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PT's Coffee roasting co.

This story begins with one very tiny KIA Sportage, five coffee professionals, a cooler full of cold brewed Pacamara Natural, and a trunk packed with specialty coffee from our Colombian Direct Trade partners. Last weekend members of the PT’s crew hit the road heading east with one goal in mind – to share our love for exceptional coffee with the people at CoffeeFest Chicago. The energy of CoffeeFest is vibrant and cheerful and our team was thrilled to compete on Navy Pier for the title of “America’s Best Coffeehouse.”

The Competition:

The America’s Best Coffeehouse competition was developed to determine and acknowledge the top three coffeehouses in North America. Our team represented PT’s at the Crossroads and participated in the Central Region bracket. The competition itself involves completing a 15 minute opening shift, a 30 minute coffee service, and a 15 minute closing shift. Judges keep a close eye on the teams and score them on everything from cleanliness, knowledge of the menu items, team work, and the sensory experience of the products served. Shout out to all six teams who came out and put their hearts into it:

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Our Focus:

Our team wanted to be sure our menu represented our mission statement: “exceptional coffee, lifelong friendships, and the wisdom to appreciate both.” As a company we take quality very seriously. We are committed to working with coffee farmers who are true artisans of coffee cultivation and practice their craft with dedication, skill, and passion. Our menu offerings were specially crafted to pay homage to our partners at La Palma Y El Tucan, Café Granja La Esperanza, and Finca Villa Loyola. Two of the coffees we featured at the competition arrived at our roasting facility about a week before the competition. It felt very much like Christmas in June.

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The Last Teams Standing:

After two grueling days of competition, the list of six teams turned into three finalists. The final rounds were far from easy – each team hustled and gave it their all. There are so many great things to say about all of these teams. In an effort to keep it brief we’ll just cover rankings and the signature drink offered.

  • 3rd place went to Vint Coffee (far left in photo). Their speciality drink was the Butchertown Fizz – a refreshing combination of ginger beer, espresso, and lemon.
  • 2nd place came home with the team from PT’s at the Crossroads (center in photo). For our signature drink we put a Kansas City spin on a breve cortado. Our single origin espresso from Finca Villa Loyola danced with natural coffee flower honey from Café Granja La Esperanza to create a balanced, complex, and creamy treat.
  • 1st Place, and the title of America’s Best Coffeehouse, went to the crew from Quills Coffee (far right in photo). Their signature drink was a super tasty Shakerato – a shaken espresso with an orange blossom simple syrup, garnished with cherry and clementine. Served chilled.

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What We Learned:

No man is an island and success is all about teamwork. Being a great café is multi-dimensional – it involves excellence in everything you do. On the list of things you need to excel as a café you’ll find great coffee, great personalities, great music, and great machines. Ultimately it’s teamwork that makes your café experience unforgettable for customers. Teamwork means knowing when and how to help in a way that ensures your customers have a stellar experience every time.

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Special Thanks To: 

The story wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging all the hard work that went into preparing for this competition. First and foremost, a shout out to the farmers and producers. Seriously, these guys grow some of the finest coffee in the world and we’re honored to work with and learn from them. Second, our team at the roasting facility – the roasters who worked diligently to ensure these coffees were handled with finesse and the front office team who tasted and critiqued them.

Lastly, it’s safe to say the long drive to Chicago would not have been possible without some major coffee love in the city of Saint Louis. Here’s to Sump Coffee, Blueprint Coffee, and The Mudhouse for their generous hospitality and their dedication to exploring and highlighting specialty coffee.

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Thank you Chicago for showing the PT’s crew a lovely time. Stay tuned to our blog for more coffee travel updates and origin reports. Until next time, go forth and drink great coffee.

Earlier Articles

COLOMBIA FINCA VILLA LOYOLA RECEIVES A 94 POINT REVIEW

We are proud to announce that our Caturra offering from Finca Villa Loyola has received a 94 point review from Ken Davids of CoffeeReview.com.  When we visited Finca Villa Loyola during the harvest of 2011, we could clearly see the potential in the farm. With its high elevation of 1,800 meters (or 6,000 ft.) and… Continue Reading

THE QUEST FOR GREAT COFFEE

This article was republished with the permission of Dan Dean, Staff Writer for Observer & Eccentric Newspapers. Jeff Taylor’s journey to find exceptional coffee has taken him across the globe and along the way he has met some exceptional people, none more so than his wife, Maritza. “I met Maritza at a coffee competition in Ecuador… Continue Reading

MARCH ARRIVALS & NEW BOLIVIA DIRECT TRADE PARTNER

We are happy to announce our newest Direct Trade partnership with Juan Yurja in Bolivia.  When we were first introduced to this farm in 2011, it was an interesting coincedence. There was a micro-lot that had been originally prepared for the Bolivia Cup of Excellence, and the competition had been cancelled last year.  We were in… Continue Reading

PEABERRY MICRO-LOTS ARE NOW AVAILABLE

Our two most recent Direct Trade arrivals feature the Peaberry of a Caturra Variety, grown around 2000 meters .  The first roast date for these micro-lots will be on Monday, March 5th. Colombia Finca Villa Loyola Caturra Peaberry has a very complex and full bodied profile. Peaberries have a more concentrated flavor, making this coffee… Continue Reading

2011 HIGHLIGHTS AND YEAR IN REVIEW

As the year comes to a close, we want to look back at the highlights that made 2011 great!  2011 brought much success in our sourcing efforts, and we were able to get our hands on many Award Winning coffees. Whether it be the Best of Panama, Cup of Excellence, or even something from the… Continue Reading

THANKSGIVING SHIPPING UPDATE & NEW LOGO WARES

The holidays are rapidly approaching, and we have a few shipping updates to pass on to you for sharing great coffee with your family and friends. Thanksgiving is a time to feast, enjoy the gift of family and give thanks for all that we are grateful for. We are thankful for the time and effort… Continue Reading

ESPRESSO EVALUATION BY HOLLY BASTIN, PUBLISHED IN BARISTA MAGAZINE

“This article was republished with the permission of Barista Magazine.  The article appeared in the August + September 2011 issue and you can view the full article in its original form by viewing pages 48-51 on Barista Magazines I-Mag or in the original publication.  Holly Bastin is the Director of Retail Operations for PT’s Coffee… Continue Reading

FEDEX SHIPPING OPTIONS ARE NOW AVAILABLE

Shipping costs have been on the rise recently due to an increase in gas prices and inflation in our economy.  FedEx has been a competitive outlet for us, and we want to extend their shipping options to you. FedEx 2-Day and FedEx Overnight Rates are very competitive.  The FedEx Ground option has an added benefit for Residential Customers. … Continue Reading

NEW CROP GEISHA PRE-ORDERS ARE NOW AVAILABLE

We are very excited to offer the two best coffees from Panama in 2011.  In fact these two coffees were vying for the top spot in the SCAP Best of Panama competition.  It was a close finish in the competition, and they were only separated by a 1/2 point.  Jeff and Maritza Taylor were both… Continue Reading