The lastest from Gregorys Blog

EW Fest 2015

Posted on November 1, 2015

 

 On Saturday, October 24th, we celebrated Entertainment Weekly's 25th birthday at the EW Fest at the Industria Superstudio. We kept the guests and crews caffeinated and content fo the all-day celebration from 11:00am to 10:30 pm. We served our Greg's House and our single origins which are Ibutiti, Bener Meriah, and La Joya

The EW Fest featured exclusive conversations with Oscar Contenders, Young Adult Authors, Digital Influencers and more! Ther was also a binge-a-thon screenings featuring The Expanse (Syfy), a first look at Idiotsitter (Comedy Central), Lucifer (FOX), Ash vs. Evil Dead (Starz) etc.

Ibutiti, the super clean and juicy Kenyan coffee

Posted on October 26, 2015

At the New York Coffee Festival, we introduced the two of the three single-origins of the season, Bener Meriah from Sumatra and La Joya from Costa Rica. We are now introducing the third single-origin, Ibutiti from Kenyan. Ibutiti is a super clean and juicy Kenyan coffee. It has flavor notes of blackcurrant, fig, and lime. The three single-origins are fully stocked at all locations. If you haven't tried them yet, now is your chance to do so before the next single-origins arrive. 

 

 

The New York Coffee Festival

Posted on October 19, 2015

Last month, we had a great time at the New York Coffee Festival along with 65 other exhibitors. We served three of our single-origins, brewed by aeropresses fresh on the spot. Three of the single-origins were Santiago from Guatemala (last season), La Joya from Costa Rica and Bener Meriah from Sumatra. We were proud to be debuting the La Joya and Bener Meriah. We also had our cold brew for all you cold brew lovers. 

   

In case you didn't know, Bailey, our Director of Education was one of the judges of the latte art competition. Which latte arts is your favorite?

If you missed the New York Coffee Festival, no worries, stay tunes with our blog, fb, instagram or twitter for updated coffee events. 

  

 

About the stirrers

Posted on October 16, 2015

Hello Gregulars,
 
We're checking in today with a brief note to clear up some confusion. We've gotten some complaints recently from people upset that we have stopped stocking stirrers (say that six times fast). Not so! We have simply relocated the stirrers to behind the counter to comply with health code (and, frankly, a bit of sense) that's in place to make sure everyone's hands aren't digging through that pile of stirrers before you get yours and put it in your coffee. Should you require a stirrer, simply ask one of our baristas and they'll be happy to provide you with one.
 
Thanks!
 

New Season, New Single Origins!

Posted on September 20, 2015

We are excited to introduce you, our new single origins, Bener Meriah from Sumatra and La Joya from Costa Rica. 

Coffee: Bener Meriah

Origin: Sumatra

Tasting Notes: plum, dark chocolate, caramel

Variety: Tim Tim, Bourbon, Jember

Process: Wet-hulled

Elevation: 1400-1600m

Coffee: La Joya

Origin: Costa Rica

Tasting Notes: almond, brown sugar, green apple

Variety: Caturra

Process: Pulp Natural

Elevation: 1800m

Want to have a first taste of that plum, dark chocolate, and caramel? or almond, brown sugar, and green apple? Please stop by the New York Coffee Festival at 69th Regiment Armory (68 Lexington Ave) on September 25th - 27th.

See you there~

For more info, visit New York Coffee Festival

 

 

Education Time: The Pour Over

Posted on August 1, 2015

Oi, oi, oi, class in session *smacks ruler for silence*. If you're looking to advance your order in-store or at home, this next written disclosure may come in handy. If everything espresso doesn't satisfy your Mon-Sun curiosity in caffeination, there's an object for upheaval that invites a whole slew of opportunity when it comes to brewing coffee: the pour over. 

You might see the pour over cropping up on various menus, sometimes taking up a whole song and dance of space, depending on the preference of those selling it to their fine customers. Preference plays a large part in it, as many looking to sell pour overs maintain an avid interest in spreading the word, the wisdom, the logos. They believe that if you like coffee, you'll love the pour over. But why? And first, can you please define the pour over? Okay. 

