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Seattle Trip

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

It began Monday, November 9, 2009

Since Ryan would not be off work until noon, I started the trip with a jump up to Coffeehouse 5. I took several batches of beans with the hope of a quick cupping with Sam. Luckily Sam was there and we had the chance to run though the beans. Then, I met up with Ryan and we took off to Seattle just after lunch.

Reaching the city a little after 5pm we checked into the hotel and went out for dinner. At the recommendation of our hotel we went to the Tap House with 160 beers on tap. Each with our own sample we got pretty tipsy. Our beers were mostly 9% or 10% alcohol, man they hit hard. Then it was off to Wild Ginger, an Asian fusion restaurant. It was very tasty but not worth the prices. After sobering up we headed over to see Clay and Fey, two of Ryan’s college friends.

Here’s what we did on Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hurkimer – We visited their shop in the university district. Cool little shop, far enough from the campus that it was not too busy. We met Anne there, who turned out to be a long time friend of my brother’s boss at Panther Creek winery. Small world. The shots she pulled were delicious, sweet and acidic. While there we also met Scott Richardson, the roaster for Herkimer. After a long chat about roasting we were invited over to see him roast and check out their operation, an opportunity we would not regret.

Trabant – Here I was finally able to taste coffee from the fabled Clover machine. It was from 49th Parallel, and I must say, I was not impressed. It was smooth and clean like coffee from a paper filter but with a bit more flavor. I am glad to have tried it, but “meh.”

Zoka – Their Green Lake café is filled with fantastically dark and heavy wood. It borders on oppressive but is none the less warm and cozy. My shot here was not all too impressive, but was good. Chatting with the baristas we caught wind of daily cuppings at their offices. After a quick call to warm them of our visit, we were set for a 9am cupping.

Boom Noodle – Cool Asian fusion type restaurant, better pricing than Wild Ginger, though we did order off their happy hour menu. We went here with several of my brother’s college friends, had some beers and food, was a fun time.

Cupcake Royale – A hip little cupcake shop with tasty $2 cupcakes. We grabbed the huge “party” table in the back.

Café Vita – A little worn out on coffee, my brother and I swung by their shop on Pike. Neat shop, dark woods, windows back to their roaster. We had tea and played chess.

Chris – After Vita we went to stay with our cousin Chris for the night, drank a bunch of wine and caught up.

Then on Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Café Vita – We got back into town earlier than we had planned, so went up to Vita’s shop in Ballard. This time I took the chance to try their espresso, it was spicy.

Zoka – Starting out a little awkwardly, this was a great learning experience. We ran through a cupping with Zoka’s three roasters, a store manager, and a couple baristas. Once things got going and people got more chatty, it was a fun time. Afterward we hung around and chatted for a while about the business side of coffee roasting. While there, Jeff Babcock the owner of Zoka happened by, giving us the opportunity to hear first hand his feelings on the business. As with all roasters I have met, they are of course better than everyone else but advocate trying as much as you can.

Hurkimer – After Zoka, we made a trip up to Herkimer’s café in Ballard where they also do their roasting. Here we met up with Scott and hung out while he roasted, chatting with him and Nathan (I think?) about all things coffee and roasting. They were a wealth of knowledge. After some roasting, we gathered around for a cupping and spro. Talking with them about each coffee and their intended flavor profile taught us both a lot. After the cupping we grabbed from spro, 17sec shots, some of the sweetest I have tasted. Syrupy and sweet like candy.

Paseo – Scott had recommended a sandwich shop down the street from their café, with the best pulled pork in the city. So we had to check it out before hitting the road. Paseo, with a line 20 deep, and accepting only cash, the wait was worth it. With a deliciously spicy Jamaican style pork sandwich for each of us, we chowed down then hit the road.

Filling the jar

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

So, I’ve been roasting now for a few weeks. I have been through at least 5lbs of beans, roasting batches of up to a quarter pound. I began with a few 1 pound bags from, each a different bean, and then purchased 10lbs of a Guatemalan Huehuetenango from a local micro roaster. I am 3 or 4 pounds into that 10 and have been working on dialing in a good roast. The next step will be to roast the second 5lbs as consistently as I can. If all goes well I will then try to get more of this bean and increase my batch size up to a full pound. I am not sure if my whirly pop roasting methods can support such large batches, but we will see. It will surely require modification to my temps, timing, and methods.

Already, I have a few potential customers, and am super excited for the day when I sell my first roast and turn professional. Going from burning batch #1 to selling coffee within 60 days is the goal. To help track my progress I have begun a “bean counter.” It is a jar which receives one bean from every roast I do, it can probably hold up to a half pound, if not a little more. That is how I will track my progress, it started with a single swollen, blackened, bean and will fill with brown goodliness. While it will be tempting to make a cup from all those beans when it fills, I think it will remain a trophy and testament.

Sorry, no new roasting pictures at the moment, but I am planning a trip up to Seattle for this coming Mon-Wed. You may think there is an event or reason for the trip, but you would be wrong. This is a frivolous trip just because I want a break. So, it is becoming a coffee safari, with a list of shops and roasters to visit and taste. We shall see how it goes, if nothing else it will be fun.

Coffeehouse 5

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Coffeehouse 5 lies on the corner of N Albina and Killingsworth, near Jefferson High and PCC Cascade. Furnished with dark woods, a well trod wood floor, chalkboard menus, and (currently) paintings of dogs. As mentioned in my little tidbit a few weeks ago, the coffee is fantastic! They carry Nuvrei pastries too, so you know they care about quality. My second visit included another machiatto, it again was quite delicious. Sweet with a hint of fruit (I forget what beans were used).

