Tag Archive for: specialty

by Rocky Rhodes

Roasters Rock

Categories: 2014, OctoberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Announcing the Winner

Survival Roaster copyThe first CoffeeTalk Virtual Roaster’s Challenge is over and there is a clear win­ner! The chal­lenge was called the MacGyver Challenge, pub­lished in the August CoffeeTalk. Submissions were entered for build­ing a sam­ple roaster while behind enemy lines with just a set of ran­dom items.

Before we share the win­ning entry with you, an obser­va­tion must be made about how a roaster’s brain works. It is a strange and won­der­ful place, a roast­ers brain. Unlike many brains, it oper­ates in both the ana­lyt­i­cal and cre­ative sides. (A work­ing the­ory here is that the dif­fer­ent sides are stim­u­lated simul­ta­ne­ously with alco­hol and caf­feine… but it is just a theory!)

As roast­ers we have to think like a mechan­i­cal engi­neer and fig­ure out how effi­ciently we can add heat to cof­fee while max­i­miz­ing the poten­tial of sugar, acids, car­boniza­tion, odors etc. We also deal in time tem­per­a­ture graphs, pro­duc­tion effi­cien­cies, inven­tory con­trols and main­te­nance sched­ules. All of this exer­cises our Left side of the brain.

We also have a roman­tic notion about the cof­fee and where it came from. We see poten­tial in every bean that can be brought forth as some­thing del­i­cate or bold; pun­gent or flo­ral; soft or harsh. We take time to find what the cof­fee is sup­posed to be when it is at its best and find a way to con­sis­tently get to that point. We use all of our senses to deduce the moment when the art of the cof­fee is com­plete. Very Right brain.

So it should be no sur­prise that when we issued this chal­lenge we would get dual– hemisphere-brain answers! And that is what we got from our win­ning submission.

Quick chal­lenge recap: Design and describe a sam­ple roaster using a list of rudi­men­tary tools and any of the fol­low­ing ran­dom items:

A pocket knife: (Think Swiss Army knife.), a stick of chew­ing gum with a foil wrap­per, 20 feet of string, a fully charged 9 volt bat­tery, hair dryer (assume you have access to elec­tric­ity), a roll of tin foil, a can of Extra Chunky beef stew, a camp stove with fuel, 2 rolls of duct tape, 1 bro­ken refrig­er­a­tor (all parts are there, it just stopped cool­ing last week), a pile of ¾ inch diam­e­ter sticks in 3 foot lengths, a smart phone with no recep­tion or Wi-Fi (you can never get a sig­nal when you need it), a cast iron skil­let, 1 – 5qt pot, A deck of play­ing cards, a 9 iron – right handed – Ping, 1 Large towel, an umbrella, 10 empty Coke bot­tles, and four coconuts.

Our win­ner:
BrewinBearLogo copyMark Thompson of Brewing Bears Roasters in Dundee Oregon.
He describes his busi­ness this way: We are a fam­ily run, farmer-centric, sin­gle ori­gin spe­cific, hand crafted cof­fee roaster in Dundee Oregon. We pro­vide great Fairwagecoffee® that makes a dif­fer­ence. Our Roaster of choice is a 12lb US Roaster Corp Gas fired roaster.

Here is Mark’s both-sides-of-the-brain solu­tion to our chal­lenge. Thanks Mark! Great job!

In dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions your best ally is caf­feine. My first pri­or­ity, roast and brew great cof­fee to get the juices going and if need be, win over the enemy. So… life, death or build a cof­fee roaster. I chose roaster. Swiss army knife opened can of beef stew, ate it then rinsed the can with coconut milk. Punctured sev­eral holes just shy of a cof­fee bean size in the bot­tom. A cast iron skil­let was the base for my camp stove and placed an old refrig­er­a­tor rack bent to make a ele­vated plat­form above the stove. Tin foil made a heat stove pipe, a spe­cial air induc­tion tube to the side was held in place with string. A hair dryer attached with duct tape to the skil­let forced heated air up through the bot­tom of the induc­tion tube then up to the foil secured beef stew can. A foil chim­ney for chaff on top of the can a ¾ inch stick was used to stir the cof­fee for opti­mum color and roast con­sis­tency. A 1–5 quart pot to cool the beans and a ham­mer to pes­tle grind the beans before heat­ing three milk of coconut, added grounds then using a Ping 9 iron frothed a coconut latte, set­tled grounds, towel potholder, then drank from foil cup, used a smart phone for a selfie, played cards shaded by an umbrella while await­ing res­cuers. Packed 10 empty Coke bot­tles in my shirt to take home because, hey that’s $.50 in refunds.

Rocky Rhodes is an 18 year cof­fee vet­eran, roaster, and Q-Grader Instructor, and his mis­sion now is to trans­form the cof­fee sup­ply chain and make sweep­ing dif­fer­ences in the lives of those that pro­duce the green cof­fee. Rocky can be reached at

Intruiging Industry Innovations

Categories: 2014, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Whether you are roast­ing a favorite fla­vor of decaf or serv­ing an artis­ti­cally designed latte, the tools and prod­ucts you use within your busi­ness can make a dif­fer­ence in both the qual­ity and pre­sen­ta­tion of your prod­uct. If you are look­ing to sup­ple­ment your store’s serv­ing prod­ucts or are sim­ply try­ing to find prod­ucts that will make your busi­ness run more smoothly, there is a plethora of inno­v­a­tive prod­ucts and ser­vices to help.

1st Pay POS
1stPayPOS has launched a free loy­alty and rewards pro­gram to pro­mote cus­tomer acqui­si­tion and reten­tion. The pro­gram is mer­chant con­fig­urable, allow­ing the con­sumer to earn either vis­its or points, plus a birth­day reward. The rewards may be a free item or a dol­lar dis­count towards their next pur­chase. The pro­gram can be oper­ated dig­i­tally or with a card, and when a con­sumer reg­is­ters their credit card or gift card with the pro­gram, they auto­mat­i­cally earn their rewards when they pay with a reg­is­tered card.

The cof­fee retailer now has a free loy­alty and rewards pro­gram, which can be com­bined with the 1stPayPOS gift card pro­gram to cre­ate a stored value loy­alty and rewards pro­gram. This inno­va­tion can reduce mer­chant account fees where the cus­tomer must put funds on their loy­alty card to earn their rewards. The stored value pro­gram also increases cus­tomer acqui­si­tion and reten­tion with the abil­ity to con­vert a gift card into a loy­alty and rewards card.

Gift Card Ape
Gift Card Ape has cre­ated an sys­tem that allows you to cre­ate a Gift Card for your busi­ness right from your iPad or iPhone. They can ser­vice any size cof­fee shop, from your locally-owned sin­gle loca­tion to the largest of fran­chises and chains. After down­load­ing the free app from Apple’s app store, you sim­ply sign up on Gift Card Ape’s web­site to receive a card reader and your gift cards. When you cre­ate a gift Card in their sys­tem you can also cap­ture the customer’s email and use it for future mar­ket­ing. As more and more cof­fee shops are using Square as their credit card proces­sor, Gift Card Ape will work right along side Square or what­ever mobile mer­chant proces­sor your com­pany has cho­sen. They have no trans­ac­tion fees, no con­tracts, and no com­mit­ment to a mer­chant ser­vice provider. Gift Card Ape is a stand-alone option for your iDe­vice , allow­ing you to no longer invest in an expen­sive POS sys­tem or be tied to mer­chant processor.

Bloomfield offers a full line of cof­fee warm­ers, grinders and glass decanters. Their inno­v­a­tive Koffee King Three Warmer Stepped Right, Pour-Over Lo-Profile Coffee Brewer fea­tures a one-piece drawn stain­less steel water tank with supe­rior design for extended life. The brewer’s porce­lain enam­eled warmer plates posi­tion decanters securely and, with no exposed screw­heads, will not scratch or scrape decanters. The Lo-Profile brew­ing sys­tem is designed to take advan­tage of the finest elec­tri­cal com­po­nents and has the low­est ser­vice cost in the indus­try for this type of brewer. From the patented
water deliv­ery sys­tem to the exclu­sive Ready-to-Brew light, the Lo-Profile sys­tem makes brew­ing effort­less. All this comes in a com­pact size, just under 17″.

The inter­change­abil­ity of parts with other Bloomfield mod­els will sig­nif­i­cantly reduce the inven­tory of spare parts required to ser­vice many body styles.

Garden to Cup Organics
Garden to Cup Organics is a whole­saler of award win­ning, eth­i­cally sourced, organic loose-leaf teas and herbal blends. Their teas are sourced directly from care­fully selected tea gar­dens around the world, and hand-blended in micro­batches to pro­duce the high­est qual­ity prod­ucts for your busi­ness. They estab­lish and fos­ter strong part­ner­ships with their sup­pli­ers, thus main­tain­ing a sus­tain­able and scal­able sup­ply chain.

Garden to Cup Organics offers a num­ber of busi­ness solu­tions, well suited to meet a wide vari­ety of needs. These include whole­sale of their estab­lished tea and herbal blend vari­eties, cus­tom blend devel­op­ment and ongo­ing sup­ply, com­plete cus­tom brand and prod­uct line devel­op­ment, and pri­vate and white label programs.

Handy Brew
For small-scale cof­fee brew­ing tech­nol­ogy, Handy Brew with Double Screened Filters Method is the lat­est inven­tion for cof­fee mak­ers. Although Handy Brew is very sim­i­lar to French Press style cof­fee brew­ing, it enhances the con­cept and helps elim­i­nate the sed­i­ment that French Press method­ol­ogy often produces.

Handy Brew fol­lows the Direct Immersion Brewing Method and pro­duces a cup of rich cof­fee. One Handy Brew can make hot brew cof­fee, cold brew cof­fee, and cold brew cof­fee concentrate.

Mother Parker’s Tea & Coffee
RealCup, an inde­pen­dent, sin­gle serve bev­er­age brand launched by Mother Parker’s Tea & Coffee, rev­o­lu­tion­izes sin­gle serve bev­er­age with the launch of EcoCup, a new recy­clable cap­sule that’s com­pat­i­ble with all K-cup brew­ers. EcoCup cap­sules are cur­rently avail­able for pre­mium loose-leaf tea brands, includ­ing Higgins & Burke. EcoCup for single-serve cof­fee brands, includ­ing Marley Coffee, will be avail­able in 2015. To recy­cle the EcoCup cap­sule, con­sumers sim­ply pull off the top with an easy-to-use tab, recy­cle the cup and dis­pose of the tea and the fil­ter. The EcoCup cap­sule is BPA-free and accepted in many curb­side recy­cling pro­grams across the country.

Loyality pro­grams have quickly become vital com­po­nents of a cof­fee shop’s busi­ness. Perka is a loy­alty rewards pro­gram that seeks to make rewards pro­grams easy and fun for the retailer and con­sumer alike by tai­lor­ing loy­alty pro­grams that encour­age repeat vis­its and improve sales. Merchants can include rewards for mul­ti­ple prod­ucts or ser­vices at once. Unlike many of its com­peti­tors, when a Perka cus­tomer checks in, the shop is noti­fied. Loyalty rewards are granted only after a pur­chase is val­i­dated. Overall, Perka
enables small busi­nesses across all sec­tors to roll out sophis­ti­cated and mul­ti­fac­eted loy­alty efforts on par with air­line and credit card rewards programs.

uVu Lids
Retailers who use safer, bet­ter lids are telling their cus­tomers that they care about their safety, their cloth­ing, and the envi­ron­men­tal impact cof­fee lids can have. uVu Lids offer a patented design and are engi­neered to be the safest and fastest lids on the mar­ket. Here’s why: uVu lids offer a deep reser­voir and over­all bet­ter design for a bet­ter drink­ing expe­ri­ence. Each lid also grips from the inside out, pre­vent­ing spills and acci­dents. This also helps pre­vent lids from pop­ping off when you squeeze the cup. Also, four slots in the top of the rim pro­vide fast con­fir­ma­tion that the lid is on securely all the way around; no need to dou­ble or triple check that lids are on safely. This speeds up ser­vice while at the same time pre­vent­ing drips, spills and dan­ger­ous accidents.

Weldon Flavorings
Weldon Flavorings’ most inno­v­a­tive prod­uct is their unsweet­ened Coffee Flavorings, a sen­si­ble way to serve deli­cious fla­vored cof­fee any place and any time.

These pure liq­uid fla­vor­ings are com­pletely free of sugar, arti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers, cream­ers, pow­ders, and syrups. Because their fla­vor­ings are not pre-sweetened, cof­fee con­sumers can enjoy fla­vored cof­fee, cap­puc­ci­nos, and lattes unsweet­ened or sweet­ened with their sweet­ener of choice. Their One-Cup-At-A-Time fla­vored cof­fee con­cept allows every cus­tomer to choose from a vari­ety of fla­vors with­out a lot of extra expense, added calo­ries or sweet­ness in their cof­fee. Best of all, pur­chase of addi­tional equip­ment is not nec­es­sary. Weldon Flavorings pre-measured pump bot­tles allow for quick and accu­rate fla­vor­ing of every cup.

Wilbur Curtis
Give your cof­fee pro­gram a caf­feine boost with the inno­v­a­tive Curtis G4 Digital Gemini® Brewing System. The secret to Gemini’s per­for­mance is smart IntelliFresh (IF) tech­nol­ogy. Putting brains behind the brew, the Wilbur Curtis Company devel­oped IF as part of their quest to sim­plify brew­ing and serv­ing high vol­umes of fresh cof­fee at the per­fect temperature.

IntelliFresh main­tains coffee’s ideal fresh­ness and tem­per­a­ture through­out the dis­pens­ing cycle by envelop­ing the satel­lite servers with pulses of gen­tle heat. These pulses keep the cof­fee at a con­sis­tent tem­per­a­ture while main­tain­ing the chem­i­cal struc­ture of the cof­fee. The result? The cof­fee taste is not altered and each and every cup is as hot as the one before it. IF tech­nol­ogy keeps the cof­fee at the opti­mal tem­per­a­ture for the dura­tion of the pre-set serv­ing time, ensur­ing con­sis­tent cof­fee quality.

Curtis recently intro­duced the new Thermal FreshTrac System. Activated from the moment cof­fee is brewed, it pro­vides a sim­ple visual sys­tem that com­mu­ni­cates time and vol­ume at a glance that’s easy to see, even from across the room. The moment cof­fee starts flow­ing into the dis­penser, sen­sors in the lid acti­vate the sys­tem and vol­ume is mea­sured. Liquid level bars elim­i­nate the need to guess the amount of cof­fee in the dis­penser. An LCD timer imme­di­ately begins to count UP or DOWN to show oper­a­tions when it’s time to brew again. Plus, an active LED light dis­play allows servers to track cof­fee fresh­ness and vol­ume any­time at a glance.


Ahh, the per­fect roast. The art­fully sci­en­tific nature of cof­fee roast­ing brings con­sis­tent chal­lenges to roast­ing pro­fes­sion­als. Equipment enhance­ments, tech­nol­ogy improve­ments, and new, top-of-mind issues keep cof­fee roast­ers on their toes and keep indus­try part­ners eager to find ways to enhance the roast­ing seg­ment of the spe­cialty cof­fee business.

Buhler has recently intro­duced the new InfinityRoast cof­fee Roaster, a new dimen­sion in cof­fee fla­vor cre­ation. The InfinityRoast rep­re­sents the next-generation cof­fee roaster that is lead­ing the way into the future of roast­ing. The roaster has the widest process flex­i­bil­ity with vari­able air-to-bean ratio in cre­at­ing tra­di­tional and inno­v­a­tive non-traditional roast­ing pro­files. The InfinityRoast line empow­ers cus­tomers to adjust the time-temperature path­way so that they can achieve their desired quality—batch by batch.

What’s more, the sophis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy of the InfinityRoast inspires cof­fee inno­va­tions and assists in cre­at­ing new roast­ing pro­files for cus­tomized fla­vor char­ac­ter­is­tics and phys­i­cal bean prop­er­ties. The InfinityRoast is designed for high-performance oper­a­tions and sets supe­rior stan­dards when it comes to safety, reli­a­bil­ity, energy effi­ciency and min­i­mal envi­ron­men­tal impact. The cut­ting edge automa­tion makes for very user-friendly oper­a­tion and recipe management.

