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Our Thoughts, Ideas, & Inspiration

Winter Blend 2017

Nick Breheny
Nick Breheny

The winter season, unlike any other, profoundly influences the coffee experience. As the seasons change and we awake to a frost blanket coating the earth, we naturally begin to gravitate inward toward warmer, cozier spaces. Let’s be honest, nothing sounds better than a comfortable couch situated near the fireplace on a cold winter day. Homeostasis is the body’s response to change. In a physiological sense, homeostasis is the body trying to keep things running as they should amidst internal and external fluctuation. When changes occur, our body responds and attempts to return to a state of stability. This could easily explain why on a cold day we seek the warmth of the indoors, or why a huge home-cooked meal never sounds as good as it does when the first snow of the season falls, but I’d like to think homeostasis is a lot more than a mere physical response. Unlike […]

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Pourover – Making the Best Cup of Coffee at Home

Nick Breheny
Nick Breheny

To many of us, coffee signifies the beginning of our day. We carefully integrate coffee into our morning, afternoon, and evening routines. We cherish the moments when we can take a step back from our busy schedules and take a moment to sip our life-generating brews. For some, coffee is an absolute necessity to any productive day. With something so integral to our daily routine, one would think the coffee brewing experience would be just as important as the end result. More often than not, the brewing process of coffee is completely overlooked, and as a result our coffee tastes less than ideal. Luckily, there is a way to brew delectable cafe-quality coffee at home. Using the pourover brew method will give you coffee that tastes outstanding. To Start… Imagine the classic coffee brewer: you wake up, flip a button, and coffee is brewed and ready in a few minutes. Unfortunately, […]

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Utopian Coffee Fall Blend

Nick Breheny
Nick Breheny

As the weather begins to cool and the leaves begin to turn bright shades of orange and red, we all start to think about the fantastic autumn season. To some, this season signals time for the various holidays, as well as an excuse for eating too much candy and turkey. To others, this season is all about comfy sweaters, overindulging in Netflix, and everything pumpkin spice flavored. Here at Utopian Coffee, we’ve been planning to release something special to all our customers. We roasted and tasted multiple coffees, and created a delicious blend that fits what this time of year is all about. Our Autumn Blend is a delightful mixture of two coffees we’re quite fond of. The first is a naturally processed El Salvadorian coffee that brings mouthwatering fruits and deep cocoa notes to the mix. The other is a Mexican Chiapas Regional Select, which bursts with notes of […]

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The “Right” Roast

Nick Breheny
Nick Breheny

Coffee is one of the most complex and intriguing drinks anywhere in the world. During coffee roasting, a series of chemical reactions that occur within the coffee bean facilitates the development of distinct flavors, aromas, and color. When brewing coffee, these flavors within the bean are extracted, and we end up with a fresh cup of our favorite morning brew. Coffee, quite like wine, is greatly affected by the terroir, which is the crop’s context. This includes climate, soil, and other environmental factors that impact the coffee’s flavor profile. Because of this, the flavor profile of a coffee from Sulawesi, an island in Indonesia, differs greatly from Colombian coffee grown in Latin America.

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Pour Over

Landon Porter
Landon Porter

Brewing coffee at home can often be a challenge for people; a challenge that leaves them wondering why they can’t get it to be as good as the coffee shop. A lot of that is due to the tools (equipment) the specialty coffee shops are using and we’re going to talk about a way that you can make a great cup of coffee with a pretty simple method. Grinding fresh and using an accurate amount of specialty coffee and water makes a huge difference! However, there is a final step you may choose to take if you wish to greatly elevate your personal coffee experience. This final step is the manual brew method, such as the French press or pour over. The reason most people switch to the manual methods is that you have more control over water temperature and water flow; a few of the manageable variables that make […]

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Top 10 Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds

Allie Vanhyfte
Allie Vanhyfte

The average American consumes over 3 cups of coffee a day. That’s a lot of used coffee grounds going down the drain! Here are a few uses for those leftover grinds: Steep grinds in hot water to dye fabrics or paper for an “antique” look. Use grinds on a damp rag to remove grease and grime from tools or dishware. If you have a scratch on a dark wood piece of furniture, take a cotton ball and soak it in steeped coffee grounds to cover up the mark. To create blue hydrangeas, work coffee grounds into the soil. The coffee will increase the acidity level and help the shrub to absorb aluminum, which will give you blue hydrangeas! Place leftover, dried grinds in the fridge to remove unpleasant odors. This can last up to two weeks! Leftover coffee will also attract cockroaches. Create a trap for them by putting a […]

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My Time at the Rwanda Hingakawa Co-Op, Part 2

Brendon Maxwell
fair trade, fresh roasted coffee 3
Brendon Maxwell

I recently wrote about my time at the Hingakawa co-op, a female-owned and operated coffee initiative that has brought opportunity and restoration to a community devastated by violence and war in the 1990’s. Part of what makes the chance to work with these women so special is that they are innovators, they are survivors, and they are hard workers. When we get to know our partner farmers, we care for them. When I say we care for them, that doesn’t mean that we only care about the quality of the production of their specialty coffee, but we truly care of their goals and their mission. When we heard about their goal to build and create a center for sewing, we were excited to see and learn more.  Not only would this provide a source for extra income between coffee harvests, but it would allow for younger women to learn a new trade, a […]

