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Grace McCutchan Red Rooster Coffee

How The World’s Best Brewers and Baristas Prepare For Competition

By | Coffee

Brewers and baristas from near and far will be gathering this weekend in Kansas City for the US Coffee Championships, or CoffeeChamps for short. The road to the national stage is not easy. First comes qualifiers and then onto regionals with hours and hours of practice fit into any and all spare time.

We love supporting competitors. It’s humbling to see the best brewers and baristas in the world use our gear on our stage. If you’re thinking about taking the leap to compete in the future or just curious about what the heck goes into a “coffee competition,” you’ve come to the right place. We spoke with five of this year’s CoffeeChamps competitors to get the inside scoop on their routines and advice for future competitors.


Cody Barnhart 2019 CoffeeChampsHow did you first get into coffee and what is your role now?
Vienna Coffee Company opened up its first café in my hometown when I was only fourteen. Since their third day open, I was a regular customer for years. I moved to Kansas City for a year or so. Shortly after I moved back to Tennessee in 2016, I got a barista position at their café. Since then, I moved to Lead Barista at our downtown Knoxville location and then onto Sales Account Manager within the company. I still split time between our wholesale business and being on bar, but the bulk of my time is spent trying to help wholesale customers provide the best coffee they can — whether it’s training, coffee offerings, retail strategies, etc.

What were your goals going into the start of the competition season?
My mantra for specialty coffee from day one has been this: “Hospitality and excellence don’t have to be at odds.” Too often, specialty cafés offer hospitality at the expense of excellence (or vice versa). I went into competition season wanted to grow in both service skills and brewing skills — to learn how to talk about excellent coffee without alienating those different than us.

How did you prepare for competition?
For both the qualifying and national events, it took longer than expected to find a roast profile I felt made the coffees shine. The largest chunks of my preparation were unlearning the bad brewing habits I had, taking note of where I needed to “get out of the way,” and learning to be a little less heavy handed in my brewing. My preparation focused on yielding to the coffee, rather than pursuing a specific flavor profile or characteristic. The thing that shined in the El Obraje Caturra I used for qualifiers was its acidity and flavor clarity; the thing that shines in the Cold Fermented Pink Bourbon I’m using from Finca Monteblanco is the sheer complexity. I wanted the coffees to determine the brewing methods because, in brewing, one size doesn’t fit all.

I’ve been mentally preparing and reading up on brewing science since the company decided last April they would ask me to compete. That said, I couldn’t even begin to count the number of hours I’ve spent preparing. My family and friends have to be sick of hearing my tangents about processing and elevation by now!

How are you using Fellow gear in Kansas City?
I’m using two of the matte white Stagg EKGs in my routine, alternating between kettles so that I have more consistency across brews. I love your kettles because they offer unmatched control over brewing temperature. We ought to treat water temperature a bit more dynamically and use it in tandem with grind size. Brewing is a dance, and the Stagg EKGs make me a better dancer.

How did you pick your competition coffee?
I decided pretty early on that I wanted a stellar coffee that was resistant to la roya and didn’t break the bank. I don’t have any qualms with geshas, but they are a bit inaccessible and not completely understood by everyday coffee drinkers. In addition, they’re predominantly lower yield and more delicate plants, driving the price up.

The Pink Bourbon I chose is also, put simply, a fascinating coffee. It isn’t “actually” a Pink Bourbon; it was given the name for commercial reasons. The producers think it’s an escaped seedling from a research farm, but they’re not entirely certain. It was also processed using Cold Fermentation. Rodrigo Sanchez, who operates Finca Monteblanco in Huila, Colombia, began using the process a few years ago. When the coffee has a Brix content of 27-31 degrees, Rodrigo and his team use the Cold Fermentation process to slow down sugar degradation and enable the mucilage to have longer contact time with the bean. It offers a sweetness and complexity like nothing else.

Any advice for folks thinking about dipping their toes into the competition scene for the first time?
Well, first things first: read the rules. Everyone says it, but I’ll say it again. Know what you’re going into. I printed the whole packet and marked it up with highlights and arrows and underlines. Ingrain it in your head. Secondly, cultivate your sensory skills. Evaluate everything you consume (please don’t use a scoresheet – just do it really quick in your head!). I don’t have the most refined pallet, but I noticed an improvement once I started paying attention. It doesn’t even have to be coffee. You can spend some time learning about hops in beer or different types and ages of wines, or flavors in cheeses or unfamiliar spices. I distinctly remember pouring a soda at a friend’s house and prefacing that I would be smelling before I drank it (and asking them not to make fun of me). I looked like a fool, but I think it helped me in the long run.

