AS THEFLIES


Roastmaster Clyde On Passing The Q (On The First Try!)

Ever since the "third wave" crashed on the shores of the coffee industry at the turn of the 21st century and specialty coffee roasters proliferated around the world, the "Q" has become a common term lobbed around in conversation among coffee experts. It's short for CQI Q Arabica Course & Examination, and those who pass it earn the most prestigious credential for coffee cuppers: the Q Grader license

Developed by the Coffee Quality Institute, the Q is an eight-section coffee-grading course that ends with a 22-test exam. It's an intense, arduous week of sensory exertion, only attempted by advanced coffee professionalsLike the bar or the Certified Sommelier exam, it often inspires existential dread and sickness-inducing anxiety.  Some people practice the sensory identification test with homemade solutions for weeks prior. Some will only eat plain foods the entire week of the Q to avoid polluting their palates. There are only roughly 4000 licensed Q Graders worldwide, and not only is it extremely difficult, it's extremely rare to pass after only taking the course once. 

Specialty coffee is a young industry, so the Q certification process is still somewhat shrouded in mystery and spoken about with an air of fear and respect. Since our very own roastmaster Clyde Miller recently passed the Q on his first try, we sat down and picked his brain about it.

First, could you just talk a little bit about how you became our roastmaster?

I didn’t know anything about roasting when I started working for the company. A job opened up at the Irving Farm café in town, so I was doing sandwiches, soups, stuff like that. Then I started working at the Roastery part-time, taking care of the lawn, and I quit my construction job. That progressed into also roasting part-time, and I learned more and eventually became the full-time roaster.

How did you get interested in the science and craft of roasting?

For the first five years of working for the company, I didn’t drink coffee. Right before Dan [Streetman, Irving Farm’s green coffee buyer] was hired, in 2010, we started doing small-batch roasting and more in-depth roast profiles. And then I quit smoking and started drinking coffee. At that time, I didn’t know what cupping was—I had none of that knowledge. My version of “cupping” was brewing a pot of the profile roast and comparing it against the two or three others that I had. Everything I did was trial and error. If it worked it worked, if it didn’t it didn’t.

So you were teaching yourself?

Basically yes. I didn’t have any classes. Just trial and error, and memory.

When and how did you actually become interested in testing to become a Q grader?

This year. I thought of it as just another notch. Once the Irving Farm lab was SCAA-certified, and I knew that the Q course was coming up, I asked Dan if there was anything I needed to do to prepare and he said to take the Taster’s Pathway. So I did that.

Could you explain how the Q works?

This Q course was for Arabica coffee; they have a separate course for Robusta. It’s a couple of days of classes, with general quizzes at the end of each day, and then an exam at the end of the course. If you pass the exam, you get your license to grade coffee. The exam goes through cuppings of washed-milds, naturals, etc. and it really attunes you to what can be found in the coffee: what to look for when you cup coffee, how to spot defects, and how to use your scoresheets without being biased to certain coffees. They also teach you how to grade a 350-gram sample of green beans and pull out the defects within a short timeframe.

Did you do anything to prepare before you take the course? 

The Taster’s Pathway really helped out because the knowledge was fresh from that course. But that was it really.

How did you feel during the Q? 

I felt okay. At one point, Candice [Madison, Q Instructor & Grader] told me to calm down, but that was during the general knowledge section. Everything else was fine. I cup more coffee doing quality control than I did at the Q.

To pass, do you have to have a perfect score?

No. I don’t know if anybody’s ever gotten one! Not everybody passes it in their first week either.

Most people don’t right?

90% of people don’t.

Now that you’re a Q grader, are there certain responsibilities?

I’m just licensed to grade coffee now. I have a three-year license, and then after three years I have to do a recall. It’s not as extreme as the actual test, it’s just to make sure your senses are still on point, basically.

Why was it important for you to take and pass the Q?

