What we do

How we brew

posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 2:15pm by Michael Harwood

There’s no doubt we love our single-origin coffees. From the Sumatra Simalungun to the Mexico Santa Teresa, we prize these special lots, grown and processed in one area, for their singular flavors and straightforward nature. When a customer demonstrates excitement about the return of a seasonal single-origin coffee like the Guatemala San José Ocaña, it gives us great pride. So why do we offer blends of different coffees?

Asymmetries Tasting Notes

A big reason why we blend is for balance and complexity. When we combine two or more coffees, we are thinking about how each component may complement each other. Take our Destoyer Espresso Blend with its three coffees, for instance. We start with Brazil Cerrado Gold as the base for its milk chocolate, caramel, and mellow orange profile. This deep, full-bodied coffee offers a lot on its own, but we are able to create a richer experience by adding contrasting coffees. Think of the Brazil as the bass notes. To those lower tones, we add in the Mexico Santa Teresa to fill out the mid-tones with notes of vanilla spice cake, cherry cola, and butter croissant. The Brazil and Mexico alone would be pretty delicious, but for the blend profile we’re going for, we’re missing a high note. This is where our Ethiopia Yirgacheffe comes into play. With floral, citrus, and berry flavors, this brighter, higher toned coffee harmonizes perfectly with the lower and medium toned coffees. When we bring these three together, the result is a very balanced and complex espresso blend that tastes great on its own and with milk.

It was this idea of balance and complexity we had in mind when we set to work on creating a new, seasonal espresso blend. Our perspective on a seasonal espresso is that if you use only fresh, in-season coffees, your beverage will taste livelier and often will be more flavorful. Starting from scratch, we roasted six different single-origin coffees and pulled shots of each. After sipping way too many shots, we had a solid list of flavor and body notes for each coffee. At that point, we assessed which combinations might make sense. We tried a few pairings and had some success, but we still felt like we could do better. Then one of us had the idea to pair the elegant, bright Ethiopia Wazzala with the bigger-bodied, heavily-fruited Ethiopia Worka. Starting with a 50:50 split, we were instantly smitten. The two coffees played off each other in a way that made them both even more delicious than they tasted individually, which is saying something. They complemented each other on body and flavor, making for a very balanced and complex espresso. We didn’t stop there though. Just splitting the coffee 50:50 was fine, but we had more exploring to do. “What happens if you change the proportions?”, we asked ourselves. To answer the question, we created four distinct blend ratios: an 80% Worka:20% Wazzala, a 60% Worka:40% Wazzala, a 40% Worka:60% Wazzala, and a 20% Worka:80% Wazzala.

Roaster at Work

After pulling a head-spinning number of shots, we were torn. We loved each variation for its own distinctive combination of the two coffees’ flavors and body. The more Ethiopia Worka we mixed in the blend, the bigger the body, the more berry we tasted, and the sweeter the espresso was. The more we shifted towards the Ethiopia Wazzala, the silkier the body, the more citrus we perceived, and the crisper the espresso became. Each of the blends showed its own unique balance and complexity and in the end, we decided that it would be a shame not to share each variation with you all.

That’s how Asymmetries was born – out of the desire to open up the blending process for each of our customers. So please join us as we release a different combination of Asymmetries every two weeks for the next two months. We hope that you’ll find value in tasting how the balance and complexity change with each blend – furthering an appreciation for this roaster’s art.


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.


Upcoming Public Events

Weekly Coffee Break: Cancelled - WASHINGTON, DC

Our Washington, DC coffee break has been cancelled, please join us for our Baltimore coffee break Saturdays at 12PM!

Upcoming Wholesale Labs

*FULL!* - Intro Barista: Essential Espresso Bar - WASHINGTON, DC

This session of Intro Barista is full, check back soon for our May schedule!