Lastly, if you compete, have fun with it. It seems like there’s too much competition and condescending spirits in the coffee world. We’re all in this thing together, so if you’re not having fun and growing as a professional because of competition, you might be in it for the wrong reasons.

Follow Cody’s brewing adventures on Instagram (@codygbarnhart)!


Tell us a little about your journey into coffee!
I started in coffee when I was 14 years old. My family opened up a café, and I began working there after school. We knew very little about specialty coffee and coming from a small town in rural Appalachia (Floyd, Virginia) our resources were pretty limited. We experimented most of the time, read online articles, attended trade shows when we could but essentially only had one another to rely on to perfect our craft. Six years later, in 2010, my sister and brother-in-law formed Red Rooster primarily to roast coffee for the café (with bigger ideas and dreams always in the back of their minds). Today, Red Rooster has 31 employees, a thriving flagship café, partner cafés all over the east coast, a premier training lab, a successful tea (Swallowtail Tea) and syrup line (JT Copper Extracts), and an on-site daycare facility for employed working parents. We’ve come quite a long ways, and we did it together relying on one another’s feedback, advice, and pure gut intuition.

What were your goals going into the start of the competition season?
My goal going into this competition was simple: make the best cup of coffee and hit every single sensory note possible. As a first time competitor, I knew very little when it came to the overall structure of the competition, but I wanted to do it so that I might learn more about the industry and the SCA, meet more coffee professionals, and help put Floyd, Virginia and Red Rooster on the map. I also just wanted to have fun and make a good cup of coffee for the judges while telling my story and the coffee’s story. So that’s what I did and what I hope to continue doing!

How did you prepare for Brewers Cup?
I began thinking of a narrative for my presentation 2-3 months before the qualifiers in Nashville and practiced every day in some facet or another leading up to the competition. I already knew which coffee I was going to use so I began thinking of different stories I’d like to tell the judges and the audience and ultimately, settled on something that I believe to be the most authentic and real part of myself. My story, alongside the story of the WORKA cooperative in which this coffee comes from. I’ve changed quite a bit up in my routine in preparation for Kansas City focusing primarily on the many technical aspects within the presentation so that’s been fun and challenging, but I am happy and honored to continue sharing this coffees story as well as my own. Because that’s what it’s all about right? The journey from seed to cup and our belief in what makes coffee beautiful and life-changing for so many people in the world.

What Fellow gear will you be using for competition?
I’m using two Stagg EKG kettles in my routine for water temperature control. I’ve been experimenting with different water temperatures at different times throughout the brew and the hold function really comes in handy for that purpose. This was not something I did in Nashville, so I am excited to apply it in the next round in KC.

How did you pick your competition coffee?
I chose my competition coffee because I wanted to share the bean that changed my life with the rest of the coffee community! Five years ago when Red Rooster started to really find its wings, I took part in a blind cupping and had a coffee that completely changed everything for me. I knew immediately going into this competition, that would be the coffee I’d be using. Coffee is extremely personal and so I wanted to put the two together. My journey and the coffee’s journey into one narrative.

Any advice for folks thinking about dipping their toes into the competition scene for the first time?
Just have fun and enjoy the process! Listen to yourself. Don’t overthink too much. Get plenty of rest. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to try new methods or create new ones. Oh, and practice your open service but practice compulsory, too! It’s a big part of your score, and I think folks often spend so much time perfecting their open service we forget to practice with beans we may not be familiar with.

Follow Grace’s brewing adventures at CoffeeChamps on Instagram (@redroosterontheroad)!


Blair Smith Brewers Cup Competitor

Photo Credit: @maestastim

How did you get into the coffee industry?
I was looking for a second job after college and stumbled across an ad on Craigslist for a barista position. I had no idea that it was for a specialty shop with a full bakery. At that time, I was drinking really nasty coffee with tons of hazelnut creamer and had no idea what any drink really was: Americano, macchiato, etc. I learned a ton at this job and eventually went on to manage the cafe side for a year before moving to California and working at Augie’s Coffee. This month will be my fifth year working at Augie’s, and I have been managing my store for four and a half years.

What were your goals going into the start of the competition season?
I’ve been competing for the last four years and always trying to learn more and bring that into my routine each time. This year, I knew I wanted to focus on my water chemistry and being able to bring the same flavors I love in our warehouse to wherever the competition is held.

How have you been preparing for competition?
Prepping is essentially easier every time since I know what to expect. In the first few competitions, I’d spend many hours just figuring out how to brew coffee best and trying out different brewers. But now, I feel like I can be more intentional because I’ve had the experience to know where and how to change things quickly. The water dialing in was probably the most challenging and time-consuming such as researching and tweaking with different chemicals to achieve different attributes. It’s amazing what such small adjustments can contribute to the cup, good or bad.

