6.13.2007

Enjoying My Coffee


If you like food, Portland is a great city to live in. If you like beer, it’s a fantastic city. But if you’re into coffee and you happen to live in Portland, it’s like winning the lottery. While our neighbors to the north often receive more recognition as a coffee capital, I believe this is mostly due to that giant green mermaid that was first spawned from their waterlogged streets, and has since been relentless in its pursuit to dominate the entire planet (wow, I had honestly never realized the Godzilla parallel until just now). Yes, Starbucks got its start in Seattle. And while the company may not actually be the devil with health benefits, they are most certainly stuck in coffee’s second wave. Wait, I may not just be talking to myself. A little background info is in order…
Today’s coffee aficionados like to think of the beverage’s history as having three distinct chapters, or ‘waves.’ According to ‘them’ coffee’s first wave occurred in the years following WWII, when freeze dried grounds made the beverage accessible to the masses. During this time coffee became a popular beverage, but given that we now know freeze ground coffee doesn’t taste very good, it is safe to assume that coffee was not likely enjoyed for its flavor during this time, but instead was consumed for its high caffeine content. Many years later, along came Starbucks. Starbucks helped to reinvent the commodity as something that could be enjoyed as well as consumed. This coupled with the proliferation of espresso machines, and the annihilation of all-robusta coffee in favor of 100% Arabica coffee helped to usher in a new era in the drink’s history.
So what is this third wave all about? Trish Skeie of Taylor Maid Farms Organic Coffee and Tea is often credited for coining the term. Essentially this new phase that we are now experiencing is all about the bean itself. Today’s global marketplace has presented new opportunities that must have been unthinkable in the past. Coffee roasters now have the ability to purchase their coffee directly from growers, which has essentially creatined a marketplace where smaller farmers can operate sustainable businesses by growing a high quality (not quantity) coffee. Simultaneously, companies such as Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters have decided to focus their energies on traditional European methods of coffee consumption by marketing espresso drinks and French press coffee to their customers. These methods of consumption allow consumers to enjoy the unique and complex tastes derived from each individual harvest (and roast). The result, the coffee market has once again been flipped upside down, allowing for creative and energetic entrepreneurs to step in and help shape the direction of the movement.
Recently Ali and I met with one such individual. Joel Domreis is a 26 year old Portland native and self taught coffee roaster. A coffee appreciator for most of his life, Joel wanted to have open a coffee shop of his own, but decided he first needed to learn how to roast coffee (as though this were a logical conclusion). Only a few years into the business, Joel now roasts coffee for multiple retail stores under the business name Courier Coffee, and will also deliver coffee directly people’s homes. Oh, and did I mention that he delivers all of his coffee by bike? Yes indeed, only in Portland you might be thinking. Yesterday we had the great fortune to visit Joel at his roastery and learn more about his business. There is no question he is passionate about what he does, and his coffee just happens to be out of this world when it comes to flavor. When asked if he would ever hire on additional roasters beside himself, Joel remarked that “they would probably have to train with me for like 9 months” before he would allow them to roast coffee that would be sold under the Courier label. After talking coffee with Joel for more than 3 hours, both Ali and I had no doubt that we had found our roaster. Thus it is with much excitement that we announce that we will proudly be serving Courier Coffee at our forthcoming location!

3 comments:

Metolius Mark * Computer God said...

Just had my second cup of Joel's coffee and I have to say, all Ali and Evan say (really Evan is the coffee addict) is true. Very fine flavor, unmasked and out front, standing on its own two feet.

Don't believe you can't make it TOO strong, because this coffee carries enough muscle to kick your ass if you try. Actually, any coffee will do that if you let it; but this one could kick your ass, and you'd thank it for the experience!

It's really, really good stuff.

Madeline said...

Good job, E. It's a pleasure to read your postings. Congrats on the sale. xxoo

Tim said...

I'm stoked on this guy. I am now a weekly customer, thanks to your detailed provision of Joel and his craft. I got some of his really light roast, and I love it.

What's the status on your space?