As someone who enjoys a well made cocktail both after work and at home, I’ve always struggled with coffee cocktails. They tend to all be the same and people don’t push the boundaries a lot. I first got into cocktails being a barista competitor that struggled with signature drinks. I realized that I was getting stuck, so I explored other industries to see what other people were doing with flavors. Little did I know, I would be down the rabbit hole of both coffee and cocktails.
I’ve always been a huge fan of classic cocktails because, if you’ve ever tried to find a well-made one, you’ll soon find it’s quite difficult. One of my favorite coffee cocktails is one that I did for a coffee dinner a while back. We do dinners at Kaldi’s where our chef (Frank) cooks with coffee for every dish in incredibly innovative ways, so my goal is always to do the same on the drink side of things.
This cocktail is a riff on a boulevardier, which is my second favorite classic cocktail. I am also a big fan of balance and I feel this achieves just that.
1. Add all ingredients to bottom of mixing glass
2. Fill mixing glass with ice
3. Stir well until chilled
4. Strain and serve neat
Garnish: lemon peel
* Panama-Infused Campari Recipe
1. Add 6oz of whole bean coffee and 6oz of Campari to bottom of pitcher
2. Muddle coffee beans into Campari
3. Add remainder of bottle of Campari and let soak for 15 minutes
4. Strain coffee out of Campari and back into bottle
** Cascara Simple Syrup Recipe
1. Add 4cups sugar, 4 cups cascara, 1tbsp salt, and 4 cups of hot water to pot
2. Reduce over medium heat for 20 minutes and strain out cascara
3. Let cool and use!
This is a great cocktail for the spring season and as it starts to warm up outside. If you should find yourself out and about and in need of a coffee cocktail, both Taste and Planter’s House have incredibly innovative, fun, coffee cocktails on their menu right now.
Relationship dispatch from Steve Schuh:
A chance meeting last year turned into a great relationship between us at Kaldi’s and the Meridzo Ministries in Lynch Kentucky. A family member of Josh Ferguson, one of Kaldi’s owners, heard about the work Meridzo was doing in Lynch and passed along that Meridzo were looking to open a coffee shop in the town. The goal of the shop is to offer jobs and hands-on work experience to a town desperately needing jobs, and provide some funding for the future of the people and the town.
The mine entrance.
Location of Lamp House Coffee, housed in the old mine workers' cafe.
Lynch Kentucky is an old coal mining town and part of a “Tri-Town” area with neighboring Benham and Cumberland. Combined, the three towns have a population of around 3,000. Not more than sixty years ago, Lynch itself had a population of over 10,000 along with a hospital, theatre and school system. When the steel and coal industry moved away from such labor-intensive mining in the 1960s, the town lost funding and population numbers plummeted at an incredible rate. About 10 years ago, Meridzo began doing missions in the town in an effort to help out. The town has given Meridzo some buildings for them to revitalize. Lamp House Coffee is in one such building.
A photo inside Lamp House Coffee of the same building as a cafe in the 1950s.
The owners of Lamp House came and visited us in St. Louis two weeks ago for an initial meeting and some training. And last week, we went down there to help them get set up and open. The town has some incredible history that we were excited to see.
The work the ministry is doing for the town is truly remarkable and you can see how much it is appreciated by the surrounding community. Lots of people stopped in to see what was happening and asking when the café would be opening. This is a big deal for community and we are very proud to play a part in it!
Coffee training with Mark from Kaldi's and Lonnie from Meridzo.
One of our roasters, Bud Patterson, recently went to Mexico, here's what happened:
At the beginning of this year, I was presented with the opportunity to travel on my first ever trip to origin. Being a roaster and working with Kaldi’s, I knew an opportunity to travel would present itself eventually but I had no idea what to expect. I arrived in Chiapas after a long day of traveling from St. Louis to Houston to Mexico City to Chiapas. I spent my first night in a very interesting hotel that was built into a greenhouse-type structure and that had a whole eco system inside, from trees and live birds to fountains and lagoons for swimming. Unfortunately I didn’t get an opportunity to truly enjoy the place because I had been traveling for 15 plus hours and had to be up early to catch the van for our tour of coffee in Mexico.
The next day we all packed into two vans and really began our journey. Our first stop was a Dry Mill owned and operated by a group of three separate co-ops.The mill was like a central hub for the three co-ops to get together, learn from each other, and provide helpful information to the farmers. This mill also provides organic fertilizers for the farmers that were members of each co-op. Later in the week, we came back to the mill and roasted the first samples of the season. We cupped with the cuppers and operation managers of each of the three co-ops. Some of us gave lessons on how to sample roast and we all went over the standards and practices of SCAA cupping.
