In Time for Cyber Monday, King Bean Roasters Puts Its Joe Online

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Leigh Webber Photography

A 20-year old coffee company with Seattle roots sounds like just the kind of company which would have jumped online back when most computer users had AOL e-mail addresses.  But King Bean Coffee Roasters, which supplies coffee to many of Charleston’s top restaurants, didn’t offer online ordering until today.

“When talking recently with a prominent West Coast roaster, she couldn’t believe that we had never before sold our coffee online,” says Katie Weinberger, whose husband, Kurt, founded the company after finishing up a Navy stint in the Pacific Northwest. “We joked that we built our business backwards by today’s standards.”

King Bean three years ago launched a limited local retail line, available in Whole Foods’ South Carolina stores and smaller gourmet shops. The company recently acquired a Petroncini roaster which Weinberger says provides the flexibility and consistency needed for increased production. Continue reading

Thanksgiving 1954: Saltines and Navy Blended Coffee Aboard the USS Yorktown

Ever in the holiday spirit, Patriots Point, which sent us a USS Yorktown cookie recipe for Veterans Day, shared the below menu from the aircraft carrier’s 1954 Thanksgiving dinner.

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The menu is stamped with a few oldfangled touches, such as the hot mincemeat pie and after-dinner cigars. But it’s also testament to how little the standard holiday menu has changed in more than half a century: Turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, two kinds of potatoes, pumpkin pie and Parker House rolls are immediately recognizable as a Thanksgiving meal. Continue reading

JCC Bookfest Stages Russian Cafe, Complete With Literary Discussion

watashiwani

watashiwani

In the tiny village of Anatevka, food was very simple: As Tevye the Milkman says in the film version of Fiddler on the Roof, “When a poor man eats a chicken, one of them is sick.”

But the Charleston JCC this Saturday is putting out a fancier spread for a Bookfest lecture by the author of The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem: The Remarkable Life and Aftermath of the Man Who Created Tevye. Jeremy Dauber’s 8 p.m. talk will be followed by a Russian café-inspired reception featuring babka, macaroons, rugelach, chocolate-covered apricots, tea with preserves, coffee and wine.

Tickets to the event are $10 for JCC members; $14 for non-members. Call 571-6565 for more information.

Whisk Transitions From Bakery to Beverage-Focused Cafe

whiskWhisk is shedding its sandwiches and pastries in an effort to lure more customers, but it’s still unclear whether the downtown shop will retain its bakery-themed name.

“This is the challenging part,” says owner Sam Mustafa, who recently closed Whisk for substantial renovations. “I’m really very boggled.”

Mustafa five years ago opened Sam’s Corner on Meeting Street, selling “hot dogs and all the knick-knacks.” He introduced the bakery concept in 2012, and earlier this year renovated the 700-square foot space to make room for the many items that tourists requested: “It’s a bad place to be, because you want to satisfy people so bad,” Mustafa says of his busy stretch of street. But the renovations didn’t clear up the clutter – and nobody was buying Whisk’s sandwiches. Continue reading

Charleston Starbucks Inch Closer to La Boulange Pastry Rollout

Classic CroissantStarbucks isn’t saying when its new pastry line will reach Charleston, but local staffers suspect the switchover’s imminent: According to a barista at the chain’s International Boulevard location, the store last week received new warming equipment.

The coffee giant in April rolled out La Boulange products at its stores in San Francisco, which birthed the bakery responsible for the upgraded cookies, cakes and croissants. The pastries are now available in Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, Chicago and New York, with Boston’s stores set to start carrying the sweets and savories this month.

Starbucks last year bought La Boulange for $100 million with the intention of elevating the quality of its baked goods. “Starbucks has 40 million customers per week in America,” La Boulange’s owner Pascal Rigo this spring told the San Francisco Chronicle. “How do you scale that? How do you bring great product to that many people?” Continue reading

Elliottborough Mini Bar Adds Morning Hours, Starring Toast

toastIf you haven’t had breakfast yet, there’s bread and a toaster at Elliottborough Mini Bar.

The young corner saloon added morning hours about a month ago, so I swung by yesterday on my way to work. I may have staked out the shop a mite too soon: There’s no tea yet, just quality pour-over coffee, but the bleary-eyed staffer said tea’s a planned addition.

On the food side, there’s a basket of $1 eggs and a toast bar with fixings. The $1.50 toast is a self-service set-up: Customers choose a slice of plain-Jane white, wheat or gluten-free bread, then garnish with butter, cream cheese, strawberry jam or peanut butter. Or with all of the above: Elliottborough isn’t a highly regimented kind of place.

It’s also not yet a very busy place: The staffer attributed his fatigue to the slow traffic that comes with locating in a newish neighborhood. Go keep him awake, folks: Elliottborough’s open from 7 a.m.-11 a.m.

Black Tap Coffee Gets Hot New Equipment For Brewing

rolandtanglao

Roland Tanglao

As Black Tap Coffee acknowledged in a recent tweet, yesterday’s debut of a new coffee dripper is likely to leave non-obsessives cold.

But for folks with strong opinions about how to construct the perfect cup of pour over coffee, the shop’s switch to Kalita Wave – a piece of equipment pioneered in Japan – is cause for celebration. Already popular in hardcore coffee circles, the Wave’s reputation skyrocketed in April after Erin McCarthy used the gadget to win the 2013 US Barista Championship.

Black Tap’s Ross Jett says the victory helped secure the Wave a spot behind his café’s counter.

“With the recent success of the Kalita Wave at the world Brewer’s Cup, we decided to get one to try it out,” Jett e-mails. “Also, one of our baristas runs a pop-up bar at The Elliotborough Mini Bar and has been using them there.”

Pour-over coffee works exactly like it sounds: Water is poured over freshly-ground beans in a cone. Its acolytes say pour-over, or hand-brewed, coffee is cleaner, fresher and more aromatic than the joe produced by a French press, espresso maker or automatic drip unit, like the one you might keep in your kitchen. Pour-over tends to get plenty of attention in summertime, because it’s the recommended method for making iced coffee. But Black Tap Coffee, like many serious coffeehouses around the world, is exclusively pour-over year-round.

The simplicity of the process, though, means it’s nearly impossible to conceal problems created by faulty equipment.

“For the first couple weeks we opened, we used the Hario V60s,” Jett recalls. “I could expound on the many reasons why, but the V60s are terrible brewers.”

After junking the V60s, Black Tap used Bonmac two-hole ceramic drippers, which Jett credits with making “a great cup.” The Kalita Wave, though, has drawn near-universal praise for its flat-bottomed design, which is supposed to create a more complex coffee.

“The consistency and fool-proof nature swayed us to make a permanent switch here at Black Tap,” Jett explains.