Sprudge.com co-founder Zachary Carlsen survived (barely) a week spent embedded in the Counter Culture Coffee Fermentation & Fruit Bombs mobile road show. Coverage from Philly here, Boston here, and DC here.

The autumn DC sun was blazing. It was hot as biscuits. With one swift jerk of the automatic stick shift, our Dodge Cortados bolted out of Washington DC, pointed south to salvation, and Durham. En route we passed the Washington Monument, where some servicemen were enjoying a little R&R. We passed by the Pentagon and the Air Force Memorial, with its the three steel spires soaring in the sky. I used to live in Washington DC – it was the best of times, it was the blurst of times, and this was my first time back since I left. Far out.

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So we drove all the way to Durham! Over fifty guests attended the last event of the Fermentation & Fruit Bombs road show, a cast of characters comprising baristas and coffee professionals from throughout the American southeast, from Carrboro to Asheville to Atlanta. Baristas were brought together; baristas goofed off; we cupped coffees, we drank beer, we hung out. One barista in particular was inspired by Katie Carguilo’s presentation – and because of it we’ll be seeing a brand new first-time competitor at this year’s SERBC.

This East Coast road-show ended with spectacular display of frenzied raffle ticket purchasing, with guests clamoring to stake their claim over a Fermentation & Fruit Bombs custom edition La Marzocco GS3. Two winners from the Northeast and Bay Area won six-month subscriptions to the CCC single origin program, while one lucky winner from Boston won big with a brand new custom-designed GS/3.

These events allowed a lot of people to see “behind the scenes” of what’s happening right now with Counter Culture. For example, the Buf Cafe natural we’ve written about extensively – this is still very much in the experimentation phase. Buf Cafe’s natural processing is unprecedented in that country, and bold steps like this happen in short, sharp shocks: Rwanda doesn’t yet have a “grade” for natural processed coffees, so it’s kind of a logistical quagmire to export natural coffee from there. But now Buf Cafe and other producers know that delicious natural processed coffee is possible, and moreover, that there are buyers out there like Tim Hill who will work with them on processing education, and ultimately pay a high purchase price to reward experimentation. This is very much why Counter Culture considers these events a “Work in Progress” – coffees like the Buf Cafe natural are a glimpse behind the curtain, a chance to try demo coffees that could be blowing thousands of minds in another year or two. If you had a chance to try the Buf natural at one of these F&FB road shows, consider yourself lucky, as I consider myself.

Stray Observations:

  • Durham, Counter Culture Coffee’s home, is a stunning Southern town. $35,000 homes are five blocks away from the enormous Farmers Market and city parks. Truly charming.
  • 9N9 Pho. Go there. When’s the last time a sandwich tried to take a bite out of you?
  • We ate North Carolina BBQ – specifically Eastern North Carolina BBQ, which is different from regular North Carolina BBQ.
  • Mike Del Gado is a warm, wonderful person. Let’s grill on the cabana soon, Mike.
  • Whiskey does not have a strict dress code, contrary to popular opinion.
  • I’m exhausted but this was all really a lot of fun, so thank you Counter Culture and La Marzocco, for bringing me along with you for the Fermentation & Fruit Bombs road show. Here’s to many more.
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