Monday, December 22, 2014

History of Coffee ~ Part 2

We left off on our coffee journey in Europe. Since coffee has made such a splash on the continent it seems only right that it would eventually spread to it's American colonies. In fact, when a tax was imposed on tea and the angered colonists dumped all of the tea freight into the harbor, coffee was deemed the drink of the patriots. Coffee became a political symbol signifying separation from England and unity with the United States of America as it was later to become.

Meanwhile, the French and Dutch were disputing border rights and asked a Brazilian official to adjudicate. This Brazilian official fell in love with the French man's wife, but once the border issue was solved the French woman sent the Brazilian official away with nothing but a token of her love. This token, however, proved to be very valuable as it held fertile coffee beans. Brazil now has it's hands on its very first cash crop that swept the nation and gave its people a new economic standing.

Because of the huge market for coffee, Brazil clears many of its rain forests in order to make room for more coffee plantations. These coffee plantations ruin the ecological system and begin to ruin families as they bring in African Americans to harvest the coffee as slaves.

Coffee Barons spring up like weeds in Brazil. These plantation owners were considered royalty and the farms were passed down from generation to generation.

Back in America, the desire for Brazil's coffee skyrocketed. Cowboys made the drink popular by drinking it to stay warm and alert while tending to their cattle. In order to drink the charbroiled sludge their percolators spewed out, they would clarify the coffee by putting eggshells or fish skin in the cup. This made the ground sink to the bottom.

Industrial Revolution workers began to drink coffee also to stay alert and warm in the factories wile they worked 12, 14, 16 hours at a time. A man named Jabez Burns saw a need for a different kind of mass producing roaster, one that would create a unique, delicious roast, without burning the beans badly. Thus, he invented the self-emptying batch roaster. This concept is used in almost all modern models today.

John Arbuckle, known as the master marketer, saw a niche for packaged coffee. It was great for large companies to buy these batch roasters and sell the coffee, but how would folks get it home? Arbuckle began putting roasted coffee in paper bags.

Now....up until  now the world has only seen coffee in a cafe setting (roasted on location) or in small batches, roasted at home. It is during the Industrial Revolution that America birthed the idea for mass amounts of beans to be roasted for consumers to take home and brew at their convenience. This is the beginning of what we are familiar with today.

Monday, November 10, 2014

History of Coffee ~ Part 1

Ever wonder where the delicious brew you drink each morning comes from? Well, embark with us on a journey from seed to cup as we unpack the history of how coffee came to be.

So begins the story.....

Legend has it that Kaldi, an Ethiopian goat herder went to call his goats in for the night and they wouldn't come. Once he found them he noticed they were dancing around erratically. He saw they had been chewing on a plant unfamiliar to him. Upon chewing some of the plant's leaves himself, Kaldi realized the plant gave him energy. He brought berries from the plant to an Islamic monk who disapproved of the plant's exhilarating effects. He threw the berries into the fire and an enticing aroma filled the place. The seeds were retrieved from the fire, ground up, and steeped in hot water. Thus the first cup of coffee was enjoyed. Ethiopians are very proud of their coffee heritage and still serve a traditional three cup spread to all honored guests.

Once the Turkish people heard about this delicious brew they bought coffee beans and plants from the Ethiopian people. They decided, however, that such a precious commodity should be protected and kept secret. So, while they brewed coffee for natives and tourists alike, any beans that were sold were parboiled to prevent the cultivation of coffee plants elsewhere in the world.

Like all good things, coffee couldn't be kept from the world. At the end of the European Wars the Turkish armies fled and left behind their coffee beans. Because the Europeans had no idea what coffee beans were, they began to burn the sacs that held them. When a European officer smelled the beans burning he stopped them at once and took all the coffee back with him to Europe.

The Venetians were the first to develop a method for roasting and serving this new delicious drink. The Blue Bottle was the first coffee shop and the model for those that would come after it. A place where men could come and talk about politics and societal issues, the Blue Bottle gave both a sophisticated drink and atmosphere. Coffee houses became a vital part of life for Europeans and are known for housing the conversations of revolutions.

With a desire to take coffee with him to the Americas, a young French man brought a small coffee plant on his journey to the new land. Through pirate attacks, violent storms, water shortages, and starvation, Gabriel-Mathieu Clieu protected his precious plant and is credited with introducing coffee to South America.

......Check back next week for Part 2!

