One of the sweetest things about living in Eastwood is living so close to Cafe Kubal, which occasionally means smelling the coffee roasting when we step out our back door. We’re so grateful to Matt and Rachel and all the staff who have made this tiny cafe a huge success. To add frosting to the cake, you’ll find master barista Chris Deferio behind the counter these days. Chris was the fourth-place finalist in the 2007 US Barista Competition. Eastwood once again attracts great people: Chris and his wife have moved here.
But let’s get to the really important stuff: the coffee. While I would happily drink Cafe Kubal coffee every day of the year, being a coffee nut I’m just too curious and will actually buy coffee from other parts of the country (sorry, folks, but nobody else in this city is roasting to my personal standards). From any roaster, I’ve learned, you’re going to get beans that you like, beans you don’t really like, and some that blow your socks off. Well, at the moment, my feet are sockless.
Matt finds that a lot of people, “trained” by Charbucks, think that good-tasting coffee always has to be a very dark roast. So to satisfy his customers, he puts out a lot of dark roasts (none, that I’ve found, over-roasted). But I’d like to encourage you, dear readers, to give his many medium and even light roasts a shot, no pun intended. Decide to have a different experience, bring some of the lighter-than-dark beans home, grind ’em there, and make them in the most loving way you know. If you don’t want to go to the (minimal) trouble of a glass vacuum pot, at least be sure that your coffee maker gets the water hot enough, 197-202 degrees, and that you use quality, chlorine-free filters. Better still, try a pour-over method, which gives you more control over the temperature of the water hitting the ground beans.
So how did my socks get blown off? Cafe Kubal’s Panama Boquete, roasted three days ago (best to start using beans 2-3 days after roasting) to a medium roast. My method: a 1937 Silex vacuum pot, cold filtered water brought to 198 degrees before allowing it to touch the ground beans, one minute bubbling away and never above 202 degrees, and then down into the lower chamber. I can’t find a video that does it exactly this way – that is, setting the upper chamber onto the lower one after the water has come up to temperature – but here’s a nice little video that shows how this brewing method works. There are others out there, but this one has great piano music.
After I brewed the Panama Boquete, I poured it into a pre-heated Buffalo China diner cup (wish I had the saucer!):
I love this cup for winter coffee drinking because it’s even thicker than my usual Syracuse China restaurant cups. The handle is fat and comfortable – kinda makes you want to sit around and order up a piece of cherry pie.
When I take that first sip of coffee, always black to start, there are several possible reactions:
- Blecch! Who made this swill? Get me the cream, and maybe even the sugar, too!
- Ho hum. Well, at least I’ll get my caffeine without too much pain. But this cup needs some of that organic heavy cream to make it say something.
- Hmm… not bad! How about another sip… maybe it has more to say. I don’t really think I need cream in this.
- This is delicious – no additives needed! A lovely cup to accompany the sun streaming in the kitchen window and this great book I’m reading.
- Oh God. (Everything stops. I put the book down. I look down into the cup. I put my face close to it and inhale deeply. I take another sip, this time allowing it to wash over my entire tongue to get all the flavor possible.) Oh God in heaven, what a gorgeous cup of coffee. Bless the people who grew it and the people who roasted it and sold it. Oh God. (Pause… silence… I do nothing while drinking the entire cup. It has my complete attention.) Wow. I wish I had the vocabulary to describe all the flavors and sensations I’m experiencing. (I look down at my feet.) Where are my socks?
And that last reaction, dear readers, was what the Panama Boquete did for me this morning. It’s a medium roast. It wants loving handling. It will change the way you think about coffee.