All the way back in 2002, Kaldi's Coffee and the Firecracker Press shared a building on Washington Avenue (this building). Later that year, due to some lease agreements, both of us moved out. Kaldi's moved to its current location in the Grove / Midtown, and Firecracker moved to its current location on Cherokee St.
This year, we re-kindled our relationship. We're proud to present our Tis the Season Roast, a collaboration between Kaldi's Coffee & Firecracker Press. We've worked together over the last few months to create this blend of coffee and label to bring to you. Kaldi's gave Firecracker Press some guidelines to match our own holiday aesthetic this year, and they produced this gorgeous, hand-printed, 3-color wrap for our "mocha java" blend. Each label is hand-printed and hand-applied, just like all of our coffee is hand-roasted by our roasting team.
The coffee itself is a blend of 50% Ethiopia Aricha and 50% Sumatra Tano Batak. Way back in history, one of the very first coffee blends was the Mocha Java, a mix of Yemen (Mocha) and Indonesian (Java) beans. Kaldi's carried their own Mocha Java blend until about 5 years ago. We wanted to re-create both the original coffee blend and Kaldi's own Mocha Java blend for this year's Tis the Season Roast. This season, the coffee has notes of fruitcake, vanilla, cocoa, and plum, and gives off a comforting herbal aroma. It pairs particularly well with desserts or in the morning by itself.
We've also created this diner mug to pair with the Tis the Season Roast packaging. It holds the Tis the Season Roast coffee especially well.
You can check out both the Tis the Season Roast and it's Diner Mug companion in all our stores and online.
We're excited to work with another St. Louis craft producer and we hope you enjoy the product. We can't wait to continue our relationship with Firecracker Press.
If you love coffee, there isn't a more exciting time during your summer than coffee camp. Barista Camp is put on by the Barista Guild of America twice a year. Kaldi's was a proud sponsor had three of our baristas attend, Matt Foster, Jacque DesMarais and David Fasman. Jacque and David recap their experiences below.
We are excited to be working with the Lerida estate in Panama for the second consecutive year. Last year, our Panama Lerida Estate was a Good Food Awards Finalist. This year's is just as delicious.
The Lerida Estate is subdivided into 10 smaller plots that total the farm. All of these plots are kept separate through the picking and processing. After cupping and evaluating the coffees, lots are carefully blended to create the estate lot. Some portion of the smaller lots are kept separate and sold as very small microlots.
These microlots represent very specific locations on the farm and really give us a chance to see how are different areas on the farm produce different types of coffee. This is a very different look into an excellently run farm and we couldn't be happier to share this unique opportunity.
Alejandro Garcia one of the founders of Thrive
In early 2013 Tyler Zimmer (Kaldi's Green Coffee Buyer) and I split duty visiting with coffee producers, processors and exporter in the countries of Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica. My leg of the trip consisted of a week touring the countryside of Costa Rica starting near the cloud forest of Monteverde in a small community named San Rafael. In San Rafael I witnessed first hand The SanRafael Coffee Initiative which is credited by their website as the genesis of Thrive Farmers http://www.thrivefarmers.com/thrive-farmers/the-thrive-story
At the Costa Rica Helsar De Zarcero Farm
For two days I was warmly welcomed into the community and treated like family by Ken Lander, Alejandro Garcia and many other Thrive Farmer participants. While in SanRafael I connected with my good friend Bob Garver of Wick Joe Coffee in Brunswick, ME. Bob and I spent the next 4 days traveling through Naranjo, Helsar de Zarcero and Tarrazu visiting with producers, cupping coffees and making selections on coffees to bring in. We hope you enjoy this year’s selections as much as we do.
Costa Rica Fina Coralillo producer Franco Garbanzo & his son
More to come on coffees from the Panama Lerida Estate.
Tony, Roasting Team:
I was lucky enough to grow up in my grandparents household, so on Mother's Day and Father's Day I always think of them. My grandfather grew up in the Great Depression and never wasted anything, including coffee. He would brew a pot on Sunday morning and then continually reheat that pot of coffee all week until it was gone or moldy.
I'll never forget the first cup of coffee we shared. I was in high school and had a hard time getting up early. He made me a cup one morning and handed it to me. It was pitch black, with a layer of oil coating the top. "Here, drink this, it will put hair on your chest! Someday you will thank me when it's the only hair you have left..." That is his pleasant brand of humor, but there was nothing pleasant about that cup. It tasted like burnt wood, grease and some kind of funk.
All these years later, I've never had the chance to brew him a quality cup of coffee. But my grandfather's ethics and morals have been ingrained in me to help make an excellent cup of coffee. I honestly see it everyday. Hearing how his family struggled with little in their pockets drove me to work in the coffee industry for a company that empowers struggling farmers, giving them more opportunities to succeed. I learned from my grandfather to never waste and appreciate quality when you have it. This is the outlook I have everyday at work while roasting. Lastly, watching him strive for perfection in everything he did has embedded that same quality in me. I want to find, roast and drink flawlessness in a cup (even if that may be a never ending quest).
I will never be able to thank him enough for being such a positive role model for me. On this Father's Day I'll be drinking a delicious cup of coffee at home and thinking of him. I will be knowing that he helped me make this coffee taste as good as it does even if we are a thousand miles apart. Everytime I roast a batch of coffee I will think the same thing, and hopefully now you will too.
My first memory of tasting coffee was at age 14 or 15 with my Dad & Uncle in my Uncle's cabin in the Upper Peninsula (Michigan). I think it was Folger's. I thought it smelled great, but when I tasted it I had to add milk & sugar.
