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Last year, our Holiday Blend was a big success. I couldn’t roast it fast enough, and the feedback was amazing.
But there were developments in the last year that made me worry as we approached this holiday season. Two of the ingredients of last year’s Holiday Blend each became unavailable as they’re not grown in enough supply that a coffee roaster can always count on there being inventory.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve been evaluating many different blend combinations and possibilities for this year’s Holiday Blend, using the coffee cupping process. You can see just one of the cupping forms in the image to the left. Each possibility was evaluated, and described in terms of its flavor characteristics. I wanted to capture as many flavors as I associate with the holidays, namely chocolate, spice, a full body, and a natural sweetness. In short, it had to be a coffee as good as or better than last year’s Holiday Blend!
And behold…the Holiday Blend from the Make Good Coffee Co.!
A combination of dark-roasted South American beans to give the coffee a full body and chocolate flavor, with medium-roasted Central American beans for a touch of acidity, or “spice” on the end. The coffee also has a natural berry sweetness perfectly balanced in the blend so not to be overwhelmed by the dark-roasted beans.
The Holiday Blend is shipping this Friday, December 2, 2016. Get some for the coffee-loving person in your life. Or, get some for yourself so you can be the star of the holiday party. Or, just get some for yourself!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Make Good Coffee Co.!
For the coffee drinker that truly likes a deep dark roast, presenting…the Tres Noir French Roast.
Tres = very
Noir = dark
Well technically, “noir” translates to black in French but it’s a cooler name this way.
For this French Roast, I selected the Colombia Excelso coffee that we currently offer in a medium-dark roast that brings out its natural berry, almost red wine, flavor. That same bean, roasted to a dark and smoky French Roast, yields an entirely different flavor profile.
The Tres Noir French Roast offers a more well-rounded sweetness, combined with a strong caramel flavor. The aroma is fruity but smoky. Smoky, without tasting burnt. There can be a laziness to dark roasting, where the roaster simply leaves the beans in for longer in order to get the darker appearance. When coffee is dark-roasted this carelessly, the result is a burnt flavor, and I wanted to make sure I avoided that.
This roast is very carefully managed, so that you get the smoky flavor that is characteristic of a dark roast, without the burnt flavor. Instead, the flavor is rich, exotic, and fruity to the point of maintaining the red wine flavor that is characteristic of this bean. Remarkably for a dark roast, the Tres Noir French Roast even retains some of the acidity that gives life to this coffee. The aftertaste is pleasant and fruity.
If you are a dark roast coffee aficionado, then you must try the Tres Noir French Roast!
I once enjoyed a well-roasted coffee from the Tarrazu region of Costa Rica, and it made an impression on me. When I first started roasting, I searched for this coffee but it was not available at that time. Fast-forward a couple years, and the dream has finally come true. I have Costa Rica Tarrazu coffee, and now you do too!
When I first started roasting, I was offering a delicious Panama Boquete coffee as my lightest roast. Central American beans are often best-roasted light, otherwise you lose much of the lively acidity that characterizes coffees from this region.
I had a minor panic attack when I went through my big burlap sack of unroasted Panama Boquete coffee, and learned that it was temporarily unavailable due to the seasonality of coffee farming. But every now and then, a negative turns into a positive and I was introduced to Costa Rica Tarrazu coffee in its place.
Two years ago, a friend and I made an origin trip to Costa Rica and Panama. Here’s a picture of us getting back to travel basics, and using a map and compass to find coffee farms. While there, we were able to meet with coffee farmers and workers, and truly get in touch with coffee origin. Trips like these truly drive the point home that much care has gone into making green coffee available to me, and it is my responsibility to treat it with as much care before it ends up in the homes of coffee lovers.
Coffee farming has a key part of Costa Rica‘s history, and it is still one of their top three exports. Costa Rican coffee is considered some of the best in the world.
And within Costa Rica, Tarrazu is considered one of the most desirable regions for coffee farming. The Geisha strain of coffee grown in Tarrazu is one of the most expensive coffees in the world.
Our new Costa Rica coffee is also designated SHB, for Strictly Hard Bean. Coffee flavor depends on the altitude at which it was grown. The SHB designation means that it was grown in the region’s highest altitudes, and is the best tasting coffee that this region has to offer.
Try this coffee! I roast it medium, which for me means the lightest that I roast any coffee in my line-up. This maintains the lively acidity that coffee lovers should look for, unless they prefer dark roast coffees. It has a milk chocolate aroma that is evident as soon as you open the bag, and reflected in the flavor, along with a naturally sweet berry flavor.
