Wednesday, October 25, 2006
French Roast Specials
I am not sure what wave Alfred Peet was on, but it was a big one. Arguably, there has been no one who has had a greater influence on the reemergence of coffee appreciation in America over the last 40 years. His 101 blend was the hook for me. In general the “third wave” seems less enthusiastic about the dark side, and they are leading a trend back toward lighter styles. But there was a time here on the West Coast when specialty coffee meant almost exclusively French roasts. When Royal Coffee was a young upstart company, selling coffee to Mr. Peet was one of our biggest goals. I found it quite challenging....after all, he was “the man”. I will admit to having more than a little trepidation when I walked into his office to drop off samples. He was very old school and I knew he recognized a rookie when he saw one. He always would grill me on why I thought coffee was good enough, and though he would have never used the word, he would happily let you know when your coffee sucked…But it is true: what doesn’t kill you is good for you, and trying to rise to his standards only helped.
Following Alfred’s lead, more roasters adopted the passion to create better and better French roasts. We spent a considerable amount of time cupping every origin trying to satisfy Narsai David, a locally famous gourmet ghetto restaurateur here in Berkeley. This was all valuable experience then, and it has carried over and still guides our buying preferences. We still put a lot of attention into importing coffees particularly suited for creating world class French roasts.
Here’s a couple we currently have on hand:
Ref 14112 Sumatra Mandheling…I am hesitant to use some of the more flowery adjectives flying around these days, but two which I have recently heard used by our customers I think apply to this coffee: “forest” and “mushrooms”. This Sumatra is not musty, swampy or dirty. This is classic Mandheling…clean, but far from boring. Wonderfully earthy, and, yes, I am getting the forest mushrooms…
Ref11790 Uganda Bugisu AA…and this is a great deal. Sometimes it is easier to buy coffee than sell it. This coffee came in last spring and will not create any happy pumpkin faces if you roast it light, but it still makes a very sweet and full flavored French roast. Straight, or to add complexity in a blend, this is a very interesting and useful coffee. And because I bought too much, it’s cheap… Highly recommended.