Today saw a number of productive meetings and brought your correspondent back to the Idaho Panhandle. While I will never complain about a flight arriving early, it is rather odd when you arrive five minutes before your departure time. For all the times I’d driven in heavy traffic on I-90 or been trapped in an unwanted conversation and said, “I’ll never get those five minutes of my life back,” I guess I got five back today.
And speaking of air travel, many of you may already know that Boise Airport is getting a stronger local business presence, which includes a favorite Idaho distillery of mine, and more importantly, our friends at Big City Coffee. This afternoon, I enjoyed a great visit with Sarah and Adam at the flavorful Linen District cafe (after an excellent sandwich and cup of DOMA Colombia). Big City has a lot of character that is not easy to replicate, as well as a great staff. It is unpretentious, comfortable, and genuine, making it a solid fit with DOMA too. Even if their airport location captures a fraction of this energy, I am confident it will buoy the spirits of many travels and expose a new group of people to something wonderful.
Today centered around a demo at Whole Foods Boise. Sometimes I am guilty of preconceived notions about large-scale operations. I have to acknowledge that for a grocery chain with a national presence, the staff at Whole Foods are consistently pleasant, friendly, and helpful, going out of their way for me and for their customers. Today provided yet another illustration of this observation. Whitney and the Specialty team were very accommodating of me, considering I did not have every element of my demo kit functioning as I’d hoped. Got lots of positive feedback from staff and customers again today, which went a long way. It is true our organic Ethiopia should speak for itself, but it is nice to have these things affirmed. After a span of time on my feet, I made a quick visit to Woodland Empire, where I got to visit with Matt briefly. Woodland Empire is a great craft brewery on the edge of downtown Boise. They have created a flavorful space with a great graphic sense. While there are certainly some talented brewers doing great porters and stouts utilizing DOMA coffee, Woodland Empire has integrated our coffee into an excellent, lighter brew that they call ‘In The Morning.’ It is delicious, light, and refreshing and could indeed by enjoyed *ahem* before afternoon. With a beautiful, sunny autumn afternoon in full effect, I was obliged to take a walk along the Boise River Greenbelt. I have already confessed that I am a person who is often moved by physical experience. To feel the warmth of the sun, absorb the sensation of the wind, and hear the sound of flowing water transported me to a positive place. I thought of reading Hermann Hesse’s “Siddhartha” (in German) as a young man. I thought of a Han-Shan poem. The residents of Boise are fortunate to have so many wonderful parks, and (here I inject my own selfish, personal preferences) a river that is too shallow for motorized craft.
My walk ended at the Boise Human Rights Education Center. It might not have been a place that I would have gone to deliberately, I admit, but I stopped to explore the circular spaces and read the inscriptions on the stones for a while. I was moved deeply; almost to tears. It is important for us to be able to move beyond our religions and philosophies to look at matters that can eclipse even these important things. I will include a favorite quote, whose origin I did not know until this afternoon.
So I don’t leave you in an overly heavy place, know that I eventually entertained myself at a locale that featured video games from my youth, great microbrews, and good local flavor, called SpaceBar. Without overly dating myself, know that your correspondent achieved some high scores on the ‘Centipede’ and ‘Missile Command’ machines, though his performance at pinball and ‘Joust’ were wanting. More meetings tomorrow, and more updates for you, dear reader.
Your humble correspondent is back on the road, visiting Boise, Idaho for a couple days.
I never sleep well before an early flight, and last night was no exception. My restlessness was punctuated by a dream about waking up at my flight’s departure time. Thankfully, I did wake up to my alarm and even made it to Idaho’s capitol fifteen minutes early. I started my day off right at Big City Cafe in the Linen District. I do not get to indulge in biscuits and gravy very often, but enjoyed an excellent breakfast of this with a cup of DOMA’s Colombia. I watched very handsome mochas and lattes pass by on their way to the many customers filling this truly unique cafe. Sarah, the owner, and Adam, the manager, are excellent hosts. Be advised: to say portions are generous is an understatement. I did not eat lunch today.
Much of my day was spent at Boise Co-op’s Owner Appreciation Day. I conducted a demo of DOMA’s Urth organic blend at the co-op’s tasting table, which was truly a pleasure. Boise residents are likely aware of what an amazing store the co-op is, but for the uninitiated, let me tell you that aside from an impressive array of high quality Idaho products, they have an exceptional staff and lovely customers. It was a delight to have so many pleasant conversations over small cups of good coffee. We are grateful for the strong support we enjoy among the people here. Thanks also to Leslie for having the foresight to put us near Boise’s Dream Chocolates who often provided a great complement to the coffee with their wares.
Despite a significant amount of time on my feet, I needed to walk around after the lengthy demo (after doing a bit of shopping at the co-op). Everywhere I went downtown, there were busy outdoor events going on. Boise’s downtown is filled with history and great locales. There were many cyclists and a more diverse populace than I’d recalled. I paid a brief visit to the capitol, though the dramatic evening light that bathed it dissipated just as I took my photo.
I enjoyed a delicious and filling dinner at a Basque restaurant just as a sudden rainstorm appeared and blasted through the streets.
Then, it was back to the motel to prepare for tomorrow. Until then…
Friends, there is certainly a lot to report these days with the return of Jim and our company’s owners from the annual meeting of Cooperative Coffees, our functioning letterpress, and the excitement that comes with a change in seasons. On the eve of the release of our next batch of Whiskey Coffee, though, I feel compelled to provide some further whiskey-related storytelling. Hopefully, you have read the earlier posts regarding the process, and the great story of this worthy experiment’s origins (http://domacoffee.com/coffee/whiskey-barrel-aged-coffee/).
