Teaching Coffee Technicians to be Expert Brewers

Brady Butler at Coffee Technicians GuildOn July 20-22, the Coffee Technicians Guild Summit, an event dedicated to educating coffee technicians from around the world, was held in Greensboro, NC. One of the instructors at this important coffee industry gathering was our very own Brady Butler.

Brady, field liaison for Stockton Graham/Dilworth Coffee is a passionate member of the coffee community. He has helped plan and run coffee events for the local barista community and served as a former Chapter Representative for the Barista Guild Association (BGA). He enjoys teaching others about coffee and earned his Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Lead Instructor Certificate in 2011, followed by his Golden Cup Technician Certificate in 2012. Brady began volunteering as a Lead Instructor at SCAA Expo in 2013. As past Chair of the SCA’s “Brew Crew,” he has played a key role in developing the new SCA Professional Brewing curriculum.

At the CTG Summit, Brady taught the course entitled Brewing: Foundation Level, which was designed to introduce the novice to the core skills and equipment required to produce outstanding brewed coffee.

“After a year’s worth of hard work and multiple trips across the Atlantic, the global SCA Brew Crew was finally ready to present our new and improved Brewing Foundation course” says Brady. “We combined the best elements of the SCAA’s Brewing and Extraction Principles class and the SCAE’s Brewing Foundation course, and created some great new elements as well. This is an excellent starting point for understanding the brewing process, and the first step towards the Brewing Professional Certificate. Since so much of our work was done here in North Carolina, I’m thrilled that this first offering of the class was in Greensboro.”

“We had 50 people from all over the country and even a couple from Europe,” continued Brady. “There were a lot of great events, a mix of fun and educational, including team challenges. My favorite had teams race to see who could fix an intentionally-broken espresso machine the quickest.”

“Since our audience was mostly equipment techs, we did a deeper dive into equipment-related aspects of brewing. These folks already know how to fix brewing equipment. We wanted to help them go beyond that to understand how to make coffee that tastes great. That’s the most important thing.”

The Coffee Technicians Guild (CTG) is an official trade guild of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) dedicated to supporting the coffee industry through the development of professional technicians. The CTG was created to build a community of technicians who can provide mutual support and knowledge, as well as provide opportunities to develop skills and learn best practices. In order to bring together the coffee industry’s most knowledgeable and inspiring professional technicians, the Guild strives to offer events year-round. For more information, please visit: https://coffeetechniciansguild.org/.

For more information about coffee or how to brew it properly, please call 800 835 5943 or email customerservice@stocktongraham.com

Welcome Back Papua New Guinea Mile High Coffee

Nothing beats consistency! Especially when it comes to coffee. This is how we at Stockton Graham & Co. feel about Papua New Guinea Mile High Coffee. Making its mark in Pacific coffees, a noteworthy attribute of this particular coffee is that it is unusually consistent with the crops previously brought in. This is so exciting because consistency is a key reason customers return – they know what they are getting.

This is great for the independent coffee shop owner too because your customers will fall in love with the PNG and keep coming back for it. In fact, when surveyed, 86 percent of respondents in the Charlotte, NC area said “consistent service or quality” was most important in a recent survey we conducted with Mintel.

PNG_Mile High 500x400Originating in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, Mile High is the grade A coffee from the Arokara Co-op. Mile High gets its name because it is grown on the outskirts of the mountain town Kainantu, exactly one mile above sea level. Surrounded by mountains reaching staggering altitudes, the Arokara Co-op is made of plantations such as Gadsup and Tairorasta. Arokara has been processing and growing coffee for over 20 years. No chemicals or fertilizers are used by the landowner clans who now own and run Arokara.

papua new guinea coffee

The entire clan hand picks and pulps the Mile High cherries on the same day. Then, the fresh cherries are fermented for approximately 36 hours in cement vats. Next, they are cleaned in crisp, clear mountain water from the nearby Aru River. Lastly, they are left to dry in the sun for 7-12 days, slowly taking on a lovely bluish color. Mile High is carefully wet-processed to produce a consistently high-quality bean.

Gentle Flavors with an Undeniable Quality from a Versatile Bean

I sat down with our Head Roaster Brad Kirby and resident Barista Alex Jeans to explore this exceptional coffee and hear what they had to say about our Papua New Guinea (or PNG) Mile High.

They all commented on the slight, yet fruity malt softness of the bean that makes Mile High particularly drinkable. Its enjoyable aftertaste lingers on the tongue to be relished.

“As espresso, this coffee’s attributes are amplified in all the right ways,” said Kirby. “If a customer is looking for something different but instantly loveable, PNG Mile High is the way to go. Thanks to its creamy body and fruity sweet notes, this particular coffee does extremely well in small and medium sized milk-based drinks.”

papua new guinea coffee

To really get at the coffee’s unique flavors, our SCAA-certified barista Alex Jeans suggests brewing Mile High using the V60 pour over method, which really highlights its silky smooth body.

“The V60 method really highlights the coffee’s subtle acidity and fruit flavors along with a milk chocolate aftertaste,” Jeans said. “If you want to feature the coffee’s tangy, bright plum notes, then preparing it as an espresso is the way to go.”

When brewing PNG, it’s important to use the right coffee to water ratio—roughly 1:16 or 1 gram of coffee per 16 milliliters/grams of water or in other words 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water—and the appropriate grind for your brew method. For more information see our Brewing and Grinding Guide. Here you will find specific measurements and grinds for your particular brew method.  

Coffee Growth in Papua New Guinea

Occupying the eastern half of the island New Guinea in the Pacific region of Melanesia, Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. There are 848 languages spoken there and thousands of independent indigenous communities. This said, Papua New Guinea is still one of the world’s least explored countries.

PNG Illustrated Map-01

Nearly 40 percent of the population lives a self-sustainable natural lifestyle, and the entire nation relies heavily on customary subsistence-based agriculture. In the mid-1920’s when Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee seeds were planted, Coffee production in the country started. This made PNG a closely connected descendent of one of the most luxurious and sought after coffees in the world.

The first coffee plantations were established in the moist Sangara foothills in 1926. During the 1980’s coffee production expanded away from the plantations and more into the hands of local farmers who are now responsible for over 85 percent of total national production. After palm oil, coffee is the country’s second largest agricultural export. Additionally, coffee is responsible for employing over 2.5 million people. Most of their coffee is grown in the highlands, where 70 percent of the population relies on subsistence agriculture.

PNG landscape web

Papua New Guinea coffees come from the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, which sits contentedly north of the Australian landmass. Not unlike neighboring Indonesian coffees, New Guineas tend to come either from estates with large-scale facilities or much smaller farmers using simple backyard processing methods; Both methods yield inspiring results. Because the mountainous topography of the island lends itself to endless coffee varieties, Papua New Guinea is home to some of the highest quality beans in the world.

After a turbulent history of constantly fluctuating global markets and evolving infrastructures, the Papua New Guinea coffee industry has faced countless challenges. But thanks to an increased introduction of modern processing methods, combined with an intimate understanding of the crop, PNG has continued to grow as one of the most desirable coffees on the market. Papua New Guinea is actually responsible for 1 percent of total world coffee production, and here at Stockton Graham & Co., we are thankful for that.

To order our PNG Mile High, contact a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943.

Limited Edition Special: Ethiopia Limmu Natural

Stockton Graham & Co. has a lot to be excited about. But this week one thing in particular has been causing a lot of buzz around the roastery – our amazing Ethiopian coffee, Limmu Natural.

Stockton Graham & Co. Ethiopia cut paper hutThis single farm coffee is a limited edition, small batch that our roasters have masterfully nailed on the head. Fighting the urge to keep it all for ourselves, we are happy (maybe a little begrudgingly) to finally share this coffee with you. We have a feeling it’s going to go fast.

 

A Bean Unlike Any Other

I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in our first Limmu Natural tasting the day after the beans were roasted. Let me tell you, I haven’t seen this kind of anticipation from our roasting team in a long time. Roastmaster Brandon Riggs, Head Roaster Brad Kirby, and resident Barista Alex Jeans huddled around the heating kettle like it was Christmas morning.

Stockton Graham & Co. Limmu Natural pouroverThe first, most striking detail about this coffee is the aroma. Before the beans are even roasted, they have a powerful bouquet of sweet fruit with floral undertones. As Alex started to brew the freshly ground coffee the room began to smell like a berry orchard, with balmy aromas of ripe strawberries and jam.

“Because this coffee is natural processed, it has a more substantial body and slightly lower acidity than its wet processed counterparts,” said Roastmaster Brandon Riggs. “What’s great about the Limmu Natural though, is that it still produces an exceptionally clean cup in which the berry notes carry through from start to finish.”

Head Roaster Brad Kirby added, “This was processed perfectly. It’s more earthy and spicy than a Yirgacheffe, with a satisfying tartness at the end.

Stockton Graham Ethiopia Limmu NaturalCupping Attributes
Aroma: Watermelon, Ripe Strawberries
Body: Substantial, Juicy
Flavor: Strawberry, Raspberry, Rosehips
Acidity: Subtle and Lingering
Aftertaste: Clean, Sweet

A unanimous and resounding approval was obvious as everyone silently sipped and savored. Something familiar makes this coffee comforting and approachable, but it is simultaneously and undeniably unique.

“I would recommend brewing this using either the V60 or Kalita Wave pour over method to really highlight the fruit flavors and produce the cleanest cup,” said Alex. “That being said, this next-level coffee will be excellent no matter how you prepare it.”

 

Coffee in Ethiopia

Stockton Graham & Co. Ethiopia countrysideNot only is Ethiopia the birthplace of Arabica coffee, but it is undoubtedly one of the most popular coffee origins in the world. Many of its regions are well known for their coveted varietals and sought-after flavor profiles. Its high altitudes, ideal climates, and diverse landscapes make it somewhat of a coffee growing paradise. In fact, there is so much possibility for different coffees that finding a unique, exceptional, and traceable coffee in Ethiopia can be a challenge. Luckily, many of the farmers throughout the country are actively building strong relationships with coffee buyers and continuing to improve their crops year after year.

Stockton Graham & Co. Ethiopia Jimma mapOur Ethiopia Limmu Natural comes from one such farm in the Limmu district, near the Kebena Forest about 30 miles north of the city Jimma. It is harvested between August and October at altitudes between 5900-7000 ft. The large Jimma region of Western Ethiopia is home to some of the most diverse varietals, cup profiles, and processing styles in the country. The Limmu Natural was a unanimously high scoring standout at the 2014/2015 Ethiopia Taste of Harvest competition, recognized by cuppers and judges alike.

Stockton Graham & Co. Ethiopia cherriesArabica coffee grows wild in many of Ethiopia’s lush mountain forests, and covers about 400,000 hectares (988,422 acres) of land throughout the country. It is Ethiopia’s most important export, directly affecting the lives of over 15 million people. Ethiopia produces roughly 220,462 tons of clean coffee each year, 98% of which is thanks to workers on small farms. Fortunately, more and more cooperatives and partnerships are forming that give these small scale farmers increased equity and access to services and compensation that they haven’t received in the past. At Stockton Graham & Co. our hats go off to these efforts that recognize value in every step of the process and continue to make phenomenal coffees like Limmu Natural Kossa Geshe possible.

To order our Ethiopia Limmu Natural, contact a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943.

The Brewer’s Responsibility

When you stop to think about it, a great cup of coffee is pretty amazing. At least a dozen factors can seriously influence its taste as it traveled thousands of miles over many months from seed to cup. When considering the hours and hours of careful, sometimes backbreaking, work that went into growing and processing a specialty coffee and then roasting and packaging it for distribution, proper brewing can be the most crucial step in ensuring that a customer gets a delicious cup of coffee. That’s because 100% of what a customer tastes in a cup of coffee is extracted through the brewing process.Six Essentials of Brewing from Stockton Graham & Co.

Creating a masterpiece of coffee in a cup is no easy task. So Stockton Graham & Co. works with coffee shop owners, baristas and speciality beverage operators on several training modules designed to help brewers master the art of brewing coffee.

Each of these training modules is based on the six essentials to brewing coffee, created by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCAA), which address correct water-to-coffee ratio, proper brew method, proper equipment operation and other critical factors that effect coffee quality.

The success of your coffee shop hinges on the brewer’s understanding and mastery of these brewing skills. As an easy reference, Stockton Graham & Co. has created a summary booklet called BEAN Artist: The 6 Essentials of Brewing, which you can view here.BEAN-Booklet

Balancing Extraction and Strength

There are two fundamental characteristics of a brewed cup of coffee that effect its flavor—Extraction and Strength. A barista who understands the six essentials of brewing is well on the way to mastering the fine balance between extraction and strength that will create the perfect cup.

EXTRACTION describes the process of pulling the flavor and essence from coffee. It occurs during the brewing process when water passes over and through coffee grounds, activating gases that have built up during roasting, releasing pleasing aromatics and dissolving all types of compounds that flow into a cup. Some of those elements taste great, but others are not so great. Getting the extraction just right—which means dissolving the right amount of the good-tasting compounds and minimizing the bad-tasting compounds—is as much of a skill as it is an art.

When a coffee is brewing, the first thing to come out of the grounds are gases that we can smell called aromatics. There are well over 800 different aromatics that can be detected by the human nose—some pleasant and some not-so-pleasant. Aromatics make up a very small volume of the total amount of extracted compounds but are responsible for most of the aroma.

The next elements that are extracted are called soluble compounds, meaning they dissolve in water. These include caffeine and soluble fibers like sucrose and pectin, which effect the flavor of the brewed coffee.

When it comes to optimizing a brew, it turns out that almost everyone prefers a cup of coffee brewed by stopping the extraction at around 20% of the total bean weight. This leaves the compounds that taste the worst—tannins that often lead to a bitter or astringent flavor—in the coffee filter with the grounds.
Coffee Extraction Soluable Yield to Percentage

Of course, 20% is just an average. The Specialty Coffee Association recommends extraction rates fall between 18-22% of the total bean weight. Extract over 22% of a bean’s weight, and the coffee tastes bitter or astringent and is considered OVER-EXTRACTED or OVER-DEVELOPED. Extract less than 18% of the bean’s weight, and the coffee tastes watery and grassy to most people. This is referred to as UNDER-EXTRACTED or UNDER-DEVELOPED.

Coffee STRENGTH, which you can roughly determine by observing how much light passes through a cup of brewed coffee in a glass vessel, is a factor of the ratio of coffee to water in a brew. Some mass market coffees, especially those sold in the United Kingdom, use the word strength to describe the darkness of roast, with dark roasts scoring a 4 or 5 on the strength scale. Although roast levels do effect extraction and can impact the perception of a coffee’s strength, Stockton Graham & Co. uses the SCAA definition of strength, which is simply a brew’s concentration of coffee.

Six Essentials to Brewing Coffee - Coffee-to-water ratio - Stockton Graham & Co.More formally, STRENGTH is the ratio of the number of coffee compounds to water molecules in the finished brew. It may seem a little obvious to us now, but in the fifties Dr. Lockhart had to come up with and then document the idea that people have preferences for the strength of their coffee. It turned out that the average person preferred their drip coffee drinks to be about 98.8% water.

More specifically, average Americans prefer about 1.15-1.35% of each brewed cup to be comprised of the compounds from the beans themselves. So a perfectly brewed coffee with an IDEAL BALANCE will fall within the center of the SCAA’s Brew Control Chart shown above, with approximately 20% of a bean’s dry matter diluted to about 1.25% of a brewed cup’s contents. Accomplishing both of these tasks simultaneously takes a combination of knowledge, skill and experience.

For more information about brewing fundamentals or to sign up for our training programs, contact a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943.

Introducing Papua New Guinea Mile High

When it comes to Pacific coffee, Papua New Guinea tops the charts. Recently, we’ve been working with a coffee called Mile High, and we’re having a pretty hard time containing our excitement.

PNG Article cut paper hut 400x300-01Mile High is the grade A coffee from the Arokara Co-op in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. It is grown at a breathtaking altitude one mile above sea level (hence, the name Mile High) on the outskirts of the mountain town Kainantu.

