Nothing can kick-start a heavy-lidded, fuzzy-brained morning like a steaming hot cup of joe. And nothing can perk up an equally heavy-lidded, fuzzy-brained late night, hunched over an iMac and a stack of books, like a steaming hot cup (er, make that a pot) of joe. Pair it with a sugary or chocolatey tidbit and the world looks all right. Yup, centuries of java junkies have cherished their special times–mornings, noons, or late, late nights–with the deeply fragranced potent brew and its wide-awake wallop. Of course, coffee connoisseurs know that the ultimate caffeine elixir is usually whatever’s the freshest. That means beans toasted to perfection and aged for just 24 hours for the heating process to release and develop the flavors, then ground up mere minutes before the boiling water hits. The resulting flavor should be dark and rich as sin but not thin, burned, or bitter. And never, ever stale. A whole lotta coffee-bean roasting goes on locally, with many of the most popular coffeehouses pulling double duty as roasteries. Leon Sange, co-owner of the Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Co. in St. Helena, says the best beans are arabica (rather than the more commercially used robusta) from various geographic locations, such as Indonesia, South America, and Central America. “We blend varieties to get medium-bodied to full-bodied flavor,” he explains. The beans are toasted in a drum roaster that heats the air, which in turn heats the beans. The process takes 14 minutes to roast the beans, which go from a greenish hue to brown-black, and five minutes to cool them. “The advantage to roasting on the premises is you always get good and fresh coffee,” says Sange. “Freshness is the key.” According to Sange, roasted beans are at their optimum a day after heating, then start to deteriorate quickly and have a life span of just seven to 10 days. Here are a few local selections for your daily grind:
A’Roma Roasters 95 Fifth St., Santa Rosa. 576-7765.
Barking Dog Roasters 17999 Sonoma Hwy., Boyes Hot Springs. 939-1905.
Daily Grind Coffee Co. 1940 Piner Road, Santa Rosa. 545-5282.
Deaf Dog Coffee 1120 Industrial Ave., Petaluma. 762-7848.
Flying Goat Coffee 324 Center St., Healdsburg (433-9081); 10 Fourth St., Santa Rosa (575-1202).
Gold Coast Coffee Co. 23515 Steelhead Blvd. (off Hwy. 116), Duncans Mills. 865-1441.
Gorilla’s Coffee & Espresso 1451 Southwest Blvd., Rohnert Park. 793-9990.
Jeanine’s Coffee & Tea Co. 464 First St., Sonoma. 996-7573.
Petaluma Coffee & Tea Co. 189 H St., Petaluma. 763-2727.
Sonoma Valley Coffee Roasters 464 First St. E., Sonoma. 996-7573.
Taylor Maid Farms Organic Coffees & Teas 6793 McKinley Ave., Sebastopol. 824-9110.
Wolf Coffee Co. 336 Coddington Center (524-8039); 614 Fourth St. (524-8036); 1810 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. 546-9653.
Break Time Coffee Service/ PauPaiz Fine Coffees 978 Kaiser Road, Napa. 224-7434.
Calistoga Roastery 1631 Lincoln Ave., Calistoga. 942-5757.
Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Co. 1400 Oak Ave., St. Helena. 963-4491.
From the July 20-26, 2000 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.
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