Our first news feature!

Copyright Hutchinson Magazine

Copyright Hutchinson Magazine

We've been excited about this for a while, and now we can let you all in on the excitement! Hutchinson Magazine contacted us this past Fall and asked if we'd like to be featured in their Winter issue. We asked them if they knew what a small operation we are. We could hardly believe such a great publication would be interested in us! They assured us that we fit the local business profile they wanted to spotlight, so we happily agreed. 

Amy Conkling interviewed us, and we felt instantly comfortable with her. She did a fantastic job telling our story. The photographer and graphic design people amazed us, too. The entire article represents our brand so well! Thanks, Hutchinson Magazine! 

If you'd like to read the article for yourself, click the photo! 

Gifting Coffee

Click the photo to navigate to COFFEE

Click the photo to navigate to COFFEE

"Tis the season! For giving. For coffee. If you're wanting to combine the goodness, we'd love to be part of your gift-giving! 

Here's how to get freshly-roasted coffee sent directly to your coffee-lover:

  • Enter the recipient's address as the shipping address. We'll assume you want it gift-wrapped for no extra charge and a note included saying the gift is from you. 
  • If you have special wording you prefer for the gift note, or any other special directions, send us a Facebook message or email us at rnrcoffeeroasters@gmail.com.

CLICK HERE TO SELECT YOUR COFFEE

Resources, Fair Trade

Modern slavery and coffee

Artwork by Sarah Pritchard

Artwork by Sarah Pritchard

In Guatemala, an estimated half a million children work unpaid to harvest coffee.

"Paid" workers need to fill a quota of 100 pounds per day to earn their $3-a-day wage.

Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Guinea, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya are some of the biggest coffee exporters in the world, They're origins we're used to seeing on our coffee bags.

And all of them are known to use child and/or forced labor in coffee production.

We're grateful to have a supplier who visits coffee farms in person, has long relationships with the farmers, and pays them even more than he'd be obligated to with his Fair Trade certification.

Knowing your sources is important in our collective responsibility to end slavery and child labor.

I recently found a helpful resource for knowing which coffee companies take this responsibility seriously, and which don't. I was disappointed to find that some names I expected to be scored well weren't sourced as well as I assumed, including Whole Foods, Intelligentsia, and Stumptown. If you want more information on how to vote with your wallet, check out this e-pamphlet by Not for Sale:

COFFEE RATINGS 2014

Better Home-Brewing, Chemex Edition

Our 50 oz. Chemex, in all its beauty

Our 50 oz. Chemex, in all its beauty

In our opinion, the best brewing method for experiencing beans as they were meant to be enjoyed. The amount of control you have over water temperature, brew speed, and water placement makes for a killer cup if you have a little methodology under your belt. 

So, here's a tutorial. This is a basic pour-over that can easily be adapted for a  single-serve V60 pour over as well. 

First, get your water heating. 

A teakettle with that long, snakey spout is optimal for water control and brew speed. Really, if pour overs become your favorite brew method, you probably want to consider investing in one at some point. We love our electric version (which is available on Amazon) because water temp is simple to monitor, but if the price deters you, they also make a much cheaper stovetop version.

(Really, any tea kettle will work; I'll give modified instructions for a tea kettle with a regular spout once we reach the pour part. It's a lot harder to get an even brew, but we made do with a regular tea kettle for a year, until Ryan very generously got Rebecca this beauty for her birthday.) 

Optimal water temperature is 208 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hot enough to extract the oils from the grounds, but not hot enough to be boiling and muddy the flavors. If you're using a stovetop method, 208 degrees is just before the water boils at 212 degrees. 

A note of interest: Most conventional coffee makers aren't able to heat water to this point. This is one of the reasons a pour-over method does better justice to your beans' potential. 

Second, wet the filter. 

Put a new paper filter in the top of your lovely Chemex. Notice that the side of the filter with multiple folds is on the side with the spout. This is important for stability. Pour a bit of hot water evenly onto the sides and bottom of the filter. This rids the filter of the trace amounts of paper taste it can lend to your coffee and also heats up the Chemex, preventing premature cooling. This step can be done while your water is heating; it doesn't have to be a perfect temperature. Just pop the teakettle back onto the heat source to continue heating once you're finished.

Be sure to pour the water out of the Chemex before continuing. 

Third, grind your beans. 

You'll want to wait for this step until JUST before your water is hot enough to begin brewing. Remember the post on grinding? Your grounds have lost quite a bit of their magic even 30 seconds after grinding, so wait until you're ready to brew. 

Aim for a coarse grind. On our burr grinder, we turn the dial all the way to to "coarse" end on the right. Here's a sweet visual cheat sheet from Primer Magazine: 

Aren't they good at design? Wow.

Use one rounded tablespoon of grounds per 5 oz. of water you intend to use. So, for our 50-oz. Chemex, we use ten rounded tablespoons of grounds if we're making a whole pot, and five if we're making half a pot. 

