All photos via SpyhouseCoffee.com
Hailing from the north—Minneapolis, Minnesota—Spyhouse Coffee is our Rotating Roaster for the month of January. I've enjoyed espresso and pour-overs in their shop when visiting my brother there, and actually, they're the only place where I've had a pour-over brewed on the Kalita Wave. Here in Indiana, I miss the cold snowy winters of growing up in South Dakota (well, nostalgically, anyway), so I figured a Minneapolis roaster seemed appropriate for January.
A Kalita Wave pour-over
Spyhouse opened in the year 2000, starting with a rotating roaster program—kinda like us. They now have a total of four shops throughout the city, all in Minneapolis (none in St. Paul, across the Mississippi). Owner Christian Johnson designs each space, "emphasizing mid-century design, exhibiting local artists, and encouraging social interaction." And their newest, biggest space houses their Probat UG 22 roaster plus a training and cupping lab.
In 2013 they began roasting their own coffee, focusing on a small selection of quality coffees and building relationships from the farm up. While none are marked as "direct trade," Spyhouse is very transparent with the details of each farm or coop, with photos from visits to each origin.
Our Coffees, Roasted by Spyhouse
This month, we decided to go with just three different choices to be a little less overwhelming for our customers: beans from Kenya, Colombia, and the Spyhouse house espresso blend, Orion. So two single-origin coffees—one crazy, one more familiar—and a blend. The single-origins are exciting, but sometimes life needs more balanced coffees, too. Our ZING blend was originally based on Gimme! Coffee's espresso blend (which we enjoyed last month) and we'd like to compare each Rotating Roaster's signature espresso blend moving forward.
I'm excited to bring in a Kenyan coffee because they are usually, well, pretty crazy. I've had some super juicy fruity cups, and some that taste like sweet grape tomatoes. This Spyhouse Kenyan coffee is from a co-op in the Nyeri region, grown in red volcanic soil at high elevation—in general, higher elevation matures the coffee cherries more slowly, making for a more dense and rich coffee bean. These are also all peaberry beans, which means that only one seed developed in the cherry instead of the usual two, which makes for extra density. And also important: it's a washed coffee, so it did not dry inside of its cherry fruit (and take on additional fruity characteristics). Here are the tasting notes from the Spyhouse page:
"Ndiaini is full of spice and complex sweetness; the first impression is like biting into a ripe green apple developing into complex fruit tones of honeydew melon, strawberry, raspberry, tangerine, and guava. There is a foundation of drying brown spice notes, similar to gingersnap cookies that support the fruit sweetness. The finish is sweet with a lingering heaviness that reminds us of honeywine. This coffee showcases the broad dynamic range and complexity of coffees from this region without being off-putting to most consumers. It is the perfect coffee to drink while you tackle that holiday baking."
Next, we went with a Colombian coffee from the Huila region, grown by a single farmer, Wilman Antonio Cordoba. This single-origin washed coffee is a little more straight forward and classic "coffee coffee" than the Kenyan—more on the chocolatey, "fudge sundae" side of things. After being washed (removing the skin and pulp of the cherry), Cordoba slowly dries his coffee beans on raised beds for 10-15 days, which helps the coffee keep its unique and "delicate flavor compounds". Here are the Spyhouse notes:
"Wilman Cordoba starts off with a spark of fresh orange and vanilla, developing into richer tones of hot fudge sauce and roasted nuts, with a subtle cherry that brings to mind a classic hot fudge sundae. Cooling the coffee produces additional spiciness and a richer fruit tone similar to baked plums, with a lingering, tingling clove-like finish. This coffee is great for these cooler days. It is the perfect coffee for sipping next to a roaring fire this winter."
Lastly, let's talk about their Orion espresso blend (oh-ryan, as in the constellation). Their blend changes throughout the year, depending on what's in season, but in general, they aim for "a blend of chocolate tones and sweet fruits." Sounds good to me! Here are their notes:
"When we started planning our coffee program, we knew we wanted a strong, foundational house espresso; something complex enough to be enjoyed alone, and additionally have enough depth to hold up in milk. The combination of elements had to reflect something greater than their parts. Each character had to play its role to balance and accentuate the others. In unison, they create Orion: rich and silky in body, covering a range of chocolate tones with balancing notes of dark berries and citrus highlights. Although the elements occasionally change to reflect the seasonality of coffee harvests, these are the driving principles behind how we shape Orion."
So ya know, they've got plenty of coffee jargon and vintage style… and darn good coffee, carefully sourced and roasted. I'm going to say this with every roaster, but hey, I'm super stoked to have Spyhouse coffees in our shop this month. All three will be available to try on our V60 pour-over bar and also in 12 oz retail bags to take home. And of course, we'll be cupping them all—tasting side by side—on January 9th and 10th (Saturday & Sunday) at 2pm in the Lab.
ZING on, Uel