Monday, October 17, 2011

Thoughts on Brewing Coffee: Pour Over Vs. French Press

As a start-up coffee shop let us now turn our attention from business plans and buildings to coffee: just the other day my brother was asking me- as a college student- what was the best way to brew coffee in his dorm room and maintain the integrity of the bean's flavor? My dad will send him off from Kansas City with pounds of great beans from PT's Coffee and/or Revocup  and placing those beans into a single-serving Mr. Coffee with a single spout drip simply will NOT do.

The question then becomes one of cost. Are you willing or able to spend the money necessary to purchase a burr grinder and a shower-head coffee brewer? (ok, you should at the very least buy the burr grinder) Given the many college students lack these resources we are left with a choice: French press or pour-over?

Both of these methods are great, in their own right. Both require water to be around 190 degrees and for the coffee to be ground more coarsely than with a sprinkler head. Let's break down each method:

French press: this technique will require about 12-15 minutes (unless you have ready access to boiling water). You will grind your coffee to a medium grind (so you can still see small bits of bean) and measure out the appropriate amount (this will vary depending on your press' size). Pour the water over the grounds until it fills the press; at this point your grounds on top should be moist but form a sort of "coffee head" called "crema". Now you wait four minutes and then gently break the crema and stir the grounds with a wooden spoon (you can use rubber but some would argue it can taint the flavor). After it is stirred thoroughly, place the top on the press and push the plunger down. You are ready to pour and drink!

Pour over: this technique will take about 8-12 minutes (again, unless you have ready access to boiling water). You will need a drip kettle as well (which will set you back about $60)- there are also warmers for these kettles to properly heat up your water. Grind your coffee just as you did for the french press, measure out the appropriate amount, place the grounds in your filter, and put your cup underneath. Now, you will take your drip kettle and pour the water over the grounds slowly and in a circle/spiral fashion to ensure that all of the beans are integrated. You don't want to pour too fast or you will over fill your cup. Allow the grounds to steep and drain into your cup and you are all set.

All of that to say this: I don't think it matters. Both techniques have value, will bring out unique aspects of each bean, can be done well and done poorly (no pun intended), and really the only difference that we can note is the time. Beyond that, try both, see what you like and use that one.

For more reading go here!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Light Gets Bigger

It was, as usual, a wild week... but it felt especially wild for a few reasons:

1. This week Ryan Bruner joined our team as the assistant manager.... as we brought him up to speed it was a little like picking up a hitch-hiker with a hook hanging off of Corvette doing 80mph. He is doing great though and we are proud to have him.
2. Finalizing our menu and pricing. We want our future guests to be able to see what we are going to offer and be able to even show pictures.
3. Coffee & alcohol training. Both of these things there is as much science as there is art. So we are cross-training and preparing to help our employees learn to do their job excellently.

We are having a lot of fun, working a lot, and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for all of the encouragement from you guys! It means so much to hear from you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Now All We Have to Do is Build it...

If you have got anything from this blog it has been how many times Mark and I have had to learn the hard way- but those are lessons well-learned if not repeated. Many of you know the primary things we have been waiting for were building permits, final building plans, and a liquor license. As of yesterday morning we have all of those things!

The hearing was a little nerve-wracking as three permits that were up before us were denied causing me to sweat beneath my rarely worn suit a bit. Thankfully, any issues with our application had been cleared up in the weeks before as we tried to communicate as much as possible with the ATC.

I have said it before, and will say it again: for the love of God get an expeditor. We used A-1 Expeditors and were very impressed by their level of service and overall cost.

The majority of the red-tape is now taken care of and we are starting to put in plumbing this week. For just a moment though I paused, lit a cigar, and said a thankfully prayer. Feel free to join in our little celebration. Thanks for all of the support.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Let's Start Building a Coffee House!

Most people don't become a success overnight and those that do often don't stay successes. Real success is the long view and big picture. So we are getting there and trying to slow down our own audacious and aggressive expectations (or at least I am, Mark is much better at that). We are now allowed to legally start our build-out (although if you drove by you would notice that we have done the tear-out). We have a few other legal hurdles to pass through so prayers and positive thoughts are much appreciated. HOPEFULLY, we will be open in October/November-ish. We will keep you in the loop- expect another update in the next week to ten days. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Now THAT'S a Landmark

Sometimes it takes a lot of prep to take the first step of a long journey. Today would be an example of that with Hearthstone Coffee House & Pub. We have spent this summer filing permits, securing vendors, meeting distributers, listening to our charity partners, finding employees, making menus, and dreaming of a day that we can actually brew coffee and pour beer.

But today we FINALLY began tear-out/construction on our new space. By no means is this a breather but rather a large landmark that things are happening and about to begin happening faster. To hone our own skills and begin training others we are also temporarily hooking up our espresso machine in Paige's Music on 65th today.

In the midst of all this we should take a moment to note that the things we want to do in life do not happen all at once but rather come from putting one foot in front of the other in the right direction. It takes courage, patience, time, and love. Don't be discouraged by not being at the end of the road when you are still on the journey.

Thanks for the thoughts, prayers, encouragement, and love you have shown us.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Storm Before the Storm

For those of you just joining us in the this story and for those of you who have been patient enough to bear with us as we are attempting to launch, you all know this has been a hectic summer. We have a dozen plates spinning, are trying to hire staff (and not TOO many friends ;-), get an alcohol permit, order equipment... you get the picture. In the midst of all of that, Hearthstone is all a theory until we actually have a useful space.  Right now it's just four walls, a storage space, and a bathroom.

That will (knock on wood) change in the next few days as we begin our tear-out and start construction. While I could regale you with stories about trying to get this seemingly simple approval but I won't. This is the biggest step we have yet to take and to see what has been- up and to now- only been on paper come to life and we are thrilled!

We are also attempting to stream-line our communication and social media. If you would like to participate in more of what we are doing go to where you can see our countdown to opening, follow us on Twitter, join the facebook page, join our mailing list, and (very soon) even vote for what mainline, microbrew, and local brew beers we will have on tap. We cannot thank you enough for joining us in our journey so early and anything you can help us do to promote Hearthstone is much appreciated. Cheers!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Keeping a 30,000ft. Perspective

The devil may be in the details but "the details" are a two-edged sword. We have been bogged in design layouts, interior design plans, permits, building codes, and training and in the midst of all of those things we can lose perspective. Mark and I have started Hearthstone because of a mission- not a business. We want it to be markedly different, to leave a lasting impression on our Town of Fishers and our world. We want to lives to be positively changed, people to be inspired, and to create a community that many simply don't have. We didn't want to write you today with any laborious update but to do two things: 1. challenge you to do the same, wherever you are, there is no one else in your position so do something that people will remember you for; and 2. help us- give us feedback, tell us what we are doing well that we could continue and what we are doing that we need to stop- and then buy coffee, tea, beer, food, and art and tell your friends.

We want to help you be great and we want you to help us. The days come at us faster and faster and if we do not occasionally stop and think about where we want to end up we will certainly never get there.