A Lesson in Drinking Coffee
History of LAMILL COFFEE
Craig Min has loved the aroma and taste of coffee since he was a child. In 1991, Min’s father started a wholesale coffee business in Alhambra, where Min learned everything about roasting and brewing coffee. He developed a rapport with the coffee farmers at eco-friendly cooperatives in countries around the world. Soon he learned the best coffee beans are grown in the “bean belt” between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer. This region offers an ideal climate for beans to be cultivated, harvested and processed.
In 1998, the young entrepreneur was ready to take over the company. Min called the company LAMILL Coffee. He also expanded his tea contacts and start a tea line opening Sun Garden Tea next to his LAMILL Coffee headquarters. With the help of his skilled Master Roaster John Martin at the Alhambra headquarters, he learned how to carefully manipulate temperature, gas pressure, time and airflow to enhance the subtleties from the beans to produce the best cup of coffee.
Min approached many of the high-end chefs in local restaurants and developed a partnership with Michael Mina, Michael Cimarusti, Tony Esnault and The Patina Group, to exclusively sell his coffee and tea. Providence, Church & State and Patina downtown at the Walt Disney Hall all serve LAMILL coffee and tea.
In 2008, Min opened the LAMILL Coffee boutique in Silver Lake. He commissioned chef Michael Cimarusti to design an inventive food menu to include breakfast, lunch and dinner fare to pair with Min’s hot and cold beverages. Since then, it has become a go-to destination for locals and visitors for a leisurely weekend brunch, an early weeknight supper, or a daily afternoon pick-me-up. The boutique also serves pilsner, IPA lager, blonde ale, stout and hefeweizen beer and French and California wines, along with their signature coffee and tea.
Currently there is a pop-up four course vegetarian menu created by the talented Chef Bill Corbett served on Thursday and Friday evenings.
Coffee Bean Before Roasting
From Seed to Cup - The Stages To Make Coffee
A coffee bean or coffee cherry grows on a tree. It's usually harvested once a year, however in Columbia, they harvest twice a year. In most countries manual labor picks the crop. A successful picker gathers up to 200 pounds of coffee cherries a day.
Next, they lay the cherries on a patio to dry in the sun. This dry seed has a protective coating called Parchment. When dried, the parchment is removed and the bean is put into bags to be shipped around the world. If the seed isn’t processed, it can be planted and grow into a coffee tree.
Over 100 pound bags arrive at LAMILL COFFEE to be roasted.
Roasted Coffee Beans
Inside headquarters are roasting machines with 60 kilo drum roasters. They continually roast coffee beans from Columbia, Guatamala, and Africa similar to a swirling washing machine. It's so hot, that the machine tumbles the beans around to prevent scorching.
For a light roast it is set at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. It's upped to 420 degrees for a darker roast. Each minute a LAMILL roaster pulls open a tryer on the drum roaster to inspect and smell the beans to see if the temperature needs to be adjusted. It's all manual at LAMILL to track the profile and progress of the perfectly roasted beans.
A roaster knows when the roasting is almost done by waiting for the first crack. It's a roasting term of when moisture of the coffee beans swell up and release moisture. The coffee bean expands to nearly double its size, and pops like popping popcorn.
Coffee Roasting Machine
Coffee Chaff is the husk on a coffee bean that comes off during the roasting process. It's the waste product. John told us that they try to give away their chaff on Craigs List. It's good for mulch, compost and can be used for bedding for chickens.
It is purely organic, light and airy. Coffee chaff added to your soil conserves moisture and improves the health of the soil.
Organic Beans Ready to Package
Various types of Roasted Coffee Beans
Light Roast: Lighter body with lots of texture on the bean. This offers a citrus flavor with acidity.
Medium Roast: Less texture and a little amount of a sheen on the beans. Extending the roast gives a chocolate color and slightly caramel flavor.
Dark Roast: Darkest, almost black, with less texture and more of an oil sheen on the surface. More bitter flavor and very low acidity.
Making a Cup of Coffee
Different Types of Beans
We tasted three different types of beans while cupping. Here is what I discovered:
1. Coffee from Kenya offers a grapefruit and tomato profile.
2. Guatemalan coffee beans roasted lightly offer plum and apple flavors. Roasted darker as a black onyx, there are more of a chocolate and caramel essence. This coffee holds its quality well.
3. Columbian coffee roasted lightly has a citrus structure that is vibrant. Columbian coffee beans are only available for six months.
4. Brazilian coffee - Esprit de Santo is an up and coming bean that overs almond and plum flavors.
Cupping and Tasting Coffee
Traditional cupping is 24 different cups that fill the table. For our tasting we had three different cups from light to dark.
John ground coffee beans and placed them in glass cups. He boiled filtered water around 195 to 205 F. Water is very important for a good cup of coffee. Los Angeles has very hard water, so tap is not good for a great cup. Distilled water has no minerals for the coffee to hold on to. Filtered water is the best.
Cupping is done around the world. Once the boiling water enters the glass, a crust rises to the top. We waited four minutes as the CO2 is forced out causing bubbles and the crust. Coffee tasters crack the crust with a spoon and skim the foam off the top.
You take a spoonful once you can hold a finger to the glass for more than 2 seconds. If it's too hot, it will burn you palate and be too hot to taste.
Now here is the fun part of cupping:
1. Take a spoon full of the liquid.
2. Inhale and slurp really loud.
3. The liquid will go all over your palate and oxygenate to flavor profile.
4. Slurp 4 to 5 times and write down notes of aroma, color and flavors.
Usually when professionals get together for cupping there is no talking. They just make notes and later discuss their discoveries.