“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!
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.
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.
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.
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.