Tag Archives: Larry’s Beans

Larry’s Beans of Raleigh ~ My First Coffee Cupping!

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Preparing to educate people about coffee!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting one of my favorite places in Raleigh, the Larry’s Beans coffee roasting facility! I’ve been to Larry’s Beans to take their cool bean plant tour twice now, but this was my first trip there for an actual “coffee cupping”. In fact, this was my first coffee cupping event ever! If you are new to the world of coffee cupping (like me) I would describe it as kind of like wine tasting, but with coffee. In general “coffee cupping” is the practice of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee.

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Coffee & mingling before the cupping event

When you visit Larry’s Beans, it is always a fun filled experience. The event started off with the group of 40 or so coffee lovers being entertained by musicians playing the accordion and guitar in the beautiful open courtyard. Larry’s also had a nice healthy snack spread that featured plenty of their great coffee and their newly released cold brew coffee for the guests to try as they mingled before the cupping started.

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Head Roaster Brad explains the origins of the beans we will be cupping

After mingling for a bit, the group moved into the roasting facility for a brief  educational presentation kicked off with Larry himself giving a little background about his passion for quality organic fair trade coffee and why he founded the company. From there Larry turned things over to Brad, the head roaster of Larry’s Beans. Brad did an excellent job of explaining the process of coffee cupping and set the stage for the three kinds of coffee we would be cupping that afternoon. The focus of this particular comparative cupping was three different coffees from Ethiopia.

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The cuppers take to their stations!

Brad described the three different farms within the Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union in Ethiopia that were the source of the beans we would be cupping. The coffee we would be trying was harvested from the Schicho, Abela Gekuko, and Bona Cooperatives.  He then highlighted the specific variations in process methods the coffee beans from each farm went through and and  how different processing techniques impact flavor profiles.

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The cupping criteria

A standard coffee cupping procedure involves three steps, sniffing the dry coffee grounds, “breaking the crust” after the hot water pour-over, and finally tasting or “slurping” the coffee. At each table there were three stations with three cups of carefully ground dry coffee from one of the three farms (you use three cups for each bean for consistency). The experts at Larry’s circulated the room and poured the hot water after participants had finished smelling the dried coffee grounds.

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The pros at Larry’s Beans pouring hot water over the coffee grounds

After pouring over the nearly boiling water we allowed the grinds to infuse for around 3-4 minutes. Then came the  “breaking of the crust” which was expertly done by our hosts using spoons and we were instructed to again smell the coffee again as it has changed during the brewing process and will give hints of the kind of things to be looking out for when you do the actual tasting.

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The slurping of the coffee!

Once the crust was broken any coffee grounds left on top of the cup were scooped away. With the coffee infusion now clear of grinds, the slurping  commenced! Essentially you simply bring a spoon of the coffee up to your mouth, and slurp, drawing the coffee to the roof of the mouth allowing it to tickle the tongue and then fall into the back of the mouth. The goal is to measure aspects of the coffee’s taste, specifically the body, sweetness, acidity, flavor, and aftertaste.

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Coffee before “breaking of the crust”

Since coffee beans embody telltale flavors from the region where they were grown, by evaluating coffees in a comparative setting like this a taster can learn to identify  flavor traits of coffees from different origins.  If you do enough cuppings you can even 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.

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Bloggers engaged in “Coffee Talk”

Although we were not trying to identify the origins since we already knew that information, ultimately the folks at my cupping table were able to identify the different flavor profiles and zero in on their favorite coffee of the three we tried. I can’t recall the exact name now, but my favorite was the coffee that exhibited hints of blueberry.

The folks at Larry’s Beans were great hosts and I recommend you try to attend a future event at their facility.  I had a lot of fun attending this coffee cupping, especially since a few of my fellow foodie blogger friends where there to enjoy the experience with me. Special thanks to Kim @TriLocalista, Becca @theGourmez, and Channa @RaleighWhatsUp for attending the event with me. Make sure you check out their awesome blogs too to keep up on the Triangle foodie scene!

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Musicians in the courtyard!

To view more pictures from my visit to Larry’s beans check out my flickr photo album of the coffee cupping event. To read more about Larry’s Beans you see my previous post of the facility tour or visit their website and facebook page.

