I really enjoy a good cup of black coffee. It is one of the most simple, yet delicious ways to coffee. In a sugar saturated culture, like the one we live in, the black coffee drinker is getting more and more scarce. It seems that black coffee is starting to be reserved only for coffee purists. I can't blame the general public though. With so much stale, bad tasting coffee lining the shelves of grocery stores & the expert marketing of sugary additive producers, customers shutter at the very idea of trying black coffee again.
Coffee on the surface is pretty simple: take this brown, ground up stuff, add hot water, strain, sha-zam!! Coffee! I beg to differ though. Coffee is one of the most complex beverages that exist. Need proof? Here is a list of the few things that can affect the way your coffee tastes:
- Weather Conditions
- Process (washed, natural etc.)
- Terroir (the land where it's grown)
The list goes on and on & the coffee hasn't even been roasted yet!
Why did I say all that? The production of high quality coffee is such a painstaking endeavor & with the right amount of care yields an awesome result that requires no other influence to be enjoyed. Especially nothing from the likes of a plastic bottle with artificially laboratory produced chemicals that you cannot pronounce with the promise to make your coffee taste like a candy bar. I'm sorry, I like Almond Joy & I love a good cup of coffee. However I think the two yield better results independently, not together respectively. Coffee is very akin to good produce. I have yet to desire a need to "doctor up" fresh, carefully picked Mississippi grown peaches. Why? They are so good on their own & require no foreign input from me to be enjoyed. With proper preparation, high quality coffee needs nothing either to be appreciated.
If using condiments help you to enjoy your coffee more, that's fine. However, I urge you to at least taste every cup of coffee prior to adding them. If you know that the coffee you regularly buy gives you no inclination to consider drinking it black, throw it away. It's not worth your time or money. There’s too much high quality coffee available to settle junk. If it is worthy, please give the coffee an opportunity to impress your taste buds before making the decision. I genuinely hope that your expectations are exceeded. Be blessed.
In September I announced that I would be training to run the Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk/Run this month. I think the world heard my announcement & September was by far one of the busiest months I ever encountered. I wasn’t deterred to completely give up my goal & started back running this month. I have to be honest it’s been tough. First off, I’m not a huge fan of running. I just don’t get excited about it (probably cause I not good at it yet). I like the results of training to run & so I keep my focus on the end results & not necessarily the task at hand. Second, I love food. Good food. I always jump at an opportunity to experience something new & delicious. I especially love trying rare & exotic fruit. If you ever run into a guy smelling the fruit in produce section, it’s a good shot that it’s me. Nevertheless, I have to keep my eyes on the prize. Terry Sullivan of LiveRightNow has been an excellent trainer & mentor in this process. His advice is really helpful & practical. My first goal: lose seven pounds. Wish me luck. Be blessed.
I've participated in the Making Strides walk/run in Jackson for the last 5 years. Cancer isn't just a passing subject in my household. My family has been affected by this deadly disease multiple times, making it very personal and near & dear to my heart. I've been planning to do something with Jackson ACS for the last 2 years but I've either been too late or too occupied. We were determined to do something with them this year & I'm happy to announce we are ready to go.
Today we are releasing a special coffee blend in honor of the Making Strides campaign called 1 Billion Birthdays. This coffee is a combination of Central American coffees and the cupping notes on this coffee is sweet fudge, & silky caramel. We are donating 25% of the sales of this coffee to the local American Cancer Society in Jackson, Mississippi with the conclusion of this fundraiser to be on the weekend of the annual 5k walk/run.
We are also planning to participate in the 5k again this year. I'm personally planning to run the 5k draped in pink this year to celebrate. Keep in mind, I've never ran a 5k in my entire life & to get prepped, I am training with Terry Sullivan of LiveRightNow. Terry is a certified trainer and an excellent motivator. If you've ever seen a group of guys & gals running hills in Fondren on Fridays, that's Terry's group. To sweeten the deal, we are donating $10 for each pound I lose in preparation for the race. In the meantime, I'll be posting pics of the training to Facebook/Twitter & blog my progress. No pressure right?
