Honey Processed Coffee in Laos

Laos isn’t the first region to top coffee drinkers list, but that is fast changing in part to Bolaven Farms direct trade organic beans. This farm is one of the many success stories of the Crop Share Training program there. The work of the son of a Laotian immigrant to Canada, the program trains farmers and shares the profits with trainees who then invest in their own farms. To boot, the coffee is as tasty as any of the best from around the world. They also have instituted a trending coffee processing technique, honey-processed coffee.

Honey processed organic coffee from Bolaven Farms
Honey processed coffee from Bolaven Farms

From fruit to cup: The Bolaven Farms limited release Arabica that you received in the Coffee Crates this month, begin their life in the mountains of Northern Laos along the Mekong River. Shade grown, then picked, skins removed, and dried with partial pulp or mucilage still attached to the bean, which is referred to as the honey process. Why is this so interesting and consequential to us coffee lovers? There are several factors that contribute to the flavor profile of coffee, and one of those variables is processing method used. As Coffee Review says so well “variations in processing that are carefully and mindfully pursued can alter the sensory properties of coffee in amazing and exciting ways.”

honey processed

The traditionally used method of processing coffee is “washed” or “wet” processed, wherein first the skins and fruit is removed through light fermentation, then washed to remove the remaining mucilage and finally dried, usually in the sun. While this method has produced consistency in the industry, the approach has a heavier environmental footprint than natural or honey processes because of the high quantity of water used. And from a drinker’s perspective, we believe coffee is much more exciting when there are vibrant variations in the notes that can be hit in each cup.

Honey processed organic coffee from Bolaven Farms Laos
Honey processed organic coffee from Bolaven Farms Laos

Back to the honey processed Bolaven Farm’s bean we featured in this month’s Coffee Crate, when we first cupped the sample from Torch Coffee Roasters in Raleigh, NC it was excited to find hints of butterscotch contrasted with grassy herbs. This coffee’s story begins on those tropical highlands in Laos, which experience a heavy rainy season, grown organically in the shade, then meticulously processed using the honey processing method, by a community of farmers that participate in the Crop-share Training Program that provides land, housing, training, coffee plants, tools and 36% of the total profits. And finally sent to Torch Coffee Roasters in Raleigh and delicately roasted to highlight the unique profile this bean has to offer. Enjoy!

Coffee Crate, what’s it all about?

We believe that coffee tastes better when there’s an empowering story of love and respect that connects us to the origin of the beans.

We are an online coffee subscription and gift service, providing carefully curated roasts from local North Carolina roasters, delivered every month to your door. We work with roasters who connect with the story of where their beans come from, and who uphold ethical standards of sustainability and labor. In this way, we curate the highest quality beans and carefully package them with creativity and love.

We continuously taste an assortment of beans from local roasters who take pride in their craft and strive to produce uniquely delicious coffees. We place an emphasis on working with roasters who work directly with the farms. Some of the growers are engaged in community empowerment, such as women owned cooperatives, local education and community health.

When selecting beans for Coffee Crate, our emphasis is on the virtuous delight of not only an ethically sourced product, but also one that activates the senses of our body and mind.

Together with a locally crafted goodie, we deliver delicious right to your door.

The Sustainability Groove

Roaster Profile: Larry’s Coffee

Larry's Coffee roaster group

Sure we all wish and strive to have sustainable habits in our homes and professions, but how often do we not put our time/money where our mouths are? One of our roasters has no problem answering that question. Larry’s Coffee, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, is entrenched in the “sustainability groove”. From where they source their green coffee beans, to their solar powered roasting facility, to their veggie-oil powered delivery bus, Larry and his team have dialed in creative ways to make sustainability the standard.

nicaragua-7

First the beans! When ordering from Larry’s Coffee, we don’t have to ask “what are your current Fair Trade coffees?” All of Larry’s Coffees are Fair Trade, Organic and Shade Grown; all of them! Founder, Larry, believes coffee can be used to joyfully make the world a better place. We resonate with this sentiment of coffee with a higher purpose.

nicaragua-5

Larry finds that Fair Trade is twofold; It’s a way to fund uniquely delicious coffee beans and at the same time creating business opportunities where everyone in the supply chain gets paid fairly for their product. Larry pioneered this model by helping form the Cooperative Coffee organization, which is a group of U.S. roasters that work together to import green coffee beans into the United States with a focus on ethical trade practices.

