Viewing entries tagged
specialty 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.

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. 

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.

VInyl Night Poster Variant 2 (1).png

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