Red Whale Coffee Blog

Congratulations to Sean! A Newly Licensed Q-Grader! October 16, 2014

We are proud to announce that Sean passed the Q-Grader certification! Learn more about Q Coffee and the Q-Grader certification process! 

Coffee spans the globe. It crosses borders, cultures, and continents. Different regions will have different flavor profiles in their coffee, but the taste of quality coffee is recognizable across regions. With such a vastly spread market, how do coffee producers and coffee roasters recognize the quality?  How do we say one coffee is actually better than another?  Taste alone tells us, but the coffee community has found a way to standardize quality, which will lead to even better quality in the future.  Through the Q-Grader certification, a person can understand  the characteristics that lead to a good cup of quality. The Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) is standardizing quality and improving the lives of small coffee producers through that quality guarantee.

To become a licensed Q Arabica Grader, you must go through an intense six day course and with rigorous testing.  A licensed Q-Grader is able to distinguish characteristics of a coffee with a standardized language that can be understood by roasters and producers, identifying attributes and basic flavors, detect defects and describe the profile of the cup. The Q grader must also remain objective while grading the coffee. A coffee is considered specialty when it is scored higher than 80, according to the standards of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.  In order to be a Q Coffee, the coffee must be considered specialty.  Receiving the qualification independently guarantees the quality.  If the beans are not accepted, there is a detailed technical report which allows the producer to improve the quality and understand what constitutes quality specialty coffee.


These skilled cuppers can recognize the quality level within the coffee and are certified to write up reports about the beans that they have cupped.  This allows the Q-Grader the autonomy to work with a producer (and an In-Country Partner) to certify the producer’s coffee with a Q-Certificate.

There is also a standard of ethics that a certified Q-Grader must follow.  Any breach in these ethics can lead to loss of their Q-Grader status. These standards help to guarantee there are no dishonest practices in the certification practice, which helps build a system that consumer’s can trust.  After a coffee is certified as a Q Coffee, it is a specialty coffee, guaranteed by an independent third-party, which will have detailed cupping notes of the attributes of the coffee.

The Coffee Quality Institute is instigating an exciting shift in specialty coffee.  While there is already a practice of communication about quality and improvement between buyers and producer, certifying coffee through Q-Grading will allow producers to have an exact explanation where improvements may be necessary or where their coffee excels. These small farmers often struggle to support their families despite their exceptional coffee, the certification will also allow them to ask prices that are deserving of their coffee.  The CQI is working towards a change in coffee but also an improvement in the lives of coffee producers.

Written by: Caitlyn Prien


Enjoy Coffee and your Bike Ride! Why Coffee and Cycling Look So Good Together! September 22, 2014

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Your breath is fogging in the crisp morning air. There is a stillness surrounding you, like the world is holding it’s breath. It feels like it is only you on the road. Your muscles are loose and warm, easing effortlessly into fluid motion. One leg goes up, the other pushes down, one leg up, the other pushes down, you lean forward over your handlebars. This moment is all there is.

The road fans out before you, the first leg of the ride is almost at its end. As your legs slow down from the familiar rhythm you feel exhaustion in your muscles set in. It’s time for a break. As you hitch your bike up to the bike rack you walk into the warmly lit building for some coffee.

Those who love to cycle, know the feeling of getting into the rhythm of the road, with only your bike and maybe a few other cyclists for company. How does one prolong that feeling? How does one recharge the muscles to keep going? The love of coffee does go hand in hand with cycling and that is not just a coincidence. Coffee actually helps you recharge your muscles and stay focused during your ride.

It is thought that moderate consumption of coffee may have some beneficial effects on your cardiovascular health and that can result in a more effortless ride. Performance seems less strenuous and riders who have imbibed with a caffeinated beverage are able to push themselves harder. This caffeine phenomena creates a chemical in the brain called adenosine which normally calms the brain and caffeine combats that calm, allowing riders to feel more alert, agile and able to perform better for longer.

In addition, glycogen is stored in our muscle and is one of the main supplier of body fuel when cycling. Caffeine helps sustain the glycogen in our muscles enabling cyclist to exercise without feeling fatigue from the depletion.

