KAYTE YOUNG: From WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana, I'm Kayte Young, and this is Earth Eats.
KORIE GRIGGS: The goal with the collective is to bridge that gap, so then there is a lot more equity and a lot more opportunity, because these coffees are incredible and, most of the time, when they're coming from people of marginalized identities, those people are ensuring that they're honoring the farmers as well, so the farmers are then getting equitable pay. And so it's creating that throughout the supply chain.
KAYTE YOUNG: This week on the show we're talking coffee with Korie Griggs. She's with The Color of Coffee Collective, working to support equitable access in the world of specialty coffee. And, later in the show, a story about the aftermath of the recent Keystone Pipeline disaster in Kansas farm country. That's all just ahead, stay with us.
KAYTE YOUNG: Thanks for tuning in to Earth Eats, I'm Kayte Young.
UNKNOWN FEMALE (ARCHIVE): You know, I'm gonna miss these times.
UNKNOWN FEMALE #2 (ARCHIVE): Are you gonna get sentimental on me?
[AD JINGLE (ARCHIVE): Celebrate the moments of your life…]
UNKNOWN MALE (ARCHIVE): General Foods International Coffees.
KAYTE YOUNG: If you're old enough to remember that TV ad campaign from the 1980s, then you might be familiar with the first wave of coffee. People in the coffee world have identified three waves of coffee consumption in the United States. The first wave peaked in the 1950s when coffee became ubiquitous. Households from all walks of life had a percolator in their kitchen, later replaced by a Mr. Coffee-style drip machine. Think Folgers and Maxwell House and celebrating the moments of your life with General Foods International coffees, which were basically metal tins of flavored instant coffee with built-in cream and sugar.
KAYTE YOUNG: I myself came of age in the second wave of coffee. I was 20 years old the first time I walked into a downtown coffee shop while visiting Boulder, Colorado. The aroma of freshly-roasted coffee filled the room, and the grating sounds of whole beans grinding and espresso machines whizzing filled my ears. Second wave coffee is characterized by dark-roasted coffee served in giant coffee cups, sometimes with flavored Italian syrups. Starbucks was born in this age, and all of the copycats and independent coffee shops in cities and towns across the country. Coffee shops became known as a third place, a space outside of home and work to meet friends, to hang out, to study or even attend a poetry reading or a book club.
KAYTE YOUNG: That third place status of the coffee shop has stayed with us in what is known as the third wave for coffee, starting around the 2010s. What has changed is the coffee itself. In this stage, there's more focus on the origin of the coffee and how the beans are processed and roasted. Lighter roasts are trending, the giant cups are out, latte art is in, and pour-overs are common at most shops. We'll hear more about the brewing method later in the show.
KAYTE YOUNG: Our guest today is connected to some of the hottest trends in specialty coffee and yet, in another sense, she's calling for a return to that sentiment expressed in those cheesy ads.
[AD JINGLE (ARCHIVE): Celebrate the moments of your life…]
KORIE GRIGGS: My name is Korie "KP" Griggs. I use pronoun she/her, and I am a coffee lover, fanatic and writer, artist, activist.
KAYTE YOUNG: To start out with, I would just like to hear in your words what is The Color of Coffee Collective?
KORIE GRIGGS: The Color of Coffee Collective is a collective of marginalized people within specialty coffee. When I say "specialty coffee" it's, you know, outside the scope of when we think about Starbucks or, like, the big, big names. Specialty is more like when you think about your local coffee shops, your roasters, your baristas, everything like that. We create educational opportunities within this industry. What that looks like is, if a person holds a marginalized identity within the specialty coffee industry and they need more support, or they need more education, sometimes it goes all the way to they don't really know how to interact with their community to make sure that they get everybody involved in that area, we kind of come in and whatever the needs are, we develop a curriculum around those needs.
KORIE GRIGGS: So, we do that all over the nation. We're specifically founded out of Houston, Texas, so a lot of our, like, brew-ups or the smaller get-togethers or the smaller educational opportunities that we do happen there, and then, every year, we do a symposium, and that is our big event. So, we have people come in from all over the world. We have panels, so that we can get the full scope of what it looks like to create equity from seed to cup. So, we talk to farmers, we talk to producers, we talk to roasters, we talk to literally every person along the supply chain. And so we just create those educational opportunities centered around equity.
KAYTE YOUNG: Is it something where a coffee shop like, say, somebody starts a business and then they might have you come in, like, as a consultant almost?
KORIE GRIGGS: Yes. So, whether it's a shop that is just opening, getting ready to open, has been open for a while, all of those we cover. A lot of times there's a lack of barista training that occurs, where it's like, okay, how can you actually set up your entire staff for success? And so, we come in and we have people that are incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to brew methods, latte art, dialing in espresso, and all the technical things surrounding that, to ensure that when people walk through that door they're getting the best experience from customer service, to taste, to experience everything.
