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
Benjamin’s Blend was born of double inspiration. First, the birth of our son, Benjamin. As new parents in 1995 Becky and I quickly came to understand the great responsibility and joy in raising a healthy child. Second, our pediatrician at the time, Dr Alan Hendrickson, was committing his time to serving abused and neglected children in our community. He helped us understand the impact of contributing to the well-being of at-risk children and how this effects us all.
When you choose this full flavored coffee with unique Central American sparkle, you are making a difference. We are pleased to donate a portion of the proceeds from each bag of Benjamin’s Blend to local organizations helping abused and neglected children. A bright and lively blend, just like healthy kids. Great coffee for a great cause. Thank you for your support.
We tried something new. Last month we sent out a holiday wish to all of you, our valued wholesale Customers. And in saying thank you we thought we might be able to help others in our communities. We asked you to share your email addresses with us and in exchange we would offer a gift in your name to help those in need. From Spokane to Sandpoint to Pullman to Missoula to Grand Junction …. Because you took the time to share your email address, Cravens Coffee is pleased to make a cash donation to Volunteers of America. We thank you! Together we are able to spread a little comfort this winter.
A little bit about Volunteers of America. Each year, thanks to the support of donors like you, Volunteers of America touches the lives of more than 2 million people across our country. Today, your kindness will be a welcome gift to a man, woman or child in need. Your gift may provide such basic human necessities as shelter and food and such life-renewing assistance as rehabilitation and counseling. Thank you for making a difference.
This Holiday Season Cravens Coffee would like to offer a gift in your name to help children in your community. Children who need shelter. Children who need a safe place. Children who need a winter coat. And much, much more.
It’s easy. Simply log onto: cravenscoffee.com/thankyou and enter your business name and email address. Cravens Coffee will do the rest. For every email entry received we will make a cash donation to children in need. Together, we can make a difference
We are grateful for your business…and helping to spread comfort this holiday season.
From All Of Us At Cravens Coffee.
One of the many wonders of espresso extraction is its ability to magnify the attributes of coffee.
The fineness of the grind, combined with high, stable water temperature and 9 bars of pressure allows for the complete extraction of the most flavorful, dissolvable compounds the coffee has to offer.
Which is why…
…espresso is either really, really good…or really, really bad (neutral and inoffensive coffee counts as bad, as it has nothing to offer in the extraction process, which means it is not true espresso).
The best espressos, which are usually blends, but can be single origins, range from being crisp, clean, bright, wine-y, citrus-y, snappy and vibrant to heavy, thick, rich, fruity, musty (in a good way!), bittersweet chocolate-y and complex. Plus many other descriptive terms – smoky, spicy, apple-buttery etc.
Whatever the combination of flavor sensations, the espresso should be able to make a statement and exhibit a “punch”. If the extraction is dull, flat, lifeless, woody, vegetal, medicinal, harsh and astringent there is trouble in paradise.
My objective with each of our espresso blends – and we have a broad range from light to dark roasted, and crisp and clean to fruity and chewy – is to magnify the two central tenets of ALL Cravens coffee, which is sweetness and body. From there the additional complex elements of sweetness, and myriad variations of body, are amplified.
As usual I have a “why?”. In this case…why do espresso-based businesses choose to serve low quality, low cost espresso in their businesses, knowing the end product is not a magnification of the magnificent?
In coffee, maybe more so than any other sector of the beverage business, you (at best) get what you pay for. Buying cheap coffee from a discount warehouse or wholesale roaster who sells on nothing but price (because that is all they have to sell on) guarantees an insipid, watery extraction of bean juice.
Espresso at its best is magnificent…and challenging to achieve on a consistent basis.
But it is enormously enjoyable and satisfying when it all comes together in a nectar of the gods.
Which espresso blend is my favorite? Email me.
In 2008 the Susan G Komen For The Cure Eastern Washington Affiliate and Cravens Coffee came together to create the Survivor Blend. A tasting panel sampled blends based upon various single origins and roast levels, deciding upon an Organic Nicaragua Segovia based blend of half dark and half lighter roasted coffee.
The components of the blend are the afore-mentioned Organic Nicaragua, from the Nueva Segovia region and Prodecoop, the original Transfair USA certified Fair Trade Co-operative, along with Indonesian and African origins to dark and light roasts respectively.
The result is a chocolate-y, lemon-y and buttery profile, with Cravens’ signature sweetness and body, in all forms of brewing – drip and French Press – and extraction – as espresso. Suvrivor Blend is Organic and Fair Trade Certified.
For all Survivor Blend sold wholesale, 8% is forwarded to the Komen organization. In 2008 Cravens committed (bravely or foolishly – you choose) to serve coffee to every participant in the Race for the Cure. By brewing on large scale brewers starting at 4am in the morning, a sizeable Cravens crew was ready by race time. This culminated in over 4,200 cups of coffee served over the course of the event.
