Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ugly Mug - long history as high-end coffee hotbed

June 14:
Today I returned to the Ugly Mug to talk with Chris Mullins and roaster Ramiro Lomeli more about their business... where it's been, where it's going. It's REALLY amazing how many top coffee professionals in the region have worked there at one time or are working there now... Chris Mullins, Ramiro Lomeli, Jim Saborio, Josh Longdorf ... And then if you include the top coffee people across the country that have close links to the Ugly Mug, it's even more amazing... Tonx, Trevor Corlett, Metropolis.

The illustrious history is having it's growth effect. Ugly Mug is anxiously anticipating the arrival of a 25lb. San Franciscan roaster to add to it's tried and true smaller 2 kilo Dietrich.

Talking with Ramiro today, it's easy to see why this cafe has a strong following. Ramiro's dedication and education in the craft of coffee were clear with comments like, "every day it's something new to learn, something new to try. I always want to make the next cup better."

Of course, I was pleased to hear that this curiosity even extends to their decaf. Ugly Mug is one of only about 4 cafes in the country roasting Las Serranias, Colombian A from the state of Huila. I tried both a pulled shot and a brew from their Chemix. Abundant citrus, sweetness with a smooth body and lingering aftertaste. When I say abundant, I mean "bursting". This decaf is really impressive. Ramiro said it impressed their customers, too, when they first put it out. They were asking what it was when they first offered it as a trial. They didn't guess it was decaf.

Ugly Mug Hosts Impressive Palate Development Jam

June 11, 2011
I walk in to the Ugly Mug around 8:30pm, only to find I am too late! The coffee "taste development" event of the year in southeast Michigan has already finished! It had started at 4pm, so I really shouldn't be surprised. I had just hoped my family obligations that took up most of my evening weren't going to make me miss it all.

It was worth getting there, even so late. I was able to get the impressive handout and chat with cafe manager Chris Mullins. Sounds like the first-of-its-kind event at the Ugly Mug brought in a good sized crowd (20-30) and accomplished its goals. There were various apples to refine one's understanding of malic acid tastes, in-depth discussions of acidity and sweetness, and a station designed to help one understand how taste variables are affected during roasting. "Great job!" to the Ugly Mug team who put this together!

Ugly Mug team members I met: Chris Mullins, Meg soon-to-be-Graham, Matthew "the Birdman" and Ramiro Lomeli, roaster extraordinaire