Local coffee subscription service Modest Coffee recently started roasting for the Chicago and internet market. I spoke with co-owner Marcus Contaldo about his obsession with fresh roasted coffee and other coffee-related topics during a #VirtualCoffee Twitter conversation* on Saturday.
Chicago Bites: Good morning! What are you drinking for our #VirtualCoffee chat?
Marcus Contaldo: The Enthusiast this morning. I am sampling a roast from last night. What about you?
CB: I’m drinking The Collector — black. Speaking of which, how do you normally take your coffee?
MC: Black and super fresh! How about you? This is the quintessential question for all coffee drinkers.
CB: I tend to drink it black if it’s good. Otherwise lots of cream, lots of sugar. You don’t always get a choice.
MC: I know what you mean, I know a place that starts out with fantastic beans from intelligentsia and ruins them. BTW, I recently asked our drinkers the same question and found that a large number added Baileys.
CB: Baileys in coffee is indeed a joy, though that may cause problems during the 10am budget meeting. I know you sell awesome beans. Any advice on the best way to grind and brew them?
MC: We recommend grinding them right before you brew them. Believe it or not, our goal was to get better coffee out of a Mr. Coffee drip pot. I have some tricks that will vastly improve any coffee coming out of a drip pot.
CB: And did you do that? Have you made a perfect cup using a Mr. Coffee?
MC: Yes. The first tip is with a newer drip pot with the adjustable spout — twist it so it recycles and reheats the water. Once the water is good and HOT (you will see steam) add your favorite fresh beans to the hopper. The next step is important: twist the spout back to the beans, but DO NOT put the coffee pot under the hopper. Let the beans steep and stir them with a spoon. After they are saturated, put your pot down and let the goodness flow.
CB: One and half cups is usually the most I can drink before I get jittery. What’s your coffee limit per day?
MC: I usually do 3 cups in the morning and another cup or two around 2pm. Coffee after 4pm is my limit.
CB: Changing gears a bit…why is your coffee roaster named Precious?
MC: The previous owner named it Precious because of its sleek gold paint job and he was a fan of Lord of the Rings. I’m a fan of LOTR, too so it stuck.
CB: Do you talk to your roaster in a golem voice?
MC: I actually do a ridiculously accurate impression of Golem.
CB: I’m lobbying hard for a video of that. Please tell us, what’s your selection process for coffee beans?
MC: It is really extensive, I sample 10-20 beans and select the best 3 that meet our requirements. We look for beans that make a great cup of coffee. You may have noticed that all of our beans were distinctly non-bitter.
CB: I did. I find that I prefer that in a cup of coffee.
MC: To make sure it’s ethically sourced, we only source coffee that’s traceable back to the producers. That traceability allows us to pay the premium for beans produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way.
CB: How do you deal with coffee breath?
MC: Great question, I carry minty gum in my man purse just for coffee breath.
CB: And finally, have you ever made a perfect cup of coffee? Do tell.
MC: That first perfect cup is what got me hooked on roasting. The flavor, the aroma, the vibrancy in the cup. There is really nothing better than fresh roasted coffee. That’s why we started Modest Coffee.
Thanks to Marcus from Modest Coffee for sharing a cup and his thoughts on coffee!
Want to try Modest Coffee yourself? Use promo code CBBAG for $2 off any selection, good through June 30. If you’re ready to commit to the cup, use promo code CBSUB for 10% off for lifetime orders; limit first 100 customers through July 31st.
*some light editing was done for readability.