How not to make coffee

Fest gathers caffeinated geeks for pulling shots and latte art

A latte from The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse
Susan France

First, buy coffee beans and leave the bag half-open on the counter for a month. 

Then, run the beans through a spice grinder until thoroughly powdered. 

Next, pack the filter with too much coffee and make it with chlorinated city water straight from the tap. 

Finally, serve the lukewarm, bitter drip in a cold, unfamiliar mug. 

Or, you can learn how to craft a cup that really suits your taste buds at the inaugural Coffee Fest, April 13-14 in Lafayette and Erie. This new celebration of the burgeoning local coffee culture features a coffee film, coffee tastings, coffee-making demos, barista skills demos and snacks. The event benefits Boulder’s Flatirons Food Film Festival.  

It’s not your imagination that Colorado has a credible craft coffee buzz going, according to Lisa Zautke, co-owner of Erie Coffee Roasters. “There is so much going on locally with coffee roasters, shops and baristas we thought it would be great to bring everyone together,” she says. 

Saturday’s Coffee Fest activities at Lafayette’s Arts HUB include a screening of the film Caffeinated, a deep-dive into the extremely nerdy world of baristas and what really goes into making a perfect espresso. Note of warning: A lot of science is involved. 

Caffeinated will be introduced (on video) by Tamas Christman of Dragonfly Coffee Roasters, a rapidly rising Boulder company, which has been honored as one of the best coffee companies in the United States.  

“After the film you can watch a brewing techniques demo. We’ll use the same beans to make coffee using four different techniques: French press, AeroPress, pour-over and drip. Then you can really taste what a difference it makes and ask questions,” Zautke says. 

The Coffee Fest also includes a tasting of cascara, a tea made with the dried skins of the coffee fruit, and exhibits and discussions on coffee history, seed-to-cup agriculture, sustainability and food waste. (If you bring your own coffee mug you get $1 off on tickets:

For the kids, there will be a neat demonstration in coffee painting by artist Craig Peterson. Bite-sized tastes will be provided by Lafayette’s Community and Tip Top Savory Pies. 

On Sunday the Coffee Fest delves into coffee roasting and barista skills at Erie Coffee Roasters’ facility in a hangar near Erie Airport. “We are going to offer behind-the-scenes tours and demos of our roasting facilities and processes. You’ll be able to see and taste different levels of roasting,” Zautke says. 

You may want to forgo your usual multiple cups in the morning before the barista skills demos and sampling. Professionals from Fox Dog Coffee, East Simpson Coffee Company and Precision Pours will be on hand to show how to pull an espresso shot and be a latte artist. If nothing else, you can finally see and taste the difference between an espresso, cappuccino, cortado and flat white. Sunday will also include coffee-making demos. 

If you want to make a good cup of coffee, Zautke suggests using quality beans. If you care where and how your broccoli is grown, you should care about your coffee bean source. Don’t use disposable K-cups. If you must use a Keurig, fill reusable K-cups. Use filtered water in a clean drip coffee maker. Always use a burr grinder, which slices the beans versus pulverizing them. Store the beans in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place. Zautke said there is no scientific proof that freezing coffee beans keeps them any fresher.  

P.S.: Warm your coffee cup with hot water before pouring hot coffee, and mix grounds with the soil in your garden. 

The Flavor of Safe

As I was grocery shopping I came across packages of School Safe Chocolate Chip Bars on the discount shelves. It was a sad little sign of the times. The bars were not advertised as “Fudge-y!” or “Made by Dwarves.” They were “Safe,” as in peanut-free, tree nut-free and dairy-free with no artificial colors. However, they were not organic and did contain eggs, soy and wheat, so they were neither vegan nor gluten-free. “Safe” is relative, I guess. I do not envy the current crop of parents as they navigate the no-win challenges of “snack.” 

Local Food News

Longmont’s Dry Land Distillers earned a silver medal for its Pure Cane Rum and a bronze medal for its 100% Colorado Antero Wheat Whiskey at the eighth annual Denver International Spirits Competition in March. … Erie Coffee Roasters offers free delivery of coffee — freshly roasted and ground to order — in Erie, Lafayette and Anthem. … I spotted the artisan Root Beer Float Ice Cream Milk in glass bottles at Sprouts. Meadow Fresh Farm in Bellvue flavors it with root beer syrup crafted by CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewing. … Plan ahead: The debut Avery International is June 8 at Avery Brewing. … Renowned chef Alice Waters is the headliner at the third annual Slow Food Nations sustainable food festival and gathering July 19-21 in Denver. Tickets on sale May 1., 

Taste of the Week

It’s worth braving the I-25 gauntlet to have a tall wedge of cold-brewed coffee cream pie at Ginger and Baker. The restaurant, market, bakery and cooking school are set in an old feed store in Old Town Fort Collins. You’ve got a house-baked chocolate cookie crust filled with coffee-infused white chocolate pastry cream crowned with real coffee whipped cream. If you like the taste of Dannon coffee yogurt and Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream, you’ll love this pie, especially with a cup of coffee.  

Words to Chew On

“That’s something that annoys the hell out of me — I mean, if somebody says the coffee’s all ready, and it isn’t.” — From Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

John Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles at 8:25 a.m. Thursday on KGNU, 88.5 FM, 1390 AM, streaming at Podcasts: