Saturday, December 31, 2011

Holiday Hours

caffe d'bolla will be

OPEN until 3pm on New Year's Eve
& CLOSE on Monday the 2nd.

We will resume our regular hours on Tuesday.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bolivia Beneficio Buenaventura Lot 45

Fresh out of the roaster, and On the Siphon right now: Bolivia beneficio Buenaventura Lot 45!

This coffee comes from a small coffee mill located in the Caranavi growing region of Bolivia. This is a micro-regional coffee that is brought to the mill in small lots from local farmers, and processed without separation. The coffee is processed using traditional fermentation methods. This was lot 45 of the year, and it is fantastic!

In the cup it's floral and peach notes with a nice milk chocolate background. As it cools lemon tea and apple notes emerge. It's so tasty!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sumatra - Dry Hulled Aceh Bukit

Today On the Siphon we have Sumatra - Dry Hulled Aceh Bukit.

The Bukit project starts with small-holder coffee, purchased mid-drying from this specific Aceh subdistrict in Takengon, then dried in parchment all the way to 11% moisture. This unique process creates a Sumatran unlike any other. Nowhere else in the world is unprotected green coffee dried like this.

In the cup it's balanced bittersweet fruit - plum and chocolate biscotti, with clove, cinnamon, coriander, and ginger coming through as it cools. A one of a kind offering.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Hours

caffe d'bolla will be
OPEN until 3pm on Saturday, Dec 24th
& CLOSED on Monday, Dec 26th.
We will resume our regular business hours on Tuesday.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Guatemala Huehuetenango Finca Rosma

Fresh out of the roaster this morning... Guatemala Huehuetenango Finca Rosma!

Finca Rosma is a small farm near Michicoy town in San Pedro Necta area of Huehuetenango. It is situated at an elevation of 1900 meters in the Los Cuchumatanes mountains. Finca Rosma is owned by the Rosales family, managed by the son Fredy Rosales. The name is in honor of his grandmother, Rosemarie. This exceptional farm placed #2 in the 2010 Cup of Excellence!

In the cup it's a sensual feast of aromatics! Rose floral notes, red cherry, apple, and plum all carry through as you drink. Hints of cinnamon and warm spices add a subtle balance to the "WOW" swweetness in the cup. An outstanding coffee!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Espresso - Winter in Bermuda

Holly Jolly was all sold out before Christmas, so John created another festive espresso: Winter in Bermuda!

This kooky blend will put you in the right place, a nutty, nutty kind of space... Wild forest cultivars from Shakiso in Guji, Ethiopia are perfectly paired with another amazing offering from the Naranjo Tablon in El Salvador's famed Finca Matalapa.

In the cup it's layered hazelnut and almond with jasmine floral notes, and orange zest highlights. A mild honey sweetness pulls it all together. Crazy good!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Espresso - Holly Jolly

For the holidays this year we created an espresso just for the home espresso enthusiasts! It's called Holly Jolly!

This festive blend will bring your magical visions of Kings from distant lands. "We three beans of origin are..." Ethiopia Harrar Longberry anchors this journey, and is accompanied by a microlot Costa Rica and a Sumatra Peaberry.

In the cup it's ripe stone fruit - peaches and mango, ginger, nutmeg, sweet cinnamon and warm citrus notes. Hints of floral and bergamot highlights the cup. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ken Tanaka's Winter Berry

Currently pulling at caffe d'bolla is Ken Tanaka's Winter Berry espresso.

Ken Tanaka loves fresh fruits and berries with his cereal in the morning! But as the months grow colder, it's difficult for Ken to find anything fresh at the market. Ken was excited to find he can taste his fruits and berries in this espresso!

This espresso is the perfect blend of Sumatra Gayo Mandheling and Ethiopia Harrar Longberry. Each coffee was roasted separately and post-blended to maximize the complexity of the epsresso.

In the cup, sweet berry aromatics immediately fill your senses. Plum, dark ripe berries, and a stone fruit finish will leave you eagerly anticipating the taste of fresh fruits and berries in your espresso, just like Ken Tanaka.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Panama Boquete - Garrido Estate Lot 26-92

Fresh out of the roaster and available Whole Bean at caffe d'bolla right now is Panama Boquete - Garrido Estate Lot 26-92.

This offering is the combination of two specific small lots from Garrido Estate, lot 26 and lot 92. The farm, called mama Cata after the family's Matriarch, is located in the Alto Quiel area of Boquete, one of the best areas for coffee in Panama.

Coffee is hulled and sorted at their own mill, just outside of Boquete. It's shipped to their wet mill for processing. Jose Garrido separates each wet processed batch and cups each individually to continuously improve quality control.

In the cup it's sweet and juicy cooked apple notes with hints of molasses and almond skin. Aromatic wood notes climb through the cup as well. A perfect balance of sweet and bittersweet. An absolutely outstanding Boquete coffee.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

caffe d'bolla will be CLOSED
from Tuesday 11/22
through Tuesday 11/29.

We will OPEN on Wednesday 11/30.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Colombia "Dos Payasos de Tolima"

A new batch of Colombia "Dos Payasos de Tolima" has just been roasted and bagged! It's available Whole Bean and also On the Siphon at caffe d'bolla right now.

Colombia "dos Payasos de Tolima" is created from a special microlot selection of smallholder farms in the Tolima region whose lots are too small to export by themselves. These coffees are primarily selected from farms in Herrera and Rioblanco and assembled into "Dos Payasos", a joyful and fun-loving microlot blend.

