Steve Kraus Owner Press Coffee www.presscfw.com
This week we're taking a break from our weekly chef chat to talk coffee with one of the Valley's coffee roasters. Find part two of this interview here.
According to the National Coffee Association, more than 80 percent of American adults drink coffee. For many people -- us included -- it's a part of a daily routine, something we just can't imagine living without.
But how much do we really know about this drink that so many of us love? And we're not talking about whether or not you prefer dark or light brews, but about coffee as an agricultural product and an artisan craft.
See also: 8 Best Coffee Houses in Metro Phoenix
Educating the public about coffee is one of the main reasons Steve Kraus, owner and operator of Press Coffee Roasters, opens up his roastery for tours and cuppings several times a week. The South Phoenix building houses the company's roasting facility and office, in addition to serving as a place to showcase Press' latest projects.
Kraus and his wife, Tram Mai (you might recognize the name; she's an anchor for 12 News), started Press in 2008. They opened Press Coffee Food and Wine at CityNorth but, due to the tanking economy, ended up closing that location and opening Press Coffee at Scottsdale Quarter in 2010. By then, they already had begun roasting their own beans, though they didn't have a dedicated space until they moved to this one in 2012.
If you haven't thought much about everything that goes into you cup of morning joe, a visit to the facility can be mind blowing. First, Kraus will probably direct your attention to a coffee harvest schedule that hangs on the wall.
"With coffee being an agricultural product, it grows differently every year," Kraus says, decribing how a farmer's coffee can fluctuate in quality from harvest to harvest.
The harvest schedule shows which countries are in season during which months of the year. Coffee can really only be grown in a small portion of the world -- specifically, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, the area immediately next to the equator.
As such, it's pretty much impossible for completely "local" coffee to exist in a place like Phoenix. But that doesn't mean roasters like Press are just buying beans from whomever. There's a stringent process that goes into bean selection, and it starts with what's called a "cupping."
Press sources its beans from several different importers and has one direct relationship with a farm in South America (though they don't have those beans year round). The importers send bean samples every few weeks, small bags of raw coffee beans that get roasted and used in cuppings. It's important to do a cupping -- think of it as a wine tasting, except with coffee -- since beans vary from season to season, affected by everything from the weather to the farm's method of processing.
Favorite childhood food memory: Making cutout cookies with my mom and sneaking the sugar cookie dough into my mouth when she wasn't looking.
Most memorable moment since you've been in the food and beverage industry: The day I received a call from a coffee shop that wanted to serve my coffee.
Five years ago I was . . .: finishing my business plan to open Press Coffee Food & Wine at City North.
One thing you want people to know about Press Coffee: Our care and preparation sets us apart from others.
Your favorite drink and where you like to get it: Vietnamese iced coffee . . . wherever they do it the right way!
Your culinary guilty pleasure: (This came to mind first, but I have many) corn-fed, bone-in rib eye
The trend I'm totally over is is "going gluten-free for no reason" because many people (not all) lack an understanding of what gluten is, and think it's healthier. Removing gluten means adding fats, sugar, or butter as the compound to hold food together. Still think it's healthy?
One book everyone should read and why: The Four Agreements -- it would make us all and this country a better place!
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My current obsession is: Mountain bike racing
Three things you want everyone to know about coffee: It's an agricultural product. Quality beans are grown in South America, Africa, and the Pacific Rim, and preparation is the most important step.
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