Cascade Coffee
Cascade Coffee offers pack­ag­ing, roast­ing, and grind­ing oper­a­tions. The company’s 17 dis­tinc­tive pack­ag­ing lines pro­vide a wide range of sizes and are ideal for retail, club, bulk, insti­tu­tional, food ser­vice and large bulk roast­ing oper­a­tions. In addi­tion, Cascasde Coffee’s cus­tom roast­ing seg­ment offers a ded­i­cated batch­ing sys­tem fea­tur­ing four Probat Burns Roasters, a Probat R1500, a Probat R2000, and offers bulk roast­ing capa­bil­i­ties. They also pro­vide con­tin­u­ous prod­uct eval­u­a­tion, includ­ing color analy­sis, grind analy­sis, laser and sieves, HPLC caf­feine analy­sis, prod­uct pack­ag­ing leak detec­tion, and mois­ture analy­sis for green and roasted cof­fee, through expert cup­ping and mon­i­tor­ing equip­ment in their well-appointed qual­ity laboratory.

Diedrich Manufacturing
Diedrich Manufacturing’s IR Series offers a wealth of inno­v­a­tive fea­tures that any roaster would love. In fact, before the Diedrich Roaster, cof­fee was almost entirely roasted in fluid-bed or drum roast­ers uti­liz­ing atmospheric/blue flame burn­ers. Not only did this prac­tice cre­ate a vast amount of nox­ious gasses, but it facil­i­tated a crude pro­duc­tion process. Using this process the oper­a­tor had very lit­tle capa­bil­ity to manip­u­late the com­plex chem­istry of cof­fee through­out the roast process.

Diedrich Manufacturing has employed a pro­pri­etary roast­ing tech­nol­ogy that uti­lizes ceramic infrared burn­ers and heat exchang­ers to not only dra­mat­i­cally reduce nox­ious gas emis­sions and pro­vide for a cleaner roast­ing medium, but also to make pos­si­ble entirely new vis­tas of roast­ing capa­bil­i­ties. Diedrich’s roast­ing tech­nol­ogy allows for the pre­cise con­trol of the roast­ing process from start to fin­ish. Simply put, with a Diedrich roaster, not only are your oper­a­tions cleaner, but you can cre­ate roast pro­files unimag­in­able using other machines.

Looking to stream­line your pro­duc­tion processes? Flexicon has intro­duced an all-new Flexi-Disc line of Tubular Cable Conveyors for the gen­tle trans­fer of cof­fee and tea prod­ucts. A strate­gic addi­tion that com­ple­ments Flexicon’s estab­lished line of flex­i­ble screw con­vey­ors and pneu­matic con­vey­ing sys­tems, this new tubu­lar cable con­veyor allow users to con­vey vir­tu­ally any bulk solid mate­r­ial efficiently.

The con­veyor moves mate­r­ial using high-strength poly­mer discs––affixed to a stain­less steel or gal­va­nized cable––that slide within smooth stain­less steel tub­ing, mov­ing frag­ile cof­fee and tea prod­ucts gen­tly, qui­etly and dust-free, hor­i­zon­tally, ver­ti­cally or at any angle, through small holes in walls or ceil­ings. The sys­tem can have sin­gle or mul­ti­ple inlets and out­lets, and con­vey over short dis­tances or hun­dreds of feet/meters.

Available in unlim­ited con­fig­u­ra­tions, the con­veyor is offered as a stand-alone sys­tem, or fully inte­grated with upstream and down­stream equipment.

Fres-co System
Effectively pack­ag­ing your roasted cof­fee to keep it fresh is essen­tial. Fres-co offers stock bags with the authen­tic one-way degassing valve that keeps your cof­fee fresh to the last cup. Whether it is cof­fee or tea, Fres-co’s multi-ply bar­rier lam­i­nates are proven to pre­serve the qual­ity and fresh­ness of your product.

Fres-co stock bags are avail­able in sizes from 2 oz to 40 lbs. and Fres-co’s Corner Seal tech­nol­ogy allows seal­ing the bag on four cor­ners (side seal) remov­ing the back seam, which achieves four solid graphic pan­els for bet­ter shelf impact.

Fres-co’s Gusseted Bags are designed to hold from 2 oz to more than 50 lbs of prod­uct. They are avail­able in a stan­dard design with a cen­ter back seam, or with the Fres-co Corner Seal tech­nol­ogy for more com­mand­ing shelf presence.

Texpak/Scolari Engineering
Texpak, Inc. was founded in 1934 and is the orig­i­na­tor of the plas­tic and alu­minum clips used in the pack­ag­ing of apparel. For almost 80 years their prod­uct line has expanded and they are now one of the worlds lead­ing sup­pli­ers of prod­uct iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and pack­ag­ing spe­cial­ties to manufacturers.

Texpak sup­plies cof­fee roast­ers and other man­u­fac­tur­ers with easy-to-use soft­ware for pro­duc­ing bar-coded labels and hang tags on per­sonal com­put­ers in your office or fac­tory. Their new laser sys­tems are ideal for large or small vol­ume users. They also offer a broad line of stock tags and labels and pro­duce high-quality cus­tom tags and labels to meet your spe­cific require­ments. Texpak is also a major sup­plier of pack­ag­ing spe­cial­ties and they carry a large selec­tion of tag attach­ing guns, and nee­dles and fasteners

The View

Categories: 2014, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Innovation – sound scary to you? It gen­er­ally means chang­ing how we do things and for most, change is scary! However, when you stop to think about how the cof­fee indus­try began, it was a sim­ple goat herder and his goats, a bush, and some berries. If the herder and the monks (as the leg­end goes) hadn’t been inter­ested in “inno­vat­ing” the use of the cher­ries, our indus­try might not even exist today, as we know it.

To be suc­cess­ful we must embrace inno­va­tion! But, inno­va­tion should mean work­ing smarter, not harder! Innovation is another method to help us find that del­i­cate bal­ance I dis­cussed last month. It was darn easy writ­ing about not work­ing too hard and find­ing time for your­self and fam­ily when I was tak­ing a month off. After being back for five weeks and try­ing catch up, bal­ance has quickly flown out the win­dow. However inno­va­tion is com­ing to the res­cue and bal­ance will return.

CoffeeTalk is mostly (I say with high hopes) fin­ished with com­pletely ren­o­vat­ing our inter­nal sys­tems by imple­ment­ing SalesForce CRM and Cloud Computing. You may have noticed that many of our web­forms have been “under repair.” Yup, some­times inno­va­tion hurts. And though the process seems painful while we’re going through it, and, of course we have had to invest time, energy, and money, the end is in sight and the ben­e­fits will more than make up for what we have been through in time saved, costs reduced, and improved rev­enues. And best of all, this inno­va­tion means less time work­ing and more time with fam­ily and friends to keep that pre­cious balance.

Innovation is all around us, if we only take the time to explore. This is the first col­umn I have ever writ­ten by first speak­ing my thoughts into my iPhone Notes app, and then email­ing them to myself as the first draft. It was amaz­ing, not to men­tion free. I had the tech­nol­ogy to do this for years, just never thought about it. If you want to be a true leader in busi­ness, you must make the time to explore innovation.

So where do you find tools to help inno­vate your busi­ness? Well you could start with our fea­ture on page 10 in this issue with just a few inno­va­tions that can help your busi­ness grow and thrive. From tra­di­tional “tech­nol­ogy” solu­tions like Point of Sale Systems and Gift and Loyalty Apps, to improved roast­ing and brew­ing equip­ment, con­tract roast­ing, and fla­vor­ing, you will find ideas here.

But don’t stop there! Remember, inno­va­tion can’t hap­pen unless you look for new ideas. Many of the arti­cles in this issue may spark ideas for inno­va­tions in your busi­ness. Roasters may be par­tic­u­larly inter­ested in Rocky’s arti­cle that talks about Direct Trade Relationships as a way to cre­ate a com­pet­i­tive advan­tage in their mar­kets. For Retailers and Coffee Service Operators, Mike’s Marketing Miracles arti­cle is a must read on defin­ing and cre­at­ing value. The Aroma Fingerprinting arti­cle on page 16 is a true exam­ple of inno­va­tion in tech­nol­ogy that could change the face of our industry.

