Bay Area CoRoasters (CoRo) has stayed on my “coffee places to visit”™ for quite a long time. Many, including friends and even one math professor, have recommended me to check it out, but I never really got the opportunity. It seems counter-intuitive – I would visit coffee shops thousands of miles away from home, but never stop by the shops that are within ten minutes of driving. On the other hand, it is perfectly reasonable – I would desire to check out coffee shops when traveling because most of the time I won’t be able to brew coffee myself, but when at home I do not have this need. Thus, CoRo, with many other coffee shops, had stayed on this ever-expanding list.
The opportunity presented itself. My regular biweekly coffee subscription was delayed by two days. As someone who calculated his daily dosage to consume all the coffee beans within the time frame (25 grams per day, 14 days result in 350 grams, roughly the amount of a 12 oz bag), this caused a mild disturbance to my routine. I officially ran out of coffee on Thursday, October 10th, with the new coffee subscription package arriving in the afternoon of that Saturday.
How should I endure for the two days in between? If it was a normal schedule, I would have just gone to a local coffee shop to meet my caffeine need. However, for some wild coincidence, the school was canceled on Friday because of the power outage. With a whole day emptied up, I decided to finally give CoRo a visit.
CoRo Coffee Room
2324 Fifth St, Berkeley, CA 94710
After a simple breakfast, I boarded the bus in the early morning of Friday. Perhaps because of the power outage, there were only a few passengers on the bus, and the bus did not stop to board new passengers during its westward journey. Departed the bus at the last station near the coast before it turned southward, I arrived at the CoRo coffee room after a few minutes of walking. To my surprise, this coffee room was rather busy. Several people were standing outside chatting, and many inside working on their laptops. However, the room wasn’t crowded at all: an extended rectangular room with dozens of tables and chairs arraying throughout.
Staring at the menu for a short minute, I had an idea of what to order. If there is a coffee shop one would want to order a coffee flight from, I believe this is the place. CoRo coffee room has a rotating menu offering selective coffees roasted by four out of the twenty local coffee roaster members. For October, Coro is serving coffees from Moustache Coffee Club, Foggy Hills Coffee Co, Noe Valley Coffee, and Zolo Coffee Roasters. While ordering a coffee flight in an ordinary coffee shop let you try out coffee from different regions or brewed with different methods, Coro offers the top selected specialties from each local coffee roaster as well, roasted in-house by their various kinds of machines. The coffee flight consisted of Foggy Hill’s seasonal blend brewed in a Fetco brewer, their Guatemala single-origin also brewed in a Fetco brewer, a Brazilian single-origin from Moustache Coffee Club brewed on a Chemex, and Noe Valley’s special cold brew blend.
So I ordered that. After watching the barista brewing the pour-over with a gorgeous white-striped Fellow EKG kettle, I received the four cups of coffee on a wooden tray with a map underneath that presents the suggested order of consumption, as well as some other information regarding each cup. Oh, and the necessary inclusion of a cup of sparkling water.
The Coffee Flight
Let’s begin with the first one: A washed processed Honduras and Sumatra blend from Foggy Hills, brewed in a Fetco automatic brewer. The beans were roasted in the Probat Probatone 5, sadly I do not know enough about the roasting process to tell anything more about it. The cup had a citrus-like aroma and a rich tangy flavor that gradually shifted into a caramel-like “heavier” sweetness. It was certainly a pleasant cup to start.
Next is Foggy Hills’ washed processed single-origin from San Cristobal, Guatemala, also brewed in a Fetco brewer. The cup had a unique cake or pie-like aroma, something “warm” and sweet. Its flavor was a lot richer and brighter than the first cup, reminiscent of green apple pie or even banana cake. It was also more acidic than the first, leaving that tingling feeling on the tongue. I think this may be the best tasting filtered coffee I have had. Went back to taste the first one, I noticed a clearer smokey note that became more present compared to the second.
The third one is a Brazillian single-origin from the Moustache Coffee Club, brewed on a Chemex. As a result of Chemex’s special fiber filter that separates more oil from the drink (or a result of the placebo effect), its color seemed to be more translucent than the rest. Its aroma had a gentle sweetness. A balanced cup that was not overly acidic, with a mix of chocolate and citrus fruit notes and a dark chocolate-like aftertaste. There was also a thin nuttiness to it, though I could not pinpoint what exactly it was.
Finally, I arrived at the last cup just as the ice cubes had almost melted. It was a cold brew made from Noe Valley Coffee’s Dolores Street blend – a washed processed blend of Guatemala and Ethiopia. Like all cold brew, it was a balanced and smooth cup with a tea-like mouthfeel. Surprisingly, it retained some of the origin characteristics of the washed processed Ethiopian that usually were lost from the cold brewing method. The fruitiness shined through at the first few seconds of it touching the tongue and slowly faded away.
Before leaving, I had a short conversation with a barista and got some recommendations from his personal favorite coffee varieties. I exited the place with a caffeinated body (maybe too caffeinated) and even another extra cup of leftover coffee from the Chemex. Sadly, I forgot to take any pictures of their astonishing roasting room. Next time.
I have always loved to try out coffee flights, and this one is not an exception. It was satisfactory to both my need for caffeine and curiosity to try out more coffee drinks, exceeding my expectations despite how much I have hyped it up for myself. CoRo’s model of promoting local coffee businesses while offering dynamic coffee experienced is something I would love to support. If you live here near Berkeley or even visiting, I would certainly recommend you to give Coro coffee room a visit. Oh, maybe bring a friend with you if you are ordering the coffee flight – because that was, truly, a lot of coffee.
I would like to pretend that there wasn’t a two-month “drought” period where I did not post anything new, but that did happen. I apologize for that. I just wasn’t able to find any sufficiently long spare time to “sit down and write.” There are a few drafts that I have been working on occasionally. Not promising there will be a new post anytime soon, but I would say it’s likely.
When I was researching Frederick the Great of Prussia, I accidentally ran into an interesting fact about him and coffee. Unrelated to this post but something I found fascinating nonetheless. Few of my friends recommended me to share it here, so here you go:
Frederick the Great held a special hatred of coffee. He once even outlawed roasting coffee in Prussia. Here he stated in one of his decrees:
“It is disgusting to notice the increase in the quantity of coffee used by my subjects, and the amount of money that goes out of the country in consequence. Everybody is using coffee. If possible, this must be prevented. My people must drink beer. His Majesty was brought up on beer, and so were his ancestors, and his officers. Many battles have been fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer; and the King does not believe that coffee-drinking soldiers can be depended upon to endure hardship or to beat his enemies in case of the occurrence of another war.”
The credibility of the above quote cannot be verified. However, allegedly Frederick the Great himself is also a coffee addict, drinking eight cups of coffee per day. He had his special recipe: brewing coffee with champagne, then stirring in powdered mustard.
I would leave the readers to judge.