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My Time at the Rwanda Hingakawa Co-Op

Brendon Maxwell
Rwanda - Direct Trade relationship
Brendon Maxwell

As I sat in the restaurant surrounded by green and yellow painted concrete walls, I was hit by this wave of feeling. It was a combination of excitement and optimism. I had the pleasure of eating with Corette Nakabonye, the 61-yr-old female president of the Hingakawa coffee cooperative. Her coffee story and that of Hingakawa is not a simple one, but it is certainly a powerful one. There is a lot of history that sets the stage for this unfolding play, and this blog post cannot do it justice, so I will simply talk about why Hingakawa was formed and how it is transforming lives. The Hingakawa co-op, set in the hills about an hour outside of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, is a beautiful place. And the physical beauty is just a small piece of what makes this so incredible. The real story is the redemption that has resulted […]

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Tips for Making Cold Brew Coffee

Aly Curtis
iced coffee frozen cubes
Aly Curtis

Cold brew refers to a coffee brewing method that is quite different from the traditional. Most traditional methods involve the steeping of ground coffee beans in hot water and filtering the finished product through a drip filter or a French press. Cold brew coffee, however, use a method where you steep fresh roasted coffee grounds in room temperature or cold water for an extended period of time to produce a coffee concentrate. The cold brew method can usually take from 12-24 hours to complete. The results are truly unique, and the simplicity of the process is just as impressive. If you’re planning on exploring this method while making a home brew, you will need a few items to complete the process. First, you’ll want to have fresh roasted coffee beans on hand and a coffee grinder. Our favorite fresh roasted coffee for this method would be the Guatemala San Miguel. You […]

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The Best In-Home Coffee Grinders

Aly Curtis
beans, grinder
Aly Curtis

There’s nothing like a cup of freshly ground coffee in the morning. If you’re one of those people that orders fresh roasted coffee beans and grinds them in your home, odds are you’ve experienced the struggle to find the perfect coffee grinder. Not only does your grinder need to give your gourmet coffee beans a quality grind, but it should be easy to use. And since you’ll be operating it before your morning caffeine fix? A grinder that isn’t crazy loud would be nice too. We’ve done our research to bring you the best in-home coffee grinders on the market. 1. Baratza Encore We don’t believe in saving the best for last, so we’ll start with our favorite, the Baratza Encore. Not only is it the least expensive in Baratza’s line of grinders, but it has a gram-at-a-pulse feature that makes it easy for the less experienced coffee makers to make a […]

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Water Quality Matters in Your Cup of Gourmet Coffee

Aly Curtis
Aly Curtis

It sounds obvious when you say it out loud, but most people don’t know that the quality of the water used for brewing affects their coffee’s taste. According to The Telegraph, researchers have concluded that, “The perfect cup of fresh roasted coffee should be made with water high in magnesium and low in bicarbonate.” When they examined the water’s effects closely, high magnesium ion levels improved the process of extracting the gourmet coffee flavor from the bean while high bicarbonate levels slowed the process down. That same study showed that water with high sodium levels, like water treated with water softeners or most bottled water, also prevented the more complex flavors from the coffee bean from being extracted. Chemist Christopher Hendon, who is currently writing a book on brewing the perfect cup of fresh roasted coffee, says that while there is no “perfect composition” for the water, “magnesium-rich water is better […]

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Decaf

Landon Porter
Landon Porter

Decaf. Usually this word is associated with poor tasting coffee. But despite its reputation I have good news for the coffee lovers who are unable to have caffeine or the coffee addicts (like me) who desire a fresh brew at 1 a.m. We here at UTOPIAN roast up some tasty decaf! Whenever I brew some of our decaf for friends or family who cannot have caffeine they immediately ask me after the first sip, “Are you sure this is decaf? Because it doesn’t taste like decaf!” As they enjoy their delicious coffee I briefly explain to them what I’d like to share with you. Here at UTOPIAN COFFEE CO. we buy decaf coffee that has been decaffeinated using a natural water process. By using a water-based solution, it is ensured that no chemicals come in contact with the coffee and this help maintain the coffee’s natural taste. Once we receive […]

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Iced Coffee

Landon Porter
Landon Porter

With the hot months of Summer coming up, I thought it would be helpful to share some thoughts on how to make some great iced coffee. I’ll offer two different recipes: A quick and easy recipe and then a more technical one for my fellow coffee nerds. The easiest way to make some great iced coffee is to simply double the amount of coffee grounds you are using for the given amount of water. The extra coffee gounds will ensure you brew a strong coffee concentrate that won’t be diluted when it melts with the with ice. Once you have your grounds and water ready to go, add some ice to your coffee pot’s carafe. I fill the ice to the same line on the carafe that I used to measure water. So if I did 8 cups of water I would fill ice to the 8 cup line. Make […]

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New Coffee: Colombia Pitalito

Landon Porter
Landon Porter

We are excited to release our Direct Trade Colombia Pitalito! This offering is from the Huila region of Colombia, which happens to be my favorite region due to the amazing coffee that comes out of there. The name Pitalito refers to the town right next to where this coffee is grown. The Pitalito is an exceptional coffee with notes of caramel, molasses, and red fruit. It has a medium body and a muted brightness…very smooth. There is a pleasant dryness to the finish, and the overall experience reminds us of enjoying a fruit preserve. This offering had a higher price at origin, so it will just be $2 more than our regular coffees. However, for our coffee subscription members, we will be including this coffee at no extra cost!