I’m so excited to formally launch the Guatemala Antigua SHB. This was a coffee of very personal significance for me to roast, because two years ago, my father and I toured Guatemala and specifically visited coffee farms while we were there. We also spent some time in the city of Antigua, coffee capital of Latin America.
Antigua is located in the central highlands of Guatemala. It is famous for its Spanish-influenced architecture and ruins of old churches. It is even designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The culture in Antigua that I was not expecting was its clear place as a coffee capital. There were cafes in every direction. Also interesting was that American chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King have been allowed to open outlets in Antigua – however, to preserve the local culture, these chains are not allowed to have prominent signs outside. You could potentially walk by the McDonald’s and not even know it was there.
One of the most interesting parts of the visit was our tours of Guatemalan coffee farms. My Spanish skills probably doubled as I struggled to translate from our fast-talking guide to my father, who doesn’t speak Spanish. When we were there, they had just completed construction of a new school within the community of coffee farms. When coffee was not being harvested, children had access to improving education. If we continue to invest in quality, we not only enjoy a better cup of coffee, but coffee growing communities have the opportunity to prosper.
The SHB designation of this coffee is abbreviation for Strictly Hard Bean, synonymous with Strictly High Grown. Coffee growing altitudes in Guatemala reach as high as 5,000 feet above sea level, and the SHB designation means that the coffee was grown at least 4,500 feet above sea level. Higher-altitude coffee grows slower, resulting in a denser bean, which results in a more desirable coffee. In short, these are the best beans grown in this area.
I roast the Guatemala Antigua SHB to a medium-dark. I try not to over-roast coffee, and with my connection to this beautiful country, I feel like it would be a disservice to “burn” it. A lighter roast doesn’t develop all of the potential flavor in this coffee, so I’ve found the perfect profile to be somewhere in the middle. A well-balanced coffee that is not high in acidity, a crowd-pleaser for its mellowness, with hints of berry and milk chocolate flavor. It’s the coffee I make for myself at home, and I hope you enjoy it in your home.
A lot of my coffee education took place at the Fire Roasted Coffee Company in London, Canada. I’ll never forget walking up to their “wall” of coffees from around the world, and being overwhelmed by the selection. I didn’t know at the time that the world of coffee was so vast. I was fortunate that a well-educated employee approached me with questions that helped him decide which coffees to recommend.
A few months later, my brother asked me if any kind of tool existed online that helped connect the coffee lover with the right coffee for them. It reminded me of my own experience at Fire Roasted.
The Coffee Quiz was born!
With a little input from the coffee drinker, I felt that intelligent suggestions could be made to help guide that person to coffees they should try based on their preferences.
Think about the coffees you’ve really enjoyed. Did they have the smoky flavor of a dark roast? Or the brightness and variety of a lighter roast? If you’re not sure, start in the middle. You can always take the Coffee Quiz over again.
Acidity is tricky and misunderstood. Don’t think of acid as in pH content of coffee, or acid reflux (heartburn). Think of it this way…a banana and a raspberry both have unique flavors, but which one has more “pop”? If you answered raspberry, it’s the same concept behind acidity. How much “pop” would you like in your coffee? A lot can be too much, but not enough can be boring.
Go for it! Try the Coffee Quiz and find the coffee match that’s right for you.
This image of the “coffee pyramid” is something I first saw online last year. Everything below the Specialty line is the coffee you’ll typically find, stale and kind of flavorless. As I wondered whether or not the world needed another coffee roaster, this picture motivated me.
One of the challenges with roasting coffee, as with anything perishable, is roasting enough so that I have it nice and fresh for you when you order; while not roasting too much. My commitment to you is that when purchase from Make Good Coffee Co., the coffee will have been roasted within 3 weeks of shipping it to you. You can verify this when you receive your coffee, because I personally hand-write the Roast Date on each label.
If I roast too much coffee, I reach a point where I simply can’t charge full price for all of it because I’ve missed my own standard of only shipping coffee roasted within the last 3 weeks. It’s meant harassing friends to take it, putting some in my freezer, or worst of all, throwing it away!
Don’t make me put more coffee in my freezer or throw it away! I’m now offering Slightly Aged Coffee.
Here’s how it works. When you order Slightly Aged Coffee, I’ll send you coffee that I’ve roasted within the last 3-5 weeks. Does it mean it’s not good? Absolute not! Let’s go back to the pyramid image above. Imagine that Slightly Aged Coffee is sitting just beneath the Specialty line. In other words, coffee that I’ve roasted in the last 3-5 weeks is still fresh and MUCH better than most of what you’ll find. It’s CERTAINLY better than anything you’ll find at a grocery store, Costco, or restaurant. It’s just that I didn’t roast it within the last 3 weeks, and for that reason, can’t charge full price for it.
