08 November, 2010

Something to chew on...


16 October, 2010

Flat Bottom Pour-Over

Not sure why there isn't (at least that I know of) a commercially available flat-bottom pour-over brewing device.

I have been messing around on the home-front with a makeshift one and have had some fairly decent results. (Thank You Scott for lending the S. Rao book)

I'm using cloth to filter. I should take some pictures too!


04 October, 2010

Coffee Tasting

So, I want to organize a tasting sometime/somewhere this winter. Your thoughts on coffees: WI only or not WI only. I like the idea of both. Taste what is going on in the state...or taste what is going on outside the state as a point of comparison.

Anyway, let me know what you would be interested in tasting!


12 September, 2010

Lego Fetco Coffee Brewer

My boys and I had a fun day of soccer, lego building and nerf missile fighting.... here are the results of the lego building: a brewer to match the synesso!!

25 August, 2010

Home Roasting

Not really sure if it would fly(or be profitable), but I can picture a retail shop where small batches of greens are roasted on home roasters (in the cafe) for in store use. Full-on cafe, just using home-roasted beans. Could also sell greens and roasting equipment to interested home roasters... Really bring attention to the craft of coffee roasting...maybe even have a little shop roaster to get a little better consistency for the in-cafe needs....

Anyway...could be pretty fun.


20 August, 2010

Stop huffing and start brewing

What a cool idea (exchanging heat for pressure in brewing)... it would be quite fun to mess around with...

The blogs he references seem pretty cool too at first glance for those interested in food.

Another random idea for those who can switch your elements off and still run your pump (synesso)...cold brew a shot and see what it tastes like...probably too short of an extraction but maybe if you grind superfine and run 12oz water or so....???

Let me know if you try it...i'd be curious to taste.

15 August, 2010

The Java Den at 1022...happy 1 year!

Ben has been operating Java Den at 1022 since it opened last August. I have had the pleasure of servicing his equipment, but more enjoying his skilled, sincere and honest approach to great coffee. If you haven't visited his cafe you should...it is crammed between W. Johnson and University Ave. just West of the UW business school building (1022 W. Johnson). He serves Kickapoo and usually has a couple of different espresso's available.

Rumor has it he'll have free espresso sometime next week!

Happy 1 year Java Den!

I Hate Single Origin Espresso

I wish I could articulate half as well as Mark Prince:

The Verve training video is pretty spectacular...
I look forward to part 2!!

**Update: I don't hate it...but I largely...(almost completely) agree with Mark...

**And I would also add that I think it an unfortunate reality that the specialty coffee culture and its associated pursuits and fads look to barista competitions for inspiration. More on my opinion about competitions effect on our sub-culture here.

26 July, 2010


We made a quick trip down to Chicago to pick up a dear friend so I took the opportunity to stop by Wormhole coffee. One of the things I enjoyed most about the experience is that while this shop is about quality coffee it is also about 1980's/early 90's nostalgia. Not that quality coffee isn't an important thing but I think we can all get a bit too serious about it! It was nice drinking my espresso while seeing a replica back to the future delorean up close.

I had:
Espresso: Red Line, by Metropolis Coffee
Machine: Mirage Veloce, by Kees van der Westen.

Pour-over (Hario V-60): Costa Rica, by Ugly Mug Coffee

I thought:
The espresso was very good...Sweet chocolate, honey and red-fruit and rather balanced. Really, quite enjoyable. It was the highlight (other than the BTTF Delorean in the front window) of the visit.

The pour over wasn't that great. Hard to tell if it was the coffee, the extraction, or both. It had some nice lemon as it started to cool, but first and lasting impressions were a bit sour. Body wasn't that great (although it was a pour-over)...I was hoping for a creamy body and some tart flavors...but never found them. I should have ordered the Metropolis Kenya off the Fetco brewer.

The aesthetics of the shop were very cool. Dominated by Star Wars and Back To The Future, but plenty of other iconic 1980's pieces of pop culture too.

I reccomend you check it out the next time you find yourself in Chicago!

25 July, 2010

Wormhole Coffee - Chicago, IL

Got a chance to visit wormhole today.