To say that I am super excited about this would be an understatement. We are a company that loves to give back to our local community & support our local ACS. So how can you get involved? How can you support? You can pick up your very own bag of 1 Billion Birthdays coffee here to get started. Do you have a Making Strides team of your own & would like to do fundraising? Contact us here to get more information about a fundraising opportunity using our coffee. Simply put "Making Strides Fundraiser" in the subject line & we will get back in contact with you. In the meantime, look for announcements on our Facebook & Twitter pages for updates, events, giveaways & more. As always, be blessed.
Two new coffees added to the line-up today. The first new offering hails from Sidamo, Ethiopia. Our Ethiopia Sidamo Guji Oromo is Shade Grown & is a natural or sundried coffee with notes of Strawberry, Raspberry & a milky cocoa finish. Those of you who loved our “Ardi” offering last year, you will definitely be a fan of this one. It’s one of those clean fruit bombs that were amazing on the cupping table this year.
Our second offering comes from El Salvador. We loved this coffee & it was another standout on the cupping table. Our El Salvador Cerro Las Ranas is pulp-natural coffee with notes of Dark Chocolate, Pear & Almond. The texture of this coffee is very creamy & is a treat for those of you who enjoy kicking back with your French Press on a cool Saturday morning. Cerro Las Ranas actually means “hill of frogs” in Spanish & the name comes from a lagoon on the farm that is home to a variety of frogs. This farm has environmental preservation at the forefront of its mission & is even a member of the Rainforest Alliance.
Be sure to grab a bag or two of these while they are available! Check them both out here.
The Fondren district of Jackson, Mississippi houses some of my favorite stores: Swell-O-Phonic, Campbell’s Bakery, and Brent’s Drugs just to name a few. Right in the heart of Fondren sits one of the few single independent coffee shops in the Jackson area. It’s one of those places that really feel like a true “third place” & host events like Sneaky Fest. To reduce details & because I am so excited to finally make this announcement, I am honored to say that BeanFruit Coffee is headed to Sneaky Beans!!
Yes, you heard right BeanFruit Coffee will be available at Sneaky Beans in Fondren. To make the deal even sweeter, Sneaky Beans will now be offering single cup coffee via Clever Coffee makers. What does that mean exactly & how does that benefit you? Traditionally most coffee is brewed in batches using a commercial drip coffee maker into a thermal container & dispensed as it’s sold to customers. Single cups are made from scratch & right on the spot. So the coffee isn’t ground or brewed until your order placed, making it an absolute fresh cup of coffee made just for you. Not only does it make your cup more personal but it also allows the coffee’s characteristics to shine that much more. Sneaky Beans will be the first coffee shop in the Jackson area to introduce this premium brewing experience & we are excited to be a part of it. Along with coffee, we are planning to do coffee tastings, workshops & more at the store in the near future.
In conclusion, I want to say thanks to Byron Knight at Sneaky Beans for allowing us an opportunity to serve their customers. It is really an honor. I also want to extend an extra special thanks to Caitlin Cox. She has been very instrumental & helpful with this transition. She not only can play the drums like it’s nobody’s business, but she has a selfless heart to support & improve her community. People like that are very rare nowadays & definitely deserve our admiration. Be blessed.
You know if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “Decaf!? Yuck! It’s like drinking non-alcoholic beer, what’s the use?” Decaf drinkers catch a hard time in the coffee world. According to the National Coffee Association, decaf drinkers make up only 10% of the entire coffee market. I really love my decaf drinkers & in an effort to bring more attention to the subject, I decided to write a blog about one of America’s invisible minorities.
Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance found in a variety of plants including its most famous carrier coffee. Caffeine wasn’t originally developed in plants as a stimulant for humans, but as a way to deflect bugs. When insects bite into plants containing caffeine, it actually paralyzes them, preventing the insect from devouring the plant completely. It wasn’t until many years later that coffee was discovered to be a stimulant presumptively by an Ethiopian goat herder. Read more about that story here.