About Larry’s Beans

Larry’s Beans is happily committed to blending and roasting innovative uniquely delicious coffees — and making the world a better place. 100% of their coffee is Fair Trade, Shade Grown, and Organic, all slow-roasted to bring out every note of indigenous flavor. Their green-o-vated facilities use passive solar construction, active solar systems, radiant floors, zoned heating, composting, and rainwater harvesting to minimize our impact on this awesome planet. They offer 15 Creative Blends and 15 Single-Origin Blends, along with limited-roast favorites like Rockin’ Holiday Blend and Woodstock Blend.

Larry’s Beans 
1507 Gavin Street
Raleigh, NC 27608
Website: http://www.larrysbeans.com/
Twitter: @LarrysBeans


Filed under Coffee, Events, Raleigh

Larry’s Beans Coffee Cupping Event In Raleigh – November 10th 1-3pm

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Photo courtesy of Larry’s Beans

Larry’s Beans is holding a coffee cupping event at their bean roasting facility in Raleigh on November 10th from 1-pm. The Comparative Cupping & Coffee workshop will be lead by Brad Brandhorst, Chief Roaster at Larry’s Beans. Brad will lead participants through an exploration of how flavor is affected by how the farmers process their coffee beans. The coffee will all be from Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union in Ethiopia. The cupping event, which will take place at the Larry’s Beans roasting facility at 1507 Gavin St., Raleigh, costs $5. Tickets are available at larrysbeans.eventbrite.com.

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Photo courtesy of Larry’s Beans

In addition to coffee cupping the event will feature samples of Larry’s Beans Cold Brew Iced Coffee – cold-steeped over 24 hours from coffee they roast & blend specifically for this process. This is a new offering from Larry’s Beans.

Bonus! Music & Beer
Since coffee is part of life, Larry’s Beans will also provide music & some snacks topped off with local beer from Fullsteam Brewery in Durham!

Details & Registration:
Where: Larry’s Beans, 1507 Gavin Street, Raleigh, NC
When: Saturday November 10, 2012. Gates open at 1pm, Cupping Starts at 1:30

To register for the event visit LarrysBeans.eventbrite.com

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Photo courtesy of Larry’s Beans

About Larry’s Beans

Larry’s Beans is happily committed to blending and roasting innovative uniquely delicious coffees — and making the world a better place. 100% of our coffee is Fair Trade, Shade Grown, and Organic, all slow-roasted to bring out every note of indigenous flavor. Their green-o-vated facilities use passive solar construction, active solar systems, radiant floors, zoned heating, composting, and rainwater harvesting to minimize our impact on this awesome planet. (You can view pictures from my tour of their facility here). Larry’s Beans offers 15 Creative Blends and 15 Single-Origin Blends, along with limited-roast favorites like Rockin’ Holiday Blend and Woodstock Blend. For more information visit http://www.larrysbeans.com/.

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Filed under Coffee, Events, Raleigh

Free Wine Tasting at Taylor’s Wine Shop December 9th 6-8pm


The nice folks at Taylor’s Wine Shop will be hosting another free wine tasting this week on Thursday December 9th from 6-8pm.  Taylor’s is located in North Raleigh on Six Forks road just north of I-540.  If you haven’t been to by the shop yet, I recommend you check them out when you get the chance.  Taylor’s is not your typical convenience store. 


Taylor’s has been around for over 30 years and is an institution of North Raleigh. Long ago, the savvy owners realized the need to diversify and have developed a great little shop offering  an impressive selection of wines, local and other craft beers, local coffee (From Larry’s Beans, Carrboro Coffee and, Tradewinds Coffee), and even sell locally made Escazu chocolate along with an assortment of other items like handmade jewelry and Faerie Made Soaps.  Of course, you can still pick up bait there for your fishing trip to Falls Lake as well.


Taylor’s is the type of shop every town needs.  It isn’t just a place to fill up your tank and pick up a gallon of milk.  It is a neighborhood store that supports the local economy by offering locally made products sold by people you know.  It isn’t just that you need to go there; you actually want to go there.  I’ve made a habit out of making a Sunday morning trip to Taylor’s just to grab cup of Larry’s Beans coffee and say hello to the owners while browsing their latest offerings.  It is a great way to start the week.


Oh, by the way,  did I mention I will be at the December 9th wine tasting playing Christmas Carols on my trombone out on the porch from 6-8pm? Come on by and say hello!

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Filed under Events, Wine Tasting

Sign up Now to Take a Tour of Larry’s Beans on September 25th!