Yesterday, as our current batch of Whiskey Coffee was completing its last days of aging, and while everyone else was hard at work at the roastery, it was with a twinge of guilt that I stole away with Terry to acquire the barrels for our next batch. Thankfully for me, even for someone as strong as Terry, lifting even an empty whiskey barrel is a two person job. We took the DOMA-mobile to Dry Fly Distilling in Spokane, Washington (http://www.dryflydistilling.com/input-birthday.php?redirect=/). Here, we met Patrick, a partner at Dry Fly who graciously collaborates with us on this unique coffee. When a couple barrels were loaded safely in our vehicle, we went inside for a quick look around.
I am certain my friends and colleagues are filling their heads with images of foxes in henhouses over the idea of me at a distillery. I can tell you that like Terry, I am someone who likes to experience the world deeply through the senses (of taste and smell in this instance). The smells of the space itself were rather intoxicating: charred oak; grain; and the clean, sharp scent of spirits. After admiring the tasting space and distillery, Patrick showed us down a hallway covered in excellent art and graphic work to a dimly lit space loaded with cases of award-winning vodka, pallets of bottles, and aging whiskey barrels of course.
For those of you not on the FaceBook, I will include a couple images of Jim transferring our current batch of Whiskey Coffee from the barrel for roasting tomorrow.
We realize this coffee may not be for everyone. It is a small-batch, labor-intensive creation, so that’s probably just as well. But, if you’re curious, this batch will be available October 1st for you to enjoy. Cheers.
I know I joked in my last post about the gravitation of DOMA staff to the outdoors being legit. Tonight, it is fitting to mention that giving back to the community, both locally and in the larger sense, is a very real thing at our company as well. I’m happy to announce that my employer made a generous donation this past Friday to Books for Tots, a local organization led by Linda Rohlinger and Dawn Smith, that raises money and collects reading material for families in need in Kootenai County. As someone with a lifelong love of reading books, I admit that some of my most cherished times in my adult life have centered around reading with my daughters. So, I guess this gift really resonates with me.
My colleague Mindy, who has worked the closest with Books for Tots in our organization, informs me that this is their eighth year collecting books. In previous years, they have collected about 8,000 books, which translates to about three books per child in our county. This year’s goal is to collect 10,000, so books and cash (the organization enjoys discounts with some publishers thankfully) are welcome. The efforts go through mid December, with distribution just before the holidays. The only affiliation with Toys for Tots is that books are distributed to the same families that qualify for toys.
This year, DOMA Coffee raised most of the money by selling burlap coffee bags for two weeks in August. These funds were supplemented by partnering with Big Blue Coffee to sell coffee at the Kootenai Health Kids’ Triathlon on September 6th. Big Blue and DOMA Coffee donated all their labor, coffee, and materials for the event, with proceeds benefitting Books for Tots.
In these times, with our busy schedules and selfie-oriented culture, it is important to remain grounded in our community by finding ways to give back. DOMA is pleased to support the laudable efforts of Books for Tots in our home county and you are more than welcome to do so too, but you only have until mid-December in this case.
Today was a difficult day for your correspondent, dear readers. Some days are like that and thankfully, most days are easier. I was fortunate to have supportive colleagues and a number of positive moments (demo at Winter Ridge Natural Foods included here) interspersed throughout the day. I had intended to save the following diversion for next week, but sometimes, it is useful to focus on positive things as the world can be what you make of it.
Here we see my colleagues Mindy, Rebecca, and Matt (with Daisy and Bailey) atop Mineral Ridge a week ago. We had all elected to enjoy this scenic hike together on a beautiful September evening. Lest you think all the talk about bikes and the great Idaho outdoors is a lot of marketing hype, it is very much for real, and happily for me, something I can share with my co-workers. I’ll leave you with this image from Silver Tip Viewpoint to attempt to inspire a better day for all of us tomorrow.
Dear readers, I must start this entry with a confession. While I enjoy all sorts of coffee in a variety of brewing methods, I am rather traditional in my tastes. When I first joined DOMA Coffee a while ago, I read about the Whiskey Coffee, and being the coffee purist at heart that I am, snorted “huh, gimmicky,” to myself. (This is not unlike my reaction while running cafes in Portland to competitors who were trying to be the “most local” or “most bike-oriented” roasters/cafes.)
Shortly after accepting the job with DOMA, I brewed some Whiskey Coffee with my good friend Randall and was immediately won over. I’d tried coffee aged in wine barrels and it wasn’t for me. However, in this instance, the chocolatey sweetness of the coffee complemented the whiskey notes perfectly and the whole experience was much more nuanced than I’d expected. With milk or cream, the beverage transported me to drinking Irish Cream at a family holiday gathering.
The good news, friends, is that the next batch of DOMA Whiskey Coffee is in the barrel. Our production team (Jim, Matt, and Noah) filled a fresh whiskey barrel from Dry Fly Distillery (http://www.dryflydistilling.com/) with its first batch of coffee. For this batch, Jim and Terry selected ninety pounds of a natural process Costa Rica from the Las Lajas farm. I am confident the results will be even more amazing than the last time. It will take two weeks before we roast this coffee and the production staff will roll the barrel every day.
Thanks for my colleague Mindy for taking on the documentary work. Here we see Matt ensuring that the barrel indeed housed whiskey – there is only one way to be sure.
Here, the production team transfers the coffee into the barrel.
We will have more updates throughout the aging process. Contact the DOMA sales team if you’re serious about experiencing what this barrel holds.