The pour over is any method where you have a bed of coffee that you manually pour water over and it drips into a vessel. Simples.

Now for a lesson in history, both brief and breathtaking (well, the latter for those who really appreciate coffee - like Gregorys, of course, and we attempt to speak well for ourselves):

It all began with a housewife from Dresden by the name of Melitta Bentz. Mrs. Bentz--would Mr. Simpson please stop his guffawing at the back--Mrs. Bentz left behind quite the legacy. With ingenious perspicacity, she conjured the pour over and paper filter all at once. In 1908, Melitta got fed up with scraping the grinds off of the bottom of unfiltered coffee pots and wringing out used cloth coffee filters: S-T-ress. Searching for a solution, she ended up puncturing a brass pot with a nail, and then took a piece of blotting paper to use as a filter (blotting paper being paper used to wipe off excess ink from a quill). While the quill no longer enjoys the same commercial splendor as it did in 1908, the paper filter has gone from strength to strength: it not only produced a clean cup of coffee (compared to brewing in a pot on the stove, where grinds never got separated from the brew), it was incredibly easy to clean up: just toss it away (or better still, recycle). Melitta then went into business, designing pour over methods and paper filters--her brand is still incredibly popular to this day. The pour over method is even referred to as the Melitta method at times, though not too often (unless you want your coolness to confound).

Melitta Bents

Mrs. Bentz

Of course, things have advanced since Melitta's initial inquiry; there are a number of popular brewing methods for people to pick, choose and experiment with. Let's have a look at some of these, figure their differences, and then discern how these differences impact the output of flavor:

First off, we have the Bee House/Bonmac, so similar that they might make for some bee-musement and a très bon joke. Both are wedged shaped, both have grooves inlaid with which to guide the coffee, and both contain a rectangular flat bottom. The key difference: the Bee House has two small holes, while the Bonmac only has one. More holes = more ways for the coffee to fall through = coffee passing through at a faster rate.

There you have it: holes

There you have it: holes

The next suspect is the Kalita Wave, but is it as good as the name sounds cool? The Kalita has a flat, rounded bottom, similar to a Fetco basket (which you can observe atop our batch brewers). This method has not one, not two, but three holes for the coffee to pass through. It also seeks differentiation through its smooth and perfectly round sides (unlike the B-Brothers above) and use of rather specific accordion - or wavy - filters that are designed to stand away from the brewers wall. According to the prima-coffee blog, these wavy filters lead to improved temperature stability (essential in a measured extraction) by insulating with air rather than the material of the dripper itself - however, this is debatable: you would think a pre-heated brewing device would be better than just having air flow in between the wall and the filter. Still, it's a debate worth plying over for those interested in adjusting their brewing method and discovering their own brand of delight.

Kalita Wave

Overhead Wave

Next is the V60, which you'll find being sold on the shelves in our stores. This model has one big hole with ridges, allowing coffee to pass through at a quicker rate than the B-Boys; the ridges are similar to these two, but the V60's rounded shape differs from the wedged shape of the former. The V60 uses very thin paper filters; the previous prima-coffee blog stakes the claim that this leads to minimal paper taste (desirable), and so our very own P.I. Denman (Darren Denman - the Education Assistant) followed the paper trail to some of his own conclusions: he found that quite the opposite was true; that the next suspect, the Chemex with its thicker filters, had a much more indistinguishable paper-presence in the end result. His hypothesis was that the Chemex filters were sturdier with thickness, lending themselves to less--for want of a better word--seepage. Either way, it's generally accepted that pre-rinsing paper filters almost completely eliminates any paper-tasting residue; Denman gave this a go, but could not contest the evidence - pre-rinsing the paper filters made for a damn fine cup of coffee. Back to thickness/thinness of filters: a thin filter allows for the coffee to pass through quicker, but we'll come to the effects of that momentarily.

