Coffee? From a bunch of wine lovers? You got that right!
Indie winemaker Tom Shula roasted a limited-edition Bourbon Arabica coffee this year – and it’s an exclusive gift inside Angels’ Gourmet Thanksgiving Case.
We sat down (coffee in hand) with Tom to get the full story about this exclusive coffee – and of course, Tom shared his foolproof advice to get the most deliciousness out of every drop!
Meet our resident coffee expert – winemaker, Tom Shula!
You might know that award-winning winemaker Tom Shula started out solo (making wines from his garage!) – did you know he’s a coffee roaster, too?
Tom Shula’s a man of many talents – and a home brewing enthusiast. In fact, about the same time he started making wines, he began roasting his own coffee beans.
Q: How long have you been a coffee roaster?
Tom: I’ve been home roasting coffee for about 20 years, and I’m excited to share another crafted product with you. Coffee as a beverage has many things in common with wine.
Q: What inspired you to get involved with coffee production?
Tom: Just as there are different wine grape varieties… there are different coffee varieties! The character of the coffee depends on weather, soil, location (“terroir”) how the beans are processed after harvest and how they are roasted.
Like wine, coffee is evaluated based on appearance, aroma, and flavor. It is a complex blend of flavor and aromatic components, sweetness, and acid.
Q: You made a special Bourbon Arabica Reserve for Angels… can you tell us about it?
Tom: The Bourbon variety of coffee evolved from coffee “trees” (they look more like big shrubs) that were planted by the French in the early 1700s on the island of Bourbon (now Reunion) in the Indian Ocean.
It was planted extensively in Brazil starting in the 1800s and spread extensively throughout Latin America. In Africa, I believe it is only grown in Rwanda at this time.
The beans for this coffee come from the Dukunde Kawa cooperative, an organization of about 2000 growers that produce premium coffee beans for the boutique coffee market.
The cooperative is part of the Fair Trade program, which ensures that growers of premium agricultural products are compensated fairly for their endeavors.
Q: How did you connect with the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative?
Tom: This has greatly benefited many small producers in the third world and transformed their way of life.
Paul Katzeff, the founder and owner of Thanksgiving Coffee Company who has been roasting coffee for 50+ years, was instrumental in creation of the Fair Trade movement.
Q: So you worked with Thanksgiving Coffee Company, too? They’re pretty legendary
Tom: Yes! My coffee program at nakedwines.com was an idea that has been a few years in the making.
It began when I shared some of my home roasted coffee with the office staff some time ago…
When we decided to make a real go at it, we had to find a partner that would work with us and produce a product that we would be proud of and the Angels would love. (My home roaster only processes 1/2 lb at a time!)
When a friend in the coffee business suggested we talk to Thanksgiving Coffee, I was very excited. Thanksgiving Coffee Company was one of the first “boutique” premium coffee roasters in the U.S., starting in 1972.
Many years ago, when I was trying to find coffee in the U.S. that would rival what I tasted on business travel in Europe and Japan, a friend introduced me to Thanksgiving Coffee and I have loved it ever since.
Thanksgiving Coffee Company also shares many values with NakedWines.com, believing in strong working relationships and giving back to causes and communities all over the world.
Q: Now, about THIS coffee…
Tom: As we might with a wine, we went through a blind tasting selection process with six candidate coffees.
I had expected that the best choice might be a blend, but this coffee really stood out for its balanced richness. It is considered a medium roast. At this roast level, there is a good balance of acidity and sweet fruit flavors while maintaining its unique character.
Q: And how do you brew it? With a drip coffee maker, or a Chemex? French Press?
Tom: You can brew this coffee using your favorite method. I typically use either a drip filter or French press.
This Bourbon Rwanda coffee has the aromas of oranges, honeysuckle, and a bit of fresh cedar. There are complex flavors including chocolate and a hit of maple syrup, perky acidity and a balanced finish.
Q: What do you serve Bourbon Arabica Reserve Coffee with?
It’s enjoyable as your morning brew, or after a meal with or without dessert. Try it with shortbread or biscotti, dipped in dark chocolate if you like.
My coffee pro friend, Amy, had me taste it with my 2017 North Coast Merlot, and I must admit it was really good with that, too!
Finally, thanks to all of you, Angels. This would not be possible without your continuing support. Let me know how you like it.
How are you enjoying Tom’s coffee over the holidays? Share your story in the comments below!