What we do

How we brew

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.

posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 5:15pm by Jonathan

Next week we will begin roasting two new experimental heirloom Ethiopia Gesha coffees from Ninety Plus Gesha Estates. The first is a washed Gesha called Lycello and the second is a naturally processed Gesha called Perci Red. One of the amazing and exciting things about these two coffees is that they are, in a sense, the same coffee. Both come from the same estate and are produced by the same people, only Perci Red was naturally dried on African drying beds while Lycello was washed at the nearby Hartman Estate. These coffees hail from Panama, about 15 minutes from the town of Volcán in the area known as Silla Del Pando. Ninety Plus Coffee owns the estate and has gone to a lot of trouble to make it a zeitgeist of coffee growing, cultivation, and community. Not only are 35 of the total 134 hectares protected National Rainforest but 25 members of the local Ngöbe tribe have been retained to assist on the farm, thus demonstrating Ninety Plus’s focus on authenticity and community. An intricate network of trails connects the micro farms scattered throughout the estate. Each micro farm labors to understand and perfectly cultivate the heirloom Ethiopian Gesha coffee variety by drawing on past experiences in Ethiopia and Panama and by leaving many stones unturned on the farm.

Perci Red + Lycello Geshas

Why the coffee/beer parallel?

Besides our love and passion for the best coffees (and beers) out there, we partnered with Ninety Plus to roast and offer these coffees in an effort to further the case that all coffee does NOT taste alike. If you think that all coffees taste the same but beers don’t, for example, you might look to get your hands on some Perci Red and Lycello.

Perci Red has room-filling aromatics of strawberries, currants and sugar cane. Its flavor profile is an explosion of strawberry rhubarb pie, tangy strawberries and currants with a syrupy mouth feel and a nice chocolate undertone as the cup cools. As we took our first sips of Perci a member of our team quickly noted that it is remarkably similar to Russian River Brewing’s Consecration, a dark sour ale aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with black currants added to the barrel. The beer is remarkable with sweet and sour currant and raspberry notes, a touch of wine and a full, sweet body. If you have not had it, get it. Sadly it is really only available on the West Coast. It should be clear where the flavors are similar and it is not that Perci is sour in the strict sense but it has a structured tang, almost effervescence, which makes it so much like Consecration.

Lycello is a structured ballet of lemon pixie stick, jasmine and soft floral aromatics. In the cup, it maintains its structured ontos with notes of stone fruit, pine & resin, dried lemon, and Chinese black tea. Lycello has an uncanny similarity to well-balanced, almost too hoppy pale ales. Not quite as big or aggressive as Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA but a little more than Dale’s Pale Ale. These beers are subtle and structured with all of the best flavors of American ales: resin & pine, citrus, a touch of stone fruit and nice sweetness.

If you get a chance to try these coffees and you feel like we do, let us know which craft beers, if any, you think they smack of. We're looking forward to hearing about other coffee and beer parallels.

posted on Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 12:30pm by Ronnie

Ceremony recently hosted its first cookout of the summer and paired it up with a dangerously unhinged latte art competition. We had a huge hand from our best buds at Punk's Backyard Grill, who provided food, liquid, Sheila (believe it!), and gift cards to the comp winners. Josh walked with $75 plus a Punk's card while Lauren and Aaron each got money and Punk's cards for their pours as well. Things couldn't have been more rad, and you really should've been there. If your invitation got lost in the mail, here are the pics to help you believe:

The next Throwdown happens in August with details forthcoming....

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


Upcoming Public Events

Weekly Coffee Break: Rare and Experimental - BALTIMORE

Join us every Saturday at our Baltimore Workshop (520 Park Ave) for a taste of what's new and exciting at Ceremony!

This week, we'll be tasting our current line up of Rare and Experimental coffees!

Free for all, no registration.

Upcoming Wholesale Labs

Intermediate Espresso: Recipe + Flow - BALTIMORE

An essential topic for all baristas, new or old. This course moves beyond the basics to cover the shot-to-shot variable that most fundamentally alters your espresso extraction: recipe. From dose to beverage weight, we'll use scales to dial-in and work to understand how different roast levels and ages of roast affects your recipe!

Level 2

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