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If you’ve been visiting the site these past several months, you know it’s been an ongoing adventure to get the coffee roaster installed and operational in San Diego, California. Last month, the roaster went live, and I’ve spent the last several weeks perfecting the first three coffees that I’ll be selling.
This year, we went on a coffee origin trip through Costa Rica and Panama, taking us into Panama’s green mountain highlands. We toured coffee farms, and met with the farmers and field workers. Going to coffee origin is an incredible experience that helps you appreciate the beverage we all love.
My Panama Boquete coffee is roasted medium to take advantage of the natural brightness of a Central American coffee. When a coffee is roasted too dark, it loses some of the uniqueness. To maintain this coffee’s natural acidity, I roast it to a medium color. You can expect flavor notes of berry and other fruit, and some milk chocolate flavor.
Malawi AA – Dark Roast
Dark roasted coffee has a nice smoky taste that so many coffee lovers like in their cup.
We are excited that our Dark Roast Coffee is a Malawi AA coffee. The east African country of Malawi has a long coffee tradition, dating back to when the British planted coffee seeds in its green northern provinces in the late 19th century. To ensure a strict standard of quality, the “AA” means that it meets the highest standard before it’s exported.
You can expect a medium acidity and good sweetness in this coffee, with notes of citrus, berry, and some chocolate.
Marc’s Premium Coffee – Sumatra Toba Peaberry
I’m excited about all three of these coffees, but I’m the most excited about this premium Sumatra Toba Peaberry coffee.
Sumatra is the largest island entirely in Indonesia, and this coffee is grown alongside Lake Toba. Toba is the site of the world’s largest volcanic activity in the last 25 million years, and it is the world’s largest volcanic lake. Volcanic soil contains some of the best nutrients to grow coffee, and it’s reflected in the coffee’s flavor. Peaberry coffee is a special type of coffee bean where there is only one oval shaped bean in each cherry, rather than two joined beans.
Long story short: it’s a very special coffee. I’ve spent weeks perfecting how to roast it for an optimum flavor experience. I roast it to a medium-dark roast, to mute some of the strong acidity that is natural to this coffee, while developing strong berry and spicy flavor, and a nice body. Did I mention that this is a very special coffee?!
Shipping from the Make Good Coffee. Co. Online Store to US addresses is a flat 5.70, using the US Postal Service Flat Rate Padded Envelope. I’m not trying to make money from shipping, so I’m passing on the exact USPS cost. I encourage you to buy two pounds at a time, in order to split this flat rate shipping cost, over the cost of the two pounds of coffee. While two pounds of coffee is more than I would normally suggest you buy at one time, this coffee will have been roasted days before you order it, so it will be as fresh as you can find coffee. Also, it gives you two varieties of coffee to have in the kitchen, which I always like having for variety in my own home.
Check out the Make Good Coffee Co. Online Store. This website has always grown from the feedback of people who visit, so always feel free to let me know what you think of the coffees that I’m offering, or what you would like to see.
I’m so happy to finally announce that the Make Good Coffee Co. roastery is now open, and the online store will go live on November 9th, shipping throughout North America.
After blogging about coffee, traveling to coffee growing countries, and meeting and interviewing coffee roasters for almost ten years, I’m so excited to finally open my own roastery based out of San Diego, California.
There are two things I want to accomplish with this roastery, and both of them are behind the word Good in Make Good Coffee.
“Good” should mean a quality cup of coffee that you look forward to making for yourself. I go to bed thinking about how good the coffee is going to be when I wake up. My goal is to know coffee roasting as well as it can be known. I want to make the best coffee I can make, and never stop pursuing that goal.
“Good” should also mean that we can do good when we buy coffee. In the coffee supply chain, there is nobody that works harder or makes the least for themselves than coffee farmers. Many are dedicated to providing the best coffee, and if we help them remain sustainable by providing them with a fair price, then we help families and communities. And in return, we continue getting the best coffee from them. In my coffee travels, I’ve seen schools and health care facilities built in coffee communities that have been allowed to prosper.
I’ve spent the year roasting coffee, from the Boot Coffee course in San Francisco last December, to home roasting all my own (and friends’) coffee, and reading as much as I can. I can recite the owner’s manual for my roaster. I’ve spent the last several weeks perfecting my first three coffees. They will be:
– Medium Roast Panama coffee
– Dark Roast Malawi AA coffee
– Marc’s Premium: Sumatra Peaberry coffee
Come visit the Make Good Coffee Co. Store on November 9th, shipping throughout North America! Take the Coffee Quiz that asks you a few questions about what you’re looking for, and recommends a coffee based on your choices. And start making good coffee!
