Echo Coffee Philosophy: Fresh
March 22, 2010
With opening day around the corner, it’s time we started to describe just what is Echo Coffee, other than the undoubtedly obvious: a coffee shop. The tag line reads, “Fresh. Local. Organic” and so today starts a short series describing what those three words mean to us, starting today with Fresh.
Plain and simple, the word fresh means that everything we serve is made fresh to order. The word fresh gets used a great deal in the coffee industry, but today we’ll get very specific about what we mean by fresh.
For the best tasting coffee, it all starts with fresh roasted beans. With a relatively small roaster, we will be forced to roast almost every day to keep adequate supply, yet never worry that beans are sitting around, getting stale. For espresso, it tastes best about 3 days after roasting, and by 10 days after roasting has lost significant flavor. For drip coffee a 4 day rest is best, but again, by 10 days out of the roaster, flavor has degraded substantially. This contrasts strongly with super market coffees, which are often labeled with a freshness date of one year from roasting. The resting period for fresh roasted coffee is needed to allow carbon dioxide, generated during the roasting process and trapped inside the hard shell of the bean, to escape the bean. That carbon dioxide adds a significant “brightness” to the taste that relaxes after it has had a chance to rest. It’s interesting that for coffee, it is possible for something to be too fresh.
A shot of espresso is very rarely pulled before it was ordered, but when were the beans ground that were used for that shot? If you don’t hear a grinder turning after your order is placed, it’s likely the beans were ground a while back. Ground coffee beans sitting for just 5 minutes have lost a substantial amount of their flavor potential due to the oils within the bean evaporating rapidly once the beans are ground. Before grinding, the hard shell of the coffee bean protects the oils from evaporating, but after grinding, they are free to release into the air. So, grinding fresh is a significant step toward pulling a great tasting shot of espresso.
Likewise, we won’t brew drip coffee before you order it. All of our drip coffee served in the shop will be made to order, either as a pour over, french press, or Americano. And once again, the beans for each cup will be ground fresh for that cup. Drip coffee that was brewed into an air pot is reasonably fresh for about 30 minutes, if the air pot uses all stainless steel construction. But brewing into air pots often yields significant waste, which leads many shops to let the coffee sit longer than 30 minutes (most often timers are set for an hour). The best way to avoid the temptation to let coffee sit longer than it should, is to never brew into an air pot to begin with. So we won’t.
Along with coffee, we will also offer pastries, sandwiches, and salads. These items will all be made fresh, right in the shop. When they are in season, we’ll source the freshest fruits and vegetables we possibly can and adjust the menu throughout the year to take advantage of seasonal freshness. Sourcing fresh means we will need additional suppliers, which will create greater supply chain challenges and increase production costs, but that won’t deter us from making every item on the menu as fresh as possible.
Photo credit: S.Su