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. 

Uptown Tunnel hosts poetry night with WordxWord April 20

Uptown Tunnel hosts poetry night with WordxWord April 20

A lot of poetry is born and raised in coffee shops. Join WordXWord and Tunnel City Coffee on April 20 at 6:30pm to celebrate National Poetry Month. What better way to honor the art of words than to surround ourselves with coffee and literature? 

Poets hoping to read at the event should pre-register to guarantee a spot. Those who recite a poem related to the theme of coffee or cafe culture automatically enter into a raffle to win a $50 Tunnel City Coffee gift card.

Baristas will serve samples of Tunnel City’s small-batch specialty coffee roasted at its new Norad Mill facility in North Adams, MA, and a just-launched menu of hot and cold specialty mocktails. Full-sized mocktails like lavender lemonade and Mexican spiced mocha will be available to order at the event, as well as the shop's traditional espresso and tea creations. 

Berkshires-based poet community WordxWord will be featured at this special evening of poetry alongside Tunnel City at Uptown Tunnel Coffee, located at 81 Spring St. in downtown Williamstown, MA.  

Tunnel City Coffee runs three shops in the northern Berkshires, one inside Mass MoCA, another inside the Williams College bookstore and its flagship shop on Spring St. in Williamstown. Tunnel City operates its own roasting facility inside the historic Norad Mill of North Adams. To learn more about Tunnel City Coffee, stop in or contact Sydney Lester at sydneylester@tunnelcitycoffee.com/. 

Uptown Tunnel Coffee launches mocktails and Vinyl Night with Toonerville Trolley Records

Uptown Tunnel Coffee launches mocktails and Vinyl Night with Toonerville Trolley Records

Tunnel City Coffee welcomes the public to escape cabin fever with an evening of great coffee and great music at its newest Williamstown cafe, Uptown Tunnel Coffee at 81 Spring St., on February 24 from 6-8pm.   

Uptown will launch its first menu of specialty mocktails during Vinyl Night, which will become part of Uptown’s permanent offerings. Williamstown staple Toonerville Trolley will also sell records from its collection, as owner Hal March works to sell off most of the precious vinyl he’s amassed over the years.

Coffee and vinyl go hand in hand, so it was only a matter of time before they came together at Uptown Tunnel Coffee.

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Folks joining in on Vinyl Night will find punk, free jazz, reggae and industrial noise records for sale. March prides himself on offering music for every kind of listener, from heavy grunge to soft jazz. Like thoughtfully prepared specialty coffee, there is a unique and valuable quality to a vinyl record that other music media cannot match.

“A collector wants a record because it’s unique,” says March. “It’s not just the music. It's the entire package; the cover, the nostalgia—these records are historic.”

With such a deep appreciation for music in the northern Berkshires, as shown by the annual Solid Sound Festival, FreshGrass Festival and the powerful presence of jazz, chamber and world music at Williams College, Uptown Tunnel Coffee looks forward to celebrating our collective history in vinyl with local musicians and music disciples.

“Maybe those who attend will pick up a new record and expand their horizons a little bit,” said Tunnel City Coffee barista and vinyl lover Ian Everhart. “I really like that this is a collaboration of different small businesses in the Berkshires. We’re all small businesses and there’s no reason we can’t all work together to improve our area and create things for people to do.”

For more information visit the Facebook event page