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Monday, October 5, 2009

Why is our coffee better…Part 1

Because we love coffee!!!! When I say we love coffee, I mean we like to drink it, we like to smell it, and we like to talk about it. And since we care, we spend A LOT of time making sure we start with the best ingredients, follow through with the perfect roast, and offer our guests nothing less than an expertly crafted espresso drink.

My name is Brooks, and I’m the Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage here at Eat’n Park. Among many other things, I oversee our espresso program, from sourcing the best beans to developing the perfect roast. Because I’m so passionate about the quality of our espresso beverages, I’m going to be writing a series of posts about our espresso and what makes it so good.

Before I get ahead of myself, you’re probably wondering how a family restaurant chain like us began offering espresso in the first place.

The beginning

Back in the late 1990’s, we noticed that interest in espresso-based coffee was growing, and that there was a developing trend toward high-quality, flavorful blends. Because we’re known for our classic breakfasts, we thought that espresso beverages would complement our menu and be well-received by our guests. Much like our strategy with the rest of our menu, our goal with espresso was to offer a high-quality product at an approachable price.

So, our quest for the perfect espresso blend began, and for some of us, that meant first getting some education in how coffee is produced. Allow me to pass on this wisdom…

An education in coffee

All coffee in the world is grown between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. And while there are limited places in the world it can be grown, it doesn’t mean that all areas are created equal. Coffee is a lot like wine, and choosing the right region is the first step towards having great coffee. To grow great coffee, you must have a balanced, harmonious environment and a farmer that is committed to high quality. These are the underlying principals driving Eat’n Park’s coffee program, and is the base of our espresso beans.

In our search for the highest-quality beans, we tested hundreds of varieties from many different regions. We finally landed on a flavorful blend, one that allows individual flavors to come through without being overpowering.

The ultimate blend

The coffee beans in our espresso blend come from three small and distinct regions: the central valley of Costa Rica, an eastern region of Guatemala called “El Oriente”, and the Bahia region of Brazil.
The “La Lapa SHB” coffee from Costa Rica is chosen because of its full body and ability to take on a dark roast and still hold its bright flavor. The “Arte Maya de Cafe” coffee from Guatemala provides a nice heavy body while retaining good acidity. And the Brazilian “La Minita Prep” is a highly consistent coffee with a full body and a very clean finish.

All of our coffees are shade grown at very high altitudes, which is the best growing environment for high quality coffee. We work directly with the grower and producer of the beans to ensure the finest quality…no middle man here!
In fact, every two years, we take a group of Eat’n Park team members directly to the coffee farms, where we can see firsthand the care that goes into creating our beans. This gives us a better understanding of coffee, and how minor climate changes affect the flavor of the beans. We’re also continually testing different beans to ensure that we are offering the best blend for our guests.
But choosing the right blend of beans is only the first step in creating a delicious cup of espresso. Roast level is just as important, but I’ll get into that in my next post.

Until next time,
Brooks Broadhurst

P.S. Here's a little treat for you loyal blog readers....try our Pumpkin Chai Tea for free with the coupon below. Just click here for a printable version.

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