February 2nd, 2009

Stumptown are the source of one of my most troubling coffee experiences, one that still haunts and nags at me today.

No one in the coffee industry really likes decaf.  We excuse its taste, we get annoyed at how fast it stales, we treat it as a second rate coffee experience.  I was in that camp too for a while.  Coffee no good?  Well, it is decaf…..

Stumptown ruined that for me.  During our West Coast trip in 2007 we were hanging out with the former roaster Joel, chatting about the UG15 he was roasting on (we were just buying ours at the time), and having a great time.  Joel disappeared to the bar and came back with a shot for Anette and one for me.  It was very tasty, sweet, full bodied and clean.  It definitely wasn’t Hairbender.  I was nearly floored when he told me it was their decaf.  That caused a problem: I no longer had an excuse.

Anette does a great job roasting decaf, and I think that experience is one of the many reasons high.  As our memories improve and elevate that particular espresso it means our own bar will constantly be lifting.

I think we make a grave mistake alienating decaf drinks with tonnes of pre-ground, nasty coffee brewed without much care.  These are people who are buying coffee because they like the taste.  We are supposed to love these people – they aren’t the ones suffering through awful espressos or instant coffee just to get their caffeine fix.  And yet they are the people least catered to in the industry.  A shame.

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