KAYTE YOUNG: I guess, to step back a little bit, how did you, yourself, get into this world? How did you find yourself in the coffee world?
KORIE GRIGGS: I was a director of marketing in, like, corporate America for about six years, and I was trying to figure out how I could leave that setting and pursue my art full-time, but also I wasn't making enough income from my art at the time, so I was, like, "Okay, what can float me through?" When I was working my office job, two days a week I'd work remotely, and I also went to this one coffee shop. And so, I was just sitting at the bar one day and I was like, "Hey, could I work here?" They all kind of laughed because they were like, "You come here to work, like on your job." And I was like, "No, I'm trying to pursue my own stuff, but I love coffee," but all I really knew is I consumed a lot of it. [LAUGHS] So, it was like, okay, what does it look like to make it, to be immersed in it?
KORIE GRIGGS: That was in 2018. And I started working behind the bar and just, like, fell in love with the art of just making coffee. This specific shop that I was at was in Carmel, Indiana, in this Indy Coffee Roasters, they are really, really centered on education. So even if you're a customer there and you want to know anything, they'll walk you through the steps, they'll teach you how to make pour-overs. Anything you want to know, they'll let you know. So, working there, I was just fully immersed and fell in love and I was like, "Oh my gosh, like coffee comes from people that look like me." Coffee is developed and cultivated and cared for and farmed, and so I just got really into the history of it, and I fell in love, because I was like, "I'm drinking it all the time anyway, so let me, like, honor it as well."
KAYTE YOUNG: I mean, I think a lot of people enjoy drinking it but wouldn't necessarily dive into all of that background information, so it sounds like it just stirred a passion or something for you.
KORIE GRIGGS: Yeah! Yeah, it definitely did. And I'm such an artist, and to be able to make something that I love with my own hands, fully tied into everything that I love.
KAYTE YOUNG: So, when you said that they will show you how to make a pour-over, show you how to do whatever, you mean, like, they will do that for customers?
KORIE GRIGGS: Yeah. They're also a roaster, so they roast their own beans and that's what they sell, that's what they serve, and they offer cupping classes.
KAYTE YOUNG: Oh, yeah.
KORIE GRIGGS: It's kind of like wine tasting but with coffee. You know, you learn how to brew it properly, how to ensure you get the most flavor out of it. You can sit at the bar and get the full experience from espresso, lattes, cortados, cappuccinos, pour-overs, everything.
KAYTE YOUNG: From there, where did you go?
KORIE GRIGGS: I stayed in that as a barista role until, I think, 2020, and then I took a manager role at a different coffee shop, and then the pandemic hit and I was just like, "Well, this isn't sustainable!" So, at that time, like my art and my writing had kind of taken off, so I really had to grapple with am I going to commit to figuring out how to stay in this industry as a customer-facing role, or step back and use my writing skills, everything like that? Because I really just wanted to tell stories within the coffee industry. I wanted to really be a voice to create that education and kind of bridge the gap from farm to table.
KORIE GRIGGS: A lot of times, with anything that we're consuming, we're not thinking about where it comes from or the people it comes from. With coffee, most of the time, the farms that it's coming from, those are family farms. Those are families that have cultivated that land for years and years and years. And so I had been submitting my art to this publication called Coffee People Zine, and the founder and editor reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in taking over an issue as the executive editor, designing, doing everything for it. It was my opportunity to just, like, tell those stories in essentially a book form.
KORIE GRIGGS: So, I did that, and then I stayed on as, like, a managing editor for a few more issues, and just really fell even more in love with telling stories of roasters from all over the nation, that had never been highlighted before. So, I got to interview them, and that kind of led to creating a social media presence from that, just connecting with shops all over, farmers, producers, roasters, and even baristas. From there, Keith, the founder of The Color of Coffee Collective, reached out to me and was, like, "Hey, this is my vision, I want to basically create a collective that can support all of these people that you're featuring, all of these stories." We just have been running with it ever since, just trying to get the word out to people and really create as much support as possible within this industry.
KAYTE YOUNG: And the support is specifically directed towards marginalized communities, or people who might otherwise not find themselves in the coffee industry, or might face some barriers. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
KORIE GRIGGS: The specialty coffee industry has experienced a lot of gate-keeping in a lot of ways. I know that even when I entered into the industry, I wasn't seeing people that looked like me. I wasn't seeing other black women, I wasn't seeing even black men, even in barista roles. So, because I wasn't seeing them in barista roles, I definitely wasn't seeing them as roasters. Like, roasters was portrayed to me, as this elite position within coffee, so it just takes a lot to even be able to step into that role. And that was strange to me, because I'm the type of person, if I want to learn something, I'll just dive head first into it and figure it out.
