From Farm to Roastery…Introducing Guatemala Antigua SHB

in Brewing Coffee, Buying Coffee, Coffees of the World

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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.

Read5 Interesting Facts From Our Guatemalan Coffee Farm Tour
ReadAntigua Guatemala, coffee capital of Central America

Check out the Guatemala Antigua SHB coffee in the Roastery Store.  All coffees are roasted within days of your order, so that you get maximum freshness and flavor.

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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.

coffeeberriesOne 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.

coffeeworkerThe 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.

Check out the Guatemala Antigua SHB coffee in the Roastery Store.  All coffees are roasted within days of your order, so that you get maximum freshness and flavor.

roastingbeansI 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.

 

Saturday mornings at the Scripps Ranch Farmers Market

in Brewing Coffee, Buying Coffee, Coffee and You, Coffee News

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I’m so excited to announce that the Make Good Coffee Co. will be live every Saturday morning at the Scripps Ranch Farmers Market in San Diego, California!

There are approximately 50 farmers markets in San Diego County, and in a period of a few weeks, I visited easily more than half of them.  We have great markets across the County and throughout the week, but the one that I liked the best is in Scripps Ranch.

I was ecstatic when the owners of the market let me know that they not only had a spot available, but were excited to welcome a coffee roaster as one of their new vendors.

Local certified and 100% organic produce, plants and flowers, arts and crafts, even live music!  And of course, I’ll be bringing the whole line-up of coffees every Saturday morning.

If you live in San Diego or are visiting over a weekend, make sure you visit…

Scripps Ranch Farmers Market
10380 Spring Canyon Rd
San Diego (Scripps Ranch)
CA 92131
Open every Saturday, year around, rain or shine from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm

Five Ways to Make Better Coffee Without Spending More Money

in Brewing Coffee, Buying Coffee, Coffee Gear

Alright, this blog post title is kind of a cheat.  This is really about three different ways to greatly improve the quality of coffee that you drink at home without spending more money, followed by two ways that will cost you just a little bit of money.

  • Use filtered water

water-300x300More specifically, apply whatever standard you have for drinking water to your coffee water.  Coffee is 99% water (not exactly, but you get the idea), so it amazes me what care people put into their drinking water that they don’t apply to the water they use to make coffee.  If you use a Brita to filter your drinking water, use that same filtered water to make coffee.  If you have a drip brewer, keep in mind that the water never reaches the point of boiling, so many things that would be removed from the water through boiling will remain in your drip brewer, and into your coffee.  That affects flavor.  I mainly use a Chemex and AeroPress at home to brew coffee.  Both methods require that water be boiled first, then cooled.  And even though I boil my water, I still put filtered water into the kettle to boil.

Never was this point more clear to me than when I was staying at a hotel, and needed to make myself a coffee in the room.  Using tap water, the coffee I made was as bad as you could imagine.  I made the next cup with bottled water, and while it still wasn’t a great coffee, there was a very noticeable difference in flavor between the two cups.

  • Clean your machine regularly

vinegarVinegar is an excellent mild cleaner.  It will help maintain your coffee making system to run the occasional cycle through it of vinegar and water.  You can play with the ratios, but I recommend starting with a mix that is somewhere between 1:4 to 1:2 water:vinegar.  If you use a drip brewer, take note of what the water looks like after it’s been run through the cycle, to see what difference you’re making.  Coffee is oily, sticky, and perishable.  That means it wants to stick to parts of your coffee maker, and go stale.  That stale coffee ends up in your otherwise fresh cup of coffee if you don’t clean your machine regularly.  I suggest running the vinegar cycle monthly.

  • Don’t grind until you’re about to brew

coldbrewcoffeeGrowing up, my parents always ground their morning coffee the night before.  They did it for two reasons.  One, it then just required a flip of the switch in the morning to get the coffee brewing and two, the grinder wouldn’t wake up anybody the following morning.  The latter reason is way more valid, but even still, upsetting my neighbors with the sound of my grinder is the price I pay for fresh coffee!  There are two distinct points at which coffee begins going stale…when it has been roasted, and when it has been ground.  After it’s been ground, it begins to expire at an even faster rate.  If at all possible, grind your coffee only as you’re about to brew it.  Otherwise, it is much staler and you will taste the difference in your cup.

And now, a couple ways to improve your coffee by investing only a small amount…

  • Upgrade your equipment cheaply

cuisinart-grind-central-coffee-grinder-dcg-12bcThe last tip wouldn’t matter if you don’t own a grinder, and buy your coffee pre-ground.  If that’s the case, for heaven’s sake, invest $20-30 in a propeller grinder.  A burr grinder offers a more consistent grind, but if you don’t have a grinder at all and aren’t ready to invest in a burr grinder, then buy a propeller grinder and start grinding your coffee only as you’re about to brew it.

If you’re not happy with your coffee maker, take $20 to Target and buy the Black and Decker drip brewer.  Black and Decker strips down all the bells and whistles and while by far not the best machine on the market, I believe it is the best value.  For $20, you will get a decent of cup of drip brew coffee.

  • Buy from a local roaster

I had to say it!  The grocery store is full of coffee options, and they’re all stale.  The conventional grocery store channel simply cannot purchase and stock fresh coffee.  Somebody in your area offers an affordable fresh roasted coffee, or better yet, visit our Online Store and learn about the Colombia Excelso that costs only $12/bag.  It’s one of my favorite coffees right now, and comparable in price to what they sell at the grocery store.  Buying coffee online means it gets delivered to your door, so you don’t have to make an extra trip for it.  And while there are far cheaper coffees at the grocery store, the difference in flavor will be FAR greater than the difference in price.

