Beyond the Food

Earls Kitchen + Bar | Tysons Corner, VA

Earls Kitchen + Bar Tysons Corner

If you’re like me, you’ve probably never heard of Earls Kitchen + Bar, a North American “upscale casual” restaurant chain originating from Alberta, Canada. That’s not to say that they aren’t great, because they are, I’m just not well-versed in the Canadian food scene. Lucky for us, they’re slated to open a Tysons Corner location this fall, and I was thrilled to be invited to a cocktail demo lead by Cameron Bogue, the restaurant group’s Director of Beverage Operations.

I didn’t quite know what to expect. Still being relatively new to the food blogging world, we’ve only just started getting invited to preview nights like this. And up until this point, most of the restaurant stories we’ve done have been smaller restaurants or local chains.

With 64 locations in North America, Earls Kitchen + Bar is absolutely a chain. The restaurant group has over 7,000 employees and feeds approximately ten million people per year. This is a major restaurant operation here. The Tysons Corner location alone is a massive 10,000 s/f restaurant at the bottom floor of the VITA luxury apartment building near the new Silver line metro entrance.

Earls Kitchen + Bar Tysons Corner

Earls Kitchen + Bar Tysons Corner (Photo courtesy of Earls)

So, quite honestly, I was expecting a larger corporate-ish event. The kind of event where you meet so many people that you don’t actually remember anyone or have a conversation that lasts more than the time it takes to exchange titles and business cards.

I’m happy to say, though, that this event was quite the opposite. A small, intimate section of the Mandarin Oriental DC’s Empress Lounge was set aside for the demo, which was comprised of a handful of food writers as well as the management and PR team for Earls Tysons Corner.

Oh, and the star of that evening, Cameron Bogue.

My impression of Earls can be best summed up by something Bogue said at the end of the night. As he packed up his bar utensil set, he was still beaming with energy from his beverage demo. He had spent the last hour and a half showcasing three cocktails he developed for Earls (which we’ll get to in a second), a nice perk of his role as the restaurant chain’s Director of Beverage Operations. His knowledge and enthusiasm for their beverage program–his beverage program–made it clear that Bogue was fully-immersed in a job that he loved.

As Bogue finished packing up his bar tools, I made a point to stop by and mention to him that his passion is clearly evident in what he does, but he corrected me–“It’s an obsession, really.”

Earls Kitchen + Bar Tysons Corner | Cameron Bogue

Cameron Bogue, Director of Beverage Operations, Earls Kitchen + Bar (Photo courtesy of Earls)

And he was right. Bogue is obsessed with all aspects of cocktails. During his demo, in addition to a brief history of the libations, Bogue showed us how to make them, and also why he chose each component for the drinks. It was a charming mixture of professorial knowledge, combined with a giddiness and excitement that can’t be faked.

Bogue takes great pride in what he does and brought with him high standards for the beverage program at Earls. Each drink has its own character–some with their own specific glass (or camping mug). Juices are always fresh squeezed and all syrups are made in-house. Small steps that make a huge difference. And Bogue’s obsession isn’t just reserved for work, as some of the other Earls managers joked about his wall of spirits he had at his home and a kitchen drawer filled with, not utensils, but bottles of bitters.

So, although you might think passion and genuine obsession would be hard to find in a restaurant group the size of Earls, it was definitely present. It even extended beyond Cameron Bogue to the whole Earls team, each happy to tell their own stories within the company and their excitement for what the brand represents.

For example, Dylan Todd, the General Manager of the Tysons Corner location, has been with Earls for almost two decades, working his way up from washing dishes when he was 15 to his current role, managing one of the restaurant group’s most anticipated locations. You don’t stay with a company that long unless you truly have a passion for what it represents.

Of course, none of that passion matters if the drinks aren’t any good. Luckily, they were good. Very good.

Allow me to introduce you to a few fine libations…

Bees Knees

Earls Kitchen + Bar Tysons Corner

Aviation Gin | Cointreau | Lemon Juice | Honey Syrup | Angostura Bitters (Photo courtesy of Earls)

This dangerously drinkable classic cocktail, Bees Knees, is the kind of drink that makes you wish for summertime and a hammock. And apparently people love to steal the honey bear glasses from Earls restaurants. No, I did not take mine with me…but I thought about it. Maybe next time…

Cabin Fever

Earls Kitchen + Bar Tysons Corner

Crown Royal | Taylor Fladgate 10-Year Tawny Port | Pineapple Juice | Lemon Juice | Ginger Syrup | Bittered Sling Moondog Bitters | Soda Water (Photo courtesy of Earls)

Cabin Fever is a rustic cocktail that’s also well-balanced and, just feels plain cozy. It’s hard to not make friends over a round of these. And yes, that’s a pine cone in the mug. No, you don’t eat it, but it does help hold in the aromatics. Plus, it’s just cool. When’s the last time you had a pine cone in your drink?