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Perfect Latte

Coffee fanatics search high and low to find that perfect cup of coffee. Why? Well, if you're a coffee fanatic you know why...but to the rest of you, it's like finding the perfect pair of shoes that go with every outfit or the perfect car that has the ultimate balance of good mileage and beauty. There is just no better feeling. Once you find that perfect latte or mocha or black cup o' joe you keep going back over and over again.

Many baristas are left with the thought, "How DO you make a perfect latte or mocha?" These common drinks are consumed by coffee lovers daily, but a good barista knows just how much work truly goes into making one.

Consider these things when preparing an espresso based beverage.

Fresh Coffee:
If you have fresh roasted, quality coffee you'll usually have great espresso. I recommend North Pole Coffee's Dark Espresso Roast. Not only is it roasted specifically for an espresso, but it also has a sweet aftertaste. Coffee that is not only freshly roasted, but also freshly ground will give your shot a much better taste than preground espresso. To ensure this freshness, grind your espresso for each customer.

Standard Extraction:
The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) sets the standard for all specialty coffee. Their standard delineates that a shot of espresso is a 25-35ml beverage prepared from 7-9 grams of coffee through which clean water of 195F-205F has been forced through at 9-10 atmospheres of pressure, and where the grind of the coffee is such that the brew time is 20-30 seconds.

Many baristas find steaming milk to be a challenge. To get velvety, glossy textured milk follow these simple steps.
    1. Begin with cold milk
    2. Measure the amount of milk needed for the drink being prepared so there is little to no waste (never RESTEAM milk!)
    3. Purge the steam wand.
    4. Insert the tip of the steaming wand into the milk and turn on the steam.
    5. Listen for a "Ch Ch" noise and position the pitcher so the milk begins a whirlpool
    5. Once the milk is body temperature, submerge the steam wand (allow the whirlpool to continue)
    7. Once the milk has reached standard temperature, turn off the steam and clean the steam wand (be sure to purge the steam wand again).
    8. Let the milk rest a moment and then bang the pitcher on the counter once to pop any large bubbles on the surface of the milk.
    9. Polish the milk by swirling it
    10. Combine with espresso
This is a sure fire way to get a consistent texture time after time.

Iced Espresso Drink
When making an iced drink the order of components should be as such:
      1. Add cold milk to cup
      2. Add any flavoring to the espresso while still hot
      3. Add the hot espresso to the cold milk (this ensures no ice will melt)
      3. Stir well
      4. Add ice
This formula maximizes the flavor of the espresso and allows it to cool without melting the ice.

After much trial and error, our barista team here at North Pole Coffee stands behind the procedures discussed. Take it from us, your customers will love it!

Monday, September 22, 2014

North Pole Coffee at YOUR Fundraiser

Many of our customers ask us where they can find our coffee. Our answer is generally the same, "Come to our warehouse, check Fred Meyer, Safeway, Sam's Club, and Walmart or one of the many coffee huts and cafes we supply." However, there is a special time of year when our coffee can be found at local fundraising events too. Around the office we have all come to know this time of year as "Fundraising Season".

North Pole Coffee prides itself on being a locally owned and operated roasting company that is entrenched in the Fairbanks community. We strive to provide a partnership with non-profit organizations that aids in raising funds for things like exciting new projects, important research, or activities for children.

 Are you interested in partnering with North Pole Coffee for your next fundraiser? It’s easy!

1. Give us a call and let us help you decide the best option for your personalized bags.

2. Send us your organization’s logo in JPEG format.

3. Choose 2-4 coffee varieties.

4. Presell your orders and collect all payment from customers at the time of sale.
 **Example of customer order form available upon request.

5. Place your presold order with NPC and provide payment. **Single Check Only

6. Allow a three week turnaround period for us to fill your custom order.

7. Distribute the coffee to your supporters.

If you are gearing up for your non-profit fundraiser, let North Pole Coffee give you a hand. Drop by our office or give us a call and let us walk you through the process.

Bring Alaska Made coffee to your next fundraising event. You can't go wrong!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Butter Coffee

Alright, by now you've heard the hype or seen our Facebook posts about trying butter coffee. What is this new trend that sounds frightfully overindulgent and frankly, downright disgusting?

Butter Coffee got its start in countries like Tibet where putting yak butter in your coffee is a daily occurrence. Tibetans enjoy the yak butter's flavor and the energy it gives. A coffee connoisseur traveled to the Tibetan mountains and in his coffee he had, yep, you guessed it....yak butter.
He thought about the idea behind this odd (at least to the western world) dietary practice and after research and testing, he founded a coffee company dedicated to creating a product with all the benefits of caffeine and none of the caffeine crash. This is where Butter Coffee comes in, also known as "Bullet Proof Coffee", it boasts an ability to give you mental clarity and energy all day without any negative effects.

North Pole Coffee followed up on this odd new trend and what we discovered was both enlightening and tasty.

We used grass fed, unsalted butter because the Butter Coffee trend suggests that this kind of butter not only gives you more energy and the ability to burn fat all day long, but it is healthier for you because it has good fats and oils that do not raise cholesterol.

We used coconut oil because the founder of the Butter Coffee recipe suggests that it aids in the body's absorption of the important minerals found in the coffee.

Want to try it for yourself?
Here's our recipe:

2 cups     of hot, freshly brewed, NPC coffee (we recommend organic or single origin)
2 tbls      coconut oil
2 tbls      unsalted, grass fed butter

Blend all ingredients until bubbles start to form. Serve and enjoy hot!

Like all fads, we found the results to be varying, however, we did enjoy the creamy texture and delicious nutty flavor. We cannot confirm that the Butter Coffee gave us long lasting energy without a crash or made us feel fuller longer. What we can confirm is that the delicious taste and caffeine kick makes this new trend a must try for all coffee lovers.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Brewing Methods

Do you know how your coffee is made?
There are many different ways to make that delicious brew. Generally, any brewing method will fall into one of these five categories:

Immersion: When coffee and water are mixed together and allowed to "steep" before straining out the grounds. A French Press is one of the most common immersion brew methods. Or perhaps you've heard of "cowboy coffee" where coffee and water are boiled together in a kettle over a fire (sure this works, but you may end up chewing your coffee).

Pour-Over: Coffee that sits in a filter with water being "poured over" it. Chemex is a popular pour over brewer, although it does take some technique and patience.

Vacuum: Ever seen one of those toys that sucks the fluid up into the top and lets the fluid slowly go down into the bottom? This is similar. A vacuum brewer takes the water from the bottom up into the top and steeps the coffee. When it's done steeping, the coffee trickles down into the bottom.

Hybrid: These machines are a combination of different brew methods. Common hybrids are the Clever or the Trifecta. Hybrids can offer the best of both worlds.

Batch: These large brewers are seen in coffee shops or businesses that make large volumes of coffee all at once. Chances are if you've seen one of these large metal contraptions with a server underneath the brew head catching the coffee as it rains out of the brew basket. These are also used common for home use, made by manufacturers such as Sunbeam, Mr. Coffee, and Cuisinart (to name a few) and come in 4-12 cup models.

It is important to note however, while these methods all work, not all are equal. You may wonder why the Whole Bean French Roast you purchased from your favorite coffee shop just doesn't taste the same once you make it at home. The main reason is temperature. Due to legal reasons, batch coffee makers for your home (like those mentioned above) are set to allow the water heat to 165 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. A commercial brewer, or a brewer that allows users to heat their own water can use water at the SCAA suggested brewing temperature of 195 degrees Fahrenheit to 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

The moral to this story? Traditional home coffee brewers are easy and convenient, but if you're looking for coffee shop quality brew, try out methods like the French Press or Chemex (and others like them). These will yield a cup much closer to that coffee shop taste we all love.

SCAA: Introduction to Coffee Brewing & Extraction CP 151-152
PRIMA Beginner's Guide to Immersion Coffee Brewing
BuddyBrew Coffee French Press Driections 
Chemex Brewing Instructions
STUMPTOWN Coffee Roasters Vacuum Pot 
PRIMA Clever Coffee Dripper
Bunn at Home Trifecta 
Bunn Commercial Thermal Brewers

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

From Bean to Cup

Ever wonder how that cup of coffee went from a tiny seed to steaming hot happiness in your hand? Well wonder no more! We're going to follow the journey of a coffee bean from seed to cup. 

Coffee can come from many different regions, but the most predominant areas are Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa, near the equator. Coffee is farmed similarly to wine grapes. Great care is taken in choosing the soil and area in which the plants will mature. Once farmers have chosen the kind of seed they'll plant it generally takes four or five years from the time a coffee tree is in the ground to when it will yield any fruit. 
Once the tree has matured, its branches produce small white flowers. Six to nine months later, small green cherries appear that hold two coffee seeds. These ripen to a deep red (although some have a hue closer to orange or yellow). They can be used to plant more trees or they will go through the next steps to become your delicious coffee.