How are you using Fellow gear at competition?
I’m using the Stagg [X] Dripper. I love the heat retention, and I can’t stray away from the body that it gives the coffee. I absolutely love the Stagg kettles because they are so easy to use and I like not having to hit the button to hold the temperature. I’m using two different temperatures for my routine, so it’s nice that the kettles are so efficient.

What coffee will you be using in your routine?
I’m using a relatively approachable coffee which is unique to the national competition. Usually, folks will use geishas or rare varieties from small lots. My coffee is made up of two very high yielding and rust resistant varieties and comes from a 700 kilo lot. It’s an anaerobic fermented coffee that’s been really carefully executed. It jumped off the cupping table, and it’s crazy unique. Tastes like strawberry, watermelon, plum, and cherry blossom. I’m excited to showcase a relatively inexpensive coffee that can achieve high scores through the fermentation process.

Follow Blair’s brewing adventures CoffeeChamps on Instagram (@theblairista)!


Elisabeth Johnson Barista Championships Competitors

Photo credit: Paige Hicks

How did you first get into coffee?
I first started working as a barista in 2010. I fell in love with cozy cafés and their well-worn sofas. As the offspring of small business owners, I loved the idea of someday owning my own café, so I decided to get a job as a barista. As I earned some years as a barista, a new wave of cafés rolled in that was much more clean and precise with more white walls and scientific research. There’s constantly something new to learn, and that’s why I’m so invested in coffee. In the beginning, I learned so many things the hard way that I was determined to learn more so that I could become an effective trainer and help new baristas have a better foundation. Now I manage a café, I’m the head of education, and I also do consulting. It’s a lot of hats to wear!

What inspired you to compete this year?
I felt like I had something to prove, and I really wanted to do better than last year. I made a lot of mistakes as a first-year competitor, and I kept telling myself, “I know I’m better than that!” I just wanted to learn from my past experiences and improve myself and my craft.

How have you been preparing for Kansas City?
I started practicing in August by participating in the USCC Preliminaries in Seattle where I placed 2nd in both Brewer’s Cup and Barista. I wasn’t sure which path to take and I wanted to try my hand at Brewer’s. After I got accepted to Glitter Cat Barista Bootcamp, it made the decision a lot clearer. I did a training workshop in Philadelphia with some coffee greats who I really admire, and it bolstered my routine a lot.

How are you using Fellow gear in your routine?
I’m using the Monty Milk Art Cortado Cups. Surprisingly, I had a very difficult time finding this size cup (4.5 oz), and it’s such a standard size for competition. I think that they are beautiful and I really wanted the judges to have a ceramic cup with a good weight to it as opposed to the simple glassware I was practicing with. A good cup makes all the difference! Not to mention, the rose gold perfectly matched the rest of my wares.

How did you pick your competition coffee?
I picked my coffee based off of a relationship with the importer, Cafe 1959, and because it was the most delicious coffee I could find. When I’m looking for a competition coffee, I go for sweetness, body, and acidity. The mouthfeel (or “tactile”) component is a huge multiplier for points in the competition, but I also wanted to choose a coffee that I personally just really enjoyed. After reaching out to one of the farmers from Finca la Julia on social media, I felt much more invested in representing this coffee because of the love and effort that goes into their art. I feel lucky that now I get to leave my mark on it!

The coffee that I’m using is a natural process Java variety from Colombia, specifically Finca la Julia in Trujillo. It’s certainly a unique coffee, and I’m excited to be able to serve it!

What’s unique about your competition routine?
I have studied this competition a lot, and I know that a thorough knowledge of the rules and what the judges are looking for is a huge component. As much as I’m focused on the points, at the end of the day, what’s important to me is that my routine feels true to who I am is a person. I hope that the work that I have put into my career and competition puts me in the top bracket of competitors vying to represent the United States at the world level. But ultimately, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished at this time in my life, and I have a tiny cheerleader at home who already thinks I’m a winner. My daughter Scarlet is an avid supporter of me and always assures me that I’m a winner.

Follow Elisabeth of Vashon Coffee Company on Instagram (@elisabethanej)!


Kimhak Em Coffee In Good SpiritsTell us a little about your journey in coffee!
My journey started with my love of the cafe. I remember how much I like and still do enjoy hanging out and talking to everyone one in a coffee shop. With my professional career,  it started about three and half years ago when I started at Peixoto Coffee in Chandler, Arizona.