V60

Got V60 'der

Last but certainly not least for us Gregorians, it's the Chemex. This fellow has a conical, smooth surface along the walls, for the most part. This dunce-cap cone is given a clever gap at one point for the coffee to make its way to the spout once brewed. This, however, leads to a slight lack of support for the filter on that side. Solution: The Chemex filter is to be folded in such a way that one of the sides is to have three layers. Guess which layer you're to put against the spout side. Besides this feature, there's one big hole and no ridges; like the V60, the hole is going to account for a faster outflow of coffee; unlike the V60, a thicker paper filter counteracts the motions of one big hole by slowing the pouring process down a notch. Why such a curious butting of heads? Is this how you achieve equanimity - that is to say, ascend to Heaven (insofar as coffee can assist)? There are only questions in this regard: maybe they wanted a cleaner body from a thicker filter; maybe the design merely demanded such compensation. We can't question the results: The results are good.

Chemex

Overlooking the demense...

But which is best?

Well, first there's the factor of the holes that grant the coffee passage through the pour over. As we've hinted towards already, bigger holes (or more holes) allow for coffee to pass through quicker, while the smaller holes (or hole) mean that the water is in contact with the coffee for a longer period - some argue, or consider, that this longer brew-time accounts for a better taste.

There're also the paper filters effecting a faster/slower brew. While some argue that a thicker filter might hinder flavor with a papery residue - and some, namely Darren, argue staunchly to the otherwise - there is also the factor that perhaps the thicker paper filter leads to a cleaner cup, as it will be that much harder for oils and sediments to pass through. Anyhow, we can all allay our passions slightly, knowing that by pre-rinsing the paper filter, almost all thoughts of paper are out the window as they're dispensed into the trash.

Besides this, there's the shape of the brewer. But we can't go touting shapes too much: what's best is what's best for you. A Chemex aficionado thinking of changing up his game for a bit should not feel the slightest guilt over his wish to experiment; the Chemex shall be there forevermore, and it's worthwhile, even responsible, to check out how the other brewing methods fair. All these brewers are slightly yet markedly different, revealing flavors hitherto undiscovered or unappreciated. Trying is its own reward. Life's not about the destination, maaaaan, it's about the journey.

While you can dither over multiple methods when it comes to a good cup, we do recommend some moderation in the process. These brew methods are, of course, affected by the coarseness of the grinder, the temperature of the water, the recipe of coffee and water, and a whole bouquet-full of other factors. It's well worth monitoring these factors while testing different brewers, so that you can more keenly discern what the design does to alter flavor.

Why, you might ask, are we going to such lengths to give you a run-down of these brewing methods. Doesn't Gregorys staple its name to the Aeropress, raising it to the heavens like their very own Simba? Doesn't the Chemex only break out of its box in-store so as to deliver some free samples and get people interested in the single origins (made over at the Aeropress Bar)? Well, yes. We use the Chemex to exhibit the exciting possibilities in the coffees we've got in stock - the delightful single origins - because it can be used to make bigger batches; if we see some gap in the line of customers, we will break it out in order to invigorate interest and pass it on to those lucky customers soon to enter. We also use the Chemex, as we find it to be the closest iteration to our trusty Aeropress, producing coffee of similar clarity and lightness of body (mouth feel).

But why the Aeropress? Every Gregorys employee knows full well why. Gregorys Coffee, as its currently conceived, traffics in traffic; we grew up in Manhattan and face a fairly busy day-to-day. With the pace of things, it's much harder to ensure consistency when relying on a pour over - they take time, and risk being overrun by an ever-fluctuating line of drinks; we can only afford to make them at certain times/gaps in the day. While we like to have the Chemex brewing (with our steady focus) for three to three and a half minutes, we have the Aeropress done and dusted in two. The Aeropress also offers consistency by way of the fact that if you follow the recipe, you'll get great-tasting coffee every time; faltering or over-dipping on a Chemex/V60/etc. for a moment can affect the overall profile and potentially ruin the batch. So there you have it: the Aeropress is not only reliable and consistent, but also beyond awesome in output of flavor. Sounds strange, but only because the world's a cruel mistress and scarcely admits such a compound of inviting adjectives.

