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From the ground up

Getting the coffee low-down at DoubleShot

Inside DoubleShot Coffee at 1730 S. Boston Ave.

Greg Bollinger

It may seem counterintuitive to turn to a coffeeshop with a reputation of elitism for a lesson in coffee basics. From the lawsuit with Starbucks to the nod to their “manifesto” in an episode of “Portlandia,” DoubleShot Coffee Company has certainly made a name for itself. Whether its reputation hints at fact or legend is debatable, but the art of subtlety is certainly not DoubleShot’s forté.

Owner Brian Franklin understands the anxiety new customers sometimes experience when coming through the shop’s doors. And while he acknowledges his own coffee elitism, there is no secret handshake or lingo required to enter the shop.

“I think the purity aspect scares people for some reason, but it should be the opposite,” Franklin said. “We have stripped away all the fanciness and pretension behind coffee and went to the basics. It’s simple to come in here and order a cup of coffee.”

Franklin recalls his first roasting experience just over 20 years ago, an event that inspired him to open the shop in 2004.

“I drank freshly-roasted coffee, and it was an explosion of flavors,” he said. “I had never had coffee that wasn’t stale.”

This epiphany formed the foundation of DoubleShot’s mission—to serve freshly-roasted, high-end coffees.

DoubleShot aims to share the uniqueness found in various coffees while also educating, which the baristas are happy to do with each customer interaction—whether about coffee varietals, preparation of certain drinks, or why they don’t make others.

When I met with Franklin, he walked me through some of the coffee basics, starting with flavor.

As with wine, the flavor of a coffee is dependent on several factors: the coffee plant’s variety, elevation, soil, climate, and processing method. The first coffee trees can be traced to Ethiopia and have since been cultivated in tropical regions across the globe.

Coffee beans come from the fruit of the coffee tree, which is referred to as a “cherry.” The red, ripe cherries are harvested and processed before being exported. Coffee processing can be split into two broad categories—naturally-processed and washed.

Natural-process coffees are dried with the entire cherry intact, then the dried skin and fruit are removed mechanically. Washed coffees have the skin and fruit mechanically separated prior to undergoing fermentation. After fermentation, the cherries are washed and then dried.

Once processed, the light green, unroasted beans are packed into 100-pound burlap sacks and exported. It’s then up to the roaster to dial in the exact roast time and temperature required to extract the most flavor. However, all the work up to this point could be in vain if it’s not followed by proper brewing procedures.

No matter the brewing method, the variables at play remain the same. The coffee should be both freshly roasted and ground. The grind size and extraction (brewing) time will depend on the brewing method, but the water should be filtered and heated to 195°F to 205°F.

Franklin won’t say any element of brewing is more important than the other; however, he does concede that a consistent grind size will have the greatest impact. Electric blade grinders are notorious for creating inconsistent grinds and should be avoided in favor of burr grinders. For the most consistent grind, Franklin recommends the Comandante C40 Nitro Blade, which he uses for his own daily cup. For those not ready to spend $235 on a German-engineered hand grinder, the Baratza Encore electric burr grinder ($137) is a good entry-level model. Cuisinart also sells one for around $100.    

DoubleShot roasts a special holiday coffee annually, and this year it’s a double release. This isn’t your franchise-style coffeehouse blend with festive packaging and matching seasonal mugs. Franklin has sourced two specialty coffees from Finca Hartmann, a nearly 250-acre farm in Panama from which Franklin has purchased since 2009. These coffees are of a variety known as Geshas. Known for their tea-like subtle complexities, these coffees fetch high prices due to low yield, high demand, and a difficulty to cultivate. The Gesha Natural #3 is priced at $40, and the Gesha Natural #5 is priced at $42. Both will also be available in the shop as 10-ounce pourovers for $7.

Next year, DoubleShot will move to a new space designed by Franklin and Joel Collins, a longtime DoubleShot regular and architect. Designed from the ground up, it is meant to be an expression of what DoubleShot represents—an enhanced coffee-drinking experience. The new building, called The Rookery, will feature reclaimed barn lumber from Berne, Indiana, and bricks from an old Coca-Cola plant in Muskogee. It’s set to open on South Boulder

Avenue in the spring of 2018.

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