Our friend Issac turned me on to Stumptown Coffee recently. We were talking about coffee one night at our "Dad's Night Out" gathering. He told me that the gang at Stumptown coffee treated coffee beans like Wine Makers treated grapes. They could tell you the nuances of all the beans based on the soil they were grown in, location of the world, the manner in which they were picked and/or roasted, the daily mood of the bean pickers, etc. Needless to say I was skeptical, because no one enjoys a pretentious cup of coffee. Maybe it makes wine better, but coffee?
I'll be the first to admit that I like good coffee and turn my nose to anything that you buy from the supermarket in a can. Diner coffee is even worse and I'm helping pass legislation that will even ban that poor excuse in prisons. Coffee on airplanes has gotten better, at least in my neck of the woods, but only on flights beginning before 6am.
So I was skeptical. Still, I bought a pound of the coffee recently. What really lured me in were two things. First that they have Direct Trade coffee, not just fair trade. They deal directly with the farmer. That sold me for starters. Second was that they roast the beans very recently. The pound I bought had been roasted the day before.
I brought home a pound of the Nicaragua Las Golondrinas and made a cup of coffee.... I was in heaven. That was seriously the best cup of coffee I ever made in my house. I was hooked. It was so good. You could really taste it the excellence. I recognize that I'm blogging like a crack addict here, but really it was great.
Since then I've sampled a few others. I'm very happy to report that Stumptown has not just one but 3 coffees from Panama. I've tried two and they are both very good.
Starbucks vs. Stumptown? Where do I stand?
I like Starbucks. They do a lot of things right. Recently they too started roasting beans and putting them out for sale quickly, rather than letting beans sit too long after roasting. This gives the coffee a fresher taste. The Pike Place offering is really good. I also like the service at Starbucks. They get to know you and it is welcoming.
I hear that Stumptown employees hate Starbucks, much like a Nader supporter hates a liberal Democrat for not doing enough. My friend Issac engineered the Clover coffee machine. His company had sold a bunch to Stumptown. They valued the quality engineering of the machine. Soon Starbucks bought his company and I understand that Stumptown (after demanding that they buy the machines back) have sold them all in a show of defiance to Starbucks.
Let me just say that brew my Stumptown coffee in a Starbucks machine and use a Starbucks french press. I hope I am never in a dark alley way with either of them and that I can enjoy my addiction without suffering their feud.
The bummer news for all you friends and family outside of the Pacific NW is that they are local to Portland and have only recently moved to Seattle. You can order directly from them. If you say you like coffee, then I encourage you to do so.
Yours in a truly happy if not jittery coffee state,