Tag Archives: Counter Culture Coffee

Weekend Picks: March 20-22nd


New Section of Neuse River Greenway

This weekend looks to be a little cooler than this past Monday and Tuesday, but there are still plenty of ways to get out and enjoy the day. Here are a few quick picks of things to check out the weekend. Happy exploring!

Thursday March 19th

Pharmacy Bottle + Beverage Grand Opening
Downtown Cary has a new craft beer bottle shop! Pharmacy Bottle + Beverage opens Thursday March 19th at noon. It is located downtown Cary at 120 E. Chatham Street next to the Cary Theater.  It features a unique tap room (cool white design and sleek layout) with a retail selection with wine & beer. https://www.facebook.com/pharmbottlebev/

Friday March 20th

Free Coffee Cupping at Counter Culture Coffee
Counter Culture Coffee will be holding their weekly FREE coffee cuppingat the training facility in Durham this Friday at 10am. The cuppings provide a great opportunity to learn more about the different flavors and profiles expressed by different coffee. The tasting is followed by a tour of the roasting facility. I’ve attended a cupping in the past and really enjoyed it. Here is my recap of the experience.

Full Steam Brewery “Fellowship of the IPA”
Starting Friday and lasting and all weekend long Fullsteam will host the “Fellowship of the IPA”, a celebration of rare and creative India Pale Ales. All brewed right here in North Carolina. They’ve been gathering 25 or so kegs and the pours will start at 2 pm on Friday and continue throughout the weekend. You can learn more about the event and see the full lineup of beers here.

Saturday March 21st

Sola PopUp Market
They were rained out last weekend so the PopUp Market was rescheduled for this Saturday 9am-1pm. Enjoy great coffee and local artisans selling their handcrafted wares. Symbology, Oak City Collective, Tierra Sol Studio, Bird & Beau, Lo & Behold, Badkatbeadworks, Hum Right Along, Johnna Elstob, Ella B, Grace Reclaimed, Relay Foods, Jess Sandford Ceramics, Urban Guerrilla 63, Gypsy Jule. https://www.facebook.com/events/940566305974380/

Ella’s Race
Are you looking for a 5K , 10K or 1 mile fun run this month and want to support a great cause in the process? Well lace up your running shoes for Ella’s Race on Saturday March 21, 2015 hosted by Chick-fil-A Capital Crossing and Falls Village in North Raleigh. The race will benefit The Cure Starts Now and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation to help pediatric research, aid, and support efforts for children with brain cancer & tumors.

Pittsboro Food Truck Rodeo
Historic downtown Pittsboro will be hosting several food trucks this Saturday 5-8pm at the Pittsboro Roadhouse. http://pittsbororoadhouse.com/pittsboro-food-truck-rodeos/

Sunday March 22nd

Explore the Neuse Greenway
A new section of the Neuse River Greenway was recently opened near Horseshoe Farm Park connecting the upper Neuse Greenway into one long uninterrupted stretch. It is now possible to travel from Falls Dam in North Raleigh to Clayton on 27.5 miles uninterrupted trail. You’ll encounter the newest section aroun mile 7 (pictured at the top of this post). Exploring the greenway is always a great way to spend a weekend afternoon. http://neuserivertrail.com/


Filed under Events, Weekend Picks

Triangle Coffee Pros Head to Seattle to Compete in US Coffee Championships

USBC 2014 Header

This is a huge week for the US specialty coffee industry and of course the Triangle is right in the thick of it. Tim Jones of Jubala Village Coffee in Raleigh and Jonathan Bonchak of Counter Culture Coffee in Durham head to Seattle this week to compete among the nation’s best baristas and coffee professionals in the 2014 US Coffee Championships (USCC). Scott Conary, President of Carrboro Coffee and Chair of the SCAA Competitions Committee is will also be attending the USCC on the other side of the counter with the competition judges.

Tim is putting his skills to the test in the US Barista Championship, while Jonathan is competing in the US Brewers Cup. These two gentlemen have been working tirelessly over the past few months to prepare to go up against the nation’s best. Please join me in wishing them both good luck as they wrap up their final week of planning. If you would like to follow along this weekend the event will be streamed live online here starting on Thursday. You can also track the action via twitter coverage provided by @SprudgeLive. Visit the event website for the complete schedule of events.


Tim Jones of Jubala Village Coffee

US Barista Championship Explained (From the Official Website)
“The United States Barista Championship (USBC) is a platform for baristas to enhance their espresso beverage making skills through an exciting and challenging competition. In 15 minutes, the barista must prepare and serve espressos, cappuccinos, and a personally designed signature beverage for four sensory judges; all while being assessed on their preparation abilities by two technical judges. The USBC is more than a competition; it’s a place to develop community and meet other coffee lovers from across the US. Throughout the year, baristas from all across the country compete in six regional competitions to qualify for this national event and the winner of the USBC will go on to represent the United States in the World Barista Championship.”

