Thursday, July 29, 2010

August Coffee of the Month: Panamanian Boquette

Coffee from Panama isn't quite as overhyped as Jamaican Blue Mountain. However, there is a cult following behind the coffee that has always landed me in a tough position. Do I really shell out the extra dough for a coffee that I'm sure isn't worth the price?

My dad once asked me if any coffee could worth $50 per pound (roasted). A few years ago, I answered him, "Absolutely!". Now, on the producing side of things, I think not.

However, much like in wine, we try to get people to focus on the region, not the bean or the estate itself. A sommelier once told me, "There is no such thing as a good vintner. There is no such thing as a good vintage. There is only a good bottle of wine."

I started working full-time for Blanchard's in November of 2008, and tried to get some Panamanian Boquette as my first order of business. I'd heard so many podcasts and read so many articles about this coffee, and it was really the only coffee that, had you asked me, I would have said I wanted to try. (That was before I met Bali and Dominican, of course).

Our broker was out of it, at the time though. The following year, we got so bogged down in our seasonal blends for Ukrop's that we didn'ttry too many new and exciting coffees (except for beloved Bali).

This year, finally. Finally. Finally. I was able to score some of the Boquette.

I took my first sip of it on Wednesday, after we roasted our tasting batch. It was a strange moment that I don't think I'm likely to forget anytime soon. It was as if the world around me paused and muted for just a second, because the full, round richness of this coffee was the most important thing in the universe.

Once I regained footing in this dimension, I just said, "Wow."


It took me awhile before I was able to start pulling out strands of flavors from this coffee. It's got so many layers and textures it was a little overwhelming a task to take. Jonathan assisted me in blurting things out, and David added a few words later on. This is the list of stuff we said:

  • Honeysuckle
  • Textured
  • Orange Zest
  • Almond Butter
  • Buttery
  • Teleport
  • Lush
  • Raspberry Tart
  • Clean
  • Doesn't Linger
  • Indulgent
  • Lemon

This is a sit-and-talk coffee. An afternoon conversation coffee. A tell-me-about-your-trip coffee.

A real treat. Now, we love you guys, but we didn't get the crazy expensive stuff. And I'm glad we didn't. Because this tells me everything I need to know, and I can't imagine anything more expensive being a whole lot better. This stuff is phenom.


If you have it delivered to your house via Dena, it'll be there tomorrow. Jonathan took the post office orders this afternoon, so we're hoping you have it Monday or Tuesday.

Shop-goers and online-orderers: It will be available in both of these places starting on Tuesday, and we'll be brewing at it at the South of the James Market on Saturday, 8/7.

Keep brewing!


sic luceat lux

Concrete Espresso

This awesome espresso machine was made by Shumuel Linski a student of Shenkar College of Engineering and Design. There are more pictures and some details on how it was made at Dezeen.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bike Delivery Radius for Iron Blend

One of the many unique/great things about our new Iron Blend is that you can have the coffee delivered by Tom on his bicycle. Check out the map below to see how far he is willing to pedal to get you fresh roasted coffee. We are only delivering the Iron Blend by bike at this time.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Blanchard's Joins Relay Foods - Now It's EVEN EASIER to get our coffee!

Along with offering shipping cost-free pickup at our shop or the South of the James Farmer's Market for online orders, we now have an even easier way to get our coffee out to wherever it is you are.

Relay Foods, a company that started and made a huge splash in Charlottesville, has branched out to Richmond. Their creed and concept are both laudable: Sell local products at grocery store prices, and bring them to you.

You can now grocery shop from the comfort of your own home, and then head to one of their pickup locations (whichever is most convenient for you) to grab fresh, locally produced goods (and tons of other stuff too!). You don't even have to get out of your car to get your order!

Relay Foods currently stocks the following coffees from us: Breakfast Blend (both Ground and Whole Bean), Dark as Dark (both Ground and Whole Bean), FTO Peruvian (Whole Bean only), FTO Bolivian (Whole Bean only), Ethiopian Yirgacheffe (Whole Bean only), and Swiss Water Decaf (Ground only). All of it is selling for $7.99/bag.

Head over to to get started!

Not sure if there's a pickup location convenient to you? I copied the locations and schedule from their web site.



Location - Click for Map
Monday3:00 PM - 7:00 PM Innsbrook, Markel Lot
3:00 PM - 7:00 PMLeigh and 4th, Downtown
Tuesday3:00 PM - 7:00 PMSPI Inc., Parham
3:00 PM - 7:00 PMAshley Furniture, Midlothian
4:00 PM - 7:00 PMWilliam Fox Elementary, The Fan
Wednesday3:00 PM - 7:00 PMGrove Street Parking
3:00 PM - 7:00 PMChurchill- 24th & Broad

3:00 PM - 7:00 PMInnsbrook, Snag-a-Job
3:00 PM - 7:00 PM8th and Cary, Downtown
Friday3:00 PM - 7:00 PMAshley Furniture, Broad St.

So get out there...or don't! You can have our coffee no matter what.


sic luceat lux

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Support Tom's Ironman Effort & Drink Good Coffee

You know Tom, that kinda surly guy who roasts coffee downstairs in his beloved cave? Well, he recently completed his first triathlon and David has challenged him to a Half Ironman, pledging the comany's sponsorship if he took the bait. So Tom has taken the bait and in order to help the company sponsor him, a new blend was born. Click on the image below to buy some of this great new blend.

