National Lampoon's Joe Road Trip to Massachusetts

Thanks to our boss, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the Taconic Parkway and the great state of Massachusetts, seven Joe kids had the time of their lives on-site at our roasters' place yesterday. We stumbled bleary-eyed into a sweet van at roughly 8am and crawled out of it around noon, in the parking lot of the Northeast's own Barrington Coffee Roasting Company (BCRC).

Before they knew it, roasters & co-owners Gregg and Barth (thanks, guys!!) and their bang-up team of coffee fanatics were face-to-face with some of the most geeked-out baristas Joe has to offer: store managers Cameron, Amanda and Josh Z., and their respective assistant managers, Derek, Josh W. and Anne. Oh, and me.

Derek and Cameron listen to Barth talk about sourcing, buying and storing green beans.

Even though some of us had been to a roastery before, for people really passionate about this industry, getting the behind-the-scenes tour of the works never gets old. Neither does the smell of fresh-roasted coffee, or the sight of those little beans newly browned and swirling around the bottom of a cooling tray.

Nose Roast
Cameron gets up in some beans' business; Anne looks on.

Gregg + Roaster + Beans
Gregg watches them beans.

We also got to cup two of Barrington's coffees: an East Timor and an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. The Timor was a syrupy-bodied, smoky coffee with chocolate notes and a lot of sweetness as it cooled down; the Yirgacheffe was tealike and subtle, with floral and citrus notes, as well as a kind of lingering vegetal undertone.

Cupping, aromatic seal #2
Josh W. got some of the grinds on his nose, but unfortunately, I wasn't fast enough to snatch a photo of it. Rats!

Amanda, slurp
Amanda shows the newbies at the table how to aspirate a coffee to get its full flavor.

After the cupping, Barth pulled us all shots on the roastery's two-group Synesso. Instead of using the standard espresso blend we get from BCRC for our own shots, he isolated one of the beans from the batch and pulled us straighties of the acidity-forward element, a monsoon.

Espresso, single origin
Anne tucks into one of the craziest, most intense and straight-up awesome shots any of us have ever had.

The espresso was brilliant, and by separating the bean from the blend we're all so used to, it gave us all a new perspective and a whole new vocabulary for the coffee we serve everyday. As we each took our respective first-sips, it was clear how much the components of the blend really "clicked" with us all.

Before high-tailing it out of town, we swung by Amanda's old haunt and the cafe owned by Barrington's own Gregg: Lenox Coffee.

Lenox Latte
Latte pulled by Jenna.

Amanda lived up here for a couple years before starting her tenure at Joe, and she divided her time among working at the roastery, acting and sitting around at Lenox Coffee, drinking shots and smoking on the porch. Man, if that ain't a life you could get used to, am I right?!

It was great to finally go on a trip about which we'd spent so much time daydreaming: As soon as we went public with the details, it seemed like everybody was in on it and jazzed up, which was such a great feeling. I think it's safe to say nobody walked away disappointed. It was amazing to see how much joy and excitement our staff had for the coffee they were experiencing, and how eager they were to ask questions and learn and taste and get in there.

There's something so magical about bonding with not only the people who make this craft possible, but the beans as well—and when you can do both simultaneously, all the freaking better.

Next time, we'll all have to go to origin. Don't forget to pack your swim trunks!

Meister + Kenya

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