The neighborhood is not like the trendy Pearl, or even hipster 23rd. It shares much more in common with Belmont and Hawthorne. A family friend recently had her wedding at the park just a few blocks from Coffeehouse 5, it was gorgeous. The Acadian ballroom is near by and where the reception was held, it’s a great area though it does pretty clearly is missing that those higher tax bracket citizens.

Plus, I just learned they do occasional cuppings, so I’ll need to hang around for that.  Anyway, if you like the feel of places like Fresh Pot, Stumptown, or Vivace, you’ll like Coffeehouse 5. Check it out.

Coffeehouse 5

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Mmmmm, delicious macchiatto and people that really know what they’re talking about. The coffee comes with the specs (time, temp, and grams).

Another Stumptown Coffee

Monday, June 8th, 2009

I am getting close to finishing a bag of Columbia El Jordan. It was recommended to me as a very good French-press coffee. It is definitely a good coffee, very low on the acid, a mild flavor that lingers for a while. But I have had a troublesome time getting the brew right. Adjusting the temperature of the water, the steeping time, and the ground size, I have yet to get a cup that is just right. It is always a little sour or bitter or did not have full extraction.

Despite my troubles, it is a great morning coffee in my book. The low acidity makes it easy on the stomach, so is good if you have not eaten much. If you don’t care what I have to say about it, here is what they say it tastes like:

“Warm aromatics of nutmeg and cinnamon segue into mouth-watering flavors of satsuma orange and ripe blackberry which finish with notes of honey and brown sugar.”

Next I’ll be on to the Sumatra Gayo Mountain, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Busy busy busy

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Man I’ve been busy lately and not updating.  With moving, work, being sick, lots of non-coffee stuff going on…  I’m way behind on my coffee shop reviews…  In more important news, I’m in Montana for my little brother’s college graduation.  And in even bigger news, he just got engaged!!

He showed me around to his favorite caffee shops here in Missoula, so I’ll write up and post about those soon.  Assuming I can find the time.

Nuvrei Pastries

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

On 10th St, down a flight of stairs, and to the left is the kitchen of a bakery called Nuvrei. This is also the front counter, there is no fancy store front, no fancy café style seating. Just a counter, register, an air pot of coffee, and some of the best pastries you’ll find in Portland. That is, assuming they haven’t sold out that day. They sell out every day, so go early if you can.

While there I met Marissa, who was kind enough to spend some time chatting with me about their various delicacies. From what I head I am very impressed and really respect the place as trying to make the best pastries possible, and for that they need great people. The result was buying an array of tasty treats:

- Chewy flourless chocolate cookie is a huge seller for good reason, so if you see one buy it (comes with or without nuts).

- Cinnamon Danish, delish.

- Berry and walnut scone, fantastic with coffee.

- While I didn’t get the wild berry brioche this time I know it’s great.

A lot of other businesses in the area carry their stuff, so you might have already had some and not known it. Even if you have, look for the sign, or follow the wonderful smells, but either way go to Nuvrei at least once. You will not regret it.

You can also order pastry platters for work.  You get them a little cheaper and will be the envy of your coworkers!

Coasting along

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Roller Coaster Tycoon 2

It’s an old game, from the days when 800×600 resolution was still great. A while back I was talking with a friend about old games we use to play, Theme Park came up, another great game. This last week I thought I’d try Roller Coaster Tycoon 2. The 3rd one would let you actually ride your coasters but the 2nd seems like a better made game. I’ve made a few crazy coasters in the sandbox mode, beaten a few of the levels, made a few rides that get people blown up. Fun stuff.

The scenarios I’ve played so far have just been the “easy” ones and then one of the “challenging,” they’re not hard once you figure out not to grow too fast. The scenarios give you a pre-set area to build in, an old farm, factory, castle that you inherited from your family. Then you are given the goal to have X number of visitors, and a park rating or value of Y, at the end of a set period of time. The first one or two times you try it’s kind of tricky to meet those goals, I kept trying to grow too fast. Once you reach the end and complete the goals, you then can continue on. This is the closest to a sandbox park mode I can find, continuing on from your scenario. It works, lets you go on, but it could be better.

The good and bad.

Good: Simple, cool roller coasters, runs well on any computer, cheap/free, nostalgia

Bad: Graphics lack modern glitz and luster, no free form “build a park” mode, only scenarios, sometimes seems too simple

Playing an old game like this is making want to give others a try. Next I’m thinking… Theme hospital.

I would’ve put in a few pictures but I’m having issues with uploading them right now.

Oregon’s unemployment is over 9%

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

But it doesn’t include me.  I’ve been busy lately so I haven’t posted anything new. Busy with work. Finally!

I am in my second week of a new job at the Oregon Lottery. It’s a very unique business, and a very interesting one. At this point I am still figuring out what exactly I’ll be doing, so far it seems to start that will be the generic and more tedious tasks. Which frankly is perfectly fine with me as I learn the business.

Being located in Salem I do have a long commute, an hour in the morning and a little more at night. Then there’s the gas. So I am looking into moving further south, to at least get south of HWY 217. Highway 26 and 217 are a mess in the evenings, I-5 on the other hand is perfectly fine. 30 minutes each way on I-5 I’ll be happy with, even within Salem I would have a 20 minute commute and that would be in heavy stop/go traffic. Salem doesn’t sound that nice of a place to live either, not much to do. So I’m going to try and stay closer to Portland.

With this job there are of course people now asking me for tips, tricks, and all that. Don’t ask, I can’t help you. Just look at the lottery website (, prize and odds charts are on there. The only hint I have for you is to buy a Raffle ticket if it’s not too late. Which after checking the website just now, it is.

I must say though, that I’ve never wanted to play Lottery games more than I do now that I can’t play. But I guess it’s the whole idea of wanting what you can’t have. And I understand it, it would look pretty bad for Lottery employees to win.