It’s been awhile since I’ve written something “back to basics” about improving the coffee you make at home. I’m generally addressing a single topic or answering a particular question, and so I lose sight of the simpler advice.
Many of the questions I receive deal with a specific part of making coffee at home, and I thought the timing was good to summarize a few of the simple ways that you can make better coffee at home.
If you’re already doing these things, congratulations! You didn’t waste your time reading this article – it’s enough to know that you scored an A+. The challenge can be that coffee snobs have all the right information, but at the end of the day – well, they’re snobs. And nobody likes to be told what to do by a snob. In fact, they’re hard to approach.
Here are four simple ways that you can change or invest in how you make coffee at home.
#1: Buy Good Coffee
Seem too simple? I don’t think it is, because the great majority of coffee is still being sold from grocery stores or club stores like Costco. They are very convenient places to buy coffee because you were already there. However, they simply don’t have the attention to freshness outside of their produce section.
When you buy coffee from the grocery store, you are buying coffee that in all likelihood has already gone stale.
When you buy coffee from Costco in a five-pound bag, even if it wasn’t already stale, it will be before you get through that much coffee.
Coffee has the most flavor and the most to enjoy when it is fresh. It is the most fresh when it was just roasted. It begins to expire after it’s been roasted and a few weeks after that, it’s stale. At a minimum, you should know on what exact date the coffee was roasted. You won’t get this from coffee at the grocery store. You won’t get it from the bulk coffee sold at a Starbucks outlet either. You’ll likely only find it from a local coffee roaster in your area, hand-roasting coffee that is fresh and full of flavor when you buy it. Coffee roasters that sell their coffee online are a great option, provided they are telling you when your coffee was roasted.
#2: Don’t Grind It Until You Brew It
Another thing born of convenience is pre-ground coffee. The first point at which coffee starts going stale is when it is roasted. The second point is when it is ground. In fact, ground coffee expires at a faster rate than whole bean coffee. You should only grind your coffee when you are prepared to brew it. Otherwise, it’s likely lost much of its flavor by the time you brew it.
Invest in a grinder. You can go with a propeller grinder very inexpensively, and for the best grind, invest in a burr grinder.
#3: Store It In The Right Place
The enemies of fresh coffee are: air, temperature change, and light.
Keep your whole bean coffee in an airtight container that keeps light out, preferably a canister with a rubber band that provides a seal.
Coffee should be kept at room temperature. Resist the urge to keep the coffee in the fridge or freezer. Coffee absorbs the smells of what’s around it so if you put it in the fridge, it will neutralize the smell of your fridge like baking soda does, but the coffee will pick up those aromas in its flavor. Keeping coffee in the freezer is better than letting it go stale, but understand that the two dramatic changes in temperature (going in and coming out) will sap some of the freshness and flavor from the coffee.
#4: Brew It Right
At a minimum, put your single-serve pod coffee maker back in the box, and invest in a drip brewer for your kitchen. If you don’t mind spending close to a hundred dollars on a machine that you will have for many years, I suggest Cuisinart‘s drip brewer. It’s been my drip brewer of choice for many years. If you don’t need all the bells and whistles, and would like a quality drip brewer at a reasonable price, go with Black and Decker for considerably less cost. It’s a reliable machine that I always have on-hand for backup.
If you’re already familiar with the drip brewer and want to explore other brewing methods, there are plenty. They generally involve a little more manual work than just flipping a switch, but in return, you get a much stronger flavor experience. Just as the drip brewer was an improvement on the percolator before it, there have been many improvements on brewing the drip brewer way. Check out our Brewing Coffee page for an in-depth look at some of the other interesting ways to brew coffee.
I meant to write this article a long time ago. As I traveled around the US and Canada, visiting coffee roasters wherever I went, I noticed that each one packaged their coffee differently. That is, they provided different information and package choices for their customers. After seeing so many examples, I wanted to write an article on the information that I felt was critical to the coffee lover.
Fast-forward a couple years later, and I’m opening the Make Good Coffee Co. roastery in San Diego, California and having to make those very same decisions myself.
Read: The Make Good Coffee Co. coming soon!
I decided it was a good time to share the observations I was going to include in that article, and how I’ve incorporated them into the labeling and packaging that I will be offering coffee lovers.
Contact information: This is more important than ever. While that’s obvious, I’m not only referring to brick-and-mortar contact information. I’m referring to virtual contact information as well. For instance, nobody needs my fax number! But if somebody happened to try my coffee and love it, and they regular interact with some of the same social media platforms as I do, I would be remiss not to share that information.