So there you have it: a bunch of brewing methods to fawn over, try in-store or take back home. While you can find us (Aero)pressin' all day long, you can also find the Chemex at a conducive hour, and many a brewing method on the shelves in our store. Our baristas are more than happy to flash their wisdom if you should so choose to ask; many have V-60s, Bee house/Bonmacs, the Chemex and faithful Aeropress stowed away for personal experiments, and they would gladly impart their impressions to those with an interest. 

The Greggies 2015

Posted on June 26, 2015

Last Saturday we were a no-show beyond 2pm at all stores usually open at that hour. But with very good reason. Months in advance, the day was set as the 24-hour mark for celebrating all employees and attempting to validate the immeasurable work they do to deliver top-notch coffee and a ceaselessly positive environment.

Greg like "yo"

Gregory, attempting composure in anticipation.

The occasion was also a red-ribbon moment of sorts, as everyone bar Gregory got a first look at what's soon to be a roastery - the Gregorys Roastery. Still somewhat hush hush as to when we're officially up and running with it, but we got to observe the massive space and creep up on some roasters that you might mistake for a train. Our excitement could be deemed similar: train-like in its capacity to bulldoze our common standing and fall over ourselves in rapture.  Even still, we must compose ourselves and appreciate the current state of our wonderful relationship with Irving Farm Coffee Roasters, who allow us to exercise an effective complete control over our coffees, and be with the roaster at every step of the way in deciding upon (i.e. tweaking fanatically) the final roast profile for the coffees that land in our stores.

Anyhow, enough of the future and some more on last Saturday: a feast was set, glasses were raised and dances married body and soul. There were also prizes. But before we get to that, let's have a look at some of the cast:

39th and Fash

Here's 39th and Fash looking, well, fashionable - and Phillipe (not of Fash) taking care of lighting.

31st and Sixth

Here's most of the 31st St. crew - Esther missed the group shot, and was duly photoshopped into existence thereafter.

80 Broad

The ladies of 80 Broad, and Gregg (yes, Gregg) photobombing - but more on him later.

33rd and Park

33rd and Park, out in force - Phillipe, once again, out of place.

40th and Madison

BUT, here's Phillipe and Zenda, representing 40th and Mad as assistant manager and manager respectively.

With these wonderful folks flocking to the Greggies, the setting was quickly saturated with chitter-chat and clinking cutlery. A few hours of this and Maciej (Director of Coffee), Bailey (Director of Education), and Gregory (Gregory) then took center-stage to dish out prizes for all those baristas worthy in a specific (sometimes silly) feat of going above and beyond in all-round good service:

The Trio

The Trio

The prizes went from most likely to say "I'm Dead" (with laughter) to a lifetime achievement award (with no "I'm Dead" in sight, thankfully); there was a broad appeal to a sense of fun, matched by a high-spirited sense of appreciation on all fronts. Here are a few of the victors:

Ecstatic Reactions

Ecstatic Reactions - here's Duane with Cookie Monster on high; he won best vocal performance, Hardcore/Metalcore.

Greg and Ariel

Ariel won the "Customer Helper" award for the all-day arm and leg he gives; he got a Star Wars set cus he's a real... Trooper?

Adriana Wins

Adriana won the Lifetime Achievement Award; she's manager over at 80 Broad and <3 married to Carlos, manager at 39th and Fash. She even taught coffee-buff Maciej how to steam a latte back in the day.

Gigi, Gigi, how you doin' ha

Here's Gigi with Greg, breaking all kinds of no-flex barriers; Gigi won the award for most indomitable ego, which came in the form of a book by founder of analytical psychology, C. G. Jung. She claims that she hasn't got an ego, that it's just "real talk" #staywoke, so it's unlikely to go down well when Jung tries to tell her everyone has an ego: "Do you even lift, young Jung? Do. You. Even."

