What started as a five minute chat turned into an hour long conversation. If ever you get a chance to talk to Jowil Carvajal about coffee, you better have a good warm brew right in front of you. You are in for a treat.
It was an incredibly hot day. There were food stalls setting up in preparation for the UP Cookout. We were about to organize another bazaar and it seemed like a good idea to talk to the food sellers.
First stop was the enterprising students from San Carlos who were selling delicious desserts. I quickly explained the event and got their email. It took less than five minutes. I figured I could budget an hour for the next ten stalls.
Next stop was a small tent under the heat of the sun. They were selling coffee. The truth was I didn’t have a good first impression. The sun was scorching and you could feel the heat cut through the tent. The last thing I wanted was to drink a hot cup of coffee. That’s where I met Jowil. The plan was to have a five minute conversation, but before I knew it, we were discussing the ins and outs of something I drink every day, but took for granted, coffee. By the end of that conversation, I was set on buying a grinder, an aeropress and fresh coffee beans. That was a year ago. Today, I just had coffee from freshly ground coffee beans with distilled water injected through an aeropress. The coffee in my house tastes much better than those in many of the major coffee shops.
When I met Jowil, I was surprised by the passion this guy had for coffee. That hour long conversation changed my coffee life. I’ve been ordering my beans from him ever since. We’ve since decided to allow the readers an opportunity to the coffee as well. In the end of this post, we’ll post details on how to order.
But before that, here’s a quick interview with Jowil Carvajal.
Where did this intense love for coffee come from?
When I was younger, I remember watching my yaya eat dried fish and rice with coffee. That was my first interaction with coffee. These days, I would call that a coffee pairing. During college like a typical student, I would stay up late to study for exams. This started my intake of coffee… mixed with coke. Hahahaha! Then my friends and I tried eating dried fish and rice paired with coffee. True enough the mix tasted good. It wasn’t until I knew more about coffee that I discovered that the salt of the dried fish made the bitterness of the coffee sweet, in turn changing the taste profile of the coffee to savory. But back then, that was it. I could easily go without coffee.
When I started working, I was surrounded with people who would drink coffee regularly, instant coffee. Then one day we decided to try the “best”. That’s when our search for the Italian instant coffee started. We searched for anything with an Italian word or Italian flag. That Christmas, after receiving our bonus, we bought the most expensive Italian instant coffee. It was way better than our local instant. That was our Christmas treat to ourselves.
One day, my sister gave me a big box that said, “Sampler – Coffees of the World.” I recall there were ten different varieties of coffees. But they weren’t instant, they came as coffee grounds. I needed a French press; my first one was a generic press. No brand. So we stuck the Starbucks logo and added the Poseidon fork. That was our “brand.” We finally started brewing the different coffees. It was like traveling around the world. We would try different coffees from different places. Each had its own distinct taste. Then the sampler box ran out. We went back to the old instant stuff.
Years passed before the black wave of gold hit me when my dad gave me high grade Colombian coffee. It brought back those memories and that special taste. That’s when my coffee journey officially started. True enough, it was a learning process. Every cup from instant to coffee and coke to Colombian coffee was a learning experience.
I’ve since shared my coffee experience to anyone willing to listen. My mission is to share this exploration in the hopes that people will gravitate towards good coffee.
When someone orders a bag of coffee from you, what’s the process??
First, we identify the beans people order and locate them in the stock room. The green beans are all in GrainPro bags. Once identified, we weigh the loading beans. They weigh more than the end roast weight. When raw, the beans are heavier because they contain water moisture. When roasted, they lose the water and weight decreases but size expands.
After loading weight is achieved, we cue it for roasting. This is the technical part. First, we preheat the roaster, then at a certain temperature, we charge the beans by pouring them to the drum. This way, we can see the development. There’s also a computer on the side to check the previous logs of the same type of beans. This way we can replicate the roast profile.
Once it has reached the desired roast, we subject them to the cooler fan. This will drop the temperature and will stop the roasting from continuing further.
Lastly, we check for chaffs. Then lay the beans in a flat container for 8 to 12 hours before packing and sealing them.
This whole process ensures the experience of fresh and specialty grade coffee.
You’ve mentioned to me before that freshness is important. Care to expound on that?
Through experimentation and exploration, I realized very quickly that in the search for the best coffee, freshness is always key.
When you roast green beans (this is the form coffee beans take before roasting), you introduce heat which allows the beans to emit gas. That is why after roasting beans, it is best to let it rest for a few days before brewing. If you add water immediately after roasting, the water will sort of bounce off and you won’t be able to extract deep enough inside the coffee. It takes a few days of resting before most of the unwanted gas is gone. After a few days, the water when making a cup of coffee can penetrate and extract more. When you pour hot water into freshly roasted ground coffee, it “blooms.” This bloom is the release of the remaining gas in the beans. This bloom is one of the ways to know if you have fresh coffee. When it doesn’t bloom or worse case the water just flows down, then it means nothing is resisting or reacting to the water, meaning it is stale coffee. Stale beans means it has gassed out way back and the roast date was too long ago.
Bloom is important because that is how you gauge the freshness of the coffee. Two weeks after roasting is optimum flavor then it drops rapidly. Like a steak, you need to rest it before cutting and serving. Similarly, steak roasted five days ago and just reheated is not the same as fresh steak. Same with coffee.
Every third week of the month, we open up the Boots Coffee Bar section in The Assembly Online for coffee orders (if you want to be informed when we open orders, best to subscribe to our newsletter).