I've mentioned it a lot of times already I know, but I really can't say enough how awesome the roaster scene is in Chicago right now. Not just because there's a lot of folks doing quality work, but also because there's a lot of folks doing really unique work and most importantly that there seems to be a real sense of community and support throughout the scene. Seriously folks, you should definitely be watching what's going on in Chi.
Keith Hamrick was one of the first roasters I met when I started my coffee roasting career, I've been talking to him about roasting for more than a decade. The track to finally opening Northbound Coffee Roasters just over a year ago was arduous at times, but I was so very happy when Keith and Jen Lovrak got that train up and running. I always been super stoked when they've picked up Shrub coffees, and they've knocked some roasts of the Ethiopia Guji Shakisso out of the park.
It's been a bit disorienting coming back from a good deal of activity on the east coast with stops in Boston for the SCAA Expo and New York City for a cupping that we organized for roasters there that was generously hosted by JOE coffee at their pro shop. I'm usually quite busy during the SCAA show, but got the chance to spend some time with a number of folks who have been working with shrub from the area and otherwise.
Justin Carabello from Carabello Coffee in the Cincinnati area answered the call to talk about roasting, sending me a number of different shrub coffees roasted on his Primo 5K, including the Corazon Del Robot blend and a blend of his own using some shrub coffees which I was stoked to see. I love single origin coffees, but as you may have read in my Make Friends with Blends post - http://coffeeshrub.com/shrub/blog/make-friends-blends - I feel like the art of blending is something that has really been overlooked lately.
Last week Aleco and I went to Chicago. This was the very first trip like this that we've taken as Shrub. A visit to an area where we really focused on expressing to a group of roasters in person what the shrub could do for them. It wasn't a straight out door to door sales call as much as it was responding to a growing roaster community. There are a number of new roasters who are coming up all over the place in this town, and there is a truly collaborative spirit amongst them.
Lots of honey sweetness on the dry fragrance, round cherry like acidity, super clean and not showing any signs of age/paper, round mouthfeel with clarity throughout the cup. Little more caramel and chocolate as it cools. I felt that you really nailed the roast. There's a nice balanced brightness but you really pushed the sweetness of this coffee with the roast development.
Michael Marinelli had posted some questions about nailing a profile down with the Kenya Gatomboya AB that we had up on shrub just a little bit ago. After we traded some comments and emails here and there, Michael sent me a sample from a batch he had roasted according to some of the profile conclusions we had reached. Along with the coffee he sent a copy of the roast log that he was keeping. I was quite impressed with his roast profiling and the cup was really nice, showcasing the super creamy body that that coffee could have.
When we started shrub one of our big ideas was that it wasn't just about getting these coffees out there but that we really wanted to have discussions about the coffees we put together with other passionate roasters. It's been great to get comments on the coffees from folks, please keep them coming, but another way we've thought about getting some conversations going about the coffees is to directly engage with some roasters and talk to them about their experiences with this or that lot.
Earlier this month here in Colorado, a number of different roasters, coffee shops, and coffee enthusiast got together at the Brew Market in Longmont. There had been discussions for some time about putting together an event where we could get some coffee folks together in a way where it would be engaging for everyone to attend. There had been tremendous success around the TNT's that had been organized, but there were also some dilemmas surrounding those events.