In the cup it's golden raisin, cinnamon, and caramel with hints of spice and apple skin. Excellent!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sumatra Onan Ganjang

Available Whole Bean and On the Siphon right now: Sumatra Onan Ganjang.

This coffee is a special cultivar named after the small locality, Onan Ganjang, where it is widely planted. It is harvested and meticulously triple-sorted by the indigenous Toba Batak people. Their methodology represents the highest level of milling and sorting techniques anywhere.

In the cup it's cherry cola and caramel with hints of plum, clove, and orange. Aromatic. Clean. Classic.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Ethiopia Bench Maji Biftu - DP

Currently available Whole Bean and On the Siphon: Ethiopia Bench Maji Biftu - DP.

Bench Maji is a region that borders Sudan and the Gambela region. This coffee is from a farm called Gesha Estate and not far from the town of Biftu and Gesha. This is the location of the origins of the famous Panama coffee. Even with the microclimate and elevation differences, this coffee cups as an intensely complex, natural dry-processed offering.

In the cup it's a fruit bomb! Incredible fruit aromatics prepare you for the tropical paradise that awaits you. Apricot, melon, mango, berry, hints of floral and cocoa nibs. Fruit flavors intensity as it cools. Spectacular!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Guatemala Finca San Diego Buena Vista

Available whole bean right now is Guatemala Finca San Diego Buena Vista!

This is a Wet Process Bourbon from a beautiful farm called San Diego Buena Vista in Acatenango. Each cultivar resides in a separate area of the farm, and this 100% Bourbon offering has its own special place.

This is a class Guatemala with a distinctive Bourbon nuance. Phenomenal body with a balance between sweetness and bittersweetness that makes one love this coffee even more.

In the cup it's caramel-vanilla with hints of cinnamon and tangy citrus highlights. Refreshing. Remarkable.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Espresso - Enchanted Sunset

Available Whole Bean right now, and coming soon at caffe d'bolla... Enchanted Sunset Espresso!

This awe-inspiring espresso is a blend of three amazing coffees. The essence of the cup is from San Diego Buena Vista in Guatemala, and a smooth Brazil from Fazenda Aurea. A touch of Villa Sarchi, a special cultivar only grown in Costa Rica.

In the cup it's warm malt and nut on a bed of caramel and vanilla, with sweet and bright citrus highlights.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Costa Rica Caturra de Zarcero

This wonderful Single Origin Costa Rica is just roasted and bagged, and available whole bean at the shop right now!

This is a single micro-lot from a one producer, processed at the Helsar de Zarcero coffee wet mill. This is a Caturra varietal coffee, and processed using the Penagos ecological machine wash process (rather than traditional wet-process fermentation method). The cup results are so close to the classic, clean, bright flavor of high grown Costa Rica that we think the ecologically sound new process method also results in flavors similar or better than the old style wet-process method.

In the cup it's caramel-honey sweetness with a snappy citrus acidity and hints of melon. Amazing clarity!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Colombia "Dos Payasos de Tolima"

Just out of the roaster... Colombia "Dos Payasos de Tolima"!

This is created from a special microlot selection of smallholder farms in the Tolima region whose lots are too small to export by themselves. These coffees are primarily selected from farms in Herrera and Rioblanco and assembled into "Dos Payasos", a joyful and fun-loving microlot blend.

In the cup it's golden raisin, cinnamon, and caramel with hints of spice and apple skin. Excellent!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sweet Genmai

Available for a limited time: Sweet Genmai, with matcha, cocoa, or azuki!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Espresso - El Salvador Majahual Tablon Tempisque

Our Espresso On Tap, and available for home-use right now is El Salvador Majahual Tablon Tempisque.

This espresso from a Tablon, or plateau within Majahual located at 1600 meters. This lot is comprised of both local Bourbon types as well as 50-80 year old Bourbon trees that produce amazing coffee fruit because of the long-term traditional farming techniques being used. This has been roasted with two distinctly different profiles and post-blended to increase complexity.

In the cup it's honey and gingerbread notes, with a bright apple and plum sweetness. A wonderful Single Origin espresso.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ethiopia Guji Shakiso

Just roasted and bagged... Ethiopia Guji Shakiso.

This coffee comes from a producer group in the southern Guji zone of Shakiso. It's a distinct coffee from Yirga Cheffe, and Sidamo. Geographically, culturally and in terms of cup flavors, these southern coffees have a different flavor profile. The cultivars used are largely regional, distinct local strains of coffees as they spread from the wild forest plants of western Ethiopia to the eastern and Southern districts.

In the cup it's honey and ginger notes with floral highlights, and a remarkable black tea and bergamot note as it cools.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ethiopia Bench Maji Biftu - DP

On the siphon this week we have Ethiopia Bench Maji Biftu - DP.

This coffee is from a farm called Gesha Estate and not far from the town of Biftu and Gesha. This is the location where the famous coffee of the same name comes from.

In the cup it's a fruit bomb! Fresh fruit, dried fruit, tropical fruit - Papaya and peaches with intense melon aromatics, mango and apricot as it cools. An amazing and intense coffee!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Espresso - Wild Abandon

On the coffee shelf today we have some espresso for sale, and this blend is a creation from one of John's experiments. It's called "Wild Abandon."

This three bean blend is a special limited offering. These coffees, from Ethiopia Maji Biftu, Honduras, and La Legua in Costa Rica all have inherent sweetness and crazy wild fruit aromatics that makes them an exciting combination to use as an espresso.

In the cup it's sweet fragrant tropical fruits - mango, papaya, peach, hints of orange. Honey and caramel sweetness with a light cocoa that finishes long after your last sip. Yum.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

El Salvador La Divina Providencia

We currently have this wonderful coffee available both Whole Bean and on the siphon!

This farm, situated at 1600 meters, was purchased about 9 years ago by Robert Ulloa. It was in poor condition when he bought it. He saw potential and made several quality improvements. He replanted coffee-shrubs and built his own traditional wet-mill for processing. The cup quality shines through, and that is what makes this an attractive coffee.

In the cup it's orange and mandarin orange elements with citrus floral notes and a honey-caramel sweetness that emerges as the cup cools. A stellar cup!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Costa Rica La Legua Bourbon

Just roasted and bagged: Costa Rica La Legua Bourbon!

This coffee hails from the outskirts of Tarrazu, in a small region called La Legua de Asseri. It is 100% Bourbon cultivar, and is prepared using a double-washed Wet Processing method, and sun-dried at Don Mayo coffee mill.

In the cup it's boysenberry aromatics, sweet malt, and cinnamon highlights. Remarkable and exciting Bourbon coffee!

Available at caffe d'bolla right NOW!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Espresso - Chicago '45

This smooth espresso is so tasty, it's criminal! It's comprised of three different regional coffees. A Brazil Cerrado is joined with an amazing coffee from Mozonte in Nicaragua and a wonderful Guatemala from a little farm in San Juan Sacatepequez.

In the cup it's apricot, caramel, and dark milk chocolate. Hints of cinnamon, wonderful butter mouth feel. Recommend 17g, 199.5 F, 28 S.

Whole Bean available at caffe d'bolla today!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nicaragua Mozonte - Un Regalo de Dios

Just roasted and bagged... Nicaragua Mozonte = Un Regalo de Dios.

this farm, which means, "A Gift From God", reflects the ideals of the owner, Luis Alberto Balladarez Moncada. This is a multiple award winning coffee. Proceeds from their Cup of Excellence award were all donated to local house-building project and church area of the farm.

In the cup it's caramelized sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon notes. A remarkable and balanced cup. Yum!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Honduras Santa Barbara Smallholders

Yiching says --

John has been roasting a bunch since last night to fill our coffee shelves. The coffees are going fast! (And we only put out a few bags of each a time, too.)

This coffee from Honduras is sweet and fruity. It's delicious! We still have a couple bags of it as of now.

Here's John's tasting notes:

This coffee is a late harvest blend of smallholder farms in the area of Pena Blanca and Santa Barbara towns, in Santa Barbara department of Western Honduras. These coffees are from farms too small to keep separate, and represent coffees from the areas of Cielito, Las Flores, and El Cedral.

In the cup it's sweet clean tropical fruit - strawberry, guava, passionfruit, orange marmalade. An amazing find!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Sumatra Blue Batak Tarbarita Peaberry

We just roasted and bagged some Sumatra Blue Batak Tarbarita Peaberry! Whole bean coffee available at the shop.

This is a specially prepared crop of Peaberry Lintong from the indigenous peoples of the Lake Toba area. Lake Toba is the largest volcanic crater lake in the world, formed during the largest known volcanic event, some 25 million years ago.

In the cup it's dark malt and caramelized sugars with hints of butterscotch. Cinnamon and black tea highlights as it cools. Another winner from the Toba Batak people!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Improving Clarity

John says...

When it comes to coffee and espresso, clarity is important. We've had the same filtration system since we opened, and it's time to improve it. I've been wanting to upgrade our water filtration for a while now. I've ordered two Everpure Claris filter systems.

It is an adjustable filtration media that includes a five stage process for eliminating scale, dirt and fine particulates, odors/off flavors. I believe that for the money and simplicity it's the best system out there.

The Claris uses a Hydrogen (H+) ion exchange rather than a Sodium (Na+)exchange.

"The Claris resin is loaded with hydrogen (H+). The hydrogen ions dissolve the carbonates (CO32- and HCO32-) , and the resin then removes the calcium and magnesium ions (Ca2+ and Mg2+). This process also lowers the pH."

I will soon find out how it tastes.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Soul Finger espresso

Yiching says --

I've decided to archive the different espressos that we use at caffe d'bolla from now on. There has been numerous Single Origin espressos, as well as blends that John's roasted and that we've used, but I had not really logged them. I think it's time for me to do so now.

With that said, the espresso that's currently in the hopper is Soul Finger, which is also available whole bean at the shop.

This jazzy cacophony of flavors will leave you shouting joyously to the open ears of frantic handless pantomimes.

This three bean blend brings coffees from Sumatra Mandheling, Ethiopia Guji Quto Suke and a wonderful coffee from San Martin de Leon Cortes.

In the cup it's rhythmic raspberry and stone fruit with a punctuated praline-toffee sweetness.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A Continuous Journey

John says...

I started roasting in 2005 on a little one and a half kilo roaster from Korea.

The IMEX Digirosto 1500.