The Arokara Co-op is made of plantations such as Tairora and Gadsup, surrounded by mountains reaching staggering altitudes. Arokara has been growing and processing coffee for more than 20 years. The landowner clans who now own and run Arokara together choose not to use any chemicals or fertilizers.

PNG Info-01Mile High cherries are hand picked and pulped on the same day by the entire clan. The fresh cherries are then fermented for about 36 hours in cement vats, after which they are cleaned in crisp, clear mountain water from the nearby Aru River. Finally, they are left to dry in the sun for 7-12 days, slowly obtaining a lovely bluish color. Unlike many Indonesian coffees, which are wet-hulled, Mile High is carefully wet-processed to produce a consistently high-quality bean.

Subtle Flavors, Undeniable Quality from a Versatile Bean

I had a chance to sit down with our Roastmaster Brandon Riggs, resident Barista Alex Jeans and Head Roaster Brad Kirby to explore this exceptional coffee and hear what they had to say about our Papua New Guinea (or PNG) Mile High.

They all commented on the subtle, yet fruity malt smoothness of the bean that makes Mile High particularly drinkable. Its pleasant aftertaste lingers on the tongue to be savored.

“As espresso, this coffee’s attributes are amplified in all the right ways,” said Roastmaster Brandon Riggs. “If a customer is looking for something different but instantly loveable, PNG Mile High is the way to go. Thanks to its creamy body and subtle sweet notes, this particular coffee does extremely well in milk-based drinks.”

Cupping Attributes
Aroma: Mildly Sweet and Fruity
Body: Round, Smooth and Creamy
Flavor: Subtle Fruit, Milk Chocolate
Acidity: Medium, Refreshing
Aftertaste: Pleasantly Fruity, Sweet and Lingering

To explore the coffee’s unique flavors, our SCAA-certified barista Alex Jeans suggests brewing Mile High using the V60 pour over method, which really brings out its silky smooth body.

“The V60 method really highlights the coffee’s subtle fruit flavors and milk chocolate aftertaste,” Alex said. “If you want to highlight the coffee’s tangy, bright citrus notes, then preparing it as an espresso is the way to go.”

When brewing PNG remember to use the right coffee to water ratio—roughly 1:16 or 1 gram of coffee per 16 milliliters/grams of water or in other words 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water—and the appropriate grind for your brew method. See our Brewing and Grinding Guide for specific measurements and grinds for your particular brew method. 

Coffee Growth in Papua New Guinea

 Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, occupying the eastern half of the island New Guinea in the Pacific region of Melanesia. Home to 848 languages and thousands of independent indigenous communities, Papua New Guinea is one of the world’s least explored countries.

PNG Illustrated Map-01

Almost 40 percent of the population lives a self-sustainable natural lifestyle, and the entire nation relies heavily on customary subsistence-based agriculture. Coffee production in the country started around the mid-1920’s when Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee seeds were planted there, making PNG a closely related descendent of one of the most expensive and sought after coffees in the world.

The first coffee plantations were established in the humid Sangara foothills in 1926. During the 1980’s coffee production moved out of the plantations and more into the hands of localized farmers who are now responsible for over 85 percent of total national production. Coffee is the country’s second largest agricultural export after oil palm, and is responsible for employing over 2.5 million people. The majority of their coffee is grown in the highlands, where 70 percent of the population relies on subsistence agriculture.

PNG landscape web

Papua New Guinea coffees come from the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, which sits comfortably north of the Australian landmass. Much like neighboring Indonesian coffees, New Guineas tend to come either from estates with large-scale facilities or much smaller farmers using simple backyard processing methods, both of which yield impressive results. The mountainous topography of the island lends itself to endless coffee varieties, making Papua New Guinea home to some of the highest quality beans in the world.

Due to a turbulent history of constantly evolving infrastructure and fluctuating global markets, the Papua New Guinea coffee industry has faced countless challenges over the years. But increased introduction of modern processing methods combined with an intimate understanding of the crop has allowed PNG to continue to grow as one of the most desirable coffees on the market. Papua New Guinea is actually responsible for 1 percent of total world coffee production, and here at Stockton Graham & Co., we are thankful for that.

To order our PNG Mile High, contact a Customer Care Associate at 800 835 5943.