“Knowledge is Power”
Francis Bacon’s quote has proven true time and time again. Those that take the time and energy to keep informed are the lead­ers in busi­ness. In a study done by Bolt and Brassard (2004), the most impor­tant attrib­utes of effec­tive CEOs are their sup­port of learn­ing and knowledge:

•    They have a desire to learn: They inte­grate learn­ing in all that they do and try to pull knowl­edge from every sit­u­a­tion.
•    They have an open and curi­ous mind: They seek out peo­ple who think dif­fer­ently or might pro­vide a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.
•    They tol­er­ate risk: Mistakes are impor­tant as learn­ing tools. People need to learn from their mis­takes, but must not shy away from risk for fear of mak­ing a mis­take. They also under­stand that learn­ing absolutely needs to occur at a faster rate than the rate of change within the orga­ni­za­tion.
•    They show humil­ity: They are will­ing, in fact eager, to learn from their mis­takes. They do not have to ‘know it all’ and respect peo­ple who share that value.
•    They walk the talk: They pay it more than lip ser­vice; they fund and ded­i­cate resources to learn­ing, through good times and bad.

Where am I going with this? I am try­ing to say, use us! CoffeeTalk Media exists to pro­vide crit­i­cal indus­try infor­ma­tion and knowl­edge to help you and your com­pany suc­ceed. Digital sub­scrip­tions are free around the world for all three of our pub­li­ca­tions: CoffeeTalk Magazine, Daily Dose – links to the top news sto­ries in the indus­try emailed every busi­ness day, and PowerPress – links to new prod­ucts and press announce­ments emailed every Friday.

With all of this free access to ideas and infor­ma­tion, why give up your com­pet­i­tive advan­tage to those that do take the time to be aware?

On the Shoulders of Giants

Categories: 2014, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Travis Boersma’s Longstanding Career in the Coffee Industry

Born and raised in Grants Pass, Oregon, Travis Boersma, co-founder of Dutch Bros. Coffee, grew up work­ing on the family’s dairy farm, devel­op­ing a strong work ethic. His work ethic and entre­pre­neur­ial spirit cat­a­pulted Boersma to ven­ture into found­ing an espresso busi­ness with his brother, Dane, after his father trans­formed their dairy farm into the Dutcher Creek Golf Course.

I knew at a young age with­out ques­tion that I was going to do what I wanted to do, how­ever I wanted to do it, no mat­ter what,” Boersma says. It was when Boersma was work­ing for a pizza deliv­ery com­pany that it became evi­dent that he liked being his own boss.

The owner of the pizza busi­ness had just pur­chased a sign pack­age and required that we put these ridicu­lous signs on the top of our car,” Boersma says. “I didn’t want to do that so I searched high and low to find a car so I didn’t have to use the sign. I bought a Volkswagon with­out a top and drove it into work and said, ‘Hey man, I don’t know how to install the sign on this car—it doesn’t have a top.’ And the guy said, ‘You know Trav, just drive the car and deliver the piz­zas and for­get about the sign.’ Because I had pur­chased a car totally with­out a top, I had to wear a full beanie, gloves, and down to stay warm. It was cold in Ashland in the winter.”

Whether Boersma was deliv­er­ing piz­zas, milk­ing dairy cows, or installing muf­flers, he learned from his var­i­ous job expe­ri­ences and real­ized he wanted to cre­ate a cul­ture that he would feel com­fort­able work­ing in.

That’s where Dutch Bros. Coffee was born. In 1992, due to chang­ing dairy indus­try poli­cies, Boersma sat down with his brother Dane and talked about what they should do next. Travis was intrigued by the cof­fee trend start­ing in the Pacific Northwest.

I took him to a lit­tle stand in Grants Pass that was run by a woman named Bonnie and bought us both a vanilla latte. I remem­ber turn­ing around and Dane had the lid off of his cup and was lick­ing it—we were both hooked,” Boersma says. “We drove through the Northwest, expe­ri­enc­ing the cof­fee world and con­nected with Paul Leighton in Eugene, Oregon. He got us hooked up with 100 pounds of beans and a sin­gle head espresso machine. He’s still our green bean bro­ker to this day. Before long, we set up a push­cart by the rail­road tracks in Grants Pass and started hand­ing out free sam­ples to as many peo­ple as we could. By 1996 we had six loca­tions and worked with the first fran­chisee in 1998.”

Today Dutch Bros. Coffee is the country’s largest, pri­vately held, drive-thru cof­fee com­pany. Rooted in fam­ily and involve­ment, Dutch Bros. Coffee’s mis­sion is to “spread the Dutch Luv.” This vision has resulted in loyal cus­tomer base, dubbed the “Dutch Mafia.” Dutch Bros. Coffee also shares this “Dutch Luv” with others—donating more than $1 mil­lion annu­ally to non­profit organizations.

A huge part of Dutch Bros.’ suc­cess lies in the company’s pro­pri­etary blend of Columbian, Brazilian and El Salvadoran beans, which was per­fected for its rich fla­vor, full body, and sweet fin­ish. They only pull ristretto espresso shots, the tra­di­tional Italian-style. Their blend is 50% Rainforest Certified and they are mov­ing toward 100.

Culture is the key to our suc­cess,” Boersma says. “It’s part of the rela­tions with our cus­tomers day-in and day-out. It’s also part of the com­mu­ni­ties we serve. We have a cul­ture of tak­ing care of people—whether they are cus­tomers, our com­mu­nity, or the peo­ple who work in the com­pany. We are in the rela­tion­ship busi­ness and cof­fee is sim­ply a way of facil­i­tat­ing those relationships.”

Boersma says han­dling their rate of growth has been one of the chal­leng­ing aspects of run­ning Dutch Bros. “Our growth rate is a focal point for the com­pany and that’s chal­leng­ing,” Boersma says. “The com­pany cul­ture is the num­ber one pri­or­ity. We strive to cul­ti­vate that cul­ture so that it is authen­tic, true and real as we grow. We want a growth rate that offers the com­pany a com­pelling future and the peo­ple in the com­pany a com­pelling future, while deter­min­ing what makes the most sense to do that—but it’s a bal­anc­ing act. I think the con­stant never-ending improve­ment and the mind­set of never arriv­ing is part of what dri­ves our com­pany and fuels the suc­cess we experience.”

Through his years of suc­cess Boersma has learned a tremen­dous amount about busi­ness and life in gen­eral. “ Life is like a river and the des­ti­na­tion is the ocean and we can nav­i­gate our path. But if you start swim­ming upstream and fight­ing the cur­rent you’ll wear your­self out,” Boersma says. “We don’t’ get to con­trol the way things unfold in this life, in this busi­ness, in our fam­i­lies and our worlds, but we get to use the tools and the God-given abil­i­ties that we have been blessed with to nav­i­gate our way through the prob­lems and chal­lenges that come our way. I think there’s been a tremen­dous amount of learn­ing that’s taken place in that spe­cific area of my life.”

Boersma also acknowl­edges that the cof­fee indus­try has taught him that cof­fee is some­thing peo­ple really have embraced and they, the con­sumer, are more edu­cated than ever before.

The cus­tomer today is quite a bit dif­fer­ent than it was 22 years ago when we started,” Boersma says. “The mil­len­ni­als want to be cre­ative and come up with things that are sig­na­ture drinks that they can take pride in developing.”

Trav_2014 copyIn own­ing his busi­ness, Boersma never knew what his role would specif­i­cally be within the indus­try. “I was always focused on what the pic­ture would look like and what were the results we wanted,” Boersma says. “In dri­ving toward those out­comes and goals, I never really under­stood what my job would entail as a leader with those action items. I have had the fas­ci­nat­ing jour­ney of learn­ing what those things are as we go along, and as they unfold.”