It came with three main profiles, each which had a multitude of roast levels -- about three or four, were actually useful. In addition, it could entirely manual as well. For me, it was about setting the profile to what I wanted, and controlling the beginning and the end of the roast. If the roaster did it's job during the bulk of the roast, the results would be good. Great in fact. Now I might have skipped over the 40 to 60 pounds of charred, unusable, and just plain wrong batches that I slogged through. But it forced me to understand the balance between technology and craft, between science and art.

You can poke your finger and it won't hurt a bit, but that's if you poke it with a marshmallow. Poke it with a pin, it might be a little uncomfortable, but you'll draw blood.

Understand the tool you are using, but more important, produce results.

In late 2007, I had the opportunity to install another roaster. Because there is no need for venting, and the technology intrigued me, I knew that the best roaster for my needs would be the one from Fresh Roast Systems.

This roaster is precision quantified.

Made primarily for use in large high-end markets where venting is not possible, I was one of the first small roaster-retailers able to use one.

And like anything else, it's a tool.

While it's initially simplistic in it's operation, it's nothing but simplistic.
I could now roast with much greater precision. Airflow. Drum speed. Drum charge temp. Roast start temp. Roast finish Temp. All comprised within the Roasting Profile to the second. What you have to remove is your ego. Understand that those things that you think you are detecting, you're not. How to blend, how to change a roast, that's mostly art. The process itself is more science than art. As art it's more intuition than definition.

Understand the capabilities of the tool. Use it to its potential.
As a roaster, it involves no less thorough study.

But with greater capability for precision there was a need for greater investigation in profiling. Peaberry, Pacamara, SHB, Medium-soft Brazils, Wet Processed, Dry Processed... and any other permutation and combination of cultivar and processing method.

There's always more to learn, and it's that continuous thirst for zeroing in on what's important and discarding the tasteless overly intellectual pablum that keeps me moving forward.

In the end, the results are in the cup.

And the journey will continue.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Labor Day

caffe d'bolla will be CLOSED
on Labor Day, Monday 9/5.

We will OPEN on Tuesday.

Have a nice and safe weekend, everyone.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Ethiopia Guji Suke Quto

This coffee comes from Suke Quto, a producer group in the southern Guji zone of Shakiso. Coffee farming has been a core part of the Guji Oromo culture, and it shows in the results of this wet processed crop. The flavors are distinctly different from Yirga Cheffe, and Sidamo.

In the cup it's sweet floral notes, gingerbread, and bergamot. Restrained intensity. Body increases as it cools. A sure winner!

Espresso: Too soon is never "too soon"

John says --

Sometimes espresso is too fresh to use. But there are times when I need to pull shots sooner than expected. I usually wait several days after roasting before testing my espresso, but since we we're sold out on whole bean espresso, I needed to test a couple days earlier than usual.

At altitude espresso acts differently than at a lower elevation. What might be good at three to five days rest near the coast might need closer to seven days at altitude. So testing at less than 48 hours here involves some forecasting and manipulation.

I grind on the ultrafine end of espressodom, and knowing my components, I say 17 grams. Now keep in mind I'm just looking for tasting notes, not perfection at this point.

I pull the first shot and the crema is outrageously wild.

I tighten the grind a little more.

The crema is manageable and the aromatics are off the charts. Smell. Sip. Pause while my brain runs through my limited tasting vocabulary. Sip. Develop a mental tasting picture of the espresso. Finish. Ponder.

Now I stop pondering to think, and as I ponder my thoughts, I

Name it. Write it. Bag it.


"Soul Finger" -

This jazzy cacophony of flavors will leave you shouting joyously to the open ears of frantic handless pantomimes.

This three bean blend brings coffees from Sumatra Mandheling, Ethiopia Guji Quto Suke and a wonderful coffee from San Martin de Leon Cortes.

In the cup it's rhythmic raspberry and stone fruit with a punctuated praline-toffee sweetness.
Recommend: 198.5 – 199F, 17g, 28 S.

And it tastes exactly like it sounds.

This will be something special.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Panama Carmen Estate - 1900 Meters Microlot

John just roasted SO Panama Carmen Estate - 1900 Meters Microlot. Carmen Estate is located on a hillside high above the well-known Finca La Florentina. it has been passed down through several generations and is now owned by Carlos Franceschi Aguilera (Carmen was his grandmother.)

This coffee has been in the top 10 of the Best of Panama competition too may times to count, from #2 to #5 spot every year in fact. This farm stars at 1750 meters and goes up from there. This particular microlot is courtesy of Thompson Owen, who has a special arrangement which allows him to buy coffee from a particular microlot located at 1900 meters.

In the cup it's lemon, tangerine and a bit of orange zest with a wonderful honey sweetness. As always, it's a remarkable coffee.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Quarter After espresso

Yiching says--

Looks like the last day (morning?) for "A Quarter After" espresso at the shop! This 3-bean blend is a combination of Brazil Cerrado, and small farm coffees from Guatemala and Costa Rica.

This espresso has sweet berry fruit notes, with hazelnut highlights and a smooth bitter-sweet cocoa finish.

Come on down and have a shot before it's gone!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Good Methodology = Good Espresso

John says...

Testing SO Ethiopia Suke Quto espresso.

I love testing new espresso. I also love testing whether or not something will work as a Single Origin espresso or as a component for espresso. Today I had some extra Guji Suke Quto from last night's tasting class. Now I've used this as a component of an espresso, but I haven't really tried it as a Single Origin. Golden opportunity. This allowed me the opportunity to test without roasting an entire new batch, and if the roast level I used for the coffee will work or not.

