This is a continuation of my previous post on local businesses and why they are changing the landscape of our economy, culture, and how your money is affected. Now, to talk more about Steve Rhinehart and his innovative view on coffee.
Steve and Artisan Coffee
Now, one of Steve‘s (many) gigs is that he loves coffee. He’s also a very talented graphic designer and has an eye for social media (funny how social media brings together social media people! Feel free to laugh at my joke). We were in a class together in the spring of last year, but only crossed paths at the end when he served the class his incredible, artisan coffee. To make a long story short, we reconnected over Twitter when I asked all of my followers to please raise their hand if they dig coffee. I got a lot of responses to that one.
SO, Steve being the kind person that he is, invited me over for coffee and we chatted about various topics including: Coffee, social media, local businesses, Syracuse, RIT, and various social media firms around the country. It was fun, and I learned a thing or two about this perfect drink that makes my life so insanely wonderful every day. Don’t get excited, we’re talking about coffee here.
His setup included a temperature-controlled kettle, a weigh scale and independent carafe, and a self-declared “expensive” coffee grinder. He goes the whole nine yards, and it has become clear to me that good coffee is a labor of love. The whole process took about 10-15 minutes. Steve put an emphasis on how much he loves making coffee an experience. Communicating the origins, what exactly is going on in the brewing process, and answering any questions that people may have.
Luckily, I had a lot of questions.
His coffee of choice is an organic, fair trade, artisan coffee called Counter Culture. This coffee is flavorful and fun to drink. Steve said one of his favorite things is serving coffee, and the recipient exclaiming, “Wow! I don’t even need any cream or sugar.” Nice, isn’t it?
I’ve tried various coffees in my time. Most are great with cream and sugar (I’ll admit), but many are beautiful and flavorful on their own. I’ve come to notice that the roast, origin, and blend of coffee really does make a huge difference in flavor.
For example, right now in my cupboard I have two coffees from Trader Joe’s: Organic & Fair Trade Morning Blend, and Organic & Fair Trade Bolivian Blend. According to the label, it has “notes of caramel”, which I would agree with.
Back to Steve’s coffee. The best part of this experience was that he truly did make it an experience.
In the past, I’ve spent my time making coffee in the Bialetti (espresso, as I called it, but have now learned is an incorrect label) or in my Kenmore Perk! coffee maker. Lately, I’ve let the Bialetti do it’s thing on the shelf and look pretty. The Perk! has become my partner in crime, and I have slightly lost the appreciation for the process that it takes to brew a perfect cup.
My main question was: Why is the Bialetti not actually espresso?
Answer: Espresso comes from the Latin word “Expresere” which means “to press out.” To us, it generally relates to the term “express”, meaning that the process produces coffee quickly. This happens in a machine that presses steaming hot water through fine grounds at about nine atmospheres (bars) of pressure, taking about 18 to 23 seconds. This should produce the crema (or “cap”) on top of the espresso, a result of the emulsification of colloids and lipids. This typically retains flavors and aromas of the coffee.
The Bialetti does this at about 1.3 atmospheres (or bars) of pressure, creating a less-concentrated liquid without the cap (with the exception of the MokaCrem, which is marketing specifically as producing the extremely saught-after crema).
At this point, my mind was blown when I realized I had not, in fact, been drinking fancy espresso, but a slightly more concentrated version of coffee. I don’t know about every brewing style (yet), but I’m getting there.
Keep talking, Steve.
He introduced to me a style of coffeehouse that involves sitting at a table and being served by a barista who does just what Steve did for me. Weigh and measure the beans, grind them to perfection, boil water to the right temperature, and then carefully pour the water into the carafe, explaining every step of the way what they are doing. This style also involves knowing about coffee culture, and answering any questions that guests may have. Personally, I’d love to learn more about these, and try one out. According to him, there may be one or two such cafes in Syracuse. Ding ding!
Even more importantly, Steve wholeheartedly believes in supporting local businesses, especially local coffee shops such as Cafe Kubal and Freedom of Espresso. It’s all about the experience, and I am grateful for this one. Thank you, Steve, for a wonderful coffee experience and great discussion!
The rest of our conversation consisted of highly classified information about social media strategy (I’m only kind of kidding. Read on). With that being said, I am pleased to announce announce that another talented lady (who is a barista herself!) and I are to begin hosting live Q&A’s and Google Hangouts about coffee. Logos, hashtags, all that fun to come. Chat tomorrow!
- Are you a coffee lover?
- How do you take your coffee? Espresso? Brewed? French press? Latte?
- Have you ever thought about the “experience” side of coffee?