Single Origin vs. Blends

One of the new things that I’ve enjoyed during the quarantine is the surge of roasters and coffee shop owners being accessible across live-streaming platforms, sharing information and personal encounters that were rare during the pre-quarantine times.

The Santa Cruz based coffee company Verve has now hosted two 2pm Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions on Instagram Live, the first Thursday, April 23rd, and their second on Friday, May 8th, where they answered fan-submitted questions live.  One of my favorite topics from May 8th’s Instagram Live with Verve co-founder Colby Barr was his explanation of single-origin coffees versus coffee blends.


Before I get into his descriptions, do you know the difference?

Basically, when you buy a bag of coffee, the coffee beans come from somewhere.  But are they coming from just one place (single) or multiple (blend)?

A single-origin coffee is from one “single” place, but that is somewhat of a vague statement, as “single-origin” can be broken down even further to deeper levels of specificity.  A single-origin coffee labeled Ethiopian can be from anywhere in the country of Ethiopia, or it can be from a specific region within Ethiopia, such as Yirgacheffe, or it can be broken down even further to the mill level, or all the way down to the specific farmer.  At Verve, they try and go as detailed and specific as possible for their single-origin coffees, and so they’re trying to get to the farmer level, rather than regional blends.

Single-origin coffees often only available in limited quantities, and they’re built to be vibrant and unique, rather than hitting pre-determined flavor profiles. They’re eccentric, beautiful coffees – the wild child of coffees, purchased to be who it is: sparkles and going crazy with tasting notes.  Single origins are roasted to highlight that.

Alternatively, a blend is a coffee comprised of more than one single-origin coffee.  For Verve, there are plenty of benefits to blends, including that they are easier to have available year-round, they’re built for balance, and they are coffees that are sourced to fill a pre-determined flavor profile for consistency.

Verve Seabright is a house blend, and they know what they want it to taste like – chocolate body, ripe cherry, marzipan, and a clean cup.  These characteristics are predetermined and something they’ve developed, and so they buy coffees to fit into this framework in order to make the coffee taste a certain way in the end result.

Seabright House Blend 12 oz Bag

Photo from Verve Coffee Roasters

Coffee to help curb anxiety? Genius!

Hey coffee lovers!  I’m excited to share that I started a new video-focused Instagram account documenting my experiences with my favorite beverages: coffee and wine!  If you are interested in following along on my journey, I just posted a new coffee video here, and I’ll also give you the inside scoop below.

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Earlier this March, I was lucky enough to win Wildcrafter’s Instagram contest.  They slid into my DM’s and from there I selected one of their four blends of infused coffee:

  1. Creative Genius for Focus: Enhance focus & foster mental calm with Ashwagandha Root and Bacopa Herb so you get a fresh feeling of clarity with every cup.
  2. Inner Warrior for Energy: Sustainable energy & strength with Maca Root, Lion’s Mane Mushroom, and Rhodiola Root to awaken your inner warrior to combat day-to-day burnout.
  3. Spiritual Chill Decaf for Calm: Find calm with Passionflower Herb, Chamomile Flower, and Holy Basil Leaf that help relieve nervous tension and promote relaxation. PSA: This is a decaf coffee.
  4. Immune Shield for Defense: Immune defense with Reishi Mushroom, Astragalus Root, and Elderberry Fruit to help enhance your body’s natural stress response and bolster your immune system.

Which would you have picked?

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Because I’ve personally been dealing with anxiety and could use some help with focusing and staying calm, I selected the Creative Genius ground coffee.  This Arabica coffee blend infuses the Bacopa Herb, which has been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine to rejuvenate the mind, along with the Ashwagandha Root, which is common in Indian traditional medicine fostering mental calm and supporting the immune system by helping the body respond to stress.  It smells like a regular cup of coffee, even with the infused botanicals, and it tastes earthy, smooth, and like you dropped a square of dark chocolate into a cup of hot coffee.

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Wildcrafter’s coffees are available as either pre-ground or as coffee pods, and they can’t have a whole-bean option since they’re also infusing the coffee with adaptogens that your regular grinder at home might not be able to handle.  All of their blends utilize 100% Fair Trade & Organic Arabica Beans, which means your coffee contains only the best organic coffee beans sourced from community-owned farms in Colombia.