Then the roasting facility! Here’s the list of everything Larry’s Coffee is doing to lighten their Carbon and Water footprint:

Veggie oil from Piedmont Biofuels powders their coffee bus for local coffee deliveries.

img_9864

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solar collectors heat the roasting facility and main offices.

beanplant
Larrys Coffee Roasting facilities

 

 

 

 

 

 

They also let the sunshine light up their roasting facility with a “clearstory.”

Composting coffee waste to be used in the veggie garden.

Rainwater harvesting, with 4 tanks that can collect up to 2500 gallons of water to run the bathrooms and water the plants.

And this is the shortlist. See more here.

This month in your Coffee Crates, you’ll find Larry’s Honduras Comsa lightly roasted bean that makes for an elegant brew with notes of apple crisp and caramel.

Oh and by the way, did we mention their coffee is also delicious? No compromises here!

Thank you Larry’s Coffee for sharing these great photographs with Coffee Crate.

Coffee Crate, what’s it all about?

We believe that coffee tastes better when there’s an empowering story of love and respect that connects us to the origin of the beans.

We are an online coffee subscription and gift service, providing carefully curated roasts from local North Carolina roasters, delivered every month to your door. We work with roasters who connect with the story of where their beans come from, and who uphold ethical standards of sustainability and labor. In this way, we curate the highest quality beans and carefully package them with creativity and love.

We continuously taste an assortment of beans from local roasters who take pride in their craft and strive to produce uniquely delicious coffees. We place an emphasis on working with roasters who work directly with the farms. Some of the growers are engaged in community empowerment, such as women owned cooperatives, local education and community health.

When selecting beans for Coffee Crate, our emphasis is on the virtuous delight of not only an ethically sourced product, but also one that activates the senses of our body and mind.

Together with a locally crafted goodie, we deliver delicious right to your door.

The Proof is in the Coffee

Raise your mug to making no compromises between a sustainably sourced bean and a delicious tasting brew!

Black Honey Processed single origin
Black Honey Processed single origin Costa Rica coffee

Last month Jay, owner of Magnolia Coffee

in Charlotte NC stopped by the Asheville Coffee Expo with a pound of beans from Costa Rica. He shared with me how these beans scored so high with the The Coffee Review. I was like okay, “We’ll see when we get back to the Coffee Crate cupping table.” The proof is in the pudding right, or in this case coffee? Well, turns out Jay was right. Here at Coffee Crate HQ, we’ve kind of been obsessed with these amazing beans, that truly words cannot describe, ever since.

Jay also mentioned that he’ll be in Charleston, SC November 13th entering this coffee into the Charleston Coffee Cup competition. This is truly an All Star bean!

So of course, you’ll find these amazing beans in November’s Coffee Crate, and the icing on the cake is these are sustainably sourced from the West Valley of Costa Rica. The producers use the Black Honey processing method, which uses very little water to process the beans, as opposed to the commonly used Washed processing, which uses a large amount of water.

Find Magnolia Coffee on the Facebook page here.

What’s the Diff?! Dynamite Roasting explains coffee process. Washed, Honey, Natural!

What’s the Diff?!?!

Have you ever wondered why coffee bags are sometimes labeled with a variety of descriptions for “process”? Wet, dry, washed, sun-dried, partial washed, oh and were the honey processed beans dipped in honey? All of this lingo can be quite perplexing at times. After Coffee Crate‘s recent visit to Dynamite Coffee’s roasting facility in Black Mountain, North Carolina, I felt like I had a better understanding of the nuances of the different methods of processing coffee. Andy Gibbon from Dynamite breaks it down into 3 basic categories: Washed (wet), Honey processed (partial wash), and Natural (dry, unwashed). It started making sense why one coffee could taste really clean, bright and super fruity (Washed) and another coffee might be heavy and sweet (Natural).
coffee plant : coffee process
coffee plant : coffee process

Coffee Processes explained

“After a coffee is picked, a decision must be made by the farmer as to how the bean will be processed. The choice may be made based on tradition or available resources, or to develop a new flavor in the coffee. In general, there are three processing methods used to dry coffee, with each developing very different flavors in the bean. 
Cupping at Dynamite Coffee Roasters : coffee process
Cupping at Dynamite Coffee Roasters : coffee process
Natural (or dry) process:
The natural process produces coffee that is heavy in body, sweet, fruity, and complex. Whole coffee cherries are sorted and laid out on a patio or screen to dry before the dried fruit is removed by a milling machine. The natural process is often used in countries where rainfall is scarce and long periods of sunshine are available to dry the coffee properly. 
Coffee process: pulped and natural processed, drying
Coffee process: pulped and natural processed, drying
Washed (or wet) process:
In the washed process, coffee is sorted by flotation before being fermented in a large tank of water. This causes the pulp and mucilage to break down so it can be rinsed away with water. The seed is then dried in the sun or by mechanical methods.
Coffee process : coffee wet process
Coffee process : coffee wet process
This process results in a coffee that is cleaner, brighter, and fruitier than natural processed coffee. Most countries with coffee valued for its perceived acidity, will process their coffee using the washed process.
Coffee Process : coffee sun drying after wet process
Coffee Process : coffee sun drying after wet process
Pulped Natural/Honey Process:

The pulped natural method consists of pulping a coffee, but limiting the fermentation stage, leaving some of the mucilage intact.  This results in a beverage that has characteristics of both a natural and washed process coffee. 

Coffee Process : honey processed
Coffee Process : honey processed

It is often sweeter than washed coffees, has some of the body of a natural coffee, but also retains some of the acidity of a washed coffee. This type of processing can only occur in countries where the humidity is low and the coffee covered in the sweet mucilage can be dried rapidly without fermenting.”

Andy Gibbon, Dynamite Roasting Co. explains the difference between coffee process methods

 

Here’s some of the pics from my Dynamite Coffee visit!

Josh Gibbs , partner at Dynamite Roasting Co. and Stu Helm, Asheville Food Fan checking out the roaster 23 kilo machine from US Roaster Corp in Oklahoma City
23 kilo machine from US Roaster Corp in Oklahoma City with lovely custom red accents.
Andy Gibbon, partner at Dynamite Roasting Co. and Stu Helm, Asheville Food Fan prepping some single origins for sampling. It’s smells like someone is baking a fruit pie! Oh and brewing coffee.