You’ll be combining your mixologist and barista skills at the Coffee in Good Spirits Championships. Can you tell us more about the beverages you’ll be making?
There are two rounds at Nationals. In the first round, you have to make two pairs of beverages. One of the coffee cocktails has to be hot and other has to be cold. We have to use whiskey in both of the beverages and for the coffee, one of the beverages needs espresso and the other needs to have brewed filter coffee. If you make it into the top six for the second round, everybody needs to make an Irish coffee. You are only allowed four ingredients: coffee, whiskey, cream, and sugar.

What were your goals going into the start of the competition season?
My goal is to win first place! But truthfully, my real goal is to grow as a professional and do my best. I hope I can get my stories across to the judges. I put my heart and a lot of time to this routine, it is such a fun event. I encourage anyone who is thinking about doing it to just take a leap and do it!

How are you using Fellow gear at competition?
I’m going to be using the Stagg EKG Electric Pour-Over Kettle! It helps me make sure that my water temperature is on point and heats up fast! This is so important because it will help brew my filter coffee correctly. If I don’t get the right extraction, my beverage will not taste correctly as it should.

Kimhak Em Coffee In Good Spirits ChampionshipsHow have you been preparing for competition?
I start out with just a concept in my head. I imagine how the flavors and texture would be. I used to be a cook and this practice helps me out a lot with coming up with recipes. Then, I test out the recipe in real life and adjust as I go. Next, I write out my presentation, my story. I read this out while I drive to and from work. Finally, a week before competition, I do it all together a few times until I am comfortable.

What coffee will you be using in your routine?
I’m going to be using a natural Brazil and a washed Brazil. We at Peixoto Coffee own the farm in Brazil, so I’m very proud and honored to be using our family farm coffee.

Follow Kimhak’s at CoffeeChamps on Instagram (@kimhak.em)!

If you want to stay up-to-date on the latest 2019 CoffeeChamps action, follow along on our Instagram. We’ll be on hand in Kansas City documenting the fun!

Prismo AeroPress Coffee Maker Attachment Zingy G

How To Brew Zingy Ginger Mint Tea with Prismo

By | Tea

Our mighty AeroPress® Coffee Maker attachment Prismo brews a mean shot of “espresso,” a bold cup of immersion, and a sweet glass of cold brew. However, Prismo’s capabilities aren’t limited to just coffee. This little contraption packs a powerful tea punch, too. On a chilly day, load up ginger, mint, and lemon, and give them a plunge with Prismo. Here’s how to brew a cozy cup of Zingy Ginger Mint Tea in under three minutes with Prismo and your AeroPress® Coffee Maker!

The Ingredients

-One inch of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
-A small handful of mint leaves
-A lemon
-Boiling water

The Recipe

1. Twist Prismo onto the bottom of your AeroPress® Coffee Maker, heat water in a pour-over kettle like the Stagg EKG to 212°F, and prep your ingredients.

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 12. First, add the peeled and chopped ginger into your AeroPress® Coffee Maker.

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 23. Next, toss in a small handful of fresh mint leaves.

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 34. Then, squeeze the juice from half of a lemon into your AeroPress® Coffee Maker. For extra zing, add a few slices of lemon directly into your brewing vessel.

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 45. Then, pour boiling water into your AeroPress® Coffee Maker up to the number four marker.

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 56. Let steep for two minutes.

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 67. Plunge your AeroPress® Coffee Maker with moderate pressure.

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 78. Pour the tea into your favorite mug.

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 8

9. Finally, add a big squirt of honey, stir, and enjoy!

Fellow Prismo AeroPress Zingy Ginger Mint Tea Recipe Step 9
Want to experiment with more delicious Prismo brews? Try our cold brew, full immersion, and “affauxgato” recipes!

Stagg pour-over system

The Golden Ratio For Brewing Coffee

By | Coffee
Ahh yes, the Golden Ratio. The perfect balance between coffee and water for brewing that perfect cup.

One of the biggest barriers to entry we hear when talking to home brewing beginners is knowing the right coffee-to-water ratio. Especially if you’re leaving the world of Keurig (bless your soul) or trying to cut back on purchasing your daily cup of coffee, learning a new brew method and experimenting with the right recipe seems daunting – and even a waste of good coffee. So let’s break down everything you need to know for the perfect coffee-to-water brew ratio.

Read More

How Vacuums Prevent Coffee Staleness

How Vacuums Prevent Coffee Staling

By | Coffee

Coffee storage and freshness are influenced by a confusing mix of variables that greatly affect how long your beans stay tasty. We’re a big fan of vacuums as a means of extending your coffee’s shelf life (if you couldn’t tell from our new Atmos Vacuum Canister). Here’s a handy guide on coffee freshness that explains why vacuum canisters are so effective at keeping your coffee fresher, longer.

