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posted on Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 9:15am by Andy

At the end of March I had the privilege of traveling to Coffee Solutions in Hopedale, MA to take part in a week-long Q Grader Coffee Course instructed by Beth Anne Caspersen. The course is a series of lectures and 22 rigorous tests, most of which are sensory oriented, and all of which you have to pass in order to be a licensed Q Grader.

On Wed of that week, I sat with 7 other students awaiting the most dreaded, mother of all Q tests, the Sensorial Test. Eight plastic cups sat before me with clear solutions in each. Four of the cups contained a mixture of sweet, salt and sour tastes (all of which are found to some degree in coffee). Four of the cups contained a mixture of two of the three tastes. It was up to me to figure out which solutions had a blend of three and which had a blend of two. The hardest part being that we also had to rate the strength of each taste in the solution from one to three. Pass this test, and the rest of the week looks a little more cheery, though far from over.

For years I’ve been interested in getting my Q Graders Certification, offered by the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI). As their website states:
The Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) is a nonprofit organization working internationally to improve the quality of coffee and the lives of the people who produce it. CQI provides training and technical assistance to coffee producers and other individuals in the supply chain to increase the value, volume and sustainability of high quality coffee production. CQI also works toward building institutional capacity in coffee producing countries by creating systems and infrastructure that encourage a focus on quality that leads to higher farmer incomes.

At the heart of CQI is their Q Grader program, and there are many reasons becoming a Q Grader. Perhaps above anything else, it indicates ones commitment to the industry.
In the end I passed the Sensorial Test and all of the other tests on the first try, a feat accomplished by ~5% of test takers. I am thankful for this opportunity and to Bunn for covering my fees for the week and look forward to being an active member in the Q Grader community

posted on Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 2:30pm by Ronnie

The 2012 Brewers Cup was held in Portland last weekend in conjunction with the USBC and SCAA Event, and somehow the nicest guy in the world snuck in and won for the second year in a row. We couldn't be more giddy for our good buddy and head roaster Andy Sprenger, who worked hard sourcing, roasting, re-roasting, brewing, and re-brewing to win all over again. He put an insane amount of energy into prepping for a competition that was stiff with killer competitors and coffees from Coava, Cuvee, Handsome, Kaldi's, Intelligentsia, Verve, and more. If you see Andy before he heads off to Vienna, Austria to compete in the World Brewers Cup, slap a big five and wish him luck!

If you're curious where he's headed, this is from WBC:

The World Brewers Cup highlights the craft of filter coffee brewing by hand. This competition appreciates all the various methods of manual coffee brewing in a setting that rewards great quality and service excellence.

In the first round, competitors are provided the same coffee to prepare 3 brews in 7 minutes. Competitors are judged on sensory evaluation alone. The top 6 competitors proceed to the final round. During the final round, competitors provide their own coffee and have 10 minutes to prepare and serve 3 brews with a presentation that enhances the coffee experience. Competitors are judged on taste (70%) and presentation (30%). The top scorer in the final round is named the World Brewers Cup Champion.

If you're extra curious about brewing, we'll post Andy's US Brewers Cup recipe here soon.

Brewers Cup 2012

posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 4:15pm by Ronnie

Last weekend we headed north to New York for Coffee Fest, where we raised a small booth, set up an enormous brew bar (9 ft, 18 drippers), and rearranged myriad notions of what Specialty Coffee means on the East Coast. We got an impossibly huge hand from The Sheed/Rasheed from Filter, Dwight from Kava, and our crew at the Roastery, including Jin, Jonathan, Andy, and Vince. The reception to our coffees, our rebranding, our booth, our classes, and our deep voices—I mean, have you talked to me lately?—was alarmingly extravagantly positive. The whole thing was a thrill ride, and we’d do it again this weekend if it were an option.
Thanks to our friends for making it work. Thanks to Coffee Fest. And thanks to every single person who stopped by to talk shop, sip coffees with us, and raise an eyebrow or two.

Earth's Longest Brew Bar
Jonathan and Rasheed
Ceremony Coffee Roasters Booth
Rasheed Filter Coffeehouse

posted on Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 10:15am by Ronnie

Vince (aka, Geppetto) has been steadily chipping/drilling/sanding away at creating some gorgeous, custom wood and steel brew bars to showcase at Coffee Fest NYC. Here's a sneak peek:

olive wood bar top
cocobolo bar top
olive wood bar
cocobolo bar

posted on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 2:30pm by Ronnie

Andy and Jonathan headed to Manhattan this past weekend with kettles full of dynamite to compete in the 2012 Brewers Cup, part of the North East Regional Barista Competition. The whole event was another beautiful reminder of how genuine, smart, and collaborative the specialty coffee community can be. And, although our guys didn't make it into the final round, they took home (more than lightly bruised egos) a wealth of good vibes, new thoughts on brewing methods, and beans. In case you're brewing out there somewhere, and you like sharing and experimenting too, here's the recipe Jonathan had prepared for his final round presentation:

Coffee: Colombia Buena Vista, a fully washed Caturra varietal
Brewer: Small Beehouse ceramic dripper with customized #2 white, Melitta filters
Brew Ratio: 1:16
Dose: 13 g coffee to 208 g water (at 207-195°F)
Bloom Time: 25 sec
Total Time: 2:40
TDS: 1.28-1.32%
Extraction: 18-18.5%

Result: Lucid flavors of plum, raisin, raw sugar balanced by stone fruit acidity and pastry sweetness, all cooling into a port-like experience.

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