Sunday, June 06, 2010
Cuvee Coffee: Where the Magic Happens
Best coffee in Texas is roasted by Cuvee Coffee, in Spicewood Springs. This is the coffee that won the regional Barista championships, the coffee that Caffe Medici uses, the coffee that put Austin on the national stage for the really, really good stuff.
Because I am a very lucky guy with a completely awesome wife who wins things on food blogs, I got to spend an afternoon hanging out with owner Mike McKim and his super-cool family out at the roasting facility nestled in the woods in Spicewood, TX.
There were about a dozen other blog-post-winners with me, and we spent the first half hour or so peppering Mike with questions. Cuvee is a small shop, but they've got global reach - Mike spends a good chunk of the year traveling to farms throughout South and Central America (Africa's on hold for the moment). We heard about cupping in Peru, hanging out on plantations in El Salvador, trying out the differences between tiny variations in the coffee tree. I made every attempt to not geek out completely.
That attempt fell apart when we passed from the front office into the roasting facility, and got into the details: all the things that could go wrong with beans, the ins and outs of shipping materials, the unbelievably cool engineering that went into the high-power ribbon burners Mike and his dad developed for their old-school French roasters. Geek heaven, if you want to know the truth. We followed the process from the big burlap bags, through the roasting, cooling, blending and bagging; we dwelt on chemistry and physics and the magic that happens at various points in the cycle.
Billed at a 30 minute tour, we were now a good hour and a half in. Turn out foodies have a lot of questions. From the roasting floor we went into tasting - four coffees, washed Peru, Gutamala, El Salvador, and a natural Brazil. The washed coffees are where the coffee cherry is removed, leaving the just the bean to dry; and natural, where the whole coffee cherry is left intact to dry around the bean and later removed. Tasted next to each other, which I've never done before, the differences were amazing - from the complex citrus zing of the Peru to the long slow mellow rumble of the Brazil. We steamed milk on a tricked-out La Marzocco Linea (swoon), drank single origin Brazillian espresso (gasp), and generally overstayed our welcome. Side note: there's about a month's supply of the Peru Chachunda left, and it's totally life changing.
Sometime later in the afternoon, in a hazy happy caffeine buzz, I left Cuvee and drove home. Thank you Tasty Touring. Thank you Mike. And Thank you Tracy. That. Was. Awesome.