KORIE GRIGGS: So, I would start kind of like coffee shop hopping around Indianapolis, even down here in Bloomington, and I realized, like, okay, it's a predominantly white industry, but I didn't understand that, especially when it's an industry that all of the product comes from black and brown people. So, there was a huge disconnect there, and the more I started reaching out and just trying to find people in different cities, places, everything. I was like, okay, there are people, it's just that their voices aren't really being heard, so what does it look like to enhance that and make sure that that can be heard?
KORIE GRIGGS: A lot of it was they just didn't have adequate support and, because they didn't have adequate support they also didn't have adequate education in it. So, while they're learning how to roast, which is incredible in itself, they may not have the proper equipment to enhance that experience, to get more support. You know, it's just definitely a display of the differences more or less of people in marginalized positions in everyday life, that is happening in the coffee industry as well. So, the goal with the collective is to bridge that gap, so then there is a lot more equity and a lot more opportunity, because these coffees are incredible. Most of the time, when they're coming from people of marginalized identities, those people are ensuring that they're honoring the farmers as well, so the farmers are then getting equitable pay, and so, it's creating that throughout the supply chain.
KAYTE YOUNG: So, what does the collective look like now, and how do you interface with people in the industry?
KORIE GRIGGS: We had our first ever symposium last year. It brought people from all over the world and, because of that, last year was more centered on hearing the needs, and this year is applying what we heard as a need and giving that to the people. So, this year is more centered on education, where we have breakout sessions, breakout rooms. One is branding in coffee, how to make sure you're branding your business. One's financial literacy. I'm doing self care in coffee; how are you actually caring for yourself whilst also experiencing your business. We have roasting. Every need we heard, we're like, "Okay, we already know somebody that's well-versed in that, let's plug them in, also give them an opportunity to have their voice heard even more, teach a class, teach it to people who want to absorb knowledge, then take it to their people."
KORIE GRIGGS: I mean, it's a collective. You know, you've got people that come in, we learn from each other, then we take what we learn and we go out to our communities and, because while we're founded in Houston, like I'm obviously here in Indiana; one of our team members is in Louisville, Kentucky; three of them, I believe are in Houston; another one's in Dallas. So, you know, we're always on Zoom meetings saying, like, "Hey, I just realized this is a need in my community." Actually, okay, we're now all retaining that. Those are needs in multiple communities, and how do we take that need and create opportunity for it? So, the symposium really does that.
KORIE GRIGGS: And then we do what are called brew-ups, where we go into a shop, let's say if the shop is struggling or even if they just want more community involvement, we do a brew-up, where we bring coffees from black and brown roasters for people to try. So then that creates, "Oh, I loved this coffee, how do I get that?" Okay, so you're creating support. You know, it's creating this domino effect of education and support. I'm the Director of Operations. Anytime I go into a shop, whether I'm traveling or whether I'm here locally, I'm asking, "How's it going for you guys, actually?" It doesn't matter if it's a marginalized identity shop or not, because typically they're still serving people of marginalized identities, hopefully.
KORIE GRIGGS: And there could be a disconnect there. It's like, "Okay, what does the community involvement look like? What does your overhead look like? Does your profit makes sense based on how you're getting from your producer?" At the end of the day, it's really creating connections that cultivate educating and support and equity.
KAYTE YOUNG: Yes, I just wanted to get a sense of what it looks like. You're having a symposium where you're gathering people, but then you're also kind of at times sending someone from the collective.
KORIE GRIGGS: It can look like, if a shop reaches out to us directly, "Hey, these are my needs. This is what I'm struggling with." Okay, awesome, them it would probably make best sense to send, out, let's say Nicky, because Nicky's great with barista training. Let's send her out to make sure that they can do that, or to get more of a feel of what those needs really are. And sometimes it's a matter of a shop might now know what they need, but they know something's not working, you know? And so it's like, "Okay, let us come in and just see what we can do to help you."
KORIE GRIGGS: We have a non-profit side, it's Coffee with Keith, and so the goal of that is to ensure that it's accessible for these. Because, obviously, if you're already struggling, you aren't going to have the resources to then pay a consulting team to come in. So, through doing the symposium and everything like that, we're able to show fully what we do in order to raise funds through the non-profit to then use those to support shops that maybe just don't have the resources to call on us for, "Hey, I need to hire you." We never want it to be a thing where someone doesn't ask for help just because they don't feel they have the resources to do so, which is really why we started in the first place. It's like, "Okay, there's clearly a need, there's a lack of support. Let's figure out how we can do that."