My hope is that some­day, when I’m long gone, the busi­ness is thriv­ing and per­form­ing with a method that has major impli­ca­tions and is a dif­fer­ence maker in the world, some­thing that nobody has ever seen before,” Boersma says. “And as far as the indus­try, I think that from seed-to-cup sus­tain­abil­ity, with qual­ity for all the peo­ple involved, has got to be the pri­or­ity. All of the hard work and effort it takes to grow that frag­ile cof­fee plant, pro­duce it, and roast it and the whole process from seed-to-cup is some­thing that peo­ple can ben­e­fit from all along the course. And it’s a qual­ity expe­ri­ence for every­body that’s involved.”

Aroma Fingerprinting for Quality and Cost

Categories: 2014, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Coffee is one of life’s great plea­sures. The prepa­ra­tion and con­sump­tion of the per­fect cup of cof­fee is an essen­tial rit­ual for mil­lions of peo­ple around the world. But great cof­fee does not hap­pen with­out care and atten­tion at every stage of prepa­ra­tion. ‘From bean to cup’ may be a clichéd expres­sion, but it really cap­tures the essence of how per­fect cof­fee is made. Everyone in the chain, from farmer to con­sumer, needs to under­stand the essen­tials of achiev­ing that perfection.

Coffee is an agri­cul­tural com­mod­ity grown in over 100 coun­tries around the world. Guaranteeing the sup­ply of good qual­ity cof­fee that goes to make our morn­ing cuppa is a com­plex under­tak­ing. Different ori­gins have unique flavour pro­files. Harvests vary around the globe, and cof­fee qual­ity also varies within each har­vest. Therefore, ensur­ing a con­sis­tent flavour pro­file for any cof­fee must take account of the avail­abil­ity of green cof­fees with the right qual­ity and price.  To max­imise the value of their crop, farm­ers need to treat their har­vest to main­tain qual­ity and avoid dam­age caused by incor­rect stor­age and han­dling. Advice from agron­o­mists and agri­cul­tural out­reach sci­en­tists helps to develop the skills and exper­tise farm­ers need.

Once green cof­fee reaches con­sum­ing coun­tries, it is processed into a wide range of prod­ucts. The major appli­ca­tions are roast and ground cof­fee, sol­u­ble cof­fee and, increas­ingly, pods for on-demand cof­fee machines. Green cof­fee may be roasted and ground dif­fer­ently for each appli­ca­tion.  Increasingly sophis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy is applied in cof­fee pro­cess­ing, includ­ing cryo­grind­ing (of roast cof­fee) and freeze-drying (of sol­u­ble cof­fee). The main method cur­rently used to assess the qual­ity of cof­fee (green or roasted) is cup­ping.  This relies on the exper­tise of a hand­ful of expert tasters, whose job it is to main­tain the flavour integrity of a wide range of prod­ucts. Development of new prod­ucts as well as ensur­ing the con­sis­tency of exist­ing blends there­fore relies on a few expert indi­vid­u­als. The devel­op­ment of this exper­tise takes time as well as a sen­si­tive palate. The accu­racy of sen­sory assess­ment depends on the health of the asses­sor, and can suf­fer from subjectivity.

Analysis of cof­fee sam­ple is car­ried out using gas chro­matog­ra­phy and quadru­pole time-of flight-mass spec­trom­e­try (GC/QToF) analy­sis of cof­fee samples.

Untitled-1 copyNew devel­op­ments in aroma analy­sis tech­nol­ogy mean that it is now cost-effective to deploy sophis­ti­cated aroma analy­sis to a range of foods and bev­er­ages, includ­ing cof­fee. In fact, cof­fee is a very good can­di­date for this type of analy­sis because approx­i­mately 40 aroma com­pounds describe the flavour of cof­fee as expe­ri­enced by a sen­sory asses­sor. By analysing a set of cof­fees using this approach, it is pos­si­ble to describe each cof­fee by its unique aroma chem­istry ‘fin­ger­print’. The effect of dif­fer­ent roast­ing con­di­tions can be tracked chem­i­cally and linked to effects on flavour. Similarly, the effects of ori­gin, har­vest and stor­age can be chem­i­cally iden­ti­fied. What emerges quickly is a pow­er­ful tool to man­age the qual­ity of cof­fee products.

Untitled-1 copyMass spec­trum for cof­fee aroma show­ing the large num­ber of com­pounds present:  these make up the aroma ‘fin­ger­print’ of the coffee

Statistical map­ping of cof­fee aroma ‘fin­ger­prints’ using Principal Components Analysis.  This clearly demon­strates the sep­a­ra­tion of cof­fee types using aroma com­po­nents. Each sam­ple is a dif­fer­ent ori­gin and the dia­gram is a 2D rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a 3D map.

Red:  Brazilian Roast

Green:  Java Sumatra Roast

Brown:  Costa Rican Roast

Blue:  Colombian Supremo Roast

Grey:  Espresso Roast

A major appli­ca­tion of aroma fin­ger­print­ing is in devel­op­ing and cost-optimising blended prod­ucts. The bench­mark prod­uct can be defined by its aroma fin­ger­print, which is an objec­tive mea­sure of its flavour pro­file. The fin­ger­print can be fixed, so that any sub­se­quent blend is com­pared against this fixed ref­er­ence, which does not vary with time or rely on the state of a sen­sory asses­sor. So sup­pose I need to refor­mu­late my blend due to the avail­abil­ity of green cof­fee. I now have a fixed fin­ger­print to match. By fin­ger­print­ing the indi­vid­ual ori­gins I have avail­able, I can then use sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis to iden­tify the blends with poten­tial to best match my tar­get aroma fin­ger­print, all with­out hav­ing to taste a sin­gle cup of cof­fee. Additionally, I could over­lay price infor­ma­tion, so that I can then ask the ques­tion ‘which blend of ori­gins best matches my flavour tar­get at least cost?’  Once I have a small num­ber of can­di­date blends, I can cup them and decide which best meets my needs. Another very pow­er­ful appli­ca­tion for aroma fin­ger­print­ing is match­ing exist­ing blends. Suppose I am asked to match the flavour of Blend X. I can use a trial-and-error approach to blend­ing and cup­ping, and hope I hit upon some­thing close. Or I can use the aroma fin­ger­print of Blend X to help iden­tify com­bi­na­tions of ori­gins that match the tar­get, and then cup the best of these.

I should state clearly that aroma fin­ger­print­ing does not replace the need for cup­ping, but instead pro­vides objec­tive data to sup­port sourc­ing and blend­ing deci­sions. Availability and costs can also be fac­tored into the analy­sis so that a com­pre­hen­sive model for prod­uct man­age­ment can be devel­oped. It will make blend devel­op­ment and man­age­ment more effi­cient, and avoid some of the pit­falls inher­ent in rely­ing com­pletely on expert cupping.

To dis­cuss this work or any other coffee-related sci­ence in more detail, please con­tact Simon Penson

Dr. Simon Penson, Head of Cereals & Ingredients Processing, Campden BRI
Dr. Julian South, Head of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Campden BRI

Campden BRI ( pro­vides tech­ni­cal, leg­isla­tive and sci­en­tific sup­port and research to the food and drinks indus­try world­wide. We offer a com­pre­hen­sive “farm to fork” range of ser­vices. Our mem­bers and clients ben­e­fit from industry-leading facil­i­ties for analy­sis, prod­uct and process devel­op­ment, and sen­sory and con­sumer stud­ies, which include a spe­cial­ist brew­ing and wine division.

Coffee Service Corner

Categories: 2014, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

While in St. Louis at Coffee Fest, Kerri Goodman had the oppor­tu­nity to visit with DS Services’ (and COFFEETALK colum­nist) Ken Shea and chat about the state of the Coffee Service Industry and other related top­ics of inter­est. Here is that interview:

KG – It’s good to see you and oth­ers from the world of Coffee Service being more vis­i­ble at events such as Coffee Fest and Specialty Coffee Association show in Seattle. What is moti­vat­ing you to par­tic­i­pate in these venues?
KS – Thank you Kerri. There are a few rea­sons for get­ting closer to the spe­cialty world. It begins with our cus­tomers’ expand­ing knowl­edge of cof­fee and the need for the oper­a­tor com­mu­nity to remain in front of things. My com­pany, DS Services, and I per­son­ally, have a desire to become closer to the inter­na­tional mar­ket­place of cof­fee and tea and broaden our knowl­edge base. This knowl­edge is ben­e­fi­cial as we evolve our cof­fee ser­vice busi­ness and as the demand for spe­cialty cof­fee increases. Beyond that, as our indus­try lines of def­i­n­i­tion con­tinue to blur, hav­ing a well-developed under­stand­ing of re-sale venues will serve us well.

