A Quick Public Service Announcement (11.24.14)

Certainly this is a time of year where you will expect a paragraph or two about being thankful.  Well, those paragraphs are coming, be assured.  In the meantime, let’s all take a step back and recognize that this is also a time of year when most of us are working hard and the stresses of year’s end begin to mingle with those of busy times.

Right now the remodel of the roastery has been in full swing for a couple weeks; everyone worked considerable hours today and over the weekend in production, order fulfillment, service, training, and sales; and we are officially peering over the edge into The Holiday Season.

During this time I would encourage you to go out of your way to be communicative and patient with those around you, whether in business or personal relationships.  The times in the last day or so where someone has taken a moment to ask a meaningful question, actually listened to a response, or shared a smile instead of a blank expression have gone a long way with me.

I had better share a few photos or you may lose interest, I realize.  Yesterday, I had breakfast with our dedicated delivery driver (actor, former school teacher, baseball enthusiast, and philosopher) Al, at Michael D’s Eatery in Coeur D’Alene.  This place is a local legend for a reason.  Their breakfasts are excellent, they know how to cook an egg, service is impeccable, and they have good coffee.  Al makes fast friends with everyone I think and is well-suited for his role within DOMA.  Even on the way out, before Al made it to his bike, three beautiful creatures were vying for his attention.

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I took myself for a hike in the rain later in the day at Farragut State Park to work off the aforementioned breakfast.  The solitude of a late autumn day is the imagery I’ll leave you with, that all of us might try our best to remain centered in turbulent times.

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Winter Wonderland, 11.5.14

Winter Wonderland: A Prelude

Be forewarned: I am about to write a post about the many important dimensions of a coffee launch. You may marvel at how this happens multiple times over the course of a year by those engaged in the seasonality of coffees. You will also hear about letterpress printing, graphic design, and probably some other things that won’t appear in the average “About Us” paragraph.

Winter Wonderland in July

Really, if we were to go back to where this excellent coffee and DOMA intersect, we’d be at a meeting with Terry and Jim, selecting a lot of green coffee, cupping it, and making plans for its future. We’d see Rebecca and Shelly selecting an artist with whom to collaborate (Tiffany Patterson in this case), and you’d see everyone else going about their daily tasks still thinking about summer as much as possible.

**I have to selfishly add that I’m happy to have landed in a place where there is such open collaboration among many artists to create something that moves beyond an identity. Whether you appreciate this or not, some excellent artwork comes of it.

Fast Forward to the Present

An excellent Ethiopian coffee arrives at headquarters and the letterpress is about to heat up. Our letterpress is a worthy subject in itself. Like roasting great coffee, art and packaging benefit from a human touch in our estimation. We are fortunate to have Breanna among us, who is passionate about printing, typography, and the beauty of process. She has a technical mind but works well within our rather organic organization.

Breanna fell in love with the letterpress at the end of an internship, finding herself in Webster, New York to buy a letterpress from someone who turned out to be an early inspiration. Ultimately, she crossed paths with Ed Regan of Rensselaer, Indiana (difficult to say or spell) whom she regards as a significant resource and mentor.   Breanna, who sought a break from the ubiquitous computer screens, ended up in the right place. Though she’d never printed bags before, you’d never know.

Plates arrive from New York, and four colors (and a lot of hard work) later, printed bags are ready to be filled with roasted coffee. During, the printing, we hosted some ‘open house’ time.   A special thanks to Halle Shepherd for the great documentary work.

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Jim, Matt, and Noah see the coffee from its green state to your hands, with no small amount of help from our Office Manager, Mindy, and Al, who delivers to our closest neighbors in the Inland Empire.

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Of course, quality control is important, so the coffee is brewed by our Coffee Educator, Scott, who happens to be a black belt in Kalita, and then is shared with the DOMA team.

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After capturing a couple images of Shelly (Crowberry Design) with one of the posters, created with the help of the digital press, it just so happened that the first retail customers to purchase Winter Wonderland appeared on our doorstep. Brandon and Shannon either possessed a mysterious prescience or expert timing because they arrived first. They are pictured here.

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Epilogue

Very few things are as easy at they may appear. Everyone here is well practiced in what they do, but still put forth a great deal of energy to achieve something that could seem mundane to a casual observer. From the farm to its final transaction, the simple beauty of an intensive process done right and with some creativity is the story of this coffee. We hope you find as much pleasure in it as we do.

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High Autumn: Adventures in the Backyard (Sunday, October 26)

Sorry it’s been a while since the last post.  The past couple weekends, travels stayed within DOMA’s backyard.  After a pleasant Friday night with colleagues, your correspondent enjoyed some solo hiking and a film on Saturday.  Today, I elected to take myself out to breakfast at the Cottage Cafe.  There is a reason you will probably have to wait for a table.  These people do things properly and I love the fact that they are still appealing to a broad spectrum of humans who appreciate an awesome, classic meal.  Service, food, and coffee all were more than ‘right on.’  Area residents probably already know this and were ahead of me in line (and I guess they could’ve skipped this introductory paragraph).  Seriously:  Chicken-fried steak, hash browns, over-easy eggs, english muffin.

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What should one do after such an epic brunch?  In this case, walk it off at Manito Park in Spokane.  Though the wind was blowing chillier, it was a beautiful autumn day with fast-moving clouds and some sunlight that felt as good as the last ray of light flashing green on the horizon at the end of a day at the coast.  Spokane residents are fortunate to have a place like this and understand that enough that admission is free.  Evergreens are wonderful as Northwest residents know, but it was a pleasure to see some dramatic and beautiful foliage too.    The Japanese garden, not surprisingly, managed to capture this balance perfectly.

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Speaking of evergreens, with so many conifers, a person might wonder how this park stays so well-groomed.  I came across the answer early in my wanderings.  Have you ever seen so many pine needles?  I confess that when no one was around, I allowed myself to fall back into the closest pile.  It was denser than you’d expect, but soft.

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There is a conservatory in the park filled with amazing bromeliads, succulents, cacti, and other unusual plants.  Though I have been through many deserts, there were some species there that were new sights for me.

I suppose I shouldn’t digress too far from the coffee world.  At the end of my afternoon, I returned to Coeur D’Alene for an Americano at Vault Coffee, an attractive new space in the heart of the city’s downtown.  I guess I am new enough to the area that I don’t know all this town’s history, but I appreciate a place that thoughtfully references its own history; that of its place.  You can certainly get great coffee here.  It’s exciting for me to see a locale like this anywhere and I hope people will give this place a chance, even if it doesn’t exactly fit with their own vision.

I wish every time that my solo hikes and contemplative walks would produce some grand vision or profound insight but I emerge with the same faults and weaknesses as when I put on my hiking shoes or trainers.  I do feel like I am doing better at living in the moment though: relishing an autumn breeze, absorbing October sunlight, savoring good coffee and a proper meal.  There are still some things we can all agree upon, aren’t there?

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Monday, the 13th

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.

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Boise, Day Two: Larger Perspectives

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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.IMG_0958

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.

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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.

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On The Road Again: Boise

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.

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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.

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I enjoyed a delicious and filling dinner at a Basque restaurant just as a sudden rainstorm appeared and blasted through the streets.

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Then, it was back to the motel to prepare for tomorrow.  Until then…

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Whiskey Coffee Part Two: A Dry Fly Pilgrimage

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.

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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. IMG_0849IMG_0852

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.

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