Eat! Lansing

July 9, 2008

The Coffee Barrel

Filed under: Coffee, Okemos — dkastner @ 6:11 pm

The Coffee Barrel
2446 Jolly Road, Okemos, MI  48864
M-F 9am-5pm

After the likes of Starbucks swept through the nation, many people developed a better appreciation for good coffee.  After the great wave of coffee chains a new breed of small coffee companies are springing up, primarily in places like Portland, Seattle, and Chicago that focus on roasting small batches of high quality coffee beans for a complexity and flavor that blow the average coffee chain’s brews out of the water.  

After having experienced Intelligensia in Chicago and trying Stumptown‘s offering in Portland recently, I was excited to finally be able to try The Coffee Barrel when I was able to take a day off (I work too far away to visit TCB during regular business hours).  The manager gave me a mini-tour.

The Coffee Barrel roasts somewhere around 300,000 pounds of coffee at a time and ships it to various restaurants around the country.  The coffee is roasted in an air roaster.  For large quantities of beans, this is the preferred method over iron drum roasters that are heated externally as the air roaster roasts the beans more evenly.  Many emerging boutique roasters, however, prefer to roast using the old iron roasters as they provide more direct control of the roasting.  Much more attention is required in this process, but the results are phenomenal.

With that bit of background in mind, the full city Columbian roast I tried, while not the best, stands toward the top of my list.  The beans had the advantage of being fresh, which makes a big difference.  However, the flavor lacked some complexity and left a slightly bitter aftertaste.

The store offers five different roasts – from full city to viennese to french.  Several different varieties spanning the globe are also offered – from Columbia to Guatemala to Ethiopia and Sumatra.  In addition are many flavored coffees.  But then what’s the point of all that?  One notable flavor featured coffee beans coated in specs of white chocolate.  

If you want fresh coffee and don’t want to mail order it or roast your own, this is the place!  They will also grind your coffee for you if you lack your own burr grinder.


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