Why is oxygen so bad for coffee beans?
Oxygen is bad for coffee, snacks, or pretty much any perishable item because it makes things stale through a process called oxidation. To set the stage, we define “staleness” as the loss of desirable flavors and aroma, and/or the creation of undesirable flavors and aroma. When oxygen comes in contact with a molecule, it removes an electron from the molecule. This is called oxidation. The molecule that loses an electron becomes unstable and reactive, which then results in the loss of flavor or creation of an undesirable flavor.

For coffee beans, oxygen negatively affects VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs are chemical byproducts of roasting that evaporate quickly. They are generally considered good because they contribute to aroma.³ When oxygen comes in contact with VOCs, they become unstable and result in coffee losing its aroma.

Oxygen also affects lipids, which are the coffee oils in the bean. Oxidation turns lipids into peroxide which contributes to rancid taste notes.7

Fellow Atmos Vacuum Canister for Coffee
What’s a vacuum container and how does it help with oxidation?
First off, let’s define what a vacuum is. A vacuum is a closed system in which pressure is less than atmospheric. In order for this to happen, you need a constant amount of space (i.e. a rigid container) where air particles are removed.

There’s a lot of airtight containers/bags out there that get rid of some air, but these aren’t necessarily a true vacuum. An easy way to tell if you don’t have a vacuum container is if your container shrinks (i.e. is it a bag or does it have a lid that collapses into the container). If your container shrinks, it is not a vacuum and will not decrease the pressure below atmospheric.

But why is pressure so important?
Oxidation speed (the rate of oxidation) depends on pressure.¹A reaction occurs when two molecules collide. If there are more molecules in a smaller area, the chances of collision increases and the reaction happens faster.

Air is a mixture of nitrogen, CO2, and oxygen. For the oxidation reaction, we care only about the pressure of oxygen – or the partial pressure. The partial pressure of oxygen is the fraction of oxygen in the air, times the total pressure of the air. The partial pressure of oxygen can be changed by changing the fraction of oxygen in air (i.e. nitrogen flushing) or changing the total pressure of the air (i.e. vacuum chamber).

Fraction of Oxygen in Air x Total Pressure Air = Partial Pressure of Oxygen

Here’s an example of this equation for calculating the partial pressure of oxygen:


What is the partial pressure of oxygen in a) atmosphere and b) a half vacuum?

Fraction of O2 in air = .2095

Total pressure of atmospheric air = 101.325kPa

Total pressure in half vacuum air = 50.66 kPa

Fraction O2 x Total Pressure = O2 partial pressure

.2095 O2 x 101.325 kPa = 21.23 kPa

.2095 O2 x 50.66 kPa = 10.61 kPa

Therefore, O2 partial pressure a) 21.23 kPa and b) 10.61kPa  


From calculating the partial pressure of oxygen in a half vacuum, we can conclude the oxidation rate at full pressure is twice as fast as the oxidation rate at half pressure, which is the environment Atmos creates. Although oxidation and freshness have a very strong correlation, because there are other factors at play like degassing, the relationship is not linear. If it was, we could say Atmos slows the oxidation rate by 2x, and therefore extends coffee’s shelf life by 100%.

We landed on the conclusion that Atmos extends coffee’s shelf life up to 50% due to the many variables that go into how fast a specific bean goes stale (origin, roast, how many times you open your canister, degassing, etc.)

What happens to the degassing rate of coffee in a vacuum?
If vacuum chambers affect gas on the molecular level, then it’s important to consider how vacuums affect coffee degassing. When coffee is roasted, gases form inside the bean. After roasting, gases (mostly carbon dioxide) start seeping out. When coffee is a few days old and very fresh, a bulk of the carbon dioxide formed leaves your beans. Because vacuums create a pressure gradient, CO2 degassing will occur quicker than at full atmospheric pressure. When we first started designing a vacuum canister, we wanted to make sure this didn’t harm the flavor profile of coffee or its ability to stay fresher longer.

Our conclusion was twofold. First, 40% of CO2 in coffee escapes within the first 24 hours. Most of the degassing happens very quickly in the first few days after roasting.² By the time you get your coffee, it has probably already done a bulk of its degassing so vacuum canister effects on CO2 are minimal.

If you do get your coffee extremely fresh (1-3 days off roast), a vacuum canister will degas coffee quicker, which in theory, is a negative outcome because degassing too quickly can also lead to the loss of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that create aroma. However, as we talked about earlier, it turns out those same VOCs, along with lipids, are the molecules most affected by oxidation. Oxidation is the primary reason for coffee staling.5 When assessing the impact of fast degassing versus oxidation, it is clear oxidation has such an overwhelming impact on coffee’s flavor that protecting your beans from oxidation is significantly more impactful than preventing a small increase in the degassing rate.

