Numerous articles and studies have been released recently stating the health benefits of coffee, why organic is better than chemical-laden regular coffee, and why the Swiss Water Process of decaffeination is better than decaffeinating processes using chemical solvents such as methylene chloride and ethyl acetate. But this article is going to take things one step further….
Consciousness in every cup. What goes into your bean, from the moment it is planted, to when it is picked, roasted, and then brewed? The planting, farming, and roasting process consists of more than just coffee planted and then picked – even if the beans are grown organically and farmers are paid a fair wage. Coffee has well-known health benefits and coffee shops feature different flavor profiles with their drinks, but did you know that coffee, and specifically espresso, can be tasted and the flavors savored in a very similar fashion to wine?
A shot of espresso is more concentrated than a regular cup of coffee, and because of the extraction process, very nuanced condensed flavors can be coaxed out of the bean – from high citrus, to caramel, to milk, to dark chocolate – and even flavors like peanut butter, as one blend at Blue Bottle presented recently. It all depends on the type and origin of the beans, whether it is a bean blend or single origin, and most importantly the roasting process, which can extract different flavors and nuances. On the flip-side, if beans are roasted improperly this can negatively affect antioxidant levels and flavor.
At Caffe Luxxe they roast in small batches on a fully manual L25 (25 kilo machine). Started by Gary Chau and Mark Wain in 1996 from a shared passion for Italian-style coffee, they serve one of the most consistent short-shot (or ristretto) espressos in Los Angeles. Their roasting style leans toward medium to light. According to Gary Chau, “To roast coffee respectfully is a fine balance between art and science. Similar to a chef in a kitchen, we rely on a human being, our master roaster, instead of a computer. There are numerous factors in the environment which are changing throughout the roasting process which a human being can feel and sense that a computer is not yet sophisticated enough to account for in order to make adjustments in the roast.” They also have a powerful belief in community. If you sip one of their espressos you will find a heady crema with a nose of chocolate, caramel, and smoke, and a taste of deep, dark chocolate with hints of caramel.
Blue Bottle, another local roaster which recently moved their roasting facility from San Francisco to the Arts District Downtown, serves two different espressos. The Hayes Valley is a blend, with varied nuances depending on the season, but leans toward the chocolaty, with tinges of caramelized sugar and a very silky feel. Their single origin, which varies throughout the year, is currently the Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Chelelektu, which is served in a small water glass and has a thick amber crema, a nose of hay, caramel, and citrus, and a taste of honey with floral notes on the finish. Coffees are sourced from sustainable farms, and the utmost care is taken to respect the environment on every level (they use compostable cups in their cafes as well). They roast on a Loring Kestrel, which is a patented single burner design and delivers a smokeless roasting process.
Studies have shown that coffee and espresso, in particular, are known to improve attention, mood, and can be beneficial to the liver. These delectable beverages can minimize the risk of stroke, reduce the risk of diabetes (when combined with proper exercise), protect against dementia, and even help with asthma symptoms. According to a study published in PubMedHealth, “Caffeine is a drug that is very similar to theophylline. Theophylline is a bronchodilator drug that is taken to open up the airways in the lungs and therefore relieve the symptoms of asthma.”
Though it is important to source organic, fair trade, and sustainable when possible, some coffee shops and roasters are taking it one step further: Biodynamic farming. Biodynamic farming is not only organically farmed, but it is done so in rhythm with the cycles of the moon. A method of farming first introduced by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s, it is a holistic system of agriculture. According to The Biodynamic Association, Steiner “…developed a set of homeopathic preparations used by biodynamic farmers on soil, compost, and plants that help build up the farm’s innate immune system and vital forces.…By applying these diverse ideas and methods, biodynamic farmers have established a worldwide reputation for creating socially responsible farms of extraordinary health and beauty and for producing organic products of the highest quality and flavor.” This is also referred to as a spiritual-scientific method of farming.
So, what does this mean for you and your cup of morning coffee or your shot of espresso? It means that the beans in the coffee you drink have been consciously picked, roasted, and prepared. It is more than just the bean itself. Or the coffee sans chemicals. It is a holistic approach to coffee and farming that not only benefits our mother earth, but the flavor of the coffee/espresso itself, and more than this, the conscious intention put upon the preparation of each cup.
At Aharon Coffee & Roasting Co., whose motto is “The Joy of Coffee,” they train their staff to inject joy into each step of the coffee making process, so that each cup is infused with the intent to spread happiness, and thus raise the level of consciousness on the planet (they source biodynamically as well as organic and fair trade). Their biodynamic coffee is sourced from Fazenda Camocim farm in Espirito Santo, northeast of Rio de Janeiro. At this farm, little or no water is used in the peeling of the skin of the cherry of the bean. And after drying, the coffee “rests” for up to three months. If you enjoy a cup of this conscience brew, you will find a slightly sweet, yet nutty flavor, with a smoothness that just skirts citrus and edges towards hickory and hay, with a bottom of earthiness and a touch of caramel.
Consciousness in every cup. Making the world a better place one sip at a time!
225 26th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90402
(See website for additional locations)
Blue Bottle Coffee
582 Mateo Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(See website for additional locations)
Aharon Coffee & Roasting Co.
9467 Charleville Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
This article is a part of the Oct - Nov 2017 issue of Whole Life Times.