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Charlie and the Curtis Factory

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Charlie and the Curtis Factory

Photos by Julie Rings, SDCN Social Media Manager. Words by Pablo Lara, SDCN Blog Editor & Chief. 

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Last Friday, coffee brewer manufacturer Wilbur Curtis hosted an open house and coffee tasters' competition. No golden ticket needed for this event, just good vibes and patience for the slow drive up to LA. Curtis was excited to showcase their brand new lab, a state-of-the-art facility featuring all the coffee toys a barista could ever wish for. 

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Located in the second floor of this huge warehouse, the Curtis Lab is definitely something out of a magazine. Crisp white floors and countertops pair nicely with the dark wood cabinets.  In fact, all the equipment was matte white, another detail in harmony with the wood finish. And oh boy the toys! Included were, of course, the latest in Curtis technology: a Seraphim, Gold Cup Single Cup brewers, water towers and G4 ThermoPro Brewers. Also in the space were two La Marzocco espresso machines, a two-group Linea PB and a Linea Mini. Who is grinding all the coffee? Mahlkonig is, through an EK43 and a K30 Vario grinder. For that perfect extraction, they have waterproof Acaia scales. The Acaia scales and copper kettles by Hario add to the luxurious aesthetic. It's not just a pretty space, the Curtis Lab is in the process of getting SCAA certified, this will allow them to host certification courses and exams. 

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Leaving the Curtis Lab with its pristine toys was difficult, but the party was next door. Sprudge Co-founder Jordan Michelman, aka DJ Sprudge, played hip-hop tunes all night creating the perfect environment for networking. Hungry event goers savored al pastor tacos made by taqueros downstairs. As the crowd mingled, amazing prizes were raffled by MC Matthew Barahura. Winners walked away with Bonavita brewing equipment, Barista Magazine subscriptions, Reg Barber tampers and Roast Magazine t-shirts. 

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Around 7pm it was time to taste some coffee. The coffee tasters competition was facilitated by Gabriel Venegas, Founder and Coordinator of the IE TNT. Competitors were challenged in each round by a set of four triangulations.  Coffees tasted included local roasters such as Copa Vida and Good Food Award finalists for the final round. San Diego was represented by Steven Torres of Pop Pie Co., Matthew Barahura of Intelligensia and Pablo Lara of Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. Kim Ta, membership assistant for the SCAA, was the time keeper and kept us competitors pumped. 

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

After a couple hours of slurping and a gazillion bottles of Perrier later, San Diego's Steven Torres came out as winner. He's a regular of Jame's Coffee Co. and even wore their owl t-shirt to the event. We are exited for the opening of his shop Pop Pie Co. in University Heights. They will be baking delightful mini pies with creative fillings like Thai tea cream, taro, earl gray tea custard and matcha to name a few. Sign us up for that!

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

Thank you Curtis for hosting such a fun event and delighting us with your Lab!  A special thank you to Andrew Gomez, Specialty Coffee Sales & Training Manager for Curtis, for being such a great host. It was so amazing to visit the Curtis warehouse and realize that out of this facility comes out the equipment necessary for cafes to serve excellent drip an making our mornings so much better.  

Photo by  Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings

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Barrio Logan Bound by Coffee

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Barrio Logan Bound by Coffee

Photos by Julie Rings, SDCN Social Media Manager. Words by Pablo Lara, SDCN Blog Editor & Chief. 

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Centrally located in the heart of San Diego, Barrio Logan is a community that blooms. It's coffee scene boasts three major roasters and cafes that are quickly becoming the center of this art rich neighborhood. A quick stroll down its historic streets and you will discover murals, graffiti art and cultural emblems of Mexican American heritage. A wonderful mix of industrial beauty and passionate individuals make Barrio Logan a coffee destination for San Diego locals and visitors alike. 

Quality coffee is found here through different representations much like in its prominent art scene and traditional gastronomic gems. Galleries such as Bread & Salt, Glashaus, La Bodega and the Chicano Art Gallery, to name a few, have become pillars for this happening community of artists and makers. Las Cuatro Milpas, Salud, Panchitas Bakery and a variety of Colombian and Salvadorian restaurants along with Border X Brewing and Iron Fist Brewery enrich the culinary scene in Logan.  Coffee then becomes the fuel that keeps everyone creating and developing and also exists as the coffee break residents need to reflect and gather. 

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Cafe Virtuoso: 1616 National Avenue 

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Housed in a historic bright orange brick building Cafe Virtuoso mixes traditional with the cutting edge. It now includes a roasting facility in the adjunct warehouse, producing high-quality beans in a Loring roaster.  Nelson Tesky, Head Roaster, has concocted a house espresso rich in dark chocolate notes with delicate florals. This blend was included in the the top 30 coffees of 2015 by Coffee Review. Coming from Vancouver with an artist visa, Nelson is happy to work with the Loring technology which he calls "mind blowing". He also asserted that coffee culture in San Diego is bigger than he anticipated, and in Logan "eveyone is doing something a little different". 

Delight your palate with espresso and feast your eyes with a mural by Mary Jun Dandan, lead barista for Virtuoso. The artwork is located in the main hallway of the facility and it depicts four brewing methods in the chronological order of their invention. 

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Ryan Bros. Coffee: 1894 Main Street

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

If you are lucky enough to run into Tom Ryan in his Barrio Logan flagship roastery you will observe passion in the craft of coffee. For over twenty years Ryan Bros. has been a coffee house with local roots, selling a product that San Diegan's were accustomed to get from a grocery store or the Starbucks franchise. Inspired by the nascent craft beer scene, this company sought to pioneer. Barrio Logan is home to their original location, welcoming you with a Turn of the Century wooden bar and an extensive option of drinks. They have bottled cold-brew along with bottles of their beer collaborations with prominent breweries such as Stone Brewing. The wonderfully intoxicating aroma of coffee roasting and tea blending will forever give you a vivid memory of this Barrio landmark. 

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Por Vida: 2146 Logan Avenue 

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Perhaps one of the fastest developing community hang out spots in Barrio Logan, Por Vida is buzzing with action. Owners Milo Lorenzano, Carolina Santana and Bucky Montero have organically developed a space for local artists to get their caffeine fix. In order to set themselves appart they decided to carry coffee from James Coffee Co. which roasts out of Little Italy. They are extremely happy with the dedication of their wholesale partner. A custom horchata is made by Salud just down the street, an ingredient they use in their popular horchata lattes and cold-brew. They also treat their customers to mochas made with Mexican chocolate from Cafe Moto (a custom blend made in Guadalajara by Ibarra). As mouth-watering as the sweet drinks sound, do not shy away from the traditional cappuccino as they are well versed in micro-foam techniques. 

The entire property is being developed into a collective of shops that will include a barber shop, florist, vintage store and art academy. Bucky referred to the project as "The Vecindad" or The Neighborhood, a concept inspired by the mom-and-pop stores in Mexico City along with the aesthetics of Mexican popular art.

While discussing the coffee scene in Logan, Bucky assured me that "opening in a location between Cafe Virtuoso and Cafe Moto was nerve-racking" and at the same time "inspiring". They knew that success would only come if they gave "respect to the coffee". The coffee shop also features an in-house bazaar, retailing items from Guadalajara, Baja and local artists. 

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Cafe Moto: 2619 National Avenue 

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Cafe Moto, the largest wholesaler in San Diego, is another Barrio Logan landmark. Personally a trip to this spot rivals any of my visits to Disney Land. There is so much to see, taste and learn in this coffee mecca. Grab a drink in their cafe and chat with Adriana Uriostegui, Cafe Manager at Moto. She can answer any coffee questions you may have and crack a joke on a whim. The bar is usually packed with local artist, business men, bikers, policemen and everyone is up for a conversation. Owners Torrey and Kim Lee have remained relevant in this community from its inception in 1998, with a coffee roasting legacy extending back to 1968. This historic warehouse has been refurbished with solar panels that along with their green coffee sourcing certainly make Cafe Moto an example of sustainability. 

If you find yourself too caffeinated to function, take a stroll to their retail center. Along with an outstanding selection of brewing equipment you will find a vast collection of vintage coffee machines. The standout for me is the mid-century Italian Faema espresso machine. Its futuristic design takes you back to a world where espresso was served in an elegant setting. Lastly, if you have never seen a two-story roasting machine ask for a tour of their production facility.

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Imperial Grounds: 2920 Imperial Avenue

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Barrio Logan born and raised Steven Williamson and wife Michele Gonzalez agreed that this section of the city lacked a place for people to meet. With that clear understanding of a community space they ventured out into the world of coffee. The brand new Imperial Grounds coffee shop is unquestionably making the community excited. The lovely decor is an eclectic mix of velvet covered furniture, funky lamps and concrete floors with a spacious feel. 

Out of their three-group La Marzocco Linea they are serving Cafe Moto's Sumatra blend. For their drip option they carrie a single-origin Peru made in a Curtis brewer. Barista Sergio Downs made me the customer favorite, a mocha made with Moto's Ibarra. The dark roast espresso blended perfectly with the spiced chocolate. This is an ideal place to meet up with a large group of friends, specially after an indulgent meal in any of the restaurants down the street. Imperial Grounds is revamping their building in order to open up their gorgeous wooden patio, sizable for community events. 

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Bound by Coffee:

Barrio Logan is seen to be going through a Renaissance, with the distinct beauty that it's inclusive development mostly lead by locals. Cafe's here understand what their customers are looking for and simultaneously work in elevating the consumer's knowledge of coffee. At every stop in this Barrio Logan coffee crawl you notice a delightful array of personalities who are passionate about their community and enthusiastic about the future. 

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

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The Gang Goes to CoffeeCon LA 2016

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The Gang Goes to CoffeeCon LA 2016

Photos by Julie Rings, SDCN Social Media Manager. Words by Pablo Lara, SDCN Blog Editor & Chief.

It's Always Sunny in the Specialty Coffee scene of Southern California, with it's exciting growth in an area including Los Angeles, Inland Empire and San Diego.  An ever-growing number of roasters, coffee importers, equipment manufacturers and cafes create a community rich in creativity and quality.  Last Saturday the SDCN blog crew went up to CoffeeCon LA to experience lectures, tastings, and shop with coffee professionals and enthusiast from all over SoCal. 

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

First lets go shopping; we are in LA after all.  The convention took place at The Reef on south Broadway, an interesting facility dedicated to design, small entrepreneurs, makers and trade shows. The event was held indoors, giving it an urban feel. An entire floor was dedicated to booths where you could sample coffee roasted by some of the region’s best. Portola, Klatch, Bar Nine Collective, Healing Coffee Roasters, Foxy Coffee and James Coffee, to name a few, had tasting stations with retail available for purchase. 

Photo by  Julie Rings . 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by  Julie Rings .

Photo by Julie Rings.

Brewing equipment captivated event goers. Our favorites were the ultra sleek Stagg pour-over kettles by Fellow.  The modern design elevated this brewing tool from kitchenware to kitchen centerpiece. Everyone wanted to get their hands on one. Even Barista Champion Heather Perry of Klatch Coffee was using one to brew a Good Food Award winning Kenya. This original design innovated the traditional kettle with the addition of a built-in thermometer for that perfect extraction. 

Photo by  Julie Rings .

Photo by Julie Rings.

Photo by  Julie Rings .

Photo by Julie Rings.

Photo by  Julie Rings .

Photo by Julie Rings.

Photo by  Julie Rings .

Photo by Julie Rings.

Another crowd favorite was the Cafflano all-in-one coffee maker.  This portable coffee brewer, ideal for camping and biking, includes a manual burr grinder, kettle, basket and serving cup. At the booth you could experience this neat little gadget in action and pose questions directly to the manufacturers.  Even SCAA Director Ric Rhinehart walked away with one, a handy tool for the many conferences he attends. 

Photo by  Julie Rings .

Photo by Julie Rings.

Certainly the mainstays of this event were the multiple educational lectures offered throughout the day by coffee professionals.  We were able to attend an origin-centered lecture by Mokhtar Alkhanshali and a tasting with Peter Giuliano. To learn about green coffee you had the opportunity to visit the InterContinental Coffee Trading booth and purchase industry literature at the SCAA booth. 

Rediscovering The Mocha Road – Specialty Coffee In Yemen:

If you follow coffee journalism you will remember that the most memorable story coming out of the SCAA Event 2015 was that of Mokhtar Alkhanshali and his weeklong journey from Yemen to Seattle.  As the civil war broke out in Yemen, Mokhtar was determined to flee the country in order to attend the world’s largest coffee convention to present Yemen’s coveted green coffee. Little did I know that we would be meeting Mokhtar himself and learn more about his increadible journey and the dedication he has for improving the Specialty Coffee sector of Yemen. 

   Photo by  Julie Rings .

 

Photo by Julie Rings.

Taste Like An Expert- SCAA Symposium Director Peter Giuliano:

Earlier this month the SCAA along with the World Coffee Research Institute launched the new Flavor Wheel. Peter Giuliano took a group of 100 attendees through the fascinating world of professional cupping. The combination of lecture and tastings allowed for a clear understanding of characteristics in fragrance/aroma, acidity, body and flavor. A team of seven volunteers and Gold Cup Curtis batch brewers cranked out a total of four different coffees of distinct origins and processes. These included a washed Colombia from Nariño, a natural Colombia from Huila, a washed Kenya and a Sumatra. The tasting exercise was followed by an interactive discussion on flavor notes. Thank you Peter for energizing us for the ride back home! 

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