Why try a Single Origin espresso shot?

single-shotWhat is a Single Origin espresso (also called an S.O. espresso, or S.O.S for Single Origin Shot)? It’s taking a bean from a single origin country, say Mexico or Brazil and brewing it via the espresso method, which is forcing high temperature water at high pressure through finely ground coffee for a short period of time.

A “traditional” espresso is a coffee or blend of coffees that have been created and roasted specifically for the espresso brewing method to be sipped on it’s own or mixed with other ingredients to make an espresso-based beverage, like a latte or mocha.

Single Origin coffee is often roasted for various brewing methods that require more time and more coarse of a grind. An espresso shot of the same coffee beans will tend to get exaggerated and can often come out tasting weak and overly acidic. To overcome this fact, a S.O. espresso can be pulled to a shorter volume and a longer time to enhance the body and lower the acidity … something I, as a veteran barista, was unaware of until researching and writing this article on the topic.

It’s also been suggested that a Single Origin espresso can be better suited as an Americano than a traditional espresso shot because of the bright acidity and deepened body it offers when extracted into plain hot water.

Any coffee brewing method that you use can change the taste profile of the coffee based on the time brewed, temperature of water, pressure of water, level of grind and the actions of the person making the brew. So by offering a coffee as a S.O. espresso is just another way to let you enjoy that coffee’s natural essences and nuanced flavors in a different brewing style.

Because the coffee’s flavors and characteristics become concentrated and exaggerated, a S.O. espresso is a great way for baristas and customers to learn about a single origin coffee and it’s uniqueness from other beans. Keep this in mind the next time you enter a coffee shop that offers a Single Origin espresso as an option and deciding whether or not to give it a try.

Enjoying or disliking a Single Origin espresso, like any other coffee brewing method, really boils down to personal taste and preference.

What’s your opinion on Single Origin espresso?

From Average Joe ... to Coffee Pro

I’m often asked how I got started in the coffee industry and where my passion for it comes from, so I’d like to share that story with you.

It all started for me in Indianapolis, Indiana at 18 years old when I happened to meet a new friend at the coffee roaster where he worked, The Fine Grind. As I sat there chatting with him and the store manager, the manager said "I really like your attitude and personality, would you consider working with us?". I was working full time for a catering company but I told him yes I could pull a few shifts here and there. About 2 months into this "spare-time" job, I was hooked. I didn’t realize there was so much to know when it came to the humble coffee bean and it’s industry. Back then (circa 1990), the Specialty Coffee Industry was still pretty young in the U.S. and the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) had only been on the scene for less than a decade. Most coffee businesses were pretty small, in the Midwest at least, and chain stores like Gloria Jeans and Starbucks were just starting to become household names. This particular coffee roaster was also well known for our “flavored coffee” … we would add chemical and natural oils to the beans immediately after roasting, even before the beans had a chance to completely cool down … something I can’t believe nowadays that we did to our wonderful beans and their natural flavors.

The more I delved into the coffee world, the more I fell in love with all aspects of coffee and the industry. I quit the catering company and went full-time into the coffee business … within a year I was actually roasting coffee (something I shouldn’t have been allowed to do as such a novice, but the business owner didn’t know any better back then) and soon after that I moved into the assistant manager position. I must admit that back then, I got most of my coffee training myself through my own endeavors and efforts, not through my employer … which I appreciate now, because it proved to me that I had the self-passion for this industry.

I eventually decided to give a few of the bigger players in the industry a chance to see how I liked the “corporate” side of things (I worked at both Starbucks and Caribou Coffee for a few years). While I got much better training and learned a lot from these experiences, I also got to know that I liked working for smaller coffee roasters better than big corporate companies where the roasting happened somewhere across the country and outside of the store … a valuable lesson.

I also got the opportunity to work for a few coffee startups and help design everything from store layouts to menus to advertising projects. Several times I’ve compiled, designed and taught the coffee knowledge programs for companies. I’m amazed at how much the industry itself has grown up along with the training and knowledge that current baristas receive. When I look back over my coffee career, I’ve done pretty much every job you can think of related to coffee besides sourcing and buying the beans.

Now at 42 years old, I’ve been in the coffee industry for just over 24 years and every time I leave it, it’s not long before it pulls me back. Coffee can do that to you … for many reasons. So here I am … working for a coffee roaster, helping to train baristas, sharing my passion with my customers and enjoying life with coffee.

What’s your coffee story?

Brewing Methods: Toddy Cold Brew Coffee Maker


The Toddy is the ultimate coffee maker. In 1964, as a chemical engineering graduate of Cornell, Todd Simpson developed and patented a cold brew system that, using regular Arabica coffee beans, creates a superior-tasting cup of steaming HOT coffee. And, with 67% LESS ACID than coffee made by conventional hot brew methods, it’s easier on sensitive stomachs. The Toddy brewer produces a low acid, coffee concentrate. Just add water for a distinctively bold, super smooth taste that has delighted connoisseurs for some 40 years. And, refrigerated, there’s no waste … Toddy can be made one cup at a time.

Now to the good stuff … how to use one!

Coffee-to-Water Ratio:

The Toddy brewing container is designed to hold (1) one pound of coffee and (9) nine cups (72 fluid ounces) of water. (If your coffee is packaged in sizes larger or smaller than one pound, click here for detailed proportion suggestions.)

