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.
– The Hounds
Posted in Buzz, Kris/Maher Blend Release
Tagged 2010, Annual Review, Ano Novo, Beans, buy coffee online, California, Charity, Coffee, Colombia, Concordia Colombia, DC, Denver, Ethiopia, Ethiopia Amaro Gayo, Foundation, Fundraising, gourmet coffee, indonesia, IRPS, Kenya, Kris/Maher Blend, Krislert, Maher, New Year, New York, Novo Coffee, Novo Coffee Roasters, Order Coffee, panama, roasting, San Diego, San Francisco, San Rafael, special coffee, Specialty Roaster, Strategic Plan, Virginia, Washington
3933 30th Street
San Diego, CA 92104
Caffe Calabria is one of a few hidden gem roasters in San Diego, CA. Located in a unique section of town known to locals as North Park; it has the charm of an Italian espresso bar mixed with a ‘work-in-progress’ pizzeria and the edge of North Park mixed in for good measure. The owner, Ernie, got his start manning a coffee cart at the local hospital. Over time he developed a passion for roasting and has grown his business via carving out a niche serving the local restaurant and coffee shop market with his fresh roasted beans.
The Roast Master, Jesse, is a very cool operator with a keen sense of knowing when beans are ready to eject from the large industrial roasting machine they have in the back of the shop. They have plenty of outlets, a rustic and open space, and a great – although limited selection – of sandwiches/paninis.
The “work-in-progress” has evolved into quite an attractive space over the past three years but has yet to reach the goal of an authentic pizzeria. The most impressive piece within the restaurant is a pizza oven brought piece by piece from Italy and reassembled in the store. Also, the art work is mostly done by local artists and the clientele is quite an eclectic mix of hipsters, students and locals (there is plenty of overlap between the three). Before some of the sales staff left, there used to be free cuppings every morning at 8am – not sure if this is still firm policy. According to store staff, the pizzeria should be opening very soon on Thursday and Friday evenings. Unfortunately, many a café squatting afternoon was prematurely ended at Calabria – they close their doors to business at 3pm.
Their espresso is tops in San Diego, with only Bird Rock spending more time and effort in perfecting the pull. Both the blend that Calabria uses and the training of their baristas is well above average for the specialty coffee world. It’s well worth stopping by this location just to get a well made drink. Calabria delivers some of the best quality roasted beans in San Diego AND has the well trained baristas to prepare top quality drinks too!
A portion of their beans are purchased from renowned importer, Elan Organic Coffee, now of the Neumann Kaffee Gruppe. Calabria wholesales to many local coffee shops and other retailers such as Café Mono (Mission Beach), Whole Foods and Fresh & Easy in San Diego. Check them out and tell them the Café Hounds sent you!
Posted in Reviews, San Diego, Shops
Tagged Baristas, Caffe Calabria, Calabria, Cuppings, Elan Organic Coffee, Ernie, espresso, North Park, roaster, San Diego, shop
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.
Posted in Buzz, Education
Tagged Alaska, analysis, blue mountain, broker, Cafe, cafe hound, Cafehound, Chuck Patton, Coffee, coffee industry, commodities, cosecha, crop to cup, espresso, Ethiopia Amaro Gayo, farmer, geisha, gourmet coffee, green coffee, harvest, henry hueck, Importer, karen cebreros, Kenya AA, Kona, Krislert, Maher, New York, Nick Cho, panama, review, roaster, San Diego, San Francisco, SCAA, specialty coffee, sustainable, tim castle, trader, Washington D.C.
Lion Coffee – San Diego
101 Market Street (Corner of 1st and Market)
San Diego, CA 92101
Following up the news about Lion Coffee in downtown San Diego that I posted here two weeks ago, I finally visited this cafe today. It has been opened just for about a week. The business seems to be going well so far. As I mentioned in the earlier post, this is the only Lion Coffee cafe in the mainland USA.
The location of this cafe is great. It is near Horton Plaza, Convention Center, and Seaport Village. The floor-to-ceiling windows with garden and trees outside make this store unique and differentiate itself from other coffee places in the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Diego. Larry Wilkens, the owner, keeps the layout of the cafe the same as Starbucks cafe that previously occupied this premise, but he redecorated the store with bamboo shelfs, rattan sofa, Hawaiian paintings, and vintage tropical ceiling fans– basically bringing bits of Hawaiian feeling to the mainland USA. (There are a lot of lion dolls and statues here and there all over the cafe, too.)
Seating was ample when I visited, which was in an afternoon of a weekday. Many of the customers seem to purchase coffee to-go. There is also an outdoor seating area if you prefer. I do not expect the cafe to be too crowded. This should be a nice place if you want to spend time relaxing over a cup of coffee, and don’t want to feel that you have to rush because other people are waiting for the table. There is more than enough natural light during the day if you want to read books or newspapers while sipping your coffee. Free wireless internet was detected when I was there, although I was not sure whether it was provided by Lion or some residents in the nearby apartments were generous enough to provide this public goods.
I ordered a latte. It was prepared by a super friendly barista “Lenny” who has worked with Larry and Lion for over a year, since when Lion was still at the previous location in Mission Valley. My latte was made from Lion’s Diamond Head Blend, which has 10% Hawaiian beans plus Arabica from other parts of the world. It was medium Italian roasted. My latte was quite good and served in colorful Lion cup. (I still have yet to try espresso drinks made from Lion’s 100% Kona beans.)
For non-espresso coffee, Lion provides a wide variety of non-flavored and flavored coffee drinks, including 100% Kona coffee. The cafe is also a retail store for Lion Coffee and Royal Kona Coffee beans, which were roasted in Hawaii and shipped here regularly. According to the reviews on yelp and my conversation with Lenny, Toasted Coconut flavor seems to be the best selling blend at this store. There are other Hawaiian goodies such as teas, chips, and macadamia chocolate available for purchase. They also serve light breakfast and fresh pastries, in case you look for something to enjoy with your coffee.
Overall, I had a good experience with the visit. Unlike the ultra-fancy restaurants that occupy the dining scene of Gaslamp Quarter, Lion Coffee is a friendly neighborhood cafe in the middle of downtown that you can just relax and get good coffee prepared by a surfer-dude barista and friendly staff– a cherry on the top of your enjoyment in the beautiful San Diego.
Posted in Hawaii, Reviews, Shops
Tagged barista, Cafe, Coffee, Gaslamp, gourmet, Hawaii, Kona, Lion Coffee, opening, review, San Diego, Shops, specialty coffee, wholebean
UPDATE: LION is now open. You can also read our Cafe Hounding post on LION.
Back story: Lion Coffee will open its cafe in downtown San Diego in August. The location is at the corner of Market and First, which was once occupied by one of the best Starbucks in downtown area. Honestly, it was sad that Starbucks decided to shut down this store instead of one of the other six in the vicinity. The store was lovely. It had floor-to-ceiling clear windows with big maple trees outside that helped shade the afternoon sunlight and also provided a semi-garden feeling to the customers. I hope that Lion Coffee keeps the ambiance of its predecessor.
Lion Coffee is one of America’s oldest coffee company and the largest trader of Hawaiian Kona coffee. It will definitely be an interesting and unique addition to the coffee scene in the gaslamp quarter of San Diego. So far, Lion Coffee has had only one retail store in the entire mainland USA. The new store in downtown will be a relocation from their former location in Mission Valley, which garnered great reviews from its customers over the past year.
Stay tuned for Cafe Hounding from us once the store is open.
Posted in Buzz, New Scents, San Diego
Tagged Cafe, Coffee, Gaslamp, gourmet, Hawaii, Kona, review, San Diego, specialty coffee