Larry’s Beans  is holding a public tour and coffee tasting on September 25th! I took the tour over the summer and had an awesome time.  You can read about my experience and see the pictures I took in my previous blog post about the tour.  If you want to check it out, sign up now.  Space is limited and it tends to fill up fast.  Read their announcement below:

Tour Larry’s green-o-vated beanplant, including passive & active solarpower, Raleigh’s only B100 fueling station, worm composting, rainwater flush toilets, Diedrich roaster, and the Veggie Bus.  Experience a coffee tasting with Chief Roaster Brad.

Meet Larry & Kevin, the proud owners of Larry’s Beans.  They’ll be free delectable treats from Neomonde (not to mention myriads of Larry’s coffee), LIVE music, and BIG BOSS beer.

Want to go? Sign up be emailing tours@larrysbeans.com with the # of People in Group, Contact Name, and Phone Number.  Don’t wait because they’re limiting it to the first 100 people!

Doors open at 11:15 AM, tours and tasting start promptly at 11:30.

Price = free!


Filed under Coffee, Events

Organic Coffee and Sustainable Business Practices – A Tour of Larry’s Beans Coffee in Raleigh


Larry’s Beans is a local independent coffee roaster that buys organic coffee beans directly from fair trade relationships with small farm cooperatives.  My wife and I have enjoyed drinking their fine coffee ever since we moved to Raleigh and a few weeks ago we had the opportunity to tour their coffee bean roasting facility located along the fringe of downtown Raleigh adjacent to the historic five points neighborhood.  What is so unique about their operation is that they not only pride themselves on providing top notch organic fair trade coffee, but the folks at Larry’s Beans also put the old adage “think globally, act locally” into action by employing numerous sustainable practices at their bean roasting facility.


I was really impressed with the turnout and how informative the tour was.  I was expecting a small group but was surprised to see about 80 other people there.  Obviously the people of Raleigh take their coffee drinking very seriously!  The friendly crew at Larry’s Beans provided a great deal of insight into the art selecting and roasting coffee beans and how their operation isn’t just a business venture but a way of life that incorporates sustainable practices.   The bean roasting facility is situated in a small industrial park within eyeshot of the downtown Raleigh skyline, yet through a unique layout that incorporates open air offices and a sunny courtyard they have managed to create an atmosphere that makes you feel like you are a world away from the hustle and bustle of downtown.  


We arrived a few minutes early for the tour and mingled with other guests the courtyard while being treated to samples of their various coffees.  They also had a great little spread of veggies, humus, and crackers and to top it all off they had live samba music being performed by a local Latin band called Samba Jovem.  This only made the tour worth the trip!  While I was excited to see the inside of the plant I could have easily spent the afternoon ducked into a shady corner of the courtyard sipping my coffee and listening to the Latin music.  The tour was broken into two sections, the first comprised of a tour of the coffee bean roasting operation and a lesson about the different characteristics to look for when tasting and judging the quality of good coffee.  This was followed by a question and answer session with chief roaster Brad Brandhorst and Larry himself.


The second part of the tour featured examples of how they use sustainable practices in their day to day business operations including how the facility uses “clearstory” to produce natural lighting, and solar hot water tubes and open air offices that reduce electrical heating and cooling demand. Other tour highlights included an overview of Raleigh’s only biodiesel station, rainwater cisterns used for toilet flushing, the use of biodegradable coffee bags, and of course Larry’s famous Veggie Bus that runs on recycled veggie oil.  


The tour we attended was held on May 15th and I understand that it was their last tour of the spring.  However, my understanding is that they do plan on holding additional tours in the fall starting in September.  Because of the popularity of the tour you need to sign up for the tour in advance via email.  Visit their website for more information.  I would also recommend joining their facebook fan page or emailing them directly if you want to get more information about future tours.


I’m a big fan of buying local products and an even bigger fan of using sustainable practices so it goes without saying that I’m a big fan of Larry’s beans coffee.  It was a real treat to see their operation and I enjoyed meeting the friendly staff there.  I hope to make another visit in the fall.  In the meantime,  you can find Larry’s Bean’s Coffee at locations throughout the Triangle.  A few of my favorite places to enjoy a cup of their Joe are New World Coffee in North Raleigh,  Third Place in Five Points, Taylor’s BP off Six Forks in North Raleigh, and when I need a bag of beans so I can brew my own at home I hit up Wine 101 in Wake Forest.  To view additional photos I took during the tour check out my flickr photo album.


Filed under Coffee