Surprise & delight from southeastern Africa

Our first ever Malawi beans, though somewhat enigmatic, have bloomed into a truly delightful cup!  A little history before I expand on that thought…  Malawi is located in southeast Africa and is a landlocked country bordered by Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique.  Although coffee has been growing in Malawi since the late 1800s, it is still a relative newcomer to the specialty coffee scene and as of late more attention is being paid to grading the beans on size and quality.

The puzzling thing about this lot of beans from Malawi is that it consists of two arabica cultivars:  Catimor and Geisha.  Now I am no botanistMalawi, but I would likely describe this as a serious case of “opposites attract.” 

Catimor is a cross between Caturra and Timor Hybrid, which means there is some Robusta in its lineage (gasp!).  According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America and coffeeresearch.org, it’s a strong, disease-resistant plant, but does not produce the best cup quality over 4,000 feet, and our Malawi was grown at nearly 5,000 feet (uh oh!). 

But wait!  The other part of this equation is Geisha, which originally grew wild in Ethiopia and is now widely cultivated in Central America.  Geisha was introduced to Malawi in 1932.  Although it’s more delicate and prone to leaf rust, it produces incredible cup quality with very floral and almost tea-like qualities. These two!!

Our first test batch of Malawi at a medium roast did not impress, but as we shortened our roast development and lightened it up, it really began to shine.  It draws you in with an enticing aroma and grapey acidity; then it keeps you interested with savory notes of tomato, raisin, and cocoa.  If you appreciate lighter roasts and African coffee as much as I do, give this newcomer a try!  Sometimes as in life, unlikely partners compliment each other the best.

~Teresa

Showdown: Americano vs. Hand Poured

Americanos. We drink ‘em and we love ‘em, yet they are widely misunderstood. There is a belief that Americanos were created during World War II by homesick American G.I.’s who would dilute the strong Italian espresso with water to get something closer to what they were used to drinking back home and thus, the Americano was born. Whether or not this story is true is up for debate. What is not up for debate, however, is that Americanos are darn good. I remember when chain coffee shops were still a pretty newfangled idea and the coffee was mostly way too dark and way too strong (in some shops, it still is). Someone along the way told my mom to order an Americano and for a while that was all my family would drink. It was nice to drink coffee that didn’t taste like burnt rubber and gasoline.

As the years have gone by, coffee brewing has become a revered art—not just in my home but all over the world. Today, the Americano has been pushed slightly aside while most people go for brewed coffee. There are approximately one million different ways (rough estimate) that one can brew coffee. The most popular method in our shop is the Hario V60 pour over. The pour over yields a clean, well-balanced cup that allows the coffee consumer to taste a wide range of flavor notes. In our shop, Americanos can be just as good. Made either with our Route 606 espresso blend or whatever single origin bean we have in the hopper, I drink Americanos so I can get a good handle on the espresso. Just as there are so many flavor notes that come out of a pour over coffee, there can sometimes be an entirely different set of flavors in espresso. For those like myself that don’t prefer to drink straight espresso but still want to analyze those different notes, an Americano can be a great option!

Of course, many may ask “Which is better?”. Personally, I don’t think it has to be a competition as each brewing method yields a different set of results. Regardless, I took it to my coworkers and we tested one coffee, both ways. Here’s what we came up with:

First, I had Phil hand pour a cup of our Route 606 Espresso Blend.

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Next, I had Emily pull a shot with the same blend and make an Americano.

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Then, of course, I tasted both beverages.

Guys, amazingly, they were both incredibly delicious. In the brew, I could taste the deep richness and more subtle notes in the coffee. The Americano, on the other hand, had an especially warming quality coupled with a distinct nuttiness and a layer of velvety crema.

SO, after all of this, what I’ve come up with is that you can’t go wrong with either drink. A brew is great, but so is an Americano. Don’t discriminate—take a leap and try both! Let’s make Americanos great again.

Love,

Amy

An Experiment

Today’s blog post is comin’ atcha from the E2 Test Kitchen. Recently, I read an article about a bunch of different ways to make cold brew. One of them piqued my interest in particular–cold brew made in a whipped cream canister. It sounds a little bit out there but when I read about it, I just knew that I had to try it.

I started by grinding 50 grams of coffee. I like darker coffee and I think it lends itself to cold brew, so I tried the Sumatra.

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I then funneled the coffee into the whipped cream canister, added 250 grams of water, and closed it all up. I charged it with Co2 and set it in the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours.

I had to dispel the Co2 inside of the canister and when I tried, it made a noise that sounded like an air horn. I couldn’t continue making that noise in a cafe full of people so I took the canister outside and finished the job there. I came back inside and poured the water and grounds through a Hario V60 filter. It was a pretty thick so I had to wait a few minutes for it to finish dripping.

