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The Bettering Of Coffee

February 16, 2016

A few weeks ago, I walked into Superior Merchandise Co. and found Ron Grieco from Stacks Espresso geeking out with Matthew Loiacono about coffee beans, and speculating about who was sourcing what from where.

These guys are my coffee heroes. Maybe heroes is the wrong word. They’re the Capital Region coffee champions. I don’t know if I like the sound of that either.

Recently, I’ve been reviewing the history of the FLB. And in doing so, I’ve been reminded of what the Capital Region was like less than a decade ago when we first arrived. Back then there was not one single place where you could go and get a reliably good cappuccino. Not one. And it’s highly likely that readers choice polls listed Dunkin’ Donuts as the region’s best coffee.

Let’s stop for a moment, and be thankful for how far we’ve come. And then I’ll let you know what’s going on to make the local coffee scene even better.

For starters, there’s professional development. Recently Ron participated in the US Barista Competition Qualifying Event. And while he may not have come out on top, he threw his hat into the ring. He’s aiming high. He’s standing shoulder to shoulder with those coffee professionals from around the country who are elevating the craft of coffee.

It’s important that we have someone from our community at events like this. They are inspiring. Not just for those here at home rooting for the local fellow. But they are also inspiring for those who compete, and can observe the high level of the playing field. When you’re the big fish in a small pond, it can be tempting to become complacent. Events like this help to keep our best coffee shop shooting for an ever higher standard.

But there’s still a huge consumer education component that needs to happen locally. And this is where Superior Merchandise Co. has been hitting it out of the park lately.

If you write, occasionally you’ll read something that you desperately wish you wrote. Last month Howard Bryman wrote an amazing piece on the coffee program at Superior Merchandise. I don’t know if I’m more angry or jealous. But bravo to him for writing such a compelling profile on one of my new favorite places in Troy.

Coffee. Beer. Design. I just wish they were open much much later.

On February 20 I’ll be on a train down to New York City. My sister has a film that’s being shown in the MoMA. So I’ll be missing out on Scandinavian Saturday when Superior Merch highlights a nordic coffee roaster. What is this scandinavian / nordic coffee? Good question. Here’s what Superior Merch describes it on the Facebook event page:

Modern Scandinavian roasters are renowned for their careful, nuanced approach to roasting with the goal of highlighting the delicately complex attributes of each coffee. This typically lighter approach is benefited by access to the highest quality green coffee – a privilege enjoyed in Scandinavia for some time thanks to early advancements in sourcing.

It’s on the third saturday of every month, so I should probably mark my calendar now.

Okay. Done. Now, this is clearly the event for the coffee geeks in the crowd. And it’s important to keep these kinds of events going for those at one end of their coffee journey. What about those who are relatively new to trying to drink better coffee?

Matthew has that crowd covered as well. On March 7 there’s a class called Brew Better at Home. People generally brew terribly at home. And the expectations of home brewed coffee are typically low given the standard level of coffee around the Capital Region. Remember, truly good coffee doesn’t need milk and sugar. Those two condiments exist to correct the flaws of bad coffee.

Don’t make bad coffee.
Don’t drink bad coffee.
We’ve now got good coffee.
Get it while it’s hot.

One Comment leave one →
  1. twrightson permalink
    February 20, 2016 8:15 pm

    Daniel,
    You rock. And not just for giving Stacks props, but because I genuinely appreciate your love of good food and the betterment of Albany.

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