Old Fashioned 

Earls Kitchen + Bar Tysons Corner

Maker’s Mark | Demerera Syrup | Bittered Sling Root Beer Bitters (Photo courtesy of Earls)

Bogue’s take on this classic of all classics, the Old Fashioned. No big tricks or gimmicks here. Spirits. Sugar. Bitters. Ice. Nothing more. Don Draper would be proud.

Overall, it was a fun night of learning, laughing, good company, great conversation, and of course well-crafted cocktails. Based solely on these three drinks, I can safely say that the beverage program at Earls is an accurate and delicious reflection of Cameron Bogue’s obsession and a good omen for the food scene in Tyson’s Corner. The grand opening can’t come soon enough.

Earls Kitchen + Bar Tysons Corner
7902 Tysons One Place, Tysons Corner, VA
Online:  earls.ca/locations/tysons-corner
Twitter: @EarlsTysons
Facebook:  Earls Tysons Corner
Instagram:  @EarlsTysons

Disclaimer:  I was a guest of Earls Kitchen + Bar and was provided free samples of the three fabulous drinks mentioned above; however all opinions are my own. All photographs in this post are courtesy of Earls. 

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11 Questions, Beyond the Food, Travel

11 Questions with Deli Board’s Adam Mesnick

Adam Mesnick of Deli Board

My relationship with San Francisco’s Deli Board all started with a single tweet:

The tip from @Catalyst_Red would become the recommendation of all recommendations during our recent trip to San Francisco. An hour after that tweet, I was mouf-deep in one of the best sandwiches of my life, the Ramone:

The Ramone | Deli Board - San Francisco

Let’s get a little closer:

The Ramone | Deli Board - San Francisco

Meet Ramone:  Romanian pastrami, turkey breast, kosher salami, provolone, cheddar, pickles, coleslaw, board sauce, brown mustard, and a fresh baked French roll.

Did it taste as good as it looks? Yes. Better, even. It was warm. It was satisfying. It was sure to appear in my dreams one night–every night. It’s construction felt like the design of a true sandwich engineer; each component working with the others, moist meat, the varying textures, house-made pickles, the bread–oh, the bread.

Before this gets too foodpornigraphic, let’s jump to the man behind Deli Board–The Chairman of the [Deli] Board–Adam Mesnick. A Cleveland native and former mortgage banker, Adam has turned his love of sandwiches into a carefully crafted deli destination in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood. Although he is perpetually busy running Deli Board and the recently opened “newish delicatessen,” Rye Project, Adam was kind enough to take some time to answer these 11 questions:

1.  What is your fondest memory of food and why? 

For me, food evokes so many memories. I have too many amazing food memories to count–I have been eating food for 41 years. My memories of food are similar to many people’s feelings about music or a certain song, it takes me back to a certain place, a setting, it helps preserve great memories for me. Sometimes just cooking certain things, like matzo ball soup. I have so many memories, it really just depends on the day, and which woman in my family was yelling about too much salt in my broth.

2.  Do you have any specific morning routines or rituals that you do every day to prepare yourself for being the Chairman of the Board?

I am an early riser as we mainly focus on lunch, so I usually take my pooch for a quick stroll, grab coffees for my crew and head in to get the day prepped and ready. I live a block from both stores, so I am always close.

3.  Do you listen to music in the kitchen? If so, what artists are on the regular rotation?

I am mainly an old dead head, my crew not so much. They listen to all sorts of shit I don’t know the names of. But I do like that Usher song, “I Don’t Mind,” and they have really been into N.W.A. recently–I know all the lyrics from when I was a kid.

4.  You have a pretty solid team at Deli Board, what attributes do you look for in your employees?  

I am always looking for driven individuals that are service-oriented and have a positive attitude. Service and attitude are everything to me. Also, I am not afraid to spend the time training someone who is inexperienced; sometimes I actually prefer it.