Since this is a sealed environment, will this mean there is a buildup of CO2?
We’ve received a few questions about CO2 buildup in Atmos compared to in a bag with a standard one-way valve. Commercial coffee bean bags with CO2 degassing valves are designed to relieve CO2 pressure buildup and prevent bag rupture, not to necessarily keep coffee fresher for longer. In a vacuum chamber, the pressure is low enough that CO2 buildup is not a concern. CO2 in the air around the beans is non-reactive and will not affect the flavor of the coffee. CO2 does, however, affect your coffee’s flavor once you start brewing, so make sure to bloom your bed of grounds before brewing!4

Can I put Atmos in the freezer to store coffee?

You can freeze Atmos but it’s not the best use of the product. Since coffee beans should be frozen in individual servings as to not refreeze and freeze beans continuously, Atmos doesn’t make the most sense. Atmos is intended to hold multiple servings, so it would be a waste of space in your freezer to put only one serving of beans inside. Placing Atmos in the freezer will also eventually reduce the life-span of the vacuum seal.

Atmos Vacuum Canister Coffee Storage
Additional questions?
We hope this answers your questions on vacuums, coffee freshness, and Atmos Vacuum Canister! As always, we will continue posting our research as we receive questions from customers and the coffee curious. If you have additional questions or comments reach out to hello@fellowproducts.com, so we can continue serving up the latest and greatest coffee information!


1.) Cengel, Y. A., & Boles, M. A. (2012). Thermodynamics An Engineering Approach. McGraw-Hill Science Engineering.

2.) Illy, A., & Viani, R. (2005). Espresso coffee: The science of quality. Amsterdam: Elsevier Academic Press.

3.) Rao, S. (2014). The coffee roasters companion. Canada: Scott Rao.

4.) Raper, A. Is Your Coffee Too Fresh? Retrieved from https://clivecoffee.com/blogs/learn/is-your-coffee-too-fresh.

5.) Sage, E. (2017). What is the Shelf Life of Roasted Coffee? A Literature Review on Coffee Staling. Retrieved from http://www.scanews.coffee/2012/02/15/what-is-the-shelf-life-of-roasted-coffee-a-literature-review-on-coffee-staling.

6.) Schenker, S. (2000). Investigations on the hot air roasting of coffee beans. Zürich: ETH Zürich.

7.) Smith JP, Daifas DP, El-Khoury W, Koukoutsis J & El-Khoury A. (2004). Shelf Life and Safety Concerns of Bakery Products: A Review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 44(1):19-55.

Jun Shan Yin Zhen | China’s 10 Most Famous Teas

By | Tea

The rolling hills of China’s southern Yunnan Province have been identified as the birthplace of tea. Anthropologists say here is “where humans figured out that eating tea leaves or brewing a cup could be pleasant.”¹ As the top tea producing country in the world (followed by India and Kenya), the options of Chinese teas are seemingly endless. If you’re new to this vast world of tea and overwhelmed by the available selection, we recommend working your way through the list known as “China’s 10 Most Famous Teas.”

1) Xi Hu Long Jing (Green Tea)
2) Dong Ting Bi Luo Chun (Green Tea)
3) Huang Shan Mao Feng (Green Tea)
4) Jun Shan Yin Zhen (Yellow Tea)
5) Qimen Hong Cha (Black Tea)
6) Wu Yi Da Hong (Wulong/Oolong Tea)
7) Lu An Gua Pian (Green Tea)
8) Anxi Tie Guan Yin (Wulong/Oolong Tea)
9) Tai Ping Hou Kui (Green Tea)
10) Xin Yang Mao Jian (Green Tea)

Each of these famous teas is recognized by its characteristic leaf shape and size, appearance, and taste. In total, there are six green teas, two wulong teas, one black tea, and one yellow. We’ll be highlighting a tea from each of these categories, but first, we’re starting with yellow tea. China is currently the only major producer of yellow teas, and even in China, it is a very rare type. In Tony Gebely’s book Tea: A User’s Guide, “Yellow tea is defined by a unique processing step where small batches of tea leaves are wrapped in cloth bundles after fixing, allowing them to yellow. While wrapped, the leaves turn from green to yellow-green as chlorophylls are broken down. Vegetal flavors mellow and subside, and the tea leaves partially oxidize.”

Chinas 10 Most Famous TeasThe only yellow tea to make the cut for China’s Ten Most Famous Teas is Jun Shan Yin Zhen (or Junshan Silver Needle). This incredibly rare yellow tea originated on Junshan Island in Hunan Province’s Dongting Lake, the second largest freshwater lake in China. Besides this tea, Dongting Lake is famous in Chinese culture as the place of origin of dragon boat racing and is home to the endangered Finless Porpoise.