In studies that look at caffeine’s effect on cycling, there is consensus of a 2% to 3% benefit and boost in performance, which is significant advantage in competition. However it is also noted that everybody is individually affected by caffeine. If you love your espresso before a ride and your friend enjoys a large cup of coffee, caffeine most probably affects your body and performance differently.

Do you see the caffeinated glint in the leading cyclists eyes?!(image from:

What does this mean? It’s time to order some coffee! Experiment with the level of caffeine needed to allow your body to function at its highest performance capacity. Some studies have found that six cups of coffee achieve the best results, but most of us aren’t drinking that much coffee. Vary such aspects as the time span before the ride and intake amount; studies have shown it takes about an hour for the benefits of coffee to help during cycling however your body may metabolize the coffee more quickly. Get a newspaper, chat with your cycling buddies and sip on your coffee. It’s a great way to spend your time and it can help you leave feelings of fatigue on the road behind your tires.

 On your next ride, cycle up to Red Whale Coffee and give yourself the fuel you need to keep going. You can also stop by Pelo Fitness, find our coffee there and participate in their highly developed cycling classes. What better way to see whether coffee helps you let go of feelings of fatigue than having an awesome trainer help you push your cycling boundaries?



Written by- Caitlyn Prien

5 Reasons to Drink Direct Trade Coffee August 20, 2014

Coffee is one of the largest traded commodities in the world, spanning oceans, continents, and countries.  With coffee traveling such distances to reach your cup, its easy to lose sight of where it started; the people who work long hours cultivating and growing the coffee that eventually become the beans that you consume.  Unfortunately, losing sight of the coffee journey, makes it is easy for the people and the environment to become exploited.  As a socially conscious coffee drinker, how do you support those producers in a positive and sustainable way?  One answer is Direct Trade coffee! 

Graciano Cruz (Producer, shown left) & Sean Boyd (Roaster, shown right)- Los Lajones Estate

 Here are five reasons to consider coffee that was bought through direct trade-

1.  You know who handles your coffee

Direct Trade means that the roaster builds a relationship with the coffee producer, there is no middle man.  By buying a direct trade cup of coffee, you support the small growers who put care and their livelihood into the quality of your coffee.  With direct trade, the farmers are not just some shadow, the chain of hands that handle your coffee is more intimate, the miles between the consumer and the producer does not mean there is a distance between the people.

2.  You combat the industrial complex that many coffee certifications have developed.

On paper, Fair Trade Coffee is a great idea.  It was developed to promote fair wages and positive living conditions for producers.  When a producer is Fair Trade certified, they become part of a coffee cooperative that advocates for them and in return they receive a percentage of the coffee price.  The money the cooperative collects is meant to help the communities around the coffee producers.  Fair Trade has a minimum pricing structure, meant to guarantee a fair living wage for the producers and their workers. Unfortunately, Fair Trade has grown to encompass more administration between the coffee producers and the buyers, resulting in more money going to those working for the Fair Trade business, rather than going to the producer.  Supporting Direct Trade cuts out the middlemen and the Fair Trade cooperatives that may discriminate against certain producers who cannot afford the requirements.

3.  Quality of your coffee grows.

The nature of Direct Trade creates a dialogue between the producer and the buyer.  With that communication comes feedback.  Buyers communicate how coffee is roasted and served allowing the producer to understand what the finished product of their labor becomes.  The producer learns which cherries produce a better cup of coffee and which beans did not turn out as well.  With this roaster/producer dialogue, each harvest has the potential to be better than the last. When a producer becomes aware of the end product, they develop a pride in their labor, which leads to care.  Each step is not a disjointed system.  The premium for Direct Trade coffee, driven by buying demand, is higher than the minimum Fair Trade pricing structure.  With Direct Traded coffee, the demand drives the price drives which in turn creates  incentives to improve the quality in the coffee.

4.  The global community grows.

The basis of Direct Trade is mutual respect and trust. Rather than trusting a third party to guarantee standards, a relationship grows between people from completely different countries.  Through respect for the product, producer and buyer work to improve on both ends.  The communication and relationships grow over time, guaranteeing quality but also, keeping business between people and bridging gaps between culture and industry.