So the question I am asking is, "Does it work?"

I'm pretty systematic about my testing. I know what range of grind to target, so I pick a midpoint and start from there. I keep the Synesso at the temperature set for the current espresso (199 F). No need to change until after I taste... but that's still a bit away.

One step at a time.

I tare the portafilter and grind. How much? I guess and see where I'm at. 17g. Ok. Tamp. And as Captain Picard says, "Engage!"

First I'm just watching for flow. It's too fast.

I adjust the grind a little finer. I dose the same weight. Looks a little better...
I'll give it a taste. Sip. Mild citrus, hint of nut. ... good, but it seems like it's lacking something. It's not a one dimensional coffee. I know there's more there. I just have to find it.

Let's approach 18 g.

Puck looks pretty good.

I always pull a second one so I know if it was a fluke or not, and it looks the same.



First sip - Candied ginger, sweet citrus and jasmine. Second sip - warm spice, a touch of bergamot, honey sweetness. Finish - dark honey to maple sweetness, restrained citrus, hint of spice.

Does it work?

I'd say, "Yes." But it's not that simple.

All coffees aren't this easy. Even when they work. Sometimes I go through ten or twelve shots and I'm about to give up, then everything comes together. And then it fades. The real question isn't "Does it work?" The real question is, "Can I do that again?"

Well, can I?

Grind. Dose. Distribute. Tamp.


And the answer is



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to name an espresso: a study in serious amusement

John says...

We roast a different espresso every seven to ten days. About twenty-five percent are Single Origin, and the others are blends of three or less various coffees. I do in the neighborhood of thirty-five to forty various blends per year, and aside from the challenge of finding things that work well, there is the challenge of naming my blends.

I used to have only one espresso blend, "Mountain Mambo", and I did experimental blends now and again when I couldn't source what I wanted. I numbered those blends up until fifty-three, and then I decided that having new espresso was not only more challenging, but more rewarding to our customers. Over the past several years, I've named everything. Sometimes there is a rhyme or reason, and usually that reason is to amuse myself.

Here is a random sampling of some of our espresso over the past year and the rationale for naming them. Tasting notes are included so you know what you've been missing.

A Shot for Rita - Java Kopi Sunda and El Salvador Santa Rita. A cup of coffee or coffee being simply known as "java" led to this extrapolation of a shot of espresso, and hey, since Rita is here, it should be for her.

In the cup: Orange peel, plum, caramel sweetness w/ bittersweet chocolate finish.

Best Pancakes Ever! - Sun-dried Brazil Bahia and a micro-lot Colombia peaberry from Tolima. This tasted like an awesome syrup that would rock on pancakes. 'Nuff said.

In the cup: Dark berry syrup, warm fruit, caramel sweetness and a touch of cinnamon.

Luigi's Obsession - Brazil Yellow Catui and Uganda Bugisu. Luigi loves his plums!

In the cup: Italian plum and lemon with dense chocolate and caramel sauce background.

Baskerville - Regional Brazil from Minas Gerais and Kenya Kirinyaga Peaberry. Release the hounds! The huckleberry hounds.

In the cup: Raisin, peach, macadamia, with huckleberry highlights throughout.

The Odd Couple - Sumatra Takengon and Kenya Kirinyaga Peaberry. The size difference in these beans prompted the name.

In the cup: Fig, tropical fruit sweetness, and warm spice.

Braz in Pocket - Brazil Fazenda Aurea, PNG Kimel, PNG Baroida. BRAZil and PApua New Guinea. PA sound like in "pocket".

In the cup: Cocoa, clove, ginger, citrus finish.

The Hammer - Brazil Fazenda Colina, PNG Baroida Plantation. This was an intense espresso. A lot coming at you. When I think of intensity I think of strength, and a lot of strength from steroids. BaROIDa reminds me of steroids. So who historically was almost superhuman and could have possibly been on steroids, but we just don't know. John Henry, the steel drivin' man, he died with a hammer in his hand.

In the cup: Intense pecan and hazelnut with candied orange peel. Fruit and chocolate highlights.

Dodgy Jam - El Salvador Finca Matalapa Puerta Zapa, Costa Rica Finca La Ponderosa. When I tasted this espresso it was a funky Euro Pop beat with a twist. Imagine Rowan Atkinson and John Cleese dancing with a club full of fiery German and British youth.

In the cup: Mango, dried peach, blackberry, hazelnut background.

We've just finished pulling shots of E-squared, a blend of two regional Ethiopian coffees - Yirgacheffe and Guji Suke Quto. lots of sweet bergamot and floral notes, with a dark honey and malt sweetness.

When it comes down to it, the flavor is what drives what beans can join in harmony. The naming, that's just self amusement.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Costa Rica Helsar de Zarcero - Macho Arce

Whole Bean Coffee new on the shelf today: Costa Rica Helsar Zarcero - Macho Arce.

This is a lot from the farm of Manuel "Macho" Arce in the West Valley area of Zarcero, close to Naranjo town. It's mostly Caturra cultivar, and has the zesty brightness and citrus accents that exemplify this varietal at it's best. It is processed at the Helsar de Zarcero mill, which is consistently turning out some of the best coffees from this area of Costa Rica.

