What we do

How we brew

posted on Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 10:00am by Michael Harwood

I love to cook, so I find it useful to keep a sharpened set of knives. Over the past couple of months, I noticed the most-used knives becoming quite dull and ineffective. I set to honing and found my next dinner easier to prepare with better results (fewer onion-related tears, for one). This sense of staying sharp seemed appropriate as four of us from Ceremony recently attended The Roasters Guild’s annual retreat at the Stonewall Resort in West Virginia. Ceremony roasters Caleb and Jin were seeking to hone their bean-browning craft, while Ronnie and I were generously sponsored by Espresso Supply to attend and prepare a dynamic range of coffees for the attendees.

What is Roasters Guild, you ask? Let’s go to the source, which says that the “Roasters Guild is an official trade guild of the Specialty Coffee Association of America that consists of specialty roasters dedicated to the craft of roasting quality coffee and promotes quality as the principle standard for success.” (roastersguild.org) Once a year, the RG finds scenic accommodations somewhere in the US, then invites roasters and coffee professionals from across the country and world to attend to participate in focused classes, team challenges, and to enjoy positive connections with other roasters. The retreat is a great place to share ideas, improve roasting craft, and deepen one’s world-view on coffee. I know that Ronnie and I gained great insight on current roasting styles by serving multiple roasters’ coffees. We had the pleasure of brewing Ceremony’s Ethiopia Wazzala and Ethiopia Azmera Espressos, then rotated though a variety of other roasts and origins. Some were single origin, some were blends, some were lighter, and some were darker, but all provided useful perspective on what we do here in Annapolis. Ronnie and I were making drinks all weekend, so I wanted to find out how the classes went for our roasters. I asked Ceremony’s Head Roaster and all-around great guy Caleb Podhaczky for his thoughts on his experience at Roasters Guild Retreat:

Michael: What did you take away from attending the Roasters Guild Retreat?

Caleb: For me being new to the Specialty scene in the US, I was excited to meet some people in the industry and network a bit, which I did. Hopefully, RGR was the start of some good relationships over the coming years. There were a few things I took away from RGR, the first being that it's always a good thing to see the industry, roasting styles, etc of other people and companies. I think it's important to have an open mind. For me, that's the best way to learn: filtering all of the info and taking what I think is valuable. It was also refreshing to refocus on the fundamentals of roasting. I think it’s hard for a roaster without a strong foundation of basic knowledge to progress because there's so much information and knowledge to take in and the industry is evolving so quickly.

Michael: How does this translate to what you do at Ceremony?

Caleb: I think having an open mind to learn is key here. It's a little bit of a different market from what I'm used to; and no doubt my roasting style is morphing from what I had been doing to what we are doing now at Ceremony. To be confident in making these changes and learning on the fly, you have to have these fundamentals and solid knowledge locked in. I'm also looking forward to hopefully sourcing some great coffees from some of the great people we met.

Michael As demonstrated at RGR, you are pretty dominant at ping-pong. Is it your hand-eye coordination that makes your roasts taste so good?

Caleb: I'm actually a pretty uncoordinated guy! Haha, I can barely pat my head and rub my tummy! But I am competitive by nature, so if you give me something to do, I'll usually find a way of trying to win. Haha! I suppose that comes into play with Ping-Pong (It was nice to whoop Ronnie!), but I'm not too sure how you can win at roasting?? Ha!

Michael: I don’t know, I think our coffee has been winning! You have a lot of roasting experience, but as a recent Aussie expat, you are having a lot of American firsts. Our RGR trip was your first time visiting the Appalachians. How did you find it?

Caleb: It was so pretty out there. So green and lush, nice and cool. I'll definitely go back.

Michael: Finally, what is your overall philosophy on roasting coffee?

Caleb: I think some of my answers overlap here a little, but to put it simply, my philosophy is to bring out the best that coffee has to offer without leaving my mark on it. So, no roastiness! I knew Ceremony was a great fit for me when I found out that it's the same philosophy here. If the green coffee is good enough, it'll speak for itself in the cup! Also, don't be scared to take some risks and try new things. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but that's what I love about roasting and the Specialty coffee industry. It's never boring! And lastly, taste, taste, and taste some more. Ultimately, we are drinking coffee to enjoy it, so it has to taste amazing!! I think that's about it. Haha!