When you order Slightly Aged Coffee, specify in the comments section if there is a particular coffee in my line-up that you’ve tried and like, or one that you think you’d prefer. If I have that particular coffee roasted within the last 3-5 weeks, that’s what I’ll ship you. Otherwise, I’ll ship you something similar roasted in that timeframe. Bottom line: you’ll get a great coffee at a great price.
We ship using the USPS Flat Rate Padded Envelope. I encourage you to order two bags at a time, to split that flat rate cost over the two bags.
My father had once crossed at the same border crossing on foot years ago, and had warned me about how people in uniforms will try to fleece you for money, claiming that you need to pay certain “charges” and “premiums”. It’s all a scam, and in the case of actual officials that do this, extortion.
I warned Matt not to make eye contact with anybody as we crossed this border for the first time. Nothing could have prepared us for the procedure that followed…
In Central American countries, you do not simply enter a new country – you must formally exit the country that you were in. The office to leave Costa Rica is about a quarter-mile from the office through which you enter Panama. In between these two offices is bedlam. People moving in all directions, mainly migrant workers and those visiting family on the other side of the border.
Panama customs officer: “You cannot enter Panama until you exit Costa Rica.”
Costa Rica customs officer: “You must pay to exit Costa Rica at the machine in that room.”
Panama officer: “This receipt that shows you paid to exit Costa Rica is not enough. They must stamp your passport.”
Costa Rica officer: “Don’t wait in this line. Wait in that line.” (30 minutes later)
Fortunately for us, there is only one instance of an official trying to fleece us. As we walked one of the many times to the Panama customs office, I looked up just in time to make eye contact with a man in the uniform. I immediately dropped my eyes and picked up the pace. I could hear him yelling after us about having to give him so many dollars to get by. The irony is that he was just sitting on steps with another person who was not in uniform, before we came along. Despite the uniform, we pushed forward waiting for the giant hand of the law to grab our shoulders. But of course, this was no formal fee and we were under no obligation to pay it, despite all his yelling after us.
After crossing into Panama, we stayed in the city of David and from there, traveled into Boquete and the coffee country that surrounds it. We toured coffee farms, and even had the opportunity to interact with farmers and their employees at work in the fields and in the processing facilities. For the coffee lover, it was a phenomenal experience. We even met locals in David who became fast friends and invited us to their family reunion. It was truly one of the greatest experiences of my life!
When I began sourcing coffees to roast at the Make Good Coffee Co., I was so excited to get my hands on coffee that came from the very same region that my friend and I toured.
Central American coffees are prized for their brightness, and I was excited to perfect a medium roast of this coffee. If it is roasted too dark, much of that brightness is lost, replaced with the smoky flavor that characterizes dark roasts. I roast my Panama Boquete coffee lighter than any other coffee. The result is a strong flavor of berry and other natural fruit flavors, coupled with some chocolate and caramel. The aftertaste is sweet and clean. The body smooth and creamy, and not too heavy.
Of all the coffees that I currently roast, this one is easily one of my favorites. It was an incredible experience to make our way to coffee country in Boquete Panama, without guides or the experience of having done it before. I truly think of this adventure each time I roast this coffee, and I know you will taste the difference that care puts into each cup. This is a coffee drinker’s coffee!
Why Colombia Excelso? I wanted to add a coffee to the line that everybody would like. Think of it like Pearl Jam’s album Ten…you can put it on for a mixed crowd and everybody likes it (unless they don’t like music).
I’m pleased to announce the latest coffee from the Make Good Coffee Co.…our Colombia Excelso! The coffee that you can put on that everybody will like.
While not the world’s largest producer of coffee, Colombia is one of the most recognized, particularly because of the iconic Juan Valdez character. Colombian coffees have a universal reputation for delivering a rich taste, a balanced overall flavor, a lighter acidity, and a full body. It’s a great coffee that everybody can agree on.
The Excelso designation makes reference to the size of the bean, with excelso beans being slightly smaller than Colombia Supremo beans. Now, you have an icebreaker to use when you serve this coffee .
It was a lot of fun getting this coffee and roasting it eight ways to Sunday until I was happy with the final product. I’m roasting it a medium-dark to develop as much of its flavor as possible without giving it a burnt taste.
We can put two bags of coffee in the USPS Flat Rate Envelope, so the flat rate cost gets split over two bags of coffee instead of one. Enjoy! Make good coffee.
Check out the Online Store here.
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!