Faiber Bolaños / Colombia August 01 2017

Faiber Bolaños is one of the 52 coffee producers that make up the Association Los Naranjos. His farm, La Esperanza, is located in San Agustín — a region with high relative humidity, and high elevation, creating a savory sweetness and vibrant acidity in each cup. We tasted coffees from several of the producers in the association side-by-side, and Faiber’s coffee stood out among them all. Each offering he had on the tables that day were marked by the same distinguishing feature — a rich, almost stewed, stone fruit note — which caused us to first fall in love with this group’s coffee the year before. His coffees showed the markers of his community in a more dynamic and complex manner. He is a hard-working producer who has become a leader in the Los Naranjos community, and has helped to elevate and inspire other individuals in the Association. Kathie, our Director of Education, chose this coffee to represent us in the United States Barista Competition.

Faiber’s coffee immediately hits us with its distinguishing deep stone fruit flavors, supported by notes of almond, nougat, and chocolate. As the cup cools, the fruit flavors push to the forefront, increasing in depth, while adding a oral quality that reminds us of lychee and rosé. This coffee is beautifully syrupy and complex. It is the perfect coffee to sip alongside items featuring dark chocolate or candied ginger.

Purchase Faiber Bolaños / Colombia Here


Alexander Sanchez / Colombia July 25 2017

Alexander Sanchez is from the village of Palmichal within the Pedegral community of Inza de Cauca. The village is a four to five hour drive over the three-thousand meter mountains from Popayán, the capital of the Cauca Department. The route is under constant rainfall, and landslides commonly block the route. Despite these challenges, and many more, Aleco of Red Fox has been working with the Asorcafe producer association for over ten years; and together, they have built a strong reputation for the producers within the valley. Like each member of the group, Alexander practices careful cherry selection, manual de-pulping, and clean fermentation soaks — ranging between eighteen and twenty-four hours. The association cups all samples within fifteen days of being removed from the raised parabolic driers. These cuppings build community lots, or single producer micro-lots such as this. These careful practices, mixed with a nutrient rich, humid terroir produces a cup marked for having a balance of rich sweetness and complex acidity. 

Alexander Sanchez’s cup profile begins with notes of deep red pear, then developing into more complex wine flavors with touches of herbal overtones, reminding us of pinot noir. As it cools, the acidity moves more into the forefront, with delicately bright citric notes of pineapple and mandarin orange. This coffee has great depth, and we really enjoy using it as a single origin espresso, as well as a drip offering. It is the prefect coffee to add complexity to a pastry featuring chocolate and nut.

Purchase Alexander Sanchez / Colombia Here


On The Record: SCA 2017 Seattle July 05 2017

Every year, hundreds of coffee professionals and enthusiasts come together for a week of competition, education, and discovery at the Re:co Symposium and Global Specialty Coffee Expo. This year’s event was held in what many consider to be the birthplace of the modern American coffee industry, Seattle, WA. We sent four members of our team to take it all in, including: Owner and Founder, Christian Johnson; Director of Retail Operations, Alyssa Lundberg; Director of Coffee / Green Buyer, Tony Querio; and Director of Education, Kathie Hilberg.

 

 

Broadly speaking, these events offer a multi-faceted glimpse into the future of specialty coffee. Whether it be discussions on sourcing practices, exciting new product designs, or developments in sensory analysis, there is a wide array of panels and workshops available to those who want to further their education and advance in the industry. Despite an extremely busy week, our Owner and Director of Retail Operations were able to take part in some of these conversations. 

“Being relatively new to specialty coffee, the whole week was a whirlwind experience,” Lundberg said, “I was fortunate enough to attend seed-to-cup and cupping (tasting) classes, both of which were approximately 4 hours worth of listening, discussing, smelling, and tasting. That’s all in addition to time spent on the trade floor and visiting cafes! With the facilitators going so in-depth with these courses, you’re never able to get to everything, but the things we were able to attend were really eye-opening. It’s such an incredible experience to be surrounded by this network of coffee professionals, and a great opportunity to, in some ways, fast-track your way to a wider understanding of the industry." 

