Tag Archives: Maher

Cafe Hounding: Ozzie’s Coffee Bar – Old Forge, NY

3019 Main St.
Old Forge, New York

As many of those who relish in a fresh cup of specialty coffee stumble across this page in ‘google’ searches for the next best thing in their locale, I stumbled across Ozzie’s Coffee Bar in Old Forge, New York while on vacation with family.  Often when traveling, one must take what they can get when it comes to getting the daily brew of coffee.

During my recent visit to Old Forge, I expected that I would not find anything worthy of Cafe Hound mention given the remote location and *assumed* lack of access to high quality roasters.  My assumption proved wrong the moment I walked through the doors of Ozzie’s Coffee Bar.

Ozzie’s customer service was yet another perk of this pleasant coffee cabin nestled into the quaint Adirondack town of Old Forge, New York.

I entered in search of free Wifi so that my friend and I could get some work done in between kayaking on the beautiful lakes of the Adirondack Mountains – only to find that there was no wifi available in this quaint shop. Although I nearly darted out the door upon learning of the lack of wifi, I took the plunge and ordered a standard double espresso to test their bean and barista quality.

My first impression was less than optimum given the fact that they served me a watery espresso in a large to-go coffee cup… but… I cleared my mind and took in the aroma.  To my surprise the aroma was fresh, earthy with hints of chocolate.  Next, I sipped in some of the semi-frothy crema that found its way on top of this drink.  It was pretty decent – made with well roasted and well preserved (i.e. relatively fresh) beans.  My only gripe is that the drink was too watered down because the barista intentionally over-pulled the shot (correctly assuming that the average consumer wants more liquid rather than more taste).

My friend ordered a chai latte (hot) and was also very pleasantly surprised.  I tasted her drink and found that it was made with high quality ingredients and was well prepared.  What a pleasant surprise.

The following day I returned to order another espresso (this time made with less than half the previous amount of water) and my friend ordered a skim cappuccino.  Both drinks were superb and thus I had to ask the baristas where the beans were from. I also asked for the owners information since I didn’t see her in the shop.

Albeit not that surprisingly, the beans used at Ozzie’s are not locally roasted.  Instead, the owner, Kristy Sutherland, prefers to create her own custom blend through a wholesale purchasing partnership with Aroma Coffee Roast in Larchmont, New York. Aroma is a known entity in the world of specialty roasters and continues to use a 12 KG roaster in order to achieve the careful control of each batch roasted on a daily basis.

In addition to splendid coffee, Ozzie’s also locally sources a variety of tasty treats, panini, sandwiches, salads and baked goods on a daily basis.  Cafe Hound promotes both an excursion to the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York and a stop by Ozzie’s Coffee Bar along the way. We guarantee that there you will find plenty of hidden gems and scenic views along the way.

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Woof News: Winter 2010 Update

2010 is upon us and what began as a graduation gift idea between professor and scholar has now evolved into a means of stimulating interest in the specialty coffee industry and in its entire supply chain –

– from farm level decision makers who must decide how to react to how global climate change is impacting their growing season and yields;

– to cooperatives who must decide how to integrate IT solutions into their business processes;

– farmers who must choose between numerous certification choices;

– exporters who must decide what price is a ‘fair’ one at which to sell their prized beans;

– importers who must navigate an increasingly competitive specialty coffee market;

– specialty roasters who must communicate their value proposition to a growing market segment;

– shops trying to differentiate their brand and product from the Starbucks baseline and from other shops claiming to provide the ‘gourmet’ experience;

– to end-consumers who seek clarity and consistency of quality despite all of the contingencies that must occur before the latte art is disturbed by the first sip.

Cafehound.com was launched early this fall as an online medium for Krislert Samphantharak and Matthew Maher to communicate and share their knowledge and experience with each other more than anything else. It began as an incremental journey to explore various portions of the supply chain in detail and encourage participation and collaboration with some of the major actors in the specialty coffee industry.  Before long, Café Hound was able to secure interviews with roasters, importers, shop owners, professional baristas, farmers and people involved on the academic/research end of the soft commodities market.  Given the very positive response that the website has received and as a consequence of very promising content in the future, Café Hound has decided to begin institutionalizing some processes.