In the cup it's an up tempo coffee. Vanilla, orange, and lemon, with light hints of hazelnut and a wonderful citrus tang. Yeah!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

El Salvador Santa Ana Naranjo

Today we have a Single Origin El Salvador Santa Ana Naranjo available. This is a lot from the El Naranjo area of Santa Ana, El Salvador. This coffee is brought as fresh=picked cherry from Naranjo to the CuatroM Mill near Las Cruces for processing. They use both modern and traditional techniques to ensure quality fruit selection and clean, economical, and ecologically sound processing.

In the cup it's hints of red and green apple, hazelnut, and milk chocolate. A wonderfully balanced and nuanced cup.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guatemala Antigua - Hacienda Carmona Pulcal

One of the coffees we currently have available is the Guatemala Antigua - Hacienda Carmona Pulcal.

Hacienda Carmona is a third generation family farm located in Antigua at 5200-6100 feet. It has been run by Maria Zelaya Aguirre since 1959. Her family acquired the farm in the 1800s. The hillside exposure and well-draining soils give Carmona a unique micro-climate. They call the single farm coffee "Cafe Pulcal," which is the name of their mill as well.

In the cup it's classic and clean. Grape and blackberry fruits with hints of raisin, chocolate, and silky smooth caramel.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

someone's gotta be blogging

Yiching says...

I've just recently realized how limited either John or I post on this caffe d'bolla blog. I must do more. It's just that when twitter and facebook are both so easily available, I sometimes forget how important it is to really write longer (or complete) sentences, and allow my thoughts to flow.

So I'm going to try to write more often, lengthy or short, to keep my thoughts flowing. I shall ask John to do the same.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Taming the Roast

John says...

A recent visit to a couple of well-known coffeeshops out of town got my mind thinking about a few things.

Coffeeshop A hit the scene first. They roast their own coffee. And they do a fantastic job. Coffeeshop B came about a few years later. They also roast their own coffee. But the word on the street, and from what I tasted from both shops, Coffeeshop B has the edge. (As coffeeshops, I would rate both very highly... in fact, I like the vibe at Coffeeshop A better.. but this post is not about that)

Why? It's the roast.

I've been roasting coffee for our caffe for a little over five years now, and although constant improvement is necessary in this business, I'd like to think I'm pretty good at what I do. One thing that catches my attention is when I taste something in an espresso that I know is difficult to do.

Many of the progressive shops, for good or bad, have a "me too" thing going on. The current "me too" is bright and sweet espresso. Both of these shops do it. One is just better at it. In this case, I'll call it "taming the roast". And the reason this is important is that it carries through to all of their coffees. I don't have to taste them all to know they will be good. The display of skill in the espresso says everything I need to know.

When roasting bright and sweet coffee or espresso, there seem to be three tiers of roasters.

The Third Tier roaster will make the mistake of roasting too fast and too short of time. This will leave the coffee underdeveloped and often have a sweet grass essence, or a best a tangy lemon acidity that manages to shroud everything else in the cup. I've tasted many of these. I've been there myself. It's a great step to get past.

The Second Tier roaster has a better grasp on things and manages to concoct a very respectable citrus sweet espresso...that's often one dimensional. And I have been there too. There are some coffee that aren't kind to me if I try to roast them too light. So I don't. I believe many coffees have multiple sweet spots. But not all coffees have multiple sweet spots. Trying to force a coffee to taste how you want it isn't always the best idea. Taste it. It will tell you what it wants from you. Sweet and bright is often dull and boring. It's like a Reisling that hasn't matured. You're sure there's something magical, you can almost taste it. Almost.

The First Tier roaster understands how to coax the nuances out of the bean. They take the brightness just to the edge, and just when you think it's too much, another subtle layer of flavor steps in and takes over. It's an mesmerizing dance of roasting magic, and it transforms a single note offering into a symphony of flavors.

In my mind, the current roaster at Coffeeshop A has passed the Second Tier, but has not yet figured out how to consistently cross the threshold into the abode of the First Tier roaster. And this is actually the third time I've had their espresso. It's always been good, but right now, there are subtleties that Coffeeshop B understands how to capture better.

The roaster at Coffeeshop B is several paces down the hall of the First Tier abode and is walking slowly but surely to the game room where play time is about to happen. Sometimes I stumble into this realm, and other times I stride with confidence. Like all roasters, it's a matter of perfect practice. There's plenty of room inside the First Tier Abode. But it takes consistency to stay there. To those who have mastered the taming of the roast, I enjoy and appreciate your craft.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Customer Growth - common mistakes and solutions

Author's Note: Many new shops come and just as quickly as they come, they are gone. I'd rather see people be successful than fail. Nearly all failures can be attributed to poor planning, but improper strategies can be almost as fatal. This short piece is for all new and prospective owners. Dismiss this at your own peril.

You have navigated through all the hoops, attended trade shows and seminars, traveled here and there to gain perspective, and now you've opened your doors. The one issue that sends many new owners in the beginning months into a panic, and a panic that often leads to poor decisions; is "How do I get more customers RIGHT NOW?"

There are several responses to this state of panic. I will talk about the most common, when they can be good, and when they are likely a road to failure. There are a few major metropolitan areas in the country that are also coffee-centric, so it is possible to blindly stumble through a successful run just based on pure numbers. For most of the country, it's a much more precarious balancing act.

The three most common (and misused) responses to "How do I get more customers right now?" are: Punch cards, coupons, and changing the menu.

Let's look at these.