View from Finca Santa Rosa.
While in Chiapas we visited several farms, not all of which were members of the same co-op but all were unique and beautiful in their own ways. The first farm we visited was near the top of a mountain and covered in shade. The owners were fantastic. They had just brought in some cherry and they had a decent amount of parchment drying on their own patio. They washed and de-pulped the coffee for us when we arrived and each of us took turns raking the coffee (see the videos below). After that we went on a tour of their farm and learned that they and many other farmers in the area have been having issues with a fungus called Rust or “Roya”. This is a huge issue for most of Mexico. Finally, before departing the farm and heading back to town we saw some of their sustainable projects. They had a garden for all their vegetables, chickens, and pigs, and fruit trees throughout their whole farm.
The next day we were back to work and on our way to Coatepec. We visited several farms and nurseries. Unfortunately we did not visit any of the farms were we get our coffee from. We did go to the processing mills it goes through though. Coatepec is gorgeous at night. It resembles a small European villa, with bright colors and beautiful stone homes with ivy growing up the sides. The streets are a combination cobblestone and pavements. The cafes all had their own unique touches, from vintage grinders to old espresso machines from the 80s. Music plays in the streets and venders with cups of corn and taco stands litter the village square. While in Coatepec we visited one Plantation in particular that stood out to me, with one of the most breathtaking views I have witnessed. We spent all day with a gentleman who does his best to take care of everyone in his own area. He brought us into his home and shared with us his stories of struggle and plenty, of building this plantation, and special orange liquor he makes himself from a fruit that grows from trees he plants to provide shade for his coffee plants.
Finally, the night before we departed, we got a special night tour of a decaffeination plant. This was one of the most interesting and secretive tours I have ever been on. No pictures were allowed and most questions were left unanswered. But I can now say I have a better understanding of how coffee is decaffeinated. I also learned that they reuse the caffeine that they extract from the coffee for other products such as soda, Aspirins and energy drinks.
That was the end of my journey to Mexico. It was amazing and I came back with so much more knowledge and life experiences. It will truly be a part of my best memories.
One of our roasters, Jeff, visited Colombia in November of 2013. Here's what happened:
My trip to origin took me to Colombia. This trip came about because of a unique program developed by the Governor of the State Antioquia, whose slogan is "More Education!" The program is set up to allow anyone in any field to be better at what they do no matter what the industry. They decided to start with coffee as it's one of the bigger - if not the biggest - industries in the state. The goal is to teach smaller farmers and co-op owners how to produce unique coffees that will ultimately allow them to get more money year after year.
On Tuesday November 5th, myself and long time friend Drew Billups (who works for Atlas Coffee Importers, one of our green partners), arrived in Medellin, the Capitol city of the state of Antioquia. We were met by two government employees who were holding nicely printed signs with our full names on them (that was a first for me!). Anyhow, we hopped into a truck and headed down to Medellin. It took about 45 minutes and was a really twisty descent. Medellin is a beautiful, densely populated, and tropically vegetated metropolitan city that is surrounded by mountains to the north, east and west. We received a 6 am wake up call so that we could begin cupping at 8 on Wednesday morning. We cupped 34 lots that were vetted down from the 94 lots submitted! We finished cupping the last table around 3:30, and the room was quickly turned around for the auction of the coffees we had just tasted.
On Thursday, a group of 16 people (that included cuppers from America, Australia, Colombia, and Nicaragua, and support staff from the Government) piled into 5 trucks and headed into the mountains to visit five of the farms that submitted coffee to the program. The two farms we saw on Thursday required two cable car rides and a 20 minute hike down stone paved cart track. Thursday night we stayed in the town of Cuilidad Bolivar where we joined in a local celebration in the beautiful city square. On Friday we visited three farms. The first one was most memorable because of its processing equipment, panoramic views, and the delicious lunch they served us. By Friday night we were back in Medellin. Saturday we were treated to a city tour that took us to a cafe that serves Colombia coffee, which is rare! We also got to tour the National Museum that provided a visual history of Colombia, which was great close to the trip.
This first trip to origin, after nearly 19 years in the coffee industry and 17 years as a roaster, was amazing! All of the many coffee people I met along the way were humble, generous and friendly. But it's hard to come up with words to describe all the sites and smells I experienced in person that I had previously only known by photograph or video. Witnessing the starting point of coffee's journey first hand, and meeting just a few of the people who's lives are directly tied to the to a product that so many of us love and maybe "need", has sparked a desire to bridge the gap from farmer to coffee lover. I hope this blog post starts the move towards that end.