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If you order this coffee and want to make it at home, measure 2 tbs of coffee grounds per 8 oz of filtered water (always make sure to use filtered water, not just straight from the tap).  Make sure your coffee grounds are flat before you start the brewing process so that all of the grinds get equal access to water.

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Stay safe, order coffee directly to your door, and make your own cup at home!

The ultimate last-minute gift guide

Procrastinator?  Last-minute-thrill shopper?  Made your list, checked it twice, and realized you still have some gifts to buy?  You’re still able to order online and include a print-out confirmation in a festive card, letting them know Santa was a little overwhelmed this year and their gift is on its way!

Give the gift that will help your loved ones keep their New Year’s resolutions well into 2019 with awesome foodie & caffeinated items they may not even know they wanted.  And whether that resolution is related to self-care, eating more at home, trying the keto diet, or just treating their body better, we’ve gathered a list of our top suggestions to help you with the rest of your holiday shopping.  And if you decide to get these as a present for yourself, we promise we won’t tell.

fullsizeoutput_1cf8.jpegWild Foods Keto Essentials Box

The smell of small batch Austin roasted coffee wafts out to the opener of this box full of wild goodies!  Inside they’ll be excited to find a collection of low-to-NO-carb items to help support their keto or low-carb lifestyle, including Wild Cocotropic (Cocoa powder, maca, turmeric, chaga, reishi), Raw Cocoa Butter, Fish Oil,  MCT Oil, and Pink Salt Minis. Of course, you don’t have to be keto to appreciate these Wild Foods essentials. Personally, I enjoy putting a splash of MCT Oil in my hot coffee and smoothies. Use promo code WILDDEC20 for 20% off your entire order for the month of December!

fullsizeoutput_1cfb.jpegAny of our favorite items from Kiwi Importer

New Zealand, world famous for its beautiful beaches, snow-capped mountain ranges and sheep roaming rolling green hills, is also bursting with incredible organic, non-GMO and health food products. The Kiwi Importer, based in Houston, imports into the US some of the best gourmet and health food items New Zealand has to offer, including a wide range of manuka honeys, extra virgin olive and avocado oils, all-natural nut-butters, gluten-free pancake mixes and a wide range of specialty chutneys and sauces.

fullsizeoutput_1cfa.jpegD’Vash Date Nectars

Dates are one of my favorite sweeteners, but dealing with the pits and stickiness often deterred me from using them.  Once I discovered D’Vash, my cooking/smoothie/coffee life was forever changed! D’Vash Date Nectars and Syrups are vegan, organic, fat-free, 25% less sugar than honey, and a great source of antioxidants and potassium.  While I’ve loved the original flavor for years, I’ve enjoyed the kick in the D’Vash Cayenne-Infused Date Nectar. The cayenne adds complexity and uniqueness to the already delicious date nectar flavor, perfect for anyone who enjoys spicing things up a bit.

fullsizeoutput_1cfe.jpegTea Forté Tea Chest Tasting Assortment with Café Cups

The most expansive collection of black, green, white and herbal tea blends are included in this organic tasting assortment from our favorite pyramid-shaped tea brand, Tea Forté.  The lid reveals a detailed tea menu for easy flavor selection (much like a good box of chocolates) and the tea chest contains 40 pyramid-shaped infusers, with two of each blend. We like to pair the assortment with the porcelain Café Cups (mostly due to our love of the fact they built in holes for the leaves to go through so that your tea stays warm and cozy.

fullsizeoutput_1cfd.jpegMatte Black Stagg EKG Electric Pour-Over Kettle
Photo courtesy of Fellow

The most gorgeous of electric tea kettles, the Matte Black Stagg EKG is top of every caffeine-addicts Christmas wish list (including yours truly’s). With precision temperature control ranging from 135°F to 212°F, a hold mode and discreet LCD screen, finally there’s no more guesswork about degrees while brewing teas and coffees. After the water has heated, you can use EKG’s built-in Brew Stopwatch to time your extraction, while enjoying the sleek precision spout and counterbalanced handle.