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New Colombia Excelso

Allie Vanhyfte
Allie Vanhyfte

We have a brand new coffee blend called Excelso that comes from the Narino region of Colombia. This is a very unique blend because of the geography of this part of Colombia. It is very rugged and mountainous, which is good for the cup of coffee, however, it makes harvesting a lot harder for the farmers. Most coffee in this region is grown on small, family farms on the side of a mountain. The good part about this is that since the farms are small enough the farmers take very good care of the coffee plants and the harvesting process, which you will be able to tell in the cup of coffee. The reason mountainous coffees are desired is for many reasons, beginning with altitude. The higher up coffee grows, the better. In order for Arabica coffee to be considered “specialty”, it needs to meets an altitude requirement of 4,000-8,000 […]

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The Fun Side of Espresso

Allie Vanhyfte
Allie Vanhyfte

Espresso con panna- espresso shot topped with a dollop of whipped cream. The whipped cream melts in the espresso making it taste like an espresso mousse when drank. Undertow- A small, layered espresso drink. Flavored syrup (I like vanilla), half and half, and espresso. The whole idea of this drink is that it is taken in layers. First the bitter espresso hits your tongue, which is immediately calmed down with half and half, and then finally sweetened with the flavored syrup. Quite an experience in a cup! Macchiato- You may have heard of this, but never really known what it was- until now! The term “macchiato” means to “mark” or “stained” in Italian. An espresso shot is “marked” with a little steamed milk on top to cut the acidity of the espresso. Lungo- Speaking of Italian words, Lungo means “long” in Italian so an espresso lungo is literally a double […]

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From Seed to Roast

Allie Vanhyfte
Allie Vanhyfte

Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world right after oil, but happens to be a labor-intensive crop with a high yield, and in most cases, little income. Today, I’m going to share with you the stages of growing, harvesting, and processing coffee from my own experiences. This is a relatively short explanation and there are so many other variables and specificities that affect coffee harvesting. Let’s start with where coffee is grown. Typically, Arabica (a higher quality of bean) is found at an altitude above 3,000ft and is mostly growing in developing countries. Mainly, coffee is found on small family farms on the side of a mountain or volcano, which in my opinion can be good because those plants are well taken care of since there is a smaller yield. During the growing stages, the baby plants need to be tended to, fertilized, and shaded from the […]

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The Health Benefits of Coffee

Allie Vanhyfte
Allie Vanhyfte

I think we all have heard both sides of the story. “Drink coffee” or “Don’t drink coffee” and it seems like the research is changing all the time. So what’s the real story? After extensive research on the newest studies, I think I have found the answer (for now). In their article, ‘A Little Coffee May Be Good — Dare We Say Healthy? — For Body And Brain’, Forbes did a study that was done in February 2014 of the effects of caffeine, not just coffee, and the activity of the brain. We all know that coffee makes us more productive for the day, but what about over time? Is it damaging? Forbes says no and that caffeine actually boosts brainpower and memory over time. “It may wire you up in the short term, but over the long term, coffee also appears to offer some brain-protective benefits”. This statement is referring […]

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Brazil Drought and the Price Increase

Allie Vanhyfte
Allie Vanhyfte

You may have heard in recent news about the drought in Brazil and how the coffee prices rose significantly. How does this apply to the average consumer trying to buy coffee? I’ll tell you! Firstly, Brazil is the largest exporter of coffee in the world and they have been experiencing some bad weather for coffee growing. Ideally, coffee is grown in two seasons; wet and dry. The wet season is important because it allows the coffee to flower and grow during the rain. Then, coffee is ripened and picked under the sun of the dry season. Unfortunately, Brazil has had a little too much dry season this year and not enough rain to help with the development of coffee growing. Already, 5% of the Arabica coffee from Brazil has been found to be bad and cannot be sold. Gourmet coffee prices closed in late February around $1.55 per pound of […]

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Brewing Tips: French Press

Landon Porter
Landon Porter

The French press, or simply a press pot, is probably one of the most popular manual brewing methods. It’s a great way to highlight all that UTOPIAN coffee has to offer. I have some simple French press tips and tricks I use when brewing with the French press that I believe can elevate your gourmet coffee experience and I’d like to share them with you. The “Before You Brew” French Press Tips: 1. Make sure you use the correct grind–the coffee particles should resemble breadcrumbs or coarse sea salt. If you find it difficult to plunge the plunger, then you need a coarser grind. If you follow all the normal brewing steps correctly but your coffee taste weak, then you may need a finer grind. 2. Preheat your press. Fill your press with hot water and then discard the water after a few seconds. This will help maintain a constant […]

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