1. Custom blend releases on occasion to generate publicity and raise funds for charity

2. Regular café reviews  spanning the globe with occasional guest postings from our friends and associates abroad

3. Spotlight pieces that investigate particular segments of the supply chain with specific attention to farmers, importers and roasters.

4. Academic themed reviews of literature empirically evaluating aspects of the soft commodities market, especially coffee and specialty coffee

5. Newsletter updates

6. Creating a non-profit organization to provide a legal basis for managing funds and further enhancing our ability to provide value to entrepreneurial agricultural producers and children in the developing world.

Regards,

– The Hounds

Official Release… “Cafe Hound”

Picture 1_3

Dear Readers,

Over the past six weeks, we have enjoyed unofficially blogging on cafehound.com and have seen the development of the blog and its traffic from visitors “accidentally” coming to our blog. It has been a pleasure to offer diverse information accessible on our blog. Today, we take another important step and officially introduce to you cafehound.com.

What you will find on our blog is random but hopefully informative. As the blog’s name suggests, we are Cafe Hound. We search for the best coffee the world can offer. In Cafe Hounding section, you can read our reviews of cafes from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Coming soon, we will add reviews of coffee houses outside the US. We are also proud to present to you the exclusive interviews of “Who Is Who” in specialty coffee industry. We are honored to have Chuck Patton (founder and owner of Bird Rock Cafe Roasters in La Jolla, California) as our inaugural feature in this interview section. To be added to the list of fame are Eileen Hassi (founder and owner of Ritual Coffee in San Francisco), Michael McGuire (owner and roaster of K-Bay Caffe in Homer, Alaska), Timothy Castle (founder and CEO of Castle & Company, Santa Monica, California), and Karen Cebreros (founder and CEO of Elan Organic, San Diego, California).

Cafe Hound is not only the place you can get reviews and knowledge about your neighborhood cafes. We carefully select and present to you interesting news and upcoming events in coffee industry. Moreover, with our expertise in economics, finance, international relations, and public policy, we devote a section of the blog to analytical and educational issues related to every stage of specialty coffee production– from crop to cup, or from beans to brew. Currently, we proudly review an interesting article by Christopher Bacon of the University of California, Santa Cruz, on how organic, Fair-Trade, eco-friendly coffee could potentially help poor farmers in developing economies get out of poverty. Our main objective is to present to you the cutting-edge academic research on coffee-related issues in a non-academic language. Stay tuned for more of these geeky but exciting posts.

You may want to ask yourself why we, as an academic economist and a policy expert, fell in love with coffee and decided to devote our time to this blog. We have explained it all in the About the Hounds section. For those who have known us before, this section will give you eye-opening stories of the “dark” (but creamy and aromatic) side of our lives. We hope it entertains you and answers your curiosity.

You may also want to know what we expect from this blog. Well, first and foremost, we view this blog as our way to get us exposed to more people in the coffee industry. This is not only those working in the industry itself, but also those who are frequent customers of coffee houses and share our passion in great coffee. Please come join us in our journey to search for the best coffee. Please suggest to us where we should go “cafe hounding.” If you have favorite neighborhood coffee houses, feel free to share with us.

Finally, we realize there are several blogs and discussion boards out there covering coffee and cafes. Many of them are fantastic and comprehensive. By no means do we view our blog as their competitor. Instead, we think that our blog will offer something different, and provide you with both casual and more formal, semi-academic knowledge. The Cafe Hounding section does not rate the cafes (like yelp or other restaurant rating websites) but rather presents you with objective reviews of coffee houses that we carefully select. Most of them are mentioned by local coffee geeks as the “best in town” cafes or employ baristas who have made it to the final round of national or international competitions. The Interviews section gives you behind-the-scene stories about people in your neighborhood cafes and others in the industry that you may not have known before. Finally, the coffee.edu section takes advantage of our strengths and expertise in our main professions as an academic economist and a policy expert. It is very educational in a strict academic sense, i.e. very nerdy, but hopefully is exciting for those readers who are interested in more than just the taste and aroma of coffee.

And with this introduction, we officially proudly present to you… cafehound.com.

