Summer is time for cold pressed

Summer is time for cold drinks but iced tea does not always quite cut it.  In comes iced coffee. I remember my mom would keep the ink black brew that passed for coffee in the fifties and sixties in a jar in the refrigerator. Later she would pour it over ice.  I recall it was pretty good if you put enough sugar in it. Well it's not 1950 anymore and our tastes have been somewhat refined. The smooth low acid taste of cold pressed are just the thing to fill the bill. Just pour a bit over some ice and add either a little half and half and some club soda or just plain milk and a little flavoring if you want desert or leave it out if you don't. Then get ready for a happier summer.

Warning label

We were just considering the whole health and coffee thing and the idea came up of warning labels. The warning label for coffee might say, Some people may have an adverse yet harmless reaction to coffee, some people have been advised by their doctors to avoid caffiene, coffee may cause problems with sleep if drank too soon before bed. That's about it, right? Now imagine what they would have to put on sugar; May lead to or exacerbate type 2 diabetes, will cause tooth decay, some people may notice significant weight gain, is associated with heart disease, bad breath and yeast infection. If you look at the two we think that cup of mocha java is a lot less problematic than that super sized cola drink. 

Coffee is not a bad habit

I was watching a mattress commercial the other day and they were talking about why we get bad sleep and they included as images of bad habits,  a picture of a latte'. The first thing is that coffee especially being drank early in the day has very little effect on sleep. Evening alcohol use has a much greater effect on sleep than even late night caffeine use but I don't recall them putting a picture of a highball in the bad habit picture. Secondly for over all health coffee has far greater health enhancing effects than any small disturbance of sleep cancels out. 

Foley's

We just restarted our coffee sales at Foley's produce in Maple Valley. We have been selling there for three years now and each year it gets better. Sean Foley, the work addicted owner, has done a great job of spiffing the place up.  We try to do tastings on most Saturday mornings.  It's a great place to get produce at a very good price and to fuel the local economy. Foley's is like Rad, fresh, local, and delicious.

Crises Coffee and Comfort

We've been going through some stress here at Rad one of the motors on our roaster went on strike and there are some family issues going on.  What occurred to us is a time when someone asked Joe Montana what he did to be exceptional in the big game. He replied that in that pressure you do not want to focus on the exceptional but rather do the ordinary things up to your ordinary level.

One ordinary thing when everything else seems to be spinning out of control is that cup of Joe just the way you like it. Sort of like during WWII the Brits no matter if they were in the snowfields of Europe or the Sahara Desert would stop at 4 each day for tea time. When you are in an extra ordinary situation it is important to have that little bit of ordinary. We hope it is that extra ordinarily great tasting cup of Rad that sees you through.

Cream and sugar reconsider

It has come to our attention that many people who normally drink their coffee with cream and or sugar find that they like our coffee black. There are two possible causes for this one is that taste buds age and as we grow older we find we can tolerate stronger tastes. The other is that many people start their coffee journey with substandard coffee. If you are drinking pre-ground coffee from a can that has been open for a week you might need sugar and or cream to overcome the stale sour taste of it. Either way, if you are a cream and sugar sort of coffee drinker try a cup of fresh roasted, recently ground, local, fresh, and tasty. You might be surprised. 

This is a picture of the coffee plant we got when we first opened 4 years ago. We are posting it so that you can appreciate the time, work, and magic of producing coffee. When this tree gets to be 8 feet tall it will produce about a pound of coffee beans. Now imagine 50 such plants, that's about as much as coffee as one might drink in a year. 

Then think of the insects, the weather, the poisonous snakes and changes in the market. Thinking of such things makes the cup of Rad taste a little better for us. We hope it works that way for you.

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Cupping and tasting

When we first got in the business we had a lot of focus on cupping as purchasers of green beans. Now our focus is to offer tasting to our customers. What's the difference you ask?  One way to think of it is cupping is designed to discover the weakness of a particular crop. This is done by making a very blond roast in order to taste all the flavors that may or may not show up in a darker roast. This is done to grade the coffee and to describe it's attributes. 

Tasting on the other hand is for the retail customer to find the particular variety, blend and roast to match the taste of that particular individual or group. Cupping is a job, albiet a joyful one, tasting is a pleasure. That is why our tasting room is open every weekday morning from 930 to 1 so that you can come and find your coffee for you. You're invited.

Another Satisfied Customer

It was our delight this morning to meet Jeb Ulrich who recently moved to the area but works in the charter fishing industry in Anchorage Alaska. He said the biggest halibut they ever caught was in the 350 pound range. Needless they had to shoot it before putting it in the boat.

