Written by Rachel Emery
The lights have all been taken down, the ornaments put back in their boxes, we’ve sold out of eggnog and school is back in session. The Holidays have come to an end, and with them we have said goodbye to 2015, and what a year it was!
We've got some great memories to share with you.
We started off the year with our first coffee focused event at our Alberta Shop: Fruit to Seed, highlighting the produce of coffee. We served three variations of the same coffee to focus on how processing at origin can bring out different flavors in the brewed cup. (Read more Here).
In March, we invited the coffee community to our Alberta space and hosted the biggest Oregon Coffee Board Latte art throwdown they had seen yet. Christine headed to Costa Rica to find us some delicious coffee and meet the people who grow and produce it.
April brought the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s 2015 convention in Seattle along with the World Barista Championship and with it, coffee people from all over the world. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to host Rina Pagauaga from Finca Los Congos, Nicaragua on her way through town. We were honored to hear her tell the story of her family, their coffee farm, and the work they do in their community. (Fresh Variety Event)
In late April, Liza's dream of traveling to origin was brought to life. She traveled to Mexico and participated in the Lo Mejor de Mexico event, where she cupped, scored, and purchased coffees for us to serve later on in the year.
As travel plans ended and the busyness of the summer began, we turned our focus to our beautiful city and ways we could invest in Portland to help build and support the community we love and serve. We chose to participate in Forest Park
Conservancy’s All Trails Challenge to help raise awareness and financial support for Forest Park, the nation’s biggest urban park. As a company, we hiked every section of trail in Forest Park and you supported our wanderings. Dylan and Rachel set out to traverse all 30 miles of Wildwood trail in a day and succeed in the 13 hour journey. Christine conquered the same trek on a solo hike. What an amazing memory and awesome feat to have accomplished!
The summer in Portland is like no other time of the year. It’s when friendships are made and adventures are had. Case Study Coffee turned 5 years old at the beginning of the summer. We celebrated by giving away cappuccinos and sharing some memories of opening each shop. (Read them here) We played badminton together on the 4th of July and enjoyed Christine’s amazing culinary skills. We were pleased to host the ACE Rwanda and Burrundi cupping in our freshly built cupping and training room.
Autumn brought the arrival of the coffee that Liza purchased in Mexico, the installation of Synesso’s MVP Hydra espresso machine in our downtown shop, Coffee Fest Portland, and a recording setting Espresso Catering season.
We celebrated the Alberta shop’s one year anniversary the best way we know how: with a party, a latte art throwdown, and a pumpkin decorating contest.
As tradition holds, Christine made Thanksgiving dinner and invited anyone who didn’t have plans to share in the meal together.
When I asked the staff to reflect on 2015 and share their memories and stories, I heard tales of friendships and empowerment. In the words of one employee “A highlight of my year has been being around powerful and hard working women, both at work and out of work. I love that the ladies hold it down and support one another to create a healthy environment.”
In the quiet hours of the morning, we get to connect with people. We are able to chat one-on-one with you, our customers, without the stress of the busyness of the day. We get to know our co-workers and support each other in our lives and the struggles and triumphs that come with being human. We get to work on beautiful espresso machines and brew amazing coffees that have been hand picked by our friend and boss, Christine. But what really drives the love we have for our job, is the moments we get to spend with the People of Case Study Coffee.
I think back on all the great events we’ve been a part of, the excellent coffees we’ve served, the fun catering events we’ve worked, and all the ways we’ve grown as a company over the past year. But the thing that comes to my mind first when I think back on 2015 with Case Study Coffee is the friendships that have been made and the experiences I’ve shared with some very amazing people.
I look forward to the many stories and tales that 2016 promises.
Written by Christine Herman
Can you believe it has already been over a year since we opened the doors to our Alberta location? And what a year it's been!
It was quite an adventure doing the build out of the store ourselves and once the doors opened, the adventure has continued on. We decided that the best way to recap the year would be through the eyes of the two employees that have shared the management of the shop over the course of the year, Rachel and Dylan.
What is one of your fondest memories of helping get the doors open?
Rachel: There are so many little things: learning the art of grouting tiles, installing cove base, landscaping the front area, and breaking in the beautiful new espresso machine. But my favorite memory is the day we hosted our first event, Thursday Night Throwdown, a latte art competition for baristas from all over the Northwest. I remember coming in that morning to a construction zone, and through a huge joint effort from the entire crew, we were able to transform it into the beautiful shop it is now, just in time to welcome in our very first guests. It was such a fun night, getting to show off the fruits of all the hard work we had all been putting in over the summer. And after the party that night, the crew that had been working nonstop since 9am that morning were the last ones left. We were all hanging out enjoying one last beer, reveling in the fact that we had done it: the shop was ready to start serving customers. It was a really special moment.
Tell us a little about the Alberta street shop and what you find different about it compared to the other two shops?
Dylan: I think it actually turned out very different from our other cafes, certainly in appearance. Wes and Christine really did a phenomenal job with the design of the cafe, the aesthetics are so clear and so true to Case Study, and the fact that our coffee crew did the whole build out really makes it a personal shop.