Merry Christmas!  I hope you enjoyed a few of my favorite things!

 

The Foodie Gift Guide

Being that we still have two days left of Hanukkah and one week until Christmas, I wanted to provide a few of current wishlist items to help anyone still shopping for the foodies in their life (even if that foodie is yourself)!  From coffee to cocktails, and everything in between, below are a few of the top picks also seen in the Girls on Food Gift Guide: http://www.girlsonfood.net/2017/12/girls-on-foods-foodie-holiday-gift-guide.html

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For the Millennial cocktail enthusiast: Abolut Elyx Copper Drinking Vessels
Send the perfect gift to the amateur bartender in your life, providing them with Instagram-worthy copper bar tools and drink-ware for every occasion. Shake up the holidays with curated boxes fit for all cocktail lovers, from the iconic Copper Pineapple to the gift sets that satisfy what every cocktail enthusiast really wants for the holidays: to make fancy and delicious cocktails at home with snazzy copper mugs.  Embracing all the current beverage trends, Moscow Mules, pineapples, engravings, copper-everything, premium drinking vessels and beverage tools, these gift sets are perfect for enhancing any drinking occasion. The official drinking glass of the Moscow Mule, Absolut Elyx’s copper mugs are preferred glassware of not only home mixologists but also of many restaurants and bars, being perfect at keeping drinks cold and extremely photogenic for the ‘Gram. #CopperMakesItBetter

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For the caffeine addict: Stumptown Blend Trio

Everyone knows that three is better than one, especially when it comes to coffee. With locations in Portland, Seattle, NYC, New Orleans, Chicago and Los Angeles, and shipping nationwide, this premium coffee brand will definitely get the recipient more excited than just a regular bag of Starbucks. Whether you’re looking for a coffee gift for a committed pour over enthusiast or a newbie who just purchased their first Chemex, these popular beans from the acclaimed Portland-based coffee roaster are just the ticket. This introduction into Stumptown’s coffee collection is a tasty way to hone one’s palate, as the Blend Trio allows you to try all of their fan-favorite blends side by side.

fullsizeoutput_13c9For the hostess with the mostest: Gooseneck Board & Chambray Cocktail Napkins
The Gooseneck Board is a beautiful addition to any kitchen and makes a great gift, with it’s strips of walnut and stunning finish providing a subtle yet eye-catching contrast. The uniquely angled handle is rounded to fit warmly in your hand, and makes this board perfect for anything from paring kiwis to serving midday sandwiches and charcuterie. The Chambray Cocktail Napkins also provide an elevated complement to your hors d’oeuvre and cocktails, breaking the habit of using paper cocktail napkins! These thoughtfully curated goods, crafted with care in the USA, are sure to put a smile on the face of any host/hostess.

fullsizeoutput_13c1For the lactose intolerant: Almond Cow + Good Grips Pop Containers
This combination is perfect for those unable to digest cow’s milk, as they can keep their nuts fresh in the Good Grips Pop Containers, readily available for use with their Almond Cow! The Almond Cow is the most efficient way of home-making alternatives milks; it’s as simple as soaking nuts in water for a few hours, transferring the nuts in the grinder, pouring the desired water quantity to the fill line, and pressing the button on top. Then viola, within 30 seconds they will have the best nut milk of their lives! As if that wasn’t enough, they can add natural sweeteners in with the nuts, such as dates and maple syrup!

fullsizeoutput_13d5For the man’s man: Whisky Stones
For the most incredible man in the world, you need a gift that matches his manly beverage tendencies, especially if he’s a whiskey or bourbon lover. And if he’s on Santa’s naughty list, you can always joke that it’s coal!

DSC_0120For the supertaster: 33 Types of Beer, Wine, and Coffee books
A gift that’s BOUND to delight, these small gifts don’t skimp on quality and thoughtfulness. Based on the recipients main beverage preference, the 33 Types of Beer, Wine, and Coffee books are the perfect companion to take with you to breweries/wineries/cafes for palate development at every level. Who doesn’t love beer tasting / wine tasting / new coffee shops?

