Third time - and what a Charm!

Wow, where has the time gone?

Yep, one of the joys of having your own blog is that life sometimes gets in the way.  Between being increasingly buried at work, planning for a summer vacation, and the many other daily impediments of life, I’ve only managed to post once in the last couple of months.  Eek!

Well, we’re back after that short hiatus.  And we’re still drinking plenty of decaffeinated coffee.

When we last checked in, we had just reviewed several outstanding decaffeinated coffee roasts from a wonderful Calgary roaster, Blue Spruce Decaffeinated Coffee Company. We absolutely loved both their Mexican Organic Decaf as well as their Thai Organic Decaf.  But, there was one more coffee left for us to taste and review – their Decaf Espresso.

Would their third roast be just as good as the first two?

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Coffee: The Best Souvenir

What kind of souvenirs do you pick up when you travel?

T-shirts?  Knick-knacks?  Other trinkets?

Or do you bring home something consumable?

I used to love to get t-shirts and other mementos of my travels.  I’d spend hours trying to find the right t-shirt so that I could humblebrag that I had travelled somewhere, but could also claim some sort of style points from those travels.

However, as I’ve gotten older my tastes have changed.

No longer do I need a drawer full of t-shirts from places I’ve visited. Instead, I’ve gotten in the habit of bringing home consumables souvenirs from my travels. 

That means I searching for chocolates, jellies & preserves, fresh fish and produce, and other foodstuffs during my travels.  You know, souvenirs that remind me of my trip but that have a sunset date on their time in my house. 

And, of course, this means that I get to bring home coffee. 

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Second Verse, as Good as the First?

Regular readers of this blog have already learned about the delightful Mexican Organic Decaf (SWP) that we recently reviewed from Blue Spruce Decaf Coffee Company.  It was an amazing, refreshing decaffeinated coffee experience that we wholeheartedly recommend.

While many roasters would be content to stop with one outstanding decaffeinated coffee, the people at Blue Spruce Decaf wanted more.  They wanted to produce a series of outstanding decaffeinated coffees that decaf drinkers could enjoy. 

After quickly making our way through our first pound of coffee from Blue Spruce Decaf, we were almost giddy with anticipation of another outstanding decaffeinated coffee experience.  The primary question for us was which decaf should we open next?  Would it be their Thai Organic Decaf?  Or should we go with their Organic Decaf Espresso?

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Beautiful Third Wave Coffee Shop. But How’s Their Decaf?

Where do decaffeinated coffee drinkers fit into coffee’s third-wave? 

One of the challenges that I’ve faced as a longtime drinker of decaffeinated coffee is understanding where I fit into the coffee’s third wave. 

There are some roasters and shops that cater to the needs of the decaffeinated coffee drinker just like we’re any other consumer of outstanding coffee.  Decaf is readily available and, in some cases, they even have multiple decaffeinated roasts available.  However, I’ve found that those coffee shops and roasters are the exception. 

Some roasters and shops ignore us altogether, arguing that the process of decaffeinating the coffee (whether chemical or chemical-free, such as Swiss Water Process) change the flavor of the coffee. 

But many third wave roasters do have decaf coffee available – albeit with a limited selection.  A coffee shop that might have 5-10 different types of caffeinated coffee available only roasts and brews one type of decaffeinated coffee at a time. 

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The Greatest Decaf to Hit the Market?

On a cold, January morning we received an email that could best be described as intriguing.  Its subject screamed “Review the Greatest New Decaf to Hit the Market. “  It was from a new producer of decaffeinated coffees, the Blue Spruce Decaffeinated Coffee Co.  According to their website, they aspired to “produce the world’s finest decaf coffee.”

Hmmm, color me intrigued. Would the confidence found in this email translate into their decaf coffee?  Would this be the “greatest new decaf to hit the market”? 

After all, that’s quite the lofty goal, particularly given the many outstanding decaffeinated coffees that we’ve already sampled during this project.  And while I had no doubt that this new roaster was going to be producing a very good – even excellent – decaffeinated coffee, would it be “the greatest”?

