Each month our cafe menu changes, highlighting our new and delicious specialty coffee offerings. So we asked our National trainer, Josey Markiewicz, to take us through what’s new on-the-bar for June.
This month affords us the opportunity to really delve into something we’ve mentioned many times before, yet never really tackled at length: The art of coffee processing.
Noun: A series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end;
Verb: Perform a series of mechanical or chemical operations on (something) in order to change or preserve it: the various stages in processing coffee.
We all know that coffee is the roasted seed of a cherry that grows from some scrappy little jungle shrub in tropical climates between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, ya? Well… IT IS! But wait! If coffee (as we know it) is the seed of a cherry, then why the hell don’t we eat the cherry? Why do we go through so much trouble to process the fruit, roast the seed, grind it up, and run water through it? And what happens to the fruit once it’s processed?
Well, although the fruit has a pleasant earthy-sweetness, its flavor pales in comparison to the world’s most complex example of fragrant, soluble earth–the roasted coffee seed. But that seed would be nothing without the fruit that nourished it. A fruit you can actually taste in this month’s batch brew, the reigning WORKSHOP perennial favorite – Ethiopia ARDI!
ARDI is a fine example of a naturally-processed coffee. In Sidama, Ethiopia, this is a process by which the harvested coffee cherries are left to dry on slotted, raised beds, under canvas canopies on breezy jungle hillsides. They are left this way to ensure proper air-flow, preventing the development of fermentation or mold. This assures that the fruit dries around the seed uniformly, giving the seed plenty of time to soak up all the cherry’s sweet, sweet nectar. After the process is complete, the husk is ground off using a stone mill. The seeds are then left to dry again on giant concrete patios where they are raked hourly to assure each seed loses all but approximately 12% of its moisture. It is then sorted for quality, bagged, and transported to roasteries all over planet Earth. The cherry’s husk, on the other hand, is generally reintroduced to the soil as a natural fertilizer.
Ardi, showcases a plethora of more matured flavors including Raw Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Apple Pie, and Strawberry, with acidity of stewed plum, and uncharacteristically Creamy Body. I’ve also heard more than one person with the gift of synesthesia remark that Ardi tastes “purple.” Which I find to be both fascinating, and somehow right-on.
Recently, however, the dried coffee cherry has caught favor among those looking to lessen “food-waste” and maximize the coffee plant’s potential. Our very own CASCARA (coffee cherry tea) is a byproduct of this movement.
This cherry comes to us from a Costa Rican farm called Las Lajas. La Lajas was the first certified-organic coffee farm in Costa Rica. This is a huge factor as to why we can sell this fruit for human consumption. Rest assured, there are no pesticides to worry about.
Even though this concoction is composed of dried coffee cherry, it is actually more of a Tisane than either a tea or a coffee. (Although it is very literally coffee, and steeped like a tea.) That is why we will prepare it much like our other tisanes using very hot water and a longer steep time.
Ardi is a naturally processed coffee and Cascara is the dried fruit of the coffee cherry. These two things share a lot of similarities. Actually, they are very much different parts of the very same thing. The fruit of the coffee shrub. The Cascara is a bit delicate with flavors of Red Raisin, Ripe Plum, and Agave, with potential whispers of Lychee Fruit and a round, sugar-syrupy body. Very refreshing over ice!
BOURBON BLEND will also be making its way back to the Silverton station. Bourbon is a coffee’s coffee… with flavors of chocolate, peanut, and caramel. It tastes delicious on its own or with a splash of your favorite whitener. This is the kind of coffee that’s not too polarizing. No one’s going to dislike Bourbon. It’s the kind of coffee that you can take home to meet your folks.
So, a whole lot of hands and a whole lot of time are involved in bringing coffee from the branches of a tree deep in the tropics, to the inside of a cup in your very own cafe. Preparation and presentation is the last step of a truly amazing journey. Coffee, it starts as a flower and ends with a smile. What’s not to love about that?
Happy summer y’all.
Written by National Manager of Training and Quality Assurance, Josey Markiewicz