Happy Mug Blog
Last week we accepted an invitation to a coffee cupping at Royal Coffee NY at their beautiful showroom in New Jersey. It was fun to sit at their giant cupping tables, see their warehouse full of unroasted coffee, and have a shot of espresso from their gorgeous Sandremo espresso machine.
A coffee cupping is an elaborate way to compare several coffees side by side. Here we were tasting 30 small harvests of Costa Rica and Honduras coffees to pick the very best one! Each coffee is sampled 4 different times to ensure consistency and to give the opportunity to smell and taste the coffee throughout the brewing process.
This event was basically a sneak preview for customers to purchase coffee before they were advertised to everyone. We picked the Honduras Mansapa as the very best coffee. It’s intensely juicy with a very full body complimented with strong notes of blackberry and sweet aromatics. We should have it here and for sale within a couple weeks!
as the weather gets warmer, keeping some jars of iced tea in the fridge is one of our daily habits. although often overlooked, white tea makes a wonderful iced tea and needs little to no sweetener. for a quart mason jar, we use 5 tablespoons of white tea and just a teaspoon of sugar, but the key is to use water that is only 150 degrees farenheit, and to only let the leaves steep for three minutes or less.
we drank a lot of white orange spice as iced tea last summer. this summer we have a new white tea, and it has a honeydew flavor! so refreshing, so pleasant. try a small bag of white melon tea on your next order and see what you think!
we take a lot of calls. sometimes orders, sometimes questions, sometimes telemarketers. but lately we are MISSING a lot of calls because two people call at the same time. after 10,000 calls and 1000 hours of talk time, it’s time to give our trusty phone a friend. starting today, we have TWO lines, so if the main line rings and no one answers, your call will forward to the second line so we don’t miss it.
talk to you soon.
this is such a rare opportunity to be able to taste the differences that processing makes on a coffee! in order to allow as many people as possible to experience this, we are selling the 5 coffees as a set, in 4oz bags. we hope you find it as fascinating and fun as we do!
we like to think that our positive energy goes into the coffee beans as we lovingly roast and package them. probably my imagination, but it seems like if i’m upset, all of the coffee tastes sour and bitter, but when i’m excited, the coffee has an extra sparkle to it.
all that to say, our head roaster jason is getting married next weekend. so if you notice the coffee tasting extra special for the next few weeks, it might be because love is in the air.
we are borrowing a barista for the summer. emmett is from chicago and has been passionately expanding his knowledge of coffee for several years. we caught up with him at coffeefest in nyc this spring; but previously he studied abroad in costa rica where he lived on a coffee estate, and he has also visited coffee farms in hawaii. now he is tackling courses and special projects involving environmental sustainability and conservation as a full time college student at allegheny college in meadville, pa.
we are happy to have emmett help us out this summer. we will be able to show him the process of purchasing green coffee, roasting, and blending. he is going to teach us about cold-brew, espresso machine repair, and how to fine-tune our brewing methods.
we thought it would be fun to give away pens in may, so all internet orders of $20 or more get a free pen included with your order. it’s a great pen and has 20 different logos of mr. mug dressed up in various ways.
orders that we receive by noon eastern time ship same day. otherwise, it ships the following business day. we have shipped over 3000 packages this year and haven’t missed a deadline yet. the only reason your order would be held up is if there was a possible problem with your address or another issue, and we try to reach you for confirmation before shipping and don’t hear back in time. but that’s highly unusual. we’ve got everything down to a science right now and can’t wait to make your mug happy. we’re closed on weekends. weekend orders roast and ship on monday.
everyone knew ethiopia halo bariti was going to win this weekend, and indeed, it won by double digits over every other candidate; but the race for second place proved to be close. pollsters were predicting outdoorsy sumatra (who was the establishment favorite), but in the end, kenya chomo earned the win, with ethiopia konga just a pound behind. kenya had done some advertising going into the weekend, and that paid off big. its policies of being sweet with strong winey, juicy flavor is making people pay attention. the ethiopia konga, which placed third, seems to be picking up supporters based on the popularity of halo bariti, but provides an option for people who want something a little less sweet and sugar coated.
frustrated that none of the candidates can seem to put a dent into the popularity of ethiopia halo bariti, ecuador has announced that is entering the race this week. it aims to give voters a non-mainstream, south american option that will blow them away with complexity, flavor, sweetness, aroma, body, and acidity — a strong candidate, with the whole package to offer, but will people notice? adventurous new guinea, which had previously suspended its campaign after seeing its popularity slowly decline earlier this year, has announced it will jump back into the fray, seeing an opening for a light roast indonesian candidate on the ballot.
the coffees that really pop, the coffees you want to be drinking on any given morning, are the coffees that are in season right then. even though we carry guatemala all year round, this is not its finest hour. ethiopians do not have that spark they had 6 months ago. on the other hand, today is a great day for a mug of papua new guinea, colombia, or bali blue moon.
