Many of you watched our new roaster being unloaded off the truck on Queen St, and into it’s new home. Replacing the Sivetz, this new roaster allows us to roast greater quantities (as we had reached capacity with our old machine), roast during the day (goodbye baker’s hours!), and has a more sophisticated afterburner, which means way less emissions.
Thank you to our customers for being so supportive of our growth and changes. During some of our first roasts on Saturday morning, Te Aro was buzzing, and it was awesome to chat with our customers about the new equipment as the place filled with the smell of freshly roasted beans.
We will still be roasting pretty early in the mornings, as we don’t want to interrupt the Cafe too much, and the boys need full concentration as they actually do the roasting.
Thank you as well to our amazing team – Tyler played a key role in disassembling the old roaster, and putting into place the Diedrich. Nicole was also behind the scenes giving the back end of our business a complete facelift.
Here are some pics and clips of the work we did last week.
The arrival of the roaster….
My how time flies. 2010 was huge for us here at Te Aro. 2011 is going to be even bigger; it’s only one week in and we can already feel it. We’d like to take a minute to reminisce about the good times, to give some shout-outs, to look back at how far we’ve come and forward to where we’re headed. Buckle up, here we go.
First off, the beans. Coffee Review, the leading coffee-buying guide, sampled and evaluated four of Te Aro’s coffees. Our Mocha Java, Kenya, El Salvador Finca Alaska, and Ethiopia Sidama all scored in the 90s, which is no small feat. In December, Te Aro also took the top spot on the Best Coffee Roasters in Toronto poll, as voted by you, our lovely fans. We’re incredibly proud of our superstar roasting team, and appreciate them hugely for working tirelessly to perfect our beans.
Our cafés also got some amazing recognition last year. We are so honoured to have been awarded the 2010 Krups Cup of Excellence, which recognizes the top indie cafes in 5 major Canadian cities. We were up against seriously stiff competition from awesome TO cafes, but our team at Te Aro really stepped up and impressed the judges. Te Aro also placed 3rd in Eye Weekly’s Top 10 Independent Coffee Houses.
In July, we opened Crafted by Te Aro, our second café, on Ossington. Here we wanted to explore the growing trend of manual brewing methods, like siphons and pourovers, and other nerdy gadgets like cold-extraction coffee makers–while still paying the same attention and care to our beloved espresso, of course. We love our cozy little spot in this awesome West End neighbourhood, our customers have amazing and supportive, and our neighbours so welcoming. We were honoured, flattered, and excited that Crafted was voted Toronto’s best new café by blogTO when it was just a wee 5 months old.
Multiple high fives all around to our stellar baristas, and big love to all our customers who sent in their votes, we couldn’t have done without you!
Speaking of our staff, they were up to some exciting stuff last year too. Andy, Te Aro’s founder and Roastmaster, went through the rigorous training process of becoming a Q-Grader, a certification to assess and grade coffee quality. He passed the 3-day, 22-section exam with flying colours and is one of only seven Q Graders in Canada. Andy also became a Specialty Coffee Association of America Certified Cupping Judge, and in the spring made it down to Guatemala to be an observer in the country’s Cup of Excellence competition. He’s a busy man.
In July, Elena participated in the Eastern Regional Barista Championships. Probably the most nerve-wracking thing she’s done since her junior high debate championship, but she got to watch some incredibly talented baristas perform and definitely learned so much from the experience.
Our roasting team expanded exponentially last year. Thiago Trovo, who worked with us last year before having to return to his native Brazil, made his way back to Te Aro to become a Coffee Roaster. Chris Noseworthy, whom you’ve probably seen pulling shots behind the bar at Te Aro, has also joined the team. From Andy roasting solo late into the night, we now have a trio of skilled and experienced roasters.
If you didn’t know already, I’ll say it again: we love our customers at Crafted and Te Aro, they’re swell. Last year we wanted to spend more quality time with them, and share some of our knowledge. We continued our well-attended cupping sessions at Te Aro, as well as started up a Home Roasting seminar with our roasting team for all you amateur enthusiasts. At Crafted we offered brew demos, showcasing our nifty manual-brewing methods.