How is coffee decaffeinated? Caffeine is removed from natural coffee by a number of means. One of the oldest processes is a chemical type that uses a plant based solvent to remove the caffeine. The raw beans are soaked into this solution to extract the caffeine quickly to encourage retaining the coffee’s natural flavor. Another common decaf process is water based decaffeination. The water process steams or soaks the beans in high temperature water to extract the caffeine from them. That water solution is then drained through carbon filters which captures the extracted caffeine. The beans are then re-introduced to the caffeine-free solution to absorb their organic flavors. Is the extracted caffeine trashed? Nope. It’s actually sold to beverage makers, pharmaceutical companies and other companies that repurpose it for use in their products.
Why does decaf get such a bad rap? Most of it just doesn’t taste as well as its caffeinated counter parts. Why? Because 90% of the decaf coffee produced is made up of coffee beans that were rejected from the original lot. You read correctly, bad and/or inadequate coffee beans generally are sent to be decaffeinated. Most companies figure since decaf drinkers tend to be less discerning about the way their coffee tastes, they just spare them the left overs. However, the same old truth applies: garbage in, garbage out. In the words of Kenneth Davids: “pity the poor decaf drinker.”
Luckily, for the decaf drinker, things are changing. As quality coffee continues to evolve, decaf does too. Decaf is finally starting to get the recognition it deserves. Quality roasters like us, roast high quality beans that aren’t rejected from the original lot but are quality from the start making a positive impact on the taste. There’s a special place in my heart for my decaf customers. Most of them select decaf coffees for either health or personal reasons. I really enjoy a good tasting decaf myself, especially late afternoons when I desire coffee & not want to worry about losing sleep. Great decaf coffees are very rare & supplies are really thin. In actuality, I work the hardest for my decaf drinkers. Without the drive to drink coffee simply for a caffeine delivery system, they mainly have one desire in mind: great taste. Great taste is exactly what we have in mind when selecting coffees for our decaf & non-decaf drinkers alike. So next time your friend selects decaf to enjoy, don’t make fun of them, instead remember that common bond you both share for the cup. Be blessed.
You know, with the explosion of Single Cup brewers on the market, I get asked all of the time what are my thoughts about these machines. So I wanted to give you my impression of these brewers. This isn't a bash party, but simply an evaluation of each. First off I want to say I do not own either of these machines. I've had an opportunity to try out a couple of them, but wasn't convinced that it's time to throw away my Chemex, French Press & etc. So with that being said, let's start the evaluation:
Keurig Single Serve Brewer
I wanted to first begin with the Keurigs because by far they are the most popular & most widely available Single Serve Brewer on the market. These are available in different models with different features for each. They range in price from about $80.00 for the basic Mr. Coffee edition to $250.00 for their top-of-the-line home edition model. The good thing about the Keurigs as well as the entire line of single serves are they are very convenient. Pop in a capsule, press a button, walk away & wa-la you've got a cup of fresh brewed coffee waiting for you upon your return. Also you can find the capsules everywhere you shop from department stores, grocery stores & you can even buy capsules that brew tea. Now if that isn't convenient, I don't know what is. Well, that's about where it ends. First off, those nice little K-Cups are on average between .60-.85 cents each depending on where you pick them up. Environmentally they aren't recyclable and the coffee quality just isn't up to par to me. I know I might hurt some people feelings, but it just isn't. Yes, I'll admit, it beats the heck out of Maxwell House brewed out of the Mr. Coffee. But that's not saying much. Low water temp + Bad, Stale Coffee= Recipe for disaster. The cups sizes are very limited too. Depending on which model you purchase, you can only brew 6oz, 8oz & 10oz cups. So don't expect to get your coffee fix or fill up your Travel Mug if you prefer a bigger cup of Joe. Your best tasting brewed cup is at 6oz, past that it just waters down the coffee because you can't add any additional grounds to the capsule. The Keurigs have constantly gotten ragged about their performance & reliability. Some of the common issues include: the water temp fluctuating from cup to cup, plastic-like taste to the water, noisy brewing & the machine plain shutting down with an average life span of about a year. I'm glad to hear that their customer service is great & is willing to replace the machine within in a given period for free. That's great, but that's really inconvenient don't you think? I don't know about you, but if I'm going to shell out a $150.00 on something that only brews coffee & tea, it better work for a long, long time & make an excellent cup of coffee too.
