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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Giving Back: Books for Tots

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.

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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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