There was another camera guy stationed outdoors - usually stationed behind bar at 31st Street - by the name of Samuel Lopez. He managed to take a number of lovely profiles of some lovely baristas. He also does weddings:

Mark and Alvar

Here's manager Mark and assistant Alvar, who can be found taking care of business over at 31st Street. Both resemble Garfiend and Jon Arbuckle in equal parts; it's hard to know at what time they'll be down for no-nonsense or down to get down. Mark won the Manager of the Year Award, so thank him if you stop by 31st - although Alvar also deserves praise, being so equal-and-opposite.

Emma and Darren

It's Emma and Darren i.e. Darma (?). Emma's manager over at 33rd and Park, while Darren's worked in just about every location, but currently spends most time assisting Maciej and Bailey over at 31st Street in the Training Center - makes sure people know everything about each new coffee that comes in, and spills the beans on various facets of the coffee world in monthly lectures.

Gregg

Last but not least, here's Gregg (yes, Gregg) who was something of an unsung hero at the event. Manager over at 24th and Park, he is soon to take the mantle of Head Roaster over at - where else - The Gregorys Roastery. Once again, this is hush hush, but Gregg is currently undergoing some rigorous training to roast to the taste's content. We've got to reiterate that we can't wait for everything to be ready; once it is, Gregg will be leading the charge in appeasing "The Trinity" (Greg, Maciej, and Bailey) and making sure the coffee tastes profound and is deliverable to any one of our stores in under a heartbeat. Exciting times at Ridgemont High, or like... Gregorys. Look forward to where we'll be at the next annual Greggies!

Gregory at 1st Greggies

"That's all for now"

New Single Origins

Posted on June 25, 2015

With the month of June upon us, we've had to start shifting gears - air conditioning on and much bigger batches of cold brew being prepped - but it's not just a matter of function and adaptability, we're also concerned with the sense of summer and our sense of taste. With that in mind, including our general interest in switching things up - introducing new and exciting coffees for palates to go budding mad over at regular intervals - we've selected three new single origins, brewed to produce distinct clarity and lightness of body (already perfect for the summer) over at the aeropress bar. Here are the latest:

Santiago

Origin: Guatemala

Tasting Notes: Clementine; Hazelnut; Lemon Meringue Pie; Macadamia Nut.

This creamy coffee of gentle citrus acidity stems from the Huehuetenango region of Guatemala. Said region is a key word in the coffee-growing vocabulary, being renowned for sweet and elegant coffees such as this. Those with an orthographic eye that registers sound through spelling, may pronounce the first two syllables like a pompous chuckle, but it's actually "WAY-WAY-te-NAN-go" - Far out. Maciej, Director of Coffee, hits the nail on the head with this coffee in saying: "It’s creamy, it’s complex, and we love it".

You should also consider stopping by 100 Wall Street; there's a Santiago who works there, and he has promised to sell this coffee to the moon and back.

Beriti

Origin: Ethiopia

Tasting Notes: Watermelon; Jasmine; Peach; Lemon.

Every time we have a coffee in from Ethiopia, we feel it necessary to state the facts a bit: Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, and the most biodiverse coffee-growing region on the face of the planet. The Beriti comes from the region Yirgacheffe, the contemporaneous favorite for all coffee buffs living in the present day. Washed Yirgacheffes (for what we mean by "washed", a look at our Coffee Processing Class would fully instruct) are known to be floral and delicate with tea-like bodies and gentle acidity. This describes the Beriti coffee perfectly. Field Marshal Maciej has this to say: "There’s a little tropical fruit in this one as well, making it as fine a coffee as any to relax with in the summer."

