For the first time in my life I consecutively summited a pair of mountains over 14,000 feet, retracing my path back over the first peak feeling triumphant and emotional as the distant bugles from a swarm of elk receded from sight and sound. As pikas squeaked like ubiquitous dog toys and the shrill whistle of the marmot completed the mountain symphony begun by the wind and my crunching, percussive footsteps. As I descended to treeline around 12,000 feet, above which no trees were growing and the bald, Rocky Mountain exposed itself and me to the driving gale and baking sun, increasingly taller pines began to join the winding dirt trail.
My day on the trail began in the early morning darkness which obscures all but contrast and beyond that, imagination. And so in the midday light of this previously-trodden path, all things became new and vibrant, and my awareness stretched beyond these things freshly revealed into the the still-unseen, searching vigilantly for animals and flowers and interesting rocks and the elusive bear. Movement guided my focus, and above, two mule deer browsing on tall grasses and thick, green brush quickly disappeared into the mountain foliage. A million other rocks and insects and tiny purple flowers passed and I approached what was left of a 19th Century log cabin, deep into this range and a fair hike up from the nearest abandoned mining town. History and curiosity pulled me in to inspect the remaining few, monstrous logs of this primitive dwelling. And the stumps surrounding it were hardened into a mummified fossil history of the ancient trees that some similarly-hardened, brave pioneers hand-cut from the mountainside. What a stunningly impressive act that must've been as these girthy arbors fell through the forest and exploded onto the thudding, quaking earth and all snapped and cracked around.
The DoubleShot did not begin all at once on March 5, 2004. It began with a pioneering dream and the spirit of youth, to go out and create an experience for the masses which I had discovered in my kitchen 7 years prior. Five years of learning and experimenting and a hopeful but naive belief in the dream that hard work and an excellent product will certainly drive people to believe in me and ultimately bring success, led me to that decision to go forth and create. Cultivating the basis of my understanding of coffee began with a simple fluid-bed roaster, a book about coffee and a lot of extremely small batches of various types of beans from around the world. Though not ideal, I roasted and brewed every morning at 4am and took notes on each one. But the main thing I learned from this experience was that, prior to the first cup I roasted and brewed at home, I had never tasted coffee that wasn't stale. And thus was born the idea that the DoubleShot is founded upon: Freshness. The building blocks were felled one by one with a lot of hard work and trial and each one gave me a better foundation for what I believe about coffee, steering me further up the road of better and better tasting cups. Today those pillars of quality are the things that make the DoubleShot excellent and we stand on these principles as they are what sets us apart and makes us unique.
On the eve of my 40th birthday, I chose to go to one of the most amazing and magical places in the country. From the town of Three Rivers, a winding, 2-lane road climbs up through the hot, high-desert landscape of scrub oak and twisted, stunted trees surrounded by scorched brown rock and dun-colored grasses. Upward until suddenly the trees are taller and lodgepole-straight, the ground covered in pine needles and moss-covered boulders. Upward still until, around a bend in the road, the most exquisite moment of the trip, which repeated itself over and over and over again, found me standing wide-eyed, looking up in disbelief at the utterly inconceivable size of the Sequoia reaching up into the canopy, its rounded-point top difficult to see because of its enormous girth. The size of these trees is startling and I'm not exaggerating when I say that every single one of them made me feel like it was impossible that a tree could be that big - as if my brain weren't big enough to wrap around the idea of such an immense version of a familiar object. The Giant Sequoia is a redwood, sister to the tallest trees on earth, cousin to the little Cypress I planted in my yard a couple years ago. And thus, as conifers, Giant Sequoia produce cones which fall to the ground all around the forest floor, but apparently only open up to drop their seeds after forest fires or with the assistance of squirrels and beetles. Despite the size of the giants, their cones are quite small, which is also remarkable to think about. This little, tough-scaled seed pod contains the potential to produce the largest living thing on the planet, slowly. The oldest known Sequoia is 3,500 years old, based on ring count. I actually stood in front of a section of a fallen tree, which had been sliced to reveal its rings, contrasting lighter summer growth with the darker rings of winter's dormancy that scored its life through the seasons from the tiniest Charlie Brown Christmas tree all the way to a diameter of up to 56 feet!