 5.  Your coffee is sustainable.

The nature of Direct Trade promotes long term relationships.  The producers can depend on their buyers to support their coffee at a price that allows their families to thrive and communities to grow.  Direct Trade is dynamic, allowing producers to remain on the cutting edge of what demands are growing for their coffee.  It also allows for farms to invest in sustainable methods that are better for the environment and the communities.

Come down to Red Whale Coffee and check out our Direct Trade Coffee! Learn about the producers who grow your coffee and sip the history of your coffee beans.  Your relationship with Red Whale Coffee makes you part of the direct trade chain and supports the relationship with the producers from countries far away.  How exciting is that?!

Stay tuned for blogged highlights of the producers who grow our coffee for you!

Written by Caitlyn Prien

San Rafael Twilight Criterium August 8, 2014

It was a beautiful day to watch the races!  The sun was hot in the sky above the San Rafael’s Twilight Criterium.  The riders, dressed in bright spandex, were unfazed by the heat, their only focus was the next race.  The crowds fluctuated throughout the day but the spirits of all who attended were consistently high.  Red Whale Coffee was perched in a great spot, right next to the start line and event commentators.  Working the bike criterion felt like “coming home” for roaster, Sean Boyd, who raced bicycles in his youth. 

The dedication of the riders was most inspiring as they speedily raced lap after lap around Fourth Street and Fifth Street.  Despite the sweltering heat and the possibility of a crash, the racers continued speeding down the street, weaving past each other with skilled precision. Cyclists strove to beat personal records and move to the next challenge. While we fueled the riders with coffee, bananas and water, Red Whale Coffee heard stories of past races and accomplishments. In the same trajectory as their bicycles, it seems that the racers were content only with one thing: moving forward with utmost determination. It was sport, passion, and fun. A challenge for the mind and the body. 

It was great to contribute to such an atmosphere.  Serving coffee, Sideline cheering and meeting racers made for an ideal day.  Red Whale Coffee filled cups of cold brew with the spirit of the cyclists in mind, fueling the day with delicious coffee and determination to do whatever it takes to move to the next level!

Did we see you there!? Thanks to all the Red Whale Coffee Family who stopped by to say hello while at the Criterion! If you didn’t stop by, don’t worry! We still have the cold brew and more for you to enjoy! Come check us out and try out our Cat 1 Coffee, crafted especially for the San Rafael Twilight Criterium.



















Coffee! The Story of its Journey! July 18, 2014

How did this steaming cup of coffee end up in your hands!?  At Red Whale Coffee, the story of the coffee bean is an important part of the experience.  The miles that the bean traveled and each individual that had a hand in those beans have created the cup that you enjoy.  The process of taking a coffee cherry from the tree and eventually transforming it into a cup of coffee is an art form and a collaborative effort that bridges the globe.  What are those steps?!  Let’s check them out!

 Growing the coffee


A coffee plant takes approximately five years to grow to maturity and yields about a pound of coffee per year.  A coffee plant starts its life protected in a nursery until it is 24 inches tall, it reaches this heigth about a year into its growth.  It is then planted outside, with a spacing of 10 to 12 feet between other coffee trees.  Coffee trees can grow up to 20 feet tall, however for harvesting purposes they are usually pruned to 8-10 feet.  When a coffee cherry is ripe, it is a bright red, sometimes with hues of yellow in some varieties. Once fully ripened it is ready for harvest.



Harvesting can either be done by hand or with mechanical harvesters.  Typically, small farms do their harvesting by hand with the entire family helping. Farm workers can also span the entire community, where everyone shares the labor by harvesting each farm when the coffee cherries are ripe.  Harvesting by hand allows the harvester to pick the cherries that are ripe and leave behind cherries that need more time on the tree.  Mechanical harvesting does not discriminate.  While faster and helpful for larger farms, the machine takes all the cherries available.  In Brazil, mechanical harvesting is favored.



We have discussed processing in another blog, but a short review never hurts!  Processing brings out the flavor of the beans.  Depending which processing method is utilized; the beans flavor profile will change.  Different regions prefer different methods based on the availability of water, the size of the farm and accessibility to machinery or the traditional way that the country has processed its bean.

