Most specialty coffee roasters put a lot of information on their bag that few people understand. It might be interesting to know your coffee was grown at 1800 meters above sea level (MASL), but who really cares? Lucky for you, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to understanding what’s going on with your coffee bag. …
Coffee shops have long been the cultural informants of their neighborhoods. When traveling, you can usually count on a barista to know the best restaurants, which tourist traps to avoid, and some hidden gems off the beaten path. Balat Coffee & Guide takes that role to another level….
Unseasonably hot weather and freak flash thunderstorms didn’t keep thousands of Istanbullu from flocking to the Istanbul Coffee Festival last week. As avid Turcophiles, we’ve been following the progressing specialty coffee scene in Istanbul since 2012 when the first third wave cafés opened. It’s hard to believe in a few short years specialty coffee in Istanbul has gone from a smattering of boutique cafés tucked away on back streets to filling one of the larger event spaces in the city: Küçükçiftlik Parkı….
South Carolina’s Low Country has been on the culinary map for some time now. The live oaks, Spanish moss, and colonial era houses have captured the imaginations of both chefs and food television executives. Meanwhile, upstate South Carolina has been largely overlooked, unless it’s an honorable mention of their unique, mustard-based barbecue. But a coffee renaissance is happening in the Greenville-area. When we visited, we discovered a passionate, growing coffee community that’s attracting coffee professionals from around the nation. Here were three of our favorite cafés.
Tandem Creperie and Coffeehouse
American coffee shops are starting to figure out what Australian cafés mastered a long time ago: your food needs to be as good as your coffee. Being served an exquisite single origin microlot next to a cellophane-wrapped pastry is more than a little disappointing. And if we had to pick a top-five meal we’ve had in a coffee shop in the past year, our crepe at Tandem Creperie and Coffeehouse in Traveler’s Rest might be in the top spot. The coffee is provided by Durham, North Carolina’s Counter Culture and brewed with expert precision. Coffee gear nerds will geek out about Tandem’s Mahlkönig EG43, which they use to mill their own flour.
If there’s any café that’s responsible for bringing national attention to Greenville’s coffee scene, it’s Methodical Coffee. In two short years Methodical has earn accolades as prestigious as Imbibe magazine’s coffee shop of the year. Methodical only recently began roasting their own coffee, but can already be found in places as far afield as Los Angeles. We also were excited to discover that Methodical had launched a natural wine program since our last visit.
Due South Coffee Roasters
If there’s a café to keep your eye on, it’s Due South Coffee Roasters in Taylors. The roaster/retailer recently brought in outside talent from as far away as Miami and Bali, Indonesia to take their program to the next level. Their close connection with local coffee importer Ally Coffee ensures they have access to premium greens. A new location is in the works, but we loved their industrial chic vibe in a repurposed textile factory.
No one has quite perfected the coffee grinder. Here at The Coffee Compass we’re big fans of hand grinders for reasons we won’t repeat here (but you can read here if you’re so inclined), the biggest being portability. When you get used to having an excellent cup of coffee every morning it’s hard to make the switch back to commodity coffee when traveling. A good hand grinder is an essential part of any road warrior’s arsenal, and we’ve spent years looking for the perfect one. Our dream hand grinder is capable of making a professional level cup of of coffee while being sturdy and light enough to throw in a messenger bag.
Most of the the hand grinders we’ve tried either sacrifice grind quality or portability. Some are pretty terrible in both categories. After eyeing our friend’s Knock Feldgrind, we broke down and picked one up from our friends and sponsors at Prima Coffee. After testing it over the summer with multiple brew methods, we have some opinions….
Earlier this year we traveled to Boquete, Panama for the Best of Panama competition. While we were there we met a remarkable young coffee farmer named Keith Pech, who manages his family’s farm Damarli Estate. He was kind enough to host us on his farm, serve us some delicious coffee blossom tea, and teach us about the unique microclimate that makes coffees from Boquete some of the most sort-after coffee in the world. Whether it’s his background as a professional ping pong player or his experience working for a négociant in Bordeaux, France, Pech is an exceptional person that we knew we had to interview.
You grew up near Cleveland, but now you run a coffee farm. How did that happen?
Yes I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and lived there until I was 22 years old. My father is …
Although Seattle is widely considered America’s coffee capital, if there’s any city that gives it a run for its money it’s San Francisco. The City by the Bay has been known for locally roasted coffee at least since Peet’s introduced European espresso culture in the 1960s. Today, the number of coffee roasters is staggering, and that’s without even counting Oakland. It could take weeks of intentional effort to get to every good café in the city. Here’s three of our favorites.