here is an overly simplified list of when coffees arrive in the usa. a honduras or guatemala from central america will have arrived somewhere between april and july, and will be at its peak of flavor for up to another 6 months after arrival (hence, for any central american coffee, between january and april is the worst time to drink it).
central americans — arrive from april to july
most africans (uganda, burundi, tanzania, rwanda) — arrive from december to march. kenya has two crops a year.
ethiopia — arrive from may to august
indonesians — arrivals from october to february for the main crop, but sumatra has an extended season
arabians (india, yemen) — usually arrive between november to february
south america — arrive from november to february for the main crop
decaf — not predictable
probably the most common question i get, is how long ago the customer’s coffee was roasted.
i have long insisted that scrawling a date on a label proves nothing. it tells you the packaging date at best, not the roast date. we go through coffee so quickly, that most origins are roasted at least once a day, so why waste time dating everything — it’s all fresh!!!
but we are now dating packages anyway. a sticker with that day’s date hardly takes any time and has enough benefits to make it worth doing:
1 — it will help wholesale accounts rotate their stock.
2 — it will help retail customers hit their sweet spot for extraction (some customers won’t touch the beans until they are three days old. some won’t touch the beans after they are 2 weeks old. either way, it’s one less thing they have to keep track of.)
3 — some evenings we get a head start on roasting for the next day’s orders, and roasting date stickers keeps us organized and honest.
caller says they are on an epic road trip and
want directions to come find us. they walk
in and i have french presses lined up.
“austin was fun,” she says.
“i love austin,” i agree.
“who wouldn’t love it! and we went hiking in flagstaff, and the grand canyon, spent a week in san francisco.”
“that sounds amazing,” i agree.
“we stopped in nashville for a smoothie and ran into a famous singer.”
“what a trip!” i say.
“but about half way through we cringed every time we ordered coffee — started skipping coffee — because it was all so disappointing. we went to hipster coffee shops, we went to the third wave roasters, we went to nationally known specialty roasters, we bought the best coffee money could buy, and none of it was as special as what we order from you.”
i’m smiling as i pour them mugs of rwanda gishamwana island, sumatra mandheling, bali blue moon, new guinea waghi valley, and colombia san antonio.
they just get quiet and smile as they sip their coffee. “yeah, this is what we were missing,” he finally says. they buy 8 pounds of beans and head back out in the rain to continue their journey.
word off the street is that we’re selling some pretty good coffee.
part of the culture at happy mug is the desire to bring the geekiest, rarest, most amazing coffees of the world to the average coffee drinker without intimidating them with fancy language and high prices. but as we celebrate our 5th year in business, we regrettably have to raise prices for the first time ever. in january, every package we mail out is going to cost us 70 cents more in postage. our insurance rates are going up 20% — we’ve never had an incident, but the industry as a whole has had a lot of them. happy mug has a great team right now with a lot of passion and talent, but our talent needs a raise before someone snatches it away. we needed more space, and so our rent went up 40%. we need a new website, and that’s not cheap either.
there’s just no way around it — if happy mug is going to survive another 5 years, we have to raise our prices. the standard mug line is going up $1 a pound, and the special mug line is going up $2 a pound. but even after the price hike, we are really cheap.
the new rwanda gishamwana island — the cheapest price i could find online is $17/lb and we are at $13
the new ecuador hakuna matata — the cheapest price i could find is $19/lb, and we ask $13
the new india veer attikan — i found it for $18….we are asking $11
our popular ethiopia yirgacheffe halo bariti — i found it for $18.50…we only are asking $13
the reason we are cheap is because we operate in rural western PA where cost of living is far below average compared to the rest of the country. on top of that, i fight and bargain for every nickel from vendors and freight carriers. i don’t spend money on things we don’t need; we minimize mistakes and reward efficiency. we fight bills that aren’t fair, shop around for bids on services, and we buy in bulk and stock up when supplies go on sale. i barter coffee for oil changes and haircuts. turn lights off when we leave the shop. re-use shipping boxes and packaging materials. i’ve been dragging my feet on this price hike for a long time, and i hope customers understand.
thank you for your support. we will continue to bring you the best coffee in the world, from the fairest farms grown by farmers with incredible passion for what they do, and get it to you quickly at prices far below what you would have to pay from other roasters.
drink coffee. be happy. stick with us. 2016 will be a great year.
The new 1200 pound roaster arrived on an oversized pallet, without a pallet jack or liftgate or anything on the truck. I rounded up 5 big guys and we pushed it to the end of the truck, and then stood on the edge of the pallet to counterbalance the weight.
It’s 2.5 times bigger than our first roaster. Once we put it in place, it made our old roaster look like a toy.
