Winter Wonderland 2015

Things are abuzz at DOMA Coffee Roasting Company headquarters.  The Autumnal Equinox is long over and as the air grows chillier, everyone is busily preparing for the next big seasonal coffee release:  Winter Wonderland.  The winter coffee has been a special tradition at DOMA, involving custom artwork from some of our favorite artists and some spectacular coffees for a time when a warm beverage is all the more meaningful.  This year, some special parallels with the Seasons’ Cycle emerge as a number of elements from the past have come full circle in this year’s offering.

Most importantly, we’re thrilled about the coffee.  This year, Winter Wonderland will be fully-washed, sun-dried organic coffee from Huehuetenango, Guatemala.  Comprised of caturra, catui, bourbon, and pache varieties from 350 smallholder farms under the umbrella of the CODECH cooperative, the coffee has aromas of brown sugar and dried fruit, flavors of lime and grape, aftertastes of chocolate and spice, a nippy acidity, smooth body, and balanced sweetness.   We’ve been enjoying the coffee as pour-over and drip but it would also make an excellent single origin espresso.

This excellent coffee is complemented by custom artwork from Missoula-based illustrator and designer Josh Quick.  Josh has collaborated with DOMA Coffee on a number of projects over the years, and you will recognize his hand on this year’s bag artwork.

The bags will be printed on DOMA Coffee Roasting Company’s vintage Chandler and Price letterpress by Brianna White of TypeBee, who has printed many a coffee bag with DOMA over the years.  We hosted an Open House in the press room yesterday to kick-off and celebrate the printing process.  In the spirit of connections to the past, Rebecca was excited that the brown ink used for the Winter Wonderland bags this year happens to be the same as the brown used in the original DOMA Coffee Roasting Company logos!

We’re looking forward to sharing this awesome coffee and cool artwork with you.  It is fitting that the coffee for a time when folks reconnect with people from their past over the holidays has so many connections to people and elements in DOMA Coffee Roasting Company’s history.  There is a lot of craft, warmth, and connection wrapped up in this package – one that we know you will enjoy opening soon!  The coffee has launched so you can pick it up in our Coffee Lab or order it on our website:


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Good Coffee – The New Can In Town (early September)

We are very pleased to share with you the re-design of Good Coffee, available in 12 ounce cans.  The coffee inside the can is the same tasty, dark-roasted blend as before, but a number of updates have been conducted with regard to design and the donations supported by the sale of the coffee.  For those unfamiliar with Good Coffee, it is inspired by the phrase “Clean Water Makes Good Coffee.” Proceeds from the sale of this organic and fair trade coffee support the work of local WaterKeepers.  We now have three affiliates in our area:  The Spokane, Lake Coeur D’Alene, and Lake Pend Oreille.  They work hard to keep our waterways swimmable, fishable, and drinkable.  You can read more about them on the can (or see their websites, listed at the end of this feature).IMG_2721

The redesigned artwork is based on Chris Dreyer’s original design, but updated to include new graphics and color palette while featuring our new WaterKeeper partners.  The can wraps were printed in-house on DOMA Coffee’s vintage letterpress.  Rebecca and Shelly’s eye-catching, three color design is raised from the high quality, recycled cotton paper offering both visual and tactile sensations.  (Your humble blogger even made a modest contribution to some verbiage.)


Along with an updated look, new ways to contribute are also being put into place.  For wholesale accounts that wish to contribute directly, a program will be implemented which will have a local RiverKeeper speak or present along with a coffee demo by DOMA Coffee staff. This would include sales support material, such as posters and window clings, that will define your business as a WaterKeeper Supporter.  All of this can happen for a one time contribution of $25-75 (sliding scale).  For wholesale accounts who carry the coffee, DOMA will still be making contributions for every can sold.

Non-profit organizations don’t have many avenues to raise money.  In this way, you can drink good coffee and help to support clean water by simply purchasing a can of coffee.  You can find this coffee in our Coffee Lab, online, and in select retailers, or you can join the WaterKeeper in your area and purchase a can from them.  With summer winding down, now is the time to get out to swim, fish, and drink coffee.


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Spring Saturday 05.16.15

Obviously, it has been too long since a blog has appeared here.  My colleague Jim was good enough to fill in with a post about our special prep Sumatra last month.  Now, it’s back to all those touchy-feely posts from your usual correspondent.  No Earth-shattering news today, just a portrait of a Saturday in town.

Day began at the Kootenai County Farmers Market.  Even before I picked up my morels and fern fiddleheads, I stopped by the DOMA stand for a cup of coffee.  Sarah brewed the perfect cup of our new Ethiopia Idido Yirgacheffe.  It’s funny because both she and I had admitted to one another that we had never really gravitated to Yirgacheffes, but this coffee has changed our perspectives.  It’s got that wonderful citrus element that you’d expect but also has a lot more going on – the tasting notes are not hyperbole.  Here you see Scott explaining its merits to some visitors while Sarah prepares for the next Kalita and Jenica takes in the information.


