Tracy Baker-White opens landscape show at Tunnel City Coffee

Tracy Baker-White opens landscape show at Tunnel City Coffee

 Baker-White's show features landscapes inspired by travels in Ireland and time spent at home in the northern Berkshires.  Image:  Killala Bay  by Tracy Baker-White

Baker-White's show features landscapes inspired by travels in Ireland and time spent at home in the northern Berkshires. 
Image: Killala Bay by Tracy Baker-White

Artist Tracy Baker-White shows her landscape works at Tunnel City Coffee in Williamstown, MA, through September 2018, featuring large and small scale reflections on her travels in Ireland and her home of the Berkshires. Baker-White’s paintings are windows to places we might have been, or somehow know. They are familiar and invite us into tangible landscapes with a hazy sense of somewhere beyond.    
 
She finds richness in her home of the northern Berkshires, celebrating its hills and rolling farmland with landscape paintings in oil. Her landscapes are vivid dreams with glimpses of reality. Layers of saturated greens and golds bloom over an underpainting of bright orange, giving her work depth and warmth.  

On rural landscapes, Baker-White says, “I am incredibly lucky to live where I live––I’ve lived in cities my whole life until moving to the Berkshires, but always appreciated the abundance of  riches in rural landscapes.”  

Baker-White feels her work is most successful when she can transport a viewer to another place, while reminding them through the brushstrokes, that they are still right here. "My paintings are about existing in the landscape in solitude, and a sense of humility before the natural world,” she says. “I hope they give viewers a reason to stop and appreciate the world around them."

Tracy Baker-White’s show runs at Tunnel City Coffee in downtown Williamstown until the end of September 2018, and all work is available for purchase.   

Slow brew is the best brew.

Slow brew is the best brew.

A reflection on fast coffee and the gentler method

Brewing slowly is the best way to brew. We know this long before the final product meets the cup, before you take that first cautious sip. It comes down to science—the surface area of the ground beans and the slow pour of water over them. 

 Brewing pour-over coffee takes a creative approach and the patience to try new things.

Brewing pour-over coffee takes a creative approach and the patience to try new things.

The initial “bloom” is a light pour just to wet the beans and start them releasing gases as the boiled water makes contact. This can be likened to an anointing, as compared with the process inside your average Mr. Coffee auto-pot, which is more like an unceremonious deluge that scalds or drowns the beans before they have a chance to de-gas. This button-operated process is like a traumatic swimming lesson for your ground coffee. Like humans, coffee needs to breathe before being completely submerged in water. 

The next few pours are slow but heavier than the first, each one allowing water to cover the entire surface area of beans and ultimately, extract the most flavor for the final cup. This slower, gentler process of pour-over unlocks the tasting notes in different coffees, from the nutty sweetness of a lightly roasted Mexican variety to the peppery, vegetal qualities of a classic Sumatran. Dump a pot of hot water over some beans you ground yesterday, and you’ll likely miss what makes a coffee special.   

An ideal pour-over coffee takes a few minutes to brew, between the first bloom and final pour. You have to watch, pour, and wait for the coffee to react in its own way. Some take longer to bloom than others, and your job as the brewer is to pay close attention and respond accordingly. Brewing this way takes patience, experimentation and creativity—and the finished product is best enjoyed right away. 

Taking our time is not something we’re accustomed to anymore, with the advent of smartphones, synchronized calendars, and those self-checkout kiosks at your average quick-serve restaurant. There is something meditative about enjoying the process, especially when that process makes the final product a better one. Respect the time it takes to make something great and you might just want to change your pace for good. 

Playing with Fire

Playing with Fire

Tunnel City Coffee roasts for a better cup in the northern Berkshires

 Tunnel City Coffee roasts all its specialty coffee in small batches at its Norad Mill roastery in North Adams, MA. 

Tunnel City Coffee roasts all its specialty coffee in small batches at its Norad Mill roastery in North Adams, MA. 

Those who frequent Tunnel City Coffee's cafes in the northern Berkshires might know a little about the work that goes into creating the best experience for our customers, but it's more involved than one might think. From roasting to cupping to brewing, we follow a rigorous process of quality control not unlike one at an average testing facility or science lab. Our roastery at the Norad Mill in North Adams, MA, is our site for trying out new roasting techniques and coffee cuppings to taste test each roasting variation. 

It’s a game of taking creative risks to extract every potential flavor in a new coffee. 

This spring, Tunnel City began offering high-scoring microlots from coffee producing regions around the world, creating even more room for experimentation. Most recently roasted in its vintage Diedrich oven was a Costa Rican microlot coffee produced by the Aguilera Brothers family operation at Finca Toño in Los Robles de Naranjo. This limited-run coffee with sweet fruit and caramel notes is the result of bold and precise testing at the roastery, playing with heat and timing to create the perfect storm for this particular bean. 

 Roasters at Tunnel City Coffee test each new roasted coffee for balance and flavor using a process known as "cupping."

Roasters at Tunnel City Coffee test each new roasted coffee for balance and flavor using a process known as "cupping."

At least 8 hours later but not more than 24, our roasters test for flavor and balance through a rather sophisticated process known as cupping. This involves weighing out the appropriate amount, grinding the coffee to its optimal coarseness with a burr grinder, and using a pouring kettle to add the right volume of just-boiled fresh water. 

A serious cupper must be well-rested for a cupping and with taste-buds unaffected by powerful flavors like onions or hot spices. This interferes with the impression the coffee will make on the cupper and ultimately, the customer. 

The idea of exceptional specialty coffee is that significant time and effort goes into producing something one of a kind, but the truth is that the work continues even after the coffee is bagged for delivery to roasteries like Tunnel City Coffee. It’s the passing of a torch from those who produce to those who roast, and we can’t think of a more beautiful relationship. 

Tunnel City Coffee welcomes spring with surreal art and rural photography

New art can be found this spring at Tunnel City Coffee’s flagship shop in Williamstown, MA, with work by Vermont photographer Seline Skoug and landscape paintings by Marilyn Cavallari. The show runs until the end of June 2018 and combines bright, surreal paintings with color-rich rural photography. 

 Seline Skoug displays her photographs taken around the world and in her own home of southern Vermont at Tunnel City Coffee through June 2018. 

Seline Skoug displays her photographs taken around the world and in her own home of southern Vermont at Tunnel City Coffee through June 2018. 

Diversity in style is the goal for Tunnel City Coffee’s art shows, which aim to give skilled local artists the chance to display their work in alternative venues where people gather every day. This season’s show reflects on different ways of looking at the environments in which we find ourselves every day, as interpreted by Skoug’s evocative photography and Cavallari’s surreal landscapes that play with memories of familiar scenes. 

Both artists create a space of serene calm for onlookers hoping to enjoy a peaceful break with a mug of coffee or tea at Tunnel City’s 100 Spring St. shop. “I use true colors that are bright and happy,” says Cavallari. “What I do see is happiness in the deepest sense and share it with all who have an interest.” 

Skoug’s landscape photography similarly awakens deep nostalgia, recalling quiet moments of discovering our relationship with the world. 

 Marilyn Cavallari's paintings celebrate color and lyrical landscapes from fall in New England to afternoons in India. 

Marilyn Cavallari's paintings celebrate color and lyrical landscapes from fall in New England to afternoons in India. 

Skoug’s photography and Cavallari’s landscapes are on display and available for purchase at Tunnel City Coffee’s flagship shop in downtown Williamstown until the end of June 2018. For more information about art at Tunnel City Coffee, please contact Sydney Lester at sydneylester@tunnelcitycoffee.com. 

Uptown Tunnel Coffee launches fresh mocktail menu for spring

Uptown Tunnel Coffee launches fresh mocktail menu for spring

Spring in Williamstown, MA means warm walks home, venturing out again after a long winter of hibernation, and recovering from cabin fever. Uptown Tunnel Coffee at 81 Spring St. in downtown Williamstown offers an intimate indoor space and airy outdoor patio to destress after a long day with specialty espresso and tea drinks, and a new menu of mocktails prepared to order. Visitors can relax with a book or with friends and enjoy creative libations prepared by Tunnel City baristas to help shed the day. 

Those who know Tunnel City Coffee as the place to grab a mug of coffee before work have already found their morning spot, but the end of the workday beckons with Uptown Tunnel’s menu of specialty mocktails. Created by mixology-trained barista Matt Rose, the creative menu has a little something for everyone, from those seeking the warmth of a Mexican Spiced Mocha or the refreshing cool down of a Rosemary Mule. 

“These drinks give a refreshing twist to our menu,” says Rose. “They’re simple, delicious and we look forward to the future possibility of sourcing our infusing herbs from local farms.”

  Article photos by Makayla McGeeney

Article photos by Makayla McGeeney

Uptown’s new mocktail menu celebrates classic flavors in creative new ways, making use of elegant Monin syrups and natural flavors like lemon, lime, grapefruit and ginger. Those looking to indulge in an afternoon beverage can find enjoy something decadent and sweet, an icy drink with sparkling fruit flavors, or an artisanal soda they might just be craving that day. 

Uptown Tunnel offers something for every kind of palate, and baristas are always working on inventing new plays on traditional staples and working with flavors they think customers will love. Stop in at Uptown Tunnel any day 9am-10pm for a specialty drink and delicious pastry with friends or by yourself for a few quiet moments in an intimate setting.