Punch Cards:

This is perhaps the worst thing you can do in terms of a long term strategy. Can they do some good? Yes. IF you have a strategey in place ahead of time. The strategy is data collection. The end result of a long-term punch card program is not customer retention... it doesn't work that way. They are not loyal to you, they are loyal to the discount.

If Punch cards are brought into play, a better strategy is to use them as a one time thing. One new customer, one punch card. And the card can only be redeemed by having X purchases, and filling out name and email legibly on the back. Now the drink should be "one on us" not FREE.

Words matter. FREE says, "This drink has no value" but if it's "on us", it has a value, and you are gifting it to them. So, you're not exchanging the drink for the purchase of nine drinks. You are exchanging the drink for their information. The other drinks just get them to form a habit. But no second card! Just enough to "thank" the newcomers, and to collect their data. Now you can direct market to each of them. No, don't send them coupons. Interact. Include them on inside information about what you are doing, what coffees you have coming, and pass along a little education. Let them know that you are their Jeeves when it comes to questions about coffee and espresso.


The most often used is the infamous BOGO. Again, not good as a long term strategy, and should never be used outside of your opening months, if at all. This can sometimes be used when you first open to get people in the door, but once again, it's of utmost importance to never use the word FREE in your advertising. Now a number of marketing tomes, most useless, will say that FREE is one of the words that grabs attention. Yes. It grabs the attention of people looking for a discount. "Buy a latte have a second of equal or lesser value on us." would be fine. Have a "One coupon per customer" and to all that is holy, put a freakin' expiration date on it. No more than two to four weeks out.

As a long term strategy, neither punch cards nor coupons are good. And here's why.

Punch cards and coupons are the number one contributors to "The leaky bucket syndrome" -- you keep trying to plug the hole with a discount, but you keep leaking customers because they are NOT customers, they are bargain shoppers. So if you use them at all, use them only as short term strategies. Get their attention, sure, but if you need to offer a discount a second time, then you have to face the reality -- you have a lousy product.

Changing the Menu:

"You should add blended drinks", "How about adding breakfast items", "Maybe you need soup." OR "Your prices are too high".

Changes like this are never good. Does it gain you customers? NO. But it will give you plenty of opportunities to test the merits of Excedrin.

The moment you take these kinds of suggestions from customers seriously is the moment you've signed on for a downward spiral of doom. Those people who want you to change what you are doing are not your core customers, and probably will not be long term supporters of your business.

Have a core philosophy. Know what you are doing as a business and stick to it. It is as simple as that. You're an owner now, act like one.

Raise prices, yes. Lower prices, never. A wise man once said, "I never saw someone go out of business by charging too much" It's about value, and value isn't a number, it's about getting more than they expected. It's about the customer saying, "$4.50? That was fantastic! I would have paid $5"

So the question was, "How do I get customers?"

Have a plan in place.

To expect hundreds through the door on the day you open is not grounded in reality. You should expect to have enough capital to cover all of your expenses for several months out. Didn't do it? The honest answer would be, "Good luck." That kind of situation is why 7-10 businesses fail. It can all be directly related to poor planning. So avoid failure by planning well.

Building a customer base takes time, but panicking never solves anything. With Twitter, Yelp, Google, Facebook, and all the other social media forums, it's much easier to get the word out now than it was five or ten years ago. Take advantage of the mediums available. They can connect you with potential customers in a way that wasn't possible before. Word of Mouth is always the fastest way to grow as a small business, and Word of Mouth via social media is a whole new ballgame today.

Have a great product.

This goes without saying, but this is where most fail. Don't do the "old and busted" do the "new hotness".

Offer something unique.

Be the first in your area to roast on site, to offer coffee by the cup, to offer espresso only, to offer house made syrups, to teach classes, etc...

Building a customer base is something you are constantly doing. It begins day one, and it never ends. It's a testamant to your business savvy, the quality of your product, and your willingness to be daring.

It all starts with your first cup.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

on July 7th - July 9th

caffe d'bolla will be CLOSED
from Thursday, 7/7 through Saturday, 7/9.

We will OPEN and
resume our regular business hours on Monday.

Monday, July 04, 2011

OPEN 4th of July

caffe d'bolla is OPEN this 4th July
from 9 am - 3 pm

Friday, May 27, 2011

OPEN on Memorial Day

caffe d'bolla will be OPEN this Memorial Day (5/30) from 9am - 3pm.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Thoughts on SCAA 2011

John Says...

I'm back from the SCAA, and for Yiching and me, it was a short Friday to Sunday trip.

Much thanks to Jay Caragay for thinking of me when he came up with this presentation. I thought it went well, although I would have loved more feedback from the audience, particularly directed to any of the specifics each of us focused on.

Things I think:

There is too much fear and complacency in the coffee industry.

V60, or any pourover. should not be done by untrained barista. Clearly evident in many of the offerings at the show.

Tracy Allen is a coffee professional's professional.

Strada: A journey in hype?

Note to Exhibitors: It would help to have people working the booth who actually know the product.

Baratza has an exceptional new grinder.

A properly made pourover tastes great! Too bad I only found one.

James Hoffman always looks taller in person.

There needs to be a separation between the "Specialty Coffee" and "Coffee is Special" crowds.

Brewer's Cup needs a huge overhaul. Coffee first is the right direction, but breathe some life into it.

Didn't see his performance this year, but it doesn't matter, Pete Licata goes above and beyond. Great win. Fantastic representative.

