Streaming Cafe

Friday, December 9, 2011

Stream Team visits Oughtred Coffee & Tea

by Joel Thiessen

Beans, Beans the magical seed
the more you sip the more you see
the more you see the more's reveal
that all coffee is not equal.
 - Joel Thiessen
Jason, Brad and Michelle in the coffee lab.

Recently a few of us on The Stream Team were given an opportunity to visit the coffee roaster who supplies beans to the Cafe.  Oughtred Coffee & Tea make a large claim in saying that they "Specialize in hand picked, certified organic, shade grown, certified responsible, premium estate, small batch roasted coffees." That is quite a mouthful - if that statement were coffee I would've definitely burned a hole through the roof of my mouth. Needless to say, we took them up on their offer for a chance to see what goes on behind the beans.

Right off the bat, as soon as we step out of the car, air in the parking lot wafted with the saliva inducing smell of fresh roasted coffee - we've come to the right place. Right away we are greeted by Micheal Oughtred (son of proprietor John Oughtred) who hands us each a hair net and proceeds to guide us through the office side of the building. To get to where the actual roasting happens we have to move past a small board room which Michael says is for training their customers. He went on to say that getting top quality coffee beans to their customers is only half of what is required for a good cup of coffee, Oughtred is not only dedicated to getting the coffee to you, but also educating you on how to fully utilize and get the most out of every bean.

Next is a coffee lab that is stocked with every brew method imaginable. This is where new bean blends and roasts are tested on different brewing devices (as different methods will extract a variety of flavours and aromas from a single roast) as well, this is where Oughtred will set up a brew station that resembles that of a client's in order to try out and fine tune bean selection and quantities before heading out the the physical location and setting that brew system up.

Freshly imported green coffee beans.
Michael Oughtred shows us their cool roasters!
Once in the roasting facility the truth about Oughtred's small batch boutique roasting becomes very apparent. With no more than 5 workers in the warehouse, every task at hand is done so with precision, pride and efficiency. Green coffee beans are received through the bay doors at the far end of the facility. The beans are separated into origin and species and are stored until their turn to roast. When their time comes the beans are gathered up and once more, scanned for any imperfections before being put in the roaster in 60 lb batches. Oughtred doesn't use the conventional rotating drum-style roaster and instead employs and innovative air convection style roaster called 'Air Bed Roasting' which roasts the beans faster, more accurately and much efficiently. A feature that I thought was very cool was the fact that these roasters actually remove the chaff from the outside of the beans that would traditionally be burnt during the roast, the smoke from the burning chaff would then be absorbed into the bean which really mixes up the aroma and flavour of the roast. But there's no smoke here!

Coffee Beans mere seconds after coming out
of the roaster.
Next the roasted beans are removed from the roaster and cooled as quickly as possible to prevent the beans from continuing to roast themselves with stored up heat, finally the beans are hand measured, packaged and sealed.

And thus the tour is concluded!

Oughtred prides itself on making the largest little impact on the environment as possible. Just a few of their initiatives include being carbon neutral in their shipping and receiving of beans, using afterburners to remove any and ALL pollution from their roasters, utilizing the excess heat from the roasters to heat their entire facility including reception, meeting room, coffee lab and bagging room. They also recycle a whopping 95% of all waste leaving the facility!

Before we left Michael gave us a little demonstration of a very cool coffee brew technique called a Hario Pour Over. This is a one or two cup technique that is very delicate and allows the coffee beans to express their full range of flavours that are often hidden when brewed using a Drip or French Press. But that will be a How-To write up for another day!
For more information about origins of beans, coffee techniques or ordering information visit Oughtred Coffee & Tea online at www.Oughtred.com.