Tag Archives: local coffee

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.

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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.

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.