KAYTE YOUNG: Can you say more about what sort of issues you're interested in exploring or in addressing in the coffee world?
KORIE GRIGGS: Right now, I am super, super passionate about self care in coffee, and what that looks like for me is a lot of times, you know, when you're in a customer-facing role in coffee, whether it's barista, sometimes a roaster, you can get so physically exhausted. This is physical labor that we're doing, and a lot of times, in those role, there's not an opportunity for health insurance, and that's just the norm with specialty shops. They just don't have the income to provide those types of benefits. So, what does it look like to stand on your feet all day, also engage with people very intentionally? So, you're using your physical energy, you're using your mental energy and your emotional energy.
KORIE GRIGGS: Baristas and bartenders have a lot in common! Especially if you have regulars, they're coming in and they're just dumping, like, "Hey yeah, I need my coffee, because this is how my day is going," and it's a beautiful thing, but I'm very passionate about what does it look like when you go home? And what does it look like to actually be cared for and then have the resources to care for yourself? So, I create a lot of literature and curriculum based on, like, hey, if you're feeling like this, here's some tools you can use to care for yourself in those times, and also how to advocate for yourself when you step into your shop.
KORIE GRIGGS: A lot of times, I think, when we think of self care, people are like, "Oh yeah, I took a nice hot bath." And it's like, "Yes, also do that!" Take care and, you know, get a good soak in, but also what does it look like to have that community care aspect? So, that's my biggest passion just in life too, I'm just like how are we caring for ourselves?
KAYTE YOUNG: Korie talked about how the ritual of coffee-making figures into her own self-care. Making coffee is the first thing she does in the morning. She usually makes a pour-over, which is a simple method of brewing that involves a device to hold the coffee filter with a measure of coffee grounds, and hot water poured over the grounds and into a cup.
KORIE GRIGGS: I'm gonna make a pour-over and use that time to really think about, okay, let me take deep breaths while I'm doing the circular pour with the water. Let me use this ritual that is a necessary part of my daily life as a reflection back to me of, like, how are you doing, actually? Let me check in with myself. And, in that way, I have then the energy to check in with others to create the community care.
KAYTE YOUNG: That's really interesting to think about it that way. Because I think a lot of times people, when they think about daily preparation of anything, speed and efficiency is the way to go, and that the way to reduce stress is to make everything faster, and it's just really nice to think that the time it takes to make something more slowly might actually give you some breathing space at the start of your day.
KORIE GRIGGS: Definitely. We live in a world that's a very fast pace and, for me, the time that I spend making my coffee just gives me at least three to five minutes of just, I'm not doing anything else other than this thing. Coffee has always kind of been that symbolic thing for me, because it's a ritual. It's something I partake in every single day. In Ethiopia, when they began doing coffee ceremonies, that's what the women did. The women provided the coffee, and it's a moment to literally slow down, sit together, take time, don't worry about the work that has to be done, we're going to have this moment, enjoy and then we're going to go out into the world.
KORIE GRIGGS: You're caring for yourself in a way. There's communal care there, there's self care there, and then you're prepared to then go and do what is necessary and then come back and hopefully have a reprieve again. If not, at least that morning ritual or, honestly, whenever you consume coffee, is that reprieve time.
KAYTE YOUNG: That's really so interesting. It's something I'm definitely going to think about, because I know sometimes I, you know, start to make the coffee, then try to do a bunch of things at once and, you know, the water's already boiled and I'm going to have to come back and start the water again, or I've poured it and forgotten and walked away! But just to sit with it and spend time making it happen, I think I will enjoy the coffee more, because I might drink it while it's hot, and also just, like you said, taking that time of being present, instead of, like, what other five things can I do while I'm making coffee?
KORIE GRIGGS: Right. It's like, how much can you fit in between the time that the water warms up. It's like, we don't have to do that. Like, we've almost been conditioned to believe we have to do that, but when we really step back, what is required of us in just that short amount of time? Nothing! Like, nothing, just to do the task at hand, and then hopefully enjoy the fruits of your labor.
KAYTE YOUNG: I'm speaking with Korie Griggs of The Color of Coffee Collective. We'll return to our conversation after a short break. Korie will also walk us through the steps of making a pour-over coffee, which she demonstrated here at the radio station using her mobile coffee brewing kit. Stay with us.
KAYTE YOUNG: Kayte Young here. This is Earth Eats. We're back with Korie Griggs of The Color of Coffee Collective.
KAYTE YOUNG: One of the other characteristics of the third wave of coffee consumption includes people bringing some of the specialized grinding and brewing instruments into their homes and purchasing those single origin beans from their favorite roasters.