Jonathan Bonchak of Counter Culture Coffee

US Brewers Cup Explained (From the Official Website)
“The United States Brewers Cup is an exciting competition that highlights and celebrates the fine art of manual brewing. Competitors are judged in two rounds by skilled coffee tasters. The first round is a blind tasting, the competitors all brew the same coffee on their chosen manual deceives. Those who advance to the second round will brew and present their chosen coffee to the judges’ panel. The winner of the US Brewers Cup will represent the United States in the World Brewers Cup Championship.”

USBC 2014 1

USCC 2014

US Coffee Championships – Seattle, Washington April 24-27
To learn more about the US Coffee Championships visit their official website here: http://uscoffeechampionships.org


Filed under Coffee, Events

Jubala Village Coffee Turns Three!

Jubala Village Coffee

It’s hard to believe but it has now been three years since Jubala Village Coffee first opened their doors in North Raleigh’s Lafayette Village. Jubala’s arrival back in 2011 set the gold standard for 3rd wave coffee in Raleigh and remains one of my favorite places to enjoy a great pour over coffee or espresso. I’ve learned so much about coffee as a customer there and have enjoyed watching them grow these past three years. I’m excited for them as they mark their 3rd anniversary and even more excited to hear that they will be offering some very special menu items this week to celebrate!


I plan to stop by on Tuesday for the Birthday Cake Wafflegato! This is a twist on the traditional affogato (which means “drowned” in Italian). A typical affogato is a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Just add a small piece of waffle to the mix and you have yourself a “Wafflegato” – I can’t wait to try one!


Over the years I’ve tried a lot of new drinks at Jubala, but my favorite drink by far is the cortado. Cortado means “cut” in Spanish. The drink is an espresso “cut” with milk. Typically in a 1:1 ratio of espresso and steamed milk served in a four ounce glass. Perfect for when you want something more than a macchiato but smaller than a latte.

Jubala Brew Bar

My favorite spot to sit at Jubala is the brew bar, right by the pour over station. Even when they are busy, the baristas always seem to find the time to share about the coffee they are brewing. I’ve learned so much about the Counter Culture Coffee they serve, the origins of their different coffee beans and the art of pour over brewing while sitting at this bar.

Iced Latte

So make sure you swing by Jubala this week wish them a happy birthday and try one of their special menu items. While you are there give a shout-out to barista and Jubala general manager Tim Jones. Tim is representing the Triangle in the US Barista Competition at the US Coffee Championships being held in Seattle this April. Go team Jubala!

Jubala Village Coffee
8450 Honeycutt Road – Raleigh, NC
website: http://www.jubalavillagecoffee.com
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JubalaVillageCoffee
twitter: @JubalaCoffee
instagram: @jubalacoffee


Filed under Coffee

Weekend Picks! March 7-9th


Friday March 7th

Coffee Cupping & “Sustainable Spring” Beekeeping Info Session
Counter Culture Coffee will be holding their weekly FREE coffee cupping at the training facility in Durham this Friday at 10am. The cuppings provide a great opportuntiy to learn more about the different flavors and profiles expressed by different coffee. The tasting is followed by a tour of the roastery. As an added bonus Counter Culture is kicking off their “Sustainable Spring” series and will have an iformation session about Beekeeping after the cupping and tour.

Saturday March 8th

Public House at The Cookery in Durham
Belly Up to The Cookery’s bar for is their second Public House Night this Saturday from 6-11pm! Sympathy for the Deli is roasting a pig and providing delicious dinner, and Iced Cupcakes will be serving sweet treats! The Duke vs. UNC basketball game will be shown on a 15 foot HD big screen. Great beer, wine and cocktails for sale at the bar. FREE ENTRY.

Sunday March 9th

Durham Food Truck Rodeo w/ PitchBlak Brass Band
The Spring Durham Food Truck Rodeo is this Sunday from 12-4pm. The rodeo will host over 40 Triangle Food Trucks. Local beer will also be available for sale. Musical Performance by PitchBlak Brass Band out of Brooklyn. The weather looks to be beautiful on Sunday and it is sure to be a great time. After the rodeo head down the street to two of my favorite spots: Cocoa Cinnamon for coffee and Fullsteam Brewery for more great beer!


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Coffee Cupping at Counter Culture Coffee in Durham

Counter Culture Coffee Durham Training Center 2

Counter Culture Coffee Durham Training Center

It wasn’t until the very the last week of 2013, but I finally made it to one of the free public coffee cuppings offered every Friday morning at the Counter Culture Coffee training center in Durham. Counter Culture has done a lot to support the Triangle’s coffee community and culture and I’m a big fan of their coffee and the shops that serve it around the Triangle. Attending one of their cuppings has long been on my list of local activities to explore and the experience from my first visit to their training center did not disappoint!

