Saturday, November 23, 2013

Topeca's Gourmet Coffee

We have been trying to figure out the best way to bring coffee to the mini-donut trailer. But we knew we couldn't just have run of the mill coffee, we needed something special and more importantly something local. One week at Guthrie Green, we met a fine gentleman named Mitchell, who works for Topeca Coffee. He began talking with us about equipment and coffee, and what Topeca had to offer.  After scheduling a meeting with him, we recently had the privilege of touring Topeca Roastery.

I have been into Topeca coffee shop a few times and always purchase their bags of coffee at Reasor's, but that is all I knew about them.  Topeca is not your average coffee company, there is definitely more than meets the eye!

As we were getting out of our car, we could smell the coffee roasting, and it smelled heavenly!  When you walk in The Roastery, this is what you see, the Coffee Lab! Our guide for the day was Ian Picco, the Director of Coffee for Topeca.

I was in awe of all their equipment and supplies! Their Roastery has a rustic-warehouse type atmosphere, with pallets hanging from the ceiling and of course burlap sacks galore.  As you walk to the back of the building, you can't help but get the feeling that this place is something special.

In the back you find a huge coffee roaster hooked up to a computer, closely monitoring the roasting process of the coffee beans. Ian then explained the detailed roasting process, and how the coffee bean metabolizes as it is heated. The longer the bean is roasted, the more the sugars are broken down. There was also a packaging station with coffee bags and thousands of stickers, they package all of the coffee that is roasted that day, to maintain quality and freshness.

       He then led us to another room, behind closed doors that was warm and humid.  This was the room where the beans are kept, just like cigars, they have to be kept at a certain humidity and temperature.  

       Ian educated us on the extraordinary history of Topeca.  Topeca is a Seed-to-Cup company.  The Owner of Topeca and his family have a coffee plantation that was established in 1872 in El Salvador.  This means, the same company that actually plants the coffee seeds is the same that pours your cup of coffee. To learn more about their awesome philosophy, you can click here.  It was very interesting learning about their relationships with the farmers in El Salvador, it is not just business and worrying about the bottom dollar, you can tell they truly care for the people and coffee.  

We then went back into the Coffee Lab and he explained the different way the beans are washed.  The method in which the beans are washed effects the overall taste of the coffee.  After the beans are washed, the way they are dried also effects the taste of the coffee.  There are numerous other variables that can factor into how coffee will taste and to truly learn more, I highly recommend attending a cupping of your own. The picture below is showing the different methods of washing then, and the outcomes.  

Different types of Coffee Beans from different origins
Before tasting the coffees, he went through all of them and explained their origin, the altitude in which they grew, the method in which they were washed and the type of roast.  We then went through the coffees and smelled each one.  Some of them were very fragrant, others were spicy or fruity while a few had earthy smells to them.  

Ian then poured steaming hot water into the coffee cups and let them set for 4 minutes.  He then scraped off the top and we began our coffee tasting (or more specifically our slurping…we learned to slurp our coffee to allow the coffee to cover our whole pallet and experience everything each coffee had to offer our senses).

 We tasted 8 different coffees.  I liked the coffees that were naturally sweet while Kent liked the smooth Brazilian coffee.  There were a few that were too acidic for me.  

This was poster in The Coffee Lab, explaining all the different flavors coffee can have.  

A few things I learned:

-Oxygen is coffee's number 1 enemy, it starts aging as soon as it is ground.    
-The coffee world is completely different than is was 20 years ago mainly due to new technology and research.
-The seed-to-cup process for coffee is a lot like a vineyard and wines. Just like wine, coffee can pick up different flavors throughout all the different processes it goes through.
-Coffee is the second most traded commodity, lagging only behind oil.  

-But most importantly, Gourmet Mini-Donuts and Gourmet Coffee are the PERFECT marriage!

We will be debuting the Lick Your Lips Coffee blend soon! 

We were very impressed with this company.  Their local coffee company employs many people and creates a sustainable life for farmers and their families in El Salvador.  We were in awe of Ian's knowledge, we asked him a lot of questions and we did not stump him once.

Topeca offers cuppings the first Friday of each month, it is free and open to anyone.  You will get a tour of The Roastery, and get to taste some of the different coffees Topeca roasts.  They said they usually fill up fast, so make reservations early!


  1. You have great taste in coffee! The staff at Topeca are great people and we enjoy workimg with them. Coolray Coffee Cafe

  2. Great blog! The information you provide is quiet helpful. I am lover of coffee drinking i take it in evening. To relax and unwind after a hard day's work, all one has to do is take a sip of her favorite gourmet coffee and feel the tension leave her tired body.
    Kopi Luwak