KAYTE YOUNG: Over time, Korie has built up a well-equipped home coffee bar with her favorite manual brewing tools, but she doesn't let herself get too rigid about it. Here's more from our conversation.
KAYTE YOUNG: What I would really like to talk about now is a little bit of, I guess, nerding out on coffee. When I really stop to think about everything that's involved in making the perfect cup of coffee, it's pretty complicated. It can be pretty intense.
KORIE GRIGGS: It can be.
KAYTE YOUNG: The coffee bean, where and how it's grown, how it's processed; the roast, the freshness, the storage, the grind, the temperature of the water, you know, all these things. So you were saying that you have a kind of tune into yourself and more of a flexible kind of approach. It doesn't sound like you have this, like, "Coffee must be made in a certain way or else I'm not drinking it," you know?
KORIE GRIGGS: Yeah. I definitely do have the technical skills, I just don't always implement them, and I think a lot of that comes just from my creative side of just being, like, "Oh, I still want to play." You know? I want to see if I change this up a little bit what would occur, like what would happen? But when I even think about my coffee bar now, I do have everything that you mentioned. You know, I've got the scale, I've got the vacuum sealed storage. I don't grind my beans prior to using them. You know, there's different things that are just, I think, now ingrained in me from being trained in specialty coffee, but I am a big, big advocate of there is no wrong way to make your coffee. If that is how you enjoy it, live your best life and enjoy it! Because, you're not doing anything wrong.
KORIE GRIGGS: It's not the same as, like, in cooking where you can just burn something and it's not edible anymore. I mean, I definitely recommend your water should be a certain temperature if you want it to actually be brewed and hot, but when it gets, like, into the really technical of, like, "No, it should be only be 21g and 350g of water," and you know, all these, like I think about pour-over ratios. Yes, those ratios are there for a reason, because they worked for a person. Who's to say you can't try your own ratio and it actually works better for you or this type of coffee? You know, because even when we try out different coffees from different places, who knows if that ratio that we used on a coffee from Congo is going to be the same when we try this Ecuadorian bean? Those are different parts of the world, you know?
KORIE GRIGGS: And so, that's the way that I think about it, of like I have my ratios that I do use, just, alright I know how much coffee this is gonna make, so let me just go ahead and do that. But sometimes, if it tastes just a little different to me then I'm like, "Hmm, what if tried tuning down the water a bit? What if I slowed my brew method and just waited while the coffee bloomed, which is what happens when you very first pour the water over, what if I let the bloom process be longer?" You know, there's room to play in coffee, that doesn't have to make it be so intimidating.
KORIE GRIGGS: Because I was very intimidated by making coffee when I very first was learning. I was just, like, "You have to set a timer and have a scale?" And all these things. I was like, "Oh my gosh, I don't have any of that stuff. Like, how am I gonna make coffee?"
KAYTE YOUNG: And you've been drinking coffee all these years!
KORIE GRIGGS: Yeah. So, it's like people have been making coffee for years and years and years without all that technical stuff.
KAYTE YOUNG: And I also know that, for some of us it's just fun to get into the gear and get into the specifics.
KORIE GRIGGS: It's fun, and it can be expensive. I love Fellow Products, like that's just my favorite brand of products, and that's pretty much what my coffee bar is. So, it was fun to, over time, start to be, like, "Oh my gosh, now I can get the Fellow grinder, that goes there. Alright, next then I'm gonna work towards getting the Fellow kettle." All of these things, you know, figuring out what you like and what works best for your coffee experience. And there's something to me so fun about brewing for others as well, when you get to have all those moving pieces. It's kind of entertaining, you know? You get to experiment while also serving.
KAYTE YOUNG: And Korie was kind enough to share her skills with me during her visit to the radio station. We stepped into the station's green room kitchen area with her mobile coffee brewing kit.
KAYTE YOUNG: Do you often bring coffee-making stuff with you if you travel?
KORIE GRIGGS: Yes. Everywhere that I travel. Especially if I'm gonna be in a hotel or anything. I don't really enjoy the hotel coffee, so I'll bring my own and it's usually either my Fellow set-up, or I will sometimes bring, like, an arrow press, which is super easy to travel with as well. I rarely will travel with my kettle, especially if I'm flying, because that's a lot harder to do. But if I'm driving, I just call this my coffee bucket, and I load it up and this is my vacuum seal coffee container, and I'll just grind it prior to leaving. This is a Three Keys Coffee. They're out of Houston, Texas, and this is a Costa Rica. The process is yellow honey, so it adds like a natural sweetness that they roasted it with honey.