We can now churn out 120 pounds an hour when we have both running at full capacity.
i walk into the new space this morning and my helper hands me a cup of coffee. he has found the box with the electric water kettle, unpacked a french press, plugged in a grinder, found some leftover sumatran beans. i take a sip of coffee for the first time since thursday. i can’t stop smiling. this is going to be a good day.
progress report. things are in high gear. new roaster arrived, pallet racking is up, packaging stations are built, everything has moved into place, electric is hooked up, internet and computers and printers are running. plumbing got behind schedule, and we hit a snag with hooking up gas and letting out the exhaust. hopefully those projects will be completed monday and we will be back in business.
the plumber, electrician, and roofer are lined up. we have been letting inventory dwindle and have been working feverishly to prepare the new space for our impending move. on thursday morning, the roaster will be disconnected. we will move it over to the new space and also receive delivery of the newly built roaster from oklahoma. we will probably be out of service for a few days while we get everything hooked back up and get permission from the health department to get running again. next week marks our 5th year anniversary. thank you so much for your support. in our new space, with two roasters, we will be able to continue providing you with great coffee, with fast turnaround time, while keeping our overhead low and our prices reasonable. here’s to 5 more years of drinking great coffee and supporting great causes.
if you’d like to visit us when the dust settles (or if you owe us money and want to send us a check), you’ll now reach us at the following address:
happy mug coffee
220 w plum st suite 750
edinboro, pa 16412
Combining a passion for great coffee and find aged spirits led us to the combination of flavors you don’t want to miss. This mug of coffee drinks like a well-crafted cocktail, without the alcohol content. A great sipping dessert coffee or social coffee that will instantly impress.
Other roasters have begun experimenting with aging coffee beans in barrels — we didn’t invent it — but we did experiment and develop a combination of flavors that are a perfect match. We started with our Ugandan coffee bean — one of our best selling coffees (the base for Artist’s Blend, Bear Blend, Bayfront Blend, and many other House Blend coffees). Its natural undertones of raisin and fig, rich body, and sweetness made it the right choice for this project. We found an oak whiskey barrel that was originally built by a well known Tennessee distillery to make their sour-mash 9 year bourbon. The barrel was then sold to a local Pennsylvania distillery who used it to make a fine aged rum (fact of the day: fine aged rum is generally aged in a used charred whiskey barrel). We bought this barrel and aged 80 pounds of unroasted Uganda coffee in it, for just the right amount of time, and then pulled coffee out and put it in airtight glass containers.
We are now roasting these beans in small batches, as a light roast, marrying the flavors of fig and raisin and coffee, with rum, oak, and whiskey. The resulting mug is sweet, smooth, and one of the most complex interesting coffees to ever touch our lips.
We have other barrel projects underway, with other origins of beans matched up with other types of barrels — but these things take months to years to get right; and we are setting the standard high with our first release.
This coffee is sold in 1/4 LB sealed foil bags. It is available at retail online. For wholesale inquiries, please contact us.
we have acquired dried organic egyptian rose petals, and what a sensational flower a rose is! adding a small amount of these petals into tea adds aroma that invokes images of flower gardens, sunny mornings, and romantic strolls; and it adds a beautiful hue to the appearance. after much tasting and blending, we have settled on three tea blends to offer you for the spring and summer.
White Rose : a simple blend of white peony and rose petals. steep it at just 160 degrees for 2 minutes to bring out the ultimate sweetness and make for a very drinkable temperature. immerse yourself in the incredible aroma, and the taste of sweet honeysuckle and gentle rose. i did not think i would enjoy the taste of roses, but this was the tea that initially won me over. it is a powerful experience.
Chocolate Raspberry: we almost called this tea “gift basket” because it has a variety of ingredients often given as gourmet gifts. a black tea base (keemun) with organic cocao nibs, organic raspberry, orange, and apple pieces. rose hips and rose petals add beautiful color and aroma and subtle floral taste to the blend. this is a well-balanced tea that inspires your creativity and is a joy to sip at. steep it at 200 degrees for 5 or 6 minutes to bring out the most cocoa flavor.
Green Tea blended with Rose Petals: our popular dragonwell green tea is a sweet, slightly grassy, aromatic green tea. adding a small amount of rose petals enhances the flavor and aroma to make you happy on even the most dreary and cloudy day.
We have an incredibly special microlot from Guatemala that I hope everyone gets to try. It just arrived in the USA in March 2015 and is our first Central American coffee arrival of the 2015 crop season. If you are local to Western PA, you may have seen cards sitting out at our cafes where you can drink a cup of this coffee, and sign your name and add a note. Those cards will go directly to the farmer who grew this coffee, and he is bi-lingual, so he will be able to appreciate your kind words.
This is a sun-dried coffee, completely processed by hand, giving it all the sweetness, fruity, floral notes of an Ethiopian. But being a Guatemalan also gives it a white-chocolate taste and wonderful smoothness. This is unheard of in Guatemala, but the effort and attention paid off — this is not a coffee you will quickly forget, and the demand from repeat customers has been overwhelming in these first couple of weeks. We originally hoped to have enough stock to last us through the summer, but at this rate it looks like it may be gone before summer even arrives.