The end result was shockingly good. I poured just one ounce of cold brew to two ounces of whole milk. Everyone here at the shop was skeptical that it would work but it ended up very smooth and ultra creamy with milk. The only downside is that there is a hint of a bitter bite along the sides of the tongue.

In any case, I’m pretty pleased with the outcome of this experiment. We all fancy ourselves connoisseurs of cold brew here at the shop, so to come even close to the delicious product we already serve is a feat by itself! So, if you have a whipped cream canister and Co2 laying around, give this one a try! You will not regret it.

Love,

Amy

What’s So Special About Specialty?

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I was having a conversation with an acquaintance the other day who works in town. When she asked me what I did for work, I told her that I worked at the best coffee shop of all time. When I told her it was here at E2, she seemed kind of confused as she said “Well, what makes it better than any other coffee shop?” After I had recovered from the initial shock of such a question, I made it my mission to sell the shop when I realized that I didn’t have to. I simply told her, “One taste of our coffee will have you converted. We’re a specialty shop after all.” She said, “What’s so special about specialty?”

I had seen it happen so many times—a new customer would come in, stating that a friend told him about the best coffee in town and he just had to taste it for himself. One sip and he’s hooked. Many of our faithful fans I’m sure have wondered, “What in the world are they putting in this to make is darn addicting?” The truth, my friends, is nothing but care and love for our craft. Every bean is roasted so carefully, so expertly and then ground and brewed to perfection. Precision is key when it comes to making good coffee. One cannot simply throw some water over some coffee and expect a good result. A truly excellent cup is crafted by hands that know, love, and appreciate the product. That’s why you will never come in our doors and experience a drink that is less than delicious and if you do, we will do everything we can to make sure you leave with a drink that elevates your coffee experience.

Being in the specialty coffee business also leaves room for innovation. It’s unlikely that you will walk into a big chain shop and find anything like our Coconut Lemongrass Latte or our Lavender Vanilla Bean Latte. Because our mixologists are so well versed in the many intricacies of each different coffee, they are able to concoct delicious and otherwise unheard of recipes.

Specialty coffee is special for so many reasons. The dedication to the art of preparing good coffee and the fresh ideas for coffee concoctions are just a few reasons. Bring your wary friends by and introduce them to the exciting world that is specialty coffee.

Love,

Amy

Helpful Tips Concerning the Aeropress

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I’ve brought the Aeropress to your attention before. It’s a glorious little contraption that makes incredible coffee. What some of you may not know, however, is that with the Aeropress, the possibilities are endless. There is no single correct way to brew with this lil guy. You can find the traditional Aerobie recipe on our website. This method yields about two ounces of very strong coffee. If you don’t have an espresso machine, this method of brewing is excellent for recipes that call for espresso. Additionally, if you’re a coffee addict like me, there are times when you just aren’t feeling like sipping on an entire cup of coffee. This two-ounce method is perfect for those days when you just need that boost of caffeine. Yet, if you change your mind and decide that you do want to have a bigger cup of coffee, you can simply add water or milk to those two ounces of Aeropress espresso and enjoy your coffee slowly. As the weather in Michigan gets nicer and nicer, you could even try it iced!

So, I’ve made it quite clear how wonderful that two-ounce method is. However, that’s not how we brew it here in the shop. We use the inverted method. The inverted method is exactly what it sounds like–we flip the entire thing inside out. This yields about seven ounces of coffee. It’s strong but not bitter. It ends up very smooth, super clean, rich, and allows for one to really taste the complexities of the coffee. It is an enjoyable experience, for sure.

Any way you cut it, the Aeropress is fantastic. There’s a whole slew of brewing methods when it comes to this awesome thing. You can even work on your own technique. As I said earlier, there is no single right way to use it. I encourage you to try out your own method and report back to us! We are always open to trying out new things–especially when it comes to coffee.

Never stop innovating, my friends.

Amy

Fa la la la la…

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As the temperatures steadily decrease, we see that most wonderful time of the year quickly approaching. Soon, the falling leaves will turn to falling snow and we will find ourselves bundled up in hats, coats, gloves and boots in an effort to evade the chilly air that turns our noses pink. We will hear the melodic voices of Christmas carolers, singing of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and wishing one another a merry Christmas. We may find ourselves so moved by the warmth of the holiday season and the benevolence that accompanies it that we become compelled to give to others.

This is exactly what we set out to accomplish with our annual Holiday Soiree. Last year, over the course of one lovely evening, over 25 attendees partook in Christmas-time merriment, including but not limited to delicious appetizers and fine coffee beverages, the spinning of some joyous Christmas records, and an abundance of good conversation. We were able to raise $500 for Grace Centers of Hope and we donated bags upon bags of toys to the Northville Civic Concern. None of this would have been possible without the active participation of you—our wonderful customers.

