Capitol Grounds has been roasting coffee since its beginning in 1998. It is our mission to get the highest quality arabica coffees from around the world, and roast them to perfection. We roast our coffee to order in small batches, ensuring that it is always fresh roasted, bringing you the best cup of coffee available anywhere.
Capitol Grounds is a Certified Organic coffee roaster (NOFA, VOF). We also carry a wide range of Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance coffees, as well as shade grown and Song Bird Friendly (SMBC) coffees. While not all of our coffees are certified organic, this does not mean that they are laden with chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Capitol Grounds is committed to environmental, economic, and social responsibility from farm to cup. We are always looking for new ways to bring you the best coffee available, while doing everything we can to make the world a better place.
- FULL CITY ROAST – This is our lightest roast. The bean is a medium brown, with little to no oil appearing on the surface. This roast is excellent for naturally sweet, complex coffees, as the sugars in the bean caramelize early and the subtleties of each point of origin are preserved and well developed, while not being overcome by the roast. Because caffeine breaks down in the roasting process, this roast generally has the highest caffeine content.
- VIENNA ROAST – Roasted just to the cusp of second crack, a Vienna Roast (often referred to as a “medium roast”) is darker brown than a Full City, and displays some oils on the surface, though not fully covering the surface of the bean. This roast retains most of the nuances of the coffee while more fully developing the sugars in the bean. Capitol Grounds offers a wide variety of Vienna Roast coffees, from Sumatra to Ethiopia.
- FRENCH ROAST – Roasted into the second crack, French Roasted coffee displays a deep, dark brown with the oils fully covering the surface of the bean. This roast is great for dark coffee lovers. The sugars are fully caramelized and the roast flavor begins to come through in the flavor profile. This roast can often enhance chocolate notes. Generally speaking, a French Roasted coffee will have slightly less body than the same coffee roasted to a lighter level, but can also be described as more “bold.” This roast level will have a slightly lower caffeine content than Full City or Vienna Roast
- ITALIAN ROAST – While you won’t find any of our single origin coffees in an Italian Roast, you will find a healthy proportion of Italian Roast in our wildly popular “Bob’s Senate Blend.” An Italian Roasted coffee displays a very dark brown bean with a very oily surface. The roast flavor is pronounced, adding a deep, bold flavor to this favorite of many Capitol Grounds devotees.
- ESPRESSO ROAST – Just kidding! But we wanted to take this opportunity to explain that Espresso is not a roast, but rather a method of brewing, involving a very fast extraction time of hot water under high pressure through finely ground coffees. Because espresso comes out thick, bold, and dark, espresso is often equated with a dark roasted coffee, when in reality it is the grind and rapid extraction that makes espresso what it is. In fact, some of the best espresso blends often have very little or no dark roasted coffee in them, thus preserving the sweetness of the coffee through the extraction process and avoiding a bitter, astringent taste.
After roasting, coffee takes 36-72 hours to “off-gas,” at which point it has reached the peak of its flavor profile. This peak lasts roughly two weeks, and then begins to deteriorate. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a good idea to store your coffee beans in the freezer. Taking the coffee in and out of the freezer causes condensation to occur on the surface of the beans, leaching the nuances and naturally occurring flavors out of the coffee before it has even been brewed. For this reason, it is best to purchase only as much coffee as you need for a week or two, and store it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
BREWING THE PERFECT CUP
There are a variety of brewing methods that produce excellent results for a great cup of coffee. Which one you choose will depend largely on personal preference, but there are several keys to getting an excellent cup of coffee. Here are some guidelines for brewing that will help you to enjoy all of the subtleties and nuances of your coffee.
- GET INTO THE GRIND: Different brewing methods will require different grind sizes. If you are making coffee in a French Press, you will want a coarse grind, keeping as much sediment as possible from getting through the mesh into your cup. If you are brewing with Melitta (Cone) Filter, you will want a slightly finer grind, and for home espresso you’ll want a very fine grind. We recommend using a conical burr grinder (not a blade grinder) if possible, as there is much more control over the size and consistency of your grind, and blade grinders create much more friction leading to the beans actually heating up before brewing. If possible, always grind your coffee immediately before brewing. As a general rule a coarser grind will bring out more of the sugars and natural sweetness of a coffee. Of course this must be within the parameters of your brewing method.
- WATER: Brewed coffee is mostly water. It stands to reason that starting with clean, cold, filtered fresh water will bring out the best in your coffee and let the coffee “speak for itself.” When heating your water, it is acceptable to bring your water to a boil, but do not brew your coffee with boiling water. The optimal extraction temperature for coffee is 198 degrees Fahrenheit. Let your kettle sit without heat for two or three minutes after bringing it to a boil to let the water cool to this temperature. (At the roastery, for quality control, cuppings, and tastings, we use a digital thermometer, and wait until the water temperature is at about 200 degrees before pouring over our coffee grounds – the water will lose a degree or two between the kettle spout and the surface of the coffee).
- “BURSTING THE BEANS” or “PRE-WET”: When your water is at the right temperature, you will want to pour a small bit over your coffee before brewing the full volume. Pour just enough water to cover the surface of your coffee grounds. Let the water and your coffee sit for 20-60 seconds (depending on how much coffee you are brewing). This is called “pre-wet” or “bursting the beans.” This water primes the coffee grounds and prepares them for optimal extraction. While you are waiting, if necessary, you can add a little more heat to your water to keep it at the optimal temperature. This is also a good time to smell the coffee for its floral qualities. A good, fresh roasted coffee will expand and rise in a slightly domed shape as the gasses escape the grounds and the coffee readies for extraction.
- THE BREW: After you have pre-wet your coffee grounds, pour even portions of water over your coffee grounds, making sure to cover the grounds evenly, and pausing for a few seconds between pours to allow the water to work its way through the coffee. When you have reached the appropriate volume of water for your brewing method or batch size, let the rest of the water brew through. For a French press, you may want to let the grounds sit on top for 2-4 minutes, depending on how coarse your grind is, how much coffee you are brewing, and your tastes, before plunging. The longer the grounds are in the water, the more extraction you will get out of the coffee. Keep in mind, more is not always better with extraction – while a longer steep time will give you a stronger cup of coffee, an overly long steep time will lead to over-extraction and a more bitter, astringent taste to your coffee.
- ENJOY YOUR COFFEE – THE WAY YOU LIKE IT!: Okay, let’s be honest. We’re serious geeks about our coffee at Capitol Grounds. And there is no better way to explore and discover the unique complexities and subtleties of each coffee than to drink it black (and one of the hallmarks of a great coffee is that, when consumed black, it will develop and improve as it cools). We encourage you to explore all of the nuances of each point of origin, roast level, and our custom blends. But we also know that each coffee drinker likes their coffee a little different. When it comes down to it, there is no wrong way to enjoy a great cup of coffee!
WHERE YOU CAN FIND CAPITOL GROUNDS COFFEE
- Shelburne Supermarket – Shelburne, VT
- Village Wine and Coffee – Shelburne, VT
- City Market – Burlington, VT
- Healthy Living Market – South Burlington, VT
- Hunger Mountain Food Coop – Montpelier, VT
- Village Grocery – Waitsfield, VT
- Village Market of Waterbury – Waterbury, VT
- Willey’s Store – Greensboro, VT
- Plainfield Food Coop – Plainfield, VT
- The Post Office Cafe – Worcester, VT
- Golden Meadows Market – Montpelier, VT
- La Strada Bakery – Waterbury, VT
- Positive Pie – Plainfield, VT
- Positive Pie II – Montpelier, VT
- Positive Pie – Hardwick, VT
- The Mad Taco – Waitsfield, VT
- Maple Corner Store – Calais, VT
Are you interested in carrying Capitol Grounds coffee in your cafe, store, or office? Please call our Coffee Resources Manager and Roaster, Christopher Pyatak at (802) 225-6277, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org . We offer competitive wholesale pricing, consulting, and can help you get the brewing equipment that is right for your location!