My com­pany has a his­tory of being mind­ful of and sup­port­ing dif­fer­ent phil­an­thropic efforts. The spe­cialty cof­fee world embraces sup­port at ori­gin and phil­an­thropy from mul­ti­ple angles. Our inter­ests are aligned.

I see a grow­ing num­ber of Coffee Service oper­a­tors in atten­dance at these events as the col­lec­tive jour­ney to ori­gin expands. Ours is a very aware and com­pet­i­tive indus­try as you know.

KG – What is your per­spec­tive on the evo­lu­tion of sin­gle cup brew­ing?
KS – While Keurig and Mars con­tinue to dom­i­nate mar­ket share, I see resur­gence with pods. The pod brew­ers are much more intu­itive than in the past. The prod­ucts are excel­lent and many yield a bev­er­age with extrac­tion rates and dis­solved solids yields that meet SCAA Gold Cup stan­dards. Brew by back made its mark with vari­ety and con­ve­nience. The next nat­ural step in this evo­lu­tion­ary process is bet­ter quality.

Hopper based sin­gle cup brew­ing options are expand­ing. The menu and cup size options that these brew­ers can pro­vide are vir­tu­ally lim­it­less. We see a grow­ing demand for drinks that incor­po­rate water sol­u­ble powders.

Then we have the non-Keurig licensed cups. It seems that at retail level, every week we see another brand on the shelves. The brand options are now quite extensive.

KG – So with the pro­lif­er­a­tion of the new “cups,” how does a com­pany such as DS Services approach the oppor­tu­nity?
KS – We are a Keurig/Green Mountain KAD dis­trib­u­tor. We are not engaged in the sell­ing of non-K cup prod­ucts for Keurig brew­ers. But we rec­og­nize that there is a grow­ing com­pet­i­tive real­ity in two areas.

E-commerce pro­vides a ful­fill­ment oppor­tu­nity for all of the new entrants to our mar­ket place. Additionally, smaller oper­a­tors that have not been able to par­tic­i­pate as K-cup dis­trib­u­tors, are now able to pro­vide a cup solu­tion with good brew­ing equip­ment and cups that can be pur­chased with rea­son­able quan­tity min­i­mums at a com­pet­i­tive cost.

KG – So what led you into the world of cof­fee and cof­fee ser­vice in par­tic­u­lar and what is your cur­rent focus?
KS –It all began for me when I was hired to run a vend­ing dis­tri­b­u­tion busi­ness owned by Flowers Baking Company. Two cof­fee bro­kers approached me about dis­trib­ut­ing their prod­ucts. My first expe­ri­ence with cof­fee was with the Hills Brothers line. These bro­kers led me to the cof­fee ser­vice oppor­tu­nity which was accre­tive rev­enue for my com­pany as we were pri­mar­ily a vend­ing distributor.

After a few years, VSA, now Vistar, bought the Flowers oper­a­tions. I opted to join Servatron, a national dis­tri­b­u­tion com­pany head­quar­tered in Long Beach owned by Dick Allen, a true vision­ary and men­tor. It was then that I became a full-fledged cof­fee ser­vice distributor.

VSA then acquired Servatron. At that time I moved to the oper­a­tor side of the desk as my largest cus­tomer, Standard Coffee Service hired me to direct oper­a­tions. After ten years there, I ven­tured into the man­u­fac­tur­ing world and then formed a con­sult­ing busi­ness that ulti­mately led me back to Standard on a con­sult­ing gig and then an offer to return which I accepted.

In 2012, DS Waters bought Standard and here I am! My cur­rent respon­si­bil­i­ties focus on indus­try related activ­i­ties, multi depart­men­tal involve­ment and acqui­si­tions. It’s been quite a ride but both the jour­ney and des­ti­na­tion have proved rewarding.

Marketing Miracles

Categories: 2014, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

For many, con­ven­tional think­ing in busi­ness says to lower expec­ta­tions so that you can man­age those expec­ta­tions bet­ter – and beat those lower expec­ta­tions by doing just enough, not by over-performing. The prob­lem with low­er­ing expec­ta­tions is that it results in sus­tained poor per­for­mance; it will even­tu­ally demo­ti­vate employ­ees and cause value to be defined on com­modi­ti­za­tion. The cus­tomer will begin to asso­ciate those lower expec­ta­tions – yours and theirs – with weak expe­ri­ences that even­tu­ally lead to churn.

The National Automatic Merchandizing Association (NAMA) looked at today’s rapidly chang­ing world of consumption1.

In a ser­vice indus­try, there are two impor­tant com­po­nents that under­pin a win­ning busi­ness propo­si­tion: prod­ucts and ser­vices. NAMA looked at how con­sumers and decision-makers view their expec­ta­tions and lev­els of sat­is­fac­tion with both of these. While over­all sat­is­fac­tion is extremely high, expec­ta­tions are too low, with no sub­stan­tial dif­fer­ences between con­sumers and decision-makers on mea­sures of both prod­uct and ser­vice expec­ta­tions and sat­is­fac­tion.
Expectations    Satisfaction
Consumers                  21%        92%
Decision Makers        39% 97%

Expectations    Satisfaction
Consumers                  19%         91%
Decision Makers        40% 97%

Why would expec­ta­tions be so low while sat­is­fac­tion is so high?

Across the OCS indus­try, data shows that expec­ta­tions are this low because owner-operators and the indus­try at large need to bet­ter define their offer­ings in a way that aligns with what causes such high satisfaction.

How can expec­ta­tions be raised and what does it mean to do so? Communicate a promise as to what your prod­uct and your ser­vice offer­ing will deliver. Do this in your mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Do this in train­ing of employ­ees. Imbed this think­ing into the orga­ni­za­tion and with your suppliers.

Of course, this all begs the ques­tion: If we do raise expec­ta­tions, can we know that we’ll exceed them? Based on the data shown in the table, the answer is a resound­ing yes because the indus­try and owner-operators are already scor­ing so high on satisfaction.

The fol­low­ing rep­re­sent the most sig­nif­i­cant areas where you can both raise expec­ta­tions and have a sig­nif­i­cant, pos­i­tive impact on account reten­tion and acqui­si­tion. These are spe­cific areas in which to train your employ­ees, have dia­logue with accounts, and mea­sure progress:

•    Make help­ful equip­ment rec­om­men­da­tions based on the sit­u­a­tional needs of an account
•    Make help­ful prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tions across cof­fee, tea, and water so that accounts and con­sumers know what else can be pro­vided beyond their exist­ing knowl­edge
•    Demonstrate that you under­stand the per­sonal needs of the indi­vid­ual at an account – from pro­cure­ment to the office man­ager to the employ­ees
•    Demonstrate that you under­stand and are knowl­edge­able of cof­fee, tea, and water. You are seen as the expert and there is trust in want­ing you to pro­vide guid­ance.
•    Show that you are think­ing ahead and let the account know about changes in the cof­fee, tea, and water space.
•    You are not there to just deliver a prod­uct. Act as a part­ner to help an account make bet­ter deci­sions.
•    Align incen­tive pay to your employ­ees that encour­ages them to act as part­ners or develop an account team that helps to facil­i­tate a part­ner­ing men­tal­ity.
•    Get per­sonal and ensure that you know peo­ple by name and their inter­ests, but more impor­tantly that they know your employ­ees by name and their inter­ests.
•    Train employ­ees on the impor­tance of per­sonal appear­ance and how they should carry them­selves when inter­act­ing with employ­ees and decision-makers. It may sound basic, but this is the “block­ing and tack­ling” of account management.

