Before taking on the mantle as the Knoxville Coffee Examiner, this Examiner got his humble beginnings on the site under the title Knoxville Gourmet Food Examiner, which he still holds and actively writes for. In the course of writing under that title, he's written about a dozen articles concerning coffee already (hence the new title). Instead of trying to repost them, this quick guide will provide you with links to those articles, in almost no particular order, as well as a bit of information about them. Each of these articles is already locally friendly, so Knoxvillians can take extra-especially full advantage of them. Hopefully you'll enjoy, wherever you're from!
This is the simple recipe for mocha lattes that this Examiner uses frequently in his home. It requires very little other than the ability to make espresso or concentrated coffee, a few simple, whole ingredients (no packets or fillers), and a couple of simple tools (e.g. a blender) to achieve. It turns out to be one of the most popular articles in the lineup offered by the Knoxville Gourmet Food Examiner despite not technically being about food!
This article features two Knoxville-locally produced coffees that come from Vienna Coffee Company via Peru. The quick preview of Vienna Coffee Company, if you don't already know about them and can't wait for their featured link below, is that they are a high-quality roastery in Maryville, TN, just south of Knoxville (the only commercial-scale operation of the sort in the area, actually). As for these Peruvian coffees, they're both excellent. The Peru (La Florida) comes from the north of Peru and are characteristically sweet and mild with light chocolate and floral notes, and it is available in both regular and decaf.
Vienna has also paired up with the Cafe Femenino Project, a program designed to benefit women in coffee growing regions that can produce excellent, single-origin coffee. There are more details about the project in the article, so click the link above to find out how that coffee benefits women both in Maryville and abroad.
This article features two more great coffees offered by Vienna, these coming from Colombia instead: the Colombia Supremo and Colombia Don Telmo Reserva, both of which are absolutely great. If you already hold Colombian coffees in high esteem, then don't miss these, and if you're a bit wary of them due to overly aggressive marketing of sometimes relatively poor products, give these a chance to change your opinion of a great coffee producing country. Both exhibit remarkably mellow notes and extremely high drinkability at any hour of the day.
Though this article is outdated now, it provides a nice description of what super-premium coffee producer Dancing Goats Coffees (formerly Batdorf and Bronson Coffees) can produce. They put special effort in their labs to come up with something unique and perfectly fitting for each holiday season. This article should whet your appetite enough to be sure not to miss what they have to offer in holiday seasons to come! As an added bonus, even though these big guys aren't local, the Knoxville area benefits from the fact that their East Coast roastery is located in Atlanta, which is at least regional.
Calling Panama Esmeralda a "premium coffee" is actually kind of knocking it: it's the second most expensive and prestigious coffee in the world, and what Dancing Goats (formerly Batdorf and Bronson) can do with it in their roastery is nothing short of amazing. It's super-rare and exclusive, only going to a handful of top roasteries in the world and commanding a price in the $50/lb range for the exquisite beans. This article made notification of their last roast of the 2009 crop, but they should be able to obtain a stake in the crop from this amazing origin in years to come. Get yourself ready for this years' crop by taking a look at that article and then signing up for the Dancing Goats e-newsletter so you don't miss a thing. Alternatively, this Examiner will surely be posting about future crops and their availability, so you could simply subscribe (for free, at the top of the page) to his feed as well.
If you love coffee and haven't bellied up to Panama Esmeralda yet, then you really are missing out. It's absolutely the smoothest, most superb cup that can be had without having to go to great, uncomfortable (if you know what beats it, namely Kopi Luwak, and where it comes from) and uncomfortably expensive lengths to obtain it (authentic Kopi Luwak will probably run you $250-300 a pound, and you'll really need to do your homework to ensure you're getting the authentic deal because of its scarcity and value).
Technically speaking, an espresso machine is required for a latte because a latte requires espresso, but this article not only features a great, simple, and popular recipe for a latte, it tells you how you can use an inexpensive tool (see the next featured article) to produce a faux-espresso that very nearly delivers the goods at a serious fraction of the cost (and at a fraction of the mess, unless you're clumsy). If you like milk in your coffee, then lattes are for you, so you should know how simple they are to make.
The Aeropress (the aforementioned gadget) gets some buzz these days, usually in the form of an argument: "It makes espresso on the cheap without (very) special equipment," versus, "No, it doesn't." Here's the truth: No, it doesn't, but what it does make masquerades as espresso so well once you have the knack of the thing (which takes about two or three tries to get) that you can probably fool coffee-loving Europeans (this Examiner has)." The article bills it as an unlikely gift for coffee-lovers that have everything else, and that's what it is. It's great for making strong coffee (quickly and neatly too), it travels well, and at under $30, it's very inexpensive (particularly next to $2k+ espresso machines, which it can rival if used correctly). At that price, it's worth a try. This Examiner loves his and uses it daily.
Thunderhead Perk is a tiny little coffee shop in Townsend, TN, just about two miles from the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and it is a place where you can consistently get a fantastic cup of coffee, espresso, or coffee-shop types of drinks and goodies, including homemade soups and sandwiches. If its proximity to the national park and easy access on the way in or out didn't make it a must-stop coffee shop on trips to the mountains, aside from the great quality of the coffee and treats there, the fact that the owner lived and worked for the park service for several years (and therefore has the whole inside scoop on where to go and what to see) certainly does. Check out the article, and then check out "Th' Perk."
This article isn't exactly about coffee, but it does contain information on how to properly add espresso or concentrated coffee to hot cocoa to obtain a very delicious drink that's sort of the flip side of the mocha latte discussed above. Mocha lattes focus on the coffee, despite being more milk than coffee, and so properly made, the coffee flavor should dominate, complemented by the chocolate. Here, the chocolate dominates and uses the coffee as an accent. Following the link above will lead you to another related piece with a recipe for homemade hot cocoa in case you don't have your own or a premade favorite.
At long last, the general information article about the Vienna Coffee Company, Maryville's own coffee roaster (and preferred coffee source for this Examiner because of the consistency, freshness, and locality of the beans). These guys are the only Knoxville-area commercial-scale coffee roaster, although there are at least three other small-scale or hobby-sized coffee roasters in the area too, at least one of which does good work (Blue Smoke, in Gatlinburg), albeit only a pound or two at a time. Vienna Coffee Company has two roasters that can handle commercial sized batches that are still small enough to ensure consistent high-quality roasts overseen by their roastmaster, John Clark, a former chemical engineer and true coffee enthusiast. Vienna's coffees are widely available in the Knoxville area, for example at the Knoxville Earth Fare stores. For a complete list of where to get Vienna's coffees, click here.
Check out all of the Knoxville Gourmet Food Examiner's articles here (which are written in the same thorough style as you see here because he is me). Feel free to subscribe to that feed as well to get great free information on local food and gourmet cooking ideas and recipes featuring Knoxville-available ingredients. Just follow the link above and click subscribe on the Knoxville Gourmet Food Examiner's home page.
For a complete list of articles by the Knoxville Coffee Examiner (as the Knoxville Coffee Examiner), click here. You can also subscribe to this feed by clicking "Subscribe" at the top of the page and entering your e-mail for free notices about when new articles are published.