It helped me out with quality control, and it taught me how to look closely at the green bean. Now I’m able to spot more defects. You don’t need to have taken the Q to do a cupping and grade coffee, but it helps. It helped me.

Did you think you were going to pass in the first week?

No!

 

Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Coffee experiments in farming & processing, such as the Don Pancho Varieties (featured in the Edible Brooklyn Holiday Gift Guide), as well as advanced brewing equipment like the one-of-a-kind Acaia Pearl scale, designed specially for coffee enthusiasts
Give the gift of gear, like the Kalita Wave, for the coffee lover who's ready to take it to the next level—or advanced coffee brewing classes at our SCAA-certified lab in Manhattan
 
Our bestselling Rainbow Crow tank (10% of proceeds donated to Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in NYC), along with a selection of our brightest & most complex coffees
At just $14.99, the OXO Pour-Over Coffee Maker coordinates brew time and regulates water flow over coffee for optimal extraction. Our sleek yet tough BAGGU reusable crow tote is machine washable, made of 100% ripstop nylon, holds up 50 lbs, and is only $12.00
 
Freshly-roasted and hassle-free, an Irving Farm coffee subscription is a reminder of love & warmth with every cup. Our gift cards can be bought for use in one of our award-winning New York cafés or online!

Now Hiring: Line Cooks

Read below to see if this person might be you or someone you know, and direct all inquiries and applications to jobs@irvingfarm.com.

JOB DESCRIPTION

Irving Farm Coffee Roasters is seeking experienced line cooks to join our growing and changing Food Program.

Candidates should be quick learners who are excited about food. Candidates should be able to efficiently work in an extremely fast paced environment while still maintaining high food standards and a clean station.

REQUIREMENTS

New York City restaurant experience is preferred, though we are always willing to train the right person. We take seriously the well-being of our staff: all of our kitchen staff are competitively compensated and eligible for our company’s profit share program. NYC Food Handler’s Certificate, though not required, is strongly encouraged.

DETAILS & COMPENSATION

This position is PAID: hourly, varies DOE, $11.00 - $15.00

We have 6 locations- soon to be 7 locations- in the City, and are seeking Line Cooks for several of them.

Full-time and part-time positions are available.

Recommended Reading: A Conversation On Gender Inequality in the Coffee Industry

Liz Dean, the Director of Retail here at Irving Farm, recently participated in a meaningful conversation about gender inequality and sexism in the coffee industry along with fellow coffee professionals Becky Reeves, Ashley Rodriguez, and Jesse Raub. The full transcript of their discussion can be found here, but some highlights include:

Why fewer women hold leadership & ownership positions than men

"Open applications for every position [would ensure more diversity in leadership roles]. I see so many men be 'promoted' for jobs that have never been advertised." -Ashley

"People select for specific leadership skills. Often, stereotypically masculine leadership skills." -Liz

"It’s easier for men to get the backing, the investors, and the loans to become an owner. I’ve seen my female and male friends try to open business and it seems easier for men to be approached to start a business, when women have to work hard to prove that they can own a business." -Becky

The idea that passion is a privilege

"I just hired an amazing woman who initially turned down a job with us because she had a kid to support and couldn’t leave a stable, salaried job to work an hourly one, even though she REALLY wanted to work for a serious coffee company. Whereas I’ve had like, two young, white dudes give up their lives to move to NYC and work for us. Because they could." -Liz

How men are often taken more seriously than women

"There’s an article [about how] women talking about diversity are taken less seriously because it’s 'expected' that’s what they’ll care about." -Ashley

"My advice isn’t valid until my male coworker is like 'Yup! She’s right.'” -Becky

"Yes, when I was a manager that would happen all the time. Customers would ask me a question, then go to my white male employee and ask him the same one, and THEN be satisfied when he agreed with me." -Liz

 

Irving Farm's Tips for Brewing Great Coffee at Home

home brew coffee

1. Grind fresh!
As soon as coffee is ground it starts to lose its more delicate, memorable flavors. Ideally, it’s best to grind coffee right before you brew. If not, store your ground coffee in an airtight container to extend its life.