This is was what the Finless Porpoise looks like in case you were curious. He’s a bonafide day brightener. (Photo Credit: www.china.org.cn)

Jun Shan Yin Zhen is made up purely of hand-sorted buds that are fixed (heated), wrapped in small bundles, and dried. Unlike most black, oolong, and pu’er teas, “yellow teas are not usually rolled or shaped in any way. The original plucking standard is preserved.”² Junshan Island’s soil and climate give the tea a sweet fruit aroma and light sugarcane taste. “The tea’s small growing area and the skill required to make it result in only a small quantity of authentic Jun Shan Yin Zhen produced each year.”³

We used our Raven Stovetop Kettle to brew the Jun Shan Yin Zhen. With Raven’s integrated tea filter, you can heat and steep in the same vessel saving time and cleanup. Since tea is even more sensitive to water temperature than coffee, Raven’s steep-range thermometer helps you dial-in the correct degree point.

Jun Shan Yin Zhen Yellow Tea Chinas 10 Most Famous TeasTea Characteristics

  • Brew Color: Light Yellow
  • Flavor Profile: Light sugarcane
  • Aroma: Sweet fruit

Brew Instructions

  • Add 1-1.5 tsp for every 8 oz of water
  • Heat water to 190°F
  • Steep tea in Raven’s filter for 2 minutes
  • Enjoy!

If you’re interested in brewing Jun Shan Yin Zhen at home, Tea Drunk and Seven Cups both have great options. Happy steeping, friends!


  1. Fuller, Thomas (2008-04-21). “A Tea From the Jungle Enriches a Placid Village”. The New York Times. New York. p. A8.
  2. Gebely, Tony (2026). Tea: A User’s Guide. p. 70
  3. Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea. “Jun Shan Yin Zhen Yellow Team”. Tucson, Arizona.
Fellow Prismo Affogato Recipe How-To

Prismo “Affauxgato” Recipe

By | Coffee

An affogato is the perfect summer pick-me-up or a delicious way to impress dinner party guests with minimal effort. Usually, a traditional affogato takes the form of a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream drowned in a hot shot of espresso. But if you’re not the proud owner of an expensive espresso machine, how are you going to pick yourself up in the summer or make a fancy dessert for your great aunt?

Have no fear. Prismo is here! Swooping in with another one of his superpowers to save the day, our mighty AeroPress® Coffee Maker attachment is an affogato-making superstar. Well, we like to call it an “affauxgato” since Prismo technically makes espresso-style shots.

Our sales manager Jake Mix invented this recipe one afternoon in the Playground, and the team has been hooked ever since. Classic vanilla ice cream is the go-to, but our dairy-free Fellows used Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey from the corner store and the results were off the charts.

But enough chit-chat, time to check out the how-to for Jake’s famous Prismo “Affauxgato” recipe!

AeroPress® Coffee Maker
Vanilla ice cream or gelato
20 grams of finely ground coffee
50 grams of 212°F water


1. Dose out 20 grams of whole bean coffee. If you happen to own a Stagg Pour-Over Dripper, you can also load the beans to the “single dot” measurement inside of its ratio aid instead. No scale required!
Fellow Prismo Affogato Recipe How-To
2. Heat water in your pour-over kettle to 212°F and grind beans on a very fine setting. We did ours at 1.5 on the EK43.

Fellow Prismo Affogato Recipe How-To3. Twist Prismo onto the bottom of your AeroPress® Coffee Maker and dump in the grinds.
Fellow Prismo Affogato Recipe How-To

4. Add 50 grams of the 212°F water into your AeroPress® Coffee Maker and stir vigorously for 15 seconds. Let sit for one minute.
Fellow Prismo Affogato Recipe How-To5. During the one minute brew time, add one heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream to your cup or mug.

Fellow Prismo Affogato Recipe How-To7. After one minute of brew time, plunge the AeroPress® Coffee Maker over the ice cream.
Fellow Prismo Affogato Recipe How-To8. And enjoy!
Fellow Prismo Affogato Recipe How-To

Do you have any go-to Prismo recipes? Send us a message via Instagram or Twitter. We love seeing your Prismo creations!

Wade Preston’s Winning US Brewers Cup Qualifier Prismo Recipe

By | Coffee

Wade Preston of Prevail Coffee Roasters walked away with the first place prize at this year’s New Orleans Brewers Cup Qualifier. He went on to compete at the 2018 US Brewers Cup Championships in April. Here’s the kicker…he used Prismo as his coffee brewing apparatus of choice. This is the first time Prismo has been used in competition, and we couldn’t be more excited that our little AeroPress® Coffee Maker attachment is making waves on a national stage.