 

Take the Coffee Quiz – Find the Coffee Match That’s Right For You

in Buying Coffee, Coffee and You, Coffees of the World

panama1A 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.

colombiaThe experience stayed with me.  I wondered how many other would-be coffee snobs encountered the same problem…so many options.

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!

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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.

Now that I am roasting my own coffee, I have been able to fine-tune the Coffee Quiz results even more.  Here is some help in how to answer the four different coffee questions in the Coffee Quiz

quizq1Think 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.

quizq2How heavy a “mouthfeel” do you enjoy in your coffee?  Compare it to milk – do you like the thin consistency of skim milk or the heavy almost syrupy body of whole milk?

quizq3Acidity 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.

quizq4Here, I’ve tried to list all of the individual flavor accents that good coffee can offer.  Check off all the natural flavors that you would like in your coffee.

Go for it!  Try the Coffee Quiz and find the coffee match that’s right for you.

Slightly Aged Coffee – You Can’t Afford NOT to Try It

in Buying Coffee, Coffee Gifts, Coffees of the World

coffeepyramidThis 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!

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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.

Visit the Make Good Coffee Co. Online Store.
Learn more about Slightly Aged Coffee.

The Incredible Coffee of Boquete Panama

in Brewing Coffee, Buying Coffee, Coffee Travel, Coffees of the World

panamasanfranciscanLast year, my friend Matt and I were fortunate enough to trek through Costa Rica and Panama, in search of adventure and coffee farms.

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.

panamacostaricaborderMaking every effort not to make eye contact with people in uniform, we went back and forth from one office to the other, struggling to understand the process.

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)

panama1panama2Fortunately 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!

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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!

Visit the Make Good Coffee Co. Online Store.
Learn more about the Medium Roast Panama Boquete coffee.

The Holiday Blend is here!

in Brewing Coffee, Buying Coffee, Coffee Gifts

holidayblend2I’m so happy to announce that the Holiday Blend is ready!

I was excited to make the Holiday Blend because coffee is a big part of the holidays and my family tradition.  Every year that I spend the holidays with my parents, the day starts with a coffee.  And just as ritually when dinner is done, somebody puts on some coffee.  It’s always such a happy time in my life, that the coffee should also be good.

Coffee blending is about bringing different coffees together that create a balanced flavor that none of the individual coffees have on their own.

But it doesn’t stop with deciding what coffees will be in the blend.  It’s about experimenting with different ratios of those coffees until you’ve produced something unique that meets your goal.  My goal was to capture all the qualities I associate with the holidays, and create a coffee blend with those flavors.

After much trial and some error, I finally made the coffee that I dreamed of making…the Holiday Blend!

Click here to buy the Holiday Blend.
Click here to visit the Make Good Coffee Co. Store.

What can you expect?

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First of all, I wanted a coffee that would appeal to a lot of people.  A Holiday Blend should be shared with others over the holidays, so I gave careful consideration to what would appeal to more people.  For example, I don’t mind a strong acidity but not everybody likes it.  I don’t mind a “dirty” aftertaste, but not everybody feels that way.  If a characteristic came up that I thought would divide coffee drinkers, then I removed that coffee from consideration and kept blending.

This blend of Central American and East African coffees captures the flavors I wanted, including an overall sweet and rich flavor, a chocolate and caramel aroma and flavor, a short but sweet aftertaste, and full but smooth body.  I didn’t stop blending until I found it!

The Holiday Blend from the Make Good Coffee Co. is ready for you to share with your fellow coffee lovers over the holidays, or to give as a gift to the coffee lover in your life.  I ship with the US Post Flat Rate Envelope, so for a flat rate $5.70, two bags of coffee will fit in the envelope.  Buy two bags of the Holiday Blend, or mix and match the Holiday Blend with another coffee from our line-up.  The coffee is not delivered with any visible pricing, so you can give it as a gift to that special coffee lover.

Click here to buy the Holiday Blend.
Click here to visit the Make Good Coffee Co. Store.

Happy holidays from the Make Good Coffee Co. to you and your family!

Colombia Excelso is here!

in Buying Coffee, Coffee News, Coffees of the World

IMG_0846Why 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 :).

colombiaIt 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.

Click here to order some Colombia Excelso.
Click here to visit the Make Good Coffee Co. Store.

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.

The Make Good Coffee Co. roastery is now open!

in Brewing Coffee, Buying Coffee, Coffee and You, Coffee Gear, Coffee News, Coffees of the World

logoI am so excited to announce that the Make Good Coffee Co. roastery is now open!

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.

10376148_10155256870375177_4878548440044086558_nPanama Boquete – Medium Roast

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.

Check out: Make Good Coffee Co. Online Store
Learn more: Panama Boquete – Medium Roast

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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.

Check out: Make Good Coffee Co. Online Store
Learn more: Malawi AA – Dark Roast

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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?!

Check out: Make Good Coffee Co. Online Store
Learn more: Sumatra Toba Peaberry – Marc’s Premium

12049489_10156128384500177_8242157211232445900_nShipping 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.

Make Good Coffee Co. roastery opening!

in Brewing Coffee, Buying Coffee, Coffee and You, Coffee Gear, Coffee News, Coffee Travel, Coffees of the World, Serving Coffee, Storing Coffee

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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.

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“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.

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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!

 

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