5.  When you’re not working in your restaurants, what do you do to relax and unwind? 

Mainly eating out, I do yoga as much as seven days a week, hang out with friends and my pooch, and work. I am always working on something or thinking about food. I am sort of obsessed with food and those closest to me would tell you I never stop.

6.  Aside from yourself, is there one person (or people) who has been vital to the Deli Board’s success? 

There have been so many great additives along the way. It would not even be close to possible without great individuals working their tails off.

7.  Outside of sandwiches, is there another food item or genre that you’d like to master next? 

We are always looking to learn more about sandwiches, salads, salad dressings, soups, and sauces. We make everything in-house and they continue to evolve. We currently sell hot sauce at the stores and people dig it…I dig it. I am a pepperhead and love hot sauce, so packaging and the outsourcing of bottling is on the horizon. Way back in the day, when Deli Board started in 2009, we were a soup wholesaler and caterer. We now only cater, but we are working on a soup revamp as well right now, but for Deli Board and Rye Project, not wholesale.

8.  In an interview with SFGate, it was mentioned that the catalyst that eventually led you to Deli Board was losing your job in the  mortgage banking business. If you hadn’t lost your job, do you think you would still be working in banking industry today?

I stuck around mortgage until 2009–it was the catalyst for sure. It was my best job in the mortgage industry, and things went south from there. I sold my home short, and have built Deli Board from the ground up. There have been some angels along the way, but it was all loans and most are complete, or close to it. I needed to do food.

9.  If you could travel back in time to when you started Deli Board and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

The fact is, it’s food and my dream come true, but it is a business and needs to be sustainable.

10.  What’s the first thing you eat or first restaurant you visit when you go back to Cleveland?

I love Tommy’s Restaurant in Coventry; I eat a falafel. I also am a huge fan of pepperoni bread, so I run to the West Side Market.

11.  Has Lebron James ever eaten at Deli Board? If so, what’d he eat? If not, what sandwich would you recommend for him?

Lebron has only eaten at Deli Board in my dreams. He strikes me as a simple eater–he grew up in Akron. He would probably want corned beef or roast beef and cheese, bread, simple…maybe a little sauce.

A HUGE thanks to Adam for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions. And for everyone else out there, I hope your next task of the day is to book a ticket to San Francisco (especially you, Lebron).

Deli Board Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Beyond the Food

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java – Prince William County, VA

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

[This is post #046 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project. Yeah, we’re behind, but we’ll catch up…]

I think most people living in the Washington, DC metropolitan area feel the pain of a daily commute. The money blown on gas. The monotonous crawl of cars. All those wasted hours.

Sometimes enough is enough. So, last year Kandi Mitchell decided to do something about it. And somewhat ironically, her plan to avoid the 90+ minute one-way commute from Bristow to Arlington everyday, involved spending more time in a vehicle: Her very own coffee truck, Shenandoah Express Juice & Java.

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

Part of the inspiration came from the Alaskan coffee huts she and her husband frequented when they lived in the 49th state. Each hut has its own unique look, personality, and menu–quite the stark contrast to the surplus of chain coffee shops in Prince William County.

Kandi describes the moment she decided to pursue the coffee truck as “exhilarating,” but there was also plenty of anxiety mixed in.

I was excited that I’d finally made the decision to breathe life into the ideas that had been rolling around in my head for the past few years. At the same time, I was very nervous about giving up a well paying job to do something I had never done before.

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

Kandi quickly got to work. She found an excellent resource at FoodTruckr.com and raved about the helpfulness of their podcasts, which feature interviews with food truck owners and related industry professionals. She also tapped into her experience in project management as a Systems Engineer for an aviation consulting firm. Patience and good organization are two valuable traits to have when dealing with the business side of things. It also goes without saying that her service to our country in the United States Air Force would also come in handy in staying cool under pressure and stressful situations.

From the start of her venture, Kandi knew she wasn’t in this just to replace her day job; she wanted to make a difference. Through Organic Products Trading Company she learned of Cafe Femenino, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide grants to programs and projects that enhance the lives of women and their families in coffee-producing communities around the world. Sourcing a product that is good is always the goal, but she was able to find coffee beans that were also doing good. After sampling the coffee, she and her husband, Jesse, were hooked. This was a product she would be proud to serve.

