Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Fressshhhh Philosophy

Very interesting 21st Street Blog article from Luke :

Our coffee is fresh. REAAALLLY FRESH. Sometimes too fresh to pull a shot of espresso. It’s fresh from the harvest, expedited from origin to the roaster, and then roasted to order each week. At 21st Street we try to represent these beautiful coffees on the retail side. We can’t make it taste any better than what our roaster found on the cupping table. We focus our expertise on the craft of brewing. We like to surround ourselves with other experts that compliment what we do well. That’s why we like Intelligentsia.

Our roaster has recently made a commitment not to sell coffee beyond 10 months from the harvest date. Once you pick the coffee cherry from the tree it’s a race against time to get these beans to market while they still have all the flavors that made them worth the high price to begin with. Having said that, not all coffees are in season year-round, so there are times when our menu is full and times when it is lean. The lean times are almost over…

Here’s Intelligentsia’s “In Season” initiative in a nutshell…

Specialty Coffee has it all figured out, right? Direct relationships with growers, careful roasting, Baristas pulling perfect shots… we’ve squared the circle. Not exactly, as there is a final missing piece: seasonality.

Coffee is just like great fruit and vegetables. Most coffee-producing countries have only one specific harvest season each year, and once the coffee is picked from the tree, it begins the inevitable process of slow decline, losing quality with the passage of time. The result is that no matter how great a coffee tastes while in its prime, the day will always come when it loses the very things that made it so tasty in the first place.

What then does Intelligentsia In Season™ mean? It means that our coffees are offered only while they are fresh and retain the vibrancy that both nature and the fastidious coffee farmer intended. It means that the coffee offers the same kind of compelling traits it did when we first selected it and brought it to our Roasting Works

The coffee industry has long perpetuated the idea that coffee is a year-round crop without recognizing publicly that the harvest cycles do not allow for this. So you really need to know when a coffee was actually harvested. Selecting your coffees in this way ensures that you are getting them while they are their most delicious. The Intelligentsia In Season™ initiative is our commitment that every coffee encompassed by this effort has no more than 10 calendar months between its sale and the completion of harvest.

Ok that sounds awesome… but what does this mean for the menu? Wait… for… it….

Zirikana- Rwanda is out of season but we’ll have a little at the Frick building this week. Finca Matalapa- El Salvador and Anjilanaka- Bolivia are just about out of season, but we’ll have them this week and that will probably be it.

The first new coffee to arrive will be the new Direct Trade offering from Panama- El Machete. I know I’m excited because I haven’t had Intelli’s Panama before. This will soon be joined by new crops of Tanzania (another new one for me), Colombia (the Huila crop of Tres Santos) and the always popular Kenya. Next month we’ll have our choice from the latest crops of Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. We’ll have our hands full trying to decide what to put on the menu- that’s a nice problem to have. Whatever we have, you know it’ll be F-F-FRESSHHHH. Respect

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