DIY Extraction Tasting: Perfect for Your Shop or Kitchen

Whether you’re a coffee professional or a passionate recreational lover, extraction tastings are imperative for introducing yourself (or clients!) to a new coffee product. Hosting extraction tastings is an excellent way to draw customers into your shop, and doing them on your own is a great way to better understand the complexity of coffee flavor. To do an extraction, all you’ll need is coffee, scales, a grinder, and an espresso machine—tools you likely already have if you’re reading this blog. You can run experiments with any coffee and grinder. 
 
I recommend starting with a typical espresso recipe. The flavors will likely be balanced, providing you a great “middle of the road” taste for the experiment. Don’t worry about shot times; as long as your grinder is calibrated to make the typical recipe taste great, size and time won’t really matter. The trick here is to make espresso to weight. To do this, grind, weigh, distribute, and tamp your usual dose into the basket, making sure to be as accurate as possible with dose weight. Tare your cup on a small set of scales. Start the espresso shot and place the cup and scales beneath the spouts. As the espresso begins to brew, the weight will increase. Stop the shot when the scale reads between two and six grams less than your target yield. Follow this process to make seven espressos with the same dose and different yields. I like to use intervals of 4 grams (a typical espresso yield is 40g).  

Now, it is time to dilute. The longest shot will be the weakest, so you should dilute all other espressos down to the same concentration. The shortest shot will be strongest, so it will need the most water. Add appropriate amounts of water to each espresso so they are roughly the same number of grams. At the end of the process, you will have seven espressos of similar strengths but with very different extractions. 

Now comes the fun part: the tasting! You will now have a neat flight of espressos. The first two will be the most aggressive, and the middle (the fourth) will be the “correct” balance. Taste each and record anything that comes to mind. This is a great activity for coffee professionals and enthusiasts, and I hope you enjoy the tasting process! 

Club Spotlight: Chicago Coffee Shops

Name: Metropolis Coffee 

Neighborhood: Edgewater 

Metropolis is a coffee shop and roastery that services much of the greater Chicago area. They believe that great coffee comes from a line of respect, beginning with bean farmers and the love of their land. They pay fair prices for harvest (direct-trade) and offer a range of brewing methods: pour-over, Japanese cold brew, and standard drip. Their prices are some of the most affordable around. The shop is conveniently located (just off the Granville red line stop) and boasts three rooms of tables, chairs, and couches. Each room seems to have a “set” volume level—the entrance is noisy, the second room is full of discussion, and the farthest room is full of people quietly reading and writing. 

Name: Oromo Café 

Neighborhood: Lincoln Square 

The newly-opened Oromo Café is like the United Nations of coffee—their espresso and coffee drinks feature flavors from around the world, including India, Turkey, Madagascar, and Ethiopia. You can ask the barista to spike your beverage with superfoods, such as spirulina, for an added boost of nutrition. My personal favorite is the pistachio-rose latte; it’ll run you around the price of a beer at a local bar, but it’s a can’t-miss drink. You can also get traditionally-brewed Turkish coffee and Iraqi teas.  

New Coffee Shop Helplist

The barrier for entry to owning a coffee shop or starting a roastery is lower than it has ever been. It is easier to get into the game, chisel out a little neighborhood to post up, and develop a following of the just everyone who is drinking coffee these days. However, just stenciling a fancy name on the window and opening the door is not enough these days. With a lower barrier for entry also comes with it more competition and increased difficulty to predict monthly demand and respond with staffing and supplies.

To help new shops along, we have gathered a little checklist/advice list of sorts that successful small shops do to make sure they make it. We have NOT used any tactics from coffee shops that have more than one location. We removed those as they likely have a different amount of financial backing that may not be helpful here.

Google My Business. The first thing you need to do is sign up for your Google My Business listing. Go here. This will put your shop on the map for when people search for things like “coffee shops near me open now.” <– That link is what shows up for me working in Denver right now.

Know that your GMB listing is very important and it can sometimes take a little bit to get it approved and listed correctly.

Curate this listing as much as you can. Add photos, create posts, list coupons, etc. Also, be very very very accurate on your information for phone number, website, and hours.

Finally, RESPOND to reviews. Whether negative or positive, be active. Bad reviews can kill you and paying attention to you reviews can head off any issues and provide visibility into your customer service.

Build a Website. There are just so many tools out there that are free or cheap along with being fast to create. Wix, WordPress, Squarespace. Those are what we would recommend. You likely won’t transact much on this website, so you are essentially just creating a brouchure or business card for your shop. Take a day, muscle through it, done.

