The coffee at The Camp House brings an enhanced enjoyment of this ubiquitous beverage to downtown Chattanooga. With multiple emphases on acquisition, preparation and presentation, the coffeehouse/performance venue on Williams Street elevates the coffee experience to high art.
“The Camp House is pushing coffee culture in Chattanooga to the next level,” says barista Matt Busby, who trained in Seattle, the Northwest Mecca of Coffee. To help propel this ascent, Camp House manager Aaron Rauch, a veteran of the other coffee mecca of Portland, Ore., has engaged Durham, N.C.-based Counter Culture Coffee as exclusive suppliers for the The Camp House.
Counter Culture has been widely recognized as one of the best roasters in the world. Busby notes that Counter Culture won the inaugural Roaster of the Year Award by Roast Magazine in 2006. More importantly, Counter Culture pursues Direct Trade coffee distribution, which suits well Rauch’s vision of developing Camp House coffee in a manner analagous to a wine bar, with continually changing featured coffees.
Direct Trade brings coffee to the market on its initial availability, allowing Counter Culture to acquire, roast and deliver its coffee to maximize freshness. The company also delivers a better understanding of its source farms and methods of preparation of its coffee beans so aficianoados know exactly what they are drinking.
It’s worth noting here that world coffee production features two types of coffee beans: robusta and arabica.
Robusta beans form the basis for commercial coffee production. These are in most of the supermarket brands of coffee. Interestingly, the nation of Vietnam has become a leading producer of robusta beans.
Arabica beans form the top shelf of coffee production with a broad variety of nuanced flavors. Although The Camp House does offer an arabica blend that is always available, every month two new coffees are featured. One of these is available through a drip process while the other is available only through a single-cup brewing method. Featured regions include Central and South America, Africa and Asian-Pacific countries. Descriptions of these coffees are available on the menu at The Camp House.
A recent coffee event at The Camp House supported by Counter Culture illustrates how intensely the enjoyment of coffee can be savored. Attendees imbibed four different coffees prepared five different ways and were able to talk directy with Aida Batlle of Finca Mauritania in El Salvador through a computer link. Batlle, who is personally and scientifically involved in all aspects of her production from growing to marketing, has become something of a coffee cult figure and was featured in an article in The New Yorker not long after the event. The next Camp House coffee event is scheduled for Jan. 16, 2012.
Working with fresh coffee roasts, The Camp House applies precise methods and different brewing techniques to bring out flavor notes. Recently, they acquired a Japanese drip tower which cold brews three liters of coffee during a 20-hour period. Another unique brew not on the menu is the cascara “coffee tea” made from the dried fruit and skins of coffee cherries.
Pour-overs are precisely measured in grams of coffee and can be prepared in a variety of methods, such as clever dripper, Chemex or the Japanese siphon.
Naturally, a prime brewing method involves espresso, the making of which involves a machine which applies heat and pressure to quick brew strong coffee. There are three basic levels of espresso drinks: Macchiato, which is created by combining two ounces of espresso with one ounce of milk; cappuccino, which adds four ounces of milk to espresso; and latte, which adds 10 to 12 ounces of milk.
The widely known “latte art” forms are created by pouring steamed milk over the coffee to create unique designs and patterns. The macchiato supports basic latte art designs, such as hearts, while the cappuccino and latte itself support more complex designs.
“The artistic presentation elevates the experience, it makes it special,” says Camp House barista and artist Robin MacKillop.
The Camp House
1427 Williams St. (352) 573-0085
thecamphouse.com Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.