LaBicicletta, a coffee blend developed by DOMA Coffee Roasting Company, began with a humble mission: help support women’s cycling. It was a simple idea-but ideas have power. Here at DOMA we’ve seen what ideas can do: they can bring people together, they can inspire and empower us: an idea can change the world.
Let me tell you what I mean…
Mark and Sarah Bender had decided to celebrate their fifteenth wedding anniversary with a trip to Hawaii. The day they were set to return home Mark suffered a life changing injury that would land him in the ICU of a local hospital. News of Mark’s accident soon reached Jenni Gaertner. For Jenni, Mark is a friend, a fellow cyclist, and a valued member of the cycling community. Jenni wanted to do something to help. That’s when Jenni had an idea: why not use the proceeds from LaBicicletta to raise money to support the Bender family?
What began as an idea quickly became a movement. To date DOMA has helped raise over $5,000. Orders have come in from across the country: from individuals and companies alike, all wanting to help support Mark’s recovery. So far the response has been incredible and here at DOMA we hope things are just getting warmed up.
LaBicicletta is more than a bag of coffee: it is an idea.
It is an idea that reminds everyone of the good that lies in each of us.
It is a testament to courage, to compassion, and to generosity.
It is an idea and sometimes ideas can change the world.
Be a part of it!
Proceeds from sales of LaBicicletta purchased either online, at DOMA headquarters, or at Vertical Earth will go towards the Mark Bender Fundraiser through April 31, 2013.
2175 N. Main
Coeur D Alene, ID 83814
DOMA Coffee Roasting Company
6240 E Seltice Way : Unit A
Post Falls, ID 83854
After a short trip to Spokane, I gained a whole new appreciation for the way DOMA chooses to print the bags their coffee comes in. All different sizes, with all different designs and various colors, the coffee bags are pretty awesome, whatever way you slice it. What makes them even more special and unique compared to any other coffee bag you may see in the grocery store, is that all of the bags are letter pressed, on an ancient Chandler Price press, by Chris Dreyer.
Dreyer Press is located in the basement of a building so confusing you practically need a tour guide to find your way through it, the artisan mastery takes place in a cave well guarded against the heat of summer. Walking into the room, there are two sections, one with old poster prints, a vintage clock and even a 1930s era Corona typewriter and the other side in which stands a huge cast iron press; the machine where magic happens.
Before doing anything, Chris takes time to prepare the press. First, this means choosing the correct dies(s) for the bags he’s pressing, then carefully placing them/it into a square window frame type thing with blocks to secure it into place. Each block is carefully tightened to ensure nothing will fall out. It’s like a puzzle, but imagine all of the pieces don’t fit together on their own and need to be tightened to make the right picture.
Next comes the colors. You can only do one color at a time so for something like La Bicicletta, every bag is run through the press multiple times. One color is first chosen and placed as a blob on the edge of a large metal circle about the size of a crêpe pan. This disk spins on a regular basis and has rollers gliding up and down to spread the ink blob all across the palette into a smooth coating.
When in full action, Chris seems to become one with the machine, he is the other half necessary to create magic. He gets into a rhythm that seems like it shouldn’t ever stop. The big wheel whirls to make the rollers roll. The disk spins and the ink spreads. Then a bag is placed in a slot. The handle is pulled and “chunk-chunk” a bag is printed. Chris’ hands glide in and out quickly (so much you’re worried they’ll be smashed, but we later learned there’s just enough space he won’t break any bones). What I saw was pretty amazing. This time, his expert eyes pulled out the bag to scrutinize the ink and comment, “look, you see here? There’s too much ink on the press so the letters are a little blurred. In a couple more bags it’ll look better.” Then he continued on his way…
One of the first things you may notice walking into the plant is that the lights are rarely on. At first this may appear bizarre, but really it’s all part of Doma’s commitment to sustainability. Other people may argue that in reality the lights aren’t on because we all would be blinded by so much light… the guys prefer to work in the dark and are obstinate in their mindset.