1. Harvest:  This is generally done three times per year. The first crop is usually astringent and considered unusable. The second crop has most of the developed fruit, the most valuable product. The third crop is often seen as the leftovers. Harvesting used to be done all by hand, and still is in some countries. However, this process takes a long time and some farms opt to use machinery.

2. Depulping: Coffee cherries consist of a few layers. The first layer is hard and difficult to get through. The second layer is a fleshy pulp which protects the "silverskin" layer around the two seeds. Whether farms use a hand depulper or a central depulping station the outcome is the same. The outside and flesh of the cherry is torn back to reveal the seeds inside. 

3. Fermentation: After they are shelled the seeds are placed into a large tank to ferment. This can take anywhere from four hours to three days depending on climate. When the seeds soak they're bathing in their own sugars and the leftover particles of their pulp. This is said to bring out the unique flavors of the coffee.

4. Drying: Beans are taken from their tank and laid out in the sun to dry, or dried by machines. 

***Wet processing versus Dry processing***
There are two ways to process coffee beans, the process outlined in the steps above is the technique called "wet processing". Another technique is used when seeds are allowed to dry in the sun or on the tree still encased in the cherry pulp and shell, waiting to shell the seeds until the last step. This is called "dry processing". 

After processing, seeds are sorted by hand or by machine and the good seeds are bagged and shipped out. 

Once the roastery receives the seeds they choose their roast profile. A roast profile is made up of heat and time; how long and how hot the beans will be roasted. Roast profiles range from MEDIUM (a mild tasting bean with light brown color) to FULL CITY (beans at their peak flavor with a dark brown color) to VIENNA (an oily looking, almost black bean which produces a strong, velvety taste). Once roasted, they are packaged up and made ready for you to buy. 

The next time you enjoy your favorite brew think about all the work that goes in to making sure it's taste is perfect just for you!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Why Drink Local?

Why is it important to drink local coffee? For that matter, why is it important to support ANY local business? The simple answer is, it promotes growth and economic stability in our town. 

A spokesperson at an organization in Texas called Homegrown says, "Dollars spent at community-based merchants create a multiplier effect in the local economy, meaning that from each dollar spent at a local independent merchant, three or more times as much typically goes back into the local economy compared to a dollar spent at chain-owned businesses." In other words, the more money spent in the community, the more money stays in the community.

Homegrown says, "It's as easy to accept themes promoted in those corporate ads as it is to overlook the values independent businesses provide us, both personally and in our communities." The attractiveness of a chain store or restaurant is usually its prices. Often they can offer services or product for cheaper. However the local business often make up for a higher price in product quality and customer service. 

In fact, as a small, local business our self, we know the impact of buying local first hand. If you were to visit the North Pole Coffee Roasting Company’s office you'd hear the phrase, "Customer Love". We throw this term around a lot when it comes to our work and expectation of what we want each and every customer's experience with North Pole Coffee Roasting Company to be. Our customers are what makes our business continue and if we don't take care of them, someone else will. We pride ourselves on things like our fresh roasted coffee beans, American made products, community support, and non-profit organizations fundraising programs. These are just a few qualities about us that we work hard at to maintain consistency and support. When people buy one of our products to enjoy, serve, or as a gift they are making a commitment to support a local business through this choice and therefore continuing the circle of support for our great community.

When we as a community support local business, we support our local economy, our town, our neighbors and friends; it's an economic eco-system of growth. When we support local we invest in our community; the place where we spend most of our time, where our children will grow up. We also preserve our town's personality. Did you know a town has a personality? Well it does! When you think of your home town or the town where you currently live, what comes to mind? Is it the mega store? The national/global chain of restaurants? Chances are it is the “mom and pop” business or the community events that makes you proud to say this is “my town"!

Sometimes a local option just isn't available. Does all this mean we can't shop at any chain stores or frequent our favorite chain restaurants? Of course not! But buying local is a commitment to make a local choice when possible and support businesses that support the foundation of the town where you live. The "buying local" goal…when possible…gives back to our community in a way that makes sense. Not only will you be putting your money where your mouth is, you’ll be putting it close to your heart…”My Hometown, USA!” 

From Your Friends at North Pole Coffee. 

Anderson, Mac. Customer Love: Great Stories About Great Service. Simple Truths LLC. 2008.

Homegrown El Paso.