It definitely has a different feel too. If it was a dog, the Alberta shop would be a Great Dane, stylish and eye-catching but also really friendly and good-natured. And mellow. Just really relaxed and mellow. Whereas I think of the downtown shop's energy and I think of a Boxer, very energetic and ready to play all the time. Just up and awake and ready to go. And then Sandy would be like a Retriever, really eager to please and help out. Plus it's the original shop so it's like the family dog, everyone knows it and loves it, and it's in many ways really the heart of the family.
And what about Alberta street? What's different about serving on Alberta?
Dylan: Well, Alberta is so many different things to so many different people. So we get to serve a full mix of locals and visitors. That keeps my work day really engaging. I get to chat with my neighbors but I also get to offer suggestions on what breweries to visit while you're in town.
What's your favorite part of a typical shift?
Rachel: I love pouring milk drinks and working on different latte art. It's one aspect of the job that, even after a decade in the industry, is always new and fun and there is always something new to learn.
Dylan: The first sip of espresso. No question. I know I'm probably supposed to say something sentimental about customer service here, but really, truly, there's nothing better on a fresh palate and a sleepy mind than a sip of espresso.
Do you have a favorite shift at the shop?
Rachel: It's tough to pick a favorite. I love working morning shifts on the espresso machine, crafting delicious drinks. However, one of my favorite things about working in the shop is all of the amazing people I get to interact with each day.
Dylan: Probably weekday mornings. Especially in the summer, when we have the garage door open and the sun is rising. And you think, "I love making coffee".
What has been one of the most challenging parts about helping to open the Alberta shop?
Dylan: I think helping the shop find its own voice and own energy has been a challenge and an inspiration. Because I mean what are your reasons for going to an independent coffee shop? You are going to list things about the product and the location, but eventually you are going to start talking about the energy the shop has, its personality, and that's the thing that takes the longest to develop. No shop has that figured out right when it opens, and when you're the newest shop in the family then you have these older siblings setting really powerful examples. So it takes work to find your own voice. You have to tune in to your neighborhood and your clientele, you have to grow into it. It feels really good to be at the one year mark and feel like that journey has been really swift and really organic. And it will keep evolving, so the challenge is still on. It's always on.
What makes the Alberta shop a special place?
Rachel: The thought and focus put into creating the space; the design of the buildout, the crew and their dedication and love of the job, as well as the visitors sipping their drinks while enjoying the loft. The way it all comes together creates such a unique setting that can't be duplicated anywhere else.
Dylan: The people inside. Our neighbors and friends who come in and sit down every day. They're shaping the cafe more than we are, truly. We wouldn't be here if they didn't want us, and they're making it a really special place.
What are you looking forward to about the future?
Rachel: Getting to invite more people to share the space with us. I have loved getting to know the regular customers we have, chatting with visitors that are in the city just for a day, and welcoming in new neighbors as they explore their new community. We have hosted a number of parties at the Alberta shop since we opened the doors, and we plan on hosting many more. I always enjoy getting to host people in a different aspect than an average day in the coffee shop.
The people we share the space with are the ones who make it great.
Written by Josh French
Earlier this year our management team was given the opportunity to attend the World Barista Championship (WBC) event in Seattle, WA. We tasted coffee, schmoozed with other coffee professionals, tasted coffee, played with cool new coffee gadgets, explored Seattle, tasted coffee… you get the idea. Despite the plethora of cool new coffee gadgets, our chance to serve our espresso using Synesso’s new MVP technology at the trade show was by far the coolest experience we found all weekend.
Luckily, after having so much fun using their new machine, Synesso offered to send us the first U.S. model as soon as it was ready for prime time.
That time has come.
Our brand-new, one-of-a-kind, shiny, glorious Synesso Hydra MVP arrived a couple weeks ago. We’ve been working around the clock to formulate our plans for the technology, train our baristas, and install the machine in our downtown shop located on SW 10th & Yamhill.
Here’s what makes it so unique:
Historically espresso has been crafted by forcing water through a small puck of finely-ground coffee at 9 bars of pressure (130 psi). Using 9 bars of pressure, baristas have dialed-in their espresso parameters by changing the grind and the dose to achieve the best tasting shots they could. With Synesso’s Hydra MVP, we can craft espresso by controlling the amount of pressure we use during multiple stages of the extraction process -- in real time! This means that in addition to utilizing grind and dose as variables, we can also use varying amounts of pressure to help facilitate the extraction of flavor from the coffee.
The extraction begins with the pre-infusion phase, wherein only 3 bars of pressure are used in order to cause the puck to swell as it absorbs water. When the water has saturated the puck it becomes more cohesive and uniform, ensuring that the extraction happens evenly.
We then ease into full pressure by ramping up to 7.5 bars of pressure for a few more seconds to further ensure that the puck remains uniform and extracts evenly once we have applied full pressure.
Finally, after several seconds of full 9 bar pressure, we enter the fourth and final ramp-down phase wherein the extraction process is slowed and the relief of pressure helps to wash small solid particles into the cup. By ramping down in this manner, over-extraction is avoided and the body/texture of the shot is retained.
Our process with the MVP allows us to craft better tasting and more consistent espresso. In fact, it even has the ability to save the details of our best extractions to ensure we can repeat whatever processes produce delicious extractions. We’re really excited about this cool new coffee gadget and we hope to craft you a delicious espresso soon!
Join us Friday evening, October 23rd at our downtown shop where we will be co-hosting a bangin’ party with Synesso show off this fancy new machine.
802 SW 10th Ave, 5pm - 9pm