These two coffees belong to the Gregorys Select program, meaning we source the beans ourselves and select the roast profile with the assistance of good judgment and our friends over at Irving Farm, who have lent us the talent and facilities of their roastery - in this way, we get to introduce you to some stellar coffees, roasted in a way that brings out flavors once dreamed of, at a price most beneficent for keeping bank.

Mamuto AB

Origin: Kenya

Tasting Notes: Raspberry; Lime; Blackberry.

Third and final on this updated list is from our guest roaster, George Howell. That well-rounded name brings roundness in the shape of a smile whenever uttered; George Howell, needless to say, is a bit of a boss on the coffee circuit. He invented the frappuccino, but, a man of artful contradictions, he believes firmly in the gift of the land - terroir - and would love if all the world were to join his philosophy of loving coffees that make the shortest distance from crop to your cup (in terms of the number of hands and tamperings it goes through), with all inherent flavors remaining intact. He also calls coffee a "30 minute pleasure trip", emphasizing that there is much to be observed and enjoyed as your coffee's brewed hot and cools over time. The Mamuto inhabits these ideas perfectly, giving plenty of flavor to take that 30-minute mull over. You can observe his exact thoughts on this coffee in the following link. As for Maciej, he has this here to say: "Great Kenyan coffees often have strong citrus acidity and notes of bright red berries. This one has all of that and unmatched sweetness and clarity."

Maciej has much more to say on these coffees, and as Director of Coffee he puts it more succinctly than most; a lot about the way these coffees move hands and preserve their uniquely delicious quality can be observed by clicking this here link

Education Time: Palate Development

Posted on June 5, 2015

In the month of May, Gregorys folk made their way to our coffee lab to be instructed on that of the utmost to all invested in coffee's possibilities: palate development. We can roast beans until the cows come home and make milk for our lattes, but without that exploratory reward derived from consuming cup after cup, it would be difficult, perhaps impossible, to feel compelled to improve upon the coffee we brew. The makeup of our impressions are the font to our imagination, and without the latter there would be little urge to seek finer coffee and improve upon what's already there. Imagination is spurred by the impression of taste in this case (although "taste", as we'll soon see, is not the most well-comported term to turn to), the sense giving structure to our delight - not only self-delighting, but serving to mould the collective ambitions of all those with hearts that pore over the cultivation of coffee cherry.  

With this in mind, let's get to you and your palate. Bailey, Director of Education at Gregorys, relied on words from friends to introduce the matter; she voiced Julie Housh from Intelligentsia Coffee in saying:

“In the most basic of terms, palate development is simply taking the time to really think about a food or a fragrance, and to better store its qualities away for recall at a later time.”

She appended this last phrase with the strain that refers to the notion mentioned previously, that "taste" is not the encompassing term we might think: "Taste may be innate, but flavor is learned."

Now, let's get to picking these statements apart. Why give such credence to flavor? Because this is the developmental side of eating; the side in which we gather individuated preferences. Taste is there and it stays there. There are five kinds of basic tastes, which we'll get to, but it's also necessary to address why thinking while eating ("consuming" seems encompassing enough for this think/drink activity) is important for developing tastes, and why the power to recount these thought-of-flavors at a later date governs so much of what we enjoy. Taste and smell are strongly indebted to memory; in this here link, you'll be brought to another blog post of ours in which all the info is imparted on how the limbic system (the part of the brain devoted to memory and emotion) does some severe gymnastics in order to get you on track with your likes and dislikes. Please read if you are looking to see the key to all epicurean inclinations.

Now to taste.

So, we have five basic tastes that identify certain characteristics in all the food we consume: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami/savory. All look overly familiar, apart from maybe the last of them. But what is meant by each?

Sweetness is found in simple carbohydrate compounds such as sucrose i.e. sugar. Sugar is a quick source of calories/caloric energy, so we are naturally predisposed to seek it out like "yoo-hoo". Hence the fact that "sweet" can be used in relation to one's attractive nature, or to express the self-satisfied sigh of someone enjoying a breeze/life ongoing. Foods accused of sweetness are sugar, fruit (fructose), dairy (lactose), plants (glucose), and artificial sweeteners (sucralose).

