Whole Story

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Share the Gift of Coffee

By Jennifer Cheng, December 17, 2011  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Jennifer Cheng

I am a certified coffee nerd. (No, seriously. I took a test and everything!) Anyone else out there setting their programmable coffeemakers at night so they can wake up to the scent of freshly brewed coffee? Or combining coffee grounds with almond oil for a body scrub? Oh yeah, and maybe I should mention that I was a barista for a little over seven years! Given my love — nay, obsession — with all things coffee, I was super excited when I was invited to visit Allegro Coffee®, part of the Whole Foods Market® family and our resident experts in coffee, tea, drinking chocolates and more. I’ve enjoyed and served coffee for years, but I’d never had an opportunity like this to check out all of the happenings behind the brew.We began the day with a freshly brewed cup (of course!), then talked with Christy Thorns, Director of Sourcing, to get the “behind the scenes” info about beans — the coffee plants they come from, the methods of harvesting and processing them, sourcing them from the right climates and paying fairly for them. Christy and her team of buyers travel the majority of the year to the different regions that grow coffee. Hearing about their travels around the world felt like I was in on the adventure myself! You can watch some videos from her travels to coffee growing regions here. Afterwards, we went on a taste-tour and cupped coffee from each of the major coffee-growing regions: South America, Africa/Arabia and the Pacific Rim. (Cupping is a traditional coffee-tasting technique to evaluate the aroma and flavor of coffee.) Each of these regions has different characteristics that come from the environments in which the beans are grown. Tasting the different coffees side-by-side made it easy to detect the nuances. The coffee from South America was balanced and smooth, the coffee from Africa was lightly fruity and floral, and coffee from Sumatra was intense and earthy. Allegro offers single origin coffee, as well as expert blends from different regions. We also tasted this year’s Vintage 2011 Celebration Caffè, a blend of Guatemala, Costa Rica and Aged Sumatra beans. Smooth and easy to drink with a hint of spice and notes of chocolate and caramel, it’s easy to see why this blend is for sharing. If you’re curious, it’s what I’m brewing these days — it’s a delicious way to start my morning and it also pairs well with the season’s many holiday desserts! Our day at Allegro wouldn’t be complete without a tour of the factory. There we saw the beans being roasted and packaged, as well as my favorite part — a room packed high with burlap bags of green, unroasted beans. The scent from the green beans was surprisingly fragrant, like a blend of amber and evergreen. Who knew unroasted beans could smell like that? If I could bottle that scent, I’d wear it. Hearing the stories and meeting the people from Allegro — and seeing first-hand how their heart and soul goes into great coffee — makes my morning cup taste that much better. Have you tried this year’s Celebration Caffè yet? Here’s a cooking video of a pots de crème recipe that’s perfect for serving during the holidays. 8-oz bags of Celebration Caffè are available whole bean or ground, regular or decaf for $7.99 a bag. It’s only available for a limited time so make sure you grab some for your everyday cup, recipes and gifts. Let the celebrations begin!

Category: Holidays 2011

 

11 Comments

Comments

Coffee Kevin says ...
Christy is the real mccoy coffee expert. She appears in Coffee Brewing Secrets, a DVD about coffee brewing everyone should see if they want to make their coffee as good as Christy does. BTW, I also grind coffee fresh before showing my clients my work. Shh, it's a secret motivator. Nice blog!
12/17/2011 11:29:36 AM CST
Kelly says ...
Have you looked into Fair Trade coffee? I would be interested to know if Christy mentioned anything about that. Thanks, Kelly A.
12/17/2011 11:49:52 AM CST
Jude says ...
Sounds very exciting and interesting. I too have become obsessed with a good cup of coffee. Yes, I set my coffee to brew so that I can get that first cup right away every morning. But beyond that, when I am visiting my son in Seattle, I adore the little coffee place around the corner from his apartment that brews absolutely the best cup of coffee and expresso anywhere. It is a no nonsense place who take their coffee very seriously and once you've had it, you have to work hard not to compare all other cups to it from that point forward.
12/18/2011 4:00:24 PM CST
Karen says ...
My husband drinks Allegro coffee. He is still searching for the best coffee machine to brew his coffee. He is currently using french press. Is it possible to find out what brand of coffee pot Christy Thorns used to brew the coffee in the photo? I hope to get it for him for Christmas. Thanks alot.
12/18/2011 9:03:19 PM CST
bob cheng says ...
I am going to get some Celebration Caffe now!!
12/20/2011 10:01:04 AM CST
janejohnson says ...
@Karen Great question. This was a fun one to research. These types of coffee makers are called Melitta Coffee Maker. I've included a Google Shopping search for them to help you out as well as a Wikipedia link to the description of the product. Good luck getting just the right one for your husband! http://www.google.com/search?q=melitta+coffee&hl=en&rlz=1C1CHKZ_enUS440US440&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=shop&ei=vrbwTuHFJomMiALfpoSNDg&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=6&ved=0CHMQ_AUoBQ&biw=1182&bih=692 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melitta
12/20/2011 10:26:48 AM CST
janejohnson says ...
@Kelly We're definitely into Whole Trade. Our version of Fair Trade is called Whole Trade Guarantee-- http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/whole-trade.php Here are just a couple of Allegro coffees that carry the WTG symbol: http://www.allegrocoffee.com/coffee/single-origin#35 http://www.allegrocoffee.com/about/giving-back/special-reserves-program/whole-trade-guarantee-rwanda-karaba
12/20/2011 12:58:26 PM CST
REB says ...
I would have to say that the Allegro Coffee is the best coffee to purchase from any supermarket. It is very good quality and alot of regions. The one thing I wish I would see more is coffee from Guatemala and also El Salvador. I used to see it and then noticed that it was no longer on the shelf. Thank You
12/22/2011 12:48:58 PM CST
Moira Obrian says ...
Please advise if you deliver orders placed online
12/27/2011 7:22:48 AM CST
janejohnson says ...
@Moira When giving the gift of coffee, if you'd like your gift delivered, your best bet is to order the "Perfect Sip" gift box. It's currently on discount for $20. Those gift boxes will be delivered to the address you specify. If you're inquiring about orders placed on the online store, in general, those orders need to be picked up at the store you specify. Some store locations have a drive-through grocery pick up for the busy customer. The first link below will take you to the coffee gift box and the second link will help you identify the contact information for your local Whole Foods Market in case you'd like to reach them to inquire about drive-through pick up. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/giftbox/perfectsip.php www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores
12/27/2011 10:54:01 AM CST
Elaine says ...
@Jane Johnson - The coffeemaker in the picture looks like a Hario, not a Melitta. There is a difference in the design - Hario filter has a pointy bottom and Melitta filter has a flat bottom. Pourover coffee experts generally agree that a Hario pourover brew is far superior to Melitta's. The kettle that she uses to pour hot water over grounds in the filter is definitely Hario, and an integral part of making Hario-brewed coffee. You can even find videos on Youtube detailing the Hario brewing technique. I use Hario myself and highly recommend it. It can be found at some Williams Sonoma stores and online.
12/29/2011 3:58:00 PM CST