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OK, so you stress buying locally, and seem to concentrate your sales close to home. How, then, can you justify selling to online customers hundreds or even thousands of miles away?

Good question, because at first blush it might seem that selling online to customers hundreds or even thousands of miles away is a contradiction to our locavore principles. But, put simply, it’s not. Let me explain.

You see, though we always encourage people to shop close to home and buy products that are locally produced whenever possible, the reality is that buying local isn’t always that simple – at least not when it comes to finding the variety, quality or method of production that a person might want or demand. So, if you can’t find what you’re looking for locally, you should at least be able to feel good about buying online from a company or companies that share your ideas and sensibilities in regard to those products. That’s what we offer.

For instance, all of our products are certified organic, and most are either Fair Trade CertifiedTM or Rainforest Alliance Certified®, as well. And, to help reduce the environmental impact of fossil fuels used in shipping our products, we pay a carbon offset fee on every shipment.

So, if you CAN buy local, DO. If you can’t, then feel good about finding and buying from a compatible, conscientious company that you can embrace and that embraces you.

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You guys seem to put a lot of emphasis on locally produced products and “buying local.” Tell me, is Bold Bean Coffee locally grown?

Uh, no. And we get that question all the time. But unless you happen to live in or visit the tropical zone spanning the globe between the Tropic of Capricorn at Latitude 23º south to the Tropic of Cancer at Latitude 23º north, you’ll never be buying locally grown Arabica coffees. Producers in about 35 countries that are within that zone grow most of the world’s premium gourmet coffee. Couple that with the fact that Arabica coffees require distinct rainy and dry seasons, and altitudes from 1,800’ to 3,600’ (or more) above sea level, and the regions of the world suitable for coffee production become even more limited.

OK, so even if the raw products (green, unroasted coffee beans) that we use and that go into making your cup of coffee are sourced from around the world – South and Central America, Mexico, Africa and Indonesia – and don’t come from around here, we do craft and create the finished product. And, by doing so, we’re adding that local element that is so important to the concept of sustainability. The best-tasting and most sustainable choices that you as a consumer can make are foods that are fresh, seasonal, and produced close to home.

But what, you might ask, do we mean by sustainability? Well, in terms of our environment, sustainability refers to how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. For us, sustainability is the potential for long-term well being – environmentally, economically and socially.

For instance, most food in the U.S. travels 1,500 to 2,500 miles to get from farm to table, and requires as much as 10 percent of the nation’s expenditures on fossil fuels (Worldwatch Institute). So, by purchasing local products, we can significantly reduce our use of and dependence on those fossil fuels.

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I’ve heard that to keep coffee fresh, the best place to store it is in the refrigerator. Is that true?

The refrigerator is perhaps the LAST place you want to berth your beans. You see, it’s not really cold enough, and much too moist, to keep coffee from going stale. But the biggest blow to those who don’t know is that a bag of coffee – just like that box of baking soda you might hide in the back to keep your fridge fresh – is a highly efficient methane magnet when it comes to absorbing odors. Refrigerated coffee, you’ll surely discover, give new meaning to the meaning of “blend.”

So what is the best way to keep coffee fresh? Well, if you’re going to use all of your coffee within a week, store your beans in a clean, airtight container. That’s by far the best way to ensure freshness and flavor. Oh, and make sure you always buy whole beans (not ground), grinding only as needed.

Though it’s always best to buy only as much fresh roasted coffee as you will use in a week (two at the most), you can freeze it to preserve freshness and flavor. Unlike the refrigerator, the freezer is fine – up to a point. Coffee stored in the freezer will stay fresh for a month or two, but only if beans are kept airtight. Wrap beans in several layers of plastic wrap and store in an airtight container. Once your beans have been frozen and thawed, don’t refreeze. Though it’s recommended to do so, you don’t have to thaw beans before grinding

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Brewing Guide

A pour over brews at Bold BeanCognitive Coffee [Brewing]: A relatively simple science. Despite what some folks might lead you to believe, brewing a great cup of coffee is really a no-brainer. The key is simply to...

Start Fresh

Buy only fresh-roasted, whole beans directly from a specialty coffee roaster, or from specialty stores purchasing direct from a roaster.