2. Get your water hot!
Many of the delicious components of coffee only dissolve and release at temperatures around 200F. Bring water to a boil, then let it cool about 20 seconds off the boil. We aim to add water to the coffee when it’s around 205F.

3. Contact time
This varies for each brew method. A general rule is the larger the grind, the longer it should be in contact with water, and vice versa for smaller grinds.

4. Coffee to water ratio
Coffee brewing is all about ratios. The ratio that many people find enjoyable is 1 part coffee to 16 parts water.

5. Great tasting water = Great tasting coffee
Around 98% of brewed coffee is actually pure water. Filtered water is ideal.

6. Coffee, like all agricultural products, is seasonal.
Coffee is only harvested once, sometimes twice, per year depending on where it’s grown. Though it can be stored in its raw, dried state for up to a year we find it most delicious when consumed under 9 months.

Joshua Littlefield, former Irving Farm Director of Education, founder of the Great American Coffee Tour 

 

Learn more about our coffee education program, aimed at seasoned professionals and curious coffee enthusiasts alike!

Gold Cup Technician Program at Irving Farm

Irving Farm is proud to be offering the Gold Cup Technician + Foundations Program on September 8, 9, and 10th at our SCAA Campus in NYC. This program offers lead baristas, retail managers, café owners, wholesale representatives, and service technicians the opportunity to learn both basic and intermediate tasting and brewing methods. The three-day program includes:

- CP151 & CP152 Brewing & Extraction Principles & Application (9/8)

- GE103 Orientation to SCAA Cupping (9/8)

- CP158 Gold Cup Brewing (9/9)

- CP225 Brewing Approaches & Variation (9/9)

- EXM_GP1 Gold Cup Technician Practical Exam (9/10)

Students can expect to learn the basics of cupping, including evaluating the flavor and aroma of different coffees, how to use a refractometer to measure coffee, and how to dial-in a batch brew that's in alignment with SCAA Gold Cup guidelines (and tastes delicious!). We will also be teaching intermediate brewing techniques, such as bypass brewing.

*All students must also finish CP103, CB100, and EXM_GW1 online through the SCAA in order to receive their certificate of completion.

Reserve your spot here!

 

Harlem's Monkey Cup Celebrates Their 1st Birthday!

In the year since husband-and-wife team Alfredo Tinozo and Laura Leonardi opened the doors of the Monkey Cup, the little café has become a pillar of the Hamilton Heights neighborhood in Harlem. It’s a community gathering spot, a haven for people seeking great coffee, and an unpretentious learning ground for anyone curious about what makes a quality cup. When the shop celebrated its first birthday just a couple of weeks ago, the store was teeming with people stopping by to congratulate the owners. Many brought flowers.“It was so overwhelming seeing that people really care about the café,” Laura said. But she wasn’t surprised. “We’re pretty much a sensation around here. I think if you do something with love, you receive love back."

A photo posted by @themonkeycup on

 

And it shows. From the handmade chalkboard that customers brought Laura and Alfredo when their original one broke, to the number of passersby who stop to talk to them when they're sitting outside, there’s no doubt that the Monkey Cup is beloved by the community.

Opening their own café wasn’t always the plan for Laura and Alfredo. In fact, it happened almost spontaneously. They moved to Harlem six years ago from Miami when Alfredo, an opera singer, received a scholarship to attend CUNY. The couple loved their new neighborhood, but they were frustrated at the unavailability of a good cup of coffee. Both originally from Venezuela, they grew up on the stuff: “I was drinking coffee since I was five, six years old. Not even early in the morning: at dinner!” Laura laughs. “It’s normal there. So we really know our good coffee from bad coffee.”

Troops of children pass the café on their way to and from school, and for this reason Laura and Alfredo were inspired to brighten up the outside of their storefront. They built a small wooden fence around the tree on the sidewalk in front of the Monkey Cup and planted sunflowers.

