This past Sunday, several Austin-based coffee roaster got together for a sample-fest over at Owl Tree Roasting. With a $5 donation to Urban Roots as part of Eat Local Week, I crammed myself into a packed old car garage and managed to try coffee from several different roasters and coffee shops: Little City, Third Coast Coffee Roasters, Caffe Medici, Texas Coffee Traders, and Kohana.
Own Tree Roasting is situated on one of the more interesting, run-down sections of the I-35 frontage road: just down the street from a latina strip-club, a tad north of two adult book-stores, and once a near-neighbor of Collier’s Caskets, the last of which seems to have moved. Their roasting operation looks to be in the garage, and they had that small space packed with tables for the local roasters. In the office part of the old shop, baristas competed in some sort of show down that I missed while tasting coffee in the crammed garage. Also open during the taste-off was Franklin Barbecue, a trailer set-up in the parking lot, where I had a nice BBQ sampling later on.
My over all favorite was Kohana’s Organic Ethiopian Harrar. The Kohana guy who served me the sample said it was grown in soil that caused it to have a slight blue berry taste, and it had a nice crispy but strong flavor to it. The main thing for me is that it tasted pretty unique, not just like any old coffee. Kim liked another one of their coffees, the Kenya AA, which was remarkable as she doesn’t drink black coffee. She didn’t exactly slurp down this cup, but she had enough tiny sips to try to it out and react pleasantly. The Kenya AA was much lighter, but it had that same cleanly brewed taste.
I’d heard that Caffe Medici makes the perfect espresso, and since they had an espresso machine there, I wanted to test this out. I’ve had expresso twice at their West Lynn coffee shop, and it was unique tasting for sure – very strong, and the first time the baristra fussed over it, re-making it once. Instead, after Kim ordered a cappuccino, I ordered the same from the cheery baristra who’s just explained Caffe Medici’s philosophy on cappuccino to Kim. I didn’t really catch it all, but there was much talk of milk volume, micro-foam vs. foam, and, of course, some artfulness. And, the cappuccino was good.
The coffee from Third Coast, Little City, and Texas Coffee Traders was just fine as well, with the last two tasting the most “normal” out of the whole batch. All of the coffee were well brewed, and each the roasters looked to be using french presses, single service drips, and espresso machines.