Wednesday, September 17: Think Positive

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.

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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.

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The Return of Whiskey Coffee!

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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.

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Here, the production team transfers the coffee into the barrel.

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We will have more updates throughout the aging process.  Contact the DOMA sales team if you’re serious about experiencing what this barrel holds.

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Friday the 12th, Special Deliveries

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Young, our service technician is pictured here, before hitting the road for some much-needed R&R.  However, he still managed to deliver coffee to one of our accounts in Kellogg, Idaho before totally slipping free of work for a little while.
At the end of a long day and busy week, I was sitting with a couple DOMA colleagues enjoying an excellent IPA at Selkirk Abbey (http://www.selkirkabbey.com).  Aside from a gracious staff, a cool aesthetic, and delicious beer, they also happen to be neighbors.  In fact, you can enjoy our coffee in their ‘Guilt Porter,’ I believe.  As we were sitting around, reflecting on what a hectic day it had been, we acknowledged that all of us had made some small mistake in the last 24 hours that had created extra stress within the company.  We had all taken responsibility and resolved the problems swiftly, but it is worth acknowledging that even in the best-run machine, errors occur where humans are involved.  It is how these problems are corrected, and the support we show for one another  in resolving them, that ultimately matters.

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A moment of silence, cupping coffee

I think everyone here can readily recall exactly where they were thirteen years ago.  Some situations were mundane, others extremely intense.  My own may fall closer to the latter.  Without wrapping one’s self in the flag or going off on the obvious dangers of religious extremism, it is safe to say that today is a day that is forever etched into our collective consciousness.  I know that I was a little out of sorts today at the office.  I spend enough time reflecting on my own mortality without scenarios of great tragedy playing themselves out in my head.

I felt especially fortunate to be cupping an excellent new Ethiopian coffee with Jim, Scott, and Terry this morning.  Already feeling grateful for the past thirteen years, and grateful to be alive today, being immersed in an experience of rich tastes and delightful scents only compounded these feelings for me and made the notes of clove, apricot, and coffee blossom all the more intense.

This coffee will soon be roasted and available to you, dear readers.  I know you will enjoy it.  Being mindful of the delicate breath of life that we have the privilege of savoring will not detract from the experience at all.

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A Road Trip Post-script

Rebecca, Scott and I are back at DOMA HQ with our colleagues again, settling back into (busy) routines in Idaho.  All of us I’m sure, reflect happily on our active week of travel.  We met a lot of amazing people on our journey.  I mentioned a group of friendly motorcyclists we’d talked with atop Teton Pass.  I’d casually given them a business card and Rebecca had suggested they stop by the roastery on their travels to the West Coast.  Sure enough, one morning last week when Scott was working in the lab, the foursome appeared and were able to enjoy a cup of coffee.

I remember a line from “The Dharma Bums,” which I read as a young man, where the character Japhy Ryder (who I guess is modeled after Gary Snyder, one of my favorite poets), says “I always meet my Bhodhisattvas on the street.”  We were fortunate to have encountered so many wonderful coffee enthusiasts on the road.

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So, dear readers, feel free to drop by and say hello sometime.  It’s lovely country up here and the coffee is excellent.

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Day Five, Part Two: Bittersweet Farewells

Our Friday began with meetings as usual and we then traveled to the Whole Foods South Valley where we enjoyed a great visit with Jason in the Specialty department.  Jason does the chalk art for the store, which is all hand-done.  Rebecca and I have an affection for lettering and the craft of making signs I think, so it was especially nice to look around the store and see all the beautiful scripts, lettering, and images that Jason had created.  I’ve included an example here that was by no means his most complex, but rather a fun one that will still executed on a vertical surface.

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Art and design have been a key element of DOMA for a long time, and were certainly something that drew me to the company.  It impressed me that the company was able to work with a variety of artists and still maintain a consistent and distinct identity.  

But, I digress.  We visited Whole Foods SugarHouse where we enjoyed a quick but helpful visit with Ben, and then traveled on to Liberty Heights Fresh, a former filling station transformed into an oasis of fresh produce, unique cheeses, an intimidating array of bitters and oils, and some unusual chocolates.  Of course, you can find DOMA Coffee here, too, curated by Stacey and her friendly colleagues.  Liberty Heights Fresh does a lot with a little in terms of its physical footprint but stands out for the amazing foods it sells and creates.  They smoke their own turkey, roast their own beef, and bake their own bread.  This added up to one of the best sandwiches I’d had in some time to say the least.  

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My apologies, I’m trying to minimize the food porn in this correspondence but had to include the sandwich Wendy made for me.  

Really, I could have gone down a rabbit hole of raving last night after the meal at Copper Onion but did not want to damage my keyboard with drool when recounting the evening.  That said, Scott and I returned to Copper Onion in the afternoon for a second training session with their stellar staff.  We were impressed with the attention, thoughtful questions, and commitment to quality in every aspect of operations embodied by the crew of this fine establishment.

From here, friends, the paths of our gallant trio diverge.  Rebecca and Scott pilot the Bismarck back to Post Falls tomorrow morning, and Mike caught a flight to Portland for a gathering of extended family at the Oregon Coast.  

I hope that you have enjoyed this modest travelogue.  It has been a pleasure to write to you and I intend to continue these updates when I can from the Post Falls headquarters.  There are many exciting things happening in the world of coffee and within the glorious fabric of the American West.  Thank you for reading and for your support of DOMA Coffee.

-Your humble narrator

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Day Five, Part One: Balance (an interlude)

I find myself thinking about balance a lot in recent years.  Regardless of one’s philosophy, the counteraction of forces in the universe is something that permeates into our daily lives.  We seek it in our cooking; in cocktails, beer, and wine; in our lifestyles; and certainly in our cup of coffee.  In the interest of keeping this travel journal interesting to you, dear reader, I have focused on experiences and images that I hope would be informative or moving.  It may seem that my colleagues and I have been having a glamorous week, out on the open road, adventuring.  I would be painting an incomplete picture if I did not mention a few other dimensions of our epic journey.  The days have been long and very busy.  There have been moments of isolation, frustration, and loss, both personally and in business.  There have been strained conversations, difficult decisions, and challenging situations.  Thankfully, this has been countered by the support of strong comrades, amazing customers, some incomparable meals, and majestic scenery.

It is also very important to note that during this past week while Rebecca, Scott and I have been traveling, back in Post Falls great coffee is still being roasted, packaged, shipped, and delivered; bills are being paid; orders are being taken; equipment is being installed and serviced; and espresso is being served.  DOMA’s staff is small but efficient and I am certain that the absence of 30% of the crew has added some strain to our colleagues back home.  We can all be grateful to Terry, Jim, Mindy, Noah, Matt, Young, Joan, and Al for keeping things together back at our busy production facility.

I’ll close this segment with an image of a sculpture adjacent to The Copper Onion which may fit with the chosen theme.

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