  The processing most commonly used is either natural process or washed process.  The natural process dries the cherries in the sunshine as they lay out flat on raised beds. This ferments the flavor of the cherries into the beans inside. Raking the cherries every few hours helps to even out the drying process.  Once the cherries are the texture of a raisin, they are hulled to reveal the green coffee bean.

In the wet process, the cherry’s outer layers are softened and the husk and pulp are removed right away by machinery.  The beans are sent through the machine, separating by size and weight then they are fermented in tanks full of water. The mucilage is broken down and then about two days later the coffee cherry is ready to be dried, again usually on flat raised beds or patios.


After the beans are polished and sorted for uniformity they are prepared for export. The beans are put into large bags and labeled.  Samples are often sent to roasters through coffee brokers or directly, whereupon the coffee is roasted, cupped and chosen for purchase. The bags are sent overseas, meticulously cared for along the way, stored in cool dark areas until they reach the buyer.

The roaster, having initially cupped the coffee and identified the flavors and qualities of the bean can now roast the beans they select, to bring out their subtle complexities.  Roasting done right brings together science and art.  It takes great dedication and attention to detail to roast great coffee.  Roast for too long, the bean will get an acid-y and burnt taste.  While not roasting it long enough will cause the coffee to have an underdeveloped, grassy taste.  A roaster must use all their senses to understand each individual coffee and roast the bean to its greatest potential.  At Red Whale Coffee, Sean’s experience as a chef provides him with the expertise to identify different flavor profiles within the beans as he roasts to bring out the subtle flavors. 

Finally! Brewing!


The coffee is almost in your cup! After grinding the beans to the correct grind, it brews.  There are a variety of different brewing methods available and grinds per brewing method.  The different brewing methods emphasis the beans flavors differently.  For instance, using a paper filter will give a cleaner cup, with less graininess and oils, as opposed to a metal filter, which will have a grainer mouthfeel and more particulates.


(Coffee producer,Wilford Lamastus from Finca Elida, and coffee roaster, Sean Boyd! Red Whale Coffee purchased some of Mr. Lamastus’ coffee from the Best of Panama, and he happened to come in to visit us and try some of our Panamanian coffee.  The exciting stories coffee can tell; tying people together by their love for coffee!)

Coffee takes time, dedication, and passion.  Producers spend years of their lives caring for the coffee trees, then spend hours processing and readying the coffee to bring out the best flavor for their beans.  After the beans are exported, the roaster continues the hard work, cupping and roasting the coffee, using all their senses to roast the perfect cup of coffee.  It’s exciting to know the story of your coffee, it has a proud lineage of collaboration and dedication! Coffee can connect you with the stories of the people who spend their lives readying coffee for your cup. For more information come in to Red Whale Coffee and chat with us about it!

Also check out this awesome website that illustrates the process a coffee bean goes to get to you!

Written by- Caitlyn Prien


Take a Sip of Coffee and Help Change Lives! July 10, 2014

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Reflect for a moment,  on the days that you spend at work, your commute, the time you wake up in the morning, the amount of hours you focus on your job. What moves you to go to work everyday?  What do you get out of your job? Is it the money and stability that keeps you going? Is it passion?  Maybe it’s a mixture of all those things.

Now, I want you to take a moment to imagine that you put all of those hours and care into your work, and someone else takes your money, someone else takes the credit for your labor.  Even imagine that this person abuses you, hitting you if you don’t do your job, or maybe they undermine your confidence and emotionally abuse you.  Imagine suddenly that everything you have, everything you’ve worked for is owned by another.

Shocking to us, but this is not an imagined reality for many women in underdeveloped coffee communities. This is the reality they live and work in. Many women have decided to move forward from the cycle of poverty and abuse and are now working toward a solution by creating a woman owned coffee co-op which they named Café Femenino.


Roselia Roblero Macario, producer in Mexico for Café Femenino, took the responsibility of supporting her family and her husband’s family after she was widowed.  

Café Femenino developed in 2003 in Peru.  It developed with the mission to help women in the coffee producing communities.  Café Femenino supports women’s equality and aims to reduce the rate of abuse that occurs in the coffee communities.  Since its start in Peru, it has grown to other countries including Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Rwanda.