 

 

While education and product design are definite pillars of the event, another major component of the week is the U.S. Coffee Championships, where baristas, brewers, roasters, and more test their skills for panels of judges and the public. These competitions are a great opportunity for individuals and companies to display the creativity and innovation that goes into great coffee service and production. Spyhouse had two representatives in this year’s competition: Director of Education, Kathie Hilberg, in the Barista Championship; and Director of Coffee, Tony Querio, who took 2nd Place in the Roaster Championship a year after winning the title.

"I prepared by spending a lot of time getting to know my coffee, and thinking about how the story of this coffee lined up with my passions in coffee service," Hilberg said, "This year I learned to have fun in competing, more so than I have in previous years. I would've liked to have done better, but I had fun and stressed less. It was a great season where I accomplished a lot, and I ultimately got to do it for the love of coffee rather than the need to feel successful or prove something."

 

 

These exciting opportunities for development are what make the Expo & Re:co Symposium so vital year after year. Time will tell on how the information and experiences from the week will translate back home, but the privilege of attending these events is something our team does not take for granted. Here’s looking forward to next time!


Beakers & Speakers: Broadway Coffee Lab July 05 2017

To provide a thoroughly rewarding service experience, “the little things” need to be Big Things. For us, details are the wheel that steer the ship, and permeate every decision, from roast profiles to wall hangings. When it comes to coffee preparation, we’ve recently made a big investment in the ongoing quest to perfect Quality Control. Say hello to the Lab…

Located in the belly of the building that houses our roastery and flagship cafe, the coffee lab will initially serve as a place for sensory study, staff development, and green storage. It is here that we will dive in into the tedium that ensures broad consistency across our cafes and wholesale partnerships. At any given time you can find us taking measurements, setting brew recipes, testing new equipment, and a whole lot more. This will be the main office for our team of mad scientists, but with fewer lab coats and more denim jackets. 

While things will be pretty Top Secret to begin with, there are plans in the works for eventually opening our space up to the public for classes on home brewing, and coffee tasting. With such an open, versatile space, the possibilities are already bouncing around in our heads, so stay tuned!


Brick By Brick: Spyhouse St. Paul July 05 2017

Since 2000, Minneapolis has been home base for our journey from coffee-slinging art gallery to full-fledged roasting operation. As our coffee program has grown, we’ve been lucky enough to have our coffee served in hotels, restaurants, and cafes, in cities ranging from Seattle, WA to Austin, TX. While Minneapolis will always have our heart, we are super excited about extending ourselves more fully into the Twin Cities with a new St. Paul location.

Located in the former space of our longtime friends, Timelines Antiques, we anticipate cafe no. 5 will have a playful, unique character, while maintaining the sensibility that has driven all of our cafe designs. The building has a lot of history, including a neighborhood grocery store operating in the space for many years. We hope to carry on this rich service tradition. With so many schools and residential homes in the surrounding area, we aim to be a reliable hub for students and people of all walks of life, and very much look forward to meeting our new neighbors and serving the surrounding communities.

The early stages of construction are underway now, with a planned kick-off party + opening date coming later this year. Keep an eye on future newsletters for progress reports as we work to build out this new space!


Strange Brew Monday / July Lineup July 05 2017

In the coffee lab at Spyhouse, we are constantly testing and tasting, looking at new approaches in how to produce the best cup possible. As some of you may have noticed, this exploration has made its way into our cafes, with our weekly Strange Brew alternative methods.

Every Monday we're bringing you a fresh perspective on how coffee is prepared. Whether it's the history and elegance of the Chemex, or the tried and true richness of the French Press, we believe in delivering a diversity of methods and recipes to get the most out of each of our coffees. Strange is good.

Here's a look at our July Lineup:

07.03  -  Iced Pour-Over (Kalita)

07.10  -  French Press

07.17  -  Chemex

07.24  -  Aeropress

07.31  -  Iced Pour-Over (Kalita)


Agua Blanca / Colombia - Imperial Reserve June 26 2017

Within the well-respected micro-region of Pedegral, there lies a small village, Agua Blanca. Cousins Walter and Juvenal Penna are the shining producers of this “jewel in the crown” that is Agua Blanca. In the highest elevations of this region, both producers operate their own farms and washing stations, maintaining the same standards as the other. Beyond their exceptional practices, one of the other secrets to their quality is the combined varietal makeup. Walter produces Typica and Yellow Bourbon while Juvenal exclusively grows Caturra—a combination rarely seen in Colombia. This specific micro-lot was separated at the peak of their harvest from other lots over a period of two weeks. With the historic reputation of these cousins as consistently the best producers in this long-respected micro-region, we are honored to be offering this coffee as our current Imperial Reserve.