Later in the day, I took myself for a walk along the shore of the lake.  The sky was dramatic and the air was sweet with the scent of spring rain.  About midway through my walk the sweet scent got washed out by a spring thunderstorm and I was totally soaked.  IMG_2225

The Patanos hosted some staff in the evening to make some pizzas in their wood-fired oven.  Occasionally, I have a potential wholesale account who foolishly elects to go with some big corporate company citing their desire for some “Italian-style” espresso.  After my initial disappointment, I smile to myself and think about how I work for a family named Patano who have been roasting coffee for a decade and-a-half, who also happen to own a wood-fired pizza oven.  Seriously, the science and pleasure of food come together seamlessly in the owners’ backyard just as much as they do at the roastery.  Jim, the Head Roaster and I talked about homemade tonic, Shawn and I talked about the science of fermented grains, and Sarah demonstrated some dough tossing skills from her days at a pizzeria.

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If you are in the neighborhood, definitely stop by the farmers’ market on Saturday or the Coffee Lab on a weekday.  Ms. Rombauer had the vision to title her cookbook “The Joy of Cooking” but there is certainly joy to be had in brewing, too.

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Sumatra Special Prep Test Lot

Sumatran coffees, historically, have featured earthy, leathery, musty, sometimes dirty flavors and aromas.  This comes from a combination of growing conditions, weather patterns during processing and a unique processing method known as Giling Basah (or sometimes “wet hulled”).  Recently, we have been seeing cleaner, brighter cup profiles from Permata Gayo with delicate fruit notes and heavy sweetness.

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Permata Gayo Cooperative (October 2011)

Permata Gayo Cooperative (October 2011)

In October 2014, Cooperative Coffees led a cupping workshop with collectors from Permata Gayo Cooperative (PGC).  The goal of the workshop was to cup coffees from different villages and look at the relationship between the processing and the cup quality.  It was not about making final conclusions, but rather about creating a conversation with the collectors, PGC staff and Cooperative Coffees representatives (and ultimately generating a passion for quality).

Zukardi is a collector in Tanjung Saru community and Subahan is a collector in Ujong Gele community.  They are both proud members of Permata Gayo Cooperative, and they participated in the cupping workshop in October 2014.  They volunteered to prepare a small lot of coffee for us following the very specific protocol that was developed during this workshop.  Only 11 bags of this special preparation were produced this year (DOMA got one of these).  We will lead another cupping workshop in the fall with the rest of the PGC collectors and hope to continue this experimentation.

The coffee:

Cooperative:  Permata Gayo Cooperative

Altitude:  1250 masl

Varieties:  Catimor, Ateng Super & Bourbon

Harvest:  December 2014

Process:  Giling Basah (wet hulled)

Special preparation steps:

  •  When receiving the cherries from farmers, all overripe and green cherries were removed.
  • That same night, the red cherries were washed in a water tank and floaters were removed.
  • The red cherries were depulped in a clean depulper and fermented for 12h (overnight) in a tank with water.
  • In the morning, parchment was rinsed and mucilage was removed.
  • The parchment was put in a soaking tank for an additional 12 hours to increase complexity.
  • Parchment was spread out on drying beds & constantly rotated during drying down to 40% m.c.
  • Parchment was hulled at 40% m.c.
  • Immediately after hulling, the green coffee was spread on drying tarps on the ground (classic style).
  • When it reached 17% m.c., it was stored for 2 weeks in Bener Meriah and then shipped to Medan for final drying and hand sorting.



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Earth Day ‘015

I can’t say that today was an especially great day at work, though things got done.  Without sounding overly New-Age-y, Wednesdays tend to have a strange energy for me in the flow of the week.  On a positive note, I noticed more of the staff carpooled or came to work by bike today.  At the end of the day, I did remove myself to a nearby forest for a brisk walk characterized by the sound of the wind in the pines and brief encounters with deer and woodpeckers.  I walked along the edge of the forest, where the natural landscape meets the human (albeit rural) one.  A lot of artists find inspiration in the intersection of these realms, recognizing that human activity is increasingly altering the planet in what is referred to as the Anthropocene epoch.  I was thinking about the beauty of both spaces and musing over how we can create amazing technologies, soaring pieces of music, or make tremendous sacrifices for our fellow humans while at the same time being wantonly destructive, murderous, and selfish.  I was going to write a blog along these lines.


Then, I came home and sat down to my vegetarian dinner (I am not often this disciplined at my evening meal) and began reading a variety of coffee trade publications.  The first article I encountered was about one of the inventors of the K-cup lamenting his invention due to its negative environmental impacts (many cups are not very recyclable and many communities have trouble recycling those that are).  Subsequent articles were focused more on the agricultural side of coffee.  You are certainly entitled to your opinion about climate change, but if you work in the coffee world, there is little debate about its reality, particularly if you are a coffee farmer in Central or South America (or a resident of Hawaii).  We’ve talked about our co-op’s efforts to aid farmers affected by coffee rust (Roya) and nowadays, many scientists and large multinational concerns are actively working to stem the affects of this disease, recognizing that everyone’s future livelihood in this business will likely be touched.  And, given that nearly three quarters of Americans are coffee drinkers at least weekly (recent National Coffee Association study), pretty much everyone could end up tasting the difference in the coming decades, especially specialty coffee drinkers (such as those of you drinking DOMA Coffee).