In many rural areas where coffee is produced, women work long hours in the home for their families, as well as outside with the coffee.  Their husbands control the income the coffee brings in and often do not save any for the family’s needs.   If families have money to send children to school, the boys are sent to school, while young girls stay at home and help in the kitchen.  Many girls are married by 13 and having children shortly after (in some instances, the husbands abandon their young families when they go off to look for work).  This perpetuates the cycle of inequality occurring in these communities.  Café Femenino aims to give women autonomy in their lives.

The women who produce with Café Femenino separate their product from men; they want credit for the care and attention they put into their work.  Café Femenino producers are paid directly from the co-ops and are donated a percentage from the roaster who buys their coffee.  This is exciting! Why? Because whenever you drink a Café Femenino cup at Red Whale Coffee you are directly helping women in other countries.

The grants for Café Femenino are unique because they don’t just focus on some lofty idea that the donors think up, the panel listens to the needs of the women in coffee communities.  In this way, they invest money towards what matters most for women and their families.  They measure the benefit of each cause and choose one that will benefit the maximum amount of families and communities.  For example, one project they worked on was the Colombia Kitchen Project.  This project focused on the health of the girls and women who traditionally prepare food for the family.  Many women spend great deal of time in the kitchen and develop respiratory illness.

 The kitchens were rebuilt with sustainability in mind, using bamboo rather than palm trees (which are beginning to grow scarce because they are commonly used in building).  Bamboo grows quickly and can be used instead of the palm tree, helping the palm tree become prevalent again.  To help with respiratory illness many women experience, the project focused on building well-ventilated stoves.

(photo credit:

What is most apparent when looking at Café Femenino is their focus on promoting dignity within their communities.  By giving autonomy to women who work with Café Femenino, they give them the catalyst to change their families and their lives, empowering individuals to make change in their life. Show your support for their hard work by learning more about them and trying their amazing coffee!

For more information about Café Femenino and the amazing work they are doing check out their website:

Also check out their documentary Strong Coffee (stay tuned for a possible viewing of the documentary at Red Whale Coffee)

And in the meantime watch this video to hear about some the amazing women who started out Café Femenino and their aspirations for their project:

And of course, come down to Red Whale Coffee and try out our Café Femenino coffee from the hard working women in Rwanda! This chocolatey coffee has a nutty flavor that develops as the coffee cools; it is delicious to the bottom of the cup! 

Processing Coffee June 12, 2014

As you take a sip of your coffee you notice subtle flavors of blueberry, the coffee moves across your tongue, you note the thick mouthfeel and taste of chocolate lingers as you finish your sip.  You wonder to yourself, where did the blueberry flavor come from?  Why does this coffee have a fuller body than the cup I had the other day? How does it get that chocolate taste?  It may be surprising to learn that the way the coffee is processed is one of the most important factors to bringing out the flavor profile in a cup of coffee.

After the coffee cherry is picked off the trees, it is processed.  There are a few different methods to process coffee.  Different producers have different preferences, however different climates benefit more from one type of processing than another.  The main methods for processing coffee are dry process, semi-washed process, or the washed process.

The coffee bean is actually the seed of a coffee cherry, which is a fruit that is plucked off the trees.  Inside the coffee cherry, the coffee bean sits in the center, surrounded by parchment and mucilage (a gooey layer surrounding the parchment).  The different methods of processing treat the parts of the coffee cherry differently and all of this causes different flavor profiles in your coffee.

Natural Process (Dry Process)

The natural process is the way coffee was originally made, it involves the least amount of machinery and is done by hand; this may cause the final product to be a little more inconsistent than a process using more machinery. 

In the natural process, the cherries are picked and then separated from twigs, stones, and unripe cherries. Often producers will use a floatation method to collect the cherries as the ripened cherry will float in water allowing the producer to easily pick out which cherries are taken to the next step. Drying the fruit is the next step.  The fruit and mucilage are left on the coffee bean and dried out in the sun, usually on raised trays or a stone patio.  The beans are fermented inside the fruit as it dries, allowing the bean to be saturated by the sweet, fruity flavors of the cherry and mucilage.

Finally, the beans are hulled, or separated from the mucilage and the cherry, and prepared for shipping.

