Transforming Coffee Maker

OXO just introduced a new coffee maker called The Barista Brain. Here’s the report from Sprudge:

One innovation we’re kind of geeking out about is the brewer’s hot water chamber. CNET reports the component is removable and can be used as a pourable hot water kettle. IT’S A BREWER KETTLE COMBO, Y’ALL!

Gotta get my hands on one of these. In other news, I’m thinking about renaming the #TIDNTKIL section of this site to something more apt like Coffee Stuff1.

  1. This would actually be funnier if I posted just half the stuff that I want to post for this section.

The Dripolator

During a weekend road trip to the mountains a couple of weeks ago, I finally got a chance to check out The Dripolator Coffeehouse in Black Mountain, NC. I didn’t stay long, but the Killer Bee lived up to what I’d read or heard about it and I loved the branding so much, I bought this mug. If you ever find yourself with some time passing through Black Mountain, stop in the Dripolator. Great coffee and a neat place. I can’t wait for another chance to visit.

Pearled Coffee

Though it sounds to me like something I would quite enjoy, bubble tea is the fad food item of the last few years that has yet to cross paths with me. Laziness is partially to blame – it hasn’t caught fire in my neck of the woods and I’m certainly not going to go out of my way to give it a try. Pearled coffee, however, is a completely different story:

Head of roastery (Howey) has a molecular biology background and last week he made this video showing the process of making something we like to call “Pearled Coffee”. It’s was an experiment that turned out to work _and_ taste great. Basically it is coffee pearls, made of 4 times concentrated filter coffee. As the pearls can be served with everything from milk to baileys to tequila we find the potential very interesting.

Very interesting indeed. I can’t imagine something like that will be cheap or easy to get, perhaps heartbreakingly so; thus making it this week’s Thing I Don’t Need to Know I Like.

(via Sprudge)

Counter Trays

I’ve only sparingly followed the happenings of the local Fire in the Triangle series (which I just recently learned is a stepping stone to an even larger series), but this past week’s event really caught my attention. Along with featuring a chef from a new favorite, the secret ingredient pairing was Angus Beef and Counter Culture coffee. Curiosity piqued!

Overall it doesn’t seem like the food fared well, with the evening’s courses peaking unceremoniously with dessert. That said, I’ll never look at my bags of Counter Culture the same, equipped now with the knowledge that I should take them into consideration when planning my next meal.

Additional Reading

For other coffee-infused treats, check out Stumptown Coffee’s Fourth of July recipes.

Toms Coffee

Watering Beans

“As a company, we’re in business to help improve lives.”

That’s how TOMS represents their novel approach to business, according to the home page for their new coffee. Because it’s TOMS, you know there’s a buy one, give one here and in this case, the give is one week of water for a person who needs it for every bag of coffee you buy.

Even if TOMS didn’t invent the One for One model, they can certainly claim some responsibility for popularizing it. Numerous other e-commerce sites are dedicated to the mission of making a profit and giving back. When I first heard about TOMS’ plans to break into the red hot coffee business, I was excited and eager to test it out. That day has finally arrived.

I’m primarily a purveyor of what is probably best described as a homemade iced latte hack, so my bean of choice was the TOMS espresso roast, Carpe Diem. Because I’m a sucker for cool mugs, I also splurged on the beautiful, but admittedly way overpriced espresso mug. The mug is smaller than I anticipated but it’s elegant in its simplicity and the fit and finish is above and beyond what I expected. There’s a good chance I’ll look at it more than I drink from it, but I’m okay with that.

Back to the coffee. While I certainly enjoy specialty roasts more than your typical bag of beans, I can’t say that I have a flavor palate finely tuned for the specific subtle flavors often found in carefully roasted beans. I can tell a difference between various roasts, but ask me to verify a specific flavor profile and you’ll find me speechless. With that in mind, I’ll normalize this conversation by mentioning that my go-to roasts for my daily iced lattes are Counter Culture’s Toscano and Larry’s Beans espresso roast. This morning’s TOMS espresso latte certainly won’t supplant either of those as my daily driver, but I am confident that I will enjoy the next week or two of this new entrant on the shelf. All that to say, the TOMS bag is pretty good. This initial tasting was positive enough to quell my fears about this venture into roasting being all about the gimmick – the coffee seems good enough to sustain the buy one, give one model if and when the product is able to gain even just a little bit of traction.

TOMS sells their coffee by the bag or as part of a curated subscription service with various pricing options depending on your level of commitment (monthly, six month, or annual). Because I primarily drink milk-laced concoctions, blend variety is pretty much wasted on me; but I think the TOMS subscription is worth a go if you’re interested in giving back while trying something new. I can’t promise a cadre of superlatives about the coffee (due more to inexperience than disappointment), but it does seem like the product is at least on par with other specialty roasters and above the level of your typical, roasted for shelf-life supermarket offerings.

Rating: Notable.

A New Kind of Brew

Second, perhaps, only to the meteoric rise in popularity of local micro and craft breweries is the proliferation of local coffee. Be it cafés, roasting or specialty brewing, coffee has never been more popular as an entrepreneurial endeavor in America. I’m especially excited about the local coffee scene that’s been brewing in the Triangle for the last few years. Continue reading