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A Robust Kind of Buzz

December 24, 2012

1964_new_york_world_fair_mug-Unlike my kids who strongly requested it very young, it took me years to appreciate coffee. I had the parental spoonful in my glass of milk when I was little but my first taste of the real deal was at the 1964 Worlds Fair when my dad treated us to a cup at the Colombian pavilion  Perhaps that set the bar because there are a lot of coffees that just do not hold my attention.

The coffee industry is global with coffee beans the second highest value traded commodity (after oil) in the world.  The Wild Ramp is fortunate in that we have two roasters bring us fresh coffee. Ignition Roasters operates here in Huntington in leased space at the Montwest Cooking and Culinary School facility on 8th Avenue.new facility

Originally established by the former MoJo Express owner who sold off his retail shops, Joe Weber purchased the roasting service in September. Joe works fulltime as an IT director in Charleston, so like many of the farmers, he manages to find the time for the coffee before and after his regular day.

Artisan coffees are shipped in from Brazil, Sumatra, Guatemala and other places around the world in large bags that hold over 100 pounds of raw beans. Joe can process the coffee to light, medium or dark roasts  in the gas-fueled roasting oven. He says it can take about 15 minutes to complete a roasting cycle.  This will take about 11 pounds of raw beans to 9 pounds as the water is removed. DSC_0007

Some facts I learned:

  • Arabica beans have less caffeine
  • Robusto beans are higher in caffeine but also are higher in acid
  • The longer the roast, the less caffeine (A coffee shop once asked me if I wanted strong coffee or strong tasting coffee.)
  • Flavor is most dependent on the soil conditions where the plant is grown
  • The Swiss water process for decaffeination uses no chemicals and leaves no aftertaste
  • Beans are smaller after the decaffeination process and take less time to roast.DSC_0012

I noticed one of the bags was marked “Monsooned Malabar”. Joe explained that when coffee was brought to England from India by clipper ship the beans often were subjected to the moisture caused by the winds and waves of the monsoon season. While some people considered them ruined, a strong following soon developed for the special taste of this process. Today the beans are purposely stored in the warehouses in India so they will be exposed to the moisture-laden monsoon winds. The beans are lighter in color than beans which do not have this extra moisture exposure.DSC_0014

DSC_0008All coffees from Ignition Roasters are unflavored. Joe strongly believes that people can add their own extra flavorings to the coffee. He provide beans to a number of local coffee shops which mix in numerous favors including seasonal favorites with Ghiardelli chocolate and white chocolate.

Joe’s biggest challenge is time. He would like to grow the business and a family member has expressed interest to get involved.

Several blends of Ignition Roaster Coffee are for sale at the Wild Ramp for $9.99.  Blends include Bob-o-link (named after the migratory bird it helps protect), Signature Blend (100% arabica), Midnight Blend (dark French roast). Check them out!!!

The answer to Saturday’s teaser photo is yes, coffee beans.DSC_0004

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 24, 2012 10:08 pm

    Hmmm… thanks for the post. I learned a LOT from it. I love the taste of good coffee, but it makes me jittery and I don’t like the feeing of my heart racing. I may have to do some exploring…..

    • December 24, 2012 10:17 pm

      A lot of people complain that decaf has a funny taste but they might not have tried it for years. A while ago it was chemically treated to get the caffeine out and that did leave an aftertaste. The Swiss method uses no chemicals and when we serve after dinner we always use decaf and people always say how good our coffee is.

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