What I learned in Art School – Details Matter

Recently, I was interviewed by a local reporter who was interested in what defines Mighty Good Coffee and what distinguishes us from other coffee shops in the area. We talked for a while about a variety of topic from our roasting to our customer service philosophy to why I thought it was important to have visited a coffee farm and tried picking the beans myself. It wasn’t the first time I had talked to this reporter and having developed a rapport over the past few weeks, my discussion was perhaps more candid and conversational than a typical Q & A. The following day, when I read his article, I was pleasantly surprised to read the headline, “Mighty Good Coffee says it’s the details that make great coffee” and I realized that I had conveyed in our conversation exactly the core vision and value that I’ve had throughout my life. I’ve been thinking this through over the last day or so, reflecting on how this has had an impact on the things I’ve done. While as a teenager, I might not have been as aware of this, by the time I got to art school at age 20, I realized how important the details would become in every aspect of my life. I realized that there are a lot of people with great vision, talent and passion, but aren’t able to convey that into sustainable career. And there are people who are so detail oriented that they lose sight of the ability to create and fully utilize their talents. I realized that it would take a subtle, yet firm commitment to both to have any chance of success. I realized early on that an exceptional presentation can help make something good even better. And I learned that the sum of a portfolio was more important than any one image. I learned that if I was going to make a career in the arts, I had to know what being in business meant if I was going to parlay any of this into a living. I learned that sometimes you have to work at something over and over (and over) and push yourself if you want to improve. I learned that completing an assignment on time and well presented was better than the excuse of not having perfected an image. I could always work towards improving if I opened myself up to critique. I learned that the darkroom requires a stringent process and excellent note keeping in order to learn and make improvements.

Right, how does this translate into coffee roasting, brewing and the business of coffee? Well, it’s really all of the above combined with continually challenging and improving your palate. It’s about collaboration with other coffee enthusiasts, chefs, sommeliers, farmers and friends. It’s about opening myself up to critique and giving critique when sharing coffee with my friends around the country. It’s about following a process and continuously working on the idea of perfection, knowing that it’s never quite attainable. It’s knowing that when the last few pounds of a great coffee are left that it should be savored, but aware that there are many more great coffees out there and to keep looking.

And at Mighty Good, it’s about all of this awareness, but never feeling like you have to know, or even want to know, everything that we could impart about coffee. We know that sometimes all you want is your morning fix, a smile, a handshake, fist bump, high five or a simple Thank You as you head our towards your day. The details are what matter to us, whether you notice them or not because that’s what allows us to do what we do, every day, all year.

Thanks to all our customers for stopping by to visit and making us a part of your day.

 

Mighty Good, Part Duex

newshopexAs many of you may have already read, we will be opening our 2nd stand-alone store front at the end of December at 1335 S. University in Ann Arbor. We couldn’t be happier to have this opportunity to grow in the Burns Park and UM Campus neighborhoods! Cozy yet modern, we think this space fits our personality perfectly. And, since it’s not that big, you’ll get to see many of the same wonderful Mighty Good barista staff working here and at our Main St. Mother Ship. We’ll have all of the favorites including the ubiquitous Brown Sugar Sea Salt and Sea Salt Cocoa lattes along with our daily drip and manual brew methods.

We’ll be opening the doors on December 27th with hours of 8 am – 3 pm during the remainder of the holiday break, then 7 am – 5 pm when school resumes in early January. As the daylight hours start to lengthen, we’ll likely stay open into the evenings when you’ll be able to enjoy a frothy Nitro Cold Brew starts to flow from the tap.

We look forward to serving you in the new year so please, stop by and say hello and grab a cup to start your day, or savor an afternoon treat and watch the world of Ann Arbor go by our windows.

 

Black (Coffee) Friday; Small Biz Saturday

Black (Coffee) Friday; Small Biz Saturday

Ah, the holiday season is upon us once again. And while we like to use this time to reflect on how thankful we are of all the abundance in our lives, it’s also the time many of us start our holiday shopping. With that in mind, here are some things for the coffee lover in your life that can make the holiday season even warmer and more delicious. AND, in celebration of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, all brewing equipment will be 10% off through the weekend.

Our staff can help guide you to the perfect pairing of beans and brewing device to get the most our of your coffee and make the holiday season all that more enjoyable.

Select from Aeropress, Bodum, Bonavita, Chemex, Hario and our own line of Mighty Good Coffee mugs, hats and t-shirts.

Bodum Burr Grinder

Bodum Burr Grinder

Aeropress

Aeropress

V60 Dripper

V60 Dripper

Chemex Brewer

Chemex Brewer

enthusiast

Brillig Dry Bar

Brillig Dry Bar

Friday, December 5th during the downtown Ann Arbor Midnight Madness, we’ll be launching our first Brillig Dry Bar event. Small plates of food, non-alcoholic drinks and coffee from the Mighty Good Coffee bar. Live jazz with the Lenny Swanson Trio throughout the evening.

Stay tuned for more info and the menu.

 

Barrel Aged Brazil

Barrel Aged Brazil

IMG_3928This week, we introduced a coffee that is the latest in our experiments that had been sitting on the back burner for quite some time. While I’d read about people aging coffee in anything from whiskey to beer to wine barrels, I knew that the practice was not that wide spread nor something that there was a lot of documentation on either. I also didn’t know whether this was gimmick or reality in how aging coffee in a barrel previously used for aging spirits would really affect the coffee as the roasting process it seemed could negate any of the effects of the aging.

So, after procuring a small whiskey barrel, began the process. we decided on a specific coffee, Brazil Cerrado. We let the very wet barrel dry for several days, then loaded it up with the green coffee and began the process of aging which requires moving the barrel around consistently for days to ensure that all the beans have the opportunity to absorb the moisture and aromatics from the barrel evenly. Finally, after several weeks, the coffee had softened, swelled and reached a water stable water content that was not likely to increase further. However, roasting beans this wet would not result in an even or predictable roast. A process of drum and air drying took yet another two days before roasting could begin.

Finally, the time had arrived to test a batch in the roaster. The computer logging software I use would carefully track each second and tenth of a degree in roast temperature. Adjusting the flame to get a gentle rise in bean temperature was required to carefully being the roast without damaging beans that were more damp than the usual. Imagine a marshmallow on a stick over an open fire and you’ll get the picture.

As the roast progressed, we used not only the data being logged through the computer to judge the coffee, but sense of smell, sound and sight to make the final judgement on the roast level. Roasted coffee has a certain point where the smell starts to subtly change to a sweetness indicating the caramelization of the sugars. It’s our job as roasters to determine the balance of that sweetness and not go beyond the point where the sugars become darker and eventually start to brown or even burn. In the case of our barrel aged coffee, maintaining a light roast was important so as not to burn off any of the effects from the barrel.

IMG_3933And then… We had to wait a full 24 hours for the coffee to rest before tasting is. Hard to go given the empoyees excitement all around the cafe after waiting more than two weeks to try this coffee. The result? Wow is all we can say. As an espresso, the flavor of the whiskey is apparent in both the aroma and flavor. Notes of fresh baked banana bread also come to mind in all our staff tastings. Even when blended with milk in a cappuccino, the flavor still comes through. We’re still in the process of discovery too. Different brew methods are yielding different flavors. So far, the staff favorite for this coffee is the Aeropress with Chemex running a close second. We’ve even started packing this coffee in mason jars so you can take the beans home and experiment yourself.

This week, we procured a second barrel to ensure a steady flow of this latest coffee treasure throughout the holiday season this year. What will be next? Stay tuned.