Wade Preston Coffee Champs Prismo RecipeWade shared his winning Prismo recipe with the Fellow team a few weeks ago, and we’ve tested it out in the Playground many times since. What’s our verdict? Yeah, it’s really stinking good!

Give it a try for yourself and let us know what you think!


  1. Place an AeroPress® Coffee Maker paper filter on top of the Prismo metal filter.
    Grind 18 grams of coffee very coarse. Bottoming out an EK grinder with stock burr spacing is probably about right.
  2. Sift grinds with a 600 micron screen like the Kruve.
  3. Load your grinds into the AeroPress® Coffee Maker.
  4. Pour a 50 gram pre-infusion with 145°F water. (Yes, you read that right!)
  5. Stir gently to ensure all grinds are saturated.
  6. Let pre-infusion immerse for 3 minutes. (Yep, three minutes as in 180 seconds!)
  7. Fill to 205 grams with 208°F water.
  8. Stir 5 revolutions with AeroPress® Coffee Maker paddle.
  9. Let immerse for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
  10. Stir 5 revolutions and plunge, steadily for 30 seconds until you hear the vacuum seal break.

It will create a cup that will need to “settle.” If you taste it right away, it’ll be good, but the body won’t be there. After it has set for about 1-2 minutes, the body will ramp up. At about 130°F, it is a huge, creamy, and almost chewy. The cup will also be crazy sweet.

Wade Preston Brewers Cup Prismo Recipe

At the particle level of coffee extraction there are two types of solubles: surface solubles and inner cell solubles.  Surface solubles extract very easily. They also give coffee its sweetness. Think of how sweet and syrupy cold brew is…that’s because it is pretty much 100% surface erosion extraction. Heat and turbulence are required for inner cell extraction which creates coffee’s complexity (bitterness, acidity, etc). The idea with the above recipe is that you can isolate the surface erosion extraction by doing the low temp pre-infusion. This will delicately extract the surface solubles. Then, you can safely extract the inner cell solubles without fear of over-extracting the surface solubles. That’s the gist of it anyways!

Follow Wade on Instagram for more great coffee content: @wadepreston

Prismo is a pressure actuated valve designed to be used with the AeroPress® Coffee Maker. This attachment allows for a buildup of pressure to create espresso-style coffee and creates a no-drip seal for a full immersion brew. The reusable 70-micron etched filter stops sludge in its tracks and eliminates the need for paper filters.  The valve’s small aperture also fits directly over an espresso shot glass.

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Fellow Team Booth at the Specialty Coffee Expo 2018

Specialty Coffee Expo 2018 Recap

By | Coffee

Our favorite week of the year has come and gone, and all we’re left with is sweet, sweet memories and caffeine withdrawal after consuming 20 cups a day for three days straight. The Specialty Coffee Expo, or SCA for short, was held in Seattle again this year and the entire Fellow squad made the trip. Our highlights outside of the convention hall include a team banana relay race around a high school track, an insane dinner spread cooked by our friends from Fellow Taiwan, and hula hoops mixed with inflatable unicorns at the La Marzocco party.

Our highlights inside the convention hall could be a never-ending list, but we managed to narrow it down to our three favorites! Read More

How To Make Cold Brew With Prismo

By | Uncategorized

Some like it hot. And some like it cold. Luckily, Prismo covers both ends of the coffee temperature spectrum. Our mightly little AeroPress® Coffee Maker attachment can “pull” espresso-style shots and bust out delicious full-immersion brews, but it’s also an easy-to-use cold brewing champ!

Experiment with the Fellow Team’s go-to cold brew recipe below and wake up to a strong, chilled concentrate in the morning!


  1. 35 grams of coarsely ground coffee (light or dark roast)
  2. 130 grams water, room temperature
  3. 12-24 hours steep time


  1. Grind 35 grams of coffee as coarse as possible á la French Press style. Place the AeroPress® Coffee Maker plunger 1/4th plunged into the brewing vessel. Flip the brewing vessel so the chamber is facing up.
  2. Add 35 grams of coffee and 130 grams of room temperature water to the AeroPress® Coffee Maker.
  3. Stir for 20 seconds to ensure the bed of grinds is fully saturated.
  4. Twist Prismo onto the top of the AeroPress® Coffee Maker.
  5. Store in fridge for 12-24 hours. Because Prismo is airtight, you can store your cold brew inverted or right side up!
  6. After 12-24 hours, press down on the AeroPress® Coffee Maker plunger. The added pressure of Prismo’s pressure actuated valve will agitate and squeeze out all of that cold brew sweetness. This recipe is a cold brew concentrate, so make sure to add extra water or milk to taste!

Psst…Prismo can also brew tea!