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From Our Backyard: Houston’s Lola Savannah Coffee

The exceptionally fresh coffees from Lola Savannah come from all over the world – Central and South America, Indonesia, Jamaica, Africa, Hawaii. But they’re roasted right in Houston. And that makes a difference.

Unlike many commercial coffees, which may sit in warehouses for weeks before even getting to store shelves, this boutique coffee roaster believes in getting its coffee to the people as fast as it can, to preserve the freshest, most flavorful tastes.

Just-roasted coffee is best if it’s consumed within a month or so of roasting, says Lola Savannah coffee roaster Eli Cipolla. After that, the flavor fades and it will never taste the same as those  freshly roasted beans.

For the company’s dozens of custom blends and flavored coffees, Cipolla roasts beans in small batches – 30 pounds or less. That gives them flexibility to custom-blend beans and roasts. They use only specialty-grade beans they’ve personally selected. And it lets them concentrate on their craft, which again, if you know coffee, makes a difference. Beans that are roasted too long will taste bitter. Beans that didn’t get enough time in the roaster taste green and mossy. The roaster has to know what he or she is doing to produce that perfect cup.

In their popular flavored coffees, such as amaretto, butter pecan or chocolate coconut, Lola Savannah buyers choose beans with higher moisture content. This allows the flavor to soak into the coffee more completely. For their traditional roasts and blends, Cipolla says, they simply choose the best beans they can find at the time, whether from Colombia, Costa Rica, or any of the other major coffee-growing regions.

The result is a smooth, intense cup of coffee. Just ask Cipolla. When he started roasting coffee there in 2002, he didn’t even like coffee. He thought it was bitter and harsh. But after about three months of roasting, tasting it daily to make sure it was right, he developed a passion for the stuff.

Brewing their coffee? The company suggests the following tips:

  • Buy whole beans and grind just before brewing, to release the most flavor.
  • Use two tablespoons ground coffee to ¾ cup water when brewing; otherwise coffee may taste weak and watery.
  • Do not store beans in the freezer or refrigerator. Those storage methods strip oils from the beans, destroying the flavor.
  • Use coffee promptly after purchase. The longer it sits in your pantry, the more flavor it loses.
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