The Beauty of Being Small
by Jon Clutton
For the past eight months, it's been me, Christine, and our camper. We wanted to take the road less traveled. To make coffee the way we wanted to make coffee. Greet people the way we wanted to greet people. And serve the ingredients we wanted to serve.
No shortcuts. No worries about maximizing profit margins. Just the biggest smiles and the best coffee possible.
Because we've been so small, we've been able to focus on things that ordinarily would be put on the back burner and written off as "good enough for now." We have spent countless hours on manipulating water recipes (yes...water). Steaming all kinds of alternative milks. Driving hours to and from De Soto to get farm-fresh milk from a local Kansas dairy. And pulling countless shots with different pressure profiles.
We are able to do these things because, we are small. And we like it that way.
The Beauty of being small
Dark horse. Drip coffee is 98% water.
The beauty of being small is that we get to pay attention to that 98%. I swear, I have tried so many different shots of espresso with so many different combinations of water. The number one mediator of spro (espresso) quality is water. Same with pour overs. Same with drip. Same with all coffees.
The beauty of being small is that all of our water has to be brought into our little camper and stored in tanks. We can put whatever water in those tanks that we want. And instead of bringing in city water and running it through filters, we dose our own water with a recipe of minerals that best suits our espresso, our equipment, and our desired taste profile. On any given Sunday you may see Christine and I at Natural Grocers, filling up 40 gallons of water from their Reverse Osmosis system. We can do this, because we are small.
A 12 oz. latte is 80% milk.
The beauty of being small is that we get to pay attention to that 80%. I fell in love with coffee over iced lattes. In the hot Austin heat, there's nothing better. The thing that made these iced lattes was Mill-King milk. It's low-temp pasteurized, non-homogenized, and 80% of my iced latte.
The beauty of being small is that we get to use small, local dairy. And not any small local, dairy, but a small local dairy that treated their cows humanely and offered non-homogenized milk. Hildebrand is the only one. It makes our iced lattes what they are. If you're interested in more information about the importance of milk, see here.
Coffee is 50% growing, 50% roasting, and 50% brewing. (Yes, we know that math doesn't add up).
The beauty of being small is we get to focus on brewing and let local roasters focus on roasting. These two things (brewing and roasting) are very different beasts, and Christine and I would not be capable of taking on both.
We get to partner with Repetition, Oddly Correct, and Blueprint Coffee. All of them are incredible, local roasters doing incredibly high-level work. I just want to take a second to talk about Repetition. We use their single-origin Mexican on espresso and drip coffee, and lately we've really been digging their Kenyan and Ethiopian on pour-over.
Repetition is run by Amy and Ryan Pope out of Lawrence, Kansas. I feel like their own words describe them best. "Here, we apply an ethos of sustainability and respect, global connections with growers, and refined yet adventurous palates to the work of making every single cup memorable." The thing that makes me proudest to partner with them is their focus on gender-equality in coffee, all the way from farm to cafe. It's a topic that hits home. Amy recently traveled to the Cauca department of Colombia where she visited with the Asociacion de Mujeres Productoras Agropecuarias del Cauca (AMACA), an association of women coffee producers. Established in 1999, they now have 208 members and advocate for women's ownership over land and resources, and leadership within their respective communities.
So let us recap. Amy, a bad ass female head roaster and business owner, traveled to Colombia, to meet some bad ass female producers, where she ordered their bad ass green coffee, that was roasted, and is now being sold at my wife's bad ass coffee shop. Need we talk more about how insanely cool this is? Who runs the world? Girls. That's who.
And lastly. But certainly not least.
A coffee shop is 100% about the customers.
The beauty of being small is we get to focus on that 100%. If you haven't been in the cafe, then let me paint a picture. A smiling human behind a baby blue espresso machine, who knows, that you are just as much a part of the wild way as they are.
Without you guys, we wouldn't be here. We say this often, but this broken record won't stop repeating.
You guys, are what make this possible. You guys are what make being small, so fun.
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