Monday, September 28, 2009

Bean & Leaf on NPR!

I'm very excited to report that Bean & Leaf will be featured on the Colin McEnroe Show today at 1pm. You can listen live here.

I listen to NPR for hours every day as I drive around this state. I am extremely excited to be on the air, and especially on the Colin McEnroe show. It's a great program and we are thrilled they asked us to participate.

Update: Here's the show from today! It was so much fun to be there. Colin, Chion, & Patrick were great hosts, and it was a pleasure to meet Nell Newman. I would love to be able to go on there every month to talk about coffee with them. There still so much to cover and so many interesting parts of this business. Plus, they were all just really fun and great to hang out with.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Farmer's Markets and Beans Online!

Well, today didn't turn out to be much of a farmer's market day, but I'm certain there are gorgeous summer days to come in the next few weeks. And once it does, please make sure to get out there and check out all the great produce and products at the various markets through the state.

Bean & Leaf is selling bags of beans, hot coffee & iced coffee in Hartford, Simsbury & Coventry, CT and we would love to see you there.

Also, we've launched our online store. If you are not able to get to one of these markets, nor to our store in New London, please consider purchasing some fresh-roasted beans via the interwebs. I roast the coffee directly before placing it in the mail and you will have it only days later. Freshness matters with coffee and I am certain you will taste the difference.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pre-Ground and Gross

As if you didn't have enough reasons to buy whole beans from us and grind your coffee fresh for each brew, it turns out that the pre-ground crap is also full of bugs. Cockroaches, to be exact.

Here's the link to the Fresh Air story.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tonight's International Film at The Bean is...

Le Samourai, directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.

This 1960s French Noir masterpiece stars Alain Delon as Jeff Costello - contract hit man, loner, and without question the coolest looking guy you'll ever watch on screen. Considered by subsequent generations of film directors as a key influence on their own work (i.e. Scorsese, Taxi Driver), the film cross-pollinates gangster, samurai and French cinematic artistry to create its own hybrid of stunning minimalist noir.

Rotten Tomatoes LOVES this film. And here's a NYTimes review from a 97 International Film Festival.

Hi-Def, popcorn, and a free movie. What more could you ask for?

New Rules for Ethiopian Exporting

There's some not-so-good-news coming out of Ethiopia these days in regards to coffee. Yirgacheffe is one of the coffees we really love, and it is because of the specific characteristics of that growing region.

The Ethiopian government decided to trademark that name and is now putting even more stringent stipulations for growing and exporting. But unfortunately, these new restrictions limit the growth of direct roast-to-farm relationships.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lights, Camera, Action

Tuesday night, March 24th at 7:30pm, Bean & Leaf is proud to present The White Balloon, directed by Jafar Panahi, in hi-def, for free. And yes we'll have popcorn.

This is the 4th installment of our 3 month long International Film Festival and it is a movie we are all excited about.

From Janet Maslin's New York Times Review:
It is an hour and a half before a new year begins in Teheran (on March 21), and the city is poised for celebration. A stern and adorable 7-year-old girl named Razieh (Aida Mohammadkhani) is pouting about not having the right goldfish for this occasion. The fish at home are skinny. She wants a fat one with better fins. So she wheedles her mother into giving her money for this purchase, but then the money is accidentally lost. Razieh enlists the help of several strangers to try retrieving it from beneath an iron grate.
Come on down to the Bean and enjoy a cheap (as in free!) evening of great art with good friends. Feel free to bring a bottle of wine, too! We cannot sell alcohol, but BYOB is allowed.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bean & Leaf & Billings Forge

We have 2 events coming up in the next few days, and both of them are in and around Firebox & the Billings Forge Community Center.

On Saturday at 11am, Billings Forge will be hosting an open house to showcase their new space, "The Studio @ Billings Forge." There will be yoga, music, karate, dance and other fun events. And of course, Bean & Leaf coffee will be served. All events and activities are free so head on up to 559 Broad Street in Hartford and have some fun.

Then, next week on Thursday March 26 from 6-8pm we are back at 559 Broad Street, but this time at Firebox Restaurant. CT GreenScene is hosting a GreenDrinks event where we will serve Bean & Leaf coffee along with some adult mixers. I will giving a short presentation about the long journey a bean takes from a bush on a hillside near the equator to the delicious brew in your cup.

GreenDrinks are casual networking events for individuals and organizations that are interested in sustainability, eco-awareness and green initiatives. Whether your company is involved in projects like this, or if you are just someone that has an interest in chatting with like-minded individuals, we invite you stop by, have a few beverages and meet some new friends and make some great contacts.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Tomorrow is the St. Patty's day parade in New London.

It starts at 1pm at the corner of Bank and State and it ends at Hanafin's for hours of music and fun and silliness. Of course, Bean & Leaf coffee will be available there all day to mix with Bailey's, Jameson or both!

Don't forget to swing by the back bar where Jesse will be pouring perfect Guinnessessess.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Path of the Geisha

The next morning Rachel picked us up at 9am. The weather was the same crazy wind and rain, but that didn't matter, we had a goal. Up past the swollen, raging river, directly past the brand new hotel with its foundation ravaged by the recent floods, up in the mountains we sought the source of delicious coffee.

So delicious, in fact, that it is one of the most expensive coffees on the planet. The reason for that, of course, is a combination of unique flavor and extreme scarcity. Geisha coffee grows best in a very small zone and the owners of Hacienda Esmeralda were fortunate enough to both own that part of the Earth and to recognize that they had something special there. Cupping it on Thursday afternoon was amazing.

It was originally collected in Ethiopia in the early 1930s by various British expeditions. The coffee had a low yield, but it was resistant to fungus, so it was used for hybridization. The path seems to be: Ethiopia (1931), Kenya (1931-32), Tanzania (1936), Costa Rica (1953), Panama at some point after that where it was found growing on the Peterson's land.

The Petersons were wonderful hosts and it was very interesting to learn that in their 35 years on the farm they had tried to grow nearly everything and anything. They found that grass grew best and so they raised dairy cows. Later on they expanded to producing coffee. However, it was in 2003 when their son Daniel decided to harvest and process some of the wild coffee that grew on their steep hillsides that the geisha was rediscovered. The delicate flavors in those beans have transformed their lives.

It was incredible to stand on the hillside in the morning and see and touch and taste those cherries. The cherries were mildly sweet and the raw seed inside was larger than I expected. A few of the bushes were knocked over under the weight of down branches or from the wind and that was sad to see. The rain lashed us sideways and the wind was fierce but that didn't matter at all. I had made it to origin and that felt great.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

First Steps

Okay! I think I've finally accepted the fact that I was in Panama, at a coffee farm, and had a chance to see the whole process from start to finish. I thought it was going to be a few years before I had a trip "to origin." Now I see it's something we can and will do every year. Hugh is next up! Caiti and Mom can go along! We gotta make it happen.

Landing in David, Panama was little wild. We could sense it on the approach as our 80seater hopped and floated through fierce winds.

"That was the scariest landing I've ever felt," Lu said to me, her fingers in my arm.

"It was a good one alright," I replied, easing my breath as the plane vibrated to a halt.

The taxi ride had just as much turbulence, both from the backroads we had to take around downed wires and due to the wind that was whipping down from the mountains. Several metal billboards lay crumpled on the side of the street, in many places wires crossed the road where poles were down.

The drive from David to Boquete took about an hour and as we climbed, the weather grew nastier. We crossed a raging river the color of frothy wet charcoal and scrambled into our hotel. I was thrilled Mat had reminded us to bring our raingear.

There was a message waiting for me. We had arrangements to be picked up in the afternoon at El Oasis to go and check out some local coffee farms, but the winds had other ideas. Cellphones were out in the Boquete region because cell towers had been knocked out or knocked over, but either way no calls were getting through. That meant no contact with our contact and so we sat stewing in the hotel wondering if we'd get through, or if we should just go stroll through town. Unfortunately, the town was being lashed by the Bajareque and not ideal for strolling.

Landlines still worked, though, and through the kind help of the hotel owner and the generosity of the Petersons, Lu and I were picked up and whisked away through microclimates and crazy rainbows to have a look at the operations of Hacienda Esmeralda. It was fantastic.

We had plans to visit the farm on the following day, but that afternoon they were going to be receiving some freshly picked berries and we would have a chance to watch them process the coffee. That was something we would not get to do the next day, but it is an facinating process and one I am very glad I got to see up close and in action.

So here goes:

Berries are picked by hand by workers. Workers bag their berries and tag the bag and then a pickup truck comes by to gather the bags. Bags are weighed when they are offloaded at the farm and then the berries are dumped into a deep, square concrete pit. The pit has a tube at the bottom. Water is pumped into the pit and then the tube is opened and coffee berry mousetrap ensues!

Berries flow in the water into another small holding tank where some float off and others flow through. The floaters are no good and are diverted. The good ones go into a circular mashing chamber where the pulp is separated from the seed. The pulp (mucilage) is sent one way and the seeds another, down another tube, into another tank where again good seeds go one way and floaters another.

In the end there's a big pile of coffee berry seeds but that's far from the last step before those seeds turn into the beverage you love so much.

More on that later...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Charbucks is closing more stores and cutting workers. It's too bad so many people are losing their jobs, but that is a classy move by the CEO to take a pay cut to 10k a year.

I believe that people still do want a quality cup, though, and that instead of saving money by buying a cup of poorly brewed commodity coffee, most people choose to brew at home.

That's fine by us. We would be happy to sell you 5lbs of coffee that you can grind and brew fresh every morning. We'll even sell you green coffee if you've got a little I-Roaster yourself and want to smoke up the house! (Our sampling roasts usually happen in the garage. Nicraugua & Uganda are next up).

Once you fall in love with quality, fresh-roasted coffee it's nearly impossible to go back.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fun with Facts

Here we have a surprisingly good list of fun coffee facts. I'm going to have to double-check on some of these before I start using them in my pitch, but the few obscure coffee facts I do happen to know are repeated here, so that's a good sign.

Here's one I like: "It was in 1530 that the first coffeehouse was opened in Damascus, Syria. Istanbul, Turkey opened its first coffeehouse in 1554."

Feels pretty good to be part of a tradition that has lasted for 479 years.

If you see any that aren't true let me know!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Change is in the Air

What a fantastic day at the Bean yesterday. Had a great crowd there to celebrate the Inauguration of President Obama and a brand new blend mixed up to mark the day.

It's the Blend for Change and it's similar to our usual House Blend, but changed slightly (ha!). Peru & Sumatra remain the same, but in this new blend we've got Papua New Guinea in there instead of Colombia. It is amazing how different the coffee tastes with this slight variation.

Ordered lots of new green recently and I'm looking forward to roasting it up once it arrives.

And even more exciting is that in early February I will be making my first trip to origin. Boquete Panama is the destination and I will have a chance to sample some of the most unique and expensive coffee in the world. Can't wait!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Obviously here at Bean & Leaf we believe that fairly traded and organic coffe & tea is the only way to roll, but if you're still not convinced perhaps this article from The Learning Channel will help.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Made in the Shade

Happy birds, bats and insects are a few of the good things you already know about shade grown coffee but a new study published in the Dec. 23 issue of the journal Current Biology adds a few new tidbits.

University of Michigan researchers Shalene Jha and Christopher Dick discovered that native trees have more genetic diversity in the coffee plantations than they do in other parts of the forest, and that's a very good thing. From the Science Daily article:
A concern in agricultural areas is that increasingly fragmented landscapes isolate native plant populations, eventually leading to lower genetic diversity. But this study shows that shade coffee farms, by being hospitable to birds, support widespread dispersal of native trees, in effect connecting patches of surrounding forest.

In addition, shade coffee farms may serve as reservoirs for future forest regeneration, as the farms typically fall out of production in less than a century. Given that potential---as well as their roles in connecting habitat patches, preserving genetic diversity and sheltering native wildlife---it is important to encourage this traditional style of agriculture, Jha said.

So, long story short, drink shade grown beans. It's the only way to brew.