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Our Thoughts, Ideas, & Inspiration

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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Women for Women International

Landon Porter
Landon Porter

UTOPIAN COFFEE CO. is proud to be a supporter of a project called “Women For Women International“, which works with socially excluded women in eight countries where war and conflict have devastated lives and communities. Women who enroll in their one-year program learn job skills and receive business training so they can earn a living. They come to understand their rights and how to fight for those rights in their homes, their communities and their nations. Here at UTOPIAN we have been able to help five ladies from the Democratic Republic of Congo go through the various classes that Women For Women has available. We are currently assisting Aimerance, also from the DRC, in completing the 12 month program. We just received an update on her progress and we would like to share that with you so you have a better understanding of how your support of UTOPIAN is making […]

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Light roast, dark roast, my roast, your roast

Landon Porter
Landon Porter

During my time in the coffee world I have witnessed the battle of the roast preference. I have heard about every debate out there, from light roast coffee is acidic to dark roast coffee is burnt. Everyone has their favorite place on the roast spectrum, and with a patriotic spirit they will rise up to defend their roast preference if anyone dares to attack it. We are creatures of habit and if we came into the gourmet coffee world liking one roast over the other, then that’s probably where we have remained. I hope to challenge your favorite roast preference and shed some light on why you may appreciate that roast you happen to look down upon. I will take on the light roast first since this is all the rage in the specialty coffee industry. Light roasted coffee is often praised because you can taste more of the coffee’s […]

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Brewing Ratio

Landon Porter
Landon Porter

I have come to notice that one of the biggest factors in getting great tasting gourmet coffee is the water to coffee ratio. Previously, I was satisfied people were simply brewing with Utopian Coffee regardless of the ratios they were using, but now I am more focused on proper water to coffee ratios. I hope this doesn’t come off as snobby, but I have started to see that people enjoy their coffee so much more when brewing with the correct proportions. The most common mistake in brewing is over-extraction, mainly caused by using way too little coffee compared to water. This produces a very bitter cup, which most of the world has come to recognize as the normal taste for coffee. That’s also why cream and sugar are so popular! We describe coffee in terms of “strong” or “weak” as opposed to the natural flavor of coffee because we came […]

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Burr Grinder

Landon Porter
Landon Porter

The best way to improve your coffee experience at home other than using fresh roasted coffee and proper water to coffee ratios is to use a quality burr grinder. If you are are not already using a burr grinder, hopefully I can win you over! Coffee loses most of it’s aromatics within 10 minutes of being ground. By the time you brew pre-ground coffee, most of the olfactory components have escaped and the result is a flat, but still fairly decent, brew. If you’re like me, you have decided you need something to simply chop up the beans. Easy enough, right? Once I was told that my coffee would taste much better if I ground it fresh, so I did what anyone would do and immediately got one of the $15 Mr. Coffee blade grinders. The problem with this, as I later found out, is that the blade grinders will […]

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Q&A: Coffee by Volume

patrick smith
patrick smith

QUESTION: I use a burr grinder that has automatic settings (so it grinds for a predetermined amount of time, depending on the setting). I measure my beans by weight, though. I have noticed that there are, at times, significant differences (like 15%) in the volume of bean that can be ground in a set time. Clearly, different coffees have different weights by volume, why is this? -Nathan D.

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A Glimpse Into Coffee Roasting

patrick smith
patrick smith

I take for granted that I watch coffee roast every day. I always enjoy it, but often fail to remember that it is really quite novel & interesting to many people. I was thinking about blogging this week. It occurred to me that I should compose a brief write-up of the roasting process & include some photos so that you could get a glimpse of what coffee roasting is like. It’s fun. The smells range from the chlorophyll-dominated scent of green coffee (think: fresh grass clippings in spring) to spicey cinnamon-esque aromas ¾ of the way through the roast to the final stages when the smoke intermittently stings your nose if you really breathe it in & the smell is that of toasted bread &….well, roasted coffee. I know that last one’s a cop out, but there’s nothing else really like it—it just smells like roasting coffee. So the work […]

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Rustic Coffee

patrick smith
patrick smith

I took the fam up to northern Michigan this weekend to visit some of Sarah’s (my wife) family. They live in a beautiful house in the middle of a mature poplar forest. They had a 2-3ft snow base, and despite the cold, the 2 older boys loved being outside. We rode around a bit on snow mobiles, built most of an 11ft wide igloo, got trounced at Settlers of Catan, and—my favorite part—took the boys on a “camping” adventure. Willard (Sarah’s cousin) has a yurt (huge tent) set up in the middle of the forest. It isn’t exactly roughing it, as the thing has a wood burning stove and camp cots. However, it was literally sub-zero outside, and I don’t think my 4 and 2 year-olds would have been too keen on spending the night outside otherwise. We had such a nice time. The boys were warm and comfortable enough […]

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Hope CSA

patrick smith
patrick smith

I had the best time last evening! I have to confess that I was rather dreading it, and I am now ashamed at my pessimism. My friend Jeff Hawkins, owner of Hope CSA (community supported agriculture), asked me to donate coffee for a fund raiser. Additionally, he asked me to come out to the event & speak briefly about the coffee to those in attendance. Between Heaven & Earth is a slow food, fine dining experience situated among the gardens of the Hawkins family farm. It features exquisite, locally sourced foods and serves as the annual fundraiser for Hope CSA, a non-profit educational organization. Jeff has an understated magnetism about him that renders him universally likable. He is charismatic but not overbearing, meek but confident, and slightly idiosyncratic. Seriously, I can’t help but like him. Clearly, then, I could not refuse his invitation to participate in the event. My wife […]

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Gratifying Coffee Chain in the Workplace

patrick smith
patrick smith

I received a phone call from my friend last week.  He is my primary contact at one of our wholesale accounts (We have a wholesale division of the company, D.b.a. Red Brick Coffee Roasters).  This particular wholesale account is unique in that they are a large corporation employing about 1,200 people & they offer Red Brick Coffee as a bona fide employee benefit. Honest!–employees can elect to have $10 per pay period ($1 per work day) deducted from their check for unlimited freshly roasted, freshly brewed specialty coffee. They’re a delight to work with because they get it. They invested in top notch grinding & brewing equipment.  They weigh out each batch carefully & brew at the proper proportion.  They keep the coffee fresh.  The employees are thrilled–they get their fill of world-class coffee for less than they’d pay for gas station coffee.  The employer couldn’t be happier because the […]

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