I have a very
minor major obsession with coffee. Coffee has meant many things to me throughout my life. I can remember drinking coffee at a very young age when we would visit relatives, or my mom brewing a pot when my grandfather was coming over. In high school, my friends and I didn’t troll the mall, we went downtown to our favorite coffee shop to buy our lattes, or we would go to the main library, buy a cup of coffee, and wander the aisles of books upstairs. In college, my boyfriend (now husband) and I would meet at 6:30 am before I had to go to class to get coffee after he got off work, or he would bring me a cup just to see me in between my hours of studying. The act of sitting down with my fresh cup of coffee meant it was time to get down to business studying for exams or writing papers. This little bean has been a common thread through many, if not all, of my relationships in my life thus far. My dad monotonously stirs his instant coffee every morning in the same mug. My mom perks a pot at the crack of dawn and in the evening using 1 level scoop per two cups. My best friends like rich espresso and steamed milk with little to no sweeteners.
When my husband and I went to Europe last summer we loved how the French treated the time of drinking their café with reverence. You go to the counter, order your café, or cappuccino, sit down, and sip. No scrolling through Facebook, or browsing Pinterest. People would carry on a conversation with the barista or the person they were with. They may read the newspaper. But contrary to our lifestyle in America, it wasn’t a venti, double shot, skim, caramel macchiato, extra hot, through the drive-thru, sucked down in the car while in traffic on our way to our next stop. There was beauty in the act of enjoying your brew, taking in its rich flavor, smooth consistency, and fine craftsmanship.
This slow down approach lets you appreciate what the roaster wanted you to experience.
Do you know that we have coffee roasters right here in the Toledo area? Amazing, talented coffee roasters whose passion is expressed through the product they produce. This past week I had the opportunity to sit down with Rich Jambor of Maddie & Bella coffee out of Perrysburg, Ohio and hear all about the art of coffee.
Maddie & Bella Coffee Co. began as a family hobby using a very small bean roaster the size of an air pop popcorn maker. Rich explained that his dad had been introduced to this through work which lead to roasting beans for their own enjoyment. When another Perrysburg business, The Savory Suite, wanted to offer a brunch, the not-quite-a-business, but lovingly named Maddie & Bella Coffee Co., stepped up to serve pour-over coffee to patrons. Well, I can only imagine the feedback was very positive, because soon they began bagging and selling their delicious roasts at Churchills grocery stores in the area. Once Maddie & Bella joined with Bleak House Coffee people really began to take notice of this exceptionally made coffee.
What makes Maddie & Bella coffee so exceptional? First of all, it is fresh, very fresh! When you purchase their coffee, it has a hand printed roasting date on the bag, and has been roasted within the week. Coffee is in its prime 7 – 10 days from the time it was roasted, and this can be nearly impossible to find in mass produced coffee. Maddie & Bella is roasted in small batches and pulled from the shelf once it goes too far past its prime. The coffee is only sold in whole bean form, because once coffee is ground it automatically begins to lose its flavor, breaking down in a sense. Although the coffee roasting has graduated from the tiny kitchen roaster to a now 10kg bean roaster, the product still retains its small batch, craft coffee nature.
We hear the term “craft” in reference to beer, or “fine” in reference to wine, but these terms are used appropriately when describing Maddie & Bella coffee. Through working with importers who have direct relationships with the farmers that grow the coffee fruit (yes, technically coffee is a fruit) direct trade coffee creates sustainability through that personal relationship with the farmers. Its the human factor. A roaster can focus on the farmers that grow the coffee, and roast it for the natural flavors, much like the production of wine. Rich explained to me how the different soils, climates, altitudes; how the beans are harvested, stored, dried, and transported makes all of the difference. That is what they want you to experience when you drink in your brew. To the people at Maddie & Bella, coffee is not just a caffeine vessel, there is something more to the act of drinking coffee.
There are some big things in the pipeline for Maddie & Bella coffee. BIG! Continuing on their community involvement and spreading the coffee love among Toledo, they are deep into the remodeling of the former Downtown Latte coffee shop on St. Claire in the Toledo Warehouse district, as their flagship Maddie & Bella storefront. The Warehouse district of Toledo was a natural fit with the rapid growth of this area of downtown and the great community support of former patrons of the Downtown Latte. The Maddie & Bella store plans to have a very different feel from the former Latte. Rich explained that the plan is to have the clean, simple, modern feel of what we see at an Apple store. They are very excited to be downtown once it is ready. The goal is opening near the end of 2015 (No worries on missing it, I will keep you all posted).
The intent is that this location is not going to be just your average coffee shop; Maddie & Bella would like to also offer a learning experience. They want to introduce patrons to different methods of brewing coffee and how the coffee is roasted. Coffee flights of various brews, and brewing techniques will be offered. This will be where your favorite beverage and coffee house treat location meets education and exploration. The shop will offer a place to buy all of the different Maddie & Bella coffee products, to drink in house or take home, as well as the merchandise to make those beans at home. Siphon coffee, pour-over, nitro cold brew, take your pick. Curious? I sure am.
Currently, Maddie & Bella coffee can be found all around the Toledo area. You can buy Maddie & Bella coffee beans at the Perrysburg Farmers Market, Walt Churchills, Kazmaier’s, Sautter’s, and The Paula Brown Shop. Bleak House Coffee, Fowl and Fodder, Parker Coffee, and Zingos have also partnered with Maddie & Bella to create specific blends for each location where both businesses have a say in the unique product they serve. They offer a coffee share for CSA members of farms such as Shared Legacy Farms of Elmore, Ohio. Personally, I was thrilled to hear that a coffee subscription is in the works. Fresh, local coffee, on a regular basis, delivered to my doorstep. How cool is that?!
It is people and businesses like The Maddie & Bella Coffee Co. that demonstrate much of the potential we have locally. Why pick up a bag of coffee at the store that was roasted months prior, then ground, to then be shipped to your grocery store, where it sat on the shelf for who-knows-how-long, until it made its way into your cart, when you can get great coffee made by the people in your own community? There are many locations around the area to find locally roasted coffee, and the cost is very comparable. Why have stale and cookie-cutter when you can have fresh, unique, and you can support your local business at the same time?
Now to share the coffee love: Never experienced Maddie & Bella coffee, or a big local coffee lover? Maddie & Bella and I would love to share a bag of coffee with you! They have also generously shared a t-shirt and Maddie & Bella coffee mug with one lucky giveaway winner! I know I want this prize-pack myself.
Two ways to enter:
1) Comment below on “What is your favorite local coffee spot?” AND Subscribe to this blog – In right column, under ‘Let’s Keep In Touch’
2)Connect with both me @JCiesler and @maddieandbella and share the picture below featured on Twitter or Instagram using #BeLocal #ToledoCoffee That’s it! Just do it by 11:59pm EST on September 4, 2015.
Be Local. Keep it Simple.