Thursday, July 14, 2011

From NBA Fancam

From Eric:

"Since there will likely be no NBA season New Harvest has created a program for under and unemployed professional basketball players."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Eric Loves Coffee

Eric Lepine is the Head Roaster at New Harvest. He is awesome. And he is one of the funniest people ever and one of the best writers about coffee. Read this.

(Also, he is best buds with Princess Kate.)

Like most people, I have very humble beginnings in coffee. My very earliest coffee memories are from mornings at my grandparent's house. I really loved spending the night at my grandparents because they would let me sleep in the RV parked in the backyard so it was like having my own fully furnished clubhouse. My grandfather was always a morning person and whenever I stayed there I would wake up early also. My grandfather had an autodrip coffee maker and he would set it up to brew the night before. He used Chock Full O'Nuts canned coffee. I remember being fascinated with this coffee from a very early age because it smelled good and grown-ups drank it so drinking coffee must actually make you a grown-up somehow. I tried it several times, black, with sugar, milk, cream, every sort of condiment combination you can imagine, but the flavor never appealed to me as a child. I distinctly remember the last time that I tasted it as a child and concluding, this just really is not for me.

As I got older, the appeal of coffee arose in my life is two related ways. The first was that I was beginning to be out and about until 3am every night. My nightly activities began to either require coffee to drive home safely or ended at a diner. The second appeal was that because I was out so late, I required coffee in order to be able to function at work the next day. I look back at my late-teen to early-adult life and I'm really not quite sure how I functioned on 4 hours or less of sleep every night. I also began playing music at this point in my life and so coffee became essential for those practice sessions that inevitably went on until the wee hours of the night. Those practice sessions somehow produced some music that allowed me to tour the world for most of my adult life. When I started traveling a lot coffee became absolutely vital to my day to day survival. People in bands who cram themselves in vans, sleep on floors or in the van because you have an 18 hour overnight drive and do not drink coffee are not human.

All of this time I had no real concept of quality coffee. Coffee was coffee. At the time I was working in the produce section of Whole Foods and traveling a lot and often when I got home from a tour I would have to scramble a bit to secure hours or a steady position while I was home. As fortune would have it, I came home from tour one day and could not get any hours for the job that I had and so I applied for a position at another store. That position was Coffee Buyer. I thought, well, I love drinking coffee, this sounds great. I got the job and I was pretty much immediately immersed over my head in all this "new" coffee. I read whatever I could find and just drank everything that was available to me. For someone who was accustomed to drinking "just" coffee, being suddenly privy to all these new flavors and aromas was really fun and exciting. I literally could not believe that there was so much variety and that it was all right under my nose this whole time.

I took to my new job very well. My newly developing passion for specialty coffee was paying off huge in the form of sales. By the third month I had somehow won an annual trip to origin that Allegro Coffee does. I was going to get to visit a Co-op in Costa Rica. This was really incredible but at the time I was still a bit too new to the industry to really understand how huge this was. It was not until I actually saw the Co-op in action that it really sunk in with me. So basically, a lot of my foundation for knowledge and interest in specialty coffee was born at origin. That's wild!

Seeing coffee being picked and processed and talking to producers was one of the most life changing events of my life. It was almost overwhelming to have that sort of experience so early in my coffee career. What I took home most from the trip was that there are people working very hard to produce these coffees that I loved. It was no accident. I felt like I had a commitment to make sure that their hard work was carried through on my end of the supply chain and to try to translate that to consumers.

About a year after my origin trip Whole Foods sent me to Allegro's roasting facility. This was my first time seeing a roastery and it left a huge impression on me. I didn't want to come back home. I wanted to just start working there immediately. Shortly after this i was invited to take a tour of George Howell's roasting facility and the presentation that he gave left me absolutely floored. His passion for great coffee is something you can literally feel in the air surrounding him and it comes without any of the egotistical trappings of an expert. What really struck me about that visit was the idea that coffee is beautiful, but the potential has not been tapped. I think about that idea a lot to this day.

Eventually I stopped traveling so much and I thought, I would really like to have a coffee specific job and not a coffee related job in a grocery store. I actually emailed Gerra about a job out of the blue. I had no idea New Harvest was actually hiring. At the time my friend and also future Harvista, Rory was living with Devlin. I was at their house one day and I was tired and Rory jokingly told me to ask Devlin to make me some coffee and I jokingly replied "ask Devlin to get me a job at his work". I had not actually seen Devlin that night but I thought about how that sentiment was not really a joke. I really did want a coffee gig. I emailed Gerra the next day and the rest is history.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mogey's Coffee History

You might know MorganEve Swain as one half of the amazing band Brown Bird, but she also works here as Assistant Production Manager. She is my favorite smiling face to see in the morning.

A man at a bowling alley named her Mogey, and it stuck forever.

I try to always use the best picture I can find. (Sorry, Mogey.)

"My first experience with coffee was drinking it with dessert out of delicate cup-and-saucers at Nanny's house (my mother's mother). It didn't matter that I was 5 years old; if was proper to drink coffee with dessert! For years afterward I always began my day with a cup of coffee a la Nanny: extremely light and extremely sweet.

During college, I got a job at a cafe (which shall remain nameless). I was one of the original employees at this cafe, which had just started up. We had Intellegentsia coffee, and where shipped several different roast levels and varieties each week. On slow days we'd brew up a whole bunch of half batches of different coffees and have our own "cuppings". That was my first introduction to the world of real coffee. Each coffee came with a description, which we'd read and try to identify the flavor notes. We'd also try to memorize which coffee was which, based on their flavor notes.

Once I was trained on the espresso machine, I was really in love. I liked nothing more than to have a line of drink tickets and be literally stuck on bar, cranking out lattes.

After a while the quality of the shop started suffering, and the stress level didn't match the sort of work we were doing. And I left. In favor of New Harvest, where I hoped to expand my knowledge of coffee and enter into coffee-world from the other side of the counter. And that's exactly what I did. Man, I love this place."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cupping Tomorrow!

Sorry for the late notice. We are cupping two new coffees tomorrow at 3 pm!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How'd You Get Into Coffee, Gerra Harrigan?

Gerra has been here a really long time, almost as long as Rik. She's the head of marketing and sales, and maybe the Vice President? I get to share an office with her. She is awesome. Not
only does she know everything about coffee, but she has amazing people skills, and killer style.

"I started working in coffee in 1896 I mean 1986. I was 15 and worked four days a week at the Coffee Exchange in Providence. I loved it so much. We brewed coffee into glass decanters, made mile high cappuccinos and touted our Swiss Almond and Viennese Cinnamon flavors as much as our oily, blackened espresso. We served the best coffee in all of Providence and were unknowingly at the forefront of the specialty coffee movement because we were trained to care about coffee. We now do just about everything differently but guess what, I still care. Sappy? Yes, but true."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Question: How and when did you first start getting into coffee? Answer #1: Jim

Here's the first installment in a series of questions to get to know all of the New Harvistas better. Today Jim "Tuff Guy" Connolly, our main Tech Services Man (he can fix anything, people. ANYTHING.), tells us about how he first got into coffee.

I had been working a job with very long hours for a few weeks and eventually just "got in" on one of the many daily coffee runs. I started, like a lot of New Englanders, with flavored coffee with lots of cream and sugar. Over time i just started using less and less cream and sugar and eventually stopped with the flavored coffees in general. The next step was becoming a "dark roast guy." also, around this time I had started drinking coffee black. I was also drinking coffee more for enjoyment and flavor and not just to get through the day.

Getting a cup a coffee was becoming more of a social thing as well, meeting up with friends for coffee and such. I sought out local shops and tried to stay away from chains, not for any sort of political reason but the smaller shops just seemed to serve a better cup of coffee. A chance encounter with a furious headbanger named Devlin led to me learning a little about the New Harvest name and that really started me on the path to drinking better coffee. I guess if you think about it it also started me on the path to working here at NH. That means now it's my turn to headbang furiously until someones asks ME about coffee.