hoping Bean & Leaf is going to send me down to the Coffee Fest in D.C. this weekend. Hopefully they have a jet chartered at Bradley and a car will come pick me up on Friday evening.

And if doesn’t work out for this weekend then maybe it will for Hong Kong? Sounds like a company trip to me.

Also check out this amazing coffee art. I had no idea anyone could create such things.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Welcome

Hello coffee-lovers and welcome to the new Bean & Leaf blog. We’re gonna spend some time here talking about anything and everything that has to do with coffee and tea.

I’m sure you can tell the difference between a good espresso and a bad one, but now a machine can, too.

And I’m certain you know all the good things caffeine can do for your brain, but here’s a site that will help you optimize that delicious buzz.

There’s lots more to come so add us to your RSS feed and stop back often to join in the discussion.