Steve Cuevas grew up in the suburbs of Southern California. Having been a barista since 2004, he eventually made his way North through a series of jobs at Bicycle repair shops and Cafés, eventually finding himself at Black Oak Coffee Roasters where he met owners Jon & Keith in 2014. He was hired as a barista but through his insatiable appetite for education and fierce, genuine passion for coffee, he transitioned full time to head up the roasting and quality control program there. Since Steve has been at the helm, he has taken the quality of Black Oak Coffee to an entirely new level, eventually establishing Black Oak as a highly regarded award winning roaster. In 2016 he helped earn two gold medals for his roast profiles of two Single Origin Ethiopian Coffees at the Golden Bean Competition, with a total pool of over 200 entrants. He also took a bronze medal for his Decaf Roast of Black Oak’s proprietary “Canopy” decaf blend.
In 2017 Steve was again thrust into the spotlight when he became the Specialty Coffee Association’s 2017 National Cup Tasting Champion, in which he correctly identified 6 of 8 sets of blind tasted unique coffees in 2 minutes and 20 seconds, besting his competitor in time by over a minute. He will move on to compete in the World Championships in Budapest Hungary in July 2017. While a significant upset in the Specialty Coffee competition scene, this solidified his reputation as a professional in the Specialty Coffee Industry, and recognized him for his hard work and dedication developing his palate.
Steve attended his first Specialty Coffee Expo in 2015 in awe of the energy of the competitions and was inspired to sign up to compete.
When he’s not sample roasting or setting up a cupping, Steve enjoys exploring the nuances of craft spirits and obscure wines. He is currently enjoying discovering the natural wines of Europe and Japanese Whiskey. While he now calls Ukiah home, he is also known to travel frequently to the hot food and beverage spots in the North Bay & Bay Area to compete in the BACC latte art competitions or throw back some oysters.
This month's Coffee of the World comes from the Werka Bauka mill in the Gutiti sub region of Yirgacheffe. You may already be familiar with "Yirgacheffe" because the coffees that come from there have wowed more than a few palates.
This beautiful coffee features a bright, ripe, sweet fruity aroma with distinct notes of strawberry, raspberry and blueberry. Have a taste. If you've liked our recent Ethiopian Gold Winners (Gedeb, Banko) you'll want to compare and contrast this roast.
Read more about Kochere Natural in our store.
Kochere Natural is a wonderful intro to our Coffees Of The World Club. Members get these coffees delivered freshly roasted to their door before we offer it for sale on our site. They also get a discount, enjoy free shipping, and 10% off ALL online orders.
There is nothing worse, in my opinion (judge me as you will to my priorities in life) than tasting old, stale, rancid coffee flavors when drinking a cup of coffee.
Many coffee makers, particularly the thermal carafes, will stain due to the buildup of coffee oils and improper cleaning.
There is a simple tool you can use to combat this: oxygen cleaner.
For my daily routine I add a ¼ teaspoon of Joe Glo (available for $5 on Amazon) to the coffee maker brew basket after rinsing my carafe, brew, and let the cleaner sit in the carafe overnight. In the AM, simply dump and rinse before brewing. If you have a dirty coffee maker you may need to hit it a bit harder with a brush to remove all of the rancid oils present.
You'll definitely notice an improvement in taste... thank you for being a part of our coffee journey. Happy brewing!
Sourness in coffee can be a side effect of a light roasted coffee brewed in conditions that don’t extract enough sugars from the roast. We don’t want our coffee to taste sour; however, we do want to preserve the acidity to give the coffee finish, structure and complexity.
A coffee plant uses its organic acids as defense system from pests. The variety of those acids will vary based on soil type, variety, altitude and many more factors. It is this acidity which makes each coffee unique. In the roasting room, we try to develop the sugars during the roasting process to balance the acidity from the plant so that we don’t notice it as a prominent flavor.
All that digression is to say that if you are getting prominent sour flavors, try a finer grind, longer brew time and make sure your water is HOT.
There is no single way to brew coffee that works for you, but we thought we’d get the conversation going on some ways we think you can up your coffee game. We hope this will be an ongoing series and encourage your input.
The following are some thoughts to keep in mind as you perfect your brewing technique, especially if single-origins and lighter roasts are a new adventure for you.
The method of brewing can depend on the type of roast
For light roasted, single origin coffees, french press typically isn't our first choice for brewing. We prefer manual and auto pour over methods, chemex, or for the more ambitious - syphon pots. We find that these brewing methods, when using correct recipes, water temps, and proper techniques, produce superior cup clarity, aromatics, and body compared to french press.
For our darker roasted coffees we do tend to prefer french press.
Picture perfect doesn’t necessarily mean best flavor
A lot of our most delicious roasts could be described as looking "raggedly." While beans should have a uniform color and appearance, the small, imperfect beans are totally normal. This is typical for lighter roasted coffees especially with some of the heirloom light roasted coffees from Ethiopia.
Also, the hotter the beans get, the larger they get in size. Lighter roasted coffee simply doesn't expand in size like dark roasted beans do.
Leaving a bad taste in your mouth? It may not be the beans.
Light brown or otherwise tea-like appearance and thin flavors can mean brew water temperatures are too low. Lighter roasted coffees are less water soluble and this means proper brew temp is especially critical to avoid insipid flavors, and if you happen to combine that with the grounds sitting a little too long in contact with your liquid coffee in the press (more than 5 or 10 minutes) you can definitely experience some bitter flavors and lighter, less dense colors as the water starts to extract less desirable components as the coffee sits.
Your brew water should be at least 205 degrees f. which should lead to the slurry (ground coffee and brew water mixture) being somewhere between 199f and 202f after you pour from your kettle. If you don’t have one of these fancy temperature gauges, you can basically bring your water to a rolling boil, turn off heat, let sit for 30 seconds, then pour.
Different Roasters for Different Folksers
Buying a specific coffee like Yirgacheffe from one roaster doesn’t in any way mean that same bean from another roaster will taste the same. Our philosophy behind these special selections is a very light, hands-off approach in the roaster. This means we are focused only on showcasing the flavor of the coffee rather than the roast. We understand that this flavor profile isn't for everyone, and for someone used to a darker roast, sometimes our coffees may be perceived as sour, acidic, or otherwise distinct.
You aren’t alone
The quest for a perfect brew is an ongoing one, but it’s a worthy pursuit. We love talking coffee, almost to a fault, just ask our significant others! We’d love to talk with you about getting your brew routine dialed in.
Leave a comment here, on our facebook, in the twitterverse, or come by the cafe!