Directions for the Toddy Cold Brew Coffee Maker:

1. Add (1) one cup of water into the bottom of the Toddy brewing container. Then, add (1/2) half-pound coarsely ground coffee. When pouring the water over the grounds, the water should be added gently, in a circular motion, to make sure all the grounds get wet and there are no dry pockets. Slowly pour (4) four cups of water over the grounds, then add the remaining (1/2) half pound coarsely ground coffee. Slowly pour (3) three additional cups of water over the grounds. Finally, wait five minutes and slowly add (1) one cup of water. DO NOT STIR. Lightly tap the topmost grounds with the back of a spoon to ensure all grounds get wet.
2. BREW – We recommend that you cold-brew your coffee grounds 12 hours to achieve maximum results. Remove the stopper and let coffee concentrate flow into the glass decanter. Toddy’s cold-brew process should yield (6) six cups (48 fluid ounces) of coffee concentrate. The coffee beans absorb the balance of the water. You may cold-brew your grounds longer than the recommended 12 hours. However, if you do, more acidity and caffeine will be absorbed into the liquid (although the amount of acidity and caffeine will never be as much as coffee brewed by conventional hot water methods). The trade-off: Richer concentrate will be produced (with the same amount of liquid), therefore allowing you to produce more cups of coffee per pound of coffee beans.
3.SERVE – The Toddy produces a naturally low acid, bold yet smooth coffee concentrate that may be refrigerated for up to 14 days without any deterioration in taste or freshness. And, importantly, there’s no waste. Toddy can be made one cup at a time simply by adding steaming hot or cold water, milk or cream. It’s also microwavable (do not boil concentrate). We recommend a ratio of (1) one part coffee concentrate to (3) three parts water, milk or cream. However, one of the benefits of using the Toddy system is that you can mix to taste (make it as strong or as weak as you prefer). And, you drink the coffee you make (unlike hot brewed coffee, where an average of 3-4 cups are consumed for every 8-10 produced).

NOTES: Different coffee brewing methods require different types of grinds. It’s important that you use a universal or, better yet, coarsely ground coffee with your Toddy. If you grind your beans at home, you may use an inexpensive blade grinder, grinding your beans between 9-11 seconds – similar to the grind used in an old-fashioned percolator.

Brewing Method Pros

  • 67% less acidity compared to hot brewed coffee
  • 2 week shelf life when refrigerated
  • Can be served Hot or Iced
  • User controlled brew time
  • User controlled strength when used as a concentrate
  • No build up of rancid coffee oils (when cleaned after each use)
  • Eco-friendly, simple clean up

Brewing Method Cons

  • Takes a long time to brew (12 to 18 hours)
  • Uses a lot of coffee per brew
  • Filter must be changed about every 10 brews to avoid bitter/sour taste
  • Clean up can get pretty messy

Brewing Method Suggested Coffees

  • Brazil
  • Mexico
  • Ethiopia
  • Sumatra

Brewing Methods: French Press Coffee Maker


The first Coffee Press, which may have been made in France, was a metal or cheesecloth screen fitted to a rod that users would press into a pot of boiling water. The first patent for a Coffee Press was given to a Milanese designer Attilio Calimani in 1929. Faliero Bondanini made several design modifications, patented his own version in 1958 and began manufacturing it in a French clarinet factory called Martin S.A. This brewing method was further popularized across Europe by the name of and most notably, the Danish tableware and kitchenware company, Bodum.

The modern French Press is usually made of glass or clear plastic forming narrow cylindrical beaker, with a metal or plastic lid and plunger that fits tightly in the cylinder and has a fine metal-wire or nylon-mesh filter. The simplicity of the mechanism and its attractive presentation have led to a variety of aesthetic designs.

Now to the good stuff … how to use one!

Coffee-to-Water Ratio:

16:1 SCAA Standard = approximately 1oz (28g) coffee per 16oz (453g) water.

1.6 – 2.0 grams of coffee per fluid ounce of water; if you don’t have a scale, use 2 table spoons of coffee per 6 fluid ounces of water.

Directions for the French Press Coffee Maker:

  1. Start water boiling, then allow to cool during the next steps.
  2. Weigh proper coffee amount for size of finished cup. 
  3. Pre-heat the press with some of your hot water, then dispose of the pre-heat water.
  4. Grind the pre-weighed coffee and add it to the press (a coarser grind than drip, but not as coarse as percolator is best).
  5. Pour the cooled water (optimal 200 degrees) in a circular motion to completely saturate the grounds, filling the press to about 1 inch from the top.
  6. Give the grounds a few good stirs and allow the coffee to bloom for about 30-40 seconds.
  7. Put the plunger on and press down until the grounds are fully submerged, but still at the top of the press.
  8. After the optimal steeping time is reached, then steadily and evenly plunge the grounds to the bottom of the press.
  9. Decant the coffee into your favorite mug or thermos (to keep it hot) and enjoy.
  10. Fully disassemble the plunger apparatus and thoroughly clean all parts and the press to eliminate rancid oils in your next brew.

For greater consistency, use a weight scale and stop pouring the water at the recommended weight for the size of your finished cup.

The whole brew time from bloom to finish should take approximately 3.5-4 minutes when done correctly.

Since there aren’t any paper filters to hold back the coffee oils, you get a stronger, richer, more full-bodied cup.

Here’s a great video of the “Reverse technique” used by coffee geek Christopher Hildebrand

Brewing Method Pros

  • User temperature control
  • No paper filters to buy, re-buy, or need to dispose
  • User controlled brew time
  • No build up of rancid coffee oils (when cleaned after each use)
  • Eco-friendly, simple clean up
  • Fuller flavor since all the coffee’s oils pass into the cup

Brewing Method Cons

  • More coffee sediments get passed into your cup
  • Glass vessel will lose heat quickly (within 10 minutes +/-)
  • Even though the grounds are plunged, they will continue to extract in the vessel
  • Clean up can get pretty messy

Brewing Method Suggested Coffees

  • Brazil
  • Mexico
  • Sumatra
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