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Tunnel City Coffee

Celebrating connections in specialty coffee

Celebrating connections in specialty coffee

Learning coffee origins through farmer-roaster relationships

This is an exciting time for specialty coffee roasters because of our deepening relationships with the farmers who produce our coffee. Our connection with farmers is a crucial partnership built on trust and trying new things to achieve great results, and what we do would not be possible if not for the growers.

The Triunfo Verde Co-op in Jaltenango, Mexico grows coffee that thrives in the lush climate of the Triunfo Biosphere Reserve.

The Triunfo Verde Co-op in Jaltenango, Mexico grows coffee that thrives in the lush climate of the Triunfo Biosphere Reserve.

With these stronger relationships come transparency and traceability, which allow us to to learn the story behind each coffee before we roast it. Our Mexico Jaltenango Chiapas is a microlot coffee produced by the Triunfo Verde Coop, whose farmland is situated near the largest cloud forest in mesoamerica, an ideal growing climate for coffee. In Chalatenango, El Salvador, farmer Jose Armando Portillo grows coffee that we love for its balance of bright citrus and sweet, creamy flavors. We know that he comes from a long line of coffee farmers with traditions so powerful that they have “coffee in their blood.” These are the farmers we want to support, who take care of their natural environments and fold coffee farming deep into their family histories.

This knowledge informs the decisions we make while roasting, from differences in farming and processing techniques to climate and experiences with roasting past lots from farmers. Though roasting is an incredibly important part of the process, appropriate brewing techniques ensure that we realize the true potential of every coffee. Baristas at our newest coffee bar, Uptown Tunnel Coffee, prepare all drip coffee as individually brewed pour overs to bring out the best possible flavors in each cup. With this slower, manual brew, we can more easily pick out the flavors that make each coffee special, and start dialogues with customers about the stories behind our coffee.

With coffee consumers increasingly interested in where their coffee comes from, attention shifts to coffee farmers and their individual stories, as well as the growing techniques that make their crops unique. Specialty coffee today feels like a celebration of coffee and its providers, connecting us all in a way not previously possible. We are proud of its evolution so far and excited to be part of where it is headed.

Artist JD Logan shows treescapes at Tunnel City Coffee in Mass MoCA

JD Logan focuses on elements of nature in his work for a calming effect.

JD Logan focuses on elements of nature in his work for a calming effect.

Local artist JD Logan returns to Tunnel City Coffee at Mass MoCA for a fall show of surreal tree and moonscape paintings through December 2018. His work evokes vivid memories of the outside world through paintings of skies and trees at different times of the day. By excluding animals or people in his paintings, he creates calming scenes that make elements of nature the focal points.

“I have been focusing on trees as my main subject matter,” says Logan in his artist statement. “They constantly change, and no two are alike, much like people.”

After working the art festival circuit for 12 years, Logan now spends more time in his studio creating work for smaller galleries and shops in Massachusetts and Vermont. He has shown at the Good Purpose Gallery, the Birdhouse Gallery, Robert Paul Galleries, and most recently, at Tunnel City Coffee in Mass MoCA.

Logan’s work is on display and available for purchase until the end of December 2018 at Tunnel City Coffee inside Mass MoCA.

Abstract artists open fall show at Tunnel City Coffee

Abstract artists open fall show at Tunnel City Coffee

Regardless of place, Sarah Sutro’s landscapes reflect a sense of serenity and smart use of color.

Regardless of place, Sarah Sutro’s landscapes reflect a sense of serenity and smart use of color.

Sarah Sutro and Dorothea Osborn present their abstract paintings at Tunnel City Coffee in Williamstown this fall, featuring rich watercolors and imaginative takes on scientific themes. Sutro’s abstracted realist paintings recall memories of existence among peaceful landscapes, while Osborn’s macro-paintings delve into life at the cellular level, sharing the beauty of biology’s smallest divisions. The show runs from the beginning of October through the end of December 2018.

Influenced by artists Paul Klee, Georgia O’Keefe, and John Singer Sargent, Sutro finds inspiration in the outside world, oceanscapes and stratified sunsets, in evocative shades of every hue. “The darkness of winter trees against snow in the Adirondacks, rich ocean blues on the south coast of MA, and layers of color in the Painted Desert in Arizona” also became part of her painting style.

Dorothea Osborn’s art comes alive with abstract representations of single-celled organisms.

Dorothea Osborn’s art comes alive with abstract representations of single-celled organisms.

Osborn lives and breathes her art, using oils, drawing materials, fabric, papers, and found objects to create pieces that reflect on modern global issues and relationships between the spiritual and physical. “Even with large scale pieces, intimacy exists, which includes many layers,” says Osborn. “I want people to come away feeling a presence of the artist’s hand, an essence of time, and an ethereal manifestation.”

Tunnel City Coffee’s fall art show runs from October 1, 2018 through the end of December 2018. All work is available for purchase.

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.   

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.