As part of my internship, I recently learned some pretty awesome facts, check them out at: http://www.domacoffee.com/content.php?id=132
Here’s what we look like working:
Yet another post from the intern:
The story of coffee begins (mostly likely) in Ethiopia, with Kaldi and his goats. Between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, coffee grows on trees as a little, red, cherry-like fruit, they’re green until they’re red and ripe. Each region produces a different taste and aroma depending on the environment and the production process the beans go through. That’s why you hear people say “this tastes like a sumatra, it seems pretty earthy and leathery” or “that one smells like blueberries, it must be an Ethiopia.”
Since the much of the landscape coffee grows in is difficult to access, most beans are handpicked by members of a cooperative, if you’re on a small scale farm. There is a whole other, scary side to coffee that is mass produced on plantations. Thankfully, Doma doesn’t participate in this side of things. Either way, coffee plants can grow in difficult to access places, along steep mountain slopes and forested areas.
Once the fruit is harvested, there are two different processes used to get to the bean. The first, which is most common, uses water. The “cherries” are run through a machine that takes the red casing off. The bean is still left with a sort of slimy gooey casing called mucilage. To get the mucilage off, the beans are soaked in water, this “fermentation” takes the casing off, at which point the beans are dried and ready to be roasted.
The other process, mostly used in Africa (though gaining popularity in Central America) is the “dry process.” As you can imagine, this process is ideal where rainfall is minimal. Coming from not to far away from Seattle, that’s a slightly bizarre concept… In a country like Ethiopia, the whole coffee cherries are set out in the sun to dry. When the cherry reaches a certain moisture content, it is run through a machine that takes the entire outer casing off, mucilage and all. Once again, the bean is ready to be roasted.
When the coffee beans arrive at the Doma plant, they are a pretty, pale, green color. Each coffee is uniquely roasted in the Loring Kestrel SmartRoast. For trade secrets you might have to blackmail Terry or Jim, pay them off with substantial sums of money a private, sunny island with palm trees and a life supply of ice cream.
Once roasted, each is placed in big tubs ready to be weighed and packaged inside the beautifully designed Doma coffee bags. I once was taught how to weigh the coffee and put it into the appropriate bag, but had trouble keeping up with the high speeds and perfect bagging techniques mastered by Matt and Justin. They are skilled in the rhythmic process of scoop, weigh, fold four times, stack and repeat. I felt sluggish and clumsy in comparison and may come back under cover of darkness to practice…
In the meantime, you now have beautifully roasted beans, ready to be sold and made into coffee!
From the Doma coffee roasting plant you can follow the life of a bean from farm to cup. There have been several expeditions to the coffee cooperatives traveling to countries such as Peru, Mexico, Brazil, Sumatra, Nicaragua and Guatemala. On the end of that journey, are the retailers, the baristas and coffee shops where the average person can sip on a cup of hot coffee, lounge on a chair and read a good book.
Last week, I didn’t quite do that, but I did meet some local baristas when they came in for training in the lab. All the coffee shops that carry Doma coffee have the opportunity to come to the plant and get training as a barista. This means learning how to make the perfect espresso. When I say perfect, I’m going back to the idea that coffee isn’t only a commodity, it’s both an art and science.
We began by getting a general introduction to Doma. To summarize: Doma was created 12 years ago by husband and wife Terry and Rebecca Patano. The name is the combination of the first two letters of their sons’ Dominic and Marco– DoMa. The image of the man on the label? A photo of Terry’s dad taken at the old pier on Lake Coeur d’Alene in 1943. How much more local do you get than that?
After a detailed explanation of how coffee grows (see next post), and a tour of the roasting facility, we had gained a much greater appreciation for the the beans in the bag. Now enlightened, we were ready to learn how to make a perfect shot of espresso. To begin, we ground exactly 18 grams of coffee. Then we used a tamper to tamp the coffee with 30 pounds of pressure. To make sure these measurements were correct, we did several practice measurements using scales.
