My dad* has always been the key influence in my life when it comes to work. He installs floor covering. And the man is a workhorse. I remember when I was a kid, my dad would lift a huge roll of carpet onto his shoulder and walk up stairs. He seemed to work interminably, sweating, breathing hard, and moving things in ways I couldn’t budge. Not only that, he makes extremely precise cuts, very rapidly. He measures in ways I don’t understand, makes calculations in his head, and cuts things upside down and backward, perfectly. His patterns are uniform and square, and somehow bend around curves. He wields a carpet knife, with its reversible razor blade, penetrating to the exact depth needed, ripping down a row of yarn, so square that his trimming is minimal and his waste almost nil.
He has the patience to work on cars. Completely disassembling and reassembling three in my memory: a Model A Ford, a Model T Ford, and a Falcon Knight Speedster. These came apart rusted with friction that breaks and busts even calloused knuckles. But they went back together smooth and lubricated, painted and polished, pinstriped, upholstered, and running like they did off the early 1900s showroom floor.
The man can fix almost anything. So much so that he took to collecting antiques, some of them relinquished to the junk pile, because he could see the beauty in a worn out, beat up cabinet or dresser. I grew up using restored antique furniture with names like “hall tree” and “pie safe.” The patience and precision and vision that he has can transform wood and marble and brass. And boy can he swing a hammer.
The peak of his antique restoration came in the form of a run-down, dirty, two-story Victorian house with a carriage barn and, once completed, a round brick patio. Layers of paint and wallpaper and old newspaper came off with sweat and toil, and beneath it all he found the wood that once again brought class and refinement throughout their home.
His product is meticulous.
And he drinks a lot of coffee.
Coffee is a curious thing. Like corn, it’s a huge commodity. Coffee trees grow and produce fruit, while the farmer toils in the equatorial sun to keep them healthy and productive. Margins fluctuate but the work is constant. During harvest, hand picking is followed by milling (sometimes by hand) and drying (oftentimes on patios where people rake the coffee to ensure consistency) and sorting (sometimes performed by women who pick through every coffee bean to remove defects) and bagging (almost always controlled by men who dispense the coffee into a bag and then sew it shut). And amongst these commodity beans, occasionally an experienced cupper will pull out a specific lot because they recognize that it surpasses the quality and flavor profile of its peers. But true exceptional coffees are not the result of luck or happenstance, rather the product of concerted effort, focused methodology, and fastidious performance. People produce high quality coffees on purpose.
I roasted a batch of Nekisse a few days ago and it was one of those roasts where I just knew I nailed it. It was beautiful. I set the damper on par to restrict the airflow just right, bringing the temperature of the coffee up at the precise timing I intended. I felt like the temperature profile of this roast should be recorded on canvas and placed in the Philbrook. The coffee coalesced at first crack and became one mass of popping, drumming, hip-shaking rhythm to the drone of the roaster purring like a huge metal lion. And I manipulated the intake and outflow until those precious few seconds arrived at the end of the roast where the coffee and I speak to one another.
Because I’ve worked with coffee a lot and I care about coffee a lot, something happens between the coffee and me. There is a personification of the coffee beans. They become a living entity, the embodiment of all those who toiled on the their behalf. The coffee is like the star of the show, who couldn’t be where it is if it weren’t for so many people behind the scenes who worked hard to propel it to greatness. And all those people who had a hand in the coffee come with it to the DoubleShot, from the ones who nurture the coffee trees from seedlings to transplanted mature adults, to those who fertilize and prune and pick and carry the coffee cherry down the mountain. The people who process the coffee and turn the coffee over on its drying bed. Those who manage its production and sort out the premium quality beans for us. The baggers, the shippers, the cargo ship captain who delivered our coffee in port. They’re all in there with the coffee, because this coffee couldn’t have become what it is without all those people striving on its behalf. And their spirits cry out in those final moments of the roast and I can feel it. And they are happy, proud, excited.
The entire life of this coffee has come to this. All that came before was for this moment in time. Everything that has happened to this coffee along the way allowed us to fulfill Nekisse’s mission by roasting it properly and delivering it to you for your ultimate enjoyment. That’s what this coffee was made for.
And at the moment I dropped that Nekisse from the roasting drum into the oversized stainless cooling bin, all of my life had led to this. All the hours of roasting and learning and listening and reading and hauling bags of coffee on my shoulder. All the lessons my dad taught me through his actions about working hard and doing my best, about learning a craft and becoming good at it, about the value of transforming raw materials to make something beautiful. All of that work by my father carried forward in me, like the work of the coffee producers which carried forward in the Nekisse. And it all came together for one purpose: To make delicious coffee.
Nekisse is moving fast. (get it here: DoubleShotCoffee.com/nekisse) The response to this coffee has been outstanding, and we love the appreciation you’ve shown to our efforts in providing coffees of this caliber. With fantastic fruity aromas of strawberry and peach, the brightness of Nekisse glows through in the cup past a sea of milk chocolate that will linger on your palate.
Two more exciting things will happen this Tuesday. We will prepare two food pairings that accentuate the amazing qualities of Nekisse: a blueberry-lemon drizzle bread and a chocolate lava cake. You will have the opportunity to let us make you a pourover of Nekisse and purchase one or both of the food pairings with it. This is a one-time offering, happening Tuesday, December 10.
The second thing you need to know about this Tuesday is that we will be releasing a new chocolate bar. I’ve once again collaborated with the chocolatier who produces our MADURO bars to create a new bar featuring our NEKISSE coffee in a darker chocolate from the Ivory Coast. It really makes a rich melange of bright, fruity, coffee flavors in that bed of amazing, silky dark chocolate. A great gift for the holidays and a special treat for you.
Tuesday will be a great day at the DoubleShot.
* If you look around the DoubleShot, most of what you see was made by or restored by or at least inspired by my dad, Steve Franklin.