Usually coffee beans [seeds] develop in pairs within the coffee fruit. However, occasionally only one of the ovaries of the flower is pollinated and therefore only a single bean develops. These independent beans are called peaberries and can be found in coffees all over the world. On average peaberries develop three to nine percent of the time, so they are fairly rare and most are not separated out. Chances are that the bag of coffee you have right now contains peaberries. If you sift through you'll be able to tell by the round shape of the bean. When two beans develop side by side they flatten each other out, but when a bean has room to grow, it develops into a much rounder (oval) bean, hence the name.
Most coffee producers don't separate out peaberries, but some do. Using a screen during processing allows producers to sort the peaberries from the regular coffee beans. When producers do the extra work of separating out the peaberries it gives us the opportunity to taste a variation of that coffee. In most cases peaberries are very similar to their regular coffee bean kin, but just as they develop a unique shape, they also develop other unique qualities. Peaberries don't follow any general rules and peaberries are not necessarily better or worse than regular beans, but they give roasters and coffee drinkers the opportunity to further explore the aroma, flavor, body and acidity of a coffee.
In some instances when peaberries are separated out, the subtle difference in the coffee can make a great coffee even better. Tanzanian coffee is one of the most renowned for it's peaberries. Perhaps it's the volcanic soil, or the elevation of Mt. Kilimanjaro, but coffee processors in Tanzania have long been separating out peaberries because of their intense fruity flavor, vibrant acidity, deep body, and sweet aroma. We're very excited to offer our limited release of Tanzanian Peaberry. We're roasting it to Full City to keep it's unique flavor and aroma, while taming some of it's acidity. We hope you enjoy it!
Mocha has nothing to do with chocolate. The word mocha is only associated with coffee because from the late 15th century until the early 18th century much of the world's coffee came out of Mocha, a port city in Yemen. The arabica beans from the exceptional growing regions in Yemen (they were not actually grown in Mocha) were often referred to as Mocha Beans, which is why the world's original coffee blend was called Mocha Java (beans from Yemen and Java). It appears that Americans pioneered calling chocolate coffee drinks "mocha" but they were certainly not the first to mix chocolate with coffee. The beans grown in Yemen have strong chocolate notes, which early coffee drinkers in Europe recognized from one of their other major imports - Cocoa. Records of coffee drinks served with chocolate exist from early coffee houses in Venice and other European cities, and it's likely that the combination of beans from mocha and their natural pairing with chocolate, inspired the words many of us utter every morning.
So while many of us have come to think of chocolate when we hear the word Mocha, our newest creation, Mocha Java, is not chocolatey. Our version of the famous and time honored blend combines the highest grade Estate Java from the island of Java in Indonesia with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe to create an insanely awesome cup of coffee. The Estate Java brings the body and depth and the Ethiopian brings the brightness and light acidity. Beans grown in the Yirgacheffe region are slightly less chocolately than their Yemenese relatives, so you'll get subtle cocoa notes but they are so well blended you'll have to really sit with the cup to find them. Take a trip back to the roots of coffee craft and experience a legendary cross-regional cup of coffee.
Following a recipe is not cooking, it's assembling. Sure it's good to know the basic ingredients and order of operations, but actual cooking starts where the recipe ends. Cooking takes patience, preparation, and perseverance, and if done right is more of an art than a science. If you've ever asked a great cook for a recipe, they likely laughed and maybe begrudgingly handed you something with some ingredients written on it. That's because you can't write down how to make great food. It takes practice, and attention to detail at each step of the process, and great cooks are constantly tweaking and adjusting on the fly as they test their creation. They start with the basic ingredients, then they experiment with quantity, variations, and new ingredients. In some cases they throw the recipe out all together and concoct their own. Even the most disciplined recipe follower will play with the timing and cooking method. Cooking takes time and commitment, but most of all it takes a willingness to dive in, get messy, mess up and get better each time. Recipes are great, but they're just a suggestion. If you want great food that tastes great to you, then you have to cook.
