“How does the saying go? “Better late than never”?! Maybe it’s because we were busy sourcing extraordinary specialty coffee for you. Maybe it’s because we were occupied carefully roasting your coffee to the perfect point. Maybe it’s because we like talking to you when you call. Whatever the excuse, we are thrilled to announce the launch of Cravens Coffee e-commerce site. Thank you for your patience!
Thank you for choosing Cravens Coffee. Cheers!
Consider the humble coffee bean. Grown in mountainous regions around the globe, by hundreds of thousands of farmers and their families. Millions of pounds each year.
So what differentiates coffee?
It is where and how it is grown, milled and graded. It is how it is roasted and packaged. And then how it is prepared and presented. These combined steps make a difference. When coffee is attended to with care, discipline, and creativity the final experience is distinctive and memorable. You can “taste the place”, embrace the quality and enjoy the service … all in the cup.
Experiences are a distinct economic offering, as different from “services” as services are from “products”. Experiences have always been at the heart of entertainment, exemplified by Disney theme parks. For every guest (not “customer”), Walt Disney World cast members (not “employees”) stage a complete production and create a memorable experience.
True Specialty Coffee is an experience. From coffee lands and their accompanying stories. To the roasting process and its vintage history. To the correctly and carefully built espresso beverage or brewed cup.
What distinguishes an experience from a service or product?
* products are tangible, services intangible. But experiences are memorable
* products are inventoried, services delivered on demand, while experiences unfold
* products are standardized, services customized, while experiences are inherently personal
These distinctions explain why experiences have the power to create new and greater economic value, and why some coffee businesses do much better than others.
Providing a true experience is about engaging the customer and connecting in a personal and memorable way.
Why is espresso either really, really good…
…or really, really bad?
The key components of espresso are sweetness, smoothness, consistency and balance. The intrinsic qualities are aroma, taste and aftertaste. A well-constructed espresso will “launch” itself over the taste buds, exhibiting a tanginess and creaminess with a dark chocolate-like finish.
The “theories” of espresso roasting and blending are diverse. A roaster who may blend a certain origin could be at odds with another roaster who does something completely different. Such is the nature of the Specialty Coffee business.
Since 1993, Cravens has cut across the grain, choosing to avoid the traditional espresso ingredients (they are woody and rubbery to us) instead working with exemplary stand-alone origins and blending for a balance of sweetness and body, with variations in degrees of roast.
The espresso extraction process is the best, as well as potentially the worst, in coffee brewing. Because of the intensity of the process, the oils within the coffee are emulsified. The roasting of coffee for espresso has to be gentle. The objective is to tease out the best flavor components, not blast them. Subsequently, any flaws are exposed in a dramatic fashion (the really, really bad part). While, if the details are adhered to – fresh crop green (pre-roasted) coffee, careful roasting and intelligent blending, you have, what is known as, the nectar of the gods…which is the really, really good part.
Examples of our best known espresso blends:
Spokane Express – the original Costa Rica Monte Crisol based, lighter roast degree
Big Sky – Guatemala Finca Vista Hermosa based blend, medium degree of roast
Moon Bean – darker roasted, Sumatra Mandheling IKA as one of the ingredients
This is a time of excitement (and relief!) in the Cravens cupping room. New deliveries of coffee have arrived and we are roasting and cupping to ensure quality. Once verified, we see what other delights are in the cup.
The new Costa Rica Monte Crisol is absolutely fantastic! It is as bright as we can ever recall, featuring a green apple tanginess which sparkles. Aside from being a great drip coffee, we incorporate Costa Rica Monte Crisol into espresso blends, such as Spokane Express, Caffe Portofino and Simla, which are all extracting a tremendous effervescent crema.
I could talk about them all, but the Tanzanian Burka Estate Peaberry is also off the charts….next time.
Last year’s trip to Guatemala included visiting two farms from which we directly source our origin coffees – Finca Vista Hermosa in HueHuetenango and La Laguna in Fraijanes. After spending time at both farms I was fortunate to be involved in researching farms for sale in other growing regions and a Cup of Excellence project selecting the country’s best coffees for export.
Following on, ‘we’ ventured back to Guatemala this past month to visit with the Zelaya Family in Antigua, along with a freelance foray into Atitlan to look at organic farms.
“Who is ‘we’,” you ask? While many families join in on business trips, they may not include packing hiking boots and pepto bismol. With the amenities being a bit challenging, Becky and our sons Ben and Adam hit the road with me to participate in this coffee sourcing trip to Guatemala.
We visited Finca La Follie, Hacienda Carmona and Finca Bella Vista. The Thompson boys especially liked our time at the end of the day as the ripe, red cherries were being received at the wet mill. A uniquely energetic and colorful scene as Mayan families converge into the receiving area.
We finished our trip with a cupping on the finca, from which we have selected a classic Antigua profile coffee with a tangy, milk chocolaty, full bodied flavor you are sure to enjoy. This coffee should arrive from Guatemala in May. We will keep you posted.