Coming soon....the coffee, the machine, the aesthetics...

30 June, 2010

Rancilio for Sale

Hey! If you or yours are in need, Steve @ Anodyne is selling a clean (inside/out) Rancilio Classe 10 3 group espresso machine. He also has a cart available w/3 compartment sink. The espresso machine is going for $4000 and the cart for $5000.

Contact them if you are interested!


15 May, 2010

'fair' trade, 'direct' trade, 'transparent' trade, 'i really like my farmer' trade, 'i want to market coffee like this to sell more' trade

You have probably already seen this, but I wanted to at least share a link here and get some thoughts and discussion on the topic of green coffee purchasing. I have not read the report but I have to say that in my opinion it is uber-respectful to put it all out there and tell your customers what it is you bought, who you bought it from, for how much, and what you are doing for the farm(er). I also think it is a great move from a marketing standpoint when so many roasters are telling a story of the farmer, but have no real relationship or communication with the individual or organization that produced their coffee.

I'll read the report and maybe share more...

gotta go,


13 May, 2010


Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Honduras with Caleb Nichols, head roaster at Kickapoo Coffee. He was invited (along with a few other importers) by FLO (a group that helps coops, etc. get a fair trade certification) to go to an event trying to help promote Honduran Coffee. Basically, Honduras has a pretty bad reputation in the specialty coffee world, but there are some coops who are trying really hard to change this. 16 different coops were at this event. Mostly it involved two days of sorting, roasting and cupping 24 different samples from these coops to help provide feedback for them. Also, there were a few different informational sessions for the coops to help teach them about what is going on in the global market with coffee, how they can get financing (there is a really cool group called root capital that was there), and a few other things like this. I think it was a really helpful event for these coops to be able to meet each other and share ideas, but for me it was incredibly interesting to try the coffees.I have never had the opportunity to taste 24 different coffees from one country at the same time... I learned a ton about how much variety can come from one country. Some of the coffees were really floral and had strong citrus notes, some of the coffees had a fruity and almost savory quality, and there were various other things that we were tasting. Some of the coffees were acceptable, some were good, and some were really great coffees. We took the results from this cupping and ended up visiting 5 different cooperatives in the upcoming days.
We zigzagged across Honduras many times to do this (I am so tired of driving!), but were able to meet some amazing people, and see a really beautiful country. Some of the coops were really small (the smallest one offered to make us coffee, which ended up being an hour long process of starting a fire, roasting coffee, etc.) and some were larger and more organized. We learned a lot about what it takes to go from a ripe cherry to the final product, and the complexities that are involved in this. We also learned a lot about the inner-workings of these cooperatives, and some of the complexities that there are in the market right now. There is a lot more info than I would have the energy to share right now!

I think the biggest thing that I learned from this trip was that there are so many different steps between the ripe cherry at 1600 meters outside of some tiny village and the final product we all drink on a daily basis. There are so many ways that this coffee can get screwed up, that I don't think I will every take a good cup of coffee for granted again. In those rare moments where I feel like I have had a truly amazing shot/pourover/etc., I will be even more thankful for the many different people that cared enough to help this anomaly happen.

On a final note... I want to thank Kickapoo Coffee for taking me on this trip. I'm really impressed with the amount of effort they put into sourcing and roasting not only socially responsible coffee, but really high quality coffee as well.

17 April, 2010

single origin options

So, at Bradbury's we have two espresso grinders... in one we have Kickapoo's espresso crema, which is our default espresso for drinks with more milk than a few ounces. In the other grinder we have been pulling various single origin shots roasted by Kickapoo. However, it seems like it would be fun to try serving espresso (in general focusing on single origin shots) from some other roasters - this week we ordered 10lbs of black cat espresso from Intelligentsia, and we now have an account with them so we can begin ordering some other coffees as well. We also have some samples from Verve that we are going to play around with at the beginning of this week, and we may start ordering from them soon. My goal is to be able to find about eight different roasters who are willing to sell to 10lbs of coffee to us every two months or so, and rotate through these on a two month cycle. That being said, I'm curious if anyone has any input about roasters, and specifically coffees that you have tried as espresso, that you are excited about (if you have any idea about what temp/extraction time/etc. that would be really helpful). I've been contacting various roasters and some are open to this idea, while others are not willing to sell this small of an amount of coffee to a cafe. Thanks for any input you may have! (fyi, stumptown and blue bottle are not willing to sell in this quantity...)