Washed Process (Wet Process)

            The washed process usually has more uniformity in the finished beans because of the machinery used in the process.  The separation of beans from defects happens using screens and the floatation method.  Next the cherry pulp is taken off using machinery. Vibrating mechanical screens further separate beans with defects. These mechanical processes are what differ from the natural process. The bean is then fermented to remove the mucilage.  In this fermentation process, the enzymes break down the mucilage, allowing it to be washed away.

            The beans are then dried out in the sun, without the mucilage and the cherry.  After drying, curing occurs where the parchment is removed from the bean and is passed through a variety of mechanical processes to clean and grade the bean.

Semi-Washed (Pulped Natural)

Semi-washed coffee removes the cherry pulp, like a washed process, however it does not ferment the coffee bean.  Leaving the mucilage on the bean, it is then dried in sunlight.  Care must be taken when semi-washing to ensure the bean does not begin to ferment, or even more sinister, grow bacteria or fungus.  The beans are checked frequently and often agitated or raked to ensure they are drying evenly.  After the beans have dried to the proper moisture, they are dry milled, meaning the parchment and the mucilage are removed.

But What Does This All Mean!?

Okay, so we get it, there are different techniques for processing the beans, but what does that have to do with my delicious cup of coffee!?

This is how your coffee gets the different mouthfeel and flavors that you enjoy.  With the fermentation that occurs in the natural process, the coffee ends up having a heavier mouthfeel, more intense flavors, as well as a lower acidity.  With a wet process coffee, stripping the coffee bean down before its dried gives a lighter bodied cup, with higher acidity.  The pulped natural process will give you a cup with more body and less acidity than the wet process, but it will come out cleaner and more consistent in flavor than a natural process coffee.

 Next time you take a sip of your coffee, try to guess how it was processed! Can it be described as full bodied cup?  Do you taste intense, exotic flavors?  It’s a natural process!  Is it lighter bodied with a mellow taste? Probably a wet process coffee!  Come in to Red Whale Coffee and ask us more about how our coffee was processed.  Discuss the tastes you notice and hypothesize the process that brought the flavor to you! Let’s have fun with it! 

Written by- Caitlyn Prien

Jumping through the Hoops of Organic Certification-What Organic Certification really means and does it guarantee quality? June 2, 2014

What does it mean when coffee is organic? No pesticides? Naturally-made? Yes, but that is only a small part of it.  To be Certified Organic, coffee goes through an intense rigmarole at each process, starting with the soil and ending with bagging the roasted coffee.

To a farmer/producer, organic farming requires an attention to detail and constant inspections to guarantee the product, in this case coffee, is up to specifications.  To be certified organic, the soil must be free of chemicals and pesticides for up to three years and the producer must use a water supply free from contamination by another farm’s chemicals.  In addition, a certified organic farm cannot be too close to a farm using pesticides because wind may blow chemicals onto their crops.  For many small organic producers, being certified organic is very difficult.   It takes a lot of care, dedication, and money to become certified organic.  As a result many small organic producers cannot survive while waiting for their coffee to become certified.

On one hand, the producer must work hard to pass inspections to ensure compliance of organic farming specifications to sell their coffee at the more expensive organic rate, and on the other hand, the farmer must work with nature and all its challenges.  In most coffee producing countries there is only one coffee harvested per year.  In countries like Colombia, producers can produce a main and a secondary crop.  If pests infect the plant, a flood occurs, or any other elemental surprise occurs, the producer does loses that years crop and therefore, does not get paid until their next years crop. 

Coffee trees naturally grow in shady forests, however some larger coffee farms now use a new type of modified coffee tree that allows them to grow in direct sunlight.   A farm growing this modified coffee tree can produce far more coffee cherries without the added expense of farming the traditional shade plants that give the coffee tree its necessary shaded environment.  For the organic producer, using non modified coffee trees, they have the added expense of farming not only the coffee trees but also the necessary shade trees to create the perfect environment for their unmodified plant. 

In recent years, many organic producers have encountered yet another obstacle to organic farming, Roya or better known as coffee rust.  Many organic producers have lost the majority of their crops after failing to battle against Roya.  Rather than lose their livelihood, these once organic producers have had to farm using chemical products that eliminate the Roya disease in their farms.

