This is supposed to be the slow time of the year. Sharpen the saw, and all that. Yet, somehow, I’ve had no time for me or anybody else. And it’s reflected in my slow blog postings. So I figured I’d tell you what’s keeping me so busy (and more importantly, how it might benefit you).
One thing I’ve been working on that some of you have seen is the new coffee bar / training center in the roastery. This investment was clearly necessary to brew samples as we contemplate additional markets in the upcoming season, as last season I was very unhappy with the brew quality possible from our low-volume Bunn system. Selecting new equipment wasn’t trivial; I felt like I was roaster shopping all over again. The vast majority of commercial coffee brewing equipment hasn’t changed in a very long time. In fact, most of it is downright archaic. Of course, I wanted the latest and greatest, and I wanted it to be smart and eco-friendly. This ultimately led me to Fetco, the best in the business, in my opinion. Say what you want about Starbucks, but they use Fetco equipment for brewing their standard coffee. Fetco recently launched a more eco-friendly line of coffee brewers, ones that don’t use any heavy metals or fiberglass insulation, and that are smart enough to enter a power saving mode after a period of inactivity. So we bit the bullet and bought all new equipment. I liked this stuff so much that I am now a Fetco distributor, so if you are a restaurant or cafe owner, call me about your equipment needs.
We’ve also been working on putting together a tea program. Selecting an importer/coach was an important first step and we’re working with one that really knows tea. I’ve been in tea “boot camp” for the past month or so, smelling and tasting all types of teas from all over the world. My favorite so far is Rooibos, a very different tea made from a red bush found in south Africa. I’m also working on doing my own version of hojicha, a fired Japanese tea. They roast. I roast. Candidly I think mine’s better than any I had in all the years I traveled to Japan. Of course, that may be the sake talking.
In the midst of all that, I was contacted about the opportunity to take a trip to Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee and producer of my personal favorites. This month has been a whirlwind of vaccinations (I felt like hell for three days, thanks Jen!) and travel planning. The trip details are still not all nailed down, except that I will participate in a roundtable discussing and cupping Harrar coffees from February 19-21. We’ll build inventory before I leave, but the roastery may have some downtime while I’m away. Look forward to reports from the road.
All this extracurricular activity occurs along with the day-to-day business. January has been stronger than I expected (thank you!), and we have been filling internet orders, sourcing new coffees, finalizing the year-end accounting, etc etc etc. Not to mention that we are planning a fairly substantial web site “tune up” that will improve the navigation and searchability of the site, include the new programs, and more.
And I have a book idea I’m tossing around. I’ll tell you about it personally, but I’m not going to blog about it. If you are a friend, please try to talk me out of it.
So I think you’ll now agree that I’ve been busy with some worthwhile projects to make your Muddy Dog experience more rewarding. Thanks for your patience and continued patronage, and stay tuned!
WWJD (What Would Jim Drink today?): Well, tea! I’ve been a tea sampling fool for weeks now. I have my favorites, but I’d rather hear about yours – drop a comment with teas you would like to see us offer. When I can sneak in a coffee, I’ve been drinking straight ristrettos of Golba. Love that sun-dried fruit.