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 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.
Whew…it is hot…!
But it is still coffee drinking weather.
Is anything better than freshly brewed coffee on a warm, if still early, morning before the heat index has started sending bank signs haywire? A crisp, clean, tangy or spicy, full-bodied cup of coffee seems to bring the day into perspective. And when the bank signs DO hit triple digits, is there anything more refreshing than an iced espresso beverage or espresso-based granita?
I find that coffee on a warm morning accentuates the aromatics of the cup – floral, apple-y and delicate for lighter roasted coffees and orange chocolate-y notes for the darker roasts.
So how about cold mornings?
Lets talk about that in November…
Keep you posted.