How to Brew French Press Coffee

So here is my first alternative brew instructional video. A French Press! I know, I know, not as glamourous as you were hoping for (some may even say it’s not very alternative) but I have to start somewhere. Watch the video below and let me know what you think!

What method do you use to make a French Press?

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Boulder Creek Coffee, Buford

Just minutes from the Mall of Georgia tucked in next to a used book store is a little gem of a shop called Boulder Creek Coffee. One of the few decent shops this far north of Atlanta. Recently under new management, this shop has really made a name for itself with it’s coffee excellence and unique brewing methods which could be hard to find anywhere else in the Atlanta area. This shop, although small is very unique and definitely worth your time to drive up I-85 and check out!

Equipment – B

Espresso Machine –> Faema E92 Elite

Grinder –> Mazzer Super Jolly

The espresso machine here is old, but not so old that I couldn’t find one online like my previous post. The baristas weren’t sure on what the model was, but as far as I could tell it is a E92 Elite. Maybe not that model exactly, but very very similar to it if it is not.  The machine pulled a great shot, and although it is a little older, it still works, and hey who needs neon lights on their espresso machine anyway. I was told that the steam wands were replaced to allow for better steaming of the milk. The grinder is a Mazzer Super Jolly which is a great grinder, what prevented this shop from getting an A here is as far as I could tell they only had one grinder. Not quite sure what they grind the decaf in.

Coffee – A

This shop uses all Counter Culture for their coffee. Counter Culture is a coffee company based out of North Carolina and is probably the best roaster on the East Coast. They have made a name for themselves nationally and globally, and make a quality bean. Can’t go wrong with Counter Culture Coffee.

But once again, the quality of beans mean nothing if the baristas don’t properly know how to brew them.

Baristas – B+

This was a hard grade to give. I did want to give them a little higher grade, but I feel like this is a very respectable grade for a shop of this size. With only having three baristas currently, this shop is doing pretty good. The two baristas that I met were both friendly, kind, and seemed to have a good understanding of coffee knowledge. I do give this shop props for offering a wide selection of brewing techniques.

I saw that they brew Chemmex, Bonmac, a Siphon, and a 12 hour cold brew tower (think a toddy on steroids), as well as offering your typical espresso drinks. The traditional cappuccino that I got was smooth and did have somewhat of a rosetta in it. The milk was slightly over frothed, but other than that it was very good.

What really hurt the baristas here is that I got the impression that they alter their serving practices to appease the masses instead of educating them on coffee excellence and persuading them that Starbucks options aren’t necessarily the best options (i.e. a 16 ounce Cappuccino). If they only serve traditional caps then their customer base would get addicted and not want to go back.

However, so far this is the only shop that I know of that offers either a Siphon or a 12 Hour Cold Brew Tower and they offer both. Major cool kid points for that.

Location/Feel – B

To be honest, unless you are shopping at the Mall of Georgia, I’m not quite sure why you would be here other than to try out the shop. This shop is unique in that it is right next to a used book store called Books for Less. In fact, the two are connected which is pretty cool. The shop itself is pretty small, one medium large room split by the counter to order which separate the seating area from the bar. I could see how it could get pretty crowded if it is too cold to sit outside on their patio, but then again what shop doesn’t. The feel of the shop is nice, but there really isn’t a lot of natural light coming in so it kinda has a very commercial feel to it. There are couches, but to me it isn’t a place that I would feel comfortable spending multiple hours getting work done or hanging out with friends. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the generic artwork hanging up on the walls or the color scheme, not quite sure.

There is plenty of free parking and their hours are:

Monday – Saturday–> 9AM to 11PM

2 Saturdays a month they offer Salsa dancing for a $7 cover charge and that includes a drink. Also every other Friday night they have a showcase night where local bands come, set up and perform.

Bar – N/A

Food/Other – B+

Okay, confession. I haven’t actually tried their food. But from what I hear it is delicious. They get all of their pastries and sandwiches from 3rd party sources. Their tea is from Intelligentsia and they use Cabbagetown Chai which as I have said before is amazing.

Overall – B to B+

I really like this shop and definitely feel like this is a place that is worth the drive to check out, even if you don’t need to go to the Mall of Georgia. They offer fun activities on the weekend (Salsa and Showcase Night) and they serve delicious Counter Culture coffee. The baristas seem to know what they are doing and talking about and I have gotten a Chemex from here that was delicious. In fact all of the coffee drinks that I have gotten have been good. Check out the Siphon if you go, it is worth the money to get to watch the baristas make it for you (it kinda looks like a science experiment). I feel like this shop is an up and coming shop that will definitely get better over time. A lesser known shop that I have no doubt will grow in notoriety as they continue to serve excellent coffee. If this shop was downtown you would already know about it, and it would already be a common stop in your weekly routine.

