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!


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.