Tag Archives: Glocal

S2 Episode 1: The History of Coffee Pt. 1


I’m super excited to bring you Season 2 of The Boise Coffee Podcast, and we’re kicking it off right with a two-part season premiere. I haven’t written or talked much about the history of coffee, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to give a little context to the drink we know and love.

In this episode I start with the discovery of coffee in the 9th century, then talk about the overall movement of coffee from the Ethiopian plateau to Yemen, then eventually to large cities like Mecca and Cairo. Finally, we’ll trace coffee’s European origins and how it became both a source of curiosity and fear.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The Boise Coffee Podcast on iTunes, and leave a review if you like what you’re listening to!

The Coffee Guy

Continue reading S2 Episode 1: The History of Coffee Pt. 1

Queen of the Hill: Time Tested Roasting Meets Ordering Online

Queen Bean Banner

My favorite part about reviewing coffee is coming into contact with family roasting companies that have been around for generations. When I’m able to review or buy coffee from a shop that has been around for decades, passing recipes and roasting techniques down as they go, I know I’m in for a treat. Mills Coffee is one such company, having been founded by Thomas Mills in 1860. The roasting company is currently being run by fourth and fifth generation Mills who recently launched TheQueenBean.com, their online retailer that sells their signature roasts and blends.

The Snapshot

After Thomas Mills emigrated to the United States in 1860 from Scotland he opened Mills Teas and Butter. Eventually he decided to expand to include his new favorite beverage: coffee. In the late 1800s Thomas began roasting his own beans, beginning a tradition that would continue for over a century. Today, Mills Coffee is run by Susan and her brother David. David took on the role of master roaster while Susan handles financial and creative dimensions of the company. Susan’s son Dave now works in the family business, being an all around go-to man and stepping in to roast when David is away. Her daughter Nicole handles online retail through their new website. Mills Coffee is a family company through-and-throug and they carefully select their coffees from high quality, sustainable, eco-friendly, socially-conscious environments. One of the places they get their beans is La Cotorra farm, located in a remote portion of the Dominican Republic. They helped La Cotorra get out of a tight financial spot, simultaneously contributing to the local DR community.

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David Mills visiting a farm in Costa Rica

Their online store is easy to navigate, with coffees in the $20/lb range (upwards with shipping). The “coffee 101” and “about” sections of their website are fine, though they don’t give nearly as much information as the handout they included with my coffee. Their story is fascinating to read, and I think it would benefit them greatly to include it on their website. Additionally, the art on their shopping portion of the website is a bit much and doesn’t tell me a lot about the coffee, besides the name. The rest of the website has a lighthearted yet still professional feel, while the art seemed to stick out as being not entirely cohesive with the rest of the site. Perhaps determining a consistent theme and then departing from that according to the specifics of each coffee would help. Ordering coffee is a breeze, though the descriptions of their roasts and blends are hit and miss. Some are great – offering flavor profiles and specifics about where the coffee was grown. Others are more general and could use some more details about what makes that coffee unique. I’m probably a bit oversensitive here: I really like to know what coffee I’m getting and where it came from. It could be that this simply isn’t as big of a deal to the average consumer. Overall, I’m excited that they decided to open up an online store this year, and I think Mills Coffee is taking steps in the right direction.

The Coffee

Mills Coffee sent me two coffees: their Dominican and El Salvador roasts. I ended up enjoying the Dominican more, but both brought interesting flavor profiles to the table.

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The Dominican is a lighter roast with strong, earthy notes and mild acidity. Brewing it in my v60 created an expected clean cup of coffee, and I found the aftertaste to be almost sweet. The flavor is strong and present throughout each sip, never wavering. It reminded me of a macadamia nut – smooth, yet bold all at once. It kept me coming back for more, and the steadiness of each cup increased my trust in this coffee.

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The El Salvador, conversely, is more citrusy/chocolatey in flavor. It reminded me almost of a chocolate covered peanut, which is welcome to be sure. My only qualm with this coffee was that each sip finished extremely dry. While it wasn’t inherently bad, I found myself desiring no more than one cup in a sitting, followed by a glass of water.

Final Thoughts

I absolutely recommend buying Mills Coffee. Their family origins and their passion to make a great product is evident. Their coffee is delicious, and their website is a very capable medium to purchase from. My experience with them has only been positive, and it is evident that they really do care about the quality of their roasts.

The Coffee Guy

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Mills Coffee Social Media Links:

Website: thequeenbean.com
Twitter: @QueenBeanCoffee
Facebook: Like their page

Being Glocal with Odacrem Coffee

I recently had an interesting discussion with someone online regarding the role of Starbucks in the coffee industry. I frequently scoff at Starbucks on my Twitter account, and am quick to point out the error of those who suggest Starbucks sells a superior product. In fact, in the past I’ve written about how the closest thing to a compliment that you can give them is that they deliver a consistent product, despite them selling a bad product.