Coffee connecting the world

This month at Coffee Crate, we’re thrilled to share a very special coffee from Ingenious Coffee Roasters in Marion, NC. Eli from Ingenious Coffee Roasters shares his story of partnering with Ric Hariyanto of Sriwijaya Coffee to bring Coffee Crate the West Java Siliwangi coffee.  These unlikely business partners halfway across the globe from each other have come a long way in developing a delicious high quality coffee that is enabling the growers from the Sunda tribe to maintain their coffee heritage and sustain the local economy.
From Eli Ornberg of Ingenious Coffee Roasters :
           ” Somewhere around 2011 I was employed to roast coffee and responsible for purchasing coffee at another company. The Direct Trade movement was new and a personal dream of mine to get involved. Some coffee companies were quite large and capable of making origin trips and such and my employer did not seem interested in the idea. Fortunately for me however I met Mr. Ric Hariyanto!
I began seeing some broken English emails in my inbox from some company called Sriwijaya Coffee. I answered a few and asked some questions and learned they were new and primarily focused on Indonesian coffees. I was curious and ordered some samples and was fascinated in the cuppings.  I had never tasted sumatran coffees like these. Also there was a sample sent titled West Java. I purchased a few bags of Sumatra and we sold them as limited edition coffees. To my surprise one day at work this  guy shows up unannounced  and introduces himself as Ric Hariyanto of Sriwijaya Coffee. He asked me if I had time to chat. I was so excited. I turned down the roaster and we had about a 2 hour conversation. He informed me he grew up in the western part of the Island of Java. He was blessed with well-off parents and  was able to attend college in America. Upon graduation he returned to Indonesia to open Sriwijaya Coffee. He was entirely focused on offering roasters the best of Indonesian Coffees as well as working for the best interest of the  farmers he worked with. He showed me maps and taught me so much about Indonesia. At that time it was rare to see single region Sumatra at any of the green bean brokers. He was the first to inform me that Mandheling was the name of a tribe and that when you purchased Sumatra Mandheling that it could be coffee mixed from different regions. He was offering specific regions of Sumatra, which wasn’t very common.
 As our conversation continued he also showed a great amount of Humility.  He informed me he was still learning a lot about coffee and asked me a lot of questions about roasting. Before leaving he asked me to be sure and try the West Java Sample that it was close to his heart for it was from the Island in Indonesia he grew up in. He stated he was only here for 3 weeks and had a lot of other roasters to go chat with and bid me farewell.
Jonathan and Eli from Ingenious Roasters and Ric Hariyanto from West Java
So for the next year I began communicating and doing business with Ric via email. I would order through email and he would send a release to New Jersey where he exported the coffee to himself and stored it. I began to feel that this was the closest I had ever come to some sort of Direct Trade. We emailed constantly and he not only shared about coffee but the culture of Indonesian areas as well. We became not only business
partners but great friends as well.
Somewhere in the spring of 2012 Ric returned to the States again for a 4 week visit to roasters. I invited
him to stay at my apartment a couple of nights instead of a Hotel and we talked for almost 3 days straight in person. I took him up on the Blue Ridge Parkway and also to my parents log cabin where we had a good old American cookout. We had the best of times and here is where the West Java Story Begins………….
It was his last night in Asheville and we stayed up all night talking about all sorts of stuff…coffee, religion, food,
ideas,………..Anyways he asked if I had liked the bag of West Java   (I did try the sample bag and ordered a whole bag, It was awesome)
Ric talking coffee with some friends and Ingenious Roasters
Ric talking coffee with some friends and Ingenious Roasters
I told him it was awesome and to tell me more about it. He explained that most coffee from the Island of Java is from
the eastern region  (Java Bwalan, East Timor, Indo Java Estate, etc.) Also he informed me that most of eastern Java coffee is
from Government Estates meaning that most of the profit goes to the government instead of the workers and farmers.
His coffee however was from West Java. A small village he was working with and he paid them directly. The area was
near where he grew up and he told me that he would like to help the village even more.
He informed me that he was purchasing the coffee from the village at a small rate per pound in the Red Berry Form, because they did not know how to process it so he was transporting the coffee to another location to have it processed. So he paid not only the farmers but the processing center. He told me his dream was to help the village learn how to process it so he could pay them more and if I could maybe help him. Yes! Here was a golden opportunity to possible work directly with the farmers. I said I would do whatever in my power I could…….What do you need Ric? He told me mainly his first run would be 20 bags. The village only produced a total of 80 bags and he could not risk the whole lot the first year. He asked if we could commit to the 20 bags and that if any were not usable he would not charge us. Also if I could give feedback on the coffee and possible advise for improvements on the next lot.
The following day Ric left and I was able to convince my boss that we would commit to the 20 bags and I would come in extra time to analyze it and also that we would not have to pay for any bad coffee.
The next couple of months Ric set up the village with a small processing center with milling machines and such. We recieved our first shipment of the new lot in early fall of 2012.    For the next few months I roasted, analyzed, took moisture contents, recorded cupping notes, took pictures and emailed, emailed, and emailed data to Ric. In all we had to throw 5 of the first 10 bags in the trash and were able to use only 5.
I had discovered very high moisture contents in all of the unusable bags as well as mold.  Also even the good bags were
not top grade as they were full of defects but no mold. I began to question Ric on the drying process due to the mold and most of the defect seeming to come from this according to my study. He informed me they were drying the coffee on carpet! So when it rained they would roll it up. Also the desired moisture content should be between 12% to 14%. They were determining this by feel of hand. So my first advise was to purchase a moisture reader for them. Ric agreed and then we decided best to get rid of the carpet and I advised a raised bed with cover would be a better alternative. Ric agreed and built them one.
Java Siliwangi 2015 harvest 6 drying on raised beds
Java Siliwangi 2015 harvest 6 drying on raised beds
Lastly I questioned why the green bean bags had so many defects. We were able to determine that 3 different families were in charge of sorting and they had no oversight. So each family’s idea of good sorting was different. Ric immediately put one member of the tribe in charge of overseeing the sorting.
The second batch was the same due to being processed before implemented the changes. So all in all the first lot of 20 bags 9 were thrown away and 11 were used in low end blends.
So when the next lot in 2013 came I was so excited to see if our changes had worked. They did and I agreed to Ric to move up a price point due to the quality! It was amazing and the tribe has been repeating the quality ever since! So you now can see this coffee is very important to me as well as Ric.
Since opening our new company, Ingenious Coffee Roasters I have continued to work with Ric and hope soon to make my first trip to West Java to meet in person the members as soon as capital is available for the trip. Might I also add that my current Partner Jonathan Jones was involved with this journey as well. He has also created a great relationship with Ric and we look forward to working with Ric for many more years.
In all honesty the term Direct Trade is used very loosely in our Industry today. But in my heart this is the closest for now that I have experienced direct trade. I hope you enjoyed my story! “
Roaster Guy, Eli
Ric from West Java and Eli from Ingenious Coffee enjoying a cup of coffee together
Ric from West Java and Eli from Ingenious Coffee enjoying a cup of coffee together