Order it roasted here http://www.happymugcoffee.com/special-mug/326-guatemala-dry-process.html or unroasted here http://www.happymugcoffee.com/central-america/322-guatemala-natural-process-dry-coffee.html
several customers have asked us why we don’t put roast dates on our packages. the idea being that a stamp on the label proves the coffee is fresh.
we have the fortunate position of having large local accounts and dozens of smaller online orders each day — and a roaster that is too small for the job. at best, it churns out 10 pounds of coffee per roast, and on particularly expensive beans, we cut it down to 4 pounds at a time. this means that we are roasting the popular coffees like sumatra and bear blend, an average of three times a day. the natural processed light roasts go through the roaster at least once, often twice a day. even the decaf beans go through at least once a day. the struggle for us is not keeping beans fresh, but rather, we struggle to roast enough to fill that day’s orders and meet deadlines. we rush to the post office at 4:45 with the day’s packages hot off the cooling tray.
once internet orders go out, any leftover coffee of the day gets packaged up for our local retail shelf space, set aside to brew at that week’s events, packaged up for the next morning’s local deliveries, portioned out into sample packets, etc. but there isn’t much leftover coffee to worry about these days. ( we do use an internal code to date the coffee that sits on retail shelves so that we can pull it if it doesn’t sell in a timely manner, but bags rarely sit there for more than 2 weeks. we refresh the stock of our retail accounts once or twice a week, depending on volume ).
sometime in the next 18 months we are hoping to install a roaster that can handle 25 pounds per roast, but until then, this coffee is FRESH. hand-stamping a date on the hundreds of labels we go through each day would just slow us down and cost more in labor. the postmarked date on your mailing box is the roasted date of the coffee inside it.
the proof of extremely fresh coffee is that when you grind it and put it in your pourover or french press, a “bloom” of bubbles appear as it releases carbon dioxide. your happy mug beans will always bloom.
we have several feet of snow on the ground and some of the coldest temperatures i’ve ever seen in my lifetime. i want you to think about how cold air has to be in order for water to freeze… ok? our current temperature of negative 18 degrees means that the air is currently 50 degrees colder than ice. mind boggling. we didn’t know what to do with all this snow, so we built a 12 foot tall snowman. while we were doing it, we drank a lot of ginger tea to keep warm and healthy. i want you to go play in the snow as well. add a free ounce of ginger tea to your next order right here http://www.happymugcoffee.com/tea/364-free-tea.html it’s enough to make 10 cups of tea, so drink up and go have fun. the promotion will last at least through the weekend, and maybe into next week if there’s still some left. the link will stop working when we run out. ginger is respected for its possible help with immunity, reducing inflammation, helping digestion, relief of nausea, and warm spicy flavor. i personally like to add a small amount of local honey or organic sugar to soften the spiciness, but it makes a good mug of tea even without sweetener.
last week was spent on the phone, talking to dozens of importers and farmers about their very best coffees and ordering samples of these coffees. all this week, boxes have been arriving and we’ve been roasting and labeling small bags of beans as anticipation builds. “here’s a coffee grown on a secret island in a lake in rwanda” “this box has three coffees from the island of java!”
today we gathered mid-afternoon with seltzer water, crackers, and 40 of the very best coffees on the market. even the bad coffees garnered serious discussions.
“this coffee tastes woodsy”
“more specifically, i think it tastes like a pencil”
“yes!! and not a cheap pencil — one of those fancier pencils with cedar in them”
“this coffee tastes like grass”
“not farm grass — more like lawn grass”
“maybe grass mixed with weeds”
“i would say something like a clover leaf”
“yes! a clover leaf!”
(both coffees were unanimously rejected after their thorough evaluations).
we found 5 exceptional coffee beans — mostly indonesians — but also some africans and central americans. tomorrow will be spent on the phone, and next week: we will have some fun new beans to offer to you.
Matt – his customer service background in coffee shops and grocery stores has built an attitude of exceeding expectations of every customer — a passion for perfection in every package that leaves this shop. when a customer opens up an order it should feel as if they are opening a christmas gift. favorite brew method: french press desert island coffee: sumatra (but there is no denying his weakness for fruity natural ethiopians and the elusive yemen mokka)
Stacy – teaches anthropology at the local university and has lived in peru, so she knows the life and culture of where coffee is grown. she works in every department as needed, and she is also our in-house tea expert and keeps the shop organized. most savored coffee: india favorite teas: earl greys and pu-erhs
Miles – has a doctorate in chiropractic care and a background working with motors and mechanics. his appreciation for top-shelf bourbon translates into a talent for blending and evaluating quality espresso, and he is our in-house forklift operator and equipment specialist. most satisfying coffee: sulawesi island most consumed tea: lemon-mint-ginger
Jason – has a master’s degree in library science and also works on a farm. he is the newest addition to the team and brings a background of home-roasting. he hopes to use design and photography talents to help our branding. his creative experimentation contributes fresh ideas and opinions to tasting, selecting, roasting, and blending. favorite hot drink: oolong chai latte
Darlene – (or “matt’s mom”) has a nursing license and handles our paperwork and accounting and some deliveries. homemade biscotti and cookies show up when she’s been around. she is our kenya coffee taste expert, but also handles quality-control of the decaf coffees. favorite espresso drink: vanilla soy latte favorite tea: chocolate mint
we have many friends who contribute to tasting notes, special events, technology, and deliveries. we listen to everyone who has ideas, criticisms, and complements about what we do, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have something you’d like to talk to us about. between all of us, we can get you the right answer.
about once a week we have to grease the fittings on the roaster and keep all the moving parts lubricated (just like you would grease the fittings on a tractor.) however, unlike a tractor, there is a chance of incidental contact of the grease with a coffee bean. so the hardware store special-orders us cans of grease that are “food grade” and consist of vegetable and mineral oils with no carcinogens or harmful chemicals. it is mostly tasteless and odorless. it fits right into a standard grease gun and works on any machinery lubrication fittings — but technically, you could eat it. mmmmmm
Internet orders that are received by noon Eastern Time typically ship that same day. We have about an 80% fulfillment rate of this policy, but we’re working to get it up to 100%. Remember that we roast coffee AFTER the order is received, so on a particularly busy day (like a Monday), a few orders that are complicated don’t make it out until the next day.
We use Priority Mail for most orders, but if your order weighs less than 13 ounces it will ship first class mail. If it weighs more than 40 pounds, it might ship via UPS.
We rarely ship on Saturday. Orders made on Friday afternoon will probably not be roasted and shipped until Monday.
We understand the importance of shipping on time ALL orders received the weekend of December 20th. We will do everything in our ability to ship out 100% of the orders received by noon the 22nd, by Monday end of business. It is extremely likely that orders shipped the 22nd will be received by Christmas regardless of destination. Most of the United States are in 1 and 2 day shipping zone from us. Just remember that the USPS does not put a guarantee on its delivery dates, and both volume and weather this time of year can slow things down.
We carry a LOT of coffees, and it can be intimidating to new customers. the three best-selling coffees this year have been:
2-Inspirational Artist’s Blend
3-Get in Gear Morning Blend
They sell the best because they are crowd-pleasing. Nice, medium to dark roast coffees that appeal to everyone. Nothing particularly special, but great everyday coffees that we can consistently roast all year round and have a large fan base.
But if you ask me what you SHOULD be drinking…..here’s what’s extra special right now:
1– if price isn’t an issue, Yemen. Yemen and Ethiopia Harrar are the only two places that can grow the Mokka varietal of coffee bean. This coffee is the original heirloom strain that other coffees came from, and most countries would grow it if they could. A farmer in Guatemala managed to grow 8 pounds of it a couple years ago, and sold it for $500 a pound. Yemen coffee is incredibly hard to import, and even when successful, they are rarely as amazing as this one tastes, and rarely traceable back to a responsible co-op like this one is. If you look at what the few other roasters that have it charge, you see prices from $25-$40 a pound. So the $16 a pound suddenly doesn’t seem so expensive. The trademark for a good Yemen is Malty (taste of grain), bitter (think baker’s cocoa), and fruit (anything from berries to stone fruit to oranges, etc, but this one has a slight banana flavor which I’m obsessed with).
2–Royal Ethiopia Harrar. Most of the coffees out there labeled Harrar aren’t good Harrars. A traditional Harrar is from the Mokka varietal and tastes incredibly sweet with unmistakable blueberry notes and no earthiness. This one is so beautifully complex that it seems a bit “weird” to the average coffee drinker, but the ones who know good coffee can’t get enough of it. (Granted, this coffee is best as a french press or pourover. You won’t taste as much blueberry in your electric coffee pot).
3–Kenya Jungle. Kenya traditionally grew a hard-to-grow varietal called SL-28, and that’s what gave it the red-wine/blackberry taste. Then they mutated it to SL-34 which was almost as good but easier to grow, and they would blend the two beans together. Then the farmers started blending in even easier varietals like Caturra (boring) and Ruiru hybrid (awful!) and Bourbon (nice, but rarely amazing), and little by little Kenyan coffee stopped being so special (but was still just as expensive). We only buy Kenyas that are SL-34 (which are not easy to find anymore!), but this is the first time in 5 years we found one
Iced Tea is refreshing, delicious, and good for you! It contains antioxidants and often vitamins and fruits. If you want the caffeine choose a Black Tea or Green Tea. To avoid caffeine, choose an Herbal blend. Home-steeped iced tea is a wonderful alternative for children who don’t want plain water, but should not drink so much soda and kool-aid.