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For the Jedi / Sith Lord: Star Wars Light Up Chop Sabers

These are the chopsticks you’re looking for! Let’s be honest, every Star Wars enthusiast wishes they could have their own light saber, and every sushi lover knows the benefits of non-splintering chopsticks. These light-up chop sabers will change the way one experiences their favorite Asian foods, and are sure to lead one on a truly epic dining adventure.

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For the vegetarian: The Love & Lemons Cookbook + OXO Salad Spinner
Provide the inspiration needed for the vegetarian/vegan in your life with the most elegant cookbook, full of recipes they’ll actually utilize, marble imagery on the cover, and stunning vegetable photography throughout, hitting on every vegetable from A to Z! To complement the cookbook, a salad spinner will help them get started on the many different variations of salad recipes included!

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For the home cook: Joule Sous Vide
While sous vide has long been thought of something only for high-end chefs and fancy meals, it really is such a simple concept and an easy way to get perfect results for both entertaining and everyday meals. The Joule, with it’s small size, stunning design, high power, and app that guides you in a way that other apps can’t, makes it easy for any home chef to enjoy sous vide. Basically, if you have a smart phone and you don’t like dry, tough meat or poultry, then it’s for you and your loved ones. (Note, sous-vide is a method of cooking in which food is vacuum-sealed in a plastic pouch (a Ziplock freezer bag does the trick) and is then placed in a water bath at an accurately regulated temperature lower than normally used for cooking. The intent is to retain moisture and cook the steak/chicken/fish evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside. The sous vide method has been the secret to success for high end restaurants, and it’s about time you had the ability to make the same quality meals at your own home!)

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For the craftsman: Littledeer Wooden Spoons
The craftsman will appreciate the supreme workmanship of the Littledeer wooden spoons, made by hand and available at your local Williams Sonoma. Elevate their kitchen accessory game by providing them with necessities such as the Omelette Paddle (useful with low-profile non-stick pans), Straining Scoop (capture olives in a jar and serve perfect poached eggs), and Serving Spoon (pretty enough to use for dishing out pastas table-side and sturdy enough to sauté with).

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For the farmers market devotee: The Organic Cook’s Bible
From those new to the organic train, to those looking for more information to the “Is it organic?” question or for your friend who is always prepared with an explanation on the benefits on going organic, this book is perfect! This cookbook-meets-dictionary is one of the best tools on how to select and cook the best ingredients on the market.

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For the guy who only asks you to bring beer: Beer Greetings
This year, do better than just bringing a simple greeting card or pack of beer that you grabbed from the convenience store on your way over; be prepared with Beer Greetings! Transform their favorite six pack into a thoughtful gift for the holiday party, satisfying their desire for beer while avoiding the I-forgot-the-gift guilt.

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For the winner of most holiday spirit: Stocking Stuffer Christmas Sweater
Taking the Christmas Sweater game to the next level, the Stocking Stuffer Ugly Christmas Sweater comfortably fits an entire bottle of wine, making it is the best party trick! People will be showering you with compliments on your taste in ugly holiday sweaters when you show up in this nostalgic top.

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For the aspiring sommelier: Centellino Wine Decanter
Stunning craftsmanship and elegance make this wine decanter a gift even your sommelier will admire. Made of 100% hand-blown Italian glass, this top-of-the-bottle aerator is designed to enrich the flavor of a single glass of wine. Warning: Its beauty causes an immediate desire to open a bottle of wine; always make sure vino is readily available when opening!

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For the one dreaming of a tropical Christmas: Palm Springs Wine Charms
Palm trees, flamingos, pineapples, oh my! Rose gold metal and colorful enamel fills make them the perfect fun-meets-classy wine glass accessory. Wine drinkers and hosts alike will love the addition to their glassware collection, with charms that can be used year-round! After all, everyone could use a tropical vacation, and for some having a White Christmas is overrated.

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For the health nut: Manuka Honey

Manuka Honey is known as the divine healing honey, being capable of clearing up inflammed skin and acne, to digestive troubles to remedying a cough, making it as close to a magical food as you can get. On top of that, this honey is raw, carbon-neutral, and environmentally friendly, which is especially important given that manuka honey is only made from bees that feed on the manuka tree. With such elegant packaging and delicious flavor profiles, it may be difficult to give away this honey to others.

