Coffee Junkie -You bet! But here’s a cup worth slowing down for.

I have always been fascinated by the roasting process of coffee, as there are some coffee houses that roast in-store/in-house and others that farm the process out.  Living in San Francisco prior to moving to Austin, I used to frequent a bistro located in the Marina district that had a roasting machine in the front of the store & they would roast coffee beans all day & I just loved the aroma!

Kohana Coffee is a small, woman-owned, coffee-house/roasters that performs their roasting in-house.  Victoria Lynden, Owner & Founder of Kohana Coffee understands the importance of slow roasting coffee and let me just tell you it is an art form Kohana has down!  I had the distinct pleasure of spending some time recently with the Piper Jo and Nate of Kohana Coffee to experience the roasting process.

Before the roasting process you have the selection of the coffee beans.  I wondered how Kohana Coffee selected beans to purchase and how they went about making the final choice.  Working with several growers, farmers & brokers, Kohana Coffee goes through a rigorous selection process to choose just the right coffee beans.  Once the beans have been chosen, the next process is tasting the coffee – called “cupping”.  During the cupping process, this allows the tasters to look for crema colour, crema consistency, fragrance, aroma, after taste, acidity, freshness, body, sweetness and balance.  Coffee beans are selected, ordered – let the roasting begin!

Roasting coffee transforms the chemical and physical properties of green coffee beans into a roasted coffee product. The roasting process is what produces the characteristic flavors of coffee by causing the green coffee beans to expand and to change in color, taste, smell, and density.  While roasting the coffee bean you get a nutty aromatic aroma.  It takes heat to speed up the Maillard reaction and other chemical reactions that develop and enhance the flavor (ref. Wikipedia) and this is where the art form comes in from Kohana Coffee!

Piper Jo serves as the in-house roasting artist and Operations Manager and it was amazing to watch her work, and to have her teach me just what is takes to roast some of your favorite flavors from Kohana Coffee such as:

Kohana Blend

Piper Jo fires up the Deidrich Coffee Roasting Machine and we get started on our first round of roasting. Piper Jo explained to me that the roasting process is determined by the type of coffee bean and the weight of the batch being roasted (Kohana Coffee roasts all of their batches in small quantities to maintain the quality of the product).  At the beginning of the roasting process the green coffee beans are poured into the top of the roasting machine where they go through a quality control process (1st level of quality control).

At the time Piper Jo places the beans in the roasting hopper, she goes through the beans with her hand to pick out any coffee beans that have been damaged in shipping, are under grown, and to remove any other items (wood stems from the coffee bean tree/shrub). Once the beans have been inspected in the top hopper, they are released into the center of the Deidrich Roasting Machine.  Piper Jo explained to me that in perfecting the art of roasting coffee beans, you want to gradually build the temperature so you obtain an even roasting and don’t bake the coffee beans (over roasting tends to cause a bitterness/higher acidity levels in the beans).  As the coffee beans are roasting in the center barrel of the Deidrich Coffee Roasting Machine, we drop the internal temperature at the 1st crack of the coffee beans, pulling out the sampler handle from the roaster to check the color and aroma of the beans.  As the beans are allowed to continue roasting, we note the time of the 1st crack.

Just shortly after, the beans crack a 2nd time, we reduce the temperature again and drop the beans into the cooling hopper.  As the coffee beans cool down we notate the 2nd crack of the beans.  At this point, the second level of quality control comes in and we begin visually inspecting the roasted beans in the cooling hopper, as there will be imperfections that will appear in the bean after the roasting process that may have not been caught when the coffee beans were unroasted/green and those beans are removed.  Once the beans have been cooled down, they are placed into color coded tubes based on if the beans are an organic vs. non-organic.  One more quality control pass is done before the container is closed & the beans are ready to be bagged.

Kohana Coffee cares very much for the quality of beans, but they also care and nurture their relationships with the coffee plantations, growers and brokers throughout the world they deal with.  With coffee beans coming for Sumatra, Columbia, Ethiopia, and of course Hawaii, Kohana Coffee has an “appreciation for the caretaking of coffee farms; for the snow-white flowers of the coffee plant; and for the rich red berries that clutched the beans.”  Kohana Coffee also makes every effort to deal in purchasing fair trade certified coffee beans when possible.

Kohana Coffee has embraced the “island life & philosophies” in not only their love for coffee, but also in giving back to the communities they do business in.  Here in Austin, they have Kohana U: Grounds for Education – “We¬â„¢re proud to be working with the Austin Montessori School, providing 7th through 9th graders the opportunity to learn about business and hone essential skills in a real-world business environment.”    Kohana Coffee also works with a non-profit organization “Coffee Kids“, a  nonprofit that supports coffee communities through sustainable programs in economic diversity, education, food security, and health awareness.

Wondering just where you can get Kohana Coffee?  Well you can order directly from their website and Central Market locations here in Austin carry their products.  Out and about around town & looking for a cafe and/or restaurant that carries Kohana?  Here is a list:

Blue Dahlia Bistro

Hot Mama’s Cafe

Central Market

Kohana Coffee also has a “Cold Brew” which was actually my 1st introduction to Kohana Coffee!  I loved it, the flavor was smooth, it was not bitter and I highly suggest keeping a bottle in your frig! You can find their cold brew at Central Market locations.  Kohana Coffee has tastings during the week/weekends – Check out their blog post/website for info & locations (*Note: follow Kohana’s Twitter feed as they usually announce it via Twitter as well).  Holidays are coming up & Kohana Coffee has awesome gift baskets and cute t-shirts to boot!

Want to follow Kohana Coffee on Twitter, Facebook or follow their blog – Click on the links!  There was a twitter discussion about a week ago asking “what lengths would you go for a cup of coffee?”  My response – For Kohana Coffee I would drive 58+ miles or more for a cup (I used to commute 58 miles on way into work & would only get my coffee from one spot).  Here in Austin, it is Kohana Coffee all the way for me!

And to have a little fun at the end of this post here are some of my favorite coffee images – Enjoy & get yourself a cup of Kohana!

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