We will continue to search out great coffee for you. In the meantime, visit our home page as you may enjoy the slideshow featuring Guatemala.
Breast Cancer awareness month! An opportunity to recognize the impact of breast cancer on our lives and the challenge to find a cure. We, at Cravens Coffee, thank you for joining us in honoring the survivors in the war against breast cancer with a special blend created by the beautiful women of our local chapter.
Survivor Blend is an organic-fair-traded coffee with a buttery upfront flavor and bold, rich finish. This unique blend combines rich full-flavored Sumatran and fruity Ethiopian varietals, featuring a special Nicaraguan from a women-operated co-op in Segovia. We honor these women from war-torn Segovia as fellow survivors. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Survivor Blend benefit the Eastern Washington Affiliate of Susan G. Komen. Find Survivor Blend in your local grocery store the entire month of April. Visit http://race.komenspokane.org to learn more about being part of the cure!
New crop Central American coffees have hit the cupping table and they are outstanding.
Our Central American coffee selections are Costa Rica Monte Crisol, Guatemala Finca Vista Hermosa, Nicaragua Dipilto, Organic Nicaragua Segovia, Organic Guatemala La Laguna and Organic Mexico Pluma CEPCO. So far the Costa Rica has been incredibly bright and sweet, while the Nicaragua Dipilto is buttery and chocolate-y, the latter at the darker roast profile (see Northwest Dark Roast).
The Finca Vista Hermosa crop is the best ever. A late season rainfall allowed the cherries to finish ripening with a flourish, which increased the tanginess and spiciness of this Direct from the Farm coffee.
More news as it comes in….
Thank you for enjoying two of the better things in life: The joy of helping your community and a bold cup of coffee. Not only does a portion of coffee sales go to Coaches vs. Cancer Spokane, but it’s a special custom blend you are sure to enjoy. Specifically, with your purchase of this coffee you are helping a child attend Camp Goodtimes, a local camp geared for children battling cancer.
Grown in the Guatemalan highlands at the family owned Finca Vista Hermosa farm and craft roasted, this blend has smoky, spicy, hearty flavor. Great for full-body brewing, french press and espresso. So here’s to the fight against cancer. And a great cup of coffee.
Look for Coaches vs Cancer Blend at locally owned grocery stores throughout the Inland Northwest during the month of February.
Christianne Sharman, a writer, a friend and the owner of Spokane public relations firm, Sharman Communications died of complications from a brain tumor yesterday, with family at her side.
It was over 10 years ago when Christianne and her brother, Graham walked into Cravens Coffee as Sharman Communications. We were brought together with Sharman Communications for a major rebranding project through our good friends at Anderson Mraz Design. We have been friends and colleagues ever since.
The last year has been a special time in my relationship with Christianne. We were having trouble coordinating schedules on a regular basis and decided to make our time together a priority. We met every week on every Wednesday at 11am for a year. And now when I step into our cupping room on Wednesdays I am moved by the loss of Christianne. The habits we formed has me expecting to be with her each week. To see her walk in the door with her overstuffed briefcase and bags, her long free spirited hair and her colorful scarves all wrapped into one very determined package. I miss her.
Simon and I are so very grateful for Christianne. She helped shape our ideas, principles and messages into words that made sense. Words that were fun to read. Words that were interesting to read. She used to say, “Write things that give people a treat.” And she always said it with a smile.
Christianne believed in Simon and me. She believed in Cravens Coffee and the work we were doing. She attentively listened to reports of Simon’s coffee buying trips. She would spend hours over the years squeezed into a small sound booth at wonderful Chris White’s studio being the interviewer to Simon’s radio commercials. She was tireless in wanting to tell our stories. She knew how uncompromised we felt about stewarding the coffee from the farmer. It’s almost as if she, too, has been to each of these source countries. She had a true passion for hard working people. She had a commitment to doing right by people.
When Christianne and I had our last meeting together we were at Huckleberry’s having lunch. She bravely carried in folders of our work to be returned to me from her office. She knew our work was done together but could not find the words. Such irony. She simply said, “I’ve been meaning to get these back to you.” Recognizing she was not able to walk on her own, I asked how she was feeling. Christianne, again, simply said, “I just feel clumsy lately.” It was clear her body was beginning to fail her but her spirit was still very strong. At one point, I reached across the table and held her hand. We just stared into each other’s eyes. I’ll never forget it. With such little strength she still held on very tight. Eventually I quietly asked, “Christianne how are you, really?” She said, “I don’t know. Sometimes I want to fight. Sometimes I don’t. But I want to do it with grace and by giving back to others.”
And that, my friends, is how I will always know Christianne. As someone with grace and giving back to others. She certainly gave a lot to me, Simon and Cravens Coffee. For that we are so very thankful.
Here’s to Christianne. A woman of grace and giving.
Becky and Simon