Tassimo Single Serve
The Tassimo is the 2nd most popular single server brewer on the market. They are available all over the place too. They use these proprietary T-discs akin to the K-Cup. They are pretty cool looking I must say & range in price from about $80.00-$170.00. The T-discs are available at most retailers, but not as widely available at the K-Cups & offer coffee, tea & espresso based capsules. The Tassimo is dubbed as the smartest brewer on the market. Each T-disc has a barcode on the label that's scanned every time one is placed onto the maker. This barcode tells the machine what beverage is being brewed & uses the exact amount of water for each. It also can brew espresso drinks like lattes with the use of an additional milk disc. That is pretty cool. Put in the capsule(s), press the button & there you go. The Tassimo isn't without its flaws though. One, those T-discs are harder to locate & don't offer half the variety of K-Cups. The coffee companies that are more familiar & more available are Starbucks, Gevalia & Maxwell House. Why would someone spend $180.00 to brew Maxwell House? I'm not sure & I guess the old adage "to each it's own" applies. The discs range in price from .50 to 1.20 per cup depending on what you are brewing. The cup sizes are limited to what's scanned on the barcode, so unlike the Keurig, you don't even have the option to adjust. I've haven't had a cup from this machine, but I can image what it tastes like considering the coffee options. Some common issues include: Slow brewing time, frustrating disc readings, inconsistent cups & messy clean-up. Unlike the Kuerigs, Tassimo has a bad customer service reputation. You'll get a little more practice pressing buttons on the phone with CS.
CBTL and Nespresso
These are the 2 final machines I'm going to mention in this post. Not because they are exactly alike but because of their popularity in the US & their similar design. The CBTL is one of the newest single serve brewers on the market and are starting to pop-up in outlets such as Bed Bath & Beyond. A birth of the West Coast based coffeehouse Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, they are very similar to Keurig as to how they brew, but also feature the ability to brew espresso. They are smaller than their cousins and range in price from $140-$180. They also have capsules available to make tea & hot chocolate.
The Nespressos have popping in stores like Williams Sonoma & actually is the oldest automatic single serve machines out. They began developing the machine in the 1970s and were released in Switzerland in 1986. The machines have been widely popular for sometime in Europe and are creeping into the US from the spike in popularity of single serve brewers. In my opinion it has the best design, but that design comes in at a price tag of $250-$800. The Nespresso main focus is espresso however. You can brew cups of coffee, but its strength comes from the espresso it produces. It does produce a pretty good cup of espresso I might add, making it the best tasting automatic single serve brewer in my opinion.
Next to the design, each of the brewers shares another common drawback: availablity of capsules. The CBTL capsules can only be picked up at the retailer where it's purchased or ordered online. So it's not the most convenient when needing more & capsules cost on average about .70 each, a little more expensive than the average K-Cup prices. The selection is very mediocre and only consists of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf blends. The Nespresso is even worse when it comes to convenience. The capsules are only available through ordering online with the requirement to join their coffee club after you purchase the machine. So stopping by to pick up some coffee on the way home from work is out the door. Plus as I said earlier, it's mainly an espresso machine. Don't expect to purchase one of these and replace your coffee maker.
The AeroPress is a great example of a low cost alternative to all of the machines on the market. The Aeropress is compact, easy to use, is only about $30 and makes an amazing cup of coffee. Of course, you can use any coffee of your choice & you can make a great cup of coffee in 40sec after water boil. It takes up practically no counter space & can easily be carried in a purse or backpack, making it ideal for camping trips etc. The downside is the brewer does not boil its own water & requires an outside heated water source such as a water kettle or the use of a microwave. The maker is a bit messier than removing a capsule, but there is no container waste. A "puck" of grounds is generated after each brew & can popped into your compost bin or trash can. Simply rinse off the plunger & your ready to go.
