Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

We do! We’ve been doing a LOT of driving, oftentimes with some pretty crazy and random directions (thank you, Google maps). I haven’t blogged since yesterday — Monday — morning, when we were getting out of Napa and headed for Sebastpol, where we would visit Mark Inman at Taylor Maid Farms. It was awesome!

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Mark was nice enough to take the time to give us an extensive tour of the Taylor Maid operation, which was just the coolest. NOTE: There will be a Field Report in an upcoming issue of Barista Magazine in which I will talk in more detail about all the cool things we’ve learned on this trip. But my blogging time is limited right now, so instead of going into the nitty gritty about our last few stops, I’m going to choose to tide you over with photos, in large part because it is over 105 degrees here in San Jose, and I can’t handle it yo.

So, here are some snapshots from yesterday and today…

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This is outside of Taylor Maid’s whole bean store and also the roastery. Mark told us that a whopping 80 percent of Taylor Maid’s sales are for the home user, which blows my mind. It’s education in an entirely different way than other coffee folks I know are doing it.

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This is Mark’s amazing cupping table (he makes and sells them, btw!).

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Here is Mark perched on a dolly as he tells us about production in the roastery.

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After the tour and a long chat in Mark’s office, he took me and Clara on a lovely walk around Sebastopol, where we saw this crazy amazing art by a local — and famous, so I’m shamed that I can’t recall his name — artist on many of the residential lawns.

So then something tragic happened: we bid a fond farewell to Mark and headed ff to Ecco Caffe… but we were never able to find it. Andrew is in Brazil right now but Steve “Brokeback” Ford was going to show us around. But cell service sucked and we freakin’ couldn’t find it. We were sad. We saw Steve at the Ritual Napa event and will see him at the Ritual SF event tomorrow, but we missed seeing Ecco… next time!

So then we crashed for the night (seriously — the Napa Daze left us tuckered out) and were up by 6:3 this morning to head off to Marshall on the NorCal coast to meet with Albert Straus and Rich Martin of Straus Family Creamery, where they make the famous Barista Milk. Our visit was through the creamery itself, so since we wouldn’t be meeting any Straus cows, we stopped to snap pictures of these cows we met on the way.

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We got all dolled up for the tour….
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and holy cow, there was the barista milk!

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Albert gave us an amazing tour. He has so much passion for his family business and also the larger business of improving sustainability and energy conservation in broad sense throughout California.

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He and Rich then took us into the ice cream making happy place, where they had just finished a giant batch of coffee ice cream.

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They gave us a pint, and it was seriously some of the BEST ice cream I’ve ever ever had.

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We said our goodbyes, bellies full, and resumed our lovely drive through what is in my opinion some of the most beautiful land in California: Tomales Bay territory. It is know by oyster freaks like me for this, among other things:

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So what if it was 10:30 in the morning? We’d already polished off a ton of ice cream, so what the heck? Why not have a dozen oysters, right? So we did.

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We got a shucking knife, a rubber glove and 12 of the most slammin oysters. Yum.

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Here I am shucking. I shucked as fast as I could but still, we could have eaten them faster…

And then, it was off to San Jose to visit our pals at Barefoot Coffee Roasters! First stop: the company’s beautiful, spacious new roastery. They just moved in 3 weeks ago, and goodness, is it ever pretty. Andy and Christian gave us a lovely tour… Barefoot style.

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Barefoot buys 180 bags of Edwin Martinez’s Finca Vista Hermosa, and wants to start buying even more…

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One of Andy’s side projects is to fix up this old four group Linea. Right now, it’s barest of the bare bones…

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It’s Barefoot’s original shop machine, and he has plans to trick it way the eff out.

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Barefoot labels coming off the printer…

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I spotted this bag of Verve in the Barefoot cupping room…

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Here Andy and I are looking like crazy people…

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Andy loves his coffee…

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The cupping room welcome board:

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And then it was time for me and Clara to check out Barefoot’s cafe! Here is Clara wheeling the wooden bike inside…

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Another way you know you’ve arrived…

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The cafe is AWESOME. I really really dig the feel and the look. And they’re ding some wacky and really cool things with the menu. For example, they have a drink listed that’s simply called “Whim of the Barista.” For $5, you get whatever creation the barista can whip up for you. Pretty great idea.

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Now we’re off to chill out for a bit before the Barefoot BBQ tonight! That’s right: the crew is throwing a BBQ at the roastery tonight. Hopefully it will be cooler by then. Beer will help. Thanks to everyone at Barefoot for taking such good care of us!!

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