–The Hounds

Cafe Hounding: Chinatown Coffee Co. – DC

Chinatown Coffee Company
475 H Street, NW
(between N 4St & 5
th St)
Washington, DC 20001

http://chinatowncoffee.com/blog/

After roughly two weeks of trying, I finally made it to Chinatown Coffee Company (CCC) at the outskirts of Chinatown in Northwest DC.  I went on a Sunday afternoon with a friend of mine who was a bit curious about my passion for specialty coffee.  It wasn’t very busy when I arrived but nearly every seat in the place was taken by people using laptops (free wifi) or staying out of the blistering DC heat/humidity.  It was nice and cool inside and had a nice gritty feel to the ambiance that gave the impression that the focus was over at the coffee bar.

The moment of ordering truth

The moment of ordering truth

I took the engineer designed ‘hint’ and wandered up to the bar to order two double shot espressos that were to be made with the Intelligentsia Black Cat espresso blend.  The menu appeared simple enough, but with plenty of variety for above average prices for people unacquainted with specialty coffee (i.e. Intelligentsia prices).  The espresso was produced on a beautiful Victoria Arduino Adonis WBC edition machine with a sleek white gloss design.

Espresso

Victoria Arduino Adonis WBC edition (sexy!)

I’m not sure if the humidity was a major factor, but I suspect it was, but the espresso was rather flat and left much to be desired.  I wasn’t willing to give up because the baristas were very nice and the quality of all of the inputs was undoubtedly of the highest quality.  I encountered similar problems with humidity when training baristas at a warehouse in Nicaragua in 2008.  The incredibly muggy rainy season led to a plethora of quality control problems with the resource constraints we were facing.    Nevertheless, CCC  is surely not getting a bad review for espresso – it just wasn’t the best day.

I followed up the espresso order with a cortado since my friend claims half-Cuban heritage yet she was not familiar with the famous Versailles Restaurant(s) in Miami, Florida…meaning she had never sampled their delicious cortadito drinks.  Luckily for me, with a little sugar this little drink saved the visit for my friend who admittedly does not like espresso much regardless of the quality.  The establishment is pretty proud of the fact that is chooses to break the DC paradigm of mostly sourcing strictly Counter Culture coffee (roasted down in North Carolina and shipped up the eastern seaboard) in favor of Intelligentsia.

A CCC take on the Cortado

A CCC take on the Cortado

Another major plus was that the baristas were not only proud of the around town competition helping put DC on the specialty coffee map but enlightened me to shops that I have never even heard of.  I also was fast to learn that the very helpful and pleasant David Flynn of Peregrine Espresso was in the building diligently working on his laptop.  Talk about cross-town support.  Furthermore, my barista informed me that he was indeed David’s roommate – I somehow doubt cut-throat competition between Peregrine and CCC.  I guess coffee geeks like me like to surround themselves with other coffee geeks.

Shortly after sampling the aromas of all of the whole bean coffee that they were carrying for retail sale I decided to go with the Guatemala.  I’m sort of ashamed since the competition included El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.  I felt some allegiance to the Estelí region of Nicaragua after having spent considerable time meeting producers and exporters from throughout the country in 2008 but, at the end of the day, went with what my nose told me.  I have nothing but positive experiences with Guatemalan coffee in the past and after brewing this up today, it is no different.

Specifically the coffee I purchased was 12 oz and cost me US$12 plus tax.  It was the Itzamna, Guatemala: La Soledad.

Intelli’s description is as follows:

“Surrounded by peaches and inherently sweet with an animated acidity. Finca La Soledad finishes with vanilla, yet sails with its zesty nature.”

I would agree with the sweet acidity and moderately agree with the vanilla finish.  I would add that it has a modest fruity taste (apparently that’s the peach) but it’s barely there.  Overall it’s a mild coffee with less ‘animation’ and ‘zest’ than it claims. It’s very pleasant though, and a great coffee for pour over brew.  Blending it with something that has a bit more flowery flare, such as an Ethiopia Sidamo or a Rwanda Burundi, would really balance it off well. This is similar to what Kris and I decided to do with the first edition of  Kris/Maher Blend using 80% Guatemala and 20% Ethiopia. Again, that is just a matter of taste preference.

I’ll be returning in the near future to talk with the owners and get some more coffee.  Thanks for stopping by and leave any thoughts you may have.

– Maher Hound