The following is a guest post by Peter Allan, Little Amps Coffee Roasters
If you’ve asked me “what’s up,” lately, and I said, “not much, you?” I lied. Sorry about that!
It’s just that I’ve been pretty into my work and totally stoked on it. If you’re a Harrisburger, you most likely know I’m team Little Amps.
What you might not know is that I am not a barista. I am many things, but I can’t take the credit for the awesome service and tasty drinks delivered by the friendly and hard-working baristas in our shops every day.
What I can take some credit for is the high level of coffee we are producing. Along with AC [owner Aaron Carlson], I buy our green coffee, help set roast profiles, and run quality assurance on all brewing parameters in our shops.
I also travel a lot, as we’ve been super lucky to build up an excellent wholesale program with like-minded coffee folks all over Central PA and beyond.
All of this action with our staff and other specialty coffee heads has been very stimulating, and I’m feeling energized to head into the new year, so please read my mind.
Coffee is a fruit
This is a real eye-roller for my peers, but I think the agricultural importance of this statement alone is enough to bear repeating.
Like a lot of fruits, coffee cherries grow on trees. Actually, they grow on little three-foot shrubs. These shrubs take about three to four years to produce fruit ripe enough for harvesting.
This is a big reason why the recent hurricane in Puerto Rico was so devastating to their coffee production. Harvest season had just started when Maria completely wiped out the majority of the island’s coffee.
NPR ran a pretty compelling article on this for those who might want to dive deeper.
We also have a GoFundMe page to ensure the home community of one of our baristas receives some attention and resources.
Coffee is not immune to climate change
Remember, what we drink is the seed of a fruit. All the coffees we buy rely on consistent and particular altitudes, soil qualities and weather patterns.
As our world’s climate starts to shift, our industry needs to be prepared for the change.
It’s a little early to tell, but it’s possible that we’ll start buying specialty coffee from emerging places like China, Vietnam, or even northern California.
While this is exciting, we must also keep in mind the adverse impacts climate change could have on countries whose economies rely heavily on coffee, both specialty and commodity.
Not to mention the possible economic impact on producer countries if and when things shift.
A lot of people work really hard to get that seed. Pickers harvest the coffee cherries and take them to washing stations, where more people use high and low technology to wash the cherries, sort the good from the bad, and strip the cherry flesh and mucilage away from the seed to dry and be prepared for shipment.
This gets pretty deep, and if you’re interested, I’d recommend reading the handy guide from Cafe Imports.
I’m okay with Starbucks!
I had to slide this in because honestly, specialty coffee owes a lot to the green mermaid. Way back when, S-Bux was one of the first companies to tag countries of origin to coffee.
It may seem standard today to say “oh yeah, I like Ethiopian coffee,” but 30-40 years ago consumers weren’t thinking too much about all that agricultural and origin stuff I brought up earlier.
In fact, coffee houses were hardly present before Howard Schultz set about on a mission to channel the espresso bar culture of Italy.
I honestly feel like the heat is wearing off, but when I first started in coffee 5+ years ago, customers and baristas alike were quick to bash “the bux.”
I think these days it’s kind of like enjoying a Pizza Boy Sour sometimes, and a Bud Light Lime other times. Right?
You can make better coffee at home
And you can do it pretty easily.
Sure, it requires some small equipment investments, but if you’re looking to brew for just a couple of people, you can get started in our shops or online with a Hario grinder, Beehouse ceramic dripper, filters and a scale.
But how do you make it?
Start with a brew ratio, the amount of coffee to water. This gets pretty personal to your tastes, but I think to start with a 1:16 ratio is safe for all homebrew methods (unless you’re ripping espresso shots, then I’m just jealous!).
If you’re on the Beehouse or other dripper tips, this should look something like 22g coffee to 352g (12 oz.) water.
Most grinders will give you a starting point for your preferred brew method, but you can always skip that and go straight to the internet, which is full of resources.
Make sure your water is filtered and hot (205 degrees) and brew away.
There is a lot of opinion on technique, but I say start simple with two pours.
The first is your “bloom,” 60-70g water to saturate your beds. After blooming for 45 seconds, pour the rest of your water in with steady concentric circles and watch your beautiful brown liquid drop down.
Meet Peter Allan
Co-owner, Little Amps Coffee Roasters, Harrisburg, Pa.
Peter Leonard aka Peter Allan is a Harrisburg native with a passion for human connection and tasty drinks. He is a co-owner of Little Amps Coffee Roasters and manages the company’s wholesale program along with green coffee buying, Q.A. and Q.C. and a bunch of other jobs depending on the day. He and his family proudly reside in Midtown Harrisburg.