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

With a source of quality raw beans, next was finding a commercial roaster to make those beans ready for her espresso beverages. Like some perfect coincidence, Kandi found Monument Coffee Roasters, another local company, who much like her, was in the early stages of their own coffee business. (To learn more about the story behind Monument Coffee Roasters, check out our post from last winter.)

Beans? Check. Roaster? Check. Now, the most important part: The truck. Built from scratch in Georgia, this deep red truck arrived as a blank canvas. Kandi credits her sister, Kris, for being a vital part of the design by helping to create the logo, decals, and signage. Kris even went so far as to fly down from Michigan (with everything stuffed in her luggage) to help Kandi apply the decals to the truck. With Kris’s help, Kandi was able to pay homage to the local train culture, while also ensuring that it attracts plenty of eyes–an important aspect to any food truck.

The inside of the truck is also surprisingly spacious, comfortably fitting 3-4 adults with elbow room to spare. It’s even outfit with plenty of amenities, like air conditioning/heating, running water, large refrigerator, and even a bathroom, something that will make long days at events a little bit easier.

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

This is by no means an easy task, and Kandi admits that owning her own truck has created its own set of daily struggles–sustaining a parking place, sourcing ingredients, following (and sometimes interpreting) regulations–it all takes patience and perseverance. As I noticed and mentioned before in a previous post, entrepreneurs don’t venture out on their own so they can work less, they do it so they can work more at something they’re passionate about.

It’s been and continues to be really hard work. I actually love that part. I feel challenged in a completely different way than I am used to.

Kandi also noted that one of the benefits of leaving a desk job was the increased physical activity; being on her feet all day has even led her to losing a few pounds (so maybe the “Food Truck Diet” will eventually catch on). But also mentally, there’s a strong sense of accomplishment that can be achieved through interacting with satisfied customers.

“I get a lot of really nice comments about my truck and my products. People really like it once they’ve tried it and I already have a few regular customers. That’s very validating.”

Why are the customers so satisfied? Aside for fresh, locally roasted beans, she offers something different from the same ol’ options, with a menu that’s constantly changing. The menu has its standard morning fare, fresh fruit smoothies, hot or iced lattes, and pastries, but there’s always a special or two to help mix things up, like The Commuter Canon (a hazelnut and caramel latte), or a supercharged Soy Chai latte with a shot of espresso. Also, with the hot summer months, you can expect to see some refreshing cold brew being served. When asked about her personal favorites, Kandi mentioned she was more a fan of variety than of any go-to drink.

“I like to try something different every day, but my favorite flavors are hazelnut, caramel, and chai so they’re my fallbacks when I’m not feeling particularly creative.”

So, if you’re in Prince William County and you see her red truck parked somewhere, be sure to stop by and say hello to Kandi! Sure it might be easier to go to the drive-thru of a large chain, but when you have an opportunity to support a veteran, woman-owned business sourcing responsibly and supporting a great cause, seems like the choice is pretty clear. And Kandi’s coffee is way better.

Shenandoah Express Juice & Java | getinmymouf.com

Picture courtesy of Shenandoah Express Juice & Java via Facebook.

You can follow Shenandoah Express Juice & Java’s schedule on Facebook for updates on where the truck is parked, but here is a sampling of some of the regular spots:

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Beyond the Food

Loco’l to Globo’l: The new fast food

Loco'l Roy Choi

It’s 4 AM and our stomachs GROWL as we start the hour drive back home. Okay, technically it should only be 3 AM, but daylight savings just stole an hour from our lives.

Anyway, it’s 4 AM and we’re hungry after a late night out. Stomach pangs in full force, we don’t care what fixes it, we just want to fill our bellies with something–ANYTHING as long as it’s quick, cheap, and available. Not surprisingly at this time of night (morning), options are limited to less than a handful of fast food joints, so we settle on breakfast sandwiches from Ronald’s golden arch palace.

Funny that the only options are probably some of the worst things you could throw into your body; especially in the wee hours of the night after the stomach is lined with the always fun combination of craft beer and Maker’s Mark. And I’m not saying you should be juice cleansing at 4 AM or tossing a kale salad together in a drunken haze, but there has to be an option to satisfy your hunger with food that is comforting, yet also honest and not cranked out of a factory.

If Chef Roy Choi (the Papi Chulo of Korean tacos) has his way, we will soon have that option. An option that doesn’t sacrifice quality for cost. An option that doesn’t sacrifice healthy choices for fast ones. An option that allows for us to be fed by chefs and not corporations.