Baklava + Coffee Crate = toys to refugee children around the globe!

“What do local honey and Syrian refugees have in common?” Jennifer Macdonald with Habibi will be baking up Coffee Crate’s treat this month. Proceeds from her baklava sales go directly to purchasing toys and books for refugee children. Did I mention that this baklava is some of the most delicious I have ever tasted?! http://www.foodlifemag.com/habibi-my-love/

Global

Field Trip to Summit Coffee

This past month I made the worthwhile journey down the mountain to Summit‘s Roastery in Cornelius, North Carolina.

What timing! On a Monday morning, the team of 3 at Summit‘s roastery, was just getting going on their weekly cupping. These coffee geeks, if I may say, are diligent about tasting every single bean that they purchase or think about purchasing.

Owner Tim Helfrich
Owner Tim Helfrich

Even though owners & brothers Brian Helfrich and Tim Helfrich (seen above) have been in coffee for many many years as coffee shop owners and baristas, they just ventured into the roasting biz this past July. And wow! They’ve really perfected their roasts in just 5 months.

Summit Coffee's new roasting space
Summit Coffee’s new roasting space

Their Rutas del Inca from Peru, featured in the October Coffee Crate was one of my personal favorites. I keep going back to this bag of beans. It’s so doughy and chocolaty. If my grandmother’s poppyseed bread was in coffee form, this would be it! (PS. Coming from moi, that’s an enormous compliment.)

Evan Pollitt, roaster at Summit Coffee
Evan Pollitt, roaster at Summit Coffee

The folks at Sustainable Harvest send over green beans regularly for Summit to roast and sample in the quest to find the most delicious variety for their college town community near Lake Norman. The folks in the Lake Norman region are super lucky to have such amazing coffee available from their local roaster and coffee shop downtown Davidson.

Summit coffee shop downtown Davidson, NC
Summit coffee shop downtown Davidson, NC

And here’s their brand spanking new San Francisco roaster! Isn’t it beautiful!?!

San Francisco Roaster
San Francisco Roaster

 

 

Sanfrancisco Roaster
San Francisco Roaster

 

Sanfrancisco Roaster
San Francisco Roaster

 

Sanfrancisco Roaster
San Francisco Roaster

(I took a lot of pictures of their roasting equipment, because it’s gorgeous!)

The lead roaster, Evan Pollitt, was interviewed:
Where and when did you begin working in the coffee industry?

I started working for Summit Coffee as a barista in March of 2014.

Owner Tim Helfrich, left, with Lead Roaster and Director of Coffee, Evan Pollitt, right
Owner Tim Helfrich, left, with Lead Roaster and Director of Coffee, Evan Pollitt, right

Where does Summit source beans?

We are currently working with several different importers to bring in coffees from all over the world. While we aim to have a diverse and global portfolio, finding great unique coffees is more important than filling out our portfolio.

Could you explain how your roasting process affects how the coffee tastes?

There is no way to add any flavor to the coffee bean that isn’t already there. What we aim to do in sample roasting and purchasing is find coffees that have unique and complex inherent properties. After that we try to find a roast profile that best highlights those qualities in the beans.

