Who are you?
We are Yakima valley locals Adam Wilson and Joshua Hicks. Joshua's great great grandfather, David Guilland, owned the Guilland Hotel—the first building moved on logs to what is now downtown Yakima. Basalt Roasters is named for the basalt rock hearth in the family cabin on Chinook Pass, built by his great great aunt and still owned and used by the family today. Joshua's love for good coffee and frustration with having to ship it in from out of town was the genesis of the company.
What is coffee?
Coffee is a flowering plant in the genus coffea, and the word "coffee" refers to any of the products of those trees. Native to Africa and commercially grown around the tropics, coffee trees produce a fruit botanically very similar to the cherries for which our valley is famous. Although we call them "beans," they are actually the pit or stone of the coffee fruit.
Why does some coffee taste so awful?
In short, because the people involved care more about the caffeine than the flavor. This can manifest in many ways, some of the most common are:
It's stale. This is by far the most common reason for bad coffee, and is almost exclusively the fault of storing coffee after it's been ground instead of storing it as whole beans. If you're reading this, you've probably already heard us say that you need a grinder. We mean it!
The brewing equipment is dirty. Coffee residue goes rancid very quickly when exposed to the air, and any residual coffee left on the equipment will impart aweful flavors and aromas to the cup.
Something went wrong at the farm (put another way, you're tasting very cheap coffee). If the coffee cherries are picked before they are ripe, improperly processed, or stored in bad conditions, those bad beans will give the finished cup chemically, dirty, or moldy flavors.
It's too dark. Don't get us wrong, it's perfectly possible to make great dark-roast coffee (our dear friends at Mama Mocha's in Alabama are one of the best examples you'll find anywhere). But when it's taken too far, the roasting process will convert all the lovely sugars and other compounds into carbonic acid, leaving your coffee with the distinct flavor of charcoal.
What makes good coffee good?
In our time in coffee, we have never seen good results that didn't start with a passion for flavors and for the people and plants involved in creating them. Good coffee requires everything to go well: tree genetics, soil chemistry, weather, farm processing methods, storage and logistics from the farm to the roaster, roasting technique, packaging, grinding, and brewing. And considering that most consumers expect coffee to be cheap (when was the last time you paid $5 for a cup of coffee? How about for beer or wine?), the motivation to do coffee well rarely comes from economic incentive.
How do I make better coffee at home?
Get a grinder, filter your water, keep your stuff clean, and read more here.
How should I store my coffee? In the cupboard? In the freezer?
Most importanly: store coffee as whole beans, not as grinds. Ground coffee stales rapidly, and there is really no way to store grinds effectively at home.
Store coffee away from air, moisture, and light. Once you open your Basalt Roasters bag, it's best to store it in a vacuum-sealed container, but any air-tight container will do. If it's a clear container, keep it in the cupboard to minimize light exposure.
Do I need a grinder?
Yes. We recommend quality burr grinders, but any grinder is better than buying (or storing) pre-ground coffee.
What does "sourced sustainably" mean?
Sustainability is a complex topic, and we don't pretend to be experts on every facet of that gem.