LAUREN BERNAT (Host): Joel, what are you going to pour for us today?
JOEL POLLOCK: This is a Brazil Fazenda Alice Estate. It’s a Peaberry, which is a round coffee bean. A peaberry is when instead of two coffee beans inside the cherry, there’s only one.
LAUREN: Okay. Interesting because you wouldn’t assume that it’d be green.
JOEL: Yes, all coffee starts out green.
LAUREN: Does it?
JOEL: It’s the pit of a fruit.
LAUREN: I didn’t know! Cheers.
LAUREN: So is there a certain aroma I’m supposed to taste here?
JOEL: Well, the aroma for this coffee is very chocolatey; a lot of chocolate, a lot of caramel, with a bit of yellow fruit. It’s a very sweet coffee. It has a lot of up front sweetness. We choose this coffee in a lot of scenarios where we’re going to have all sorts of different palates involved, so it has a very wide appeal.
JOEL: We’ve got coffees that have very unique profiles, like Jasmine flowers, or papaya, or mango or whatever. This coffee is a little bit more straight in terms of chocolate, caramel, a little bit of light, sparkling acidity. It’s very good for like a restaurant scenario where you don’t know who’s coming in.
LAUREN: Right. And I agree, because I usually put a little sugar in my coffee and I don’t really need it.
LAUREN: Joel, have you ever been to La Carreta and had a cafecito?
JOEL: Ah, yes.
LAUREN: You have? (Laughs) What are your thoughts about that?
JOEL: I think that what I like about it is the culture, it’s magnificent.
JOEL: It’s one of the things that drew us in to Miami. It’s a different style of coffee for us. We work directly with producers. As you can see, if you look at these coffee beans they’re very uniform, they’re very similar in color, size, and shape. This is very expensive raw material to start with and this is the heart of our business. So I’ve got a pile of green beans over there in burlap, that’s my world.
JOEL: And I’m kind of the “back-of-the-house.” I’m a green coffee buyer. So at the end of the day it’s a lot like a wine industry. It’s a lot like other industries, but we’re in a pre-elevated niche when it comes to that quality. So I don’t use sugar in my coffee, I don’t really even use milk in my coffee because I really want to taste what’s going on. And I’m tasting the harvest, I’m tasting the “terroir” like they say in wine.
If I’m travelling and I have a coffee that’s a little harsh, usually that’s because there’s some sort of a defect in quality. Maybe under ripe or maybe like over fermented a little bit. Over fermented coffee can taste a little bit like a strange fruit. Under ripe can taste like a green pepper or like metallic. Because really a green pepper wants to be a red pepper.
JOEL: And when you eat it as a green pepper it has a metallic, kind of a zingy taste. I’m really proud of this coffee that we got from these producers. And so we want to show the natural flavors that come from the coffee.
LAUREN: Now let’s talk about the roasting because you mentioned it. How important is it for you guys to roast your own beans here? I mean we got this baby purring behind us, which is pretty phenomenal. What is this, pre-World War 2?
JOEL: Yes, it’s 1927.
LAUREN: Okay, 1927. And it’s important to roast your own beans. And how often do you do this? Everyday?
JOEL: Oh I would say four to seven days a week, depends on orders. I mean the point of it is freshness. The other point is having control. It’s like asking a restaurant, like how important is it that you have your own kitchen?
LAUREN: Right. Like really important. Great question (Laughs).
JOEL: It’s essential to what we do. If you’re a coffee bar, if you’re a restaurant, you don’t need to roast your own coffee. But because I’m a roaster of 20 years plus, it’s the very essence of what we do.
LAUREN: What was your first coffee job?
JOEL: My first coffee job was a barista.
JOEL: At a coffee shop in Montana when I was in college. And I had this interview scenario. They gave me a cup of Kenya, it was called Kenya Double A. It was back before we talked more about the individual cooperative, or the individual producer where their coffee was produced. I kind of thought it was a test because I thought there was something wrong with the coffee.
JOEL: It was a really unusual tasting coffee. It tasted very floral and very… I don’t know. Like, almost like hops in there, IPA. And it turns out that that was my beginning. That was my beginning of discovering flavors. And at that job I realized that I had a pretty good palate for noticing different flavors in coffee and I enjoyed it very much. It wasn’t like from there I launched a career.
JOEL: I was finishing college, I did other things. I moved to Portland, Oregon in the year 2000.
JOEL: And it was a time when the coffee issue was really exploding. And I was in a position at a company that was really moving fast when I started travelling a lot in coffee farms. I worked as a professional coffee taster in many different scenarios; I had the pleasure to visit a lot of producing countries. I would cup coffee for like a whole week at a time.
And I really learned a lot about coffee.
LAUREN: Now you use different types of brewing methods here?
JOEL: First of all we have an espresso bar, like all your traditional espresso drinks, which is one brewing method. And then we have several different hand brewing methods which bring out or tone down certain notes in the coffee.
LAUREN: Okay. And are those like, drip brewing methods? Is that with the paper and it drips through?
JOEL: Yes. It’s mostly hand dripped. We have a French press, which is a gravity French press. We have a siphon. It pushes the coffee up and it goes back down with a little bit of negative pressure.
LAUREN: Oh I see that. That kind of looked like a beaker?
JOEL: Yes, it looks like something from a drug lab.
LAUREN: Yes, exactly! Cheers.
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