What were some highlights of the Seattle/Portland trip?
I'm so glad you asked. Allow me to blather.
First and foremost, the Queen Mother signature of the trip, coffee.
Now, I'm not talking brown water Folger's in your cup. I'm talking serious coffee. From the espresso to the clover; from the exotic blend that tasted just like blueberries to the whole luxury of enjoying conversation over a steaming, aromatic brew. Oh yeah.
Probably the best experience, coffee-wise was the Coffee Crawl. (highly recommended - our tour guide, Emily, knows her coffee and her city.) Our tour was two and one half hours of coffee focused bliss. Not only that, Emily extended our great time by providing information that turned our great experience into another one. A mere two and one half mile walk (one way, up hill) took us to Capital Hill where we were able to get involved in an actual coffee cupping. I have always wanted to do one of these, ever since I found out there was such a thing. A coffee cupping is a little like a wine tasting (or so they say, but I've never done a wine tasting event). There are ground beans of several different coffees placed in individual bowls. The first step is to sniff the freshly ground beans. Then perfectly hot water is poured over the coffee to allow the coffee to begin brewing. This is sniffed as well. The crust is broken and it is sniffed again. Finally, the crust is removed and a spoon goes into the hot liquid and the coffees are slurped. Slurping fills your palate so you can fully experience the liquid you are tasting.
You are looking for flavors (do you pick up hints of other things like fruit, is it citrus, stone fruit, berry?) mouth feel, does the coffee have body vs a watery "feel", the acidity level...and a few more things I have forgotten. It's very scientific. The third time through I finally tasted lemon in one of the coffees.
Because of the caffeine content in tasting five different coffees several times there is also a spit cup provided. Can I just say I didn't spit? Okay, once, but good coffee is a terrible thing to waste. As suspected, Kenyan coffee topped the list. Give me Kenya and I'm a happy woman. This particular batch was full of fruity, rich flavor.
In case you are in Seattle and want to find this fabulous, free, and informative opportunity here's the link to Stumptown Roasters. (While we waited for the tasting, we watched roasters roast three batches of beans. Uhh, cool, and amazing. They shared a ton of details with us and were chatty about the world of coffee.)
We also visited a Stumptown in Portland. Consistently good coffee.
Other amazing cups of coffee.
The tasting room of Batdorf & Bronson in Olympia Washington
Trabant in Seattle - Clover coffee. Clean, crisp and delicious
Barista in Portland (Alberta)
Burien Press in Burien Washington
Zoka Pour over amazingness