11 April, 2010

Yemen (Roasted by Lighthouse Coffee Roasters, Seattle, WA)

Region: Yemen is about as specific as he gets
Variety: Unknown, probably similar to Ethiopia Moka varieties
Process: Natural (dry)
Roast: Full City
Style: Drum (Gothot)
Days From Roast: 12

This was a pretty interesting coffee. It definitely had a fruit quality reminiscent of Harrar. It wasn't as delicate as coffees from Yergacheffe, but it did have a nice acidity to it. It had a savory quality, but I couldn't nail it down specifically. When you have a nice cut of beef you get kind of a tangyness on the upper part of your palette from the juices...I guess you could say there was a similar tangyness to this coffee, but meaty didn't jump out of my vocab. It was very full bodied which was a nice balance to the complexity in flavor. Overall, I enjoyed it. I'm curious what it would have been like at a lighter roast, but I fear it would be pretty weird and potentially overwhelming!

01 April, 2010

More Coffee Please

I love getting coffee in the mail!

I'll be tasting the following courtesy of my family in the west:

Lighthouse Roasters: Yemen
Batdorf & Bronson: Dancing Goats Blend

I also have some Fiddleheads Guatemala to try.

I'll try to post my thoughts soon!!


31 March, 2010

Guatemala: San Pedro La Laguna (Rstd by Verve Roasters, Santa Cruz, CA)

Region: Atitlan
Variety: Bourbon & Caturra
Roast: City-
Style: Drum (Probat)

Lots of lemon, bright acidity...ok body but lacking compared to my expectations. Subtle caramel sweetness as it cooled. Missing the warm chocolate I like in a Guat and the lemon bordered on sour as the cup cooled. I think it would have benefited by a city+ or even full city roast.

I haven't cupped many coffees from Atitlan, but with the elevations and amount of rainfall I've heard of some stellar coffees coming from this region. Granted, this was probably from a harvest that was starting to go past crop...and it was probably from the Federacion de Pueblos Mayas...a quality cooperative in San Pedro. Not that quality isn't available from coops (that another post!!) but I do believe that generally consistency is tougher to achieve. I didn't get anything dusty or baggy, but maybe the body would have come through and provided some balance (even at this light roast) had it been a few months ago. The acidity however, wasn't muted at all despite any aging. Overall I enjoyed it, but I think we have some better local choices.

29 March, 2010

Out Running

Well, I came out of the gates hoping to un-load a bit of what has been bouncing around in my head since I started in coffee a few years back. I'm hoping I didn't offend anyone reading, as that would never be my intent. I was merely hoping to make some sense of things I've witnessed and conversations I've shared across the coffee landscape. I constantly feel lucky to be able to work with a product that's ever changing and applies to so many people's lives. I feel fortunate to be, what I think I would consider, on the cutting edge of quality in coffee and roasting. I'm able to talk to a lot of different people that are a lot smarter than me but that always have time to talk about coffee and discuss the finer points of this heady brew we all so enjoy. Mostly I just enjoy waking up and knowing that I get to enjoy good coffee every day; I'm not really sure what I would do if I couldn't have coffee, good coffee, every day of my life.
That first smell of ground coffee or of hot water just passing over grounds and wetting them are like the first real day of summer to me. Like going out and firing up the grill to enjoy a barbeque and cracking open some local beers. I like trying coffee from different roasters to see what their take on a particular coffee or origin is. Do they prefer to exemplify the Black Currant notes or mute that in favor a richer body? Can you coax out a nice Lemon/Citrus component within a Central American. Is it possible for a Sumatran to be both Citric, Pipe Tobacco-y and also rich in Body? I say yes but how well can it be found and can it with any consistency? All the joys of an ever changing product and market place. Mostly I just love coffee and the people the love coffee too. It's good to know there's groups of these types of people in my back yard, in your back yard, in other parts of the country and to know that we can all get together somewhere like this, or at our favorite cafe and discuss the finer points of coffee.