Agua Blanca starts with an initial impression of sweet orange developing into a spiced nut note which reminds us of baklava and praline. As it cools, the sweetness develops into flavors of fresh strawberry preserves, with overtones of spearmint in the finish. This coffee is an annual favorite of ours that we look forward to each year. It is the perfect coffee for early mornings while sitting poolside, watching the thermometer climb.

Purchase Agua Blanca / Colombia - Imperial Reserve Here


Adado Shara / Ethiopia - Imperial Reserve May 16 2017

 

Adado Shara comes from the Adado washing station, named for the local tribe in the village of Shara. The village is located in the district of Guanga, a portion of Yirgacheffe’s Gedeo zone. The area supports seven thousand farmers through a network of eight mills. The vast immensity of naturally occurring heirloom varietals creates an incredibly complex cup. It is estimated that the Ethiopian Highlands have somewhere between six thousand and ten thousand varietals that exist naturally. This is coffee’s genesis point, possessing coffee’s complete genetic diversity.

Coffees from Adado are marked by intense stone fruit notes supported with citrus and high floral tones. Another standout feature from this washing station is their ability to produce cherry-dried (natural) coffees that transparently represent the characteristics of their washed counterpart.

Adado Shara has aromas of wild blueberry with a juicy raspberry and peach sorbet sweetness. The vibrant fruit tones are supported by notes of ripe banana and wild yeast that leave a finish reminiscent of a Belgian wheat ale. This coffee is full of juiciness and brightness that often gets lost in the heavy syrupiness of many cherry-dried coffees. It is the perfect coffee to sip before you head to the beach.

Purchase Adado Shara / Ethiopia - Imperial Reserve Here


Thunderstruck / Seasonal Blend: Colombia + Guatemala May 16 2017

Thunderstruck, our Summer Seasonal Blend, was designed to highlight the flavors of childhood summer. We crafted this offering to have an approachable foundation, with just a pop of fruit and spice over the top for complexity. The San Isidro / Guatemala provides a base of rich chocolate and dark cherry. Our Los Naranjos/ Colombia adds a citric and stone fruit brightness that reminds us of orange popsicles and grilled peach. Together these flavors create a s’mores sweetness with a cherry cola spiced finish.

This blend was crafted to be a drink-throughout-the-day type of coffee. It has a richness that will hold up to heavier breakfast items. Additionally, the balanced sweetness allows it to go well with pastries and dessert. We see this as a “crowd pleaser” in the best sense of the term.

Purchase Thunderstruck: Colombia + Guatemala Here


Tiburcio Bravo / Peru May 08 2017

 
Tiburcio Alarcon Bravo’s farm, Icho Jata, is the first coffee we have purchased out of Cusco, but offers a promise of a great future. The farm is named for the Quechua phrase describing the beautiful view of the thatched roof homes below the nearby snow-capped peak called “Choqqesapra.” He has been learning to grow coffee from his father since he was young and has grown to patiently care for each plant. The farm is nestled in the high jungle, surrounded by native pine, pacay, plantains, sugar cane, and wild flowers. The area cooperative has assisted him in training and support, helping him develop integrated farm management practices, using natural shade and drip irrigation. In keeping with the Incan tradition of “mink’a,” the work and farm labor are shared in a communal manner.
 
Tiburcio Bravo carries a beautiful caramel, butterscotch sweetness throughout the cup, with lighter notes that remind us of honeyed pear, apricot, and coffee blossom. The finish has a lingering tea-like quality that is anchored by spiced orange zest. This coffee has an interesting balance of a strong body with lighter flavor tones. It is the perfect coffee for a weekend brunch with buttery pastries.
 

Purchase Tiburcio Bravo / Peru Here