He is a fan of darker roasts so we went through a full city, a French roast, and an Italian roast. He liked all of them stating, "This is the best coffee in the state of Washington." Then settled on Carmen San Diego a French roast. We really like to focus on pinpointing the roast of choice in our tasting room as it seems that personal roast trumps origin or blend when it comes to coffee taste satisfaction. 

Drop in sometime and let us help you figure out your roast of choice any weekday from 9:30 am to 1 pm, bring a friend.

Going forward we reach back

Better faster cheaper have been the hallmarks of the American financial miracle from the get go. The Yankee Clipper to the Claremont, Birdseye peas to the lap top computer we keep getting better stuff for less. So it seemed with coffee. Faster was probably the main driver in coffee marketing and consumption but it led to cheaper but we kinda question the better part. In the early days of coffee consumption the primary way to get coffee was to buy green Arabica beans and either roast them yourself or have someone do it for you. This was accomplished in everything from hand cranked toasters to cast iron skillets. Then the person would grind their own beans, and brew the coffee in any number of ways from the Turkish      to the tin percolator. As you can imagine this was pretty labor intensive and time consuming. It seems like the Civil War was about the time commercial roasting became in vogue. The first big roasting grinding packaging appears to have been during the California gold rush where everyone was too busy trying to get rich to grind their own beans, Yuban was formed. The cheaper part can be seen as early as the Civil War where troupes insisted on whole beans because providers were known to mix dust or other materials with ground coffee in order to increase profits. This was probably why the north began to include a coffee grinder in the stock of some carbines. The biggest event in cheaper however was the introduction of large amounts of Robustus coffee into the mix. As European empires lost their colonies a cash crop was needed to prop up the new economies of the new equatorial countries. It was found that large quantities of this lowland jungle coffee could be grown under a big plantation system. The coffee produced was more bitter and has a higher caffeine level.  It was and still is used as an additive to coffee, a filler.  Since the price of Arabica is somewhat unstable the big companies just add more Robusta to the mix to keep their prices competitive, unfortunately they compete with one another so, do the math.  

At Rad we are attempting to do the impossible, turn back history. Not to the point where people buy their own beans and roast at home but only to the page where we roast high quality Arabica coffees and deliver them fresh. Then you take the time to grind the beans just before making and enjoying the coffee. The value added is time, time smelling the coffee as it is ground, the time watching the coffee being brewed the by the process to ones taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing that enriches that moment of that cup, that celebration of the gift of coffee. We hope that your time with us is a  value added as well

Coffee and war

Being kind of peaceful folks it takes us aback to think of how coffee figures into war and violence. When you ponder the history of coffee there is a lot of nasty stuff that led to the development of the coffee culture. From the beginning the transport of coffee from equatorial Africa to Ethiopia and eventually Yemen was associated with the violent slave trade. Seems that coffee berries were a staple for the long walk north of the slave caravans, the seeds were shall we say deposited near the caravan route and eventually the Arabica plants thrived in the higher elevations and were eventually used for a beverage. When the Turks attempted to conquer Vienna and lost they left behind coffee, this was the beginning of the Vienna coffee tradition. Our revolution pushed Americans to use coffee rather than tea as their morning beverage to stick it to the British with their tea tax. Then our civil war did a lot to further the popularity of the beverage. We're not sure how we feel about all of this, but maybe if some good comes from a bad thing we should honor the pain and suffering that went into the birth of such a great beverage. 

New Year's

Well well well, looks like we almost used up 2014 and will soon have 2015 to deal with. Will this be the year Seattle wins the super bowl and gets into the world series and gets a brand spanking new basketball  team? All things to hope for but that cannot be foreseen. A lot of things go through the brain at this time of year. Taking stock of what just happened, figuring out what to do next, that sort of thing. Here at Rad we just keep on roasting and getting better at what we do. We have a couple of specialty coffees out right now; Rad Nosed Reindeer, and our whiskey coffee; green beans aged in a recently decanted whiskey barrel and roasted. We have a very small quantity of this at 15 dollars for 12 ounces.  Shipping is extra on this one. Mostly what we want for next year is to enhance the coffee experience for more and more people. Here's hoping you all have a fresh local and delicious new year.

A visit from Airways

Last week Alex from Airways came to roast our coffee that was aged in an empty whiskey barrel that we obtained from Bainbridge Organic Distillers. We were amazed at how strong the beans smelled when we took them from the barrel. We roasted them to a nice medium city roast. We were amazed once again at how strong the whiskey aroma was after the coffee was roasted. Apparently Alex took it right back and added it to a nice stout they were putting together. We roasted more of the whiskey beans to a darker roast and made them available in our annual blue Saturday event. We made coffee from the beans and it tasted wonderful with that whiskey aroma and taste.  It really is a special coffee and we look forward to develop this exceptional bean.

