We’ve been carrying Modest coffee, which is roasted and packaged in West Chicago by Marcus and Jenni Contaldo, for about a year now. This coffee is amazing and it’s a credit to Marcus and Jenni that it’s growth has come from hard grass roots sampling work and the praises of folks who have tried it.
Unlike the big multi-national brands, they have no real budget for advertising. So today I’d like to give their coffee a free plug here in our newsletter -- because if you love good coffee, you’re gonna love Modest Coffee.
By way of introduction, I’d like to share some information that Marcus passed along to me when he first introduced his coffee to our staff.
“There is a lot of fluff out there in the coffee packaging world. Shiny bags, wordy (yet oddly vague) flavor descriptions, catchy buzz-words. How does one cut through the excess of marketing hype and identify a truly high quality coffee? I really enjoy trying other coffee roasters and when I am in the market for beans I want to make sure that I get the best bang for my buck. Whenever I pick up a bag I run down a mental checklist to whittle down my choices to the best two or three. By no means does this guarantee that the bag is going to make a great cup, but in my experience, the chances increase dramatically. If you start looking for quality coffee, you will find it!”
Here is a list of things that Marcus suggests that you consider when looking over a new coffee:
“Roasted on” date – Coffee tastes the best when it is fresh. Conventional coffee only has the expiration date on the bag so you really have no idea how long ago it was roasted. Try to get coffee as close to the “roasted on” date as possible and avoid anything 30 days post-roast.
Origin Information – Look for the name of the farm and details like elevation, processing method, or grade. This tells you two things: first, it gives you more information on the coffee you are buying and second, it tells you that the roaster cares about their sourcing. A bag with just the name of the country is a red flag because often it’s just commodity coffee with a country of origin.
Roast Level – Does the roast level say Light, Medium or Dark, or does it say City, City+, Full City, Full City+, or Light Vienna? The general public understands what to expect from a light, medium or dark roast, but the City/Full City/Vienna descriptions tell you exactly where the roast ended and what to expect from a flavor perspective.
Certifications – Certifications can be deceiving because they do not guarantee quality processing. In very general terms, if a producer goes through the extra effort to meet certification requirements you should expect a higher quality cup of coffee. On the flip side, there are many award winning small farmers that produce world class coffee but have not yet gone through the certification process. So again, take this in context with the rest of the bag.
Awards – These are great acknowledgements and the easiest way to find quality coffee. You won’t often find these on the shelf at a supermarket but you will see them from time to time at specialty coffee shops. Cup of Excellence, Best of Huila, Best of Cauca, and many other regional producer competitions have independent judges flown in internationally to do blind tastings. After many days of rigorous testing, they award the winners. If you can find it fresh, buy it!
I do hope that you will give Modest Coffee a try, and I promise you that you won’t be disappointed. To help make the decision to try a bit easier, we are offering a sale of $1 off any 12-oz. bag of freshly roasted Modest coffee beans. You will be doing yourself a favor by tasting an excellent batch of coffee beans, and you will also be helping support another local, family operated business.