She Did it!

Owner and Head Roaster, Liz Roquet at the controls

Owner and Head Roaster, Liz Roquet at the controls

Liz Roquet, Owner and Head Roaster at Lizzy’s Fresh Coffee has achieved the Roaster’s Guild Level 1 Roaster Certification.

According to the Roaster’s Guild program outline, the Roasters Guild’s Roaster Certificate Program recognizes specialty roasters who achieve a high degree of skill and excellence in roasting. Roasters Guild educational courses focus on a variety of topics and issues relevant to today’s marketplace and business demands. Course subjects range from the practical (identifying defects, plant safety, green coffee processing) to the scientific (sensory science, heat transfer & thermodynamics, particle size analysis).

“It’s been a wonderful 4 years of coarse work, tests, and even a trip to origin in Colombia to achieve this certification, and is a reflection of my deep commitment to becoming and staying educated in the world of coffee,” says Roquet. She goes on to add, “I’m constantly working to become better and learn more about my craft so that our customers can enjoy the best possible product we can produce. It’s all about making our customer smile when they’re enjoying a cup of our coffee.”

Roquet continues to build her expertise in coffee, and plans to continue to pursue more coarse work at the 2014 Special Coffee Association event to be held in Seattle, WA. As of this press release, she is one of only 36 roasters achieving certification in this program thus far.

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Coffee Roaster in Heart of Idaho Fires

Lizzy’s Fresh Coffee Redefining a “Smoky Roast”

Current fires raging in Idaho around the small resort towns of Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley have residents and businesses on high alert.

The “Beaver Creek” Fire has now burned over 100,000 acres, and is only 8% contained. Today, 1150 firefighters continue battling the very erratic blazes with 10 helicopters, 8 bulldozers, and hand crews working 24 hours.

Attack helicopters raining on the fire's parade.  Photo:  John Koth

Attack helicopters raining on the fire’s parade. Photo: John Koth

Lizzy’s Fresh Coffee, a specialty coffee roaster located in Ketchum has been under pre-evacuation status since Friday, but has been able run roasting production today, Monday.

“When we first received pre-evacuation orders on Friday it was a bit of a shock,” says Liz Roquet, owner of Lizzy’s Fresh Coffee. “Anticipating that mandatory evacuation may follow shortly, we quickly shut down operations, including all of our roasting and coffee equipment, packing up important computers, and leaving the roastery behind.”

Lizzy's in Ketchum, ID

Lizzy’s in Ketchum, ID

Although 2200 homes have been evacuated, the city of Ketchum has remained in pre-evacuation status, meaning that people are able to stay in their homes and businesses, but should be prepared to leave immediately should evacuation be required.

Roquet explains, “We’re making sure to take care of our customers, including consumers and cafés locally and across the country, and staying safe and aware should we need to shut down and leave again. The good news is that we had great practice in evacuation on Friday, and feel confident in our ability to move quickly and depart in an urgent and safe manner should we need to”.

Fire blazing west of Hailey, ID.  Photo:  John Koth

Fire blazing west of Hailey, ID. Photo: John Koth

Lizzy’s uses a Diedrich IR-12 roaster and catalytic oxidizer, so they aren’t adding additional concern to air quality problems already existing from the smoke of the fire.

Roquet and her family spent the weekend keeping their eyes on the fire at their home in nearby Hailey. “We have many friends who were evacuated from their homes”, says Roquet, “so we had our home espresso machine going full tilt on Saturday and Sunday for anyone who stopped by in need of some caffeinated comfort and a good fire viewing perch.”

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Camping Coffee with the Aeropress

Aeropress Brewing

Ahh, the chirping birds, the clear blue skies, the mountain lake water…..and the FREEZING morning! Welcome to camping in the mountains!

My family and I went camping this weekend and I will tell you this: The only thing that could caox me out of my cozy sleeping bag at 8 a.m. was the promise of a hot and flavorful cup of coffee.