Keep It Fresh

Keep your beans fresh

Try to purchase only a week’s (well, maybe two) worth of beans at a time. Roasted coffee beans – if not stored properly – start to lose flavor within two weeks. Ground coffee begins to lose flavor in less than an hour, and brewed coffee and espresso begins to lose in a matter of a few minutes. Unopened coffees will stay fresh longer, but once opened, beans should be removed from bags and stored in at room temperature in an airtight container away from sunlight. Whole beans should never be refrigerated or frozen.

The Daily Grind

Burr Grinder at Bold BeanFor best results, coffee should be ground only as needed using a burr-type grinder. Unlike blade grinders, burr grinders allow the user to pre-select the proper grind for a particular brewing method. With blade grinders, timing is critical. Too fine a grind can cause bitterness, while too coarse of a grind can produce week, flavorless coffee.

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Beans roasting at Bold Bean

The guttural-sounding whoosh of flame meeting gas interrupts the hypnotic rumbling of the rotating drum, as all 44 burners simultaneously fire up and provide heat to the roasting chamber. The roaster needs to heat up and stabilize before the raw, green coffee beans – sourced from misty hills in remote regions of the tropics – are added, and begin their transformation from small green seeds to plump roasted beans.

The preheat cycle lasts just long enough to perform the morning ritual of brewing a cup. As the roasting room grows warmer and the mind-numbing rumble of the turning drum continues, water is put on to boil, and a handful of beans from the previous day’s roasts are weighed out and ground. As bean meets burr, the comforting, exotic aroma of fresh ground coffee emanates to fill the air. Soon the aroma will be displayed in the cup, as hot water is carefully poured over the grounds, extracting the thousands of flavor compounds found in the humble coffee bean. Jute bags adorned with coffee-centric images and the names of faraway co-ops crowd the bean warehouse. Each bulbous bag contains the result of hard labor and dedication. In the bag, the green beans are momentarily useless. It’s the roasting process that brings these beans to life.

While green, all of the beans look and smell much the same, even though they aren’t. There are subtle differences – shades of green, ranging from almost blue to greenish yellow. And, though they all smell similar to fresh grass or hay, there are subtle differences in their scent. Some hint at an animal-like muskiness, while some smell foresty and sweet. These differences are characteristic of each bean’s origin and varietal, and they will soon become more apparent as the enzymatic reactions spurred by the roasting process change the chemical and physical makeup of each bean.

But, for now, as the roaster continues to heat up, they will be scooped two-and-a-half pounds at a time into a bucket where they will wait until the moment they are dumped into the hopper and then dropped into the preheated steel drum.

raw coffee beans

Up overhead goes the 20 or so pound bucket of beans. It sounds, as they are dumped into the metal hopper, like a sudden downpour hitting a tin roof. The shrill cry of metal on metal briefly fills the air as the lever is pulled to open the door between the hopper and drum, but it immediately is replaced by the rhythmic swooshing of the coffee against the wall of the steel drum. The temperature falls as the coffee enters the drum, but soon it will equalize and begin a steady climb.

As the beans tumble in the roaster, the trier will be pulled out to check the progress and revealing beans that have browned, grown in size, and lost moisture. As the roasting process continues, the beans grown deeper brown as the sugars caramelize and various chemical reactions develop the flavor and aroma of these seeds from a foreign land.

The aroma emerging from the roaster is at first bread-like, but as the beans develop and begin to pop, it grows stronger and sweeter, at times revealing itself as flowers or tropical fruit.

Roasting notesA few more minutes pass as the trier is repeatedly pulled to check the progress of the roast. In these final minutes the roast is constantly changing. There is a small window – a sweet spot if you will – where a coffee bean will display its best characteristics. Once this sweet spot is reached the roast is quickly stopped.

The weighty arm that holds the drum door closed during roasting is pulled back, releasing sweet smoke and thousands of plump, perfectly roasted beans. As the beans hit the cooling tray the effects of the roast can be seen, smelled and heard. As the smoke clears and the sizzle and pop of the beans cease, they quickly cool. Maybe one or two are tasted as they are still warm to the touch.

The drum door is shut. Whoosh, the flame fires up. The bucket is filled, raised overhead and dumped into the hopper. The hopper door opens and lets the next batch of beans begin the process of being brought to life. The smell of freshly roasted coffee permeates the room. The swoosh of the beans is constant. It’s getting hot...the day’s roasting continues.

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