Weight: As specialty coffee has evolved, we are being introduced to finer and finer coffees. We’re also even more exposed to the poverty in coffee-growing countries, but also the small ways that we can support development in those areas by ensuring farmers get a fair price. Both of these things combined mean that if you want to drink excellent and sustainably grown coffee, it will cost you a little more. For the most part, these are worth what you’re paying but to keep the “sticker shock” down, some roasters have migrated from a standard 16oz (1 pound) bag to 12oz. I didn’t realize this as I started buying my coffee from great local roasters, and believed I was buying a pound at a time when I was really buying 3/4 pound at a time. I believe the coffee’s weight should definitely be displayed on the label.
Roast date: I am adamant about knowing when the coffee I’m drinking was roasted. Isn’t this why we don’t buy our coffee from the grocery store or Costco or a Starbucks outlet?! I once had this conversation with a large roaster, who told me that he refused to put the roast date on the bag because he felt his customers would treat it like bread at the grocery store, reaching back for the fresher stuff while the rest became stale. I can’t agree, and have been recommending on this site that you always check to make sure the roast date is on the bag.
Origin: Speaking of “sticker shock”, the way that cheaper roasters have gotten expensive Hawaii Kona coffee into grocery stores and fast food restaurant chains is by introducing the “Kona Blend”. To sell coffee defined as such, it only needs to be 10% Kona beans, and 90% whatever. When you drink this coffee, you literally don’t know 90% of what you’re drinking. This is unacceptable. Quality coffee means that you should know exactly where it came from, and preferably, information on the farm and how you’re helping that area by purchasing this coffee.
WHY?: I’m a proponent of selling your “why” before you sell your “what”. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek. While every roaster now has a website that can easily tell their story, I would rather not leave it up to the individual to have to go to that trouble. In a small amount of space on the label is the opportunity to tell a short story of why you’re roasting, why you’re pouring yourself into this, why the person holding your bag of coffee should care about you when they can find coffee anywhere.
One-way valve: I think this is a given, but I included it here anyway. The one-way valve on the coffee bag that allows air (and the amazing smell of coffee) out of the bag, but doesn’t allow any in to compromise freshness. I think this valve is a must!
It was great to come back to this subject out of necessity when I came so close to writing the article a couple years back. Did I miss anything that you would like to see more on coffee packaging? What would you like to know about the roaster who prepared this coffee for you, or about the coffee itself?
In “short” (I’ll stop with the quotes now), a new study published in the PLOS ONE journal surveyed 3,700 men regarding their diet and physical activity. When they ran correlations, they found that men were 39-42% less likely to suffer from ED if they consumed a certain amount of coffee each day, corresponding to 2-3 cups.
To explain the finding, the study’s authors propose that caffeine is known to relax arteries and increase blood flow, which both contribute to reducing ED. Check out the Forbes article above for more detailed information. In fact, enjoy the article over a coffee :).
I gave this blog post a general title instead of only focusing on this latest news, because it isn’t the first time I’ve heard coffee related to erectile dysfunction.
By the 17th Century in London, England, coffeehouses had exploded. There were more than 2,000 of them in the city, occupying more space than any other trade. Different from the tavern, this was a place for energetic and often intellectual chatter, where people could sit for hours listening and contributing to all manner of conversation. In fact, Lloyd’s of London started as a coffeehouse owned by Edward Lloyd that catered to seafarers and merchants. Underwriters met there to offer insurance, and Lloyd’s of London was born.
Women were excluded from this sub-culture, whereas they were welcome in taverns. In 1674 in an effort to battle the coffeehouses that excluded them, The Womens Petition Against Coffee complained that this sinister “coffee” beverage was responsible for causing erectile dysfunction in their husbands. The Petition accused men of using coffeehouses to sober up after a day of drinking at the taverns, and returning home impotent.
In 1675, King Charles II decreed that coffeehouses would be systematically shut down. Within a week and what seemed like the monarchy possibly being overthrown, the edict was overturned and coffeehouses lived on. The Womens Petition lost its voice, and caffeine wasn’t again widely related to erectile function or dysfunction again.
The good people at Espresso Works in Perth, Australia sent in this infographic about cold brew coffee.
Check it out to learn about how to make cold brew coffee, how it affects the flavor, and how it differs from iced coffee.
Cold brew coffee is new to me, but I plan to learn more and start experimenting with my own batches. Stay tuned – you’ll be hearing more about it soon!