But wait, it doesn’t stop there!  Just because the coffee is grown organically, does not mean the final bagged product will be certified organic. Through the shipping, roasting and packaging process, everything that comes in contact with the beans must be organic and not contaminated.  At each step there are inspections to certify the product continues to be handled as organic.

Red Whale Coffee focuses on the quality of coffee.  Rather than buying coffee that comes with an organic certification label, we use our expertise to find coffee grown with the upmost care and attention to detail.  Whether it is certified organic, grown with organic methods, or otherwise, Red Whale Coffee searches for the farms that take pride in the quality of their product.  As Red Whale Coffee expands, we continue our focus on building and nurturing direct relationships with producers who grow quality coffee.

What better way to understand the conditions by which the coffee grows than to build a direct relationship with those who produce it!?  You already know the roaster and now you can learn about the producers too! Discover the journey your coffee traveled before it was poured into your cup, and the humanity that had their hands in each step.

Next time you stop into Red Whale Coffee bring us all your questions on coffee farming, the people, or the process!  When you hold a cup of Red Whale Coffee in your hand, know that you are a part of the coffee journey and we are excited to tell you all about it!

Written by Caitlyn Prien

Playfully Pair your Coffee and Food! May 15, 2014

Coffee tasting is becoming more complex.  People are beginning to realize that there is a lot more to coffee than having it black or with cream and sugar.  The complex mingling of flavors in a single cup of coffee can be a tantalizing experience rather than simply the extra boost to get you through the day.  Want to expand on that experience?! Pair it with food.  There is a reason you crave a cookie while you are sipping on your coffee, it’s because the flavors complement each other!  Also, anything that is an excuse for a little treat in the middle of the day sounds good, right?!

To learn about pairing coffee with something tasty, one must understand that it starts far before the coffee is poured into the cup.  At Red Whale Coffee, it starts with a small sampling of beans.  Chosen for its quality and cooked to bring out the bean’ns flavors.  Coffee tastings, or cuppings, help us build the flavor profile of theour bean.  We don’t just sip the coffee. We smell the aroma that comes off the bean, beginning to notice the subtle complexity that the bean has.

The roots of Red Whale Coffee begins with understanding the delicate flavor in coffee and pairing it well.  Sean Boyd began Red Whale Coffee so that he could pair the meals he made with an excellent cup of coffee.  His background as a chef gives him the knowledge and experience to understand how to pair flavors to enhance the qualities of both the coffee and the meal.

Stop in to get recommendations for a meal. Whether coffee is a hobby and you want to treat yourself and friends, or whether you prepare meals professionally, we can help reviewave a dessert or dinner menu reviewed and pair it ed with our coffee, specialized just for you.  We want to enhance all experiences, from a simple treat in the afternoon, to a dessert after a meal deliciously prepared.

While you are waiting to visit us at our facilitystop in, let’s give you some recommendations in the meantime!  The goods news:, everything goes with coffee! But let’s find what goes best.

When pairing coffee with food, the goal is you want to enhance and compliment the natural flavors ofin the beans and the food

When one is pairing chocolate, pair a rich deep cup of coffee with cocoa undertones works best.  Our ur Papua New Guinea PeaberryMile High would pairs excellently with a dark chocolate.  Milk and white chocolate will go nicely with a lighter bodied coffee.  Our Guatemalan hasOur Guatemalans tend to have a sweet honey and caramel notes, so with this coffee, treat yourself to a chocolatye caramel treat to This compliments and balances both the chocolatees and the coffee.

Just looking for a pastry? Take Choose a lemon bar to bring out the fruity lemon flavors in our Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee.  An oatmeal raisin cookie would pairs nicely with our El Salvador Santa Rita Peaberry, the nuttiness flavorin the flavor would brings out the oatmeal and spices in the cookie.

Our Hondurran coffee, has a strong maple flavor to it, pair it with a pastry with maple glaze.  Or be classic! Have some pancakes with maple syrup!

Don’t be afraid orto shy away from a full meal complimented with a cup of coffee, hot or iced!  Our smoky Ling Tong Sumatran would pairs nicely with a barbequed steak, to bringing out the smoked and savory flavors of both.

