Monday, February 27, 2012

Roast cupping event

Happy Monday everyone! How was the weekend? Did you get gorgeous weather like we did here in Nashville?

Man, we had a FULL and fun weekend... it was my friend, Nicole's birthday, you've met her before here... we tried a new restaurant which I'm still debating whether or not to blog about, we spruced up the sunroom, I was sick then better, church was amazing AND I was invited to attend a private "cupping event" at ROAST, a local coffee joint just up the road from us. How fun right? Just some of the perks of being a food blogger! ;) (by the way, a cupping event is where you try different brew methods with different coffee beans, learning the best way to brew each kind and how to taste the results you're looking for in your coffee) The place was closed so only the privileged few of us could attend.
 oh yeah... VIP.
We walked in to be greeted by a SLEW of other food bloggers and the owners of the shop, Brad and Lisa... I was in Heaven. Not only did my new friends and I have so much to chat about, but they were ALL carrying around their cameras and snapping EVERYTHING just like I do! See everybody? I'm truly not the only one that's so obnoxious about photographing all my foodie moments! Anyways, Brad proceeded to welcome us all to the event and share with us how he and his wife got started in the coffee roasting business and how they ended up owning a shop. It's a story of happenstance, then interest, obsession, determination, and now a thriving passion and business. He and his wife, Lisa are committed to buying directly from and building relationships with their suppliers, and roasting outstanding coffee for us caffeine injecting cafe lovers here in Nashville. (i'm not sure if you read that correctly or not, but just to point it out again... Brad actually GOES to South America himself to buy his beans directly from the farmers he's made relationships with... doesn't that make you want to support them?)

So, after filling us in on the different beans we were going to try, the regions they came from and the flavors we could be expecting from each, they broke us into 3 groups to try 3 different stations:
  1. Chemex - named one of New York Times "one of 100 best modern devices" this is an hourglass-shaped flask that uses a special filter at the neck. Using a chemex coffee maker is a pour over method.
  2. Clever Coffee Dripper- full-immersion brewing method, combines the best of French press and filter drip brewing. There's a stopper at the bottom of the funnel so that no coffee gets released until there's a cup placed underneath. You place the grounds in the thick filter, pour your hot water in and let brew for about 3-4 minutes with a lid on top, then place it over a cup and the coffee is released directly into your mug, sediment free.
  3. Espresso- you all know what that is.
there they are... prepping away!

So let's begin! We started at the chemex station where our new friend, Tim did the demonstrating. (by the way, this guy was unbelievable... obsessed with good coffee and basically BEGGED Brad and Lisa to hire him when he found out they were the only single cup brewers in Nashville... meaning there's no such thing as a "drip coffee maker" in their store, it's all fresh, every cup, every time... impressive)
 their built-in chemex station
 Tim moistening the grounds with just a touch of water to let the grounds "bloom" before pouring all the water on immediately... this process took about 5 minutes.
 doesn't that look creamy and delicious already? you know the coffee down there at the bottom has to be good.
 Since this was going to take 5 minutes, I decided to take the opportunity to snap a few photos of everything else happening...
another station going on
espresso station
 trinkets and other coffee makers i'd never seen before
The food! Since it was a gathering of food bloggers, you know people couldn't help themselves, they
brought things to share... so the krispy kremes weren't a bad idea, but see those homemade quiches?? Those were hand crafted with lots of love by my new friend, Charles... if you want the recipe for those babies, (which i highly recommend that you do) check out his blog, Local Forkful. Thanks for sharing, Charles and I can't wait to cook with you!
and here was my first taste of the chemex... it was delicious! dark and cocoa like, but not too heavy.
Thanks for the great demonstration and the even better coffee, Tim! You were a blast.

Next stop: Clever coffee dripper! What a strange, awesome little contraption... this is the kinda thing you want to buy and learn how to use just to impress people after dinner... "coffee anyone? okay, coming right up... let me just break out my 4 individual clever coffee drippers and brew you EACH YOUR VERY OWN fresh cup of coffee with my handy dandy contraption! Oh, it's the best coffee you've ever tasted? I know." That's how I imagine it.
 there they are, those clever little drippers!
 Brad explains just what's about to happen...
 thick, perforated filters in! 
 grounds poured...
 hands on, friends! (look at that studly man over in the corner... that's just my supportive husband)
 just a little water to let the grounds form a nice pocket... then continue pouring!
 lids on!
 after 3 minutes... place on your cup and the freshly brewed coffee slowly releases!
black as the night and tasty as ever!
James having his first sip... we think we like this a little better than the chemex! A thicker quality to it...

Last but for SURE not least... the espresso station with Lisa!
pretty sure I heard angels singing when I saw this.
 Lisa explains the two different types of espresso bean...
 Charles starts us off! (the same charles that makes the quiche!)
 yeah, he's a natural... used to be a barista for Starbucks... i knew we were kindred spirits when we met!
Look at that little beauty! He made himself a coconut milk Nutella latte! Impressive.
 guess who's up next?! :) So proud!
freshly grinding the beans into the portafilter.
 gently leveling the grounds.
 "30 pounds of pressure," Lisa says... like we know what that means?! Apparently that's the correct amount of weight to put into pressing the grounds with the tamper.
 after pressing, polish! gently twist the tamper on top of the pressed grounds.
 He's decided to make a macchiato with his shots... milk of choice: almond! good man.
to the machine!
 beautiful shots, babe!
 now, a lesson in steaming!
freshly steamed almond milk for his macchiato!
 shots are poured into cup...
frothy almond milk is added.. just a dollop!
And a happy camper with his freshly made macchiato! That man is fine... getting in there, learning how to use the espresso machine... coming with me to this strange event... what a man!

So there you have it everyone.... a look into the private cupping event at Roast. We walked away with a new respect for Brad and Lisa and what they're doing here in the city, and we're now knowledgeable about 3 different types of brewing! We know what kind of South American coffee we like, what to look for, where it's coming from and what to expect from different regions... I feel fully equipped and like a whole new world was laid out in front of me! Such an exciting thing to learn about a craft like coffee roasting! It was one of those experiences that doesn't happen often, I didn't know what to expect, and I loved every minute of it... cannot wait for the next adventure in learning more! And I can't wait to keep sharing it with you. James, thanks for going with me... you made it all the better. And friends, thanks for keeping up with this extensive blog post... just didn't want you to miss anything! ;) If you're local and you need a pound of coffee, head on over to Roast... and if you're not local or you don't feel like driving to Crieve Hall area to get it, stop in at your local Whole Foods Market and support our friends Brad and Lisa! You'll be glad you did and you'll know the history and freshness behind what you're buying. Nothing's better!



  1. Never did I want to taste the different coffees like reading this blog. Amazing descriptive detail, and I could almost smell the grinding beans...James was intently listening to Lisa as he prepared his own drink. Great fun blog, Sidney. I continue to be amazed and proud of you! You've turned your personal interests into a valuable benefit to others who share your passion for all things done well!

  2. Sidney...catching up on your bog these past few days has literally given me butterflies in my stomach! I love everything you write about! It is making me realize even more the passion I have for food...and you are teaching me so much! Thanks for are AMAZING!!