Once the right amount of grinds was well tamped, we put the portafilter on the espresso machine for 26-30 seconds. As the liquid pours out, it’s important to pay attention to the golden-brown coloring and the crema (foam) that appears in the shot. About two-thirds of the actual shot should be crema. And voilà! a perfect shot of coffee. Steam milk, attempt some amazing coffee art, and you have yourself a beautiful latte.
From Breton the intern:
Wednesday I also had the experience of cupping for the first time. Cupping is the wine tasting of the coffee world. At this point in time I came to the conclusion that not only is coffee an art, but a science here. Five glasses of six different types of coffee grinds in them were set out on the lab table.
First, we sniffed the grinds. I say sniff because it was explicitly explained that if you inhaled too deeply, you were likely to breathe in coffee grinds. Unpleasant experience? I imagine so. Every step of the way, it’s important to take notes and pay attention to differences. Do all five glasses smell the same? What undertones to you smell? How would you describe that smell? Using words instead of hand motions? That’s a little difficult if you’re like me. Also, can you tell the distinct difference between the first and third sets? Does the coffee smell differently when your mouth is opened or closed?
Then just boiled water, slightly cooled water was poured into all 30 cups. After sitting for a couple seconds, we went around with our special silver (or silver plated) spoons to smell the coffee again. The spoons are used in this step to push around the foam, pay attention to the consistency and smell the rising steam or foam on the back of the spoon. This time, you’re meant to pay attention to how the smell has changed from the grinds to the liquid brew. I was surprised how Las Lajas smelled very strong and somewhat spicy as a grind, but the Ethiopian which began with a similar, not as strong smell, ended up much brighter.
Next, the grinds were cleared away so we could taste the black goodness. Ok, tasting is pretty intense and the most important, most interesting part is the slurp. When you take a spoonful of coffee you don’t sip it slowly or put the whole spoon in your mouth, you slurp it. For professionals, these slurps are loud, strong and impressive. I couldn’t quite get the hang of it, so mine were pretty timid and lame in comparison. I think the reason for slurping has to do with aerating the coffee to affect the taste? We moved clockwise in a circle tasting each cup to discover the particularities of every coffee. I was amazed at the drastic difference from one type to the next. I also learned how coffee changes taste as it cools which is a key part of the process to pay attention to. A customer must be satisfied and happy with their coffee from the moment it is poured down to the last drop.
Thanks to everyone who went through the process with me– I truly learned a lot.
Breton the intern:
So far, everyone has been keeping me very busy. I visited last Saturday’s market and prepared for, set up, worked, closed up and cleaned for the Wednesday evening market. Luckily Young was there to explain everything and Katie helped out a lot too. Working at the market reminded me a lot of working at my local bakery. The most important part is satisfying the customers, being friendly and helpful. We serve sweet and regular cold brew coffee (toddy®), hot drip coffee, and unique to Wednesday, pour over coffee. Which means we’re boiling water and letting it drip through the filter just before your eyes. It’s a pretty fun and social time. I’m aware of how the phrase “everyone knows everyone” is fairly accurate. We ate great pizza, could sip green smoothies and were given a bunch of beautiful flowers at the end.
Working at the market I’ve realized a couple different things:
- I need to know all the coffees well (where they’re from, what they taste like which is the darkest brew and most popular… etc),
- it is possible to fit everything for the market (and then some) in the Element,
- and no, we don’t serve triple shot caramel lattes.
I’m Breton, the new intern at Doma. I’ll be here for about a month. You’ll see me at the Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays or at Doma working on a couple different projects, like coming up with the metrics on Doma’s sustainability.
Since I’m a novice to the coffee world, I’ve been doing a LOT of reading. Everything from “The Better World Shopping Guide,” to “The Professional Barista’s Handbook,” to “Javatrekker Dispatches From the World of Fair Trade Coffee,” to every inch of the Doma Website (and the links connected to it) and even “How to Archer: The Ultimate Guide to Espionage and Style and Women and Also Cocktails Ever Written.” Just kidding. Well kind of, it is on their bookshelf, and I did flip through it…
Overall, I’m excited to be here and enjoying getting to know everyone.