The DoubleShot is growing, season by season, slowly weathering the storms and putting out fires daily. At times we've been misunderstood, misconstrued, misbelieved, mistrusted, even misguided. But we've also been heralded and mimicked and liked in real life and people have come from near and far to taste and see. We owe our success to the consistent, growing list of DoubleShot Regulars and those who trumpet their love for what we do to anyone who will listen. The slow, plodding growth of business has allowed us to steadily change and adapt in order to serve more loyal fans better coffee as we continually learn about this magical bean and improve the processes that put fresh, delicious coffee in your hands more efficiently. When you're a sapling, it feels like any harsh wind or wisp of flame could be fatal, and I'm happy to say that after 11 years, our bark is thick and the threat of fire only indicates the likelihood that the seeds of our success will be scattered. If you've been with us over the long-haul, you know the dark times that are our growth rings and you know the light times in which we celebrate coffee.
Pedaling my mountain bike uphill for two hours is at the same time a challenge I will conquer and the most beautiful way to gain potential energy. And at the pinnacle, I will unleash the power in my wheels and the finesse in my legs, rolling across mountainsides through fields of shoulder-high wildflowers, over pine tree roots scrolling across the trail, skipping through rock gardens, and bunny-hopping streams of clear mountain water. The twisting, meandering singletrack of my dreams flows care-free with unexpected thrills and obstacles and the ever-changing color spectrum and smells emitted by who-knows-what as I glide through a forest of rugged, old Pine and emerge into a pristine white-trunked stand of Aspens. It's a different feeling, riding through Aspens with their shimmering, quaking leaves flitting in the breeze and my peripheral dominated by the absence of color. Aspen trees are interesting because when you find yourself in a stand of them, you're actually within one living organism. Each tree is a stem from a singular, huge root system, a clone of its neighbor. And one particular grove of Aspens in Utah is speculated to be the heaviest and potentially the oldest living organism on the planet. While amazing and beautiful, Aspens lack the ability to stir the wonder that erupts when I see a Sequoia. You've seen one, you've seen them all. It might be interesting to walk through a grove and look for the distinguishing characteristics from one tree to the next, but it also might be absurd.
People often ask me about opening a second location. Or franchising. Growing the business by replication. That's how you do it, right? You replicate yourself and then you replicate the process. But not me. I don't say never, but I'm not in business to create a grove of Aspens; I'm here to create a Sequoia. The decisions I've made through these 11 years have not foremost centered on how to make more money. My decisions are first based on quality and freshness. Could I maintain the quality and show even more people how good coffee can be by opening another store? Perhaps. But as of right now, that's not in the works. Why don't we sell our coffee beans at the grocery store like every other small, specialty roaster? Because I have very high and strict quality and freshness standards that could not be upheld in that environment. I refuse to compromise my standards and sell you coffee that I wouldn't drink. That's just not the way we do business. Sure, beautifully-designed shops and sleek marketing are amazing, and I'm jealous of rich, pristine interiors, but the DoubleShot, even after all these years, is about honesty and reality, and what you see is our creative expression of who we are. We may be often imitated but we will never be replicated.
Bumping along in the back of a diesel four wheel drive truck, lining the road and the hillsides as far as the eye can see, are coffee trees. As the truck rolls to a stop and I step out into the Colombian sunshine, I want to feel the leaves of the tree that brings us so much joy every day. The thick, waxy leaf, between my fingers caressing its lines like the fingerprint of an alien, this healthy plants feel happy, if a plant can feel happy. Coffee trees are native to Ethiopia, immigrants throughout the tropics around the world everywhere there is a high place and fertile soil. The tree requires a lot of care, from the nursery to the field where it is fertilized and pruned, and the fungi and beetles which plague coffee must be held at bay. About five years into its life, a coffee tree will enter full production and bear the weight of around five pounds of coffee cherries as they ripen and are hand picked by meticulous harvesters, eventually yielding around 1 pound of roasted coffee. So you could think of a pound of coffee beans that you buy at the DoubleShot as the annual production of one coffee tree. This little tree with a mighty destiny touches your life in the simplest way. And in a sense, you become it as the seeds of its fruit are made into your morning beverage and its cells nourish and transform yours. Just as you become the DoubleShot every time you come to our little store or drink our coffee or speak our name.
Help us celebrate the 11th birthday of the DoubleShot on Thursday, March 5. We will be serving some special selections during our normal hours of coffee, and I encourage you to come back in the evening from 7-10p for more festivities. Hang out with other DoubleShot Regulars who you may or may not know; enjoy some delicious food and beverages; hear Noni Dressler, my cousin who’s coming all the way from St. Louis to sing and play the piano; and celebrate with us what the DoubleShot has become. Thank you for your continued support of our mission. Drink more coffee; it becomes you.
DoubleShot 11th Birthday
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Hours of Coffee 7a-530p