23 March, 2010

New Dawn, New Day

Sometimes it's wild to me to think about this crazy industry we're all involved in. A few years ago I was working in a bar, partying hard and serving food. Then I decided to try and up my professionalism and make some more coin and got a job running a warehouse in Texas. It was valuable life experience but certainly not everything I had hoped it would be. Now I find myself working in coffee, surrounded by a bunch of people that for the most part don't always seem to fit together.
Sometimes I find myself wondering if I fit in; I'm pretty sure I was never more aware of that then when I was at the GLRBC two weekends ago. I don't think I would ever consider myself to be progressive or "hip" but then again I'm not even really sure what those words mean, at least as far as fashion and life goes. As I looked around at the sea of baristi, I found myself thinking that the competition seemed more about "cool" then coffee. That was a bit of a bummer to be honest, we work hard to find great coffees; we try and be down to earth and connected to the coffee and the competition is more about Flannel Shirts, Emo Jeans and Suit Vests. Is that really what a farmer in El Salvador wants their coffee represented by? Maybe? But then again maybe not?
This is a weird industry, so many moving pieces that are all supposed to fit together into a whole. So often it feels like there are just a bunch of fragments that randomly aligned and then break apart again for no apparent reason. It's strange. It's strange especially from the perspective that in most normal industries the best product is usually clearly evident to everyone, aside from the few in the minority that want to be "progressive", but normally the best product wins. In coffee I don't think that's always true. The best coffee may not get the best price at origin, may not sell the most in a cafe, may not win a blind cupping with random people on the streets. Nowadays maybe that's becoming less true but around here (Madison), that is still often the case. Cafe owners that think an Espresso Roast brewed coffee, served over-extracted and watered down is the best coffee or Joe-Six-Pack who believes their cafe owner who serves that coffee. Pretty much every day I try and figure out how to make sense of this, because frankly, my livelihood depends on it and so do a number of other peoples'. It's funny to me, only because if I don't laugh I'd probably have to go and put myself through our drum roaster and call it a day. Maybe then Espresso Roast Cafe owner or Joe-Six-Pack would like what I'm trying to sell. It's anyone's guess really.

19 March, 2010

Coffee Tasting

Coffee arrived today...I'll try to post some thoughts on it over the weekend!

16 March, 2010

GLRBC...an acronym for ego, waste & irrelavance

**warning, this is an opinionated post and a bit uncharacteristic: so you have been warned**

The GLRBC was this past weekend and I really didn't want to say anything about it...but I can't not.

I beg anyone to show hard evidence that a barista competition does any good whatsoever for the coffee culture at large. It actually sickens me to a degree. I have met competitors and for the most part have enjoyed my conversations with them, so this outpouring is not on the people involved personally, but on what the 'circuit' has created at large within this subculture, and what it is doing to shape, mold and define the world we are a part of. What are the tenets of being a barista? For a few years now I have been threatening myself to write a barista manifesto of sorts..and have actually even written a few pages...but it has taken more form in thought than on paper.

I can respect the barista who comes out and says 'I want to be recognized by my peers and receive notoriety for something I am passionate about', and so enter a competitive match. My complaint is not with this persons motivations, it is how the industry has allowed the competitive barista circuit to become such an important qualifier for an accomplished barista and the real byproducts of these competitions...ego, waste and irrelevance. Hopefully I'm giving the competitions too much credit and weight, but then I fear my perception isn't that far from reality...

The inspiration for competitive portafilter wielding was probably a drive to bring the skill and art of the barista to a greater audience and celebrate, if not market, the true skill and dedication that many baristas posses. And I suppose that to a degree this has been successful. I see articles in national and local papers during regional competitions bringing to light the skill and art involved...but a serious byproduct of these competitions is a puffed up version of a position that (in my opinion) is characterized by humility, curiosity, excellence and art. There may be a hint of these characteristics evident during the 15 mins of performance...but that is what it is, a performance that, when finished, quickly segue-ways to the boxer having just knocked out his opponent and is prancing about the ring.