Meet Loco’l:

Choi, along with his crew of world-class chefs (Daniel Patterson, René Redzepi, & Chad Robertson) are trying to revolutionize fast food with Loco’l. Their goal is to take the efficiency, price point, and supply chain organization of the quick service industry and apply it to chef-driven recipes, sourced from REAL local ingredients; feeding the world from the hands of chefs and not brands. And on top of all that, they’re trying to create a restaurant culture that gives back to the community.

So, what Choi and his crew of some of the world’s greatest chefs are trying to accomplish is no small feat. This isn’t just a new “farm-to-table” or type of fast food restaurant. They are actively trying to change the way the fast food industry operates. Impossible? As, Daniel Patterson says in their Indiegogo campaign video above, “Well, how would you know? No one’s tried.”

With other chefs, sometimes an air of sarcastic cockiness lingers with every word they say, but Choi comes off as a humbly cool guy. He feels tangible. In an Eater interview with Hillary Dixler, Choi references their goal of making a 99 cent burger; a goal that would feel like a joke or empty promise if thrown out by anyone else. But when Choi says it, there’s an earnestness to it, as if this is what HAS to be done. And he acknowledges that there is a bit of putting the cart before the horse in their goals, but there’s a boldness to their strategy that I admire. They didn’t decide to just make an inexpensive burger, and say, “Oh we’ll see how low we can get the price point.” Nope, Choi’s got 99 problems and they’re all pennies.

And for the naysayers out there questioning why these powerhouse chefs are crowdfunding a lot of their pennies through IndieGoGo, you can see Roy’s full answer here. But, technically, all of us are already guilty of “crowdfunding” all the big corporate fast food companies and we’ve been doing it for years. How many times have you you stuffed your mouf with food from a drive-thru in the last month? What about last week? You’re eating french fries right now as you read this, aren’t you? Your trackpad has a grease stain and I can see salt on the keys. Besides, your “donation” to Choi’s campaign isn’t solely out of the goodness of your heart, you’re actually getting tangible benefits. From gift cards and t-shirts to private Loco’l parties, every donation level has a tangible perk equal or greater than the monetary value you’re giving up.

Sure this could all be a big failure and yes the goals and ambition behind it is akin to a child dreaming of walking on the moon. But, let’s keep in mind someone did actually walk on the moon. Yeah, kind of makes this fast food revolution seem a little less insane. Even still, Choi and Patterson might be insane for attempting this, but for every person who supports their mission and for every individual that their mission ends up supporting, they take one step closer to sanity and one giant leap towards turning Loco’l into something globo’l.

***

After donating to their Indiegogo campaign, follow the Loco’l adventure online via their website, through Facebook, or follow them on Twitter

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Beyond the Food

Monument Coffee Roasters – Manassas, VA

momument coffee roasters

My first experience with coffee was from that notorious red can (you know which one). The constant drip of coffee was a staple in my grandparent’s house and I’m 90% sure it’s the only thing my grandfather ever drank. Although I doubt (as the jingle claimed) that it was the “best part of wakin’ up,” it was clearly vital fuel that he needed to get through early mornings and long days.

He drank it with enough milk and sugar that at five years old, I enjoyed it. Not enough to drink it every day (not that my mom would have let me), but it was a fond enough memory that I would carry into my teens when chain coffee shops started popping up in every corner.

coffee cup monument roaster

Good conversation over a cup of Monument’s Sumatra Karo Highlands.

Nearly twenty-five years after my first sip, I still enjoy my coffee with milk and sugar, but I’ve replaced the red can with coffee beans that were roasted the night before and trashed a drip coffee maker for an Aerobie Aeropress.

Clearly, coffee culture has changed a lot over the years, and Alycia & Ryan Otte couldn’t be happier. The Ottes just launched Monument Coffee Roasters, a small batch roasting company out of my hometown, Manassas, Virginia. (Spoiler Alert:  The coffee is good. REALLY good.)

raw coffee beans

Look at these beautiful raw coffee beans.

It’s probably no coincidence that the couple met at a coffee shop–specifically Alycia’s family’s shop in Oregon. Coffee has been a big part of their lives for many years and their goal has always been to open a roasting shop of their own; however, Ryan’s Coast Guard duties meant a lot of moving around. Tough to open a business, when you’re not sure how long you’re going to be living in a given location.

