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Stone Creek Spills the Beans on Selecting the Best Coffee

When it comes to coffee, most of us are thinking no further than brewing and drinking it.

Credit Nathan Royster
A coffee roaster at Stone Creek Coffee's 5th Street factory

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But there's a lot work that goes into creating coffee - from picking beans to  shipping them to properly roasting them – well before the brewing part comes in.

For some roasters, this caffeinated bean, grown continents away, is scrutinized to a science. Temperatures, humidity, and soil nutrients are just a few variables that play into how a morning brew tastes.

Christian Ott is the Director of Coffee at Milwaukee-based Stone Creek Coffee.

"So much of coffee, from roasting to brewing, is about looking at the chemistry of what's going on," he says.

Ott meticulously picks through batches of coffee, looking for consistency as he analyzes samples from prospective new coffee partners. He knows the times and temperatures for brewing espresso and has memorized different roast profiles.

Most of what he does daily at Stone Creek's 5th Street roasting plant is timed and measured, but even then, he can't control everything.

"No two coffees are going to be exactly the same; different parts of the farm are going to be very different, so if I wanted the exact same coffee next year, it's not going to happen," Ott says. "It's just like wine varieties; year after year, it's never exactly the same."

Building relationships with coffee farmers is big on the agenda for Stone Creek. Specialists fly out to visit the operations at the farms they do business with, monitoring every step their coffee takes toward your cup.

"The more that we can find and know the people, and also the more we can see the farm, the better we feel about the coffee," Ott says.

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