Owner Tim Helfrich, left, with brother and Owner, Brian Helfrich, right
Owner Tim Helfrich, left, with brother and Owner, Brian Helfrich, right

What’s your perfect cup of coffee?

A cup of coffee I can drink all day and find something different with each sip.

What excites you the most about roasting coffee and participating in the coffee industry?

There’s always something new. One of our favorite things is sampling and tasting new coffees. At the same time, there’s something really comforting about coffee and being able to share that experience with people is exciting.

Lead Roaster and Director of Coffee, Evan Pollitt, left, Owner, Brian Helfrich, center, with Owner Tim Helfrich, right
Lead Roaster and Director of Coffee, Evan Pollitt, left, Owner, Brian Helfrich, center, with Owner Tim Helfrich, right

What’s next for Summit? Are there any new roasts your exciting about or experimenting with?

We try new coffees weekly, always looking for new things to bring in. This is our first year operating as a roaster and we are really excited as we go through this first cycle of coffee harvest seasons.

Summit Coffee cupping
Summit Coffee cupping

When you’re not doing coffee, what are you up to? 

Summit has a really involved community. We have live music several nights a week, a weekly pint club, and a racing series. Personally, I just ran my first 50K in Brevard, NC and plan to do a few more! I also recently started playing the banjo.

This interview and photographs are brought to you by Angie Rainey with Coffee Crate, a North Carolina-based coffee subscription service.

Coffee Crate stems from the idea that the best roasts are local. We offer a genuine North Carolina experience by delivering quality coffee to your door each month. We carefully choose a selection of our favorite local beans from roasters who take great pride in their product. We simplify coffee drinking by choosing the best roasts from our great state and deliver them freshly roasted straight to your door.

Each month we are dedicated to finding the best tasting assortment of roasts that uniquely compliment each other. Coffee Crate is perfect to enjoy and share. Let us enhance your morning by bringing you something new. Expect consistently amazing coffee, personalized service, and occasional surprises.

Angie Rainey, Coffee Curator, is taking the guesswork out of selecting what coffee to buy for your morning (or afternoon, let’s face it) caffeine ritual. Mother of two young’uns, this barista turned entrepreneur needs lots of delicious coffee to fuel her day. Currently headquartered in Asheville, NC, we are a group of coffee- loving North Carolinians, who want to discover and share what our local artisans have to offer.

Interview with Master Roaster Bill Tanner from PennyCup Coffee Co. in Asheville

I sat down with Master Roaster Bill Tanner and the Diedrich (roaster) from PennyCup Coffee Co. in the River Arts District in Asheville late last month to get his perspective on roasting an awesome batch of coffee beans.

Bill Tanner at PennyCup Coffee Co.
Bill Tanner at PennyCup Coffee Co.
Where and when did you begin working in the coffee industry?

“My first cafe job was at Lakeshore Coffee House in Euclid Ohio when I was 19. They were the first real coffee shop in my town and opened up when I was 12 or 13. My first real coffee industry job though was in the production facility at Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago.”

Diedrich roaster at PennyCup Coffee Co.
Diedrich roaster at PennyCup Coffee Co.
Who was influential in shaping your coffee career; did you have a mentor?

“I do not have one mentor but there are many people who have shaped and influenced my career. When we started PennyCup I reached out to people from all over my prior professional life. The Coffee industry is very close-knit and I was not shy about calling former co-workers and pals that I hadn’t talked to in years.”

Bill Tanner, Master Roaster at PennyCup Coffee Co. in Asheville, NC.
Bill Tanner, Master Roaster at PennyCup Coffee Co. in Asheville, NC.
How did PennyCup begin?

“My business partner, Amber Arthur, who has been in coffee forever, wanted to start roasting for her shop , Battle Cat, in West Asheville. Her and my wife have been friends for years and when my wife and I moved back to Asheville in 2012 I met Amber. We started talking immediately about roasting and hit it off right away. By the spring of 2013 we had a business plan and we were roasting on a small home roaster in Amber’s kitchen. That whole year was all about education. By January 2014 we had a lease in the River Arts District and we were fully operational by February 2014.”

Bags of green coffee beans at PennyCup Coffee Co.
Bags of green coffee beans at PennyCup Coffee Co.
Where was the inspiration for the name and logo of PennyCup?