A photo posted by @themonkeycup on

  

Noticing the effort Laura and Alfredo were making to dress up their sliver of the sidewalk, the Audubon Project approached them and asked if they would be open to having a mural of birds painted on their roll-down metal security gate—so that when children passed by early in the morning, before they opened, that’s what they would see. “But we don’t have a gate—so we convinced the whole block to get their gates painted by Audubon,” Laura says.

A photo posted by @themonkeycup on

 

A photo posted by @themonkeycup on

 

She and Alfredo have the same priorities that the founders of Irving Farm, Steve and David, had when they opened their first coffee shop twenty years ago: providing quality products and fostering community in the neighborhood. But another big part of their operation is their dedication to demystifying the brewing techniques they use. Kyoto drip cold brew coffee makers are on display in wooden frames, and the rest of their brewing equipment faces outward from behind the counter. Curious customers can watch the barista prepare their drinks and ask questions—which they often do. The customers at the Monkey Cup are highly inquisitive, which Laura and Alfredo love, even if it means learning to have extra patience when the café is busy. “It’s about sharing the knowledge and the love of coffee,” she says.

Cupping at the Irving Farm Loft! 

Now Hiring: Lead Barista

barista irving farm

Read below to see if this person might be you or someone you know, and direct all inquiries and applications to jobs@irvingfarm.com.

Lead Barista Job Description

The lead barista is expected to be a leader, role model, and standard-bearer for café employees—not only for their store but for the company at large. This position is intended to be a stepping stone for a career within the coffee industry, especially in education.

In addition to being an exemplary barista, the ideal candidate for this position is someone who is organized, responsible, punctual, self-motivated, and has excellent interpersonal and leadership skills. They should be able to relate to people of all backgrounds and abilities, and have a demonstrable interest and passion for coffee and the coffee industry.

 

Prerequisites:

● At least 12 months experience as barista, preferably at a high volume café

● Outstanding customer service skills

● Preference will be given to those with a NYS Food Handler's license; obtaining a license within 30 days of hire will be a requirement of the position

 

General Responsibilities:

● Report directly to the Store Manager and Director of Education

● Work 3 - 4 shifts in the store per week, with 1 - 2 additional days for professional development, teaching classes, and/or giving 1-on-1 support to baristas at the store

● Work closely with the retail staff to improve coffee quality and knowledge, including observing and reviewing bar-certified staff and documenting feedback to share with managers and the education team

● Help maintain up-to-date logs and tracking of staff training progress

● Assist store managers with scheduling staff for training opportunities, including classes at the lab and individual sessions with staff members who are preparing for tests

● Assist in quality control at the store, including maintaining a log of weekly tasting/dial-in of batch brew, pour-overs, and espresso

● Enforce proper cleaning and preventative maintenance protocol for espresso and brewing equipment

● Be knowledgeable of new coffee offerings and hold tastings for staff of new coffees

● Lead at least one regularly scheduled class or cupping each week

● Perform service duties of cleaning grinders, changing water filters, pump pressure, screens and gaskets, and report any broken or malfunctioning equipment to the service department and the Store Manager

● Assist with teaching classes and assessing barista certifications at the lab, including assisting with SCAA classes and exams

 

Monthly Preventative Maintenance Duties:

● Changing water filters

● Cleaning grinders

● Changing gaskets & screens

● Checking pump pressure on espresso machine & adjusting if necessary

 

Benefits

● Salaried position, also eligible for tips and profit share for any shifts worked

● Opportunities to participate in company health insurance and 401K plans in accordance with company policy

● Paid time off: 5 sick days and 5 personal days each year

● Opportunity to take SCAA classes and earn SCAA barista certification either through our training lab or by attending barista camp, as well as assisting with teaching SCAA classes

● Other professional development opportunities including and not limited to: MANE, SCAA Expo, Barista and/or Brewer’s Cup competition(s), etc.

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