That brings us to making coffee. You can throw a pod in a Keurig (if it fits) and something will come out, but that's no more making coffee than microwaving a frozen dinner is cooking. If you want great coffee, you have to make it. Like cooking, a recipe can be helpful, but just following a recipe isn't really making coffee either. Any brewing device you buy will come with instructions and there is no shortage of brew guides on the web, but while most will tell you exactly how much coffee to use and how to grind it, that, like a recipe, is just the starting point. We respect the science of coffee, but we're craftsmen so we love the art. We don't roast our coffee according to some generic formula and we don't think you should make coffee that way either. Whichever method you're using (pour over, kemex, french press, drip), start experimenting with your process and craft your coffee so that it tastes great to you. That may mean a little more coffee, a finer grind, or a longer brew time. The suggested measurements are a good place to start, but you have to free yourself from those limitations if you want to MAKE coffee. As you perfect your craft keep a few things in mind.
Just as with cooking, when it comes to ingredients, the fresher the better. We make it easy for you to get freshly roasted coffee, but if you want your coffee to be as fresh as possible, you should buy it whole bean, store it in an airtight container, and grind it just before making it. The quality of your water, which is your main ingredient is also very important. We highly recommend filtering your water so that you don't compromise the taste of the coffee. As a general rule if water has a taste, it will make bad tasting coffee. Water temperature is also important. You don't want to use boiling water and you don't want to use water that isn't hot enough. The ideal temp to extract the best flavor is around 200 degrees fahrenheit (212 degrees is boiling). Keeping these basics in mind you can experiment with all kinds of coffees, grinds, methods, coffee to water ratios, and brew times and you will be a great coffee maker.
In summary, make coffee and don't worry about doing it exactly the way someone else tells you, it's an art!
Welcome to the Capital City Coffee Roasters blog! If you're reading this you know that we have just launched our online store. We've been craft roasting coffee in small batches for a long time (at least one of us has gray hair), and we've been fortunate to have such loyal customers over the years. In our new venture we are excited to offer the same level of service and craftsmanship CCCR has always been known for, to a larger community of coffee makers. We remain, as we always will, committed to the craft and the people who make our coffees in their kitchens, at work, in cafe's and restaurants, and hopefully all kinds of new places.
On this last note, we would like to use this initial blog post to share our thoughts on the state of coffee consumption. We realize that not everyone travels with whole bean coffee, a micro-grinder, and an aeropress, but we do believe that the best cup of coffee you will ever have is the best cup of coffee you ever make. We're not that snobby about coffee making, we just think the "making" is an important part of enjoying all that coffee has to offer. It doesn't have to be fancy and you don't have to weigh your coffee before you brew it. In fact, for most of us, coffee tastes best the simpler it is. Think fresh roasted coffee, percolated over a fire when we're camping, or filtered through a french press on a Sunday morning. We're not naive, and we know that the pace of life often dictates quick fixes and to-go mugs, but we hope you'll follow this blog for tips and inspiration on enjoying the "process" of making coffee.
Over the years we've worked hard to refine our roasts and source the best beans the world has to offer so that we can stand behind the label of "craft roasted." Now we want to share our commitment to craftsmanship with a larger community and provide our customers with everything they need to be craftsmen and craftswomen in their own homes. We've opened our store with our coffee and we're in the process of testing micro-roasters, espresso machines, and brewing equipment so that we can provide you with the equipment and information you need to make that best ever cup of coffee.
We appreciate the opportunity to share coffee with you and would love to hear about, and see how you make our coffee. Please follow our social channels and sign up for our newsletter. And most of all, please share your coffee moments with us on facebook and instagram (#capitalcityroasters). We love seeing craftsmen and craftswomen at work, and your ingenuity and commitment to the craft inspires us to keep searching the world for the best beans and the best way to roast them.
Love the craft, respect the process.
- The CCCR Crew