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!