Katie's Blog

Behind the Bean with Richie Young, King Bean’s Head Roaster

February 23, 2018

Each month, I’m hosting a Q & A session here on the blog with a team member at King Bean. First up is my interview with Richie Young, our head coffee roaster at King Bean. Richie grew up in the lowcountry but has been all over the world, including the coffee-growing countries of Costa Rica, Colombian and many other places in Central and South America. He loves to surf on his days off and occasionally rides his motorcycle in to work.

Katie: Hi Richie, let’s introduce you to King Bean customers. Most people don’t realize that you are the man literally behind the bean—as the head roaster, you are in charge of the coffee program at King Bean. Can you tell us about your background and what led you to coffee?

Richie: Well, I’ve been at King Bean for five years now, most of it in the position of head roaster. Coffee roasting was a natural progression for me—I have a background in culinary arts.

Katie: Tell us about that – your culinary arts background and how it relates to coffee roasting.

Richie: I went through the culinary training program at Trident Tech and then worked as a sous chef in kitchens around the lowcountry. I even moved to St. Johns in the Virgin Islands for a year to pursue a culinary opportunity—but soon realized that I like the cost of living in the lowcountry much better.

As for how a culinary background relates to coffee roasting? Well, you really have to have a refined palate to cup coffees and my training as a chef really developed that. Also, this is a multi-tasking job, much like working back-of-the-house in a restaurant. Nothing is more stressful than a kitchen, so I can handle the day-to-day challenges here, no problem.

Katie: Speaking of which, can you tell us about your day? What are some of your day-to-day duties at King Bean?

Richie: It varies, depending on the work that needs to be done. Usually I fire up the roaster first thing and brew a pot of coffee. Do a quick inventory of what we need roast and get started. My team and I take breaks to brew coffee and taste for quality control throughout the day. A few times a week, I sample roast new coffees that we’re considering for the King Bean portfolio and host cupping sessions for the team as well.

Katie: What’s your favorite part of coffee roasting?

Richie: My favorite part is getting to experiment with a lot of different coffees from all over the world and seeing how different they taste from region to region, country to country. Most people think of coffee as a “flavor” but I love roasting to find the flavor notes inside of the coffee—that’s really interesting to me.

Katie: Awesome. Last question. What’s your favorite coffee to drink and your favorite brew method?

Richie: I like pour over and French press equally. As for favorite coffees, I love Ethiopians, Costa Ricans and good ol’ classic Colombians.

Thanks to Richie for his interview and hard work. Stay tuned for more interviews in this series Behind the Bean throughout the year! -Katie

New Year, New Brew: How to Brew a Proper Espresso

January 26, 2018

Note: This is four of four in our series on new brew methods for the New Year. If you got an espresso machine for Christmas and you want to know if you’re brewing correctly, this is your guide.

Espresso can be intimidating to master, but if you’ve already taken the plunge and purchased one, then you are committed to upping your coffee program to the professional level. Here are a few quick pro tips to start brewing espresso at home.

Getting Ready

Always warm up your espresso machine for at least an hour before brewing. Keep the portafilter in the grouphead as the machine warms up. We have our espresso machine on a timer at home, so that it kicks on early in the morning before we get up. It’s always ready to go.

Prepare the Portafilter

The portafilter is the component that holds the coffee grounds. Remove it from the machine and clean out any spent coffee dregs. Be quick. The portafilter needs to stay warm for optimal extraction , so minimize the time it is out of the grouphead. Keep the portafilter in the grouphead when not in use.

Grind & Dose Coffee

Dose directly into the portafilter, between 19-21 grams depending on your brew basket size.  Use a fine grind for espresso. The grind should be a fine powder but still have a little grit to it.

Level & Tamp

Distribute coffee equally within the portafilter, using your finger to level. Keep it straight and glide it across the surface in one sweep, keeping the portafilter level as you tamp to ensure quality extraction.

Brew Espresso

Brew into a warm cup

Place cup under portafilter and watch the espresso for a steady stream, increasing gradually in speed. The entire extraction should take 23-28 seconds to brew 1.5 ounces of espresso. If it takes too much longer, try a coarser grind. If it brews too quickly, try a finer grind.

*You can heat an espresso cup first by filling it with hot water pulled from the espresso machine.  Or keep cups warm by storing them on top of the machine.

Serve & Enjoy!