Monday, April 19, 2010

No Coffee in My Room

We recently went on a pleasure trip to San Antonio, TX. We started out our day by drinking way too much coffee; we knew we could not get what we would consider a good cup in an airport. We knew we would have to wait until we got to our hotel to fix a good cup. Preparation was important to accomplish this.

We carefully selected a couple of our favorite coffees, roasted them two days before we left and pre-ground them, we had no choice, you can only pack so much in your carry-ons. It can be a hard decision, take all the equipment needed to make a good cup on the road or pack the clothing you need for the trip. We checked to see if the hotel we selected had a coffee pot in the room, it did. So we packed our pre-ground coffee and filters and hoped the pot was clean and the water was at least okay.

By the time we got to our room we were ready for a cup of fresh brew, it is a long trip; we needed that cup of coffee and to relax before going to look for a local place to eat up some culture. What a surprise when we saw the coffee pot in our room. I freaked, it was a single cup that used pods only, and they slide in on a tray. No way to make a pot of my all time favorite, Kenya French Mission Bourbon. We had smelled that coffee in our carry-on all through the airports. I needed it.

I headed straight to the lobby to ask if they had real coffee pots in hiding. The clerk suggested we go to Wal-Mart and buy one. Couldn’t do that, we did this trip without a car, it is a challenge, but in San Antonio it can be done easily.

What to do now, hummmmm!

I recently read an article in Fresh Cup magazine about pour-overs, so I had the concept in my head on how they work, I got into my MacGyver mode and created one with the things I had in our room and enjoyed a cup of our coffee each morning before we started off on our site seeing for the day. Here is what I did.

*I used one of those plastic drinking cupsPourOversupplies sitting by the sink, a large Styrofoam cup with a lid (good thing we purchased a large Coke to go with dinner) the coffee filters we brought, folded into a cone shape and hot water (that was the only thing that little coffee pot was good for, hot water.)

PourOver2 I put a filter in the top cup, add coffee and slowly poured the hot water around the edge of the coffee and kept doing this until our cup was full. Ah, fresh brew! Now before we go on our next trip, we will purchase a travel pour-over. It will not take up to much room in a carry-on and we will know that at least we can have good coffee in our room. Leaving room to freak about something else, like no water pressure in the shower.


An added note about road trips: One of the first things we do on any pleasure or business trip is look for a local coffee roaster or local coffee shop. We would never visit a chain, we stick with the locals. We didn’t find a really good one until the day before we left San Antonio. We stumble upon one in a new art district at the end of historic neighborhood we walk through. The fresh brew was good and we really enjoy meeting the Barista/manager and talking coffee with him. He was very excited about what he does. When we told him that we are roasters in Indiana, he asked if he could pull us a shot of his espresso, very nice. There is just something about the atmosphere in a local shop that you just don’t get in a chain. What do you think it is?

Where have you found the most interesting place for coffee on a road trip?

travelpourover*Disclaimer: I recreated this at home, but the results were the same. My coffee was very good. This black plastic pour over is something like I will look for my next road trip.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cause Coffee Successful Story

teal-ribbon  Today was the big kick off for the new offering of our first Cause Coffee, Ovar’coming Together’s Teal Ribbon Collection. The Run/Walk that started at the City Market in downtown Indianapolis was the big event. We served the coffee to anyone that wanted to taste test the coffee. It was a big hit. We also came with 72 pounds of freshly roasted coffee for purchase. Only 12 pounds remain. You can still purchase that coffee by contacting Ovar. Get it while it is fresh. 40% of the proceeds goes to the organization. You can continue to show your support throughout the year by purchasing the coffees at Midwest Coffee Roasting Company.

Thank you to all the great people that came out to show their support for this organization in so many ways. The volunteers that came started setting up at 5 a.m. What a great crew. We spoke with many of the survivors and they are such an example to all. You can read more about Ovar’coming Together at their site.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Artisano Oils & Spices & Midwest Coffee Roasting Company Bringing You Something Fresh

If you haven’t heard the news, there is a new shop in town, Artisano’s Oils & Spices.
Artisano’s Oils & Spices and Midwest Coffee Roasting Company announces the arrival of five freshly roasted coffees to the Indianapolis area. Artisano’s is located at: 1101-B East 86th St., Indianapolis, IN 46240.