KAYTE YOUNG: Oh wow! I don't think I've ever heard of that.
KORIE GRIGGS: So, I just get my kettle going. For pour-overs, I normally have it around anywhere between 200° Fahrenheit to 205. I think right now it's set to 212, but I usually take it off prior to that. So, this is the singular pour-over set-up by Fellow Products. I guess the best way to explain it is it has the glass, double-walled glass that your coffee will then brew down into, and the top part is the pour-over contraption itself, and that's where your filter goes, where your coffee goes. I normally let my kettle get around 175, and I will do just water to get my filter wet, so that the coffee won't just stick to the dry filter itself. It preps it, I guess, is the best way to explain it. It's just a really simple pour-over setup and it travels well.
KAYTE YOUNG: And so it doesn't really have that Melitta cone shape. It's more like a cup.
KORIE GRIGGS: It's a flat bottom pour-over setup. So, I just always do that, so then it kind of warms that.
KAYTE YOUNG: It warms your cup up a little bit too, and then you pour that hot water out, while you're waiting.
KORIE GRIGGS: And I did forget my scale, but I feel as though I've done this enough that I can eyeball it a bit. You just start putting your ground coffee into your filter.
KAYTE YOUNG: And what is the weight you would normally do for a cup?
KORIE GRIGGS: 21g, that's what I like to do. And then I just shake, so that the bed of the coffee gets flat and it is ready.
KAYTE YOUNG: I also love this little, almost funnel that you used to put that in.
KORIE GRIGGS: Anything you get by Fellow, they're very thoughtful with their design. Even this is a Fellow Product, the vacuum seal, you just like turn it multiple times... and it will start to turn green, like that, and then it's vacuum sealed.
KAYTE YOUNG: Interesting! I've never seen one of those, either.
KORIE GRIGGS: Alright. Now we will begin the pour-over. What I like to do is slowly just do circular motions in the coffee bed, and we create what is called a "bloom". If I had my scale, I'd go to, like, 55g. I do what's called "pulsing". So, rather than just, like, endless water pour-over, I let it bloom for a little bit and then take a break, and then return to it once the bloom is settled a bit. My favorite thing about this is when you pull this off, it's created to have a little catch...
KAYTE YOUNG: [GASPS]
KORIE GRIGGS: ...so you don't get coffee anywhere.
KAYTE YOUNG: [LAUGHS] Oh dear!
KORIE GRIGGS: This one also, these little dots in this bottom container are also for measuring beans if you don't have, like, a scale or anything. So, like, their design is really thoughtful.
KAYTE YOUNG: So, it's measuring beans or measuring ground coffee?
KORIE GRIGGS: Ground coffee. So, like, if you do it to the first dot, that's the perfect amount for you to do just, like, a one cup serving. The design, for me, love it every time.
KAYTE YOUNG: So, unfortunately, I do not drink black coffee, but I have some cream. I brought some half and half.
KORIE GRIGGS: There is no wrong way to consume! Ooh, that color is so pretty.
KAYTE YOUNG: Yeah, that is. It does have kind of a honey color. It's really golden and beautiful.
KORIE GRIGGS: I will let you try this.
KAYTE YOUNG: Yep. Oh wow, that's so smooth.
KORIE GRIGGS: Yeah! This roaster is incredible.
KAYTE YOUNG: Wow!
KORIE GRIGGS: This is my favorite roaster ever.
KAYTE YOUNG: So, where is the roaster?
KORIE GRIGGS: They are in Houston, Texas, and they ship all over.
KAYTE YOUNG: So "varietal", that is talking about the kind of plant?
KORIE GRIGGS: Yes.
KAYTE YOUNG: Okay, so those are the three thing that are listed, their origin, varietal and process. You know, I know with chocolate and wines, there are these different, like, notes that you're looking for. What are some of the words that you use to describe things that you're going to be tasting in coffee?
KORIE GRIGGS: So, really interesting. I taste in color. So, when it comes to what we call the flavor wheel of coffee, I'm actually terrible at it because I typically am like, "Wow, this tastes very orange to me." It tastes like the color that they displayed on the bag. But in the flavor wheel, if you look at the colors, it'll show you that that will represent acidity or orange or more citrus forward types. I believe the reason they did the honey process was because it's very citrus forward, so the honey is able to bring that citrus down a bit, so it won't be so acidic to you.