Fourth, dump your freshly-ground beans into the prepared filter. 

Use a spoon to gently make a small hollow in the very center of the grounds. This will allow the water to flow through the grounds more evenly. 

And now, with your water at 208 degrees...

...You're ready to start brewing! 

Fifth, make it bloom! 

Pour just enough water to make the grounds wet evenly over them. Pour in circles, slowly, alternating big and small circles to keep the brew as uniform as possible. Don't pour too close to the edge of the grounds, or the water will simply take the easy route down the side of the filter instead of running through the grounds. Leave a tiny ridge of grounds undisturbed around the perimeter. 

Don't overdo this part. After one or two passes, as soon as the grounds are wet, stop pouring

And look at that bloom! The higher and more active the grounds rise and "breathe", the more CO2 gas is escaping. This is a beautiful sight for two reasons: 

1) CO2 presence is an indicator of bean freshness. 

2) CO2 is crucial in aiding the transfer of the flavor oils from the grounds into the liquid you're now calling coffee. 

Let the grounds bloom undisturbed for 30 seconds. This, we think, is the most magical part of the brewing process. As the CO2 escapes, the most complex, delicious notes of the beans are released. If you rush the blooming process, you'll miss out on the best notes in your final cup. 

Sixth, continue pouring. 

If you're not using a scale and tracking water content (which we aren't fancy enough to do at home, yet... and Rebecca misses the sweet digital scale she used at work), the rule of thumb is to not pour faster than the coffee is exiting the bottom of the filter. Keep up the even circle motion, alternating large and small, and take your time. If you're pouring too fast, the flavor will fall a bit flat and boring in your mouth. Patience is definitely the key here, and it absolutely pays off. 

If you're using a tea kettle with a conventional spout, you'll find it's pretty hard to control the water flow and placement. Just do the best you can, trying to aim for a different spot in the grounds each time, flood the grounds with as little water as possible, then stop and wait for the coffee stream to slow before repeating the process. 

Seventh, remove the filter. 

Once you've used the amount of water you've intended to, stop pouring. Wait just a bit for the coffee stream to slow, and remove the filter. Don't wait until the coffee stops dripping. The most acidic notes are extracted toward the end of the pour, and if you allow all of the end stuff to drain into your Chemex, you might end up with a sharp taste that masks some of the complexities and awesomeness. 

Eighth... ENJOY! 

Include your favorite mugs in the experience, of course. Pop the little glass lid onto your Chemex, if you have one, to keep the coffee hot as long as possible. 

If you're like us and make way too much coffee, you can stick the cooled (make sure it is cool, so as not to break the glass) Chemex into the fridge, then reheat it on the stovetop without changing the flavor much at all. If you have a glass-top stove, you can put the Chemex directly onto the burner. If you have coil burners, you'll need a stainless steel wire grid between the Chemex and the burner to keep it from breaking. 

Thanks, Andrew, for asking your question and giving us reason to write this post. To address your question specifically, yes. It's possible to brew a full 50 ounces in this size at once. If your teakettle is too small to hold 50 ounces of water, you may have to take a quick break mid-brew and heat up more water. We often make partial batches, but this size is great because you have the option of making a whole lot of coffee... A nifty feature for coffee parties. :) 

And there it is, folks! Our very favorite brewing method. We'd love to hear your results, experiences, and questions! 

Better Home-Brewing, 101

When it comes to making coffee at home, we all start somewhere. For most of us, that means we drank instant stuff of doubtful origins at some point in our lives. And then we taste coffee at a coffee house or at a friend's dinner table that makes our eyes fly open with discovery. Coffee can taste AMAZING! 

But getting started in making your own amazing coffee at home can look pretty daunting and as murky as the afore-mentioned instant questionable stuff. 

The good news is, a few changes make a massive difference in coffee quality. The biggest one?

Stop buying pre-ground coffee and invest in a coffee grinder. 

Here's why: 

Coffee beans are sorta like an egg. The outside protects the inside and keeps it fresh. Once a coffee bean is crushed or ground, a whole lot more surface area is exposed to oxygen. And oxygen is an enemy to the freshness factor in nearly any edible. The aromas and oils in a coffee bean are actually fairly fragile, and the loss of aromatic properties starts immediately after grinding. It's estimated that 15 minutes after grinding, coffee has lost up to 60% of that wonderful aroma. And aroma absolutely affects your enjoyment of your morning cup. 

The oils in the bean are the flavor components. They're water soluble, which is a very good thing when you're pouring hot water through your grounds while roasting. Otherwise, extracting the flavor from the bean would be tremendously difficult. But, as a result of being water soluble, the oils are pretty delicate. They're quick to absorb moisture and the aromas and flavors of their environment. Moisture will dilute and deplete these flavor oils, and your grounds may start to taste like the bananas next to them in your shopping cart. Keeping the bean whole until immediately before brewing does a lot to protect the flavor oils and ensure you're not cheated out of a whole spectrum of tastes. 

