Casa Brasil Puts a Sweet Classroom in Your Coffee
And a local brewery mellows you out immediately after
By Wayne Alan Brenner,
9:59AM, Mon. Aug. 6, 2012
It doesn't take much to learn what good coffee is all about.
You already know what you like when you experience it, of course, which is what matters most in aesthetics – and that's true for all of us, whether we're hi-brow culture snobs born of willful geekery or ordinary schlubs humping our quotidian loads of pleasure & pain through this modern life. Or just, you know, people.
The only thing that could really enhance a person's coffee experience – other than an enjoyable drinking environment and clever company – is more knowledge.
Well, my friend – and for best effect you might wish to imagine this being voiced in a deep, Jamaican sort of accent – by Geoffrey Holder, say – well, my friend, knowledge is much like coffee itself.
That is to say: You've got the coffee bean (the knowledge)
and you've got the coffee cup (the receptacle, like a person's mind) …
now all you need is the most effective method of getting that bean,
transformed to liquid pleasure, into the cup.
I tell you this: The monthly Up & Down Tour from Casa Brasil
may very well be the most effective method around. Also: It's damn tasty.
Since 2007, Casa Brasil has been importing, roasting, and distributing the highest quality Brazilian coffees throughout Austin and other parts of the Lone Star state. El jefe of the company, Joel Shuler, has years of experience with coffee (and even more with Brazil itself – he played soccer with Gremio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense in his teens) and he's got the java documentation to prove it: Q Grade Certification and the Port of Santos Cupping and Classification License. If that last bit impressed you, then you're savvy enough to know we're talking Important Stuff here. If it seemed like just a bunch of words, well, that's part of what this enjoyable tour through the world of coffee, and Brazilian coffee in particular, is all about.
Check this description from the company's website: "The morning begins with coffee, pastries, and a casual meet & greet with Casa Brasil’s Joel Shuler, who will then walk participants through the fundamentals of coffee history, harvest, processing, and production. The group will move to the roasting room and roast a batch of coffee, then join back in the lab for an overview of brewing methods, cupping, and sensory analysis."
We've been there – courtesy of Shuler and his wife Lisiane and their team of experts – and we've done that. And Shuler held forth like the cool highschool teacher you wish you'd had in senior year, and everybody learned to differentiate between types of beans, and different types of roast of the same bean, and different methods of brewing, and – after a couple of hours you start feeling 1) as smart as a seasoned barista about the hot brown stuff, and 2) coffee jitters. At which point, lunch is served. Lunch from one of the Really Good Restaurants that Casa Brasil provides coffee for. (And keep in mind that Contigo and Gourdough's and Foreign & Domestic and Noble Pig and Takoba and Le Noir and Mother's and a bunch of others are among those restaurants.)
And this bounty of knowledge & noms happens on the second Saturday of every month, beginning August 11th.
But, wait: This thing is called the Up & Down Tour, right?
So after all that java, after the tasty lunch, where's the Down part?
The Down part is across the parking lot, at – because this isn't just a coffee tour – the South Austin Brewing Company.
Because this Up & Down Tour is also – Hallelujah! – a beer tour.
Actually, you could opt for either one, although they're packaged together for maximum epicurean pleasure and education … and we'll tell you a little bit about the beer part right here.
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Coffee, Casa Brasil, Up & Down Tour, Arabica, Robusta, liquid pleasure