Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tanzanian Trial

I tried Lakota again today. Every once in a while I work up the courage to cross the street and order a cup of coffee from Lakota Coffee. The courage is necessary because I have never had a good beverage experience there before. Environment, service, and price are not the issues to overcome here, those aspects are just fine- in fact, they are outstanding (not the decor, that is a bit weird). The actual product is what is holding me back.

So, like I said, I tried it again. I was actually just there to meet Vida's roaster, another Brian, of Northwest Coffee from St. Louis. He was bringing me the pound of Guatemalan I had ordered for dispersion into gift baskets for family Christmas gifts. Again, I digress.

While waiting for Brian, I ordered a cup of black coffee. Their setup is a self-serve bar of air pots, all of which are pump style and kind of cheap. The coffee can stand brewed in those pots for well into three hours (grossly over-kept). So, the coffee is already fighting an uphill battle by the time it reaches my palate. I tried a Tanzanian varietal since it is a rare find in Columbia- also I hoped that since I had limited experience with this varietal I would be less disappointed by Lakota's product. Good logic, but still an unfortunate result: badly over-roasted coffee.

This is the same trend I have noticed and heard repeated by other coffee drinkers, "Lakota burns their beans." I know some coffees need longer roasting times, I'm not ignorant to this; I am more the opposite in fact. For Lakota though, they at best critically injure all their coffees before they are even brewed with their over-roasting policy. They roast in-house, a plus. They also roast in-house badly, a HUGE negative. In essence, every coffee offered is a different form of French Roast, Italian Roast, and Viennese Roast, with little effort for differentiation. The Tanzanian had a small spark of life left in it when I tasted it, but the true intensity of the brew was sapped by the charring effects of its roast. Poor beans.

I'm not trying to go on an all-out rant against Lakota, really and truly. What I am trying to do is shock them into realization that they suck at roasting toward the heightening of the individual varietals' best features. Instead of putting the roaster on French Roast cruise control, pay attention to the best roast methods for each individual bean type. Pay attention to the roasting practices of the best roasters in the world like Intelligentsia, Square Mile, Kaldi's, or Vida Coffee Co's provider, Northwest Coffee Roasters. And for goodness sake, pay attention to your customers.

Lord, thank you for great coffee and the ability to change. You are unchanging perfection, please help us change; help us change to be more like You- perfection. Keep my head deflated and on straight. Here we go.

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