Around the RFT offices, we’re fortunate to sample and review a lot of great coffee. I consider myself the company’s resident coffee expert; the one who grinds, smells, brews, and drinks the stuff, always looking for coffee that’s fresh, smooth, and delicious. Recently, I ran into Storyville Coffee, a company that keeps it simple by offering only one type and roast of very fresh coffee and turning all their profits to end human trafficking. Even more surprising is that Storyville Coffee has permanently changed how this java hound brews and drinks her coffee. And, friends, that takes some doing.
Storyville is a small, privately-owned artisan coffee roaster that roasts their coffee on beautiful Bainbridge Island, just south of Seattle, Washington. In addition to their island roasting studio, they have three coffee shops in Seattle—Pike Place Market, Queen Anne, and 1st and Madison. That’s great for Seattlites, but for the rest of us, Storyville is an online resource. If you sign up for their subscription-based service they’ll ship you coffee every other week the same day that it’s roasted.
The company has been in business since 2006 and has a simple motto: “Keep it simple. Make it great.” That’s why they don’t offer an assortment of roasts, blends, and flavors; just the one and only signature blend, in either caffeinated or decaf. They source the best beans they can find from three continents and then medium roast the beans, and seal and ship them the same day.
If you’d asked me before I met Storyville how I like my coffee roasted, I’d have said dark; French Roast to be exact. Some coffee experts believe that if you roast green coffee beans to the point where they glisten with oil like in a French Roast, the coffee beans are over-roasted; that you’ve literally burned the oils in the coffee. Roasters who roast only to medium believe that over-roasted coffee beans have a bitter flavor. They prefer to roast only to the point where the beans take on a nutty brown color and have a toasty flavor. The result is full body and low acidity. That’s the way Storyville roasts their coffee.
Storyville also brews their coffee differently. They brew their medium roast coffee in a press pot, a method they believe retains all the oils and flavor from the coffee beans.
At Realfoodtraveler.com, I field test and review all kinds of coffee paraphernalia. Folks are always sending us coffee brewing systems, including innovative coffee pots that stir and steam. Others that produce crema, that foam so prized by coffee aficionados. Some brewing systems are good; others just so-so. We review and recommend the ones we think are the best. However, at the end of the day, none of them compare to my old tried-and-true single cup pour over. Despite all the advances in automatic brewing, nothing consistently produces the flavor and smoothness of a simple per-cup pour over. Until now.
In addition to receiving a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans from Storyville, I tried out their 32-ounce stainless steel press pot (they also offer a 48-ounce version). This is a sleek, heavy, double-walled stainless pot designed to keep coffee hot that’s simply decorated with Flyboy, their logo of a young boy flying a model airplane laser engraved on it.
I’ve enjoyed French press coffee before and have a single cup version. But I always had difficulty figuring out how much coffee to put into my press and felt the messy wet grounds weren’t worth the small amount of coffee the single press produced. Storyville’s 32-ounce press pot solved that problem. The press makes enough coffee for my morning indulgence and, a bonus, keeps it pretty hot (it stays hotter longer if I pre-heat with hot water before brewing). The pot is also so great looking, I leave it on my counter.
And the Storyville medium roast coffee brewed in the press pot is good, really good. I had to figure out how much coffee to add (for me, 3.5 scoops) and how much time to brew (4 minutes) before pressing the plunger. (They didn’t provide any directions with the pot, which would be helpful.) However, once I got my formula down, the coffee was uber-smooth and incredibly rich and flavorful. Prologue, their fully-caffeinated roast, was so fresh that I could taste the subtle fruity notes. It was heavenly and I was hooked.
Elegant Porcelain Cups
The final piece that made my Storyville experience really special was drinking from a Storyville porcelain mug. I’m a creature of habit and have loved using an extra-large mug I got from a former employer. It’s large size worked with my pour-over technique. Using the thermal press pot enables me to make enough coffee for the morning, without using an extra large mug. Instead, the 12-ounce Storyville mug, made from high-temperature ivory porcelain, features the right amount of coffee and has a thin lip that provides the perfect lip feel. And, like Storyville’s press pots, these fine-grade vessels are dishwasher safe.
Real Bottom Line: For the first time in more than 20 years, Storyville has changed how this coffee lover brews and drinks her coffee. Now, it’s fresh Storyville medium-roast coffee brewed in a 32-ounce press pot and drunk in a delightful Storyville porcelain cup. And I feel great about drinking this coffee and making a difference against one of the most heartbreaking social issues on the planet.
Do I recommend Storyville’s coffee, press pots, and mugs? Unequivocally. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor
You can buy Storyville Coffee, press pots, porcelain cups and other hardware at their coffee shops or online. storyville.com