My number one objection to the competitions is waste. I can't reconcile that inside of 15 minutes a barista can tell the story of the hard working farmer who dedicates their lives to coaxing a specific quality from a stubborn shrub, making just enough to support his family and community; a roaster who sampled, cupped and scrutinized the roasting and blending until the perfect balance was realized; all this effort poured down the drain during countless practice sessions, timing practice, exhibitions and so on...all for the presentation of ones skill resulting in a feel good, ego stroking blah blah. I can't believe that these events inspire the interest, much less the actual financial support of our industry by consumers to justify the reckless wasting of our resources. It is abusive. It is at odds with the core values of the specialty coffee industry. Too many grinds are spilled for my taste.

Has it challenged baristas to be better, to further push the envelope of quality and understanding of espresso extraction? Has it inspired manufacturers to pay more attention to the variables and the baristas control over them via their tools? I don't think so. I might be wrong on this, but I think the major advancements and the major discoveries have happened and will continue to happen as a result of dorks like you and me messing around with it all. Trying theories out...testing and tasting...spending too much time thinking about water.

As a result I can't come to any other conclusion than to say that barista competitions are (or at least have become) irrelevant. Maybe they are fun, maybe they are a good show and provide some cool entertainment...but I think the industry needs to blog, tweet, flikr, and spend its resources on greater pursuits.

And now I just realized I'm a hypocrite for writing anything about it at all.


12 March, 2010

Go Coffee Go

I just signed up for this site...my Dad recommended it to me.

I kind of like the music player that plays during your browsing...! Apparently they are out of San Fransisco...


11 March, 2010

Yemen? What's that?

What do you think about the fact that Yemen is featured by both Lighthouse and Blue Bottle? Hasn't that been a non-contender for a while?

This got me thinking about coffees from Yemen. I've literally only had one conversation about the coffees of Yemen that I can even remember....and it wasn't that favorable. I've read a decent amount about it and I know Ukers book speaks well of it. The major draw back (and don't read to much into this...I like Natural coffees) is that it is naturally processed...and a risky coffee that comes at a high price. The choice to carry it may lie more in the personality of the roaster than in anything else. Maybe this season's crop is really great...it seems that Blue Bottle kind of infers that the last few years hasn't been as good as what they have found in the current offering. Lighthouse, on the other hand, has always carried it. I'm pretty sure he carries a standard set of origins and rarely differs in his selection.

I wouldn't classify Yemen as a non-contender...more of a coffee that can be so weird that many just don't spend the time to get to know it. It can be a wildly fruity and savory coffee, some say meaty...an odd characteristic for a coffee, one that could turn alot of people off...especially in the pop-fad light, sweet and clean coffees we are appreciating (and talking about) so much. I wish I could talk about Yemen with some personal experience, but aside from cupping maybe two samples in the past 6 years (one that I roasted way too dark on a little 5# roaster) my last drinking was Starbucks Sanani....circa 1998. It would be very interesting to taste a Yemen at a light roast. Probably overwhelming and definitely unlike any other tasting...but maybe most put a little darker (full city) profile on it to tame it.

The other side of this that really intrigues me is that arguably Yemen is a true example of how coffee was designed to taste. This is where coffee naturally occurred and the dry processing of the coffee is how it was prepped since before history. This coffee is barely even cultivated...it grows wild and is picked and processed on small patios much like, if not exactly like it was more than a thousand years previous. Maybe it is just me, but I'm drawn to understand how something tasted before we (humans) got to thinking too much about it. This isn't to say that technology and understanding hasn't made coffees better, it has. But there is something nostalgic about tasting something in its most purist and unaltered form...before taking it to the other side of the world, or hybridizing, or processing with water...coffee is it was first experienced.

So maybe Yemen is showing up on the menus of roasters that feel nostalgic about coffee and want to experience something a bit more unadulterated. I can appreciate this...too much human involvement and we typically mess it all up in the end.

Join me in the debate that naturals are the 'true specialty coffee'!

(ok...that last line was a joke!)