This year, we are shifting our focus to a different organization—Orchard Children’s Services. This organization serves most of Southeast Michigan and provides foster care and adoption, community programs, and family preservation services. Their motto is “strengthening communities one family at a time.” We believe in this organization and what they do for the community which is why we want to feature them this holiday season. In our foyer, you will notice a large box in which you can drop various canned and boxed goods between now and November 17. Also, keep a look out for our Holiday Soiree details very soon.

~Amy

Calabaza Latte

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It’s Fall in Michigan and everyone knows what Fall in Michigan means—Pumpkin Spice. The typical Fall-time merriments include cider mills, spiced donuts, and caramel apples but perhaps the most exciting part about Fall, for many people, is the return of the beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Most coffee shops use a pumpkin spice syrup for their coffee beverages (yuck!) but why do that when it can be done so much better? Naturally, for the third year in a row, we have broken that mold of excess sugars and preservatives by bringing you the Calabaza Latte. This delicious, Fall delight is made possible by pure pumpkin, a touch of sweetened condensed milk, and spices. That’s it, folks. It’s simple but delicious and unbeatable.

So, while everyone lines up for overly syrupy pumpkin spice lattes to take to their hayrides and bonfires, why don’t you come in here and grab something that tastes so much better? We can’t wait to serve the Calabaza Latte to you.

~Amy

Now Interviewing!

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Are you considering a career in the specialty coffee industry?  If our company mission and values resonate with you, perhaps we should talk.  Experience in coffee is an asset, but an intense interest in the subject beyond the “I love coffee; it smells so good” variety is also beneficial.

Most importantly, we are looking to meet people with integrity that also have a strong desire to learn and be of service to others.  Requires a lot of attention to detail and dedication!  If you are up for the challenge, we are growing and may have an ideal opportunity.

Stop in the shop and talk with us or send a resume to [email protected] along with your thoughts on:

*Best coffee experience ever & why
*Your favorite coffee drink
*Why you would like to work at E2

~Teresa

Does taste matter most?

Vanilla plant at Villa Vanilla, Costa Rica

Vanilla plant at Villa Vanilla, Costa Rica

Recently, I made an emergency run to a local market because we ran out of vanilla extract, used in some of our recipes.  We use natural ingredients, so our only option is Pure Vanilla.  As I reached for the bottle, a woman standing next to me with two small children pointed to the imitation vanilla flavor and asked “What’s the difference between this one and that one?” “Well,” I said, “Look at the ingredients.”

The artificial product contained water, sugar, caramel color, propylene glycol, ethyl vanillin, and artificial flavor.  The natural extract had only organic vanilla bean extractives, water and organic alcohol.

“Do you really want to eat chemicals you can’t even pronounce?” I asked, glancing at her kids.
“But does it taste better?” she pressed.
“Well, I don’t know,” I continued, “For me, artificial food is never going to be better than something real.”

As I walked away, I was dismayed at her lack of perspective, and wondered how someone would ever choose to feed propylene glycol, a solvent used in antifreeze and plastics, to her children.  Later I also did some research on vanillin and found it can be made from either wood pulp or guaiacol, a petrochemical that is manufactured in industry.  Does this sound remotely wholesome?

Reading food labels can be very enlightening.  We already have plenty of toxins in our environment, so why ingest more?  It’s easy to make simple, great tasting food and drinks with real ingredients.  So yes, taste matters… but let’s keep it real!

~Teresa

Looking for more than a job? Join our C.A.U.S.E.

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Since the day we opened, the values that have guided our work at Espresso Elevado have been described in an acronym that we call our C.A.U.S.E.:  To build Connections, to work with Artistry, to remain Unconventional, to foster Sustainability, and to Elevate our products and service as well as each other.  When faced with a difficult decision, I can almost always find clarity by consulting our values.

If our values resonate with you AND you are willing to become a student of coffee, perhaps we should talk.  On the surface, we are interviewing folks for a Barista position.  However, with the widespread use of super automatics, oftentimes “barista” doesn’t amount to much more than button pushing these days.  So, what we are really looking for is a trusted individual to join our passionate and cohesive team of coffee professionals.  Someone who is genuinely service-oriented and who will thrive in the quirky little community we’ve established in our shop.  Some knowledge of coffee beyond “I love Caramel Macchiatos!” will definitely be an asset, but we’ll provide full training to someone who “gets us”.

Still interested? Send a resume to [email protected] along with your thoughts on:

*Best coffee experience ever & why
*Your favorite coffee drink
*Why you would like to work at E2

~Teresa