When we first moved to Nashville, one of the things I was mostly excited about was the fact that on just about every corner, you can find a café or coffee shop. And these are REAL coffee shops, you know what I mean? Like, the baristas were straight up BORN to do what they do. They have hipster beards and man buns and ask you all of these coffee-related questions when you order… which brings me to my next point: I’m absolutely terrified to order coffee from these places. I see the eye rolls I get as I order an iced tea or a black house coffee, and it’s not because I don’t want to drink “the fancy stuff,” it’s just that I have no idea what I’m doing. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a beard or that my hair is too short to fit up into a bun? Whatever it is, it’s clear that I’m completely coffee clueless.
So if you’re anything like me in this case, get ready to get totally SCHOOLED because today I am introducing you to Tinker Coffee Co.. These guys know the ways of coffee, not to mention they reside in my hometown of Indianapolis, IN… so, immediate love. Here’s the Tinker Coffee rundown:
- Tinker Coffee Co. is a specialty coffee roaster, focusing on the finest specialty coffees from around the world.
- You can purchase specialty coffee right from their site. My favorite so far has been the Espresso Blend, although I will say- the coffee from Guatemala was also really good. (It was so good that I did not add anything to it and just drank it black. Talk about amazing flavors!)
- If you’re coffee clueless (like me), you can take their Cupping Class where “you’ll learn about where coffee comes from, the roasting process, and experience a unique coffee tasting that’s equal parts educational and fun.”
- Not in the Indy area? Check out this entire page dedicated to brewing, where Tinker Coffee includes all the different ways to brew your joe, with step by step instructions.
I reached out to Tinker Coffee with quite a few questions and they were happy to answer, as well as help clear up some common misconceptions (with no eye-rolls, I might add!)
EG: Does a darker roast mean more caffeine?
TC: This is a pretty common misconception in coffee. Caffeine levels actually stay very stable through the roasting process, so the differences in caffeine between light and dark roasts are negligible. Roast levels and caffeine come into play when you brew coffee by weight, however. In darkly roasted coffees, more water is roasted out of the bean (released as water vapor), so darker beans are less dense (and therefore weigh less) than lightly roasted beans. If a person is measuring coffee by weight, they will need fewer lightly roasted beans to equal the same weight in darkly roasted beans. So, if you’re using darkly roasted coffee, you’ll actually use more beans than you would in a lighter roast… creating a cup with slightly more caffeine.
EG: What is the difference between light and dark roast?
TC: The biggest difference is taste. Darkly roasted coffees tend to have a smokier flavor and can be a little bit more bitter. It is our preference to roast coffees lightly so that the flavor profile of each region or farm can shine through in the coffee. When a coffee is roasted darkly, all of the unique characteristics of the coffee tend to give way to flavors like carbon, charcoal, and smoke. While it is true that you can develop more body in a coffee by roasting a little bit more on the medium to dark side, we like to find the perfect balance of light roast where we produce a full to medium-bodied coffee and also accentuate the unique acidity, sweetness, and aromatics of the coffee.
EG: Are espresso beans different than coffee beans?
TC: There’s no such thing as an “espresso” bean, only beans that work well as an espresso. For our espresso blend, we chose coffees that worked well together to produce a bright & sharp shot of espresso. Our espresso blend will change seasonally, so the winter version might be a blend of more full-bodied and chocolatey coffees to fit the season. One popular trend in coffee these days are SOEs, or single-origin espressos. These are coffees from one specific place (rather than a blend) that taste great when brewed as an espresso. Sump Coffee in St. Louis just won a coffee competition in Chicago with a washed Yirgacheffe from Ethiopia.
EG: Does it matter if you use a regular kettle vs. gooseneck kettle?
TC: In principle, the type of kettle you use doesn’t really matter (assuming the water is the same temperature in both kettles.) The big difference between a traditional kettle and a gooseneck kettle is pour control. We love gooseneck kettles because you can control where you’re pouring the water much better, which helps produce a nice & even extraction and quality cup of coffee. In short, both do the job… but we’d always prefer a gooseneck kettle.
EG: How does Tinker Coffee get the beans from all the different regions?
TC: We purchase most of our beans through an importer, but also have relationships with folks that source coffees directly from farmers all over the world. We’re currently waiting on a coffee to arrive from Nicaragua that we purchased directly from a farm in Matagalpa with the help of a group called Farmers to 40. As we continue to grow we’ll look to purchase more coffee directly from the farmers so that we can make sure we’re providing as much support directly to the producers as possible. This of course presents lots of logistical challenges for us, so having a really strong import partner is a huge help and we’re lucky to have great relationships with our importers.
Today I’m grateful for people who not only know a lot more about things than I do, but who are willing to leave the judgey eyes at home and teach me all the ways. Knowledge is power, especially when it involves the only thing that makes me human each morning (strong coffee). I can’t wait to go back to Mr. Beardy Man now and order a SEO. That’ll show him. (On second thought, maybe a few more Tinker Coffee classes first…)
Disclosure: This is a Sponsored Post. Tinker Coffee Co. provided me with samples of their coffee (as well as answers to all of my coffee questions!) in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own. I also have nothing against hipster beards or man buns. (I’m actually a fan.)**UPDATE as of 6/23/15: In addition to their website, Tinker Coffee can be purchased at the following Indianapolis locations: Goose the Market, Wildwood Market, Homespun, and Foundry Provisions. They also just launched a monthly subscription service (with Free Shipping!) so that you can stay stocked up on coffee all month long. You can sign up here.
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