A dab of butter

A little dab of butter can do interesting things to an espresso shot. It seems to bring out the flavor rather than cover it up like milk or cream does. The other effect is that the butter slows the absorption of caffeine so the lift is a gentle sustained experience rather than the roller coaster you get from knocking down a double shot. If you decide to try this at an espresso bar be sure to insist on salt free butter. I made the mistake of asking for butter at an espresso bar in Seattle and not specifying,  ended up with the salted variety....... yecchh, but I drank it anyway. Don't be that guy!!!

 

 

Another satisfied customer: Pete Sphar

Pete has been a customer for over a year. This is his coffee story.  He like many of us in his generation started with percolated Folgers at around age sixteen, graduated to really bad coffee when he served in the army. After his service he attended Wright State University where he took up Taster's Choice which seemed to satisfy him until he made the move that caused his coffee drinking to evolve; He moved to Seattle in 1989. Recently he has evolved once again to become a drinker of Rad, which he states he likes because it's local, good, and doesn't taste burnt. 

Holiday season is coffee season

Not sure of the statistics but our sales sure show a bump when the weather gets cold and and the celebrations begin. I remember years ago when we got our first espresso machine for Christmas many latte's were imbibed. Sometimes it seems like tropical sunshine is concentrated in the beans and sent north to where it is needed.  On a cold dark December morning that hot cup of fresh local and delicious coffee is like a cup of summer.  Winter season is also party season from Thanksgiving through New Years people put a lot of effort into their meals. That first cup of coffee on Christmas morning or that post turkey stimulant after Thanksgiving dinner that just adds that little something special that can make a good time great. Coffee is also a great gift perhaps instead of a bottle of wine at the party or if you want the gift that keeps on giving consider the coffee of the month program for that hard to please coffee drinker on your list. 

A better French press

Two problems with the French press are, all the grounds on the bottom of the container and some chemicals that one might want to have less of. 

Cleaning French presses is not the high point of anyone's coffee making experience to our knowledge, although I am sure there is someone out there who likes it, the exception that makes the rule as it were. Let's face it that huge mass of frothy grounds at the bottom of the pot is just the price one pays for the excellent experience of drinking freshly pressed coffee. Oh and by the way if it does not froth up it might mean your coffee is getting a little old. 

 

There are also some small amounts of chemicals that might increase the probability of some rare cancers. We have never seen a study that directly links drinking pressed coffee with an upsurge in illness, but.....

A solution to both of these problems is to scoop before you press. After pouring  your just under boiling water and waiting 4 or 5 minutes spoon off the frothy grounds from the surface of the coffee. You will also be spooning off the chemicals you don't want for health as well as some bitter oils that don't do much for your coffee drinking experience. We think this makes a better cup of Joe and an easier mess to clean up.

Celebrity Shlemegrity

What's up with Ralph Lauren and Martha Stewart making coffee drinks? I mean you have to like the fact that everyone is jumping on the coffee bandwagon. On one level it seems odd that big corporate entities proceed with the claim of helping the small time coffee grower while pushing the small local roaster under the corporate bus! I suppose it's nice to be able to go to Safeway and get a Martha Stewart coffee health drink or have a cup of designer coffee when you are trying on a two hundred dollar shirt. However for good value on the right roast for you no one can supply fresh local and delicious by your personal coffee roaster. When we start thinking that we don't provide the best option we'll stop roasting. 

Finally coffee for the rest of us.

When we were looking for a tag line we had a contest. The first runner up was, "Finally coffee for the rest of us." This is appealing to us as that is sort of our goal. We probably won't be roasting giesha coffee or something a civit cat has passed through it's system. Our goal is to take good quality beans, roast them slow in small quantities to a darkness that marries to the variety, and sell when they are fresh at a reasonable price.  For the little restaurant or office we can develop a distinctive roast to taste. That is our goal good coffee for the little guy, the medium or small office, the cafe. Fresh local and delicious. Coffee for the rest of us.

Roast or origin

We recently had a group of just regular folks do a coffee tasting first of some different roasts and similar beans then several different beans and the same roast. The consensus of the group is the roast was more significant to their coffee drinking experience than the bean.  This was not a fantastic in depth scientific exploration. It just suggests a notion of a question of a guess. What is the predominant element? Naturally we think we do a good job of pairing roast and bean, however with all the great beans out there, are we giving enough attention to the roast?  I don't mean we as a roaster, of course we do, but what about you as a consumer? We want to know your experience.