Andytown Coffee Roasters
Most tourists don’t make it to San Francisco’s Sunset neighborhood, but the low (for SF) rents make it an attractive neighborhood for budget conscious baristas/software engineers who don’t want to commute in from Oakland. Perhaps the best reason to live in the Sunset is Andytown Coffee Roaster’s newest retail location. We always enjoy the espresso here, but the real star is the Snowy Plover, a slightly-sweet espresso float made with a generous scoop of Andytown’s house-made whipped cream. Throw in one of Andytown’s gluten-free cornbread muffins– ours was still hot from the oven — and you’ve got a breakfast dreams are made of. There’s not much in the way of seating, so we recommend taking that coffee to nearby Ocean Beach.
There’s perhaps no more iconic symbol of San Francisco coffee than Ritual’s bold red, Soviet-inspired logo. Ritual Coffee was an early third-wave pioneer, but has managed to stay on the bleeding edge with an array of trendy retail spaces in some of the city’s hottest neighborhoods. We grabbed a pour-over of their Ethiopia, Duromina at their Hayes Valley location. This repurposed shipping container is located next to Patricia’s Green, a popular park and art space, which makes for some prime people watching on those rare sunny days.
Saint Frank Coffee
Saint Frank, like San Francisco, is named for Saint Francis of Assisi. Taking a queue from the 13th century friar, Saint Frank has a penchant for roasting coffees that have a social impact on the communities that produced them. Whether or not you believe in altruistic capitalism, you can believe you’ll be served some delicious coffee with some of the best service we’ve had in the city. Coffee nerds can skip straight to the tasting flight, which features an espresso, cortado, filter coffee, and iced coffee. We took our drinks to the second floor, where we admired the baristas’ clean and efficient bar flow.
A couple of years ago I popped into one of my favorite Nashville cafés and ordered a beverage that I’ve since concluded might be the perfect iced coffee: the Matchless Coffee Soda. It was bright, effervescent, slightly sweet, and refreshing. I caught up with Matchless Coffee Soda’s inventor, Nathanael Mehrens, as he prepares to launch a Kickstarter campaign to take his coffee soda to the masses.
So what’s your elevator pitch? What is Matchless Coffee Soda?
Matchless Coffee Soda is a locally roasted, flash-chilled coffee, lightly sweetened and carbonated to sublimity. Think bright, fizzy, refreshing iced coffee.
Obviously, a lot of your process is proprietary, but can you give us any hints how you make Matchless? How is it different from those nitro cold brews that are so popular right now?
It’s actually very different for a few reasons. …
It’s hard to think of a television show that I never watched that defined my childhood more than Dawson’s Creek. As diehard fans of the show probably already know, the ostensibly idyllic small coastal town the show was filmed in was none other than Wilmington, North Carolina- and for good reason. The small port city boasts a rare combination of historic architecture, a beautiful riverfront, and proximity to some of the East Coast’s best beaches. Think of it as an under-the-radar Charleston or Savannah.
But until recently the town was missing one seminal element: a good coffee shop. In fact, until recently I was quite confident the best cup of coffee in town was a bottle of Slingshot cold brew at Whole Foods. Thankfully, if James Van Der Beek were to visit today, he would be able to get a really great cup of coffee at Bespoke Coffee and Dry Goods in Downtown Wilmington.
Let’s be honest, iced coffee is usually disappointing. Sure, enough cream and sugar makes anything tolerable, but iced coffee often lacks the sweetness and complexity we expect from a really great coffee. The disappointment transcends categories.
Iced coffee typically falls into one of three camps: cold brew, iced Americano, and Japanese iced coffee. For the purpose of home brewing, we can rule out iced Americanos. There are some solid consumer espresso machines on the market, but for most coffee nerds home espresso remains a dream. (And to be perfectly honest, even the best iced Americanos we’ve tasted have a certain aftertaste we just can’t shake.) Cold brew, perhaps the most divisive beverage in specialty coffee, is easy to make, but lacks the refreshing acidity most specialty coffee consumers crave. Japanese iced coffee, made by brewing double strength hot coffee over ice, is high in acidity, but the lower extraction lacks the complex sweetness of the best cups of coffee.
Is it even possible to enjoy an iced coffee that has the same complexity as the best cups of hot coffee? Until recently, many coffee professionals would have said no. Aside from a few mostly unsuccessful attempts at appropriating wort chillers to make iced coffee, most iced coffee makers simply embraced one of the short comings above.
Riding the Coldwave
That was, until the Coldwave Coffee Chiller came out this summer. While technically not a coffee maker, the Coldwave makes hot coffee cold without diluting your brew. It preserves the complexity of hot coffee while providing the refreshing coolness of iced. Perhaps most ingeniously, it works with any type of filter coffee, be it pour-over, Aeropress, or autodrip. …