Normally we’re pretty much in love with our Hario pour over system when brewing camp-side, but this time we decided to take the Aeropress.

I wasn’t getting much excitement from the crowd on this one, since out in the woods, hours away from an alternate brew method, I was making a commitment to this coffee – whatever the outcome. It could be a deal making or breaking kind of morning that would set the mood for the rest of the day’s adventures.

Pour water...

Pour water…

I’m happy to report that the crowd gave it rave reviews. I’d definitely recommend the contraption for anyone’s camping outing, and here’s why:

1. The cool thing about this weird little pressurized coffee maker is that it brews a concentrated extraction. It’s easy to add hot milk for a wanna-be latte, or add hot water for the americano version of the same. If you just want to sip it straight up, there’s that option too. It’s nice that one device can please lots of different tastes.

Press to brew...
2. Each serving has to be brewed separately, but the cool thing is that set up and brew time is just 1 minute from start to finish. Pop out the used coffee “puck” and wipe down the press and you’re ready for the next brew.

Give it a stir...
3. Water needed is just 2 oz per serving, so there’s no waiting for 6 years for a quart of water to boil like is usual on a rinky-dink camping stove. Just be sure to keep the water HOT for each brew. Aeropress for some reason recommends really low brew temps, but I’d stick to the recommend a 195-205f standard brew temp for optimum extraction.

Helpful to know: Say you’re camping at elevation of 5000-7000 feet – your water will be hitting a boil at around 198-203. If you’re at sea level, let it boil at the usual 212 f and allow it to cool one minute before using to brew.

Bottom line: Aeropress wins the camping award for “most versatile” system and will definitely have the power to coax me out of my warm sleeping bag cocoon again on the next trip.That's a cup of coffee!

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It’s All About the Relationship

Check out this fun, fast paced radio interview with me (that’s Liz Roquet of Lizzy’s Fresh Coffee) on Ellie Newman’s “It’s Relationship” talk show. We talked about everything coffee – my own relationship with coffee, coffee around the world, the social quirks of coffee, and the personal relationships our customers have with their coffee. Sit down with your own coffee and enjoy listening to the show! (KDPI Radio, Ketchum, ID)

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Comfort and Love From Burundi

Angele Ciza shares what she's working to do for women in coffee in Burundi

Angele Ciza shares what she’s working to do for women in coffee in Burundi

There are over seven billion people in this world at the last count. We cross paths with people every day who never even register on our radar, we’ll never see again, and honestly will never think twice about.

Then, there are those who somehow show up with no effort on our part, we take notice, and they become part of our lives and experiences in a purposeful way. These people seem to present themselves with ease and simplicity – almost like a scheduled event that you knew was on your calendar. That oh-so-weird “Groundhog Day” familiarity sets in.

I love it when this happens.

In our coffee business, we taste new coffees on a regular basis to feature in our line. On the last go-around, I made a request for samples to my coffee importer, based on a few tasting notes of coffees that looked to be intriguing from a taste perspective.

I selected a few coffees from farms in Honduras, Guatemala, and Burundi. Each had its own delicious qualities, but one stood out as different than what I’d tasted before. The coffee from Burundi had a beautiful comfort for some reason. It was pleasing without being overly anything. It had a silky, sweet brown sugar, and a subtle spice.

What I actually noticed about the coffee, and wrote on my tasting notes to myself where the words “comfort” and “love”. Not words you see on the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel at all, but ones I have on my personal flavor wheel. I guess I call it my “feel wheel”. It helps me remember more than just a coffee’s stats, and helps me identify how a coffee actually “feels” to me – beyond what my nose and tongue can figure out.

I chose the coffee, and then followed up with my supplier to find more details of the farm, the grower, or something special about the region that I would share with my customers. Often I know much of these details before I even taste a coffee, but in this case I didn’t.

I became enamored with the story of this coffee from Burundi as I learned about it.
NPR’s Article shares: Meet 4 African Women Who Are Changing The Face Of Coffee
Angele Ciza of Burundi is ahead of her time; she owns the land she farms on. Her 10-hectare (24.7 acre) coffee plantation in the northern part of the country has some 26,000 trees producing Arabica coffee, and she’s also purchased seven washing stations (part of the coffee processing procedure). She’s employing about 100 women, and she also helps pay school fees for the children of her employees.

“We work very, very hard,” says Ciza. Her vision for lifting more people out of poverty in her region is clear. “If you want to develop Burundi, you develop the women,” she says.

According to analysis by the International Trade Centre, on family-owned coffee farms in Africa, about 70% of the maintenance and harvesting work is done by women, but only rarely do women own the land or have financial control. Organizations like the International Women’s Coffee Alliance are trying to change this by, as they put it, “empowering women in the international coffee community to achieve meaningful and sustainable lives; and to encourage and recognize the participation of women in all aspects of the coffee industry.”

Triangulation Cupping Table

Triangulation Cupping Table

I felt like a proud sister in coffee, and of course the coffee became offered in our Limited Edition lineup.
Last week at this year’s Specialty Coffee Expo, I was taking a class on something no one else except coffee nerds would find interesting – called “Triangulation Cupping” (think of this as a one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other challenge. Lots of sniffing, slurping and spitting of coffee. So sexy.)

Anyway, I started chatting with one of the instructors in the class over our cupping table, and found out that she was part of the Women’s Coffee Alliance. I told her that I was so thrilled that I had just purchased a wonderful coffee from the Kalico cooperative. She immediately said, “From Angele?” I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that she knew her by name.

“Yes” I said, and carried on telling her how I so loved learning about her story and her work in coffee. Mad respect to the lady.

“Well, do you know that she’s here?” my instructor said.

I got chills – and yes, the kind that are more than due to an over caffeinated system.
My instructor called me later in the day to let me know that Angele was at the Burundi booth all day, and she had told her about me.

I was so excited to meet her! We looked up the “Coffees of Burundi” booth number and zigged and zagged through the expo floor like a couple of morning commuters racing to get to work on time. I pealed around the corner, and spotted Angele first thing. A tall, beautifully curvy African woman with short black hair and the brightest smile I’ve ever seen. I walk right up to her and graciously introduced myself as Liz from Lizzy’s Fresh Coffee.

Without so much of pause or thought, she smiled from ear to ear as if she’d been waiting for me all day, and gave me a huge big-sisterly hug. It’s that kind of hug that only certain people can give. The kinds of people who hide nothing, give everything, and are truly joyful in every living cell of their body. She oozed an instant welcoming comfort and unlimited amount of love.

She immediately told me about her coffee farm and new goals she’s set for herself, and how she wants to keep making it better. (Pause for another hug). She asked about my coffee, and I showed her the picture of the Kalico coffee packaged in our Lizzy’s bag (pause for another hug). She told me about her hopes to keep making women’s lives better, and keep growing her impact on the business of coffee. (Pause for picture and another hug). I told her I was the actual coffee roaster of her coffee, another not-so-common thing in the more man-dominated sport of coffee roasting. (Big eyes, big smile, and… another hug).

We exchanged more smiles, laughs, and stories, and at least 6 more hugs before I just decided I was being obnoxious hogging all her time.

I left the Burundi booth with a wonderful feeling in my heart. Queue the Oprah moment here….

It was cool to meet her, and to know that she’s doing what she’s doing when it is no way the easiest choice for her in her country. She’s doing it with style, hard work, and a loving energy. Honestly, just a cool lady.

Pause for photo

Pause for photo

I don’t know what it is that’s meant for us together, but I know for a fact she’s now part of my life. In 10 years, something more purposeful will have become of our business relationship, and hopefully our friendship. I’ll look forward to sharing that story with you…..

For now, anyone can enjoy this coffee from Burundi. It boasts sweet brown sugar, spice, butter, and silky body…..oh, and did I mention it feels just like comfort and love?

Purchase: Burundi Kalico Limited Edition Coffee

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Sharing the Love – 2012 Specialty Coffee Expo

Portland's sunshine on a morning jog

I’ve enjoyed more than a few trips to Portland, Oregon over the years, but this trip might have been my favorite. I’ll secretly admit it’s likely because the smell of coffee may have actually drowned out the smell of other familiar Portland odors, including patchouli, rain, & sweaters that haven’t been washed in days.

Ok, ok, Portland, I’m sorry. You really are hip, fun, and, quite honestly, accepting of everything and anyone, including the random collection of thousands that landed on your doorstep for the Specialty Coffee Expo last week.

Sparkly shiny coffee things - Espresso machine from Nuova Simonelli

Between sips of coffee and beer (my goal being to enjoy over the day in that order), it’s an event every year that I love attending. The sparkly, shiny coffee gear displayed and touchable on the show floor alone is enough to make a coffee lover explode with over-caffeinated joy. But the experience is much more than gear.

Hario syphon brewer. Shiny, sparkly, and flaming!

The specialty coffee world is really cool in a way that’s not common of other industries. There’s a genuine motivation to share knowledge and experience to make everyone better. Even though coffee is a huge industry, the specialty world seems to play like a tight family, motivating everyone from the coffee grower to the roaster to the barista to be the best they can be at their craft. Cue the group hug here.

The whole event is about producing an amazing experience in that final cup that we all love to sip. Classes, lectures, events, and products, plus people in the supply chain from growers, to importers, to roasters, to café owners mingle together to learn and share.

Opening night included a speech by the president of Honduras (wait, what?) gushing about the pride his country has in sharing its coffees with the world, to a latte art “throw down” of baristas going head-to-head with stage-poured drinks. None of it stopped there, of course. This caffeine fueled weekend included numerous events featuring liquids by Portland’s best breweries and distilleries, blow-up-suit sumo wrestling, Portland’s famous food trucks, and very little sleep.

Green Coffee Grading - learning what we don't want in Specialty Coffee

Attention to the daytime classes was thankfully fueled by the Barista Guild coffee bar – a free to sip-as-much-as-you-wish coffee stand in the middle of the show that featured different coffees brewed by some of the best baristas in the country. Anyone could sit to watch the U.S. Barista, Taster, or Brewer competitions, or taste the Coffees of the Year, just to name a few side-shows happening that this 3 ring circus of coffee.

Cupping Course - you haven't lived until you hear a room of 40 slurp and spit

Only one painful memory lingers between the fun and learning, which I soon hope to erase: I found myself trapped in a 3 hour course on coffee decaffeination, with nothing in the room but decaf. Not that decaf isn’t lovely, mind you, but the timing was terrible for me and my partially hung-over, sleep-deprived self. I got through the class, test and all, but I’m going to hold that grudge for a while.

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Holiday Socks and Mountain Tops

There I sat, coffee in hand, my not-to-be-worn-in public 80s fleece socks on my feet, and fantastic morning hair. My headache was thanks to last night’s disproportionate mix of hot cocoa and rum, and too many dips into the bowl of gingerbread house “decorations”.

Rounding out the morning scene was my husband, enjoying his coffee next to me, while we taunted our tweenage son who was trying to pinpoint the much anticipated electronic device that he was really praying the man in a red suit had delivered. In about 30 minutes we’d all be heading off for our Christmas morning ski runs– a tradition in our family.

Gliding up the chairlift for our first run of the day, this hit me in oddly cool way –I realized at that exact moment that all across the country, people were enjoying their morning cup of Lizzy’s.

I’m pretty sure at least one other person was sipping their latte wearing some freaky 80s socks or PJ bottoms that are never allowed to be seen in public. I pictured a family that was up WAY too early, thanks only to their extra spunky 5 year old twin girls, and the grandpa who lingered in the kitchen, strategizing how to sneak another piece of bacon that his wife now forbids him to eat.

Of course I also pictured all the custom coffee labels that were being opened as gifts, and imagined all the people who would be sipping our coffees for the first time.

Yes, I had you all sipping your coffees in your frosted holiday postcard scenes….

A few days later, this picture landed in my email in box.

Rob Landis, enjoying his morning cup of Lizzy's while climbing Aconcagua "Some things are just too important to compromise on."

Not only did it make me feel like a big sandbagger for using my home espresso machine to make my coffee, but it also drew my attention to the fact that on Christmas morning I was actually getting a motor driven ride UP the mountain, which made me a double sandbagger.

Why? Well, this picture was taken on the route up Acongogua. For those of us needing a nudge on our 5th grade geography, that is the highest peak in the Americas. Yes, sissy friends, that’s 22,841 feet of mountain in Argentina, all of which Rob Landis and his friends climbed over the holidays.

December 26th at an elevation of 19,100 feet, Rob enjoyed his morning cup of Lizzy’s, as he’d been doing every morning of his climb.

His friends on the trip looked at him oddly when he first unveiled his 12 oz bag of coffee, as they were a little stumped. What kind of mountain dude ever packs an ounce more than necessary! Maybe all those years of mountain adventure had finally pushed him to the side of crazy. Or, maybe just the opposite happened.

When his climbing mates asked him in disbelief, “You brought coffee?”
Rob’s reply to them simply says it all. “You didn’t?”

Rob, you definitely took the prize for best holiday sipping moment.

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Learning to Fly….Coffee Style

Wing flaps up, throttle full open, hit full speed, lift nose, climb climb climb. The plane is up 50 ft, then 500, then…oh geez…oh no..what’s happening!!? The engine quit. The plane is sputtering. The pilot jumps on the radio “MAYDAY!” The plane begins to dive faster….heart is beating…total fear….

Wake up! It’s time to make a coffee, and thank sweet haysus that this just isn’t nearly as hard as flying a plane.

Coffee anyone?

As John, a recently graduated Lizzy’s home barista puts it, “Learning to fly a plane was scary. If I screwed up I was going to die. If I screw up my coffee, I can just stop right in the middle, dump it out, and start over”.

John found his way to our coffee roasterie one day in search of some great coffee. Like so many people, John was in search of that coffee for a killer cup – you know….the one that’s as great as the one you had once, at that one place – or the one you’re sure exists, but haven’t found yet. Sound familiar?

For John, coffee sipping started back in college as an architecture student at Berkley. “I needed a legal stimulant,” he admits, “and found a great local café where I regularly drank cappuccinos.”

After college though, he quit drinking coffee for a lack of good options and desire, and for years, opted for tea.

A few years back he won a coffee card at a coffee chain for a year’s worth of coffee, and started going every day. “I’d meet up with my friends to chat, and loved the social aspect even if the coffee wasn’t that good.” Back into coffee sipping again, his travels found him in great cafes in San Francisco and Seattle, but he always got bummed at the lack of great consistent coffee choices while traveling or at home.

“I was in Italy in June, and it hit me”, explained John. “I realized that I could probably create a perfect cup of coffee myself, and all I needed was a machine and training to do it.”

So that’s the morning that John stumbled into our store looking for answers.

I’ve seen this one before…. His words clearly said “I want to buy an espresso machine and learn how to make coffee at home”, but the voice in his head was saying, “Are you out of your friggin’ mind? You’ll spend a bunch of money, and then suck at it, and that machine will be a big waste of space, time and energy, and then your wife will just make you get rid of it, and you’ll just have to go back to drinking those sub-sucky $4 drinks wherever you can find them.”

Luckily for our barista wanna-be, he just bought it, and took me up on the offer for free barista lessons once the machine delivered.

Nuova Simonelli Musica Espresso Machine

The machine arrived – a beautiful Musica from Nuova Simonelli with all the features to extract and steam like the pros. Problem was… John was only a pro at drinking coffee, not making it. “No problem”, I assured him. “We’ll just take this one step at a time, and before you know it you’ll be making cappuccinos as well as any of those little sideburn-Jimmys at the local cup-a-whatevers”.

Yummy extraction...

We jumped in, starting with how to pull a proper shot of espresso by pour speed, by color, and by total volume, then moved in to milk steaming and texturing from there. Literally in the first 20 minutes, he’d already made a cappuccino that would warrant putting an “espresso served here” sign above his garage. (I’d like to be at that Home Owners’ Association meeting.)

John left his machine at our store, and popped in to learn a couple more tips with each visit, and before I knew it I was waving goodbye to the machine, and felt like I was letting a sanctuary-raised bird out into the wild to fend for himself. Mean.

I had a chance to check in with my student last week, and was so impressed! He was rocking the coffees like a pro.

Perfecting the pour...

When asked, what’s the hardest thing about making coffees? He answered, “Steaming the milk. The coffee is simple. If you have good coffee and a good machine, anyone can do this. I just need to get better at the milk part.”

He says that making his morning cappuccino takes about 4 minutes from start to finish. “It’s therapeutic. The process of making a coffee is enjoyable, and the taste of my coffee is making me really happy.”

John says he’d recommend his machine and learning to make your own coffee to anyone, because at the end of the day, he swears its much much easier and much less scary than learning to fly a plane.

Although our student (who I now refer to as Johnny Barista) still wants to improve, the fact that he’s making delicious coffees with wonderfully extracted espresso, and beautifully textured milk, is reason enough for anyone with the desire to have great coffee every morning to just jump in and do it. I promise that you can learn it, and I promise there’s only a slim chance that you’ll wake up in the middle of the night from a coffee-themed nightmare. You can leave those to be enjoyed by coffee business owners instead :).

Did you enjoy reading? Please pass it on, or post a comment below!

Some helpful links if you’re ready to be your own barista:
See “How To” Videos at Right
See Musica at

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Rock Star in the House!

Hanging out with the peeps

If you’ve ever been in the presence of someone who’s truly great at what they do, it can be remarkable. Greats come in all forms. Some greats let their egos ride shotgun, and others glide with calm humility and a humble tone to their achievements. This week I had the pleasure of working side by side with the latter.

When reading the coffee resume of Sammy Piccolo, it’s almost impossible to avoid hearing the announcer, seeing the crazed entrance lights and picturing the screaming fans in your head. A successful coffee business founder, Canadian national barista champion, and world class competitor in the coffee world…and absolutely none of that comes through his welcoming handshake, warm greeting, and offer to make you any coffee you’d like.

Last Wednesday at my store Sammy became our guest barista, and wowed the crowd with his insane latte art, practically pouring each cup with his eyes closed. Yes, I’m still at that phase where I can’t pour and speak at the same time, not to mention remove one of my senses entirely, so call me impressed for sure.

We cracked open some of the simplest and best brewing equipment too, proving that you don’t have to go broke to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee.

Sammy talks about steaming milk

Truly the best part of the day was watching my customers stream in the door, bringing friends, enjoying their coffees, laughing, sharing and learning. I’ve said it before, but it’s too true….Coffee just brings people together. It’s so joyful, so fun, and just about as simple as it gets. Thanks Sammy for hanging out with us here in Ketchum Idaho! You’re welcome back any time.

Coffe (martinis) bring people together...hey it was after 5!

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Feeling Competitive?

There I stood in a giant room. All around me were the trappings of a tradeshow, only this time it wasn’t skis and snowboards and chap sticks, but rather coffee grinders, brewers, and smoothie pretend-to-be drink bases. It’s a totally different world than where I’ve spent my professional years in the past, but this Coffee Expo is delivering all the familiar visions of any trade show across the country. Skis, computers, or coffee…. It’s all kind of the same when you put it on a convention-room floor, with one big exception….the coffee kicks ass here.