Michael: Awesome! Thanks, Caleb!

It may have only been an extended weekend, but our time at Roasters Guild Retreat definitely sharpened our coffee craft and mind. This dedication and intention towards understanding and growth is one of the main reasons Ceremony is some of the best coffee you’ll find anywhere. Come hone your tasting and brewing skills with us soon!

posted on Friday, July 12, 2013 - 11:30am by Michael

As greens and grays run together on my first drive to Ceremony Coffee Roasters, so my mind blurs memories of where I’ve been with anticipatory feelings of where I’m going. After four years in North Carolina learning everything I could about coffee, the timing felt right for a new beginning. Knowing Ceremony’s positive reputation in the Specialty Coffee industry, I jumped at the chance to be their new Training and Quality Manager. Going in, I knew the coffees to be delicious, but after spending some time with the crew, I was also taken with their sense of community and progressive approach to coffee. After three full weeks of working, I have found Ceremony to be exactly that and more: a place for exploration, for community, and for really, really tasty coffee.

Snapshot of Ceremony

Full of training, experimentation, and meeting new people, my time so far has passed in a blur. Working closely with Jonathan, our super-helpful out-going trainer, we made some exciting and useful updates to the class offerings. By introducing new exercises, sensory experiences, and refining the guidelines, we hope to make these classes even more engaging and educational. I hope to see you at our upcoming events!

One of the most inspiring parts of working at Ceremony is their drive to experiment and improve at what we do. In my very first week, I was able to collaborate with Rob, our brilliant technician, to explore what happens when you add turbulence to cold-brewing coffee. We set up a number of tests and catalogued the results, garnering some valuable insights. We’re still in the process of testing and tasting, but we can’t wait to share some of our results, i.e. serving you tastier cold brew! We’ve already dialed a new recipe in, so let us know what you think!

As fate would have it, another member of the Ceremony family started the same day I did. Our new head roaster, Caleb, is Aussie born and bred, and he brings a ton of roasting experience and new perspective. The past few weeks have been a terrific learning experience, both learning from him directly and through watching him making roasting adjustments. We’ve spent a great deal of time tasting and talking about his coffees, and it has been very exciting to taste that his coffees are more and more delicious with every batch.

Although these first few weeks have passed so quickly, so much has been accomplished. On my drive home at the end of last week, as those greens and grays infused with warmer colors from the setting sun, that blur seemed to slow down and I realized a big reason why is that I feel like a part of the Ceremony family.

posted on Thursday, April 11, 2013 - 9:30am by Jonathan

Today, team Ceremony will make its way up to Boston for the 25th Annual SCAA Exposition. We are excited to visit the exhibitor booths, work with some amazing people and watch some intense competition. Even though we will not be exhibiting this year we made a point to schedule time with some of our friends, at their booths, to collaborate, throw a spot light on what they do and pull some killer shots. If you are gonna be at SCAA and want to say hi, or just taste some killer coffee, come by any of these amazing spots.

From 1-3PM we will be at two different booths doing something special at each.
We will be at the Slayer Espresso booth (#845) pulling our new Single Origin Rwanda espresso. This will be a reunion of the Slayer+Ceremony combination that won America's Best Espresso New York (with a different espresso though).
During that time you can also check us out at the La Marzocco booth (#518-519) on the Strada EP doing some pressure profiling with the Single Origin Rwanda as well.

Come by the Daterra Estates booth (#623) any time throughout the day to taste some Cerrado Gold and catch up with us and the Daterra team.

From 8-12PM we will be at the La Marzocco & Kalita Lobby Cafe (near the signup area) pulling shots of Destroyer espresso and making some tasty beverages to help your Sunday morning be that much better.