Sourness is ascribed to the taste of acidity. While commonly mistaken for something undesirable, acidity is usually pleasant, but can become unpleasant at high levels; under-extracted coffee is leaning towards the no-side of acidity, while we often tout the exciting acidity to be found in our single origins menu. Those acids doing time for being incessantly acerbic: citric, acetic, lactic, malic, phosphoric, etc.

Bitter is next, and less defensible when it come to desirability, though we shall do our best to dispute. Barb Stuckey, author of Taste: Surprising Stories and Science about Why Food Tastes Good, notes how our ability to denote bitterness helps us identify toxic substances. Not such good news for caffeine, which is inherently bitter... BUT, that's where the art of coffee pulls through: we consume coffee nonetheless, making sure we hit that sweet spot when getting the espresso perfectly extracted, and giving ourselves the option of adding milk - that lactose-sweet goodness - of varying shapes and foams. Day saved. We can enjoy the caffeine-boost and the richly complex flavor of coffee. Other bitters among the usual suspects: citrus peel, alkaloids, unsweetened cocoa, and most compounds with medicinal effects.

Coffeeeeee

Coffee - where sweet beats bitter.

A most exceedingly popular taste next: salty. Like sugar, a chemical imbalance drives our inclinations to seek it out; since our bodies can't store excess sodium, we look for seafood, celery, and sodium chloride like those with an arguably unhealthy attraction to those behind bars.

Umami/savory is the last and least regarded of the series, but just as essential. Likely under-looked for the reasons that it was only recently identified and exists as a loanword from the Japanese; it was first observed by Kikunae Ikeda, a professor of the Tokyo Imperial University, in 1908. People taste umami through receptors for glutamates/amino acids, and often describe it as brothy, or meaty. This taste of adumbrated definition is far more guilty than it lets on, accounting for some of the delicious flavors to be found in beef, mushrooms, seaweed, parmesan cheese and cooked tomatoes.

With these five tastes under our belts in theory, we were all passed a concentrated dose of each to be sipped with tea spoons. For this, there was very good reason: to get calibrated. Sounds like when the Power Rangers go "It's morphin' time!", but it's far more important to us coffee snoots than a potential end-of-the-world scenario. Calibration is how we get to the point of 'using the same standards for evaluation, separate from personal experience.' (Counter Culture Cupping Calibration ProDev, 2015). There are a number of skill-based cupping programs and certifications, established to cup and grade the coffee, settinging standards for excellence that get great coffee the recognition it deserves.

Assisting professionals and neophytes alike, the SCAA  (Specialty Coffee Association of America) developed the coffee taster's flavor wheel, not unlike those used in the wine and cheese industries. There's plenty on the flavor wheel contained in our Sensory Class blog post, but the basic gist is that the wheel establishes a common vocabulary with which to trace our sensations; a set of non-arbitrary flavor descriptors to use while cupping. This is important for people in the same company, people in different companies, different parts of the industry (roaster, barista), and different countries (roaster or importer, producer at origin) to all be able to speak the same “language” so to speak - to refer back to the same standards. These standards can then surpass the building blocks of taste and come to terms with the unique flavors in the coffees we come across; like Proust's madeleine cake, we find this lingo can assist us in retrieving past sensations and - not just that - conform it to tastes and memories stemming from beyond our own impressions. Beat that Proust.

SCAA Flavor Wheel

Beyond Good Fortune

To top off the lecture, we drank our current single origins, but not without first tasting the physical manifestations of their tasting notes. For example, chocolate, oranges, and graham crackers preceded our sample of the Eraulo & Lauana. It would be neat to transmit this experience via the blog, but technology has its limits. Wa waa. Nevertheless, it may be a pretty great exercise to take part in yourself: just tag along one of our retail bags and try brewing it at home - our Aeropress comes at the nifty price of $27.99 and brews coffee of distinct clarity. Tasting the components beforehand (fistfuls of chocolate, orange and graham crackers) may direct some interesting impressions and reveal hitherto unnoticed aspects in your cup. The tastiest of experiments. Enjoy!