“PennyCup was actually the first name we came up with but we brainstormed for another 2 or 3 months before we settled on it.  Its a name that is inspired by cafes in England during the 17th century that were called Penny Universities. You could get a cup of coffee for a penny and then discuss the matters of the day. I like to think that drinking a cup of coffee in England at that time was, in itself, a minor act of rebellion since most people drank tea. I have no idea if that was the case! For our logo we wanted something clean and timeless. Our designer, Karen Schmidt, came up with just that. I love our logo!”

 

PennyCup Coffee Co. logo
PennyCup Coffee Co. logo

 

Why did you decide to settle in the River Arts District in Asheville, NC?

“The RAD was in our plans from the beginning. Our plan to have a cafe in our roasting space fits in with the working studio aspect of the neighborhood.  When people come in we want them to see the roasting part of the process. We want people to ask questions and look around. We feel like roasting is an art form and what better place than the RAD to show your art.”

Green coffee beans going into the top of the roaster at PennyCup Coffee Co.
Green coffee beans going into the top of the roaster at PennyCup Coffee Co.
Where does PennyCup source beans?

“Currently most of our coffee hails from South and Central America as well additional offerings from Sumatra, Ethiopia and Sulawesi. We do not buy direct yet though we would love to in the future.”

When you’re buying green coffee beans, what are the qualities that you look for in a great coffee bean?

“All of the coffee we purchase is speciality grade so we know that, physically, we are getting a quality product. A product that has met certain quality standards while having little to no defects. Knowing that, when we get samples we are paying close attention to the flavor profile and our ability to highlight the beans innate qualities with our roasting methods. That is the fun part! We start with some assumptions and some loose parameters and work from there. Then we cup coffee. Also a very fun part of the process!”

Bill Tanner at PennyCup Coffee Co.
Bill Tanner at PennyCup Coffee Co.
Could you explain how your roasting process affects how the coffee tastes?

“We are simply taking the coffee that is at a low temp and we are roasting that coffee to a higher temp. In that process we can control the rate of that rise. We control gas pressure in an attempt to speed up or slow down that rate. We can control airflow in the drum throughout the roast. And of course we control the starting and ending temps. All these controls are determined by the specific coffee being roasted and the flavor highlights we are shooting for.  We have learned along the way, through trial and error, what might make a specific flavor pop.  Thankfully the trial and error part is getting shorter and shorter the longer we do this!”

Diedrich at PennyCup Coffee Co. in Asheville, NC.
Bill Tanner and the Diedrich at PennyCup Coffee Co. in Asheville, NC.
What’s your perfect cup of coffee?

“The best cup of coffee I’ve ever had was an organic Nicaragua on the production floor at Intelligentsia almost 10 years ago.  I chase that cup in my dreams. My perfect cup right now is our Costa Rica, at about 7:55 am right before the shop opens up.  There is nothing better!”

Pouring latte at PennyCup Coffee Co. in Asheville, NC.
Pouring latte at PennyCup Coffee Co. in Asheville, NC.
Bill, What excites you the most about roasting coffee and participating in the coffee industry?

“There’s so much! It is a great industry with loads of smart, passionate, and kind people in my opinion. This is especially true in Asheville and the coffee people I’ve met in town. The roasting itself is part art and part science.  It is engaging and requires diligence and focus. And the seasonal nature of our product means that the creative struggle to roast and brew fantastic coffee never ends.”

Bill, Master Roaster and Cameron, Barista at PennyCup Coffee Co.
Bill, Master Roaster and Cameron, Barista at PennyCup Coffee Co.

 

This interview and photographs are brought to you by Angie Rainey with Coffee Crate, a North Carolina-based coffee subscription service.

Coffee Crate stems from the idea that the best roasts are local. We offer a genuine North Carolina experience by delivering quality coffee to your door each month. We carefully choose a selection of our favorite local beans from roasters who take great pride in their product. We simplify coffee drinking by choosing the best roasts from our great state and deliver them freshly roasted straight to your door.

Each month we are dedicated to finding the best tasting assortment of roasts that uniquely compliment each other. Coffee Crate is perfect to enjoy and share. Let us enhance your morning by bringing you something new. Expect consistently amazing coffee, personalized service, and occasional surprises.