The conversation between me and this person was short. It was regarding coffee in America, and I was speedy on my trigger finger, saying that Starbucks was ruining coffee in America by putting sub-par products out there. This person corrected me, suggesting instead that Starbucks virtually invented the coffeehouse persona that we know so well today. The trendy, relaxing coffeehouse, filled with people staring intently into their MacBooks was not widespread before Starbucks came along. I relented, agreeing with this person. Because, of course, that is correct.

But Starbucks has a ton of money, a dedicated fan base, and a brand that is easy to buy into due to its being developed over the years. What about the local coffee shop or roaster that is trying to gain traction in today’s world?

There is a certain brand of coffeehouse and roaster that has been developed over time. More than likely, the development of this subset has something to do with the rise of social media, which makes it easy for the “word-of-mouth” effect to spread quickly all over the world. I am referring to what I have dubbed “Glocal Coffee.” Glocal is a kind of buzzword these days, referring to the convergence of local society and the global sphere. In terms of coffee, this almost always has something to do with a coffee shop or roaster effectively using the internet to build their brand, sell their coffee, and converse with customers from all over the world.

Odacrem Coffee out of Albuquerque, New Mexico is a Glocal Coffee roaster, and they pull it off well. All it takes is a mere glance at their “Reviews” page to know that their business is of the Glocal variety. What gives them away? Nevada. Washington. Oregon. Ohio. New York. Colorado. Their reviews come from all over the United States. Another dead giveaway is the fact that they include quotes from Twitter on their website.

From their “About” page:

We are a small family-owned roastery based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. While Albuquerque is now our home, a place that we love and do business in, our Coffee roots extend deep into Central America’s El Salvadoran and Costa Rican Coffee Farms. It is there in San Salvador that our Master of Roasting was born and grew up on the family farm, from early child hood helping to plant, nurture, pick the cherries from the coffee trees as well as process and dry the coffee beans.

I’ve been to many local coffee shops and roasters from all over the United States, and I always love connecting with ones that clearly have deep roots in their area. It appears as though Odacrem Coffee is one such roaster – yet they have found a way to do more than simply entrench themselves in the community around them.

I cannot underscore the importance of this in today’s world. It is incredibly easy to set up an online store, Facebook page, and Twitter account. And really, that’s all a small business needs in order to take their company from local to Glocal. I don’t mean to oversimplify the process, because tools aren’t nearly enough to complete the task of getting new customers and opening new avenues of sales. My point is that the tools are available to everyone who is willing to use them.

Odacrem Coffee has made great use of these tools, and that is what sets them apart in my mind. They actively use their Twitter account, and their Facebook page is already garnering customer interaction.

Odacrem Coffee reached out to me on Twitter and asked me to do a formal review of their coffee. This is my favorite way to discover new coffee shops and roasters because I get to experience a completely new brand without any context for how they started, who they are, or how long they have been in their area. It was exhilarating to discover Odacrem’s story and experience their coffee. They sent me samples of their Colombian and O Da Crema coffees, each of which were delicious in their own rite.

The O Da Crema stuck out to me as being the more diverse of the two. While it was good by itself, when I paired the O Da Crema with some breakfast foods, such as granola, I was struck by its complimentary deliciousness. When paired, the mild acidity that the coffee naturally contains played well with the food I was eating, and it really made this coffee stand out to me. I enjoyed a cup in the morning, or when snacking in the afternoon.

The Colombian was a different from the O Da Crema in that regard: I enjoyed it more as a solo cup, unpaired with food. While at first I thought the coffee was slightly bitter, I soon realized that it was actually more acidic than anything else. This is betrayed mainly by the sweet, fruity smell that rises with the steam from the coffee. The taste was constant, and actually good in that regard. It pulls no tricks on you, and I found the Colombian to be a great, bright coffee to sit down with and enjoy.

Odacrem Coffee has a great product. I am looking forward to trying their Tanzanian Peaberry, which goes for only $10.00/lb on their website!

In a divided world of chain coffee vs. local coffee, Odacrem Coffee successfully carries out the much needed task of bridging the gap. Is it possible to create a great product and still get it out to people all over the world? Glocal Roasters like Odacrem Coffee believe so, and it appears to be working. I hope that they continue to grow and reach out to more people across the U.S. and beyond. They are using social media tools well, and they are delivering a delicious product. What more could we, as consumers, ask for?

As a note, you can try Odacrem Coffee out before you buy it. Click here for more info. Free coffee? What’s not to love?

The Coffee Guy