While we didn't end up buying any of the coffee on this trip, with the connections I made and as the program develops, I hope we'll buy coffee from the Antioquia in the future!
The week of Feb 24 – March 2 marked the 6th year of Kaldi’s involvement and sponsorship of the True/False Film Festival in Columbia, MO. True/False is the second largest documentary film festival in the country, bringing thousands of national and international visitors to the Columbia area for the experience of non-fiction and documentary films, discussions with film makers and an overall great weekend. This event has grown year after year, and 2014 was no different, with over 40,000 tickets sold, the downtown Columbia streets were busy! As with years past, Kaldi’s involvement included espresso and coffee cocktail bars at “black tie” events, crafting coffee beers to order with our friends at Schlafly, numerous gallons of brewed coffee for filmmaker lounges, morning breakfast roundtables, and fueling the countless volunteers and True/False staff members. The festival also brought an enormous influx of customers to our café in downtown Columbia. The team there was representing the best of Kaldi’s, with non-stop orders from the coffee/espresso bar, kitchen and bakery.
One of our team members, Keith, briefly got away to see a couple of films, of which he said “Jodorowsky’s Dune” directed by Frank Pavich, was his favorite. Check out the trailer here.
As an event we at Kaldi’s anxiously anticipate each year, we’re excited and honored to be a long-standing partner and sponsor of this fantastic festival and look forward to years to come.
We wish to express our sincere appreciation to our guests and team members this past Monday night, February 24, 2014, as they came out to visit us at our original location on Demun. This was a big event for us as we kicked off an exciting year for our 20th Anniversary and unveiled our new branding. Our Co-founder, Howard Lerner, was there to be a part of the celebration and had some good stories to share with everyone from the first days at Demun Kaldi’s. Guests took part in hands-on brewing demos, food and drinks, coffee presentations, and an all-star brewing competition. The whole evening was truly awesome. We were able to represent in one night, what we strive to do each and everyday. We strive to offer the highest level of service and coffee to our guests. We even had customers come in who have been regulars since the café first opened. When this company was founded in 1994, we could hardly imagine our growth to where we are today and could not have come this far without the loyal support of our customers and hard work of each member of the Kaldi’s team.
We are even more excited about the next twenty years. The first twenty years were about evolving this industry. We now have the resources to travel the world and work with farmers on bigger opportunities to continue to build on what we are truly passionate about, sourcing some of the best coffees in the world while improving the coffee farms and communities from where we buy coffee.
Today, we aspire to share these coffee experiences with our customers. The next twenty years, our travel will enable us to create many more ways to capture and communicate new kinds of experiences to our customers as we impact the countries we source our coffees from and build relationships with the farmers.
It's been amazing to share what we have learned thus far in an impactful industry we are helping to shape. We are so grateful for each and every one of you. We are looking forward to serving up the best coffees in the world and making memorable coffee experiences for the next twenty years!
Cheers and thank you.
Today is an exciting day for us as we unveil the new branding at our original Kaldi's on Demun and kick off the 20th Anniversary year with an exciting celebration tonight. We are getting together this evening to give THANKS for where we've been, where we are, and where we're going! We have such a proud history and a wonderfully exciting future ahead.
From the moment of our inception in October of 1994 when Howard Lerner and Suzanne Langlois opened this little coffee shop on Demun, to 2014 as we rebrand new cafes across the state, we continue to strive towards our mission and vision, to be recognized and respected as one of the leading specialty coffee companies in the nation by providing an exceptional coffee experience to our customers and guests.
Today we are unveiling a new logo that will be our mark for the future. This new logo signifies our shared vision of the contribution we can make to our customers each and every day in this great community. This new logo will feature the familiar Kaldi's dancing goat mascot, updated to reflect the company's future while honoring its historic roots.
We as a team have three shared objectives: creating a great atmosphere; delivering a great experience to our customers and guests; and providing great quality in everything we do. We will continue to cultivate our culture as one of the best Specialty Coffee Companies in the nation making St. Louis proud.
As a way for us to show our appreciation to our many fans near and far, we will be having many events throughout the year to celebrate this new direction of the goat and our 20th year Anniversary. St. Louis is the home of Kaldi’s and it all starts here to reflect our love for the city that has supported us since we first opened in 1994.
Cheers to the goat!