Friday, March 22, 2013

Mercer's Fresh Roasted Coffees

A few years back, I got seriously obsessed with coffee.  Keep in mind, prior to this awaking, my version of coffee was a spoonful of freeze-dried and 60 seconds in the microwave with enough sugar to cover the "flavor".

Call it lazy.  Then one day at the auto shop (I was having the driver's side window replaced in he Buick - a rant for another time....) while I was having $500 pick-pocketed by the shop, I helped myself to a cup of coffee from this weird machine - I later learned it was a k-cup brewer.

Wow!  It was fantastic!  (what did I know - I'd been drinking re-constituted mud)

So I bought a k-cup machine.  We used it for a couple years, then I decided the cost of k-cups was too high.

So --- we started buying ground coffee and loading our own k-cups.  Pretty soon I was buying "fresh" beans and grinding them in one of those $10 "coffee grinders" - you know the one - the little whirly bladed thing thats better suited for chopping herbs.

Pretty soon we discovered that a real burr grinder wan't all that expensive - we found a decent one for about $80.  The difference in the grind was serious - we could dial in a consistent grind size and not have all the dust.  Coffee grinding was now a science rather than an art form.

Then we started ordering actual fresh beans online, grinding them in the burr grinder and brewing them properly.  Holy cow - we are on to something now.  I even learned to drink and enjoy my coffee black - no sugar.

Later we started playing with home roasting using the whirly-pop method.

Mercer's Fresh Roasted Coffees on Urbanspoon On this journey, we produced a lot of excellent coffee... but we also produced a lot of really bad coffee.  Turns out - even with good beans and the proper tools, coffee is still art and science.  Changing the grind size, using hotter water, even the metal vs the paper filter... there are a lot of variables.

I think most people find a routine, do it the same way every time and get accustomed to whatever the stuff tastes like - then call that "coffee".  However, if you spend some time and experiment, your taste buds tend to grow a bit.  You learn the different flavors inside the bean and learn to judge good from bad.

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I say all that to say this:  I've become a coffee snob.  I have a hard time at McDonalds or Dunkin Donuts.  I detest most hotel coffee and Starbucks is selling the roast, not the bean.

As a coffee snob, I can say without reservation that Mercer's Coffee in Port Charlotte is the real deal.  He selects his own green beans, roasts them in-house, grinds and brews them fresh.  Lots of people have commented on the atmosphere, or on Wayne's good personality - and those facts are all true... but the rubber hits the road with the finished result in the cup.  And it's a nice cup.

I recommend going in and telling them what you like.  Do you like a bright, acidic coffee?  Do you like a dark, smokey cup?  Creamy mouth-feel?  A little astringent?  Describe what you like, let him build you a cup - and then get a pound of those beans to take home. 

If you like frothy milk or vanilla lattes, I'm sure they can do that for you - but I wouldn't know.  I prefer to experience the bean itself - I stick to the americano coffee, or sometimes the expresso shot.  I tend toward drip or french-press.  All I know is that a good bean, freshly roasted and brewed into a cup is an awesome experience - and I've never been disappointed by any coffee Mercer's has served.  I'm a tough audience - and I love the place.