Game changer

Sorry I’ve been silent for so long. No special reason, just been busy.

On a recent trip to Oregon I was visiting one of Coava Coffee‘s Portland cafés, and while waiting for my drink I noticed a display of instant coffee. I’ve been aware of the effort the last few years to make high quality coffee available in instant form, but hadn’t tried it yet. Probably too biased against freeze dried coffee, including memories of having Nescafé as the only option far too often. Figured I’d give it a try, so I grabbed a box.

Verdict: spectacular. Coava and their partner Swift Cup Coffee have managed to keep the great flavor you expect from craft coffee. It’s also the easiest way to get your fix, even more so than the single serve coffee bags from Counter Culture and others – no need for steeping time, no bag to dispose of. A real game changer if, like me, you don’t have many (or any) good coffee options near work. They also make decaf offerings, for all you latent Sanka fans out there.

Swift Cup, from Lancaster, PA, produces instant coffee for a number of specialty roasters in addition to Coava, including their own label. So if you see instant from a roaster you trust, shake off any freeze dried crystals prejudices and give it a try. You can also buy Coava’s instant from their website, sold in boxes of six for $16-$17, or in bulk pouches which deliver 25 servings for around $40.

The Matty Macchiato 4th Annual Holiday Gift Guide

tick tick tick

This year I’m taking a slightly different approach to my previous gift guides (2018, 2019, and 2020). While some of the models may have been replaced by newer iterations, pretty much all the recommended items in those posts would still make for great gifts. This version, however, is for those of you who just thought, “Oh $#%@!, it’s five days to Christmas and I haven’t written my annual gift guide post finished my shopping yet!”

So if the calendar is not your friend, supply chain worries are making you pull out your hair, and you’ve got a coffee lover in your life, here are a few suggestions.

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Power Rankings: August 9

One man’s opinion. Ask me tomorrow and I’m likely to tell you something completely different.

1. Onyx
2. Heart
3. Verve
4. Sweet Bloom
5. Counter Culture

DMV Cafés
1. Café Unido
2. The Coffee Bar (Shaw)
3. Baked & Wired
4. Dua Coffee DC
5. Northside Social (Arlington)
HM (alphabetically): Kaldi Social House (Silver Spring), Lost Sock, Maketto, Swings (Alexandria), Takoma Bev Co, Vigilante (Hyattsville)

coffee world faces its own reckoning

Angela Weiss/AFP

As the US, and now the world, is forced to face up to the injustices and structural racism which confront black people on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that the coffee industry is dealing with shocks of its own. The past week in particular has caught up key players in the specialty coffee world, as well as the gargantuan icon of the global coffee industry. Let’s weed through a few examples.

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loving coffee in the time of COVID-19

As we transition into what we all hope will be a temporary new normal, it’s natural to expect an impact on cafes and the coffee industry as is the case with pretty much every business in every industry.

Here are a few changes that have already happened:

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single scene, take 2

Following my recent dip into single serve pourover pouches, I’ve been trying the Counter Culture singles I received at Christmas.

So far, a success. I’ve found I like the bolder flavor profile of the Big Trouble blend more than Forty-Six, but that’s just a personal preference and both are certainly good. I also like that, unlike pourovers or drip coffee, there’s a much greater depth of flavor and a really nice caffeine jolt. Using the bags is simple, and on whole a much easier portable process than the pourover pouches or using the aeroPress.

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trying out the single scene

As I mentioned in my recent holiday gift guide, there’s a nascent market for single serving convenience formats in quality coffee. In addition to instant coffee and teabag-like steeped coffee, there are some inventive, self-contained mini pourover products on the market. My buddy Rob travels to Ethiopia frequently on business, and he recently brought me back a local example of the latter to try.

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