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For the one who always adds guac: Avocado Monthly
The gift that keeps on gifting; an Avocado Monthly Subscription will keep the holiday spirit going for at least a few more months! These organic avocados are plucked straight from the tree and then shipped directly to the recipient, providing the best, freshest version of the the already-beloved avocado. Each 6-piece box includes a range of avocado varieties from the “Avocado Capital of the World,” Fallbrook, California!

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For the environmentally conscious: Seed Bearing Lollipops

Finally, a candy you can truly feel good about indulging in, as you can eat your lollipop and plant it (the stick) too! These pops are individually wrapped with pastelle packaging, and are available in flavors such as Lavender & Lemongrass, Rosemary & Mint, Lemon & Thyme, Peach & Marigold, and Vanilla & Hibiscus. The lollipop stick is biodegradable, so when you’re finished with the sucker you plant the stick and it will decompose and grow into the same herb or flower sprinked throughout the candy! The bundles are perfect for handing out to friends this holiday seasons, and the individuals make for great stocking stuffers!

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For the roommate who needs a little reminder: Dishwasher magnets

This helpful reminder as to whether or not the dishwasher can be emptied will solve your dishwasher struggles. This practical, affordable magnet also comes in different versions: we recommend the simple teal and black for female roommates, and the beer version for your male roommates!

GE Appliances’ FirstBuild

GE Appliances’ FirstBuild

For the techie: Paragon Smart Cooking System by FirstBuild
Think your food-science nerd has everything?  Think again!  The Paragron Smart Cooking System serves more than just one function, and will impress anyone interested in keeping up with the Jetsons.  The Paragon induction cooktop and Bluetooth-connected temperature probe works with pots you probably already have in your cabinets (any that are induction compatible) and keeps the temperature evenly distributed and consistent for sous vide cooking, deep frying, sautéing, or stir-frying.. With this type of precision cooking, the world is your oyster!

Cheers,
Meagan
@CaffeineAddictFoodie

Why haven’t I gone here before?

I didn’t know what to expect, which was likely why I’d never stopped to try out the new coffee shop on the block.  Why had no one in my coffee-loving circle suggested this before?  It’s mentioned on Thrillist’s Things to Do in Manhattan Beach and South Bay, but the change in name somehow felt discouraging (it was previously The Fika Company, as noted in Eater’s article from around this time last year, The South Bay’s Newest Coffee Roaster Looks to Make Waves in Redondo).

The Location & Atmosphere:
After a countless number of times driving by, with curiosity arising every passing, when my childhood friend, Jessica, asked if I wanted to grab a coffee at The Boy & The Bear while waiting for our table across the street at Eat At Joe’s, I jumped at the opportunity.  The three of us ordered the pour-over coffee, as this seems to be what they’re known for, if for nothing more than it’s presentation combining art and science: from copper gooseneck kettles to glass beakers.  I asked if the copper from the kettle and filters was selected for any specific reason, such as an effect on the taste, etc., and she noted that they use all copper to be consistent for branding purposes, as the logo of a boy riding a bear is also the same metallic copper.

My respect for The Boy & The Bear only increased when I saw they have their own roaster within the shop, as it really lets you know that they understand the importance of small batch coffee.  The large space felt inviting; there were large groups of people coming for their daily coffee, both for here & to go, yet it never felt loud or too crowded to be uncomfortable.  It’s both a great place to sit with a good book and meet up with friends for casual conversation.  We sat on the wooden benches outside, and because of my luck it started to drizzle.  The large umbrella protected us enough for a while, until it started to pour and we opt’d to go inside; luckily this gave me the opportunity to geek out and further explain the pour-over process to Jess and her beau.