Angie Rainey, Coffee Curator, is taking the guesswork out of selecting what coffee to buy for your morning (or afternoon, let’s face it) caffeine ritual. Mother of two young’uns, this barista turned entrepreneur needs lots of delicious coffee to fuel her day. Currently headquartered in Asheville, NC, we are a group of coffee- loving North Carolinians, who want to discover and share what our local artisans have to offer.

You can find PennyCup Coffee served or sold at BattleCat Coffee Bar, Hole Doughnuts, Earth Fare, Mountain MojoBen’s Pennymart and of course the PennyCup Coffee Co cafe & roaster.
Bill and Cameron at PennyCup Coffee Co.
Bill and Cameron at PennyCup Coffee Co.

 

May’s Coffee Crate

Credit to Matthew Hamm for the image

Hello hello everyone, hope you’ve enjoyed this gorgeous weather we’ve been having the past month, with the exception of our first tropical storm, Ana, of the year. Here’s what you guys are seeing in May’s box:

Joe Van Gogh

The folks at Joe Van Gogh consider themselves artisans, and it certainly shows in their coffee. Roasting, brewing, and sharing coffee is their passion, and they have worked diligently at mastering their craft. Owner Robbie Roberts has been in the coffee business for 20 years now. He opened his first shop on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh and has been living a highly caffeinated life ever since.

All Nations Coffee

All Nations Coffee, from Charlotte, represents people and communities. Their main interest is to bring equilibrium in the profit and implement a sustainable business with social responsibility. We love businesses that try to find a balance of the two, as we believe there is a middle ground businesses can find. A portion of their profits are used to help support farmers and co-ops around the world.

Parliament Coffee Roasters

You are probably starting to see a similar theme with our roasters. Parliament, also from Charlotte, is no exception. Their focus is to bring in the finest coffees from around the globe, and roast them to a profile that highlights the varying and subtle nuances that make a particular bean unique. This is one of the greatest parts about drinking locally roasted coffee, you can’t get that subtlety from the big coffee roasters we all know. The standards by which they do business will always be hinged upon the concept of quality over quantity.

April’s Box

Credit to Matthew Hamm for the image

For us North Carolinians the weather is finally getting warmer! Spring is a great time of year here in the Tarheel State, there are all kinds of outdoor activities that open up around this time. We hope that even with this gorgeous weather we’re having you’re all still finding the time to cuddle up with a nice cup of Joe from the comfort of your home. Here’s who you guys will be supporting in this month’s crate:

Oak City Roasters

Owner Billy Landahl is a former engineer turned coffee fanatic who quit his job cold turkey to start roasting coffee. I’m especially excited to feature Billy because he’s made the first locally-roasted coffee I ever tried.  My wife and I were at the North Hills farmer’s market he was offering up some free coffee.  We then purchased a 12oz bag, followed by a cheap blade grinder & french press from Target, and haven’t looked back.

It’s a neat company that’s trying to change the world through coffee with a motto of “Love Locally, Love Globally.”  Since actions speak louder than words, they include special needs adults in their packaging operations, successfully funded a KickStarter to create “Care Cups,” and work directly with farmers to pay them above fair-trade wages.

Bald Bean Coffee

Bald Bean is a family-owned coffee roaster committed to high quality coffee and social awareness. Their beans are fair-trade and proceeds from every sale go to help children with cancer and their families. The idea for Bald Bean began when Harrison McKinion was diagnosed with leukemia at age 10. Chloe Mathias, a little girl Harrison’s age, gave up her birthday and asked friends and family to support Harrison’s cancer treatment fund. From there, the McKinion family and the Mathias family teamed up to start Bald Bean Coffee.

We’re so happy to support companies that are helping others, and to give our subscribers the same opportunity. As you all have seen, it seems to be a common theme with our roasters that they’re supporting a social cause while practicing their craft.

Beans Boro

What started out as a small idea to roast great coffee turned into an amazing coffee sho in Greensboro, NC. In 2009, Performance Coffee Roasters was born with the sole goal of providing great freshly roasted coffees to everyone. Fast forward 3 years later, and a name change to what is now Beans Boro. They have continued to source the highest quality of coffees we can find. You can even come in the shop and watch them roast right in front of you.