In 2009 we are game to ambitiously serve coffee to the anticipated 9,000+ participants, race workers and attendees.
Cravens is honored to be involved with Susan G Komen and the Race for the Cure.
Survivor Blend is currently available for the month of October in area Yokes, Rosauers, Super One, Huckleberry’s and Trading Company Stores.
The “Spokane Gold” Dark Chocolate bar from Hallets Chocolates, based in Spokane, now features Cravens Coffee as a key ingredient.
Roasted coffee beans from Guatemala Finca Vista Hermosa, Colombia Huila and Sumatra Mandehling are coated in rich, bold, dark chocolate. We have been “taste-testing” at the Roasting Facility to ensure they taste great – and they do.
The bars are available at Halletts Chocolates and Coffee House in Riverwalk, on Trent and Hamilton where they serve Cravens Espresso beverages and Freshly Brewed Coffee.
In the August/September 2009 issue of Barista magazine, former World Barista Champion, James Hoffman, extended a dialog with reference to the role of crema on (and in) espresso. His suggestion is with crema by itself being “ashy, powdery and bitter” (mouthfeel), it could (should?) be removed, and the espresso stirred. This prompted experimentation at the Cravens Tasting Bar.
I am a staunch proponent of espresso retaining its primary structure of “flavor in suspension” through as little agitation in the beverage building process as is feasible. So to stir the crema-less espresso shot, albeit gently(!), was contrary to the very nature of my being (too melodramatic?..maybe…). The “stirred shot” was okay. More like a very strongly brewed, high acidity Central or South American single origin. The unstirred crema-laden shot was intense, complex, full-bodied and effervescent (think champagne).
In summary, espresso without crema is like champagne without the bubbles.
The softening of the economy has created a fork in the road for restaurants, cafes and drive-thru’s. They are asking themselves – do I take the path of quality at a value and retain my business, positioning myself for the future, or do I “cut and run” sacrificing quality, going with price and hoping I survive. Those are the two paths at the fork in the road.
Interestingly, the consumer is not seeing the same fork in the road. Our deduction, evident through sales, is that Specialty Coffee, at its very best, is a great value, therefore the choice it is not an issue. The informed consumer is seeking, purchasing and enjoying high quality coffee at a reasonable price despite a recessionary environment.
When I see so called “fine dining” and supposedly “high quality casual dining” establishments buying low quality, low price coffee, it makes no sense. They are terribly out of touch with the consumer.
People are still eating out, just maybe not as often. But when they do it has to be spot-on. And if they finish with a lousy cup of coffee, these days there is minimal forgiveness for preaching quality, yet brazenly having bought on price, which sadly many establishments have done.
The businesses who are committed to quality, and take that path when the road forks, are being rewarded with loyalty. And customer loyalty is priceless.
The current economic conditions are defining for the coffee business. In recent years (known unofficially as the “good times”!) there was a wide gray area for coffee categorization. The designations of Specialty, Gourmet, and combinations of the two, were banded around without any real meaning. We even had “super-specialty” at one time.
This has been followed by roaster-created designations such as farm-direct, farm-friendly, eco-friendly and many others. While some are genuine, many are false and frivolous designed to mislead the customer into believing the roaster is buying direct while visiting the farm and shaking the farmer’s hand. Not so.
The reality is customers are knowledgeable, informed and discriminating with their evaluations. With money a little tighter, the customer is activating their discretion.
In the “good times” a customer would try out a new place, resulting in the purchase of an espresso beverage. If it was sub-standard, no big deal. Pitch the beverage and seek a replacement from a proven retailer. No longer.
The differences between Specialty (we will keep this one) and Commodity coffee are clear. Basic Commodity coffee has always been presented in a can. In the gray area there is what can be called “pseudo-specialty”. It is Commodity coffee masquerading as specialty, usually in a bag as opposed to a can. It is amazing these roasters think the consumer is that gullible.
In tighter economic conditions, pseudo-specialty should be called what it is – Commodity coffee. This is coffee purchased on price NOT quality, even if the “marketing messages” tout otherwise. This is bad karma and they are heaping it upon themselves. Quick side-note – when farm families have to sell worthy, quality coffee at a commodity price, they do not eat, nor come close to having access to any form of medical care.
Customers are making their choices. They know Specialty (it is the taste – consistent high quality) and they know Commodity (it is the taste – raspy, low quality). And they know good companies – Coffee Roasters who operate within a set of values and standards, who value the human component of coffee farming and whom are involved in their communities.
Trust the Customer – they know their coffee. Convey your position of quality, service and community and your regulars will continue to support you…and new customers will find you.