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My college football coach, who we called "Big Red", would remind his players on a regular basis, "Every day, you either get better or you get worse; you never stay the same." I've remembered that through the years, and found it to be true about everything. Nothing stays the same. In fact, it's virtually impossible to do something twice in exactly the same way, and it's especially improbable that you'll ever attain exactly the same outcome twice.
In my younger years, I listened to and read a lot of motivational leadership books and speeches, and it's really shaped not only who I am, but the way in which I believe. Not just what I believe. But there was a guy named Zig Ziglar, who I used to get a kick out of, and he was full of sayings about this and that. One of the things I remember him saying, in the course of convincing his listeners to change the way they do things, is that "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." I've since heard other people say this, and I couldn't disagree more. To me, it's not insanity, but it is lunacy (is there a difference?) to think that you could do the same thing over and over again and get the SAME result. Things just don't happen like that. But I do agree with Zig (and so many others) about the idea that you should institute your own change. Change your mind, change your actions, change your outcomes.
And that's what we strive to do here at the DoubleShot. I know we're not going to pull the exact same shot of espresso twice. I know that we're not going to brew the exact same cup of coffee twice. I have no doubt that your experiences here are different every single day. And I'm ok with that. Since change is inevitable, I feel that it is our duty to try and get BETTER every day.
With that in mind, we've been working on three different projects in an attempt to brew better coffee.
When we opened the DoubleShot in 2004, it was very important to me that we have great drip coffee, even though I couldn't afford to invest in a high-end machine. So we brewed through your standard commercial brewer, and in order to make the coffee taste extra good, we also brewed a french press of the coffee, and added it to the airpot. (Interestingly, as a side note, I found that most coffee, when dispensed through an airpot, aerates as it comes out and has bubbles on top; but coffee brewed with a french press will not aerate. You cannot aerate french press coffee for some reason. Maybe because of the heavy oil concentration.) The second phase of our coffee brewing came when I finally upgraded to a Fetco brewer. The brewed coffee was markedly better, and the need to add a french press to the pot was negated. We suddenly had so much more control over the brewing variables, and a large shower head that saturated the entire bed of coffee grounds in the basket. For around 8 years we used that brewer, switching about a year ago from 85 ounce airpots to 1 gallon dispensers. But our volume has actually long outgrown it. And so it was that last Friday we installed a new, larger Fetco coffee brewer. With new control and sensitivity, we began to experiment with all the brewing variables, changing the brew time, the water temperature, water volume, coffee grind coarseness and weight, and pre-wet volume and time (This is the period at the beginning of a brew cycle when the Fetco dispenses hot water onto the dry coffee grounds, saturating the bed, and then pausing to let it bloom before commencing with the brew cycle.). These variables, working in tandem, each change the coffee in some way, and when they are all put together right, the coffee produced can be really good. And, well, after a lot of trial and some minor palate burn-out, we are currently satisfied with the results. I know you're going to love the new recipe, so be sure and come by for a cup soon. (Incidentally, if you'd like to buy our smaller Fetco brewer, it's currently listed for sale on ebay: http://www.ebay.com/sch/franklin527/m.html
The other things we've been working on here at the DS are akin to building a better mouse trap. As an exercise in creativity and brewing science, I asked all of the baristas to come up with an idea for a new brewing method. The future of coffee brewing. How will we be brewing coffee in 5 years? As you can imagine, the results were interesting and sometimes a bit amusing. I recorded a podcast about it, which you can hear at aacafe.org. If you've never listened to our podcast, you should go check it out. I started it in July 2005, though some of the earlier episodes are no longer available, and you should thank me for that. Since its inception, the podcast content and format have gone through more changes than the… well, suffice it to say, if you don't like it, just wait til the next episode; it will change. Mark Brown, former editor at This Land magazine, and author of Argentfork, is my cohost for the podcast. We talk about coffee, but mostly we talk around coffee. Take a listen sometime, and pass it on.
Our other mission is concerning how you make coffee at home. Or on the road. Over the years, we've worked hard to find the best products for home coffee brewing, and we offer those in the store and on our website. The baristas are all well-versed in different brewing techniques and are happy to help you figure out what best suits your situation. Soon we will publish our own manual for various brewing techniques, in a pocket-sized booklet that you'll want to buy and keep handy when making coffee.
Some of our efforts through the years have resulted in unique products for your home, such as the V60 Filter Crib (check out the new, updated version). And some have been about making coffee during travel, like the CONNECT3 Adaptor Ring (now available as a complete set!).
But what about making it easier to brew coffee at home without investing a lot of money in equipment? That's our next assignment. If you listen to the TED talks, or are part of the "maker" community, you know that things are trending toward simplicity, sometimes through extremely technologically-advanced machines, like 3D printers and the like. I'm interested in open-source, simple to construct coffee brewing devices. I'm both interested in something you could print with a 3d printer, as well as something you could adapt from things around your house in order to make a great cup of coffee. Hopefully someday there will be so many ideas about ways to make coffee that the only reason you could have, no matter where you are, for not making coffee, would be if you didn't have any fresh-roasted DoubleShot Coffee beans. Stay tuned for these ideas as we develop them over the next few months.
Lastly, I have some good news and some bad news. The Ethiopia Natural Sidamo Korate is all gone (though watch for the commemorative tshirt). This coffee has been a huge favorite around here with employees and customers alike. But this is how things go with coffee. Out with last year's favorite and in with the new favorite. Tonight I'll roast the inaugural batch of a new natural Sidamo called Adem Chilcho. This coffee is different from the Korate, but absolutely delicious. It's grown in the Sidamo region of Ethiopia, near a town called Dilla. Three indigenous groups took part in growing this coffee on small plots, and then the coffee was dried in the sun on raised beds before it was cleaned and sorted and made ready for me to roast it. Read more about it here: http://www.doubleshotcoffee.com/products/ethiopia-natural-sidamo-adem-chilcho
And BTW, if you've been trying to come in the wrong door for the past three years, you're in luck; I finally built and installed a sign over the café!