Back in Portland, a respected friend, who I may not always agree with, had an excellent t-shirt that read “Conservation is Conservative.”  I thought it was very clever and while there will always be plenty of issues that people will be divided over, it seems that preserving some of this amazing world for our children shouldn’t be one of them.  People on both ends of the political spectrum could benefit from broadening their channels of information and taking a step back to examine the true impacts of a project or action, which are often less about “jobs versus the environment” than political perceptions.  The key is a willingness to have a dialogue, I guess.  That people of every stripe have come together to serve our high quality coffees in their homes and places of business is cause for optimism.


Meanwhile, in the DOMA Coffee Lab, some new residents have appeared inside and outside.  Spring flowers adorn the exterior and some succulents dot the retail area surfaces.  A new bike rack is under construction, too.  Don’t worry, I am not going to catalog the company’s numerous sustainability efforts here.  I just like having these elements from nature spilling over into our human constructions.  I know I have frequently written about the big impact of seemingly small actions.  Even if we are just passing through this world, let us tread carefully, as others will be making this journey after us.


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First Quarter Returns Are In – 4/21/15

Before tomorrow’s Earth Day post, I thought I would take a moment to discuss giving back.  Certainly, DOMA Coffee works actively to support our coffee farmers through our co-op’s programs and through collaboration with a number of environmental and social justice organizations.  Contributing to efforts on a global scale is important as coffee is truly a global commodity and our local decisions have effects that ripple throughout the world.

Of course, we all live in a local community where there are needs, too.  Our small part of the Inland Empire is no exception.  I am happy to report that though DOMA Coffee is a small operation in terms of our physical size, we have been able to donate nearly $1900 to local non-profits in the first quarter of this year alone.  We’ve worked with the Post Falls Food Bank, Fresh Start, the North Idaho College Foundation, and Kootenai Environmental Alliance to name a few.  While my colleagues have donated a great deal, it is the people within these organizations who are doing the social ‘heavy lifting’ in our community, working directly with their fellow citizens in need of help or working actively to preserve our area’s precious resources.

We are grateful for their efforts, just as we are grateful for your support.  I am going to keep this short today, as I should probably go make a donation.

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Catching our Breath (Please Pass the Oxygen) 4.15.15

Spring is indeed a dynamic time and one which demands a longer piece than your average social media nugget.  Most of the DOMA Coffee team returned from SCAA on Sunday night, the DOMA-mobile laden with booty from Seattle.  Your correspondent attended the La Marzocco Partner Summit with Rebecca on Monday, affording us one more day in the Emerald City.

Seattle is still booming.  It had been less than a year since my last visit, but I was not the only one to comment on the rapid changes in Capitol Hill and how different Ballard seemed from not so long ago.  Belltown, too, seemed to be deep in the current of change.  The city remains a coffee capitol.  (I do not advocate the swinging of cats, but if one were to do so, it would certainly strike a well-appointed cafe.)

There were some interesting products at the trade show and it is always a highlight for me to see the representation of producers from around the world.  Individual countries, cooperatives, importers, and NGO’s all had booths highlighting their finest coffees.  In another room, the world came together to participate in the World Barista Championship. It was nice to run into some of our customers and many old friends throughout the weekend.  After a day of meetings and walking an enormous trade show floor, the only logical thing to do is attend a party.  Atlas, Cafe Imports, and Torani were gracious enough to host a number of the DOMA Coffee team on Friday night.  Emergency rations were procured at Cyclops, a Belltown institution.


Saturday found Scott making Colombia espresso drinks at the La Marzocco Home booth, putting the new Linea Mini through its paces.  Shots were tasting delicious and suffice it to say that home espresso has come a long way.


After an educational day in a notable setting (Fremont Foundry), Rebecca wisely suggested a drink with one of her Seattle friends at nearby Joule.  Native Northwesterners do enjoy the Great Outdoors year-round, though an outdoor fire pit can help on a rainy evening.  While I am not in the business of giving endorsements, The Whale Wins served an exceptional dinner.  We did make a quick appearance at Schilling Cider House in Fremont to bring back some gifts for colleagues.


Tuesday morning, a perfect cortado and comfortable environment at The Anchored Ship reminded us how skillful preparation, thoughtful service, good coffee, and an unpretentious approach can embody a positive cafe experience as much or more than a big budget coffee cathedral.  As Rebecca savored a signature drink and the Seattle Times, I downed a double espresso and absorbed the old country tunes on the stereo.  After a walk around a neighborhood full of eye-catching shop windows, we drove back to headquarters and back to daily routines (as well as a backlog of work).


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