Artisano’s Oils & Spices opened the doors to the new shop on August 13 and this Sunday, September 20 is introducing four single origin coffees and one custom blend. Midwest Coffee Roasting Company roast only earth friendly, people friendly, chemical free coffees. These coffees will be roasted only days before they hit the shelf bring you the serious coffee drinker, an extremely smooth, clean cup of coffee with no bitter aftertaste. Visit this new and exclusive shop that is offering something new to the area. Ask about private tastings for oils and coffees.
You may also want to check out Artisano's is on Facebooks.
Fresh Coffee Blog, an educational coffee blog.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Cause Coffees

What Is a Cause Coffee?

This is a method for you and our company to show our support for a worthy cause. As coffee drinkers we have to purchase coffee anyway, so why not let our passion for fresh roasted coffee help support these causes? Midwest Coffee Company is working with two Indiana organizations that have two very different missions. Both organizations promote education and a healthier lifestyle. We believe we are doing the same thing with our coffee business. We provide earth friendly, people friendly and chemical free products. Many of the chemicals that are used throughout the growing and production process before you get your coffee are harmful to the body and our environment. We are proud to be providing freshly roasted, 100% chemical free coffees, grown with fertilizers and/or pesticides that are strictly of animal or vegetable origin. Our coffee has been protected in warehousing, shipping and handling processes, both abroad and in the US, from cross contamination from chemicals. We also package our coffees in biodegradable packaging and purchase many fairly traded coffees.

clip_image002Our first cause coffee is the Teal Ribbon Collection for Ovar’coming Together. There are two coffees available to support this cause. Knowledge is Strength Blend is a regular full bodied coffee and Peace of Mind is a Swiss Water Process Decaffeinated Blend. The big kick off for the sale of this new coffee is at the 2009 Ovarian Cancer Run & Walk, Saturday, September 26, 9 a.m., at City Market in Indianapolis. You can pre-order your coffee to be delivered the day of the race at the registration tent, by placing your order on the registration form or order online: Teal Ribbon Collection. Then you can continue to show your support throughout the year as you purchase your regular coffee supply. A larger percentage of the proceeds will go to Ovar’coming Together on all coffee pre-ordered and picked up the day of the race.

Ovar'coming Together is the nonprofit ovarian cancer education and resource organization serving the communities of Indiana through partnerships with the medical community and other cancer-oriented organizations. Go to their website to learn more about this great organization.

clip_image004Our second cause coffee is Greenway Coffee. The current offering is Greenway Fall Blend. Watch for the ever changing seasons of coffee. As new freshly harvested coffees come on the market we will introduce a new Greenway Coffee Blend for that season. A percentage of the proceeds from the Greenway Coffee will go toward the expansion of the Grant County Cardinal Greenway. Grant County's section of the Greenway is part of a much larger Rails to Trail expanding out to parts of Indiana and eventually becoming part of the American Discovery Trail.

Cardinal Greenways is a private, not-for-profit organization. The Cardinal Greenway is the longest rail-trail in Indiana and spans almost 60 miles from Marion through Muncie to Richmond in East Central Indiana. One of the goals is to join the Marion portion of the trail to the Sweetser Switch section. Creating a completed section 14 miles long.

The Cardinal Greenway receives no public funds to help with trail maintenance. Therefore the Greenway depends on trail users and interested community members to support the many trail enhancements with gifts of time, talent, and financial resources. One more way to show your support is to purchase Greenway Coffee for yourself and your coffee loving friends. Order on-line at Midwest Coffee Company, Marion, Indiana. Greenway Fall Blend will be introduced at October Fest, October 3, downtown Marion and will be served at the upcoming Greenway auction in Gas City on October 24.

In the near future we will be introducing one more cause coffee. We will be working with two of Grant County’s own Taylor University graduates who are working with a Chicago intercity youth ministry. Watch for details.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Passion for Coffee in Your Cooking

I met a fellow blogger (Elisha) recently that has some of the same passions I have, well I didn’t really meet her, she lives in California and live in Indiana. So I don’t think we will be going for coffee any time soon, but maybe we can drink some at the same time and have an internet girls coffee night. Any way she loves the idea of cooking with coffee and likes to experiment with combining them to create something wonderful and unique. She found my Chocolate Cookie recipe during an internet search, she loved it so much she contacted me to see if she could post it on her blog. I told her, well of course, just give me credit for this wonderful creation and all the profits for the mega company she could start in California just from this cookie alone. Kidding about the mega company part. Elisha shared several cookies that night with friends under the stars in LA, read what she has to say at her Hands Down article. Don’t stop there, read the whole blog, it is good.

We agree that the cookies need to have a rich, full body coffee in them and we both used a Kenyan coffee.

On with what I wanted to share with you. Elisha has started a really cool blog. It is call The Caffeinated Culinarian. She has started collect recipes that use coffee and tea, that is where the caffeine comes into play. She has an Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies I would love to try, even though it doesn’t include chocolate.

Last weeks coffee cooking experiment.  We had friends over to try one of our new coffee experiments, a marinate made with coffee. We put chicken breast, pork tenderloin and beef in the marinate for 24 hours and then grilled it. Everyone thought the chicken and pork was great, the beef was just ok. We are still working on the recipe. We will post it when we are happy with what we have created.

Today's coffee cooking experiment.  I took a chocolate chip muffin mix, I don’t usually use box mixes but I was in a hurry, I replaced the water for a cup of strong brewed Mocha Java, added a few white chocolate chips for looks, 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal to pretend the muffins are healthy, put it in paper lined muffin tins and sprinkled a few almond slices on top before baking. Baked them per the box instructions. When they where done I sprinkled them with a little powdered sugar. I will serve them to some late night guess that are coming in from Chicago. If they think I work hard on the muffins, I will let them. Did you notice, chocolate and coffee, it is not dessert to me if it doesn’t have chocolate.

If you have a coffee cooking experiment you would like to share, I am sure other would like to read it. Send it to me.

Do you want to learn more about coffee? You might like to read, The French Roast Coffee Conspiracy, Parts 1-3.

Monday, August 10, 2009

French Press It!

Some writers would address this article to coffee fanatics and connoisseurs, but I am telling everyone, if you haven’t tried it, you have a new coffee experience waiting for you.

The French Press

There are two reasons I can come up with to use a French Press:

TASTE, what the French Press does to the coffee is unique to pressed coffees.

The press makes just enough coffee to fill my travel mug and I don’t have to worry that I forget to turn off the pot before I left.

Any coffee will work in a press; the grind and water are the most important FP Eileenelements. You will need to use a course grind (about like cornmeal) and of course good filtered water.

Well I guess you need to have a French Press. You can get a press at Wal-Mart, Target or Meijer. Name brand, off brand, I don’t believe it really matters that much. I do really love the looks of the Eileen by Bodum and it would make me feel very elegant to share a pot made in the Eileen, but I am not willing to pay the price. I will stick with my boring $20 press.

The whole process is this simple:

Grind two tablespoons of your favorite coffee (course grind)

Heat your filtered water to about 200°

Pour the hot water over the coffee in your press

Stir, smell, Ummmm! Put the lid/plunger on

Let stand 3-5 minutes (length determined by what you like.)

Give it a swirl and then plunge it

Drink it black or pour it over cream & sugar. (I am a cream & sugar person, which just about kills some coffee fanatics.) Oh well!

Short and simple. I could have given these instructions all wordy, but it will still come out the same. One more hint to make it better, pour it slow, drink it slow, relax, think good thoughts and Take Time to Taste the Coffee. Share a pot with your best friend or any friend; they will think they are your best friend after sharing this special coffee moment.

What is the best coffee to use in the French Press? Any coffee that you already love will do well in a press, but I have several that I am fond of right now: French Mission Bourbon, Colombia Serra Nevada, Nicaragua and Sumatra Half-Caf. Ask me in a few months and see if I still am hooked on those. Some press users prefer a dark roast and some prefer a medium roast, which is really just a taste preference. What I have found as a coffee roaster to be of the most importance is; high quality, fresh roasted coffees make the best cup no matter how you brew it. I look for a medium roast, full body with deep earthy, chocolate or nutty undertones, with just a hint of sweet fruitiness. A little of an Ethiopian coffee added will give you that fruit.

So if you have not already ran out and bought yourself a French Press, Press Pot, Coffee Press or Plunger go get one for your home and one for your office.

Create some fun tastes by adding other elements in the press like spices, cocoa and dried fruits. Make an extra cup and chill for an Iced Coffee later.

Why do you like to use a French Press?

Other articles you may want to read: Iced Coffee, the Better Way

Monday, July 13, 2009

Get Your Buzz on!


Do you believe caffeine will make you more productive or less productive?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Iced Coffee, the Better Way

Iced coffee is the summer alternative to hot coffee for some of us. To some it is a new idea. Drink it black or with milk, drink it with or without sugar, but drink it over ice.

Iced Coffee Blue This refreshing coffee treat can come in many varieties, flavor and price. You can get an iced coffee just about anywhere now and they are all made differently and the prices, WOW can that hurt!

Some places use powdered something and coffee that comes in a jug, some use a coffee syrup while others are really using fresh milk, fresh brewed coffee, sugar and flavoring. But I am suggesting a better way. Make your own and keep it ready in the refrigerator. It is ready in seconds to pour and go. Not only will you save a fortune but you know what is really in your cup. You decide if you only want good stuff or some unknown stuff. Here is our recipe that we offer at Tastings and fund-raisers (well not exactly, there is a secret ingredient).

MJ Iced Coffee

Make 1 gallon
3/4 Gal. Midwest Coffee Company Mocha Java Blend
Whole Milk
1-1½ Cups Sugar (your desired sweetness)
1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Dissolve sugar into coffee when hot, add vanilla, and pour into a gallon jug, fill the remainder with milk. Chill and serve over ice.
This will stay fresh as long as your milk is good.

I promise this will be the best Iced Coffee I have ever had. I think it is because it is just a pure clean, chemical free glass of Iced Coffee. And then there is the fact that our Mocha Java is in it, it really does make a difference. With a bonus of the dollars you save not buying out.

Here are some variations you can use to create your own personal Iced Coffee. If you come up with some other great creation, let me know.

Whole, 2%, skimmed milk
White Sugar, Splenda, Honey or Real Maple Syrup
Vanilla, Almond, Maple or Fruit Extracts
Try a different origin of coffee, such as: Colombia Sierra Nevada or Sumatra SWP Decaf

Using your French Press will allow experimenting even more.
Try adding spices, cocoa and/or orange zest.

My experiment today in the French Press was:
1 tablespoon of each MCC Organic SWP Decaf Sumatra and Mexico
1 teaspoon Organic Cocoa Powder
Pinch of Cinnamon


Fill a tall glass ½ full, stir in organic sugar, add ice, and fill the remainder of the glass with milk.

Oh! That was good. The only caffeine was from the cocoa powder.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Coffee in the Garden

Every day across America, millions of pots of coffee and tea are brewed, and the millions of pounds of wet grounds, filters and bags thrown in the trash.  This wasteful and could be put to so much better use.

Coffee and filters can be used in the garden and farm as follows:

    • Throw it in your compost: Coffee grounds are 1.45% nitrogen and contain calcium and magnesium to add some trace minerals you may not get from yourvegetables other organic material.  Coffee grounds are a green material (I know coffee is brown, but same idea as grass clippings) so you should add with at least equal amounts of brown material (leaves). Coffee filters and tea bags decompose quickly, so just put it all in the compost pile.
    • Add it directly to your garden:   Coffee has an average pH of 6.9 so for all intensive purposes, it is neutral. It loses most (or all) of its acidity during the brewing process.
    • Fertilizer: Sometimes your plants need a little boost in the morning as well.  Simply add a couple cups of coffee grounds to a bucket of water and let it seep for 24 hours and apply to plant in the same way you would compost tea.  If you are busy/lazy you also can use it as a side dressing on top of your soil and let the rain seep it for you. That is my preferred method.
    • Annoy your pests to stay out of your garden: It has been said that coffee grounds can deter cats from using your garden as their own personal commode.  There are also reports that it can deter slugs as well.  Coffee grounds may annoy ants to convince them to move their home elsewhere.

You can usually get coffee from your local coffee shop. But here is another thing to think about. Has the coffee you are using been grown organic. No chemicals used on it before, during or after the growing process. If you are trying to truly keep you garden chemical free, consider the coffee you are using in the garden and  compost pile.

There is some great information on the web about starting a compost pile in your back yard. I am amazed at how much stuff we have come up with  to put in the pile since we started our this spring. Coffee grounds has been a big boast to our pile because we are always serving coffee. When I will start to put something down the disposal, and then I remember I have a small bucket by the sink to take to the pile. We very rarely use the disposal anymore.

Bonus things to do with coffee: 

  1. Put some coffee grounds down the disposal, let it sit for a little bit and then run it, the grounds will help freshen the disposal and the drain.
  2. Have a musty trunk or old chest of draws, put whole bean or ground coffee in them, it will remove the smell. Give it some time, it works.
  3. Place a bowl of coffee beans in the refrigerator, it will keep the smells out. This is the most important reason to NEVER, NEVER store your coffee in the refrigerator. Coffee absorbs smells and taste very easily, unless you like onion flavor and scented coffee, keep it out of the refrigerator if you intend to brew and drink it later.
  4. This one is from my non-coffee drinking son. He loves the smell of fresh coffee. So we took a nylon stocking and made a sachet for him to put in his car. You can hide it under the seat or just keep it on the dash. The ideas came to him when he was delivering some fresh roasted coffee to someone he works with and when he got back into the car, the whole car smelled like fresh roasted coffee.

This is just an FYI: I made an challenge to an art friend of mine, do a painting this summer with coffee. I am providing her with some shots of espresso for the challenge. Can’t wait to see the results.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Good, Bad & the Ugly of Blending

Our goal for a blend is a very simple goal; achieve a more complete, complex and pleasing coffee experience than can be gotten from brewing single origin alone. Blending can be fun.

When we are working on a custom blend, the first thing we do is figure out what the strengths of our coffees are and then select the ones that we think will complement one another without over powering those qualities. The second step is the process of deciding what percentage we will use of each coffee. It is a trial and error kind of thing. You have an idea of what you think will work together and then you start mixing it up a bit. One of our favorite ways to create a blend is to brew a strong pot of each of the single origins and with a teaspoon and cup measure in some of each, taste, let it cool in the cup and taste again. If we like it, we work it over to see if there is a better combination.

There are coffees that work so well together the blends have become famous, such as Mocha Java. But the one thing you need to know is everyone’s Mocha Java could taste different. It just depends on the coffee that is select from each of those regions.

We also blend because we have gotten a large group of clients that love there fresh roasted coffee all day, but don’t really want to stay up all night. So we do some very good half-caf blends. Now this takes time to perfect what to do. Because a decaffeinated coffee require more care in roasting the regular coffees, it is best to roast them separately. We like to call this a Mélange, which is a blend of coffees that have each been roasted individually. They could have been roasted to a different degree, some light, some dark or from different origins. Mélange is fun to say, so when talking about blends I make sure I work it into the conversation.

Espresso blending can be quit the art. It can be a blend of three to seven different coffees, a combination of different origins and/or roasting levels. Each one is there for a reason, not just hap hazard added. Finding the right coffees for most roasters is an ongoing endeavor. A good espresso will make a big difference in your coffee based drinks. When you find one you will know it.
I think this was a short and sweet description of the GOOD of blending.

Now we can move onto the BAD of blending. I guess the first BAD of blending would be, for just the sake of blending. From a marketing perspective a larger number of choices with cool names can be good for sales, but not so good for taste. If a roaster has purchase say 4 coffees and create as many combinations as he can come up with, that is a lot of blend choices, but not necessarily good choices. The number of blends offered isn’t important, but what you achieve from that blend sure is.

Now this is just an observation from our time in the coffee business. Many people think that all coffees are blends and they are under the assumption that a blend is better than a single origin. NOT TRUE! A blend is only as good as the carefully select coffees used to create that blend, and the skill of the roaster that created it.

I guess my second thought on the BAD of blending would have to be if you blended a coffee that was so complex with so many things going on that you would miss them because you stuck it in a blend. Don’t let anyone tell you there isn’t a coffee out there that shouldn’t be included in a blend. In my opinion they are wrong. There are some “out of this world” single origin coffees and I wish I could afford to buy all of them. To truly experience them, they should be brewed alone, but shared with another coffee lover.

What would be the UGLY of blending? I am telling you this does happens. All of the coffee from a region is purchased by a large roaster all mixed together; it doesn’t matter what quality or defect is in the bean. It could have been processed wrong by the farmer, have molds, been a bad crop, handled badly coming into the US, allowing it to pick up some very nasty taste along the way, but then it is all roasted into one blend. Now that is scary. What is in your cup????

I just thought of another UGLY, you could call this the Lie Blend. They call it by a well known name such as Kona Blend or Jamaican Blue Mountain Blend. Since there are no regulations out there telling you what percentage of a coffee needs to be in a blend to use that coffee as the enticer, you might think it is mostly the enticer coffee that is in the blend, but it could be 5% for all you know. Check the price, there is the tell.

I was reading some stuff on blending the other day and came across another reason to blend. It is an old-crop/new-crop blend. Right a first I thought, well that is a way to hide the fact that you have a bag of old flat coffee sitting in your shop. So I read on, the author said, “you can obtain a fuller, more balanced version of the particular coffee’s taste than could be obtained by roasting either new or old-crop alone. I still need to think on this one. Our goal is to use up a coffee before it becomes old-crop. So it is not an experiment we have done to see what we think.

Blending or Single Origin coffees, it is still a raging battle between the Coffee Purist and the Blend Enthusiast. However what really matters is it a good fresh roasted coffee bean that has been handled and processed well? What is in your cup?

I know the picture is cheesy, couldn't help myself. Click on the picture, do you recognize it, is your age showing?