Welcome back. Apologies for those of you trying to visit this site yesterday. Our ISP is in South Florida and was hit by Wilma over the weekend. Their generators ran out of fuel yesterday, but thankfully this was fixed last night. They're not expecting full power for another 3-5 days, but have assured us the generators will be sufficient until power is restored.
While on business down in Virginia, I (Rich) had the opportunity to stop into Murky Coffee Tuesday night. If the name rings a bell, that may be because Murky is one of the "Heroes and Legends" listed at the bottom of this page.
Nick Cho owns Murky Coffee and recently opened his second store, this one in Arlington, VA (the original is in downtown DC). He's also a founding member of the Barista Guild, which is establishing codes of conduct for baristi as well as working to elevate the professionalism of the espresso-slinging trade. Nick and his baristi have also been featured on NPR, in numerous coffee magazine articles and on the portafilter.net blog and podcasts.
Both Melanie and I have followed Nick's articles and advice, so as long as I was nearby, I figured it would be a good idea to meet him.
Although I was way behind schedule arriving in the DC area due to the snow in the Laurel Mtns. on the drive down, Nick was still gracious enough to spend a few minutes with me before closing on Tuesday. We talked about a number of things, like preparing baristi for competition (most of his baristi have competed regionally and/or nationally), the advantages/disadvantages of free wireless and developing a "coffee culture" with employees and customers.
During the conversation, Nick noted that he was a "people person" and has tried to ensure his stores remain customer focused while also producing the best possible cup of espresso. While many an increasing number of baristi-owners, particularly out West, immerse themselves in the science and process of extracting perfect espresso crema at the expense of basic customer service, Nick's attitude that you can't forget the customer is refreshing. And, in our view, the only way to run to a business.
I had a double macchiato and also tried their classic cappuccino at the insistence of one of their four baristi. Both drinks were exquisite - and the macchiato even had a small design - something we haven't quite been able to pull off here with regularity yet (then again, not many of our customers order macchiatos).
We know that many of you do business in the DC area on occasion and we strongly urge you to head over to one of Murky Coffee's two shops and try the best espresso in our nation's capital.
Now, about that gift... I was going to buy some roasted beans for Melanie and I to enjoy at home. Nick wouldn't let me buy them. Instead he gave me a 12oz. bag of his Gold Label Selection "Kenya AA auction lot #830 Tegu Cooperative".
Nick is one of only three coffeehouses on the East Coast lucky enough to have acquired some of this limited edition coffee. Now we're the fourth.
We're going to share our good fortune with you. While it's not a lot to work with, we're going to make a couple of half pots this afternoon. If you're in the store between noon and three today, give it a try. I'm drinking a cup as I write this and it's very good - blackcurrant notes stand out among the characteristic spices for which Kenya AA is noted.