Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bird Rock Coffee's Brew Olympics!


Being a child of the caffeinated 90s, and being married to a coffee fanatic, I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about coffee. Heck, in 2004, my friends and I wrote and staged an entire series of plays about the stuff! However, I found out on Friday while attending the Bird Rock coffee roaster challenge, that there is so much more to coffee than I ever knew. So many different methods, along with roasts and procedures for making --- and this contest was strictly using the 'pour-over' method!


The pour-over method is just that -- essentially, placing the ground coffee into a filter (paper or metal are most common), then pouring water over the grounds into a cup. This method is arguably the best for coffee brewing, but is one of many methods, ranging from the convenient and fast to arduous and painstaking. 


But before the contest, there was a little party arranged by the owner of Bird Rock Roasters, Chuck Patton. Two beer kegs were tapped (Arrogant Bastard Ale -- yummy!), and tri tip and peppers were grilled for the excited viewers and participants. So, so good! My sandwich was so delicious that I had to take a bite before I took a picture!  



While we were waiting for the contest to begin, Mr. Patton was kind enough to show us his roaster, where he and another roast master prepare and roast the beans that make up every cup of coffee sold at Bird Rock. A pretty impressive machine, he explained that the freshness of the roasted beans are paramount to the taste of the coffee, as well as the integrity of the machine. The freshness of the beans is so important that he is roasting new batches of coffee everyday.  The roaster is made of cast iron to maintain an even temperature of roasting, with a exterior plan with fans for rapid cooling of the beans. 


Now it was time to watch and taste! Five teams from different roasters were chosen randomly, as well as the method that was to be used for each team. The teams were judged by three coffee experts: Martin Diedrich from Kean Coffee, Mike Perry from Klatch Coffee, Sally Rivera from Cafe Imports. The last judge was a flavor expert, AIRR chef Brian Redzikowski. 




During the contest, free coffee was available at the bar. Customers were provided with a choice of espresso or a macchiato and later they added doria, a 'pour over' method brewed coffee.  Incredibly delicious coffee! After tasting their amazing coffees, my husband and I had to buy some of the beans for home. We had some of the Bird Rock Roast this morning, and it was amazing! The painstaking methods for roasting definitely shine 
through on the final product. 





Listening to the judges' assessment of the coffees, discussing the grind, body, temperature of the water, and timing of brewing made me realize how much thought and process goes into a great cup of coffee. It is astounding how much work goes into that little cup that we appreciate so much every morning...from the growers, to the shippers, roasters, and finally the barista grinding and brewing. How much margin for error that exists. However, Bird Rock and their contemporaries seem to be doing it right, with flair and friendliness. 
June 05, 2011 / by / 0 Comments
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