Booskerdoo – Flying the Flag for Fresh Coffee in NJ
22 January 2013 § 7 Comments
Those who know me and know my unswerving coffee obsession should not be surprised to learn that King Marv and I travelled 60 miles (and then another 60 miles back) last week for a decent cup of my favorite caffeinated beverage. Actually, as it transpires, it was much better than decent.
(For those of you less familiar with my persistent preoccupation with the roasted output of the pleasing peaberry , perhaps this anecdote will help: Years ago when I worked as a regional sales manager, I would prioritize my account visits based on who served good coffee at their offices. Forget about clinching deals or hitting targets, it was all about decent coffee. Needless to say, I did not last that long in the job but I emerged with a self-realization that I will not compromise when it comes to coffee… )
OK, enough with the preamble… Recently, I received a bag of fresh coffee beans from a company on the Jersey Shore called Booskerdoo: cool name, cool beans, clearly, but also hitting the This Little Piggy sweet spot of local business and fresh ingredients.
I know you should not judge a book by its cover, but the packaging was pretty cool: a matte black bag with a striking coat of arms. Better still, the coffee within was really good: a lightly roasted Columbia Excelso and medium roasted Brazil Cerrado for added richness. The result: a classic cup of coffