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Smell the Coffee

Some one thousand one hundred sixty years ago, an Ethiopian goat herder noticed one of his goats acting unusually...

He watched the animal eating red berries from a bush. The goat herder tried some of the berries himself and had an exuberating feeling. He took his discovery to the nearest monastery and showed them to the monk, who promptly tossed them in a fire as something so mystical it must be from the devil himself. Soon, however, the aroma of roasted coffee beans wafted through the air, and before they knew it, a Starbucks appeared on the monastery courtyard! Well, the Starbucks part isn’t true, but the discovery of a simple goat herder has the entire world jittery!

A dark mug of coffee with steam rising up out of it

Even today, Ethiopian coffee is the pick of the crop. Yirgacheffe coffee (pronounced yir-ga-keff) is still picked from wild coffee trees and is usually quite expensive at $18-20 per pound. In 1983 while in Mombasa, Kenya, I fell head over heels in love with Kenyan coffee. I was staying at a Savannah Lodge in Nguluni, and I was introduced to Ethiopian coffee prepared in a cold-pressed fashion. OMG, it was turbocharged with caffeine.

In modern-day Ethiopia, there are over a thousand varieties of coffee! Somewhere about fourteen degrees north and south of the equator is the best part of the world for growing coffee. Some coffees are stronger while others are weaker. Somewhere in between the two extremes is the coffee you and I like best. We’re all familiar with Colombian coffee, but did you know a google search of “varieties of Columbian coffee” will yield over five million results?

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Coffee beans from around the world are blended and roasted using jealously guarded witchcraft-like recipes. Take the Arcadia Valley Roasting Company, for instance. Part owner and a barrister himself, Wade Buckman explained the process of roasting beans starts long before you put them in the roaster. First, it’s good to select the region of the world where the beans are grown. Then you’ll narrow your selection down to an area within that region. Wade also pointed out that he wanted to pick a plantation that was in sync with his business practices and ethics.

The picking and handling of coffee beans are as labor-intensive as you might suspect. Pickers harvest only certain colors of bean. These beans are brought to a mill for processing, which involves another hand-sorting. The beans are spread out on drying tables to prevent the fruit from fermenting much like a bag of apples would. Once the beans are dried, they’re inspected again and placed into sixty-eight kilo (one hundred fifty pound) burlap bags. These bags are transported to ports where they are placed on ships for distribution around the world.

Advertisement for white weddings in Farmington a young woman in a wedding gown poses by a classic truck interprets what we smell and taste in coffee: “Aroma also provides a subtle introduction to various nuances of acidity, taste, and flavor: Bitter and sweet tones, fruit, flower or herbal notes and the like. Acidity is the bright, dry sensations that enliven the taste of coffee. The darker the coffee is roasted, the less overt acidity it will display.”

The fruity taste, the roasting level, the region, the country, the plantation, the way the beans are handled, OMG! There’s even a Periodic Table of Coffee Varieties which lists the major international cultivars. Yes, there’s a difference between cultivars and varieties. Cultivars are cultivated varieties while varieties grow and reproduce naturally. You can make the exploration of coffee flavors as interesting as wine tasting without the threat of being arrested afterward for DWI. Coffee is so much safer!

Viva coffee!

The flavor of a batch can be controlled by roasting for shorter or longer periods and lower or higher temperatures. Each flavor has a different descriptor. Delicate, mild, nippy, piquant, tangy, tart, bitter, sweet, and sour are all words to describe coffee flavors. Furthermore, the aftertaste, referred to as the finish, has its own descriptors.

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We’ve all smelled coffee brewing, and oftentimes we’re smelling the same old Folgers or Maxwell House brew. But we’re missing out! A discerning nose can pick out those nutty, fruit-like, creamy, and chocolate notes present in all coffees. In any event, there’s a coffee with your name on it— there’s one you like best, your go-to coffee that you hold while curled up on the couch and wrapped in your robe. The steam rises, and you pull the dark chocolate, fruity scent of a fresh brewed Arabica from Sumatra into your nostrils. Your brain lights up, your taste buds dilate, and the dopamine produced in your brain releases euphoria and pleasant feelings. Feelings we crave. Viva coffee!

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The 573 has several shops that prepare coffee with the care and pampering a true aficionado can appreciate.

There’s a cool coffee shop in Perryville. Well, I thought it was a coffee shop — it is a coffee shop, but then I went upstairs and found a comic shop. Maybe it’s a comic shop with coffee — no it’s a coffee shop with comics. I don’t know, I just know the place is cool, and the owners are nice, so I asked for the low-down on the joint.

Meet Mary Jo and David Bammel.

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David enjoys reading comics and had to drive quite a distance to pick up his pull list. Being in rural Southeast Missouri I was a bit concerned that the store wouldn’t support itself, so we started thinking of what else we could add to supplement our income while comic sales built up. We both LOVE coffee. Granted, he enjoys a good cup of unadulterated brew while I’ve always enjoyed my cream and sugar with a touch of coffee. Perryville didn’t have a coffee shop, so we decided it would be a good balance for the comics.

We wanted a place where customers could sit and relax, work on homework and enjoy a soothing cup of coffee, or sit and chat about the latest comic story arc. We are home to the unofficial anti-social social club— a place where people who don’t enjoy the company of others come to hang out without others of the same ilk. It shows that everyone is family here.

We’ve noticed that Batman titles are very popular in this region. Generally, the Dark Knight outsells all other comics three to one in our store. Does that make Batman great? Ask any Gothamite, and they’ll say wholeheartedly, YES! A truly great comic, though, is one that you can’t wait to read when you get home. It sometimes forces you to sit and read here at the shop and then reread it when you get home. It draws you in with a good storyline and amazing artwork. We receive around fifty titles each week, so there’s usually something to fit every taste.

Obviously, the ingredients are a crucial factor to a good cup of coffee, but anyone can put those same ingredients together in a cup. It’s the ritual, the atmosphere, the conversation, and the love that takes those same ingredients from ‘good’ to ‘great’ status. We love our customers, and we want each cup to be memorable. Having them leave here with a smile on their faces makes our day. We have a wall of sleeves and souvenirs from customers who travel. They think of us when they’re looking for coffee, whether on vacation or just out of town for the day. Building a relationship with our customers and understanding such things as dietary issues allow us to customize drinks to their specific needs. For example, we’ve come up with keto-friendly lattes that have become very popular. Quality customer service is our priority.

Beanik - Ste. Geneveive

Beanik Cafe and Pastry is dedicated to quality scratch baking of pastries, soups, breads, sandwiches, salads, and more in an authentic and relaxed coffee house atmosphere with a ‘40s style. When you walk in you will breathe, relax, and enjoy great food and amazing coffee.  Quality takes time, so relax and enjoy while we make your food when you order.

The brewing process is called a ‘pour-over.’ The bean is dialed in by the barista to bring out the notes of that particular bean.  I brewed an Ethiopian dimtu bean roasted by Blueprint Coffee at the grind setting of ten with three pours of 50, 190, and 380 grams respectively at a temperature of 208 degrees to bring out notes of apricot, ginger, and pepper.

A steep of King Crimson herbal decaf tea.  The temp is 208 degrees steeped for 4 minutes over 5 grams of tea. The herbs include citrus, rosehips, lemongrass, and licorice root.

A cinnamon agave latte. The process used is a manual AeroPress espresso of Penrose V19 roasted by Blueprint Coffee at a grind setting of 18 and a pour of 100 grams of RO filtered 208-degree water.  Served with latte stretched whole milk.

From scratch, pasties baked fresh each morning.

The Brick Bistro and Brew - Festus

The Brick Bistro and Brew is a hybrid of three places.  It's a coffee house, a restaurant, and a bar.  They have an extensive number of flavoring resulting in an unlimited combination of coffee and smoothies flavors.  They also offer a large food menu including breakfast sandwiches and burritos, appetizers, salads, sandwiches, chicken and fish tacos, and a complete pizza menu.  Their bar offers a variety of 18-20 mixed drinks, 3 beers on draft, and 10 different bottled beers. 

Baristas Coffee Bar - Cape Girardeau

Baristas Coffee Bar has been open for two years.  They focus on high-quality coffee drinks, flavorful breakfast and lunch options, and a small selection of wine, beer, and spirits!  

Wise Grounds - Farmington

Wise Grounds has been in business for almost 10 years!  They feature Seattle’s Best Coffee and a full line of hot and iced espresso drinks.  They serve sweet treats and non-coffee drinks as well and they have one of the few drive-up window services.

RaeCole's Coffee Bar - Park Hills

RaeCole's Coffee Bar is a specialty coffee shop in downtown Park Hills proudly serving Kaldi's Coffee.  In addition to handcrafted coffee drinks, their menu includes a variety of nomadic teas, crushed fruit smoothies, and fresh baked goods.

Sip out there!

Written by Bob Hisserich


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