Is value sell­ing your prod­uct at the low­est price? No.
Is value treat­ing your cus­tomer as they would not want to be treated? No.
Is value skimp­ing on qual­ity? No.
Is value low­er­ing expec­ta­tions so you can beat them? No.
We define value as the total­ity of the expe­ri­ence one has with your prod­uct and ser­vice ver­sus their expec­ta­tions. Value is con­sis­tently exceed­ing expec­ta­tions – high expec­ta­tions – in the deliv­ery of your offering.

dabadie copy

When that is accom­plished, the types of out­comes you seek are real­ized – cus­tomer loy­alty, employee sat­is­fac­tion, pre­mium pric­ing, min­i­mal churn, and an emo­tional bond with your cus­tomer that with­stands stress­ful times in the future. Mediocrity is a los­ing for­mula. Lift your­self and oth­ers to expect – to ask for – greater.

1 NAMA, Office Beverage Service Strengths and Opportunities, November 2012.

Mike Dabadie is the founder of Heart+Mind Strategies, LLC, a research con­sul­tancy that con­tin­ues to pio­neer the use of personal-values insights and mar­ket­ing. He can be reached at

The Last Mile

Categories: 2014, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

The year was 2005, the place, Thailand’s stun­ning island of Phuket. I was on my maiden Asian voy­age under the flag of Illy’s University of Coffee, on a week­long train­ing mis­sion to local accounts. Behind the bar at a big resort, I was pulling shots to estab­lish a base­line. Shot after shot, the results were stun­ningly horrific.

Tapped out of neat lit­tle barista tricks, the cul­prit finally revealed itself: a strange, thin, icky black layer of some­thing where fil­ter met portafil­ter. I grabbed a screw­driver and flipped the fil­ter out. And then I flipped out. A thick layer of dry cof­fee entirely coated the machine’s innards, almost com­pletely block­ing its cen­tral hose.

I pre­sented the foren­sic evi­dence to my two barista trainees. “Wow, there are actu­ally two pieces,” blurted out Barista Guy Number One, remark­ing on the fil­ters, and clearly stunned by the rev­e­la­tion. “You broke it,” mum­bled a mis­guided Barista Guy Number Two.

This column’s name, The Last Mile, derives from its mis­sion to opti­mize qual­ity where it counts most: at the point of prepa­ra­tion. While this story’s telling is 100% accu­rate, of course it isn’t typ­i­cal. My qual­ity assur­ance and train­ing vis­its to hun­dreds of the world’s finer resorts, restau­rants and cafes, over 10 years, have found about 40% of machines thor­oughly clean, 25% cleaned just about well enough, another 25% insuf­fi­ciently clean, and the final 10%…let’s not go there.

But think about that for a moment. Assuming my expe­ri­ence can be extrap­o­lated to the world at large, 35% of the cof­fee served at bet­ter estab­lish­ments doesn’t stand a chance to deliver on its promise. And this in upscale envi­ron­ments, where one would think qual­ity means more than in your typ­i­cal setting.

Let’s explore just why keep­ing espresso machines clean is no quick, casual, rinse-and-go exer­cise. Like so much in cof­fee, it comes down to oils, which com­prise about 15 per­cent of Arabica beans and roughly 10–12 per­cent of Robusta. Oxygen is the arch-enemy of cof­fee oils, turn­ing them ran­cid after only an hour of con­tact. That means every piece of equip­ment that comes into con­tact with cof­fee in any form must be thor­oughly cleaned every day. At least.

Some pros rec­om­mend basic steps after every ses­sion and oth­ers every hour. Nick Griffith and Chris Tracy of urge per­form­ing a “wig­gle rinse” after every ses­sion to wash away grinds from the dis­per­sion screen, fol­lowed by a quick clean water back­flush. Then once every hour, scrub­bing the inside of the portafil­ter and the portafil­ter bas­ket. And in case you thought lesser-used machines don’t require as much vig­i­lance, think again. Since they don’t ben­e­fit from scald­ing water pass­ing through them fre­quently, the oils deposited within these machines cook on and cling even tighter, requir­ing more than hourly bas­ket rins­ing. Call it The Paradox of Lower Volume.

If you haven’t already, estab­lish a clean­ing sched­ule with daily, weekly, monthly and yearly actions, and post it some­where that is can’t-miss. Do a daily back­flush with Cafiza (more on clean­ing solu­tions below) and fully soak portafil­ters and bas­kets for at least a half hour; weekly, remove dis­per­sion screen and soak in Cafiza along with the fil­ter and portafil­ter, and clean the drain tube with Cafiza and water; monthly, check sta­tus of car­tridges for machines with inline water fil­tra­tion sys­tems; and at least yearly, descale to wipe out cal­cium (lime) deposits, which can add seri­ous bit­ter­ness when present in large quan­ti­ties. The harder the water, the more fre­quently you need to descale.

Now about cof­fee equip­ment deter­gent and other clean­ing agents. I sus­pect a big rea­son why machines are not cleaned often enough is worry about the dam­age that these prod­ucts can do. Happily, most of those fears are unfounded when choos­ing clean­ers specif­i­cally made for cof­fee and espresso sys­tems, avail­able from com­pa­nies like Urnex, which also sells prod­ucts under the Puro and Full Circle brands, the lat­ter pro­vid­ing a full port­fo­lio of eco-friendly prod­ucts. Joe Glo, a newer brand, has a cleaner that also inhibits lime.

milos copyCircling back to our Thai barista duo, I am indeed sur­prised to meet baris­tas out there who don’t under­stand that portafil­ters are com­prised of two pieces that need to be cleaned sep­a­rately. Sadly, I have encoun­tered that layer of “antique” cof­fee on more than one occa­sion. (See photo.)

If you just can’t bring your­self or your baris­tas to clean that equip­ment often enough, try and have some fun. A com­pany called Medelco may have just the thing: a French roast-scented cof­fee maker cleaner. That’s right, it smells like cof­fee. Not exactly my cup of tea (you’re wel­come, Tea Council of the USA), but really, who am I to judge? Well, OK, I am one to judge. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ll stick with cleaner that leaves that delight­ful scent called “clean” lin­ger­ing after a job well done.

Giorgio Milos is illy’s award-winning Master Barista and illy’s North American Barista in Residence who reg­u­larly ven­tures beyond the cup to study the biol­ogy and chem­istry of the cof­fee bean, con­tin­u­ally striv­ing to mas­ter the bev­er­age that is his pas­sion and profession.

Retailer/Roaster Profiles

Categories: 2014, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Hello fel­low cof­fee mates! Today I am exited to present our inter­view with Brazilia’s co-founder Malcolm Stogo and the company’s cof­fee con­sul­tant John Moore. Enjoy:

Malcolm Stogo headshot copyV. Brazilia is a rel­a­tively new, yet ground­break­ing busi­ness. Why and how was it started exactly?
M.S. After we pur­chased our first cof­fee plan­ta­tion in Brazil, dur­ing a visit there I said to my busi­ness part­ner, Sheikh Fahad Al-Athel, “we should have a cof­fee café in New York, that is sim­ply “seed to cup.””

V. Why did Brazilia open up its first café in Germany?
M.S. The Sheikh fell in love with the town of Über­lin­gen and pur­chased a condo there on the Lake Constance, and on the bot­tom floor was a great space fac­ing the lake. We decided to open a café right there.

V. Malcolm, you are well known for your accom­plish­ments in the ice cream world. Why did you decide to get into cof­fee busi­ness? How well do cof­fee and ice cream go along together?
M.S. You could say it was luck, or being in the right place at the right time, but frankly I love cof­fee. Especially mak­ing it myself with dif­fer­ent blends. Coffee and ice cream go well together. Coffee as an ice cream fla­vor is very pop­u­lar and easy to make because some­times the sim­plest things work the best. If you use frozen dried instant cof­fee with a touch of cocoa, you can make a great ice cream flavor!

V. How would you describe your café’s con­cept? It looks very dif­fer­ent from what I have seen before – since it com­bines dif­fer­ent micro busi­nesses in one (cof­fee, food, ice cream, juices and smooth­ies) in a neat, rus­tic envi­ron­ment.
M.S. Brazilia Café is a one-stop des­ti­na­tion for healthy meals at any time of day, made with ingre­di­ents that are metic­u­lously sourced and pre­pared fresh in-house. We have ded­i­cated sta­tions for juices & smooth­ies, soup, salad, sand­wiches & baked goods, our home­made gelato and of course the Brew Bar, where our highly trained baris­tas use var­i­ous pour-over devices to brew per­fect cus­tom cups! We wanted it to be wel­com­ing and mod­ern. We worked with Costa Group from Italy, who also designed Mario Batali’s orig­i­nal Eataly loca­tion in New York, to incor­po­rate nat­ural ele­ments into an iron-clad urban space. It is chic yet relaxed at the same time, to accom­mo­date the peo­ple who live and work in the area; whether look­ing for some­thing quick on-the-go or a com­fort­able place to relax, hang out, and enjoy a great cof­fee experience.

