Monday, June 08, 2009

USA - FINAL POST ... and then some ...

OK, so the old blog hasn't gotten much of a workout in the last month, so time for a whirlwind update ...

USA Trip - The LAst Leg

OK, so after Atlanta, I headed over to LA for a few days of hanging out with Em, Scott and Saxon from AIR and the various Intelligentsians ...

Deaton gives us a tour of the Intelly roastworks.

Kyle and Tim showed us the training room, where the staff for Venice beach were hard at work in their intensive training program. Terry Z's GS2 looked pretty schmick.

Intelly Silverlake. This store was like a magnet; I was in LA for two days and I think that we made about four trips to Silverlake!

Gorgeous layout in the front patio; I really should have also taken some shots of the inside of the store. The store is set out to give the staff heaps of room to work, but nonetheless looks beautiful. Great coffee offered in a number of brewing methods.

Kenya Thunguri brewed as a clover. An absolute stunner, in the league of the Mamuto. Personally, though, I find a whole mug of brewed coffee to be a bit of a hard slog. Not only is it a helluva lot of coffee, but it also takes forever to reach a nice drinking temperature. I much prefer BBB's way of brewing it into a pot and serving it with a small cup, which allows you to pour a small amount into the cup at a time in order to have it at the perfect drinking temperature.

We also took a trip to Venice Beach to see how the new store is progressing. It is going to be pretty phenomenal. I'm tipping this to become an iconic photo for the area once the sign is lit up.

Home Again

Of course, there have been a lot of interesting things on at home, too. Looking back, I have actually done a heap of cuppings over the past few months. And good ones, too - good coffee, good roast levels, multiples of each sample.

(Conclusion: you can't cup with paper cups. I'd better add cupping bowls to the shopping list.)

I also feel that we're on the up-side of the Melbourne coffee cycle. Not only are we getting in a lot of new green coffee at the moment, but the cold weather allows for much better storage and ageing. I think that it will get better over the next few months as the stuff that is now new becomes an old acquaintance to the people roasting it, following which, as it starts to heat up several months down the track, things will start to decline. That said, there's every reason to be optimistic that the down side of the cycle won't be as bad as it has been in years past. For one thing, the past year seems to have seen a lot more competition come to the green coffee market, with a few Aussies starting up agencies for overseas importers. For another, I think that the better roasters are now starting to think about green storage and will be better able to manage their inventories towards the end of the year. The question is how much these best practices will actually spread; getting people to spend more time, money and effort on coffee is always an uphill battle. George Howell puts it very succinctly; to paraphrase him, good green storage only costs a few percent of the overall price - everyone in business believes in insurance, so why not pay the tiny amount for good green storage so that you don't end up having to try to sell green that has gone bad?

Finally, I suppose that I should briefly mention Seven Seeds. I suspect that the guys probably want to keep it under wraps a bit so that they can have a slow start, but that's simply not going to happen. Needless to say, it is extremely well fitted out and there are a few really clever ideas that I'm sure will be copied, such as the nursery. Taking a walk around the green room is really quite confronting; there's a lot of very expensive and very good coffee in there. Frankly, this place has nearly everything to be one of the best coffee roasteries in the world. And I don't say that lightly.


At 9:57 AM, Blogger Lewis Hewison said...

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