This post is written by Matthew Lovett, a local freelance writer and former barista.
Coffee is a nebulous experience. After engaging with it all day on Columbus Food Adventures’ Coffee Tour, it became apparent that making the perfect cup (or shot of espresso) is an ever-changing process – even for the coffee professionals in town. Over the tour’s three stops, attendees not only received a crash course in Columbus coffee – as well as some complimentary goods – but also discovered the drink’s variable potential.
Stop 1: Brioso Coffee
The morning began at Brioso Coffee, where we delved into all things espresso. Through the guidance of some of the brand’s major proprietors – co-owners Jeff Davis and John “JJ” Justice, lead barista Robin Myers – we received insights about espresso’s history and the process of making the concentrated-style coffee.
We tried Brioso’s house espresso plain, as well as in a cappuccino. The latter drink inspired conversation about the importance of using quality milk to make espresso beverages. Brioso, like many coffee shops around town, use all-natural, Ohio-made milk from Hartzler (which we, luckily, also tried by itself).
Before we parted ways, Myers made it a point to discuss the greater goal of Brioso, and the specialty coffee industry as a whole: “We’re sharing stories and experiences more than selling products,” Myers said. “We [want to] step back and allow the product be the spotlight.”
Stop 2: Stauf’s
Our next stop, at Stauf’s roasting facility, might’ve helped dig deeper into those stories Myers was talking about. When we made it to the site, Stauf’s President Mark Swanson and Roastmaster Tom Goetz went through the process of sourcing coffee — or how the coffee fruit gets from a farm to your cup.
In speaking of readying coffee for the cup, it was Goetz that provided attendees with a coffee-roasting tutorial. Goetz explained that how a given coffee is roasted is based on everything from time to temperature to the humidity in the air; even in roasting, coffee is still being figured out. (For curious parties, he roasted some Ethiopia Moka Harrar, a mocha-inflected coffee with notes of blueberries.)
We finished our time at Stauf’s with a coffee cupping: the official process of tasting coffee. To paint a rough picture of how this works, think of slurping French press-brewed coffee without filtering out the grounds, and subsequently spitting it out as if you were at a wine tasting. (Fun stuff.) As we left, we were offered coffee beans to take home for our personal enjoyment.
Stop 3: Luck Bros’ Coffeehouse
Andy Luck, the owner of our third stop Luck Bros’ Coffeehouse, brought our tour to a close with home-brewing tips and tricks for attendees. Over some of homemade Breakfast Bake casserole, Luck provided counsel on how to best brew coffee at home – whether you were a manual-brew nerd or preferred the simple auto-drip. Though Luck supplied geeky tidbits about the best grinder and coffee-to-water ratio to use, Luck’s philosophy on coffee was simple: the best cup of coffee is the one you prefer – regardless of how you make it.