V. How did/do American cus­tomers react to it?
M.S. Americans have come a long way in terms of knowl­edge and appre­ci­a­tion of cof­fee cul­ture, but they still have a way to go. I think that aspect of our café in par­tic­u­lar has edu­cated our cus­tomers, as we go beyond the coun­try of ori­gin or type of roast to details about our farm and pro­duc­tion meth­ods. They are eager to come back and try a dif­fer­ent roast or dif­fer­ent brew­ing method and are really dis­cov­er­ing as well as push­ing their palates. We are for­tu­nate to already have reg­u­lars from the neigh­bor­hood. We serve break­fast, lunch and din­ner and are always offer­ing new dishes, juices or sea­sonal items, so there is a lot to choose from. For exam­ple we put together a spe­cial menu for the World Cup, high­light­ing Brazilian flavors.

V. As a new busi­ness, and as a new busi­ness con­cept, what are some of the chal­lenges you faced and what tips would you give other busi­ness own­ers start­ing now?
M.S. The most impor­tant thing to remem­ber is never to for­get what orig­i­nal con­cept was in your mind. Do not let oth­ers sway you because a change might be more prac­ti­cal. And, make sure you are well cap­i­tal­ized to sur­vive 18 months in business.

V. What is in the future for Brazilia in terms of expan­sion and growth?
M.S. We plan to open two more Brazilia Café loca­tions in New York. We also plan on open­ing Brazilia Cafes in London, Istanbul, and São Paulo.

V. Finally, is there some­thing else you would like to add? Something to be shared with our cof­fee com­mu­nity.
J.M. Can’t empha­size enough all of the incred­i­ble work that Byron Holcomb and his team have been doing on the farm in Brazil. I can’t think of any other ver­ti­cally inte­grated cof­fee con­cept that has a for­mer com­pet­ing barista and cur­rent Q Grader run­ning the agri­cul­tural efforts. Connecting that with the team in NYC where another 3 Q Graders, Matt Swenson, Eric Taylor, and I are work­ing in the lab and roast­ery together with the team and we feel that we are poised to make the most of what nature gives us each year.

Brazilia Café

Malcolm Stogo
John Moore
+1 (646) 852 – 6348

Maxim Vershinin has been a colum­nist for CoffeeTalk for the last few years high­light­ing var­i­ous roast­ers and retail­ers in the indus­try. He has lived in Peru for the last few years and is now fur­ther­ing his edu­ca­tion at Columbia University seek­ing a B.A. in economics.

Roasters Rock

Categories: 2014, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

When some­one adver­tises a ‘Direct Relationship’ cof­fee, they are claim­ing to know the pro­ducer. It’s pos­si­ble that this term is get­ting watered down in our indus­try, as I sus­pect that fewer and fewer hands are being shaken. The real­ity is that a direct rela­tion­ship can be hard and expensive.

To build these rela­tion­ships in a mean­ing­ful way, it’s impor­tant to under­stand both WHY and HOW to do it, and the pit­falls and expenses in mak­ing it happen.

The tricky thing with ‘Direct Relationship’ cof­fee is that it means what­ever the per­son is claim­ing it means. It’s not a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion reg­u­lated by any­one like ‘Fair Trade,’ ‘Bird Friendly’ or even ‘Organic’ marks are used. It can cause con­fu­sion with the con­sumer, and is occa­sion­ally a stretched truth by the pur­veyor. Here is what it should mean:

A Direct Relationship cof­fee has the basic com­po­nent of hav­ing shaken the hand, and made a deal with, the pro­ducer of the cof­fee. The pro­ducer is the farmer, farm or the coöper­a­tive that pre­pared the exportable lot.

This means that a lot of cof­fee on the mar­ket can­not be traced back to the farm but can be linked to a coöper­a­tive or a mill in that com­mu­nity. Where it starts to get fuzzy is when an exporter mixes cof­fee from sev­eral micro regions and in effect becomes the pro­ducer. In this sit­u­a­tion the cof­fee should not be con­sid­ered direct rela­tion­ship, as there is no trace­abil­ity back to the hands that grew it.

Anybody that has tried this model will tell you that the most impor­tant things are:

1)    It is really hard to do.
2)    It is really expen­sive to do.

It’s hard because you must become a world explorer. If you have cof­fee from 15 ori­gins and call them Direct Relationship cof­fees, it implies that you went to 15 ori­gins and made deals with your part­ners, then arranged the expor­ta­tion of that cof­fee to your roast­ing facility.

It’s expen­sive because it’s esti­mated that each direct trade rela­tion­ship costs a MINIMUM of $5,000 to get started. Realistically, it’s closer to $10,000. This includes travel, trans­la­tors, secu­rity, salary, etc. for every region. Assume that you are look­ing for an entire con­tainer of 37,500 pounds; you just added 22.6 cents per pound. That’s easy enough to pass on to a cus­tomer. If you’re look­ing for 10 bags, you just added about $7.57 per pound.

The answer must there­fore be to get help with build­ing the rela­tion­ships so costs can be reduced. There are sev­eral inter­est­ing ways that this can hap­pen. Here are a few:

Roasters Guild Origin Trips
For many smaller shop own­ers and roast­ers, this trip each year is the first trip to an ori­gin coun­try. It is well orga­nized, edu­ca­tional, and impar­tially shows you sev­eral grow­ing areas. You meet farm­ers right on their farm and at din­ner events where you can talk socially. You’re also trav­el­ling with like-minded peo­ple, which may be able to be importer partners.

CQI Q-Certification Class at Origin
If you’re look­ing to build these rela­tion­ships and you’re not a Q-Grader, then it’s time to step up and become one. This class gives you sev­eral impor­tant tools to com­mu­ni­cate flu­ently once the rela­tion­ship with your pro­ducer begins. Many of these classes are taught at ori­gin, and are designed to include pro­duc­ers. Following the class you can go visit your classmate’s farm or coöper­a­tive, apply your new com­mu­ni­ca­tion / eval­u­a­tion skills and even order some coffee!

Specialty Coffee Auction Events
Producing coun­tries usu­ally have an asso­ci­a­tion char­tered with pro­mot­ing spe­cialty cof­fee from their coun­try. Often this results in an auc­tion after har­vest. A typ­i­cal for­mat is to have a team of inter­na­tional judges / buy­ers come to the coun­try and expe­ri­ence around 50 spec­tac­u­lar cof­fees. There you’ll meet sev­eral of the pro­duc­ers that have sub­mit­ted the cof­fee. You can shake their hands and bid on their cof­fee. Usually there will already be a mech­a­nism to export that cof­fee to your country.

SCAA ‘The Event’ Trade Shows
If you can’t afford to go to them, this yearly trade show brings them to you! Stop by their booths on the floor and spend the rest of your time in the cup­ping pavil­ions where you can taste their cof­fee and start mak­ing deals on the spot. The farmer isn’t always present, but a rep­re­sen­ta­tive can facil­i­tate an introduction.

Those are just a few obvi­ous ways to start. You can also do things like become a Coffee Corp Volunteer with CQI, find a pri­vate com­pany that puts on ori­gin trips, or just go visit the coun­try and hire a guide.

Just remem­ber; to be a Direct Trade you should be able to say, “I looked the pro­ducer in the eye, shook his hand, and made a deal.” Anything else is just pre­tend­ing to be a Direct Trade.

Rocky Rhodes is an 18 year cof­fee vet­eran, roaster, and Q-Grader Instructor, and his mis­sion now is to trans­form the cof­fee sup­ply chain and make sweep­ing dif­fer­ences in the lives of those that pro­duce the green cof­fee. Rocky can be reached at