KORIE GRIGGS: The cool thing about Three Keys, they actually created a flavor wheel based on jazz musicians and jazz music. So, whenever they release a coffee, they incorporate a play list that they believe goes best with the coffee. Yeah, it's amazing! So, while you're enjoying the coffee, you're also listening to the curated music that goes with that coffee. So, when I think about, like, flavor profiles, I always encourage people to say the first thing that comes to their mind. Like, literally whatever's on the tip of your tongue, say it, even if it's "starburst", even if it's a memory. Like, sometimes when I drink coffee I'm like, "Wow, this feels like a morning on the front porch with the sun." It'll feel that way. So, when it comes to the flavor profiling, I'm very much in the camp of whatever you taste, there's no wrong answer; it's your experience.
KORIE GRIGGS: Three Keys does a lot of what I would call medium roast, and the purpose of that is to bring out the flavor the most. Tio is the roaster there, and he plays a lot with flavor profiles of like, "Ooh, if we only roasted it to this degree, how much of the juicy flavor is going to come through and come out?" And that's typically what you find in their coffees. I love honey processed coffees because it's naturally sweet.
KAYTE YOUNG: Yeah, I am really enjoying this, and I also didn't put in as much cream as I normally would, and I just feel like there's so many different flavors coming through, and the word "juicy" is never something I would use, but it kind of fits. When you said that I was, like, yeah, in your mouth. I kind of see what you're talking about.
KORIE GRIGGS: The mouth feel, yes. That's so good. It's kind of just like a science experiment all the time when you're brewing coffee.
KAYTE YOUNG: It really helps to have somebody walk you through it, because sometimes if you're just on your own, you're like, "So, I tasted it. What am I looking for? It tastes like coffee", you know?
KORIE GRIGGS: I will always recommend doing a cupping or a cupping class. It's really fun, especially if you feel like, safe enough to say anything that comes to your mind. I love the cupping experiences where people just go around and, like, sometimes people are, like, "This tastes like burned cigarettes." And it's interesting that a lot of times that's tied to a memory. Because our senses are so intertwined and so I just love always hearing, like, especially when people will relate coffee to, like, a candy flavor or anything, like it's just cool to experience.
KAYTE YOUNG: Thank you so much for doing this.
KORIE GRIGGS: Of course. Thank you for having me. You can call me anytime. We can make coffee.
KAYTE YOUNG: That was Korie Griggs, making coffee and talking about coffee. If you're interested in one of the cupping experiences she was talking about, there might be local coffee roasters that offer them in your area. It's basically a guided coffee tasting session. Here in Bloomington, I know that Needmore Coffee has done them and Hopscotch Coffee; there might be others, ask around. If you attend, you'll learn a lot about coffee, flavor wheels and maybe even your own particular preferences, and you'll likely have a lot of fun connecting with other people over a shared love for coffee. I'll post some links in the show notes on our website, eartheats.org.
KAYTE YOUNG: Stay tuned for a story from the Kansas News Service about a recent massive oil leak affecting rural residents, farmers and ranchers. That's after a quick break. Stay with us.
KAYTE YOUNG: It's been nearly two months since the Keystone Pipeline spewed about 600,000 gallons of crude oil into Kansas farmland and into a creek. Pipeline operator, TC Energy, says it's cleaned up nearly 90% of that. Celia Llopis-Jepsen of the Kansas News Service takes us to Washington County near Nebraska, to meet people who live there.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: Washington County is home to about 5500 people. The pipeline burst here the night of December 7th, near the county seat, also called Washington. Randy Hubbard is the county Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.
RANDY HUBBARD: My cell phone rang about 1.30 in the morning. It was a gentleman out of Texas with TC Energy, and said, "Sorry to wake you up this early, but I think we have a significant oil release within your county."
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: 15 minutes later, he had reached Mill Creek, where a massive oil slick was moving downstream. The county's small public works crew helped TC Energy workers build a dam. They started before the sun even came up. By sunrise, the feds had arrived, state regulators, cleanup crews poured in and people could smell the oil from miles away. Dan Thalmann publishes the county newspaper.
DAN THALMANN: The traffic was absolutely non-stop. I've never seen anything like it, just truck after truck after truck hauling all sorts of equipment of all kinds.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: Nearly two months later, 700 people work at the spill site daily. Motels are full in surrounding counties. A catering company from Texas feeds the workers. This county seat of 1200 people has just two restaurants: a pizza joint and the Sale Barn Café.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: Chuck and Teresa Penning serve up breakfast burritos and patty melts with ingredients from their farm, where they take great pains to do things just so.
TERESA PENNING: Yep, yep. We try real hard to not spray chemicals. We don't use artificial fertilizers.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: They see the oil spill as unfortunate but, hopefully, a one-off event here.
CHUCK PENNING: I think probably if we dug into the statistics of all this, the percentage of it happening is low. I got three pipelines running through my properties, but I'm not worried about it, I'm not.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: Lifelong farmer, Lewis Carter, stopped in for lunch. He has faith in the Environmental Protection Agency to make TC Energy clean up its mess.