Counter Culture Coffee Durham Coffee Cupping 10

Leading the Coffee Discussion

The weekly cuppings are held at 10am each Friday at the Counter Culture Training Center located off S. Alston Avenue in Durham. Counter Culture has similar training centers in Asheville, Atlanta Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. These training centers are where they hold classes, educational demonstrations, and barista certification training for coffee professionals. The Durham location is a bit unique in that it is attached to a neighboring building where Counter Culture roasts all of their coffee before it is shipped out to retail locations and coffee shops across the country.

Counter Culture Coffee Durham Training Center

Counter Culture Coffee ~ Durham Training Center

The cupping lasts about an hour and is followed by a quick tour of the coffee roasting facility. On the day I attended they were cupping three wonderful coffees harvested from the African country of Burundi. The three coffees cupped were MPEMBA, Buziraghindwa, and a natural sundried Burizaghindwa. How a coffee tastes is influenced by the growing environment (climate and soil type etc.) in addition to the botanical variety of the coffee how it is is processed. The three coffees we cupped ranged in flavor and aroma from earthy & spicy to very bright & fruity.

To learn more about the different coffees we cupped visit the Counter Culture Coffee online store to read the coffee descriptions and details about the origin and processing of each.

Counter Culture Coffee Durham Coffee Cupping 2

Coffee Cupping Setup

In general a “coffee cupping” is the practice of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee. Cuppings are a lot of fun because you learn about new coffees and how they are different from one another. These public cupping are particularly engaging since they provide the opportunity to share thoughts with others and discussing with the group what you each noticed and experienced.

There are no wrong answers in cupping, just different perspectives and experiences. Cuppings can help you develop a reference library of flavors and taste sensations that can become a background against which you can examine new coffees. Over time a cupper can begin to associate particular flavors with geographical regions and different botanical varieties of coffee.

Counter Culture Coffee Durham Coffee Cupping 8

Initiating Brewing With The Hot Water Pour-Over

The cupping procedure follows four primary steps. As you progress through each step you begin to notice how the aroma changes or is enhanced as the coffee transitions from dried ground beans to complete brewed coffee. The  overall goal is to measure aspects of the coffee’s taste, specifically the body, sweetness, acidity, flavor, and aftertaste. The cupping steps include:

  • Sniffing the dry coffee grounds
  • Smelling the coffee after the hot water pour-over
  • The “breaking  of the crust” (breaking through the floating layer of coffee grounds as the coffee brews)
  • Tasting or “slurping” the coffee.
Counter Culture Coffee Durham Coffee Cupping 6

Smelling the Brewed Coffee

During this particular cupping there were about 15 cups of each coffee lined up in stations along the counter. There were roughly 30 or so people there and we all took turns going from station to station smelling the different coffees during each step of the cupping process. After each step one of the coffee buyers at Counter Culture would lead a short discussion with the group about what everyone experienced from each coffee. It was interesting to hear the different flavors and aromas others picked up. By the way, if you are like me and sometimes need a little help describing coffee flavors, check out Counter Culture’s Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel.

Counter Culture Coffee Durham Coffee Cupping 5

Preparing To Taste The Coffee

This all lead up to the final step when we finally tasted each coffee. The brewed coffee is first prepped by the Counter Culture staff. Using two spoons, they skillfully removed the floating layer of brewed grounds from each cup. Once this is done we all took turns taking a spoonful of each coffee and slurping it loudy. Slurping loudly is done by sucking the coffee in with such velocity that it is aerated and sprayed across your entire palate. This allows the full flavor profile of the coffee to be expressed and experienced by the taster.

Counter Culture Coffee Durham 3

Touring Counter Culture Coffee

The room was somewhat divided on which coffee was their favorite. My favorite was the fruity natural sundried Burizaghindwa. I enjoyed its brightness and the hints of orange and blackberry I tasted. After the cupping was completed we transitioned into the other side of the building where the group was given a brief tour of the coffee roasting operation. We were lead through the area where they stage their coffees delivered from around the world and even got to see where the coffee is bagged and labels are applied to each bag of coffee by hand.

Counter Culture Coffee Durham 1

Coffee Roaster

The final stop on the tour took us to where the real magic happens. We witnessed the coffee roasters in action! The day of my visit was just two days after the Christmas holiday so things were hopping with two large roasters creating batches of delicious freshly roasted beans. It was interesting to see how all the pieces of the coffee operation fit together to deliver those 12 ounce bags of freshly roasted coffee on the grocery store shelf. The cupping and the behind the scenes look at the roasting process gave me much to ponder the next time I am enjoying a delicious cappuccino in my favorite local coffee shop.

If you would like to learn more about coffee cupping I highly recommend attending one of the free public cuppings held at Counter Culture each Friday. Visit their website below for more information about their coffees and upcoming events.

Counter Culture Coffee – Durham Training Center
4911 S Alston Ave, Durham, NC 27713 (Map)
website: http://counterculturecoffee.com/
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/counterculturecoffee
twitter: @Counter_Culture


Filed under Coffee