My Final Thoughts:
It's not that I hate single serve brewing devices. They do serve a purpose of creating one cup at a time. The thing that really irritates me is that each maker tells the consumer what kind of coffee they must enjoy. With the exception of the AeroPress & Keurig, you have to use the machine's proprietary pods or you can't even use them. Even the Kuerig's My K-Cup isn't meant to replace the machine's pods. My experience with them includes leaking & under extracted cups of coffee. I believe it was intentionally designed that way. When Green Mountain Coffee purchased the rights to Kuerig's design in 2006, they were initially losing about $60 a machine due to the significant production cost of the hardware. Corporations traded on the stock exchange are in the business to make money. According to their current Annual Report (Click Here, Filed Nov 2011, Business Overview, 3rd paragraph), they are still using that same strategy. So the big idea is to take a hit on the hardware & make it up on the back-end with the sale of the pods. So the My K-Cup was designed to underperform compared to the capsules because GMCR makes a lot more when you purchase their proprietary capsules than when you load the machine up with another brand's coffee.
With the exception of Starbucks & a few others have you also noticed that GMCR has being acquiring every roaster that offers a coffee for their machine? I don't know about you, but that makes me a little nervous. From Caribou, to Tully's even Van Houtte they are now all under the umbrella of Green Mountain. Starbucks has already released a statement that they are working on the production of their own single serve machine. If this continues, we'll look up and every large roasting company who wants to enter the single serve market will force you to buy their machine to drink their brand of coffee.
In regards to price & taste, all of these machines are very expensive in my opinion. Initial cost and per cup price they just don't add up. Forking over $150-$300 for a machine is a huge chunk of change for a chunk of plastic that can only be used to make coffee. I honestly would prefer you to purchase a $20 drip coffee maker & buy coffee from the supermarket. Both produce subpar coffee but at least you keep a hundred or so bucks in your pocket & you can pick up any type of coffee you like anywhere without the restrictions of corporate contracts. All of these of machines listed above have an average cost of $.70-$.80 per cup. In terms of traditional roasted coffee, that's about $31-$36 a pound (based on the standard coffee ratio of 10g of ground coffee per 6oz cup of coffee). At that price, you can easily purchase top quality Arabica coffee from some of the most reputable roasters in the nation and even afford to buy 100% Hawaii Kona if that's your thing.
I have to admit I'm a huge advocate of manual brewing methods. Manual brewing is the best way to achieve a high quality cup of coffee at home with very little investment. You can pick up an AeroPress or Chemex for less than $40 & with a tiny amount of skill you can brew a cup of coffee that will knock your friends' socks off. At the same time, I'm not against good technology. I will recommend a Technivorm in a heartbeat to customers because I know it consistently brews an excellent cup of coffee. It costs about $300.00, but it's handmade, built with quality parts & brews awesome coffee. Of all the 100s of automatic coffee makers on the market, it is 1 of only 2 brewers on the market actually approved by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (2nd being BonVita FYI).
At the end of the end of day however, it's your choice. That's one of the beauties of this great country. Don't let my views & opinions deter you from what satisfies you. I just totally agree with another roaster in the industry whose motto is: "Life is Just Too Short for Bad Coffee." -Be blessed.
Well where do I begin with We Will Go? You know there are some folks you just do not forget: your mother, your first teacher, your first best friend. I can personally I remember all those people, but the day I met David & Amy Lancaster added a new edition to that category. We Will Go Ministries was started by David & Amy who were instructed by God to leave their creature comfort focused lifestyle & serve Him wholeheartedly. Their story is a lot more complex than I have space to write in this blog post but is beautiful & amazing. They moved to downtown Jackson to love & serve their local neighbors by meeting their physical needs of food, clothing etc. However, their primary purpose is to share the love & word of God with everyone they meet. I've heard them both say time & time again, "my prayer is that no one perish."
