blog from the ceo & superbarista of phoenix coffee, home of the best baristas in cleveland, ohio

Friday, September 22, 2006

cleveland coffeehouses honor our coffee guru for 30 years of roasting

Can you imagine being the first one to open a coffeehouse in Cleveland? Even Dewey, who now sells our coffee at Deweys Coffee Cafe on Shaker Square, thought Carl was crazy back then. Now even Dewey has come around. The industry has changed so much since then... in 1976, a large coffee was 8 ounces and cost $.65. Now a large is 20 ounces and costs at least $1.85. And Starbucks has 8600 location in the US.

Next week, the following coffeehouses around Cleveland will be participating in some way in our 70s flashback week, to help introduce our new Spirit of 76 Blend, honor Carl's accomplishments, and have fun in the process:
  • Phoenix Coffee, Lee Road, Cleveland Heights
  • Phoenix Coffee, Superior Ave, Downtown
  • Phoenix Coffee, Detroit Ave, Lakewood
  • Dewey's Coffee Cafe, Shaker Square
  • Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop
  • Banjoe's Cafe, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
  • Isola Bella, Eton Collection
  • Serendipity, Pearl and Broadway
  • Europa Cafe, Pineridge Plaza, Willoughby
  • Beans Coffeshop, Chardon
  • Cool Beans, on the Square, Medina
  • The Enclave, Willoughby

At many of these locations, you'll find baristas wearing 70s clothes (keep an eye out for Sasha's pink sequined disco bell bottoms), disco balls, turntables and 70s vinyl, and at all of them you will find specially labeled Spirit of '76 blend coffee beans!

We will also be featuring, just for nostalgia's sake this week, an 8 ounce cup of the Spirit of '76 Blend for $.65. Just for kicks. When was the last time a cup of coffee was $.65? Oh, yeah, in 1976!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Coffee tasting gene in humans?

A researcher at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Craig Montell, has found that there is a specific gene in fruit flies, gene Gr66A, that made them avoid the bitter taste of caffeine. When the gene was removed, the fruit flies willingly drank caffeine-laced liquids. This gene apparently is related specifically to the caffeine response, not bitter compounds in general.

read full article from united kingdom times online

I frequently encounter individuals who just don't drink coffee, never have, never will. And those of us who do drink it, generally drink it frequently and really enjoy it. When I am meeting someone for the first time, I will generally know within the first 30 seconds of our interaction which category they fall into (because they usually feel compelled to let me know where they stand, after I tell them what I do for a living).

Like yesterday. I met two vehement non-coffee drinkers. First, Bill Klonaris, the owner of Mazda Saab of Bedford, who is opening a drive thru coffee station. Bill doesn't drink coffee, and has no interest in starting. Then, the truck driver who was delivering a load of Fair Trade beans to our roastery, remarked on the great aroma in the place. He loves the smell of roasted coffee, but can't stand brewed coffee. He was quite vehement about it. He then went on to tell me that he also loves the smell of gasoline. And, he said, he loves the smell of matches. Hmmm.... then I started to wonder about him.

When I meet a non-coffee drinker, I usually tell them that there is hope; they can start with cafe mocha, then work their way to lattes, then drip coffee, then espresso. It can happen; that's how my coffee drinking progressed as an adolescent. But my experience with adults actually proves otherwise, I only have a few vague impressions of adults who have described any kind of coffee drinking conversion. Montell's findings suggest that if humans have a similar gene, there may be a very biological reason for this divide in the population.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Espresso Quiz

A few posts ago, a reader asked if I could post an espresso quiz, similar to the one I give new baristas when they are beginning to assimilate information as part of their education program at the Phoenix Roastery.

So here goes...

1. What are the three colors that espresso crema should ideally have?

2. What is the acceptable brew time for a correctly brewed espresso, according to Specialty Coffee Association standards?

3. If an espresso shot brews for too long (expresses too slowly) then is the shot under or over extracted? What adjustments might you make to your grinder or your packing technique to adjust for this?

4. Coffea arabica is grown at what range of altitudes?

5. A single shot of espresso should be how many ounces?

6. What is a ristretto?

7. Espresso was "invented" in what decade?

8. A macchiato contains what ingredient, other than espresso, and in what approximate quantity and form? It's also helpful here to know what "macchiato" means in Italian. Hint... what Starbucks serves as a macchiato isn't one.

9. What country produces the largest annual crop of coffee, and is also a popular blending coffee, in espresso blends as well as drip coffee blends?

10. When coffee is ground properly for espresso, it will produce shot times within the acceptable parameters asked about in question #2. What should the ground coffee feel like when rubbed between your fingers?

Those of you who would like to have a go at this, please post your answers as a comment, or if you're shy, you can email to me at
I will post answers next week!
Have fun!