Sitting at the machinery booth down isle 4, are the two “new to the work world” 22 year olds dressed in oversized suits that were borrowed from their football star brothers; both looking afraid to speak to anyone. Across the hall are people with warm smiles representing the big hearted non-profits doing extreme good for health, education, and quality of life in coffee growing communities. Sprinkled in between are coffee growers from around the world, gadget inventors, and packaging companies. So much to see and do, and that damn “all you can drink” espresso bar keeps calling my name.

The trip to the show is one that I looked forward to for months…kind of like my son starts looking forward to Christmas in July. Not only was I looking forward to seeing everything the industry offers, but I’d signed up for multiple educational courses to learn more about coffee roasting, coffee brewing, and even steaming milk for the ever elusive perfect Rosetta. There’s always room to learn something new.

Roaster's Choice Coffee of the Year Competition -

During the show, I had the chance to meet some crazy, interesting, and even crazy-interesting people from all over the world. What stood out particularly, was a sort of unexpected tone about the coffee itself. Everyone in the room was striving to achieve that perfect coffee. Growers growing the best, roasters roasting the best, coffee brewers, bags, and cups that are the best. Not to mention the best espresso machines that cost 3x what my car is actually worth, and should I even bring up the topic of baristas who compete here to be named the best in the world?

One of my favorites....

I talked to many roasters and business owners who all shared so much about their businesses. I just asked questions and listened as they talked about how they strive to prepare coffees that will meet the expectation of even the pickiest of Italians. They talked about their accounts, their pounds roasted per week, and their competition with fire and drive.

When talking about my coffee business, I couldn’t help but recognize their reactions to our different approach to selling the “best”….the inclusive approach to our packaging, and the “just enjoy” or “learn if you want” mentality. They didn’t get it, and it was clear that some even thought we were destined to fail miserably. It made me feel kind of competitive, actually. (Let’s not talk about how I get when I start to compete, please. I was starting to taste the temptation to pay money, put a race bib on, and get ready for the takedown on the last turn before the finish line where you might “accidentally” get tangled up in my bike pedals and go down hard…oops).

Whoa there! When I started my coffee biz, the most important thing was to be different than the “perfect” ones, in that I wasn’t a snob about coffee, and my company wasn’t going to be snobby. Yes, we buy amazing coffee, we roast amazing coffee, and yes, 72.6% of the time I even pour amazing latte art. Everything we do is for the sake of bringing the best experience to our customers. Should we start down a new path of uber-perfection and let everyone know it?

It didn’t take me long to come to a conclusion. No way. From the beginning, the most important thing to me was that our coffee business would invite people in. They could ask questions, be included, and never ever feel like they’re being judged (except for those who still insist that their freeze dried coffee is “pretty good”- I will judge you, but it’s really ok because you lost your taste buds in that tricycle accident when you were four).

Coffee is about the experience….the look, the taste, the texture….and the conversation around the table that goes along with it. The whole experience is passionate, joyful, simple…..and well, just life. I have deep respect for everyone in this business that brings passion to their work, as it makes us all better at what we’re doing. I also have amazing respect for those who are willing to share what they’ve learned on their coffee journeys.

I guess what I realized too, as I looked to the triple-nose pierced barista making my 4th coffee of the day, is that it’s totally ok to be different. In fact, in this business, it’s sort of expected. I realized we don’t have to be like everybody else, and that yes, we can go down our own path. It might not make sense to some, but at the end of the day, my customers are the reason we’re here. We want to keep teaching you, keep learning from you, and we want your day to be amazing because you sipped a cup of our coffee, alone or with friends, and it just plain brought a smile to your face.

There’s no prerequisite here to know what “acidity” or “mouth feel” descriptors you’ll use when taking that first sip. If our customers want to know more about why we select special relationship coffees, you can, or if you feel good knowing that we’re committed to an organic certification, great. And yes, if you want to perfect your own cappuccino at home we’ll help you get there. You get to jump in as far as you’d like, but we’re completely happy doing all the hard work in the background, and allowing you the pleasure of one thing: Simply enjoying your coffee because kicks ass here.

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