We have an extremely simple recipe that works with all of our teas. We take a quart canning jar, and add 2 Tbsp of sugar, and 2 Tbsp of loose tea (in a Tsac). Add hot water. After 4 minutes, take out the Tsac and put the canning jar in the refrigerator. We keep a couple different kinds in the fridge so that there is always something healthful to reach for when we are hot and thirsty.
Coffee plants are grown for a year in a nursery area like this before being transplanted next to the mature trees. It will take 4 years for these plants to start producing coffee fruits.
Coffee trees over 100 years old exist and produce fruit, but a commercial coffee plantation typically replaces 15 year old plants with new plants, and keeps the average age of the coffee plants at around 8 to 10 years old. It’s a constant cycle of planting and cutting down.
Here is a picture of coffee plant that I am presently trying to keep alive (it is not a happy coffee plant).
Coffee beans, are not “beans” they are seeds — the pit from the coffee fruit. You can plant unroasted coffee beans, and they will sprout. The germination rate is low, something like 5%, so you have to plant several of them, and coffee can’t realistically grow in the climate of the United States. If you wanted to harvest and process your own coffee, you would have to keep your plant indoors and give it a lot of warmth and a lot of sunlight all year round.
But still, it is fun to remember that coffee is produce. It is a fruit. Hence, it is rich with antioxidants and bioflavanoids and continually linked to health benefits.
Several years ago, coffee tasters sat down and wrote out every flavor and characteristic that might be found in a cup of coffee, and organized it into a circle. If you look at the wheel of flavors as you drink the coffee, it helps you figure out what you are tasting. The only problem, is that the “Flavor Wheel” that has been used for dozens of years is full of words that are not very helpful. Descriptors like “Tipped” “Cappy” and “Horsey” just don’t mean much as we are mulling our latest roast.
Finally, the admired Counter Culture from North Carolina brings us an updated, useful coffee flavor wheel, with flavors and lingo that are common in the coffee world. Look at this the next time you’re trying a new coffee and see if it helps you navigate the tastes you are experiencing.
roasting coffee beans creates smoke. the smoke is pushed up the exhaust pipe. the pipe is left with deposits of creosote. creosote is flammable, so buildup becomes a fire hazard. we have 25 feet of pipe, so once a year we get up on the roof, unassemble the exhaust system, and brush it clean.
one peer in the industry told us that we could just light it on fire at the bottom to create a controlled fire all the way up the pipe. but we choose to do it the old fashioned way and not play with fire.
a red fire extinguisher hangs under a red picture of a fire extinguisher.
a poster shows how to choke, how to unchoke.
a man in a hat enters the room, fills his mug, takes a sip, smiles.
looking around the room, nothing is on fire;
no one is choking.
he takes another sip and steps back out into the world.
i just ran a report that shows the best selling products on the website so far in 2013. this list doesn’t include any wholesale orders — it only counts retail sales that were processed through the website. but with 1,021 website orders received so far this year, that’s still a fairly reliable pool of data to consider.
# 1 seller: outdoorsy sumatra
2- decaf sumatra
3- strong and gentle bear blend
4- renegade guatemala
5- balanced costa rica
#1 best seller – winter grogg
2- jamaican paradise
4- caramel latte
#1 seller: breakfast tea (sumatra)
2- berry black (guatemala)
3- dragonwell (china)
4- berry basket (herbal)
5-golden bud (china)
green unroasted coffee:
#1 best seller: sumatra mandheling
2- costa rica la minita
3- peru cafe succhia
4- uganda bugisu
5- guatemala huehuetenango
my personal top 7 favorite coffees right now:
sumatra mandheling (outdoorsy sumatra)
costa rica la minita
ethiopia yirgacheffe natural
tanzania peaberry mt. kilamanjaro (extroverted tanzania)
india pambadampara estate
my personal top 7 favorite hot teas right now:
when coffee is roasting, it expands, pops, and little pieces of chaff break away from the bean. it smells somewhat like hay, is feather-light, extremely flammable. if you brew it with the coffee, it tastes very bitter, so you have to separate it from the roasted beans. the bible talks about tossing grain up into the wind so the chaff blows away while the kernels fall back to the ground. this is the basic idea. if you are roasting at home, you can sift the chaff out using a colander or stir the coffee in front of a fan on low speed. commercial roasters have an exhaust fan that carries the chaff over to a collection tank away from the heat.