Think differently about advertising. Once you have your shop, figure out what the other shops in your area are doing, and think differently. Maybe it makes sense to do doorhangers in the area. Maybe you sponsor events. Maybe you wiggle your want into Next Door. There are boutique marketing agencies out there who can help, if you have the money to pay for it. They may also be able to give you just some free, quality advice. If nobody is spending money on advertising, it might make sense to engage with an agency to fill this void. For our money, we would think about foregoing the first 2-3 months of revenue and put that toward marketing.

Study your competition. Go have a drink at the other shops in your neighborhood and see what they do. Hang around for a couple hours. Absorb what happens and react. They have been doing this longer than you and have likely already gone through and fixed issues you are likely to face, so pay attention. Copy what they are doing well. Make sure to avoid things you don’t like. Create offerings where they are remiss.

Look at your shop with fresh eyes. There is a local coffee shop in Denver where they don’t have any shades. The coffee is great. The natural light is amazing, but the heat and shine of the sun is too intense to withstand. After 10a, everyone leaves. However, the coffee bar was not in the sun, so the employees weren’t feeling what the patrons were feeling. It wasn’t a nuisance. It was unbearable. So do all of the things a customer would do. Sit in all areas of the shop. Try to park when it’s busy. Use the customer bathroom, etc. These might seem like small things, but when customers have so many options, they can and THEY WILL be picky. Don’t lose a lifetime customer from something that is small and solvable.

We will continue to update this post as new tactics and ideas come to light.

Club Spotlight: New York Coffee Shops

Name: Devoción  

Neighborhood: Williamsburg, Brooklyn 

Devoción’s roastery and café is an outpost of a coffee roaster in Bogota, Colombia. The shop’s beans arrive via FedEx straight from Columbia—no more than ten days after being picked, meaning this is some of the freshest coffee in the city. In fact, “freshness” is integral to their mission statement; they launched in 2006 with the goal of changing the way coffee is consumed around the world, emphasizing the importance of incredibly fresh coffee. The space itself is large, open, and features a massive skylight. Planning to stay a while? You’re in luck—Devoción priorities seating space, offering couches, stools, a bar, and several 2- and 4-person tables.  

Coffee Club Checklist

What makes a great coffee shop? Is it the quality of the coffee? Is it the pricing, or the friendliness of the baristas? We are inclined to favor the local shops we frequent (am certainly guilty of that), but what actually makes for a good coffee shop experience? Below, I’ve included a few of my “essentials” in the form of a checklist. Use this to assess your local favorites or make a decision while travelling.  

[  ] Good coffee matters most. Why leave your house for a cup of standard Nescafe? Why pay to drink Nescafe in public? 

[  ] Pricing is also important. Recently, my local shop upped their American prices from $3.25 to $4.25. That is too dang high for a cup of hot bean water. I like to use this rule of thumb (applies to 12oz pours): $2-$3.50 for a drip coffee, $3-$4 for espresso drinks, and $4-$6 for “specialty” brewing, like pour-overs and cold brew. 

[  ] You should be able to sit down. We love our favorite coffee shops for a reason. Odds are, other people are also privy to those reasons. However, some shops may reach a breaking point: they become so popular that you cannot find a seat. If your local shop has hit this precipice, start looking elsewhere; nobody wants to sip coffee while people stand around willing you to get up. 

[  ] It should have the atmosphere you want. Nobody wants to be that pair having a heated political discussion in a shop full of people working on laptops. Similarly, you don’t want to hunker down with a Derrida text when a screaming child is just a few tables over.  

[  ] It should have the proper amenities. Do you go to shops to read? Find a place with big, comfortable couches or armchairs. Do you go to do work? The shop should have free WiFi, ample desk space, and outlets scattered throughout.  

Coffee Club Network

Coffee professionals have few opportunities to network and share resources. Beyond chatting with coworkers and subscribing to industry magazines, most baristas and shop owners are left in the lurch when it comes to expanding their craft and connecting with others.

But here’s the thing with the coffee industry: It’s built on collaboration. This collaboration happens not just between baristas and local businesses, but between roasters and farmers, producers and general managers. Our entire industry relies on a chain of people working together to find new, innovative experiences. There’s a reason why customers might find their baristas too uppity. It’s because our craft demands more than making a pot of coffee and pouring it.

The Coffee Club Network is a space for coffee professionals to share experiences and resources, but also to connect with one another. We foster a global coffee community. Specialty coffee isn’t always an accessible or cheap option for some folks, but we want to make it an equitable, sustainable activity – for both coffee professionals and their regulars.

On this site, you’ll find a variety of ways to connect. From equipment reviews and first-hand experiences to stories of beans sourced from far-off places, this is a one-stop shop for everything your coffee community needs. If you’re interested in writing a guest post or in telling us about your coffee practice, drop us a line. We’re always willing and ready to listen.