I was introduced to the similarities between wine and coffee with the Nez du Cafe coffee aroma kit. The kit is to develop a sense of smell for the many different flavor accents that can be found in coffee. It comes with 36 aromas altogether. The creator of the Nez du Cafe kit previously made one for wine called the Nez Du Vin. These translate literally to the “nose” of coffee and wine.
Last week, I visited the J Lohr vineyard in Paso Robles, on California’s Central Coast. J Lohr (The J is short for Jerry) has been a family-run wine maker for around 40 years. My brother raves about their Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon, so I decided since I was in the area that I would visit for myself. It was an opportunity for me to not only gloat about the visit to my brother, but to engage the similarities between tasting coffee and wine.
As I prepare to open the Make Good Coffee Co. in San Diego, California, I’ve been roasting and evaluating many small batches of coffee. The evaluation involves cupping the coffee after it’s been roasted, against a profile evaluation form. I decided I would go into J Lohr using the same evaluation for their wine as I would for coffee. Also, the night before, I watched the movie Sideways, particularly the hilarious scene above. I am not the wine connoisseur that my brother is.
I arrived as the tasting room was opening so I could have my host’s undivided attention, and ask lots of dumb questions. She offered me six complimentary pours from their list of wines. The wines listed were not those available at the local grocery store, but rather exclusive wines available only at the vineyard or over their website.
I chose six red wines, since my brother raves about their Cabernet Sauvignon. I brought a notepad with me to scribble as many notes as I could just as though I was evaluating coffee. For whatever reason, I find the first impressions of smell to be fleeting, so that you get one good shot at picking up what is unique about it. The fragrance doesn’t go away, but I find the sensitivity of smelling it to be powerful just once.
With each of the six pours, I took notes on five attributes that I evaluated separately. The first involves smelling the wine, and the other four involve tasting the wine. This meant being careful to break each of the six pours into four sips or tastes each.
– Aroma/fragrance: I smelled the wine, and probably looked like Miles from Sideways, spinning the wine in the glass and sticking my ample nose into it. I was looking for anything that stood out.
– Flavor: With my first taste of the wine, I was looking for specific accents. Anything that would separate that wine from others. For instance, that it is sweet, spicy, fruity, etc.
– Aftertaste: With a second sip, I would evaluate whether the aftertaste was short or lingering, and what it consisted of in flavor. The aftertaste could offer a different experience than the initial flavor.
– Acidity: An often misunderstood characteristic (at least in coffee), this is the tart or brightness. Was it mild (think of the flavor of a banana) or did it have a “pop” (think of the flavor of a raspberry)?
– Mouthfeel: Finally, an evaluation of the body of the wine. When evaluating mouthfeel in coffee, it can be thin like skim milk or thick like whole milk.
After many scribbled notes, my finalist was their Carol’s Vineyard, a Cabernet Sauvignon, produced from land that J Lohr owns in California’s Napa wine country. I liked the heavy body, fruity flavor, and nice aftertaste. As you can see, my description of wines has room to grow!
As a side note, Carol Lohr for whom this wine is named, was Jerry’s late wife. Proceeds from this wine are donated to breast cancer research. A big wine and a great cause.
For nine years, I’ve been blogging about coffee here on MakeGoodCoffee.com. In fact, I was blogging before I knew what the word meant.
When I started this website, the goal was simple: write about how to make better coffee at home. I love coffee and it’s been a regular part of my life for more years than not. I knew that by writing about coffee, it would put me in touch with people who knew way more about it, and that would make me smarter. By continually sharing what I learned, my coffee game would improve, and hopefully yours would too.
Inevitably, this coffee adventure put me in touch with one of the groups of people who make coffee a reality for us. The people to whom coffee is a craft. The coffee roaster. In all of my travels, I would find the local coffee roaster, set up an interview, learn about him, and learn about what makes great coffee great.
Nine years later, I’m ready to open my own coffee roastery and share my passion for coffee, and all that I’ve learned.
The Make Good Coffee Co. will be based in San Diego, California. I have a lot of work ahead of me, and I can’t wait! The roastery will serve the San Diego coffee market from my retail shop, and I will make all of my coffees available to all of you no matter where you live, right here over the website. Stay tuned!
I have always enjoyed turning an interest into a passion. Coffee roasting will be no exception. In fact, I expect I will devote more of myself to this craft than I have to anything else. My goal is nothing short of being the best roaster in San Diego, and I will stop at nothing to continue learning and improving. I want to know coffee roasting as well as it can be known.
There is lots more news to come. If you’ve been coming to the website in the last nine years, I hopefully don’t need to tell you how exciting this is for me. The next chapter is beginning, and it will be the best one yet!