During the roasting process, a lot of CO2 gas is produced inside the bean. The beans aren't airtight, so some of the CO2 escapes before the bean is ground, but again with the egg comparison... The "shell", while porous, keeps the important stuff inside. CO2 is vital to the transfer of the coffee's oils into the liquid during your brewing process. Here's a sweet little side note: you know how the coffee rises, bubbles, and "breathes" in the first few moments of your pour-over or french press brewing? That's the CO2 gasses escaping. The higher, more active, and longer-lasting that bloom is, the more CO2 is present and the fresher the beans. And, again, grinding your beans too early exposes a whole lot more surface area and starts depleting the CO2. In fact, 60 seconds after grinding, 80% of this gas has merrily released into the air. 

So, what we're trying to say here is this: grinding your beans immediately before brewing means you're getting the maximum enjoyment from them. You could buy the highest quality beans in the world, but if they're ground days or even hours before you brew them, your coffee will taste sub-par. (Which, for enthusiasts like us, seems like a terrible waste.) Conversely, cheaper beans, if ground immediately before brewing, will taste far better than their pre-ground relatives simply because their oils and CO2 are intact and they haven't been as exposed to moisture and other influences.

Our trusty French press, blooming away.

Our trusty French press, blooming away.

So, the next question is, what sort of grinder is right for you? 

It's a trick question, really, because buying ANY grinder and grinding your beans before brewing is going to make a huge improvement in the quality of your coffee. But here are the two grinders we have experience using:

A blade grinder identical to this one was Rebecca's first grinder. It was a trusty little thing, and served valiantly for nearly ten years. The cool thing about blade grinders is that they're cheap. The downside is that they're not awesome at producing an even grind. While the blades fly around like a mini blender, there's no way to ensure they hit every bean the same number of times. Grabbing the whole grinder and shaking it while it's grinding helps a little, but even then, you end up with pieces that are larger than they should be and will be under extracted during the brewing process, and pieces that are ground into fine powder and will be over-extracted. The result is a cup that tastes a bit muddy, with no clear distinction between flavor notes and only teases you with hints of what it could be. Still, if price is a deal-breaker, a blade grinder is better than no grinder at all.

So, what's the upgrade? 

A burr grinder, instead of cutting the bean, crushes it between two revolving abrasive surfaces. Only a few beans are ground at a time, and this type of grinder produces a beautiful, even grind. It's far easier to change the size of the grind to fit your intended brewing process, and the same grinder can give you a consistently even fine espresso grind as well as a beautifully consistent coarser grind for a pour-over or french press. There are many makes and models of burr grinders available, but we love our Bodum

The little engine that can.

The little engine that can.

Ryan had this grinder before we got married, and I (Rebecca) was extremely happy when it migrated over to our house. Ryan's parents and siblings, however, were not so jubilant and quickly replaced it with one of their own. 

It may be a bit of an up-front investment, but if you're into good coffee for the long haul, it's worth every bit. It's small enough to not take up much counter space, but works like a locomotive. We use it to grind our beans for every brewing method we own: Aeropress, Chemex, espresso machine, french press, bialetti moka... (Yeah... we may be a bit fanatic over here.) For each method and size of grind, it works like a charm. Your method really is only as good as your grind. 

Next time, we'll delve into some how-to's on our favorite brewing methods. 

Any questions you'd like to hear addressed? Leave them in the comments! We're as excited about making sure you're getting the most our of your coffee as we are about making quality beans available. Ask away!

Cheers and carpe coffee! 

And we're off!

   

 

 

What a great launch week we've had! We keep being amazed that even the work of getting this thing off the ground and functional is so much fun. We hardly want to do anything else. Like eat and sleep. Alex and Aliyah are glad that the "working on all the details" stage is over. We really did try to be intentional about spending time with them every day, but it just wasn't enough, apparently. 

 

Their pitiful faces absolutely worked, if you're wondering. And you know what? We felt better after a play-and-cuddle session, too... They keep us human, especially when we're as intent on a project as we have been the past while.

Thank you so much for your amazing support of our venture during this first week! We never expected to sell all but one pound of beans within the first twenty-four hours. We're blown away, and we hope you are as well, when you taste what's on its way to those of you we roasted for. 

In upcoming blog posts, we'll be sharing tips and techniques for getting the most from your coffee, as well as reviews on our favorite grinding and brewing methods. Learning these things can look a bit daunting if you're not sure where to start. We know. We've been there. And we also know how basically a whole new universe can open itself to you with a bit of information. So, if you have questions about the hither-to's and why-fore's of brewing coffee, leave them in the comments anytime and we'll address them in future blog posts. 

Carpe coffee!