LaMill makes some of the best coffee in Los Angeles. Well, actually, that is according to Abe who actually drinks the stuff. We are invited to a tour of their Coffee Factory in Alhambra so I bring him along as my photographer and taster.
John Martin, LaMill’s Director of Coffee (that is his actual title) shows us what a raw coffee bean looks like, before roasting. They’re green, and smelly kind of grassy.
They fly through a chute, into the roaster, and lose their chlorophyll in the process. Once they’re done getting all toasty, they are cooled, packed up, and ready to ship. LaMill Roastery produces over 10,000 pounds of coffee a week!
My favorite part about factories are all the buttons. It totally reminds me of Willy Wonka.
Next, we head into their tasting room to do a cupping. I have always associated this word with the Chinese medicine I do whenever I throw out my back. But when it comes to coffee, cupping is a tasting to evaluate the aromas and flavors of the beans. Basically you just pour water over grounds, then remove the layer that floats on the top via “breaking the crust” and “skimming.”
I don’t do any sipping, but I do try sniffing it. I’m so horrible at figuring out notes and all the subtleties of flavor profiles; I just smell coffee!
John shows us how, in cupping, you slurp the coffee, rather than sip it. This drinking technique allows all of your senses to experience the flavors. It is a loud noise. Abe doesn’t quite get it. John also gives us some tips on how to brew a good cup at home – I never thought about how the tap water in Los Angeles affects the brew. At LaMill’s Roastery they use reverse osmosis water.
People always ask so I’ll explain why I don’t drink coffee. I used to, once upon a time, but I always need to add a lot of sugar and milk. When I was getting over my binge eating disorder, I decided to cut out a lot of the things I was addicted to – sugar, coffee, diet soda and cigarettes were at the top of the list. It was hard for me to get rid of the diet soda, and sugar is obviously still a bit of an issue for me. But coffee and cigarettes were shockingly easy. One day maybe I’ll start drinking java again. Especially since it’s come a long way, and so have I.