If you're not sure why you should support Tom he's put together a website so that others can follow his training progress and sure he's not slacking. will get you where you need to go. Conveniently, that is also on the bags.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Coffee Bag Mirrors

I was inspired by Mary at Contrary Garden's awesome computer sleeve. So I took some bags home and with a little spray mount and only a medium amount of cursing made some mirrors.Notice the artsy angled photo.No artsy angle this time. The one on the top is at the coffee shop. If you would like either one let me know, either one could be yours for the low, low price of $15.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Get Your Blanchard's On at the Library

Positive Vibe Cafe has opened a new location. The good folks of PV are adding the Positive Vibe Cafe Express to the Library of Virginia at 800 E. Broad St. You can check out the new menu here. What that menu doesn't show and why we are excited about this bit of news is that the Express will be carrying Blanchard's coffee. Positive Vibe has a wonderful mission and we are proud to be part of their new effort. Be sure to stop by and check it out.

Positive Vibe Foundation (formerly Get Lost MD Foundation) prepares people with cognitive or physical disabilities for paid employment in the food service industry. We accomplish our mission by training and employing people with disabilities at Max’s Positive Vibe CafĂ©.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Traveling Down the Blue Lollipop Road

A Blanchophile and friend left this week for a trek to Alaska, a promise which she made to herself and some friends sixteen years ago. Sadly, her friends were all unable to make the journey with her.

Diane was the opening manager for LIFT Coffee Shop down on Broad Street so long ago, and helped usher me (and my best friend) into the coffee business. When I heard she was making this trip, I promised her that she wouldn't be drinking bad coffee on the road. She helped give me coffee as a career and passion; we're returning the favor.

While I encourage her to try every coffee she can, she'll always have some Blanchard's as a backup.

See what she has to say about us here, and follow her blog; she tells great stories, and rest assured she'll have plenty of them!

Godspeed, Diane! We're happy to make the journey with the form of beans, anyway!


sic luceat lux

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New Online Storefront!

Hoooooooo Nelly.

If you've ever tired of the same standbys for sale on our web site, we have a treat in store for you. Or lots of them. In fact, we have 26 of them.

Twenty-six coffees and blends for you to choose from are now all available to order through our web site.

Even Better (Part I): We are now offering them in 12 oz. packages instead of full pounds. How is this better, you ask? Shipping's cheaper, which means you get our Blanchard's on for less.

Even Better (Part II): We're now using Google Checkout instead of PayPal, which lets you manage your cart right on the screen, as well as calculate more exact shipping costs

Even Better (Part III): You can order online and pick up at the shop or the Farmer's Market and pay no shipping costs whatsoever! Please pay attention to the information on the right regarding pick-up times, however!

Even Better (Part IV): Remember that old "Buy 5 lbs, get free shipping" gig? Well, that's now changed to "buy Six bags" - It sounds like you have to order more, but really it adds up to only four and a half pounds. So you get free shipping with 1/2 lb. less!

We understand that many of you may not have Google accounts with which to check out, and we hope that you'll agree to sign up for one to take advantage of these new online ordering options. If you still prefer to pay through PayPal, you can always email us to place orders and we can arrange that.


sic luceat lux

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mod Your Espresso Machine

I don't know what is up with Gizmodo but they have been focused on the coffee lately. This time they modify an espresso machine to give a better cup of espresso. Go the previous link to check out the full details.
The experimenters on who took temperature measurements of the Silvia discovered that when the heating-element light is off (which means it's ready to pull a shot of espresso), the temperature can vary by as much as 40 degrees. This amount of variation makes consistently good espresso a nearly impossible dream. But because the Silvia had so many other good qualities (including ease of tinkering), the gang decided not to abandon the machine. Instead, they compensated for the shortcoming by developing the temperature surfing technique Glanville had taught me.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Starbucks Doing Something Right?

I'll never be a fan of the giant corporate entity that is Starbucks but an article on Gizmodo hints to something they might be doing right. Clover arguably one of the best espresso machines out there with the ability to tweak nearly every parameter in the process. Starbucks bought Clover and only rolled the machines out to 50 locations which is approximately 0.000000001% of their total locations. (Percentage is completely made up but I don't think by much.) Well, times maybe are a changing and there are reports of Clover popping up.
Starbucks' first Clover showed up in New York around two months ago, in a nearly 20-year-old location that's been converted into a concept store. The thaw is beginning. Starbucks plans to finally expand the Clover's footprint gradually over the next 6-8 months, as they figure out how to integrate the machine into the natural rhythm of stores—which is basically dominated by Frappuccinos these days, not coffee.

In a way, it's a hard sell. The kind of people who would be most interested in coffee made via Clover, designed to pull the most out of a coffee—so shitty coffee would taste shittier—don't go to Starbucks. Starbucks is so reviled by people who actually like coffee that they've experimented with burying the Starbucks name at two pilot stores in Seattle which are designed to look more like the kind of place that serves Intelligentsia or Stumptown coffee. So it's heartening to see them try to live up a bit more to the ideals of caring about coffee and how it's served.

Special thanks to commenter FritzLaurel for giving us a shout out.