Question: What kind of person keeps a coffee tasting journal?
Answer: A coffee expert.
Jake Gwinn is a coffee expert.
HCRB: Why should anyone listen to you about coffee?
Jake: I have worked in several different coffee shops over the course of 5 years and have gone through several coffee training courses — that’s in addition to the training I received while working in coffee shops. Nowadays I mostly roast my own beans and experiment with different brewing methods.
HCRB: What is one thing that everyone can do, right now, to brew a better cup of coffee?
Jake: Stop getting your coffee at the grocery store! These days there are local roasters all over the place. Finding better or fresh beans is the first step in the right direction. Not only are you getting a better bean, but you are getting a finely crafted product that is supporting your local businesses. If you don’t have a local roaster, a lot of roasters make it possible to order freshly roasted beans online. Good beans are the best step you can take right now.
A close second is using good water. Coffee is mostly water, so if you have bad water even the best coffee will not turn out the way it should. Having good, cold, fresh water is key.
Jake: Absolutely, 100%! First of all, the coffee that is in that red plastic tub is macro roasted, which means a ton was roasted at a time. Because so much is being roasted at one time, it is hard to focus on any sort of specific level of quality when it comes to the roast. There is a certain level of darkness in roasting that can be acquired that gives the beans a consistent flavor, but because you have to roast them so dark to get to that level, you lose a lot of the flavor that would be in a micro batch roasted coffee.
HCRB: What are some reliably good beans that I can purchase locally (in KC or OK)?
- Whole Foods they stock their shelves with good local beans. They sell Tom’s coffee. The Rwandan is my favorite from Tom’s.
- Target recently started trying to sell craft coffee, but you have to be careful because if you don’t check the roast date on the bag, you may end up with old coffee that was just the leftovers from somewhere else.
- Trader Joes has a good selection, if you need a cheaper go to coffee, their Joe’s coffee is pretty good!
Jake: Intelligentsia! They are one of the best roasters in the world. And, they have an online ordering system down pat. They roast the same day they ship pretty much, so you have the beans as fresh as possible.
HCRB: Who makes the best cup of coffee that you can go sit and enjoy (in KC and in OK?)
Jake: Folgers has to win this one. It is really easy to start wanting to take the easy route and buy the cheap stuff. I just think there is so much art and craftsmanship that goes into an excellent cup of coffee. Having Folgers is just not okay.
HCRB: Describe how to brew a better cup of coffee at home.
Jake: Depending on what method you are brewing your coffee, this may change; but this is a guide that applies to most home brew methods. I personally prefer the pour over method.
First, start with filtered, cold water. If you are using a drip coffee maker, put it in the brewer. If you are making a pour over, boil that water in a goose-neck kettle.
Second, while your water is boiling or before you start brewing your coffee, weigh out and grind some freshly roasted beans for your brew. It is really important to grind your beans right before you brew your coffee.
Now brew your coffee if you are using an automatic drip maker. If you are using a pour over follow the guide that Blue Bottle Coffee Co. created, it is how I brew my coffee every morning. Blue Bottle is an awesome source to learn how to brew different methods and just to learn more about coffee.
Jake: The best way I have found to make coffee while outdoors is using an MSR french press pot.
Start out with clean water if you have it. If you are in a really cool place, you may not be able to get super clean water, so just get the cleaned water possible and bring it to a boil.
While the water is boiling go ahead and grind your beans. A hand crank grinder is ideal when camping, Hario makes a great one that I use every morning for years.
Then follow Blue Bottle’s brewing guide for french presses!
“Some of the best cups of coffee are had outdoors, on the trail, or at the crag with best friends.” – Jake Gwinn
HCRB: What is your opinion on cold brew? Should everyone try it at least once? How do you make a perfect cold brew?
Jake: I think cold brew is great! It is definitely something everyone should try. Recently it has become pretty popular to have nitro cold brew which is essentially taking cold brew to the next level. If you can try nitro at a local coffee shop, definitely do it.
When it comes to making cold brew at home, follow Blue Bottles guide, it is golden!
Jake Gwinn is currently studying Marketing at Oklahoma Christian University. Jake is a photographer, avid outdoorsman, hiker, climber, coffee drinker and roaster. Jake’s favorite climbing area is Ute Valley in Colorado Springs.
You can connect with Jake on Facebook or Instagram. Just search Jake Gwinn and you will find him.
Learn more about Jake’s photography at:
And if you enjoy eating outdoors, read more about cooking pizza on your next camping trip.
Jason Clements is the founder of and writer for HCRBeta, Hike Climb Relax: How to… He lives in Shawnee, Kansas and also runs the cell phone recycling company, Cells for Cells, which recycles cell phones to raise money for families battling cancer. You can follow Jason on Facebook or on Twitter @jasonclements.
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