The Coffee:
Jessica and I both chose the Luz Gonzalez specialty Colombian coffee, supporting the female coffee grower of shade-grown coffee plants 1,730 meters above sea level.  They had four different specialty coffees to choose from, and I was attracted to Luz from the tasting note of “Peach like sweetness” from the display board. Although it was a boutique, I felt the coffee was disappointing, weak, and lacking the flavor I was hoping for.  Even though Jessica and I ordered the same coffee, it was made by different baristas, and mine was significantly more bitter and bland.  It was supposed to have a creamy medium body, but it felt and tasted closer to a light roast, possibly due to the lack of attention to the water quantities and temperature.  Unfortunately it didn’t have any of the exciting stone-fruit tasting notes, which I was expecting from seeing “Peach” in the “Notes in Cup” description.  I did enjoy the sugar cane after taste, and it was a pleasant drinking experience, but I would opt for a different variety on my next visit.

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The Process:
The friendly barista preparing my coffee was new and wasn’t sure of the exact water temperature (she said it was somewhere between 180-200 degrees for all pour-over coffees) but she did check the grind size when I asked; it was a 8 on the scale of 1-11.  They use a 1:15 ratio for coffee to water, while the gram quantity of beans differs based on which coffee they’re using.

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Before pouring your coffee in the cup, they first pour water in the ceramic for heating purposes.

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Then they pour your coffee into both the glass beaker and cup for your leisurely enjoyment!

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The Area:
The South Bay of Los Angeles (aka the “Beach Cities”) really need additional coffee shops, as Two Guns Espresso and The Boy & The Bear Specialty Coffee Roastery are not enough to service the coffee-loving community out here!

Trend Alert: Alternative Milks

 

It’s really exciting to see so many coffee shops jumping on the alternative milk chain, from larger chains like Starbucks to local artisan cafes.  It used to be that the only non-dairy alternative was soy, but now you can easily find coconut and almond at almost every coffee shop, with hemp milk and cashew milk on the rise.

Stay on the lookout for any new options coming your way!

Réveille Coffee

Saturday mornings should always start out like this.

Robyne and I ventured to North Beach in San Francisco to get brunch at Park Tavern (which was epic and I highly recommend, especially for the avocado toast). Afterwords we looked on Thrillist’s guide to SF Coffee Shops (Source: https://www.thrillist.com/drink/san-francisco/best-sf-coffee-shops-neighborhood-guide) and saw that Réveille was recommended for North Beach. Since it was pretty close to Park Tavern, we decided to continue our adventure and walk over.

At Réveille Coffee Co., the approach is simple: They offer unparalleled coffee, food, hospitality and service. The staff was extremely friendly and knowledgable, the space was modern, clean and very open, the beverages were high quality, and there was a perfect patio outside with ample seating.

Robyne chose to try their cold brew while I ordered the iced almond milk latte, mostly because I really wanted to try their espresso-based beverages (I also had a shot of straight espresso to really experience the full flavor profiles, without the dilution and distraction from the almond milk). 

While waiting for our beverages we got to talking with the chatty barista Michael who informed us that Réveille only started roasting their coffee a month ago (this is only the 4th time they’ve roasted the Paradise Espresso). They started with a truck, and now have 3 brick & mortar stores and are roasting their beans in the Mission. Prior to roasting their own beans, they were one of Four Barrel’s largest wholesale accounts. Apparently they thought it was going to be a hard switch, but the transition has been going really well for the internal teams. They admit they still have a lot to learn, but their roaster Aaron has put a lot of love into his work and the entire team is embracing it.

The espresso blend was comprised of beans from Guatemala, Colombia, and Brazil, and they’re really excited to hone in the technique of getting the espresso exactly where they want it, which goes back to how coffee is really a perfect blend of art and science. The espresso was full of dark chocolate and traditional espresso on the nose, with tasting notes of vanilla, dark chocolate, and orange peel, with the bitterness of cherry. There was a crisp bite to the espresso, which reminded me of the Monkey Bite espresso from Bird Rock Coffee Roaster in San Diego. They use the Califia Barista Blend of Almond Milk, which really smoothed out the intense flavor of the espresso for a perfect almond milk latte.

Fun Fact: The Réveille website offers step-by-step brewing techniques for your at-home coffee indulgence. My personal favorite is for Chemex: http://www.reveillecoffee.com/chemex  

Website: http://www.reveillecoffee.com/

Address: 200 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133