Next week we’ll be installing our new roaster, an infrared roaster from Diedrich. Since our wholesale and retail has grown so much, we need to upgrade to a new roaster so that we can keep up with our expansion. Another reason we wanted to make the switch: the catalytic oxidizer on the after-burner is 50-60% more energy efficient than our current afterburner. We can greatly reduce our emissions with this new roaster, not to mention our beans will taste even better. And soon you’ll be able to watch (and smell) your coffee being roasted while you sip your latte!
One of our goals, this year and onwards, is to make more trips to origin countries to build relationships with the coffee growers themselves, and to trade with them directly. Last year, Thiago got to know a farmer in Brazil, which led to Te Aro purchasing an exclusive micro-lot from his crop. This is our biggest contract to date, look for the beans on the shelf soon. At the end of the month, Andy and Chris will be heading to Guatemala, then Andy and Thiago to Brazil to visit more farms and sample lots of coffee.
We have some brilliant coffees coming our way this year, as we’ve worked through 2010 to track down the finest micro-lot green beans. We’ll be developing some new blends and single origin espressos, so keep a look out for our new Espresso Menus at the cafés.
We’ll have lots more events this year, starting with our informal cupping and coffee-talk sessions with Thiago on Friday afternoons at Te Aro. Check back often to find out about upcoming events!
We’ve partnered up with some great Toronto cafes and restaurant to caffeinate our community. We look forward to more collaborations and will continue to offer training and support for wholesale customers and start-up cafes. We’ll also be spiffing up our website so it’s easier for you to use.
Last but not least, thanks again to all our staff, all our partners, and all our customers. You’re the crema on our espresso, we couldn’t have done all this without you.
Cheers to 2010, so long and thanks for all the memories. And here’s to 2011, which we know will be even better.
Yesterday, we threw down 7 Guatemalans on the table to cup. This is the story.
I had a few samples that I had brought back from Guatemala back in May, and we also had a few that were sent to us from our importer.
Guatemala is one of the world’s top coffee origins, and the high altitude produces an amazingly lively coffee. The SHB (Strictly Hard Bean) coffee is among the best you’ll come across – spicy flavour + full bodied.
Of the 7 that we tried, there were 3 that were outstanding. One of them was a Guatemalan Pacamara (from Antigua) that was scoring off the richter at Cup of Excellence and was in the running to be the best COE Guatemalan for the year, however, was disqualified at the very end of the competition for fermentation. The farmer still insisted on over $10/pound for the green, even though it was disqualified. This was one of my favourite coffees that I tried when I was in Guatemala.
#2 was another Pacamara from a farmer that I met at COE. This farm in Huehuetenango grows phenomenal coffee – seriously, some of the best Guatemalan beans I’ve had, and I can’t wait to work with this farmer in the future.
#3 was from a Huehuetenango Microlot . This bourbon coffee was so juicy – full of red fruit, and extremely complex. Beautiful creamy body.
We plan for 1 of these coffees to be on the shelf by the end of the month. You’ll have to drop in and see for yourself.
It’s been an incredibly exciting and memorable year, taking the plunge into the world of Specialty Coffee. Thank you to our amazing customers, to our team of dedicated baristas (who make us smile every day!), and to our family and friends.
You are all invited to come celebrate with us on Saturday May 8th….live music, $2.50 flat whites, birthday cake…..
So, what’s next??
Here’s a sneak peak….Andy will be heading to Guatemala to participate on the jury in the Cup of Excellence at the end of the month, more travel (to origin and to coffee-centric cities) with the aim of learning even more about coffee so that we can further improve what we are doing at Te Aro and further educate our customers and continuing to apply leading edge techniques/science/equipment and passion to hand craft the best coffee for our customers.
We can’t wait…..
Playing around with our video camera – here is a time lapse (taken over 2 hours) of all the action at Te Aro one lazy Sunday afternoon.
This really captures how awesome our team is and how hard they all work!!