Up until a few years ago, I rarely drank coffee.
I just never understood the appeal. To me, it always tasted bitter and burnt unless I dumped a bunch of cream and sugar into it to disguise the taste. I assumed that people drank it solely for the caffeine jolt or as a social thing, but that everyone agreed the actual taste was pretty terrible.
But everything changed when I drank my first cup of freshly roasted specialty coffee….
Specialty coffee (also referred to as “third wave” coffee) is a completely different drink than any other coffee I’d tried in the past. Technically, they are both coffee since both are created by pouring hot water through coffee grounds, but the end result couldn’t be more different.
Specialty coffee involves tight quality control through every stage of production, from growing to harvesting to processing to roasting. It’s usually directly sourced from a single region or specific farm, with an emphasis on fair trade and paying the farmers a fair wage. It’s all about quality over quantity.
Most coffee beans that you pick up in any chain coffee shop or supermarket look dark, almost black, in appearance. I used to think this was normal, but it’s actually because the beans have been over-roasted, essentially burning the beans, which mutes the intricate flavors. Most coffee is roasted this way because it’s easier to create consistent flavor (albeit a bad one) on a massive scale and automate most of the process.
In contrast, the roasting process for specialty coffee is very hands-on.
It’s a skill that requires a lot of attention to properly bring out the unique flavor profile of specific beans, and the best roasters take this work very seriously. They’re in it for the love of the craft. The result is a coffee that is smooth and full of rich, complex flavors.
Enter Square One Coffee.
Not only is Square One one of my favorite specialty coffee roasters, but they also happen to be right here in my backyard in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Square One is a family-owned micro-roaster that’s won numerous national awards.
And best of all, Square One believes that people matter, so they do their best to respect every person involved in the process of getting coffee from the seed to your cup—from the farmers, to their roasters, to their baristas, to their customers.
I was thrilled when Square One reached out last year about teaming up for a special collaboration. Ironically, I’ve always wanted to design coffee packaging, and even moreso now that I appreciate what great coffee tastes like. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for several years now, and this was a fun opportunity to create the new bags with our new Ugmonk 2.0 branding.
This collaboration has been a long time in the making, and I’m excited that it’s finally a reality. I can’t wait to hear your feedback when you take your first sip of this delicious coffee!
About the Coffee
We selected a special single-origin washed-process Ethiopian Guji, which comes from the Kayon Mountain Coffee Farm in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. The Kayon Mountain Farm is owned by a group of families who have been producing coffee together for more than 30 years, and in 2012, they banded together to purchase and begin their own coffee farm.
This coffee has incredible flavor depth and delicious fruity notes. When you crack open the bag, you’ll notice an amazing sweet aroma, as these beans were roasted only two days ago. As you savor your first cup, you’ll notice the hints of jasmine and peach, followed by sweet citrus, black tea, and black pepper notes.
As someone who has only recently discovered just how wide the flavor spectrum of coffee is, I can tell you that this coffee is one of the best I’ve ever tried.
In keeping with Square One’s commitment to quality over quantity, the Ugmonk x Square One Coffee will only be available only for a very limited time.
Origin: Ethiopia Guji (washed process)
Elevation: 1900–2200 msl
Flavor notes: jasmine, peach, lemon
Brewing with a Chemex
The most important part of brewing a good cup of coffee is starting with good beans. There are many different methods to brew coffee, each of which yields a slightly different result. Even an automatic drip coffeemaker produces a decent cup if you start with high-quality freshly-roasted beans.
My personal favorite method for brewing multiple cups of coffee is the Chemex coffeemaker. The Chemex is a manual pourover brewer that’s been around for over 70 years. While at first glance the Chemex may look like a crazy science experiment, it’s actually quite easy to use compared to a full espresso machine. The thick paper filter yields an exceptionally smooth, delicious cup every single time. It’s magical. Read more about how to brew with a Chemex here.
While the current design of the Chemex is nice, I wanted to add some Ugmonk flair to mine. That’s where we came up with our new Leather Chemex Collars.
I collaborated with my friends at Tacoma Mfg. to design this unique one-piece wraparound collar that’s secured with a brass button. The full-grain leather creates a comfortable grip for serving coffee and protects your palm from the heat. The collar can be easily removed for cleaning and will age beautifully the more it’s used. The leather collars are available in natural, brown and black.
My coffee journey has come full circle from the time I didn’t have any interest in drinking it to something that I look forward to every morning as a part of my morning ritual.
It’s amazing to have the opportunity to collaborate with one of my favorite roasters and share my passion with you. I can’t wait to hear what you think when you take your first sip of this delicious coffee!
Thanks for your support!