Monday, February 24, 2014

An In Depth Look at Customer Service

Most of us enjoy going to our favorite shop to get our drink of choice. We go for both the taste and the experience. When we have that pretty little cup in our hand we know all is right with the world. So what makes us come back time and time again for this little slice of heaven? Customer Service! It’s OUR coffee shop were we get OUR favorite drink and see OUR favorite barista. The song from Cheers put it best, "You wanna go where everybody knows your name" or, at the very least, your "usual". 

Not every coffee shop we go to has this feel. In fact there are some that we would never go back to. These coffee shops generally have a low emphasis on customer service and product quality. 

The top notch shops, like our favorite coffee house, encourage four things: quality product, inviting environment & atmosphere, a friendly workplace, and efficient service. These customer service principles are all necessary to cultivate an enjoyable, delicious experience your customers will love.

How do you utilize each of these principles to their potential?

1. Product Quality - this is different for every hut. But the key here is to buy local and fresh. Whether you're shopping for coffee, milk, or fluff products cupping a sample of each choice is the best way to decide if it should go on your hut's menu.
Also, something that is often overlooked is barista knowledge. If a barista knows about the product they're selling they can promote it. When your staff can't describe what the coffee tastes like or even what the brew of the day is, there's a lack of information. Helping your customers understand what you're selling can boost your sales and increase your customer's knowledge of their favorite cup of dark roast.

2. Inviting Environment-whether you work in a hut or cafe setting the look of your shop is a strong deterrent or attraction. Is your hut an eyesore? Does your cafe need a new paint job? Customers do make judgments, consciously or not, based on what they see. Keep in mind too that baristas are the first people to make contact with the customer and should represent the company as friendly and well kept.  

3. A Friendly Workplace-this speaks to the attitude of your shop. Are your staff kind to each other? Is there friendly banter throughout the day? Baristas should be aware that the way they speak to a co-worker has an impact on how a customer perceives the cafe itself. 

4. Efficient Service-this cannot be emphasized too much. This area is often poorly tended too and many cafe owners don't realize it is costing them greatly. Being efficient involves both friendly and quick service. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting ten minutes for your drink (even if the barista has a smile on their face). The best advice here is to be as quick as possible without detracting from the quality of the beverage. 

Creating the best possible experience for each customer is the goal. Even if it means adjusting our menu a bit or remaking that complicated drink exactly to their specifications, it's worth it. 

From the team at North Pole Coffee Roasting Company.

BGA Intro to Customer Service CP103

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Almonds Have Milk?

It used to be that there was one kind of milk everyone drank with their coffee. Cow's milk. Now there are multiple choices. There are variations of cows’ milk, dairy substitutes, and gluten free choices.
Which one is best? Which is cheapest? Should you offer a few dairy alternatives? The jury is still out on these questions, but we can offer some help in making a choice.

Whether it's dairy or non-dairy, milk is the primary ingredient in most cafe specialties. The alternatives to the traditional dairy option are plentiful. Soy, Almond, Hemp, Rice, Coconut, Hazelnut, & Cashew are among the most popular. Within each of these options there are different brands to choose from.

Soy milk is the most popular alternative. It's made from soy beans and water it is completely lactose free.  Due to its widespread popularity and its general dependability soy has worked its way into most cafes and huts around the globe. It is as close to dairy milk as you can get when it comes to steam-ability.

Almond milk is the next in the standings of most popular non-dairy alternatives. It has a slight nutty taste that you won't find it soy milk, however it is recommended that it should be steamed only to 140 degrees Fahrenheit due to its delicate flavor.

Some lesser known but still viable options are coconut milk (made from the pulp of coconuts and water), hemp milk (yes it is made from the nuts of the marijuana plant, and no it does not make you high), rice milk (made from rice or rice protein, water, and sweetener), hazelnut milk (made by blending hazelnuts or hazelnut butter, sugar, and water), and cashew milk (uses cashews or cashew butter blended with water).

So how do you go about choosing the alternative or alternatives that are right for your cafe? Here are a few things to take into account: how it does it steam (burning quickly or foaming easily); how does it taste- both hot and cold (there is a difference between cold and steamed milk); and what is the mouth feel (the texture)? Lastly, any budget conscious cafe will need to ask, what is the cost and does it come in bulk?

When it comes to managing the change or addition to your menu some helpful ways to transition include getting customers to weigh in on their favorites and what they like about it or using social media (Facebook, Blogs, Email, and Twitter) or advertising to let people know you'll be serving up some new delicious options.

If you're in the market for a dairy alternative, start experimenting, you don't know what you like till you try it!

Fresh Cup-April 2013 Issue (pg. 32)