02 March, 2010


My appreciation for the coffees of Guatemala has grown immensely over the past 4 years. I have had the luxury of cupping some amazing coffees...mostly from Huehuetenango and Antigua. I'm inspired to do a cupping spree of Guats...and I recently have purchased a couple of Guats from two different area roasters. I'm not going to 'score' these coffees, but would like to publish cupping notes. And hopefully others will try them as well and share their thoughts. I think Guatemala is an extremely important origin on a roasters menu, not just because it's usually a prime component of their espresso blend, but because it is usually a good representative coffee for a roasters profile, their quality/philosophy in sourcing and a good overall 'control' coffee.

My perspective on tasting has shifted a bit in the past 6 months since not working for a roaster. I have almost exclusively been employed by a roaster over the past 15 years. I have found that this has limited(via my own laziness) my tasting of available origins... I'm not necessarily looking at that as a bad thing, but now that I make a pretty willful choice about who sourced & roasted (hopefully the same person) my coffee I'm excited by the myriad of options I actually have. I intend on ordering some coffees from Europe as well, and I have been told that transport can affect quality...I'll bear that in mind, but I'd like to get a taste for what the world has to offer as they translate what is being produced by Guatemalan coffee farmers on small estates and cooperatives.

Here is what I would like to taste (if I can get it mailed to me!) in no particular order:

Verve, Blue Bottle, Counter Culture, Lighthouse, Anodyne, Brown, La Boheme, Square Mile, Ancora, Terroir, Kickapoo, Metropolis, Stumptown, Herkimer, Peace...

25 February, 2010

Shrub/Sweet Marias

Over the years I have found sweet marias and now more recently shrub really valuable resources for information on what is going on at origin and what interesting coffees are being roasted. While I have never met Chris Schooley, I think his descriptions of origin and cupping are great...very informed and detailed...

Here he is roasting on an electric probat sample roaster...

21 February, 2010

Happy Birthday Bradbury's

One of the two Synesso Espresso machines in Madison is celebrating its two year anniversary in service... To celebrate, my boys (w/a little help) built a lego version. It is just as thermally stable, it just won't get any hotter than room temperature...Happy Birthday Bradbury's!...thanks for hosting a great party!!!

Here it is complete with Versalab grinder, handmade mugs on top and a lego customer.

20 February, 2010

Welcome To Madison Coffee Fellowship

cof.fee fel.low.ship
the condition or relation of being a fellow: the fellowship of humankind.
2. friendly relationship; companionship: the fellowship of father and son.
3. community of interest, feeling, etc.
4. communion, as between members of the same organization.
5. an association of persons having similar tastes, interests, etc.

Welcome! I have had this idea of creating a forum for Madison, Wisconsin's coffee professionals for sometime. A place where we can meet and share, with common curiosity, about all things coffee. Fellowship seemed like a fitting noun to describe the aesthetic I'm going for. Something that is more knowledge and culture building rather than marketing or self appreciation. I'm not interested in that...I am interested in learning from others.

If you are a coffee professional, home roaster or barista, taster, enthusiast etc. and are interested in being a part of this community email me and I can add you as an author so that you can post to this site. I'm not a prolific writer...I think about coffee and its related people, trends, equipment etc. etc., but I will try to post my thoughts and experiences as much as I can.

Coffee is in its infancy both as a national industry and certainly as a Madison phenomenon. I think we have a responsibility as participants of this industry and culture to know how to provide our community with the most expertly prepared and best tasting coffees available.

Ok, that's it!


16 February, 2010

Fair Trade Discussions

I really like this concise and to-the-point this summary of why Fair Trade really has no place in the marketing of specialty coffee...

“In my opinion, the Fair Trade brand / model works alright for commercial quality coffee and for one might term “entry-level” specialty. Once one gets into extremely specific, ultra-high quality coffees it begins to falter because it was not designed to deal with them. Fair Trade is, essentially, a one-size-fits-all blanket program that is applied to an incredibly diverse range of different coffee farmers across the world…the fact that it the FT price has been $1.26 for more than fifteen years and is the same for every farmer whether he/she lives in Peru, Rwanda, Sulawesi, Costa Rica, or El Salvador makes little sense.”

excerpt from this link...

Maybe Fair Trade is just 'social baggage' better left to the commodity market...