Eventually, though, they landed in Manassas as their final stop. And although the idea of having their own roasting company was always on their minds, it wasn’t until they began talking with friends in the community that they realized their dream may be set in motion sooner than they thought. They specifically mention BadWolf Brewing co-founder Jeremy Meyers, who urged the couple not to wait and to make their dreams a reality (as he had recently done with his craft brewery).

coffee roaster

This is where all the magic happens.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Manassas, it’s not what anyone would describe as…hip. Sure there are some good local restaurants in old town and a growing craft brewery scene, but other than that, you’re surrounded by chain restaurants and big box SUPERcenters.

It’s because of this that the Ottes saw an opportunity to educate the community and bring fresh roasted coffee to a market often skipped over by other innovative and passionate food entrepreneurs.

Education is key. Right now, it seems as though most coffee drinkers in Manassas and some of the surrounding suburbs consider only two factors: Convenience and familiarity. Convenience coming into play as we drive to work, since a coffee shop with a drive-thru is sometimes the only option we have time for. And given that coffee is more often viewed as simply a fuel, we look to grab a cup of what we know (hence the perpetual red can in my grandparent’s cabinet).

Monument Coffee Roasters

Coffee action shot! #flyingbeans

There are pockets and flashes of really great, local coffee roasters and shops around the U.S., but Manassas is still a pretty good representation of coffee culture in most of the country. It was only a few years ago that I experienced what truly delicious, fresh roasted coffee tasted like (thanks, Caffé Amouri!). It doesn’t just taste different from the bagged stuff at a super market or a chain shop, it tastes infinitely better, resulting in a realization of “Ohhh…so THIS is what coffee tastes like!”

What the Ottes are hoping for is that the coffee industry moves toward what has happened to craft beer. Tons of small breweries have popped up and allowed consumers to experiment and try new beers. Rather than sticking with a staple coffee company, the Ottes want to be a part of your rotation of coffee roasters. “You might like another shop’s Sumatra, but maybe our Kenyan is your favorite,” Ryan noted, pointing out that there are so many different factors involved with how coffee tastes that coffee drinkers should experiment with different brands, varietals, and brewing techniques.

Monument Coffee Roasters

My Kenyan Lenana is ALMOST ready…

They credit James Freeman, founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, for the inspiration. Freeman paved the way for small batch roasters, with his mission to only serve customers beans that had been roasted within the last 48 hours. And if you’ve never had coffee roasted that fresh, YES, YES, YES (a thousand times, YES) it does make a difference.

And it should make a difference, because roasting coffee ain’t easy. While talking to the Ottes in their roasting “laboratory” I quickly forgot the business is technically in the food industry and instead felt as though I was talking to scientists. They’re not making coffee, they’re trying to perfect it. With all the variables associated with a “finished” coffee bean–the location grown, roasting time, temperature, yellowing, the “cracks” and smells–roasting coffee takes hard work and a ton of trial and error. Aside from their decades of experience in the coffee industry as a whole, the two have been perfecting the Monument Coffee Roasters offerings for over a year.

coffee roasting chart

Although roasting can be done by smell, sight, and sound, this program helps document the process. Looks like math class, right?

Their coffee itself is single-origin Certified Fair Trade and Organic, sourced from South America, Africa, and Central America. They have several varieties currently available from their online store (the Kenyan Lenana made for an outstanding Aeropress latte). And they are very excited about their Brazilian Swiss Water decaf, which uses a non-chemical based method to decaffeinate the coffee beans, resulting in a decaf that doesn’t taste like most decafs.

Aside from their coffee being really good (did I mention that, already?), I get the impression that this is what they love to do. The Ottes’ veins are filled with coffee.  The saying goes “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” After talking with them and watching them roast coffee beans, I actually think that saying is incorrect. Because, in order to do what they love, they’re working all day every day to perfect it. And I’m thankful for what they’re doing, because, when I sneak coffee to my grandchildren, it’s going to be fresh roasted within 48 hours…but still laced with milk and sugar.

You can stay connected with Alycia and Ryan and their coffee roasting adventures on their website, monumentcoffeeroasters.com, on Facebook, and Twitter. Their brick-and-mortar shop is expected to open in early 2015, but until then you can buy coffee from their website (seriously, DO IT!). I certainly can’t wait to use their beans to make some more Coffee-Infused Doughnut French Toast.

Monument Coffee Roasters

The new best part of wakin’ up.

 

 

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