As a Father myself, on Saturday morning my 2 boys love grinding the coffee and then watching me brew it in the chemex and they both love smelling the bloom! I'm sure neither of them are actually are smelling it, but it's still fun watching them pretending.
The smell of brewed coffee is something I remember from very early on when I was a child. My dad was always drinking coffee and I have fond memories of the red folgers tin can from which this incredible aroma came. I remember being confused and disappointed when the flavor was so disgusting, I wanted to be like the rest of the adults as a kid drinking coffee in the morning and after a good meal with dessert.
Last year I bought my Dad a coffee grinder and I brewed our coffee with him for the first time. I remember him enjoying it but not nearly as much as I did. Despite my pleading, he still puts cream and hazelnut syrup in it. Baby steps, but now we both enjoy drinking it, together.
I can't pinpoint my first taste of coffee, but I know I was young. Coffee was always available at our house in the mornings. My Mom never touched it, but Dad always made a pot when he got up. One of my favorite memories of living at home was waking up and hearing my Dad turn the pages of the newspaper and instantly smelling the coffee that he had made. When I began drinking coffee regularly in college, and would come home for the weekends or for holiday breaks, he had to start making enough coffee to share with me! Most mornings that happened, we would sip our coffee while he read the paper and I looked at the ads. I loved it! Since then, coffee has gotten me through a lot - exams, early morning internships and jobs, long drives, and much more. I look forward to drinking coffee every single morning - just like my Dad. Happy Father's Day!
Jacque DesMarais is Kaldi's Coffee retail coffee trainer and competed for the third year in the United States Barista Competition. She placed 2nd at this year's regional event held in Kansas City earlier this year.
The first day of USBC always seems more like a family reunion than the start of a hectic week of competitions/trade show. There is nothing better though than walking into a room of friends on the first day there. As always, it was another year of learning and developing my skill both as a barista and trainer.
My competition experience has evolved over the years into a very methodical but relaxed preparation once I get to the convention center. I enjoy watching competitors and try to stay as relaxed and ahead of what needs to be done as I can. The atmosphere of the prep room has changed over the three years I've been competing as well. The prep room is the room that all the competitors share to prepare for the competition and is full of dishes, cups, coffee, and grinders. Three years ago this room was very tense with each competitor tending to their own things. It has evolved into a room where people are sharing ideas, helping polish dishes, and helping taste one another coffees. The entire competition is more warm and welcoming as a whole which I think says a lot about where our industry is going.
The competitions are important because they teach you specifics on what you can improve in your skill set. This gives me an opportunity to take what I learn back to our teams in St. Louis and share my knowledge with them. This is by far one of my favorite things about the competitions. It gives me a very tangible list of things that we can do better while making coffee and communicating. They are also very important for our industry and the growth of it. Most people don't know what a barista is, let alone that we have national and world competitions. A large part of competing is to grow the recognition of the industry. As coffee prices continue to rise we are faced with the task of becoming better educators. Competition gives us the opportunity to learn more about all aspects of the industry to past that down to our baristas and guests.
David Fasman is a lead barista at Kaldi's Coffee DeMun Ave cafe and recently competed in the United States Barista Competition held in Boston April 11-14. David placed 3rd in the regional competition before competiting in the national competition in his first year. This is his recap of the experience in Boston.
Two 20 foot doors in the back of the Boston Convention Center parted and opened up to an airplane hanger sized room. The first thing I saw was a massive sign, hanging from the ceiling, that read "United States Barista Championship." I had arrived. This was my first year competing in the USBC, and at first sight the room was pretty intimidating. But the intimidation subsided quickly as familiar faces from the Big Central Regional Barista Competition held in Kansas City, MO earlier in the year started to show themselves. I began to unpack my wares and set up my table in the prep area. As I organized and polished, more familiar and new faces trickled into the competitor area. Within a couple of hours, the prep area was full of people unpacking, polishing, and organizing. I quickly realized that I was surrounded by a community. It is a community of baristas that are spread out nationwide but are incredibly close and supportive of each other.
The existence of this community was one of the most important realizations that I took away from USBC. It is great to know that there is a dedicated group of individuals whose primary goal is providing the most exceptional coffee experience possible. And this does not just refer to the act of making good coffee, but also how to provide a total experience. Meaning, how to educate and best serve the consumer. With each conversation I had, I was exposed to new concepts and paradigms about coffee. I left with my own new paradigm, one that champions the barista as the primary educational tool for coffee shops. A barista is on the front lines of education. It is our job to ensure that each customer leaves with a better understanding of coffee than they had when they arrived.
I also left with an understanding of why competitions and the annual convention and symposium are so important. They are a place where ideas about coffee can be shared through the entire production and distribution line. There are a few thousand producers, processors, exporters, importers, roasters, equipment companies, and baristas all in the same place at the same time. I honestly cannot think of any other time where all of us can get together and share ideas on such a large scale. It's pretty incredible.
Everything I learned and discovered in Boston I can take back to Kaldis with me; from new training methods to creative customer service models. The SCAA Annual Event and USBC changed the way that I view our industry and understand coffee. And at the most basic level, it gave me an incredible amount of drive to get better at what I do. Being a part of USBC and BCRBC was an honor and I am grateful for being given the opportunity to do so.
Just after finishing my routine, there were two thoughts that went through my head. First, how happy I was going to be back at DeMun behind the bar with my fellow baristas and customers. Second, how much I learned from this years competition season and how I can improve for next years. I look foreword to the prospect of another incredible ride.