LEWIS CARTER: Oh, I do. They're independent, oh yeah. Near as I know, this Canadian company that's doing it, they're doing their job, too, but there's somebody looking over their shoulder at the same time.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: Reporters aren't allowed at the spill site, so Jeff Pritchard, with the EPA, met me outside a security checkpoint where trucks rumbled in and out.
JEFF PRITCHARD: Currently today they are starting to haul out some of the oil-impacted soil from the pipeline discharge, for disposal.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: He says TC Energy's crews will be cleaning Mill Creek for months.
JEFF PRITCHARD: So, if you come at nighttime you can see it glowing from aways away, because they're running 24 hours a day here, 12 hour shifts.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: They're still sucking oil out of the creek, and scouring for residue and remediating the creek bank will take longer. TC Energy recently re-routed Mill Creek temporarily to bypass and isolate this dirty stretch of it. I can only get near the creek farther downstream.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: It's probably about 20ft wide, here. The clean water goes from upstream of the spill site, through the overground hose, and then rejoins into the creek downstream of the four mile stretch that's been isolated, and what I'm looking at right now is where the water has rejoined and there are no signs of staining on any of the vegetation here, oil stains, anything like that.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: So, Kansas said this far downstream it's now safe again for livestock and people. Before, benzine was washing downstream from the spill-site. Now, the Keystone is this county's biggest local tax source by leaps and bounds. The Washington County News reported it last month. So, that wins the pipeline some appreciation here.
DOLORES SEARING: We need that, because we're rural and we're kind of a poor community here.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: Dolores Searing is a retired nurse. At Christmas, when temperatures plunged well below zero and cleanup crews forged ahead at the creek, she and many other families started baking. They aimed to donate one cookie for each of the hundreds of workers.
DOLORES SEARING: And then we got to thinking, "Well, who eats just one Christmas cookie, you know?"
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: So, enthusiastic locals blew way past their goal.
DOLORES SEARING: People were very generous.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: Bill and Chris Pannbacker appreciate the cleanup crews too, but their feelings are also complex. When the pipeline broke, it drenched one of their pastures in oil. Now, they watch the vast cleanup site from atop a ridge on their farm. Bill points down into the valley.
BILL PANNBACKER: That's where the pipeline ruptured.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: From up here, you can see dozens of trucks, a bulldozer, backhoes, huge piles of trees that the crews have knocked down. Topsoil have been stripped from the hillside. This was farmland, now it looks like huge parking lots.
BILL PANNBACKER: So, it shot oil. It shot it 80 feet vertically and probably a thousand yards horizontally. It blew it over the top of this hill.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: Most of the oil rained down onto a slope covered in native prairie, and then flowed straight back downhill, past the broken pipe and into Mill Creek. Here's Bill's wife, Chris.
CHRIS PANNBACKER: I don't think either of us were prepared for the emotion of this and, you know, some days we're good, and some days we're just kind of mad.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: Bill doubts they'll graze their cattle here again for three years, maybe five, and he says he had mixed feelings about the Keystone from the very start.
BILL PANNBACKER: Well, I wasn't very enthused when Keystone, this was a designated route for their pipeline, tell you the truth, 12 or 15 years ago. But I didn't resist. I mean, they compensated us for the damages and all that. I would just as soon they'd gone somewhere else, but this was the route. I guess, I was the attitude that, you know, people need fuel.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: Back in her car, Chris says TC Energy effectively controls what they get to know. She wants to know how the cleanup works in detail.
CHRIS PANNBACKER: It's a story that's being heavily filtered, because we don't have access. I mean, the EPA has never talked to us.
CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN: And she's frustrated that the federal government let TC Energy restart its pipeline, even though it's still not clear why the pipe burst. For the Kansas News Service, I'm Celia Llopis-Jepsen in Washington County.
KAYTE YOUNG: The Kansas News Service reports on health, the many factors that influence it, and their connection to public policy. That story comes to us through Harvest Public Media.
KAYTE YOUNG: That's it for the show this week. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next time.
DANIELLA RICHARDSON: Earth Eats is produced and edited by Kayte Young with help from Eoban Binder, Alex Chambers, Mark Chilla, Toby Foster, Samantha Gee, Abraham Hill, Peyton Whaley, Harvest Public Media and me, Daniella Richardson.
KAYTE YOUNG: Special thanks this week to Korie Griggs and The Color of Coffee Collective.
DANIELLA RICHARDSON: Our theme music composed by Erin Tobey and performed by Erin and Matt Tobey. Additional music on the show comes to us from the artists at Universal Production Music. Our Executive Producer is John Bailey.