but are there uses for this organic matter? in soil, the chaff is fantastic at absorbing and retaining moisture, so stirring in coffee chaff in small amounts can be a helpful addition. it also works as chicken bedding! or one can spread it on a muddy path in the spring to help dry the mud. or use it like sawdust in the bottom of compostable toilets. but the latest use for this substance will raise some eyebrows…
a farmer stopped in recently and submitted a sample for nutritional food analysis, and it came back showing to be full of protein, particularly well paired for the digestive system of cattle. the report looks like this:
protein 16.7%, digestible protein 12%, acid detergent fiber 49% neutral detergent fiber 63% estimated net energy 87% calcium 1% phosphorus .07% potassium 1% magnesium .2% sulfur .2%
so he carried away about 50 pounds and is going to try adding it to food for his herd of heifers. my hunch is that there is caffeine in the chaff, and he will have some very happy cows. we will have to wait and see.
when i looked into selling tea, i wanted nothing boring. i wanted tea that would rock your world. make you re-think the whole class of beverage. make you still think about that mug of tea for days afterwards.
in the end, i drank over 300 different teas. i bought every tea i could find at health stores, grocery stores, cafe’s. i received samples from several companies. i read books about origins, experimented with blending, quizzed tea experts.
i now have 25 teas that i want to share with everyone i know. teas that will knock your socks off. some of the finest teas found anywhere in the world.
here is one from a province in china. it is a black tea, aged for 3 years in a cave, similar to a pu-erh tea. it ages, just like a cheese, whiskey, or wine — the fermentation process gives it complexity and immense flavor. it also turns it into a cure-all, supposedly improving circulation, fighting cancer, fighting strokes, helping weight loss and blood sugar conditions and digestion. it even naturally contains small amounts of a chemical called lovastatin, which is sold as a prescription medicine used for lowering cholesterol.
so then they take this amazingly flavorful, amazingly healthful tea, and they blend it with aromatic rose petals and press it into heart shapes. one heart per pot. perfection.
this is just 1 of the 25 teas i’d love to share with you. check the rest of them out at http://www.happymugcoffee.com/en/28-tea
All coffees on the website are $1 off per pound this month. This sale is also happening at the Meadville Markethouse.
we are moving! the construction is happening beginning today.
we have found a space about 50 miles away that will provide twice the inventory space without increasing our overhead costs, so you can expect the same low prices, but more variety and more backstock of each variety. (each of those squares with a circle in it represents a pallet of 10 bags of coffee…with potential space for at least 15 pallets, that is 20,000 pounds of coffee. And with a 20 foot ceiling, vertical expansion is also possible if needed down the road.)
for the next few weeks, the transition may cause problems. in anticipation of the move, we have been letting inventory run low, and we are already starting to run out of some varieties.
thank you for bearing with our growing pains this month. we are hoping for a summer heat wave so that no one drinks much coffee for a few weeks… (how about a glass of iced tea today?) we may have to be creative with substitutions or referring you to other suppliers/roasters for certain coffees. but when the dust settles, it will all be worth it.
-brew coffee using 1.5x more grounds than normal.
-refrigerate in a pitcher
-when you want a glass, pour into your glass and add milk until it is caramel colored. stir in a couple spoons of sugar. add ice cubes.
Hints: ethiopian coffee and costa rican beans make the best iced coffees
buy a bottle of vanilla or hazelnut syrup from your local coffeeshop and use it as sweetener instead of plain sugar.
use sugar-free syrup to avoid calories
use decaf coffee if you want a late afternoon treat
the pitcher of unsweetened brewed coffee will stay fresh in your refrigerator for about a week.
jute is a type of plant used to make burlap fabric. it is one of the cheapest fabrics on earth. coffee travels thousands of miles around the world held in burlap “jute bags”, and then the empty sacks have many uses. one use is weed protection in landscaping, because moisture can get through to the roots, but plants can’t grow through it.
here, i have them between tomato plants which will not only keep weeds from growing, but also help keep the tomatoes from touching the soil which will stave off fungus (blight) and rotting.
there can be as much as 6-8 weeks of lag-time from the time i lock in a great coffee, to when it actually arrives. so for 6-8 weeks, i am the only one who has tasted it and knows how good it is going to be, and all i can do is be patient until it arrives so i can share it with everyone else. usually, i’m good at being patient, but i tell you what, there are some unbelievable coffees from costa rica and honduras and ethopia lined up for the june timeframe. i am so excited about them i just can’t keep it to myself.
this is going to be one happy summer.
(while you wait, i might suggest the current stock of sulawesi and tanzania and yemen are exceptionally good)
Nice table set up for the event. People are lingering around drinking coffee, talking, everything looks nice.
What they don’t know is that we forgot to bring a way to display our sign. So Mr. Mug volunteers to hold it up all night.