Hudson Valley's Fresh: Gregorys' Field/Farm Trip

Posted on May 21, 2015

Road triiiiip: Gregorys have just wrapped up a day-trip to Hudson Valley Fresh, proud preservers of the agricultural heritage of the Hudson River Valley. We are, likewise, proud providers of their product by way of all the assistance that milk lends to delicious coffee. But milk is no monolith--we are not required by default to praise the curve of its undivided syllable. Sometimes milk is not the mirror of a bucolic reverie, but a silent inhabiter of artificial growth hormones and equal inhibitor to a cow's happiness. Hudson Valley Fresh are of the philosophy that a healthy cow = a happy cow = a source of great milk. This may sound like some shtick that sticks to Brooklynites who take their dogs to yoga classes, but it's got well-to-do facts to back it up; something Hudson Valley Fresh were only too happy to impart.

D.J. and Cow

Mr. D.J. meets Cow

First step to a happy camper/cow is a rich and varied diet. Hudson Valley Fresh feed their cows alfalfa, oats, barley, soybeans, corn silage and "lots and lots of hay". Why the emphasis on that last part? Because hay is great for the immune system and has the cow chewing away at a greater rate. Hay and healthy chewing mean more omega-3 fatty acids, a better ratio between omega 3 and 6, and a better quality cream. Omega-3 is good for all the good stuff: crucial for normal growth, brain function and development; known to reduce inflammation, and can lower the risk of heart disease as well as other chronic dilapidations. It seems that syzygetic (if you were up on your dictionary.com last week?) formula that Hudson Valley Fresh has going is proving its worth: healthy cow = happy cow = great source of milk.

One particular point of pride for Hudson's milk is their record-low level of somatic cells in the milk that they produce. Somatic cell counts (SCC) are an essential quality to monitor in herds. Each tank of milk produced is checked in order to give an early indication of infection; somatic cells being leucocytes (white blood cells) that mobilize in order to  ensure that milk is without such infection. Cows with unhealthy udders are going to produce milk with a higher SCC in order to save you from themselves--quite a dire state, and surely not so good for any conscientious cow with Buddha-like inclinations towards moral equanimity.

The federal government’s SCC legal limit on bulk milk is 750,000 cells per milliliter; most industrial and organic dairy farms have an average of 420,000 cells per milliliter. The somatic cell count of every one of Hudson Valley Fresh’s farms is under 200,000 per mm at all times--and actually the range is from 45,000 to 160,000 per mm, which is unheard of in the industry. This is a indicator of cleaner milk, a healthier cow, and better taste; after all, the milk, containing more of what is essentially good and sweet for us, is going to be of great benefit to a flavorful latte. The great coffee-tasters over at the labs of Cornell University will back Hudson Valley Fresh up on that.

Assistant Manager Andie

Assistant Manager Andie + Cow having DMC (deep meaningful conversation)

One last godsend when it comes to low somatic cell counts, lending a hand both in terms of flavor and healthful disambiguation: Hudson Valley Fresh do not ultra-pasteurize their milk; they pasteurize for 20 seconds at 166 degrees.  That’s in contrast to much industrial and organic milk, which is ultra-pasteurized i.e. heated to 280F. This not only effects the flavor of the milk, but the nature of the protein. Over at Hudson, the problem is confronted before it's created: lipase and protease, undesirable enzymes which rise proportionally with SCC, have no need to be broken down by such excessive heat. Sure this unnatural process might give the milk a longer lease of life, but it's also rendered flavorless; Hudson's milk arrives to our stores within 36 hours of being produced, and we have away with it in no time at all--with our combined efforts, the milk'll be in your cup before you can say "goldfish's memory".

For more on Hudson Valley Fresh and all they have to offer, click here

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