Houston is an incredibly polite and friendly city.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Purple dinosaurs and customer etiquette

John says...

Barney almost has it right when it comes to understanding the relationship between a small shop owner
and their customers.

I love you You love me
We're a happy family
With a great big hug
and a kiss from me to you
Won't you say you love me too

He's got it right...

if you live in a land where sun shines out of your ass, and puppy dogs and rainbows are a daily sight.

We love our customers, but as a small business it's about establishing an understanding of how what we do means something to our customers, and what our customers' support means to us. All of our customers who come to spend time inside our shop always buy a drink. It's understood. But for those who are new, we need to quickly establish expectations.

customer: The word derives from "custom," meaning "habit"; a customer was someone who frequented a particular shop, who made it a habit to purchase goods of the sort the shop sold there rather than elsewhere, and with whom the shopkeeper had to maintain a relationship to keep his or her "custom," meaning expected purchases in the future. (

Both Yiching and I grew up in a culture where it's understood that when you go into an establishment and take a seat, be it a cafe, coffee shop, bar or restaurant, you order. It's called "customer etiquette", which is something that many people seem to have forgotten. People come in, they want to enjoy the space, the warmth or the cool air, the music, and the people, but they seem to have forgotten the reason for being there-- enjoying a drink AND all of those other things.

All of our tables have a little sign:

And on the back it reads:

"Yiching and I give all our daily energy
to operate caffe d'bolla.

Our passion is in every drink we make for you.
It's the soul of what we do.

Therefore, one cup minimum is all we ask.

Every cup represents an understanding
between you and us
of love for something exceptional
and this is what supports caffe d'bolla.

Please enjoy every sip.

Thank You."

We've had this policy for years, but found it most effective if customers can read and understand rather than having to tell them. Making this policy clear has done several things: It creates a better caliber of customer all around, it shows current customers how important their support is to us, and it lets newcomers know we take what we do very seriously. And it virtually eliminates any bad customers. We've had a positive response from our customers.
There are those few who don't get it, but there's a place for them... it's called 7-11.

So to our customers we say,
"Thank You!"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The importance of cup shape and design

John Says...

I have been thinking about demitasse cup shape lately. You see, most cups are about the same, whether it's the nova point moka brown ones or the IPO white cups and even the tulip shaped cups really fall into the same category. But I have one demitasse in my collection, a small brown cup from Germany, that, hands down, is the best demitasse for espresso I have used.

One of the key questions I have asked myself when looking to get the best out of a cup of coffee or espresso is: How do we capture and transmit the essential aromatics? As many know, it's the aromatics that are the most important factor in determining the flavor of the coffee. All things being equal, the better the presentation of the aromatics for the particular beverage, the more dynamic and richer flavor experience for the consumer.

That being said, the typical demitasse has an opening diameter of 2 1/16" to 2 1/4" and a height of about 1 7/8 to 2". This particular demitasse has in opening diameter of 2 1/2" and a height of 1 3/8". This wider opening, shorter and less tapered design creates more surface area for the crema and allows your nose to hit closer to the center of the cup rather than the edge. This essentially surrounds your nose with aromatics. Also, the way the flavors present themselves in the cup seem somehow more pronounced, beyond what the aromatics should provide. My theory is that the dispersion and layering of the espresso is different enough that it results in enough separation for greater clarity without losing balance.

While it's certainly not enough for a scientific trial, I've had about thirty shots of espresso to compare (60 total) on roughly 12 different espresso - both blends and SO, and I've pulled about eight shots for our best customer who gets espresso daily. The first time I made an espresso for him in this demitasse, I didn't say anything, and all he could say was "Wow!" to the same espresso he had earlier in the day, but in our normal demitasse. Every time we each remark at how good it tastes.

When it comes to the siphon, cup shape certainly matters to us. Now the best shape when it comes to the aromatics of the coffee, is actually a Champagne flute.. but at about 4-5 oz, expensive, and a general pain in the ass to keep spotless... it's not the most practical delivery system.

We therefore specifically use tapered or tulip shaped Japanese bone china, and a few German as well (for some reason, the handles on many of the German cups are oddly small). The cups are usually 7-8oz, but sometimes five. Larger doesn't make any sense at all. It's the same reason why you don't serve wine in a one liter boot or hefty stein. And the shape maintains the best aromatics out of the useable drinking vessels. A smaller cup with a smaller diameter also works well too. The nose isn't as pronounced in the beginning, but it will maintain a balanced clarity throughout.

One of the most important aspects of choosing the right cup, is raising the level of the coffee experience for the customer. To make coffee by the cup, and serve it in a paper cup is insane (and not the good kind!) . Or to serve it in the same ceramic you use for everything else really doesn't convey the specialty of what the customer is about to consume. How can we expect a customer to understand what they are receiving if we treat it the same as every other cup. And if EVERY cup is special, then treat every cup that way. Find the best way to prepare, and the best vessel to serve in, and in doing so you honor the coffee, the customer, and your business.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

closed through the weekend

We're back in Salt Lake City. Both of us got sick due to a virus in Taiwan on the last day of our trip! Will have to close through the weekend so we don't pass something along to everyone. Looking forward to seeing you on Monday!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

away for a few days

caffe d'bolla will be CLOSED from Monday, Jan. 31st through Thursday, February 10th.

We will be back at the shop on Friday, February 11th! :D