Alright, it’s coffee time!
It seems appropriate that I finish writing this post at Crimson Cup’s coffee shop. I spent the morning a couple weeks ago with Brandon Bir, coffee and training specialist at Crimson Cup. He showed me around their roasting facility, training site, and coffee lab.
I’m sure you’ve seen Crimson Cup coffee around the city. In addition to their own single storefront, they retail and wholesale their coffees in many places, and provide support for shop owners using Crimson Cup beans.
Crimson Cup roasts on a pretty large scale, although they work with everything from teeny tiny experimental batches…
…to midsize roasts.
Their team is working the roasters constantly, as you might imagine.
Here’s their 66 pound roaster dedicated solely to organic beans.
This is their 225 pound roaster, used exclusively for their Armando’s Blend.
The Armando roaster has been custom assembled, and when they move to a larger facility down the road soon, it will have to be custom disassembled and moved!
As you can imagine, especially this time of year, orders of beans are flying out the door. There’s a whole team loading bags and fulfilling orders.
Then it was on to the coffee lab. Here Brandon experiments with each roast, testing them against a variety of preparation styles to match the best service for each coffee. A high shelf holds nearly every imaginable preparation, from modern glassware to traditional ceramic pots.
On our way to the lab, we stopped in Brandon’s office for a taste of their latest specialty brew, the Holiday Hopped Nitro. Brandon keeps the mobile coffee unit in his office. Very nice bonus, to have a nitrogen tap dispensing cold brew coffee next to you. Also, very dangerous. The holiday hopped nitro takes a Guatemalan bean that’s cold brewed, dry hopped (the term for adding hops to beer after the boil, to impart flavor and fragrance without extracting bittering oils), then flavored with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, star anise, orange rind, and a little lactose (a sugar used in milk stouts). The result is a creamy and lightly spiced coffee – definitely worth checking out at their Clintonville coffee shop while it lasts.
After sipping cold brew and touring the facility, Brandon asked, “Do you want some coffee?” I of course said yes, so he made a pour-over using their Bela Vista beans.
He brewed it in a stainless steel Kalita Wave dripper, a device with three holes in the base that uses a coarser grind of beans.
As with other pour-over devices, it produces a wonderfully clean cup of coffee. It’s especially effective with a light roast like the Bela Vista; the Wave allows the more subtle honey, fruit, and nut flavors to shine through.
Of course, it helps having an expert prepare it for you, too.
Thanks to Brandon and the crew from Crimson Cup for hosting me!