At the end of the event, he is rewarded with a mugfull of Rita’s Mango WaterIce
happy mug coffee is now warehousing, roasting, and shipping out of edinboro, pa 10 miles south of erie.
at this time, we ship green coffee all over the united states, and roast for local businesses in erie, meadville, corry, warren, tidioute, tionesta, and oil city, among others.
if you would like a tour of our new facility, let us know! with our expansion, we now have over 40 coffees and 30 teas in stock, and the motto here is you can’t leave until you’re shaking! nah, even if you don’t drink coffee, you’re welcome to come have a look. just let us know. contact information is listed in the photo above.
after being picked, coffee is spread out to dry, either in a drying bed, or in some cases, a backyard patio or even along the side of the road.
so you can see how a pebble could get mixed into the coffee. as could little pieces of metal, nut shells, popcorn kernels, feathers, kidney beans, sticks…
any debris that is flammable incinerates in the roaster and is blown out the exhaust. but after the roast, the coffee is dark brown and the stones are gray, so they’re easy to pick out.
i bought a pallet of malawi coffee, which is a brand new origin for me. i bought it knowing it was coming from the best estate in the country, and with high recommendation from the importer, but i had to buy it without tasting it. i’ve tried to buy the last two crops, and it always sells out before it even arrives in the usa. so this time i bought it while it was still at sea.
i roasted it, tasted it: awful. again. awful. again. awful. i roasted it to 10 different temperatures. of the 10 batches, there were two medium roast batches, within 10 seconds of each other, that were great, and one dark batch that was decent. and then i also drank 7 really bad cups of coffee. of the two best results, i further refined it after additional testing, and pinpointed the single very best way to roast the coffee. 15 minutes and 48 seconds, 416 degrees, and now i can appreciate why it always sells out. grind it, smell the grinds: blackberry. brew it, taste it, there’s red wine, sweet tangy notes with an underlying caramel base. mmm….
i drink bad coffee so you don’t have to.
a new “lot” from sulawesi is in stock as of yesterday, and this lot is different, and arguably better than the last one. the last bag, i’m certain was a bait-and-switch. i had approved the sample, which had orange and mango undertones, but got sent 300 pounds of one that tasted like soap if you didn’t roast it just right. i got it tasting okay, but it wasn’t knocking my socks off. i’m happy to be done with that batch and on to a fresh one.
every “lot” of coffee from a farm tastes a little different from the one before it, and there’s a long list of logical reasons for this, and the list gets longer the further you are from civilization. sulawesi’s mountains are about as wild as it gets (the people there don’t even have a written language). this lot was harvested later in the season, was rated higher, and was more expensive, but it’s very exciting. i’m still roasting and playing with it, but the predominant flavor in the coffee is………BLACK PEPPER! i can’t stop drinking it; i think it’s the neatest thing.
smell each coffee as they
roast, starting out like hay
and soon after, peanuts. then
kettle corn then gray smoke
then, the smell that says it
is done, the smell that says,
open the door, watch the beans
tumble out, spin around,
engulf me in the smell of
something sure smells good says
the lady at the post office.
today the world shines on
you and everything works out.
no stress, no worries,
may the luck of the irish
be with you today.
the coffee bites my tongue,
snapping me out of my groggy
daydream. it is my medicine, my
cure for apathy, lethargy, and
with every sip of this dark,
smarting coffee, i get
it’s time to go to work. to
help someone. to live, and
with a bitter taste in my mouth, i
jump up, begin to change my clothes.
tonight, i’ll discover a half-full
mug of cold coffee sitting
next to the couch.
Italian Roast is the darkest coffee we’ve ever sold. It launches next week on a trial basis –
find it at Wellness Cafe in Warren, Polly’s Market in Tidioute, and the Markethouse in Meadville.
If you like it, let us know!
last summer a customer mailed me a bio-degradable compostable coffee bag. i was skeptical, but i tossed it in my compost barrel to see what would happen. three months later there was no sign of it — it had turned back into soil…
so now i’m happy to announce that all the brown colored bags with happy mug coffee in them are made from 40% recycled paper and annually renewable plants, and when it is empty, please remember to compost it and start the cycle all over again. just remove the metal tin-tie from the bag, and peel off the labels. at this time the glue and ink used on the label are not bio-degradable.
when the hardware store in town closed down last year, we lost our ups dropoff center. the post office has been most accommodating, and most days i just drive around to the back of the post office and unload all the packages on the dock. a lot of the boxes are very heavy and i feel bad about the mail deliverers who are stuck trying to cram a 40 pound box into a mailbox (okay, so maybe they don’t try, but there are times where it appears they have run over the box trying to squish it down to make it fit). at any rate, once in awhile i do use ups, but i have to stake him out and catch him. when i see the big brown truck coming over the bridge, i run downstairs and follow him around town. usually i catch him at the community housing a block away and throw my boxes in his truck while he’s inside. today, i saw the truck, but he was crossing the bridge leaving town. i ran downstairs and jumped in the element and raced across the bridge, and raced down the road hoping to see taillights. unfortunately, another car was ahead of me and not in any hurry this afternoon, and after a few minutes i aborted the mission and came back home, dejected that the coffee would sit here all night and day until tomorrow afternoon.
tomorrow afternoon: i will catch that ups truck.