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A Special Roast from One of Our Favorite St. Louis Decaf Roasters

Live Fast.  Play Loud.  Drink Decaf?

Many years of coffee drinking has taken me to a plethora of coffee roasters and shops around the United States.  I’ve been to outstanding coffee shops located steps from the beach in Florida.  I’ve had surprisingly good cups of coffee in small towns in the Upper Midwest.  I’ve explored coffee shops in big, bustling cities.  Coffee was a staple of my days in Duluth, but it was also a treat while exploring the Hawaiian Islands. 

Yet, despite those years of coffee tourism, I’ve never been to a rock ‘n roll coffee shop. 

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Familiarity Breeds...Excellent Coffee at Home

Occasionally I’m asked about my favorite coffee shops.  I typically list a number of outstanding venues that I’ve visited in cities throughout the United States, shops that many coffee aficionados are well aware of as their reputation for producing great coffee precedes them.

Rarely will I list someplace in my hometown of Columbia, MO unless someone is specifically asking for coffee in CoMo. 

I’m not sure why that is since, as you can see from our coffee guide to Columbia, there are a number of outstanding roasters found in this small city.  These are places that I frequent on a daily basis, the coffee shops that produce my go-to decaffeinated coffees.

I guess it probably has something to do with taking these shops for granted.  Since I see them regularly, I’m used to their outstanding brews.

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From the Belly of the Big Green Giant Comes a Great Decaffeinated Coffee

No single place might be more responsible for the rise of coffee culture in the United States than the city of Seattle.  Sure, there are plenty of other cities (I see you Bay Area) that contributed to the rise of specialty coffee, but without the Big Green Giant from Seattle would it have the reach that it does today?

This is especially true in flyover country, where, prior to the arrival of the Big Green Giant, coffee was mostly confined to the realm of diners, gas stations, and percolators.  When I originally moved to my current home of Columbia, MO in 1992, the only coffee shop in town was The Chez.  The now-iconic Lakota Coffee opened 2 months later, but there were otherwise no specialty coffee purveyors (that I was aware of) in the college town of 100,000 people.  At that time, studying over coffee meant spending the evening perched in a booth at the Country Kitchen.

Today, there are 3 local coffee roasters & cafes, 4 additional coffee shops, as well as 5+ locations of mega coffee spread throughout the community. 

So when it was time to venture to the Pacific Northwest in our search for outstanding decaffeinated coffees, my search of course started in Seattle. 

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Peaks Coffee Co - the pride of Cazenovia, New York

Where do you look when you’re trying to find the best specialty decaffeinated coffee? 

In our part of the world, I’d start with local roasters such as Shortwave Coffee & Fretboard Coffee.  Broadening my search a bit would lead me to regional roasters including P.T.’s Coffee in Topeka, Kansas and Shaw Coffee Roasting in St. Louis.  If I was looking nationally, I would start by looking at established roasters in coffee hotbeds, roasters such as Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago, Colectivo Coffee in Milwaukee, and Stumptown Coffee in Portland, OR.

I certainly wouldn’t think to look towards a fairly new roaster in tiny Cazenovia, New York in this search for a great decaf coffee.

Yet, through the power of Google I ended up exactly there, enjoying delightful decaf from Peaks Coffee Company.

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#TakeFunSeriously…and Decaffeinated Coffee Too!

Is your coffee shop fun?

As a coffee shop aficionado, we’ve spent many hours exploring various coffee shops across the United States & find them enjoyable places to sit, sip coffee, converse, and read.

But I would never accuse most of these establishments as being “fun.”

Enjoyable, yes.  Even pleasurable.  And relaxing.

But fun doesn’t seem to be part of the standard experience found in most coffee shops.  Instead, many coffee shops are really nothing more than glorified libraries that serve overpriced drinks – and that comes from a lover of libraries!

Apparently, Kansas City’s Thou Mayest Coffee Roasters didn’t get the memo.

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