The first time I visited We Will Go, I was involved with a small group with Pinelake Church. We went to serve food one Sunday afternoon & I've never been the same since. I've served at a couple local ministries before, but none of them made an impact my life like WWG. I've made some wonderful friends there: The Lancasters, Fairchilds, Fergusons, Meredith, Jamie & Jennifer just to name a few and I love them all. They are just genuine people who are honest, caring & really love Jesus. When I started this company and wanted to use it to sow seeds for God's Kingdom, this was the first ministry that came to mind. I have a huge heart for everyone there. Some people call them weird for moving to one of the most undesirable neighborhoods in Jackson. Just meet them & I promise you will retract those words. I sure did. Be blessed.
To learn more about We Will Go Ministries or to support, please visit: www.wewillgo.org
Before BeanFruit Coffee Company began, we wanted to incorporate giving into our business. From that idea birthed our Seed Sowing Project. What is Seed Sowing? When we purchase green coffee (unroasted coffee) we set aside an additional 30 cents to donate 15 cents to a local non-profit & 15 cents to an international non-profit organization.
Today's post is about our international partner: Grounds for Health. Grounds for Health provides sustainable Cervical Cancer care for women in coffee producing countries. The organization began when the president of a U.S. coffee company along with his colleague, a retired OB/GYN were visiting coffee cooperatives Mexico in 1996. They learned that cervical cancer rates there were some of the highest in the world. The doctor knew that cervical cancer was preventable and when caught early, one of the most treatable cancers in the world. They use the Single Visit approach to educate communities and currently runs programs in Tanzania, Mexico & Nicaragua. Since 1996, Grounds for Health has screened over 16,000 women in coffee producing countries for cervical cancer. Isn't that amazing?
Why did we select Grounds for Health? Honestly it's personal. My family has suffered multiple losses at the hands of cancer. It's not a pain I would wish on anyone and is devestating to say the least. However, it's awesome to know that this tiny organization in central Mississippi is able to make an impact in people lives we may never meet. Your purchases make an impact in those people lives as well & we thank you so much for your continued support. This could never be possible without you. Be blessed.
Want to learn more about how your purchase matters? Please enjoy the video below & be sure to visit: http://www.groundsforhealth.org.
Wow, it's been a long time since I made a blog post. April 2011 to be exact. I felt it was about time to get the ball rolling again & hope my faithful readers accept my apology. I wanted to share the latest & great news at BeanFruit Coffee Company. I'm not sure if you have already heard, but our Ethiopia Sidamo "Ardi" coffee was cupped and reviewed by Coffee Review.com. Coffee Review
began as coffee buying guide in 1997 that reviews and rates coffees based on the following rating criteria: Aroma, Acidity, Body, Flavor & Aftertaste. Each category recieves a score between 1-10. The overall score is determined by adding each category +50 points. Coffee Review is one of the most respected coffee evaluating organizations in the indusrty using their 100-point scale system.
We decided to send "Ardi" from our current line-up to be put to the test. After a blind evaluation, our Ethiopia Sidamo "Ardi" recieved an 89/100 score from Coffee Review. We were super excited about the score, considering it was our first coffee to be officially evaluated on a big stage. These same cuppers have evaulated hundreds of coffees from well established and respectable roasting companies like PT's Coffee & George Howell Terrior Coffee Co. A score of 89 is considered to be "Very Good" using the provided scale on their website.
We are proud of our 89 point score, but know there is room for improvement. 89 is the highest score in the "Very Good" category and left us 1 point shy of our coffee being considered "Outstanding". Along with the score, they offered some advice to improve the coffee to get a better score. I accepted the advice and have applied it to our roasting practices. I've already tasted the improvement it has made on our coffees.
That brings me to my final point. One of things I love about the coffee industry is learning. I'm a geek/nerd at heart. I love learning. More importantly, I love learning about things that I love learning about. It's that simple. The day that I stop learning things about coffee, is the same day I leave the coffee industry. You know what they call that? Passion. That passion for the perfect cup of coffee is what BeanFruit Coffee Company is all about. We will continue to learn more & more to ensure that you recieve the best cup of ol' joe you'll ever have. Be blessed.Want to read to read the Full Evaluation of our Ethiopia Sidamo "Ardi" for yourself? Click Here or click on the Medallion above. We've got plans to send other coffees in the near future and will update you as the results are published. Thanks!