In 2013, I was very fortunate to get published in Roast Magazine. David Cook, owner of the Fire Roasted Coffee Company, and I traveled to Hawaii and saw firsthand just how much the borer beetle was devastating and impacting coffee growing on Hawaii’s Big Island.
When we returned home, Roast Magazine agreed to let us tell the story of what we saw, and how it could affect the coffee world.
I was recently approached by Terri Moats of the University of Hawaii Kauai Agricultural Research Center. Terri had read my article in Roast Magazine, and asked me to keep up awareness of the problem. Terri reiterated that Coffee Berry Borer (CBB) is a serious threat to Hawaii’s coffee farms. The University of Hawaii CTAHR (College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources) have a project to educate visitors and local residents about the importance of “clean visits” when touring Big Island and Oahu coffee farms.
Terri asked me to publish the following letter by CTAHR entomologist, Dr. Russell Messing, which was recently printed in West Hawaii Today newspaper.
Help protect Hawaii coffee
Kona coffee is world-renowned. Local farmers have rightfully earned an outstanding reputation for producing a top quality product. This helps attract thousands of tourists annually; farm tours (in addition to wholesale and retail coffee sales) all contribute substantially to west Hawaii’s economy.
It is less well known that more than half the coffee acreage in the state is grown on other islands (Kauai, Maui, Molokai and Oahu). Big Island growers work hard to manage the damaging invasive beetle called the coffee berry borer (CBB). So far Kauai, Maui and Molokai remain free from this pest, while CBB was recently found on a single farm on Oahu.
Visiting tourists are naturally curious to see how coffee is grown, and often stop to take photos and touch, smell, and sometimes pick coffee berries from the tree. A casually picked coffee berry may harbor (unseen) tiny beetles inside its seeds – if the berry or even a single seed is deliberately or inadvertently carried away, the CBB infestation can spread. A short plane ride could place these pests in close proximity to CBB-free coffee farms (beetles can live happily inside seeds for months at a time). Most entomologists agree that this is the manner by which CBB will eventually reach the other islands.
We all want visitors to enjoy their farm tours, and to appreciate the fine coffee that is grown in the Islands. But, please, try to dissuade visitors from touching, handling or picking coffee berries in the field. Help protect coffee farms on the other islands from this damaging invasive species.
Question: There is a certain taste and smell that “cheap” coffee has once it’s brewed. Diner coffee has it, for example, or anywhere that sells lower-end coffee. However, sometimes, I will buy a bag of premium coffee beans i’ve never tried, and it has THE EXACT SAME TASTE! how is this possible?? personally, i always buy premium coffee and have a couple favorites. but sometimes, out of laziness, i will go to a store that is closer that sells, “premium coffee” for say, $12/lb and it tastes no better than the cheap stuff. as soon as i brew it, that smell wafts from the pot and i’m disappointed! do you know what i mean?
Thanks for the email, and I know what you mean all too well. There are so many factors that can contribute to that stale coffee flavor, and you’ve touched on some. Let’s look at three of them.
– Diners: I doubt most diners spend a lot for their coffee or the gear or the process they use to brew coffee. In this case, it could be cheap coffee, a cheap brewer, or the water they use. I’m not sure if diners ever served good coffee. A diner is a place that I would expect would advertise how cheap their coffee is – that’s a good sign not to expect much. I don’t want a cheap steak, and I don’t want cheap coffee.
– “Premium” coffee: Unfortunately, there is no regulation on use of the word “premium”. It could be anything, and might even be stale before you buy it. This is a tangent, but you’ll often see “Kona blend” coffee, capitalizing on the popularity (and expense) of coffee from Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island. But the “Kona blend” only needs to have a small amount of Kona coffee, and the rest of the blend is anybody’s guess. I bring that up, because “premium coffee” means even less. If the package doesn’t explain what “premium” means, then it probably doesn’t mean anything.
– The gear and water: Based on the information you’ve provided, this is my guess for where you could make big improvements in the coffee you make at home. You mention trying different coffees but getting a familiar stale aroma. You can make the most of even that cheap coffee by using the cleanest water you can. I’ve noticed hotel room coffee go from undrinkable to “not bad” just by using bottled water instead of tap water. Also, the coffee machine you use could be the problem. It might not be sufficiently heating up the water, for instance. I use manual coffee brewers like a french press or a chemex (pourover). If you’re using a drip brewer, I’ve always recommended the Cuisinart or for a little less money, a Black and Decker.
I hope that helps!