These are just a few ideas to get you started.  Take some time to explore, notice what flavors stand out to you. Have fun with it!


Written by-Caitlyn Prien

Avert Coffee Dissatisfaction! Brew a Clean Cup Every Time. April 30, 2014

Everyone has that moment.   Anticipation building, you watch steam rise from your coffee maker, as that rich coffee smell wafts through the kitchen. In spite of your early morning hypnosis, you shuffle to the cabinet, grab your favorite mug and get ready for your cup of salvation.  As the cup is poured, the day ahead looks infinitely better, you take a sip. Satisfaction.

Nothing destroys that magical experience quite like a sour cup of coffee. The smell is unsatisfactory, the flavor unbearable, the moment lost.  It can change the course of your whole morning, leaving others to deal with the ruin of your mood.  What happened to your coffee? How do we avoid this?

After bringing home a well roasted bean, it is frustrating to feel the effort was wasted. Even with the best coffee, if the equipment is not well cleaned and regularly maintained the finished brew will taste foul. A clean machine is vital to extracting the most flavor from coffee, removing impurities that cause a rancid flavor and smell, and extending the life of the machine.

 Coffee beans contain essential oils. When the beans are ground, the oils from the grinds leave a residual oil on your brewing equipment during extraction. Anything the coffee comes in contact with should be cleaned and maintained whether it is an espresso machine, a coffee machine, or your dispensing equipment (such as coffee pot or urn). Over time, these oils adhere to the equipment and create a film of impurities that clog the water screen and filter basket.  The clogged screen and filter basket create deposits in the portafilter spout.  The resulting build-up and blockage restricts the flow of water needed for successful filtration and extraction.

When the build-up is not regularly removed, the impurities affect the coffee flavor, resulting in an offensive taste.

Now that we understand why our morning coffee bliss was ruined, how do we fix it?!

It begins with building the habit of daily cleaning and maintaining of your equipment.

How often a machine needs to be cleaned is calibrated by the number of brews and the hardness of the water in your area. Areas with harder water are prone to greater build up, thus requiring more frequent cleaning; whereas, areas with softer water may be cleaned on a less frequent basis.  Impurities are more easily removed if a proper cleaning regimen is followed on a daily basis.

Here are some basic guidelines for maintaining espresso and coffee machines:

  • Espresso Machines
    • Purge and wipe off the steam wand after every use,
    • Run a water shot through the machines group head after every extraction session,
    • Perform a clean water or cleaner back flush every 10-15 shots and at the end of every session,
    • Clean the entire machine on a weekly basis.
    • With super automatic espresso machines, cleanse the milk line daily to avoid the contamination of bacteria from spoiled milk.
    • Choose a good cleaner that contains a cleaning agent for dissolving impurities, a water softener to reduce minerals that cause hard water, and a dissolving agent that releases oxygen and removes stains.
  • Coffee Machines
    • Clean the entire machine on a daily basis,
    • Cleaning solutions are available, however items at hand, like bleach can be used.  Take your equipment apart and soak the equipment in hot water mixed with your cleaning solution of choice.
    • Wipe down your machine and scrub places where residue has built up
    • Rinse the equipment after soaking it
    • Rinse with 2 to 3 pots of clean cold water

Good coffee roasters take pride in sourcing quality beans and roasting them properly.  At Red Whale Coffee, we want to guarantee your best cup of coffee, every time.  We find too often that when people are not getting a satisfactory cup at home, it is directly related to their equipment not being properly maintained or cleaned.

Red Whale Coffee meticulously maintains clean equipment with good water filtration systems to ensure the very best flavor our coffee has to offer.  Whether you prefer a bold taste or a fruiter flavor, we are experts at bringing you a perfect cup of coffee.

Not sure what you want? Ask us! We are excited to guide you to the higher existence of coffee nirvana.

Want to order some coffee?  We provide a list of coffees from around the world. All of our coffees can be found by region:  Shop Red Whale Coffees by region at

Whatever your taste, whatever your flavor, be confident that Red Whale Coffee provides a full service coffee house that passionately provides our customers with the finest coffee flavors from around the world.  Please do not hesitate to email or call us, (855) 906-6277, with questions or comments.