If you are looking to taste some amazing espresso, talk to some cool people or just watch some baristas play with amazing equipment come see the Ceremony team in action.

posted on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 10:15am by Jonathan

Encore Ceremony Sensory Experience: Gesha Varietal Pairing
6-7 PM on December 14th
12 Spaces / $25 each

Due to popular demand we will be hosting another Gesha Sensory Experience in just a couple weeks.

Come spend the first part of a phenomenal Friday evening at Ceremony, where we will explore two versions of one rare coffee side-by-side with complimentary drinks, cheeses, and chocolates. To highlight the complex character of our microlot Panama Geshas, we’ll pair together these coffees with equally complex, culinary delights. To close out our evening together, we’ve handpicked or collaborated with targeted destinations in Annapolis to which you can make your way.

Punk’s Backyard Grill: Cocktails, Craft Beer and Dinner
Tastings Gourmet Market
Bin201 Wine Sellers
Level: Cocktails & Small Plates

Please call us to reserve your space (410.626.0011). Please provide, non-refundable credit card payment at time of reservation. Visa, Mastercard & American Express accepted. 21 years of age required.

posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 9:45am by Jonathan

Last week we began production roasting a new coffee from Colombia. This coffee is produced by our friends at Café Granja La Esperanza, the same people who brought you Cerro Azul. Our roaster Andy won the 2012 US Brewers cup with Cerro Azul (and nearly the World Brewer’s cup). This coffee comes from the Las Margaritas farm in Valle del Cauca. Perhaps one of the more interesting things about this coffee, and there are many given the producer, is that it is 100% Red Bourbon varietal.

In the same way that there are different varietals of wine grapes, so there are different coffee shrub varietals. If you remember, the coffees featured in our previous ‘Coffee is the New Craft-Beer’ blog post from Ninety Plus are 100% Gesha varietal, a rare and low-producing varietal. That said, the majority of coffees that we, and most roasters, source are a mix of a couple to several varietals from a specific farm or region. Information about varietals: how they taste, the kind of roast that suits them and what varietals a given farm grows is becoming readily available to the average consumer. In an effort to add to that conversation here is a little bit on Bourbons. The Bourbon varietal is one of the base Arabica varietals that have a few spontaneous mutation varietals associated with it and is grown all over the world. Some coffees we have carried in the past and some we carry/have carried recently, like Guatemala San Jose Ocana, have some bourbon varietal in them. There are a Red, Orange and Yellow bourbon varietals on the coffee market today all known by the unique color they display when ripe.

Our Red Bourbon is a gorgeous coffee displaying an array of intense characteristics from a honeyed pastry sweetness to a soft tangerine acidity. The most striking taste characteristic of this coffee is the flavor of a fresh cola as the cup cools. Think about the best naturally brewed cola you have had and the soft flavors of caramel, anise, cinnamon and that hard to pin-point ‘herbs and spices’ mix that makes cola… well cola. This coffee displays those flavors in the simple concentrated way a great cola does. Of course this is not soda, nor does it taste artificial or cloying the way some sodas do, instead this Red Bourbon displays sweetness, intensity and that elusive ‘completeness’ that so many coffees lack.


Upcoming Public Events

Weekly Coffee Break: New Offerings - WASHINGTON, DC

Join us every Thursday at our Washington, DC Workshop (1228 31st St NW) for a taste of what's new and exciting at Ceremony.

This week we're tasting a few of our newest offerings.

Free for all, no registration.

Upcoming Wholesale Labs

Sensory Skills: A Flavor Workshop - BALTIMORE

Baristas spend a lot of time learning and perfecting the physical behaviors of making coffee, but so often the taste component falls by the wayside. In this class, we'll explore the ins and outs of coffee flavor - how to taste, how to articulate what you've experienced, and where that flavor originates. We'll taste different coffees and solutions, use a microscope to look closer, and even try our hand at flavor pairing. By the end, you'll be a pro at distinguishing between sour and bitter, answering which coffee has more caffeine, and more!

Level 3

Complimentary for Wholesale Partners
$38 for Non-Exclusive Wholesale Partners
$150 for General Public