Ordering a black cup of coffee is more complicated than it used to be. So what do you need to know? We asked Stephanie Ratanas, Dogwood's director of coffee and one of the Twin Cities area's few licensed Q Graders -- like a sommelier in the wine industry. She says there are three key areas to consider when looking for the perfect cup.
Beans: "I want to know what kind of sourcing they're doing. I like Kenya and El Salvador. Kenyan beans are known for their brightness. They have an acidity that is really complex. Good sweetness and brightness are indicators of a good coffee."
Roasting: "I'd choose a well-developed light roast, because I don't want it to taste like burnt crap. I want to actually taste the coffee. You can have the most amazing coffee but destroy it with the roasting."
Brewing: "I'm not a brewing geek. I like using a Chemex [an hourglass-shaped filtration vessel]. It's simple and it's all one glass piece. It's fun to brew on. And it's great for making two cups. It would really be a bummer if you spent all this time sourcing and roasting and then messed it up at the end."
Poll: Which 2013 Taste Holiday Cookie Contest entry do you most want to try?