What are your thoughts on this shop?

Land of A 1000 Hills Coffee Shop, Roswell

Drink Coffee, Do Good.  That is the motto of Land of A 1000 Hills Coffee Company, and as far as I can tell they are living up to their motto. They provide community trade to the coffee farmers which is better than fair trade wages, and they help out in the communities that they get their coffee from. In fact, they just recently started a non-profit called the Do Good Initiative which allows them to do even more good in the communities that they are involved in. I know, I know, that is great and all, but how is the coffee and the shop. Below is the skinny on the Roswell shop (they have 3 locations).

Equipment – B

Espresso Machine –> Brasilia Grandisca

Grinders –> Mazzer Mini and Mazzer Super Jolly

The espresso machine is old. So old that I looked for a similar one on the Brasilia website and I could not find it. But it does seem to pull decent (not great) shots. The grinders are both stepless so the baristas can fine tune them to pull the best shot possible. The Mini is used on their decaf coffee and the Super Jolly is used for their espresso blend.

 Coffee – B

If Starbucks coffee is a F and Intelligentsia is an A+ then Land of A 1000 Hills falls in at a very respectable B. They roast their own coffee so kudos to them. Their Rwandan coffee is by far the best (I prefer the Medium). They also serve Thai Coffee and a Haitian blend. They serve their Vooba blend as their espresso and it is really good. A little lighter than your typical espresso, but it works for them. I can taste very nice notes of caramel and chocolate.

I do give them props for not going with the default in the Atlanta area and serving Counter Culture, but they are not quite at CC’s quality yet in their roasting techniques. The dark can be slightly over-roasted and have pitting to the beans, but not too bad and it still tastes good. It is also easier to forgive the lesser quality of beans because of the good that they are doing with the farmers that they are working with.

But the quality of the beans mean nothing if the baristas don’t know how to brew them. A crappy barista can take the best bean in the world and make it taste like, well crap. Where a good barista can take an average bean and make it taste pretty good.

Baristas – A- 

The good news for Land of A 1000 Hills in Roswell is that a lot of their baristas are snobs just like me. That means that they really take good care in learning the correct way to brew the coffee, steam milk, pull shots, etc. All the baristas there should be able to correctly brew French Press, V60 pour over, and pull shots. The majority of the baristas can pour pretty consistent latte art in their milk drinks which tells me they are steaming their milk correctly. I have gotten a few iffy Chemexes but I think it’s because the majority of their coffee drinks are french press or V60 so I’m not sure they get much practice.

Despite their snobbiness, the baristas are actually all very friendly as well. If you are a regular, they will take the time to learn your order and your name. Always a nice feeling to walk into a place and get greeted with your name and have your drink order already going.

Location/Feel – A

Located on South Atlanta street just a few miles from Historic Roswell they are in one of the hippest areas north of the perimeter. They have ample parking free parking because they share a lot with a local Baptist church, and they also have a very nice outdoor patio area and plenty of seating indoors. They offer free wifi which does occasionally go out, but they also get Roswell City’s wireless so if their wifi goes out you can usually pick up the other. Indoors they have a very cozy feel and they don’t care if you come and spend hours working, playing sequence with friends, or just hanging out. Their hours are

Monday – Thursday –> 7 AM to 10PM

Friday –> 7 AM to 11 PM

Saturday –> 8 AM to 11 PM

Sunday –> 12 PM to 7PM

On Thursday nights they have trivia and on Friday and Saturday they have live music

Bar – N/A

Food/Other – B+

They actually get all of their food from 3rd party sources. They are a little on the pricey side for everything, but what you do get is for the most part fresh and tasty. Extra points to them for offering a fairly wide selection of gluten free options.

They do get their chai from a local company called Cabbagetown Chai and it is fantastic. Best Chai I’ve gotten at a coffee shop. period

They also have a vast selection of teas if coffee isn’t your thing.

Overall – B+

I really wanted to give this shop an A because of the welcoming feel, friendly atmosphere, and all of the good that they are doing but instead had to settle on a B+. I think that if they invested a little more in a better espresso machine their shots would take that step from good to great. I also feel that over time the baristas that they have, if they stay, will really improve among their brewing techniques. The coffee I feel will also get better over time as they continue working with their farmers and the roasters learn the beans and how to roast them. They are not quite an A yet, but will probably get there in the not so distant future.

For those that have been here, what are your thoughts?

Hello world!

Hey Everyone!

This is going to be a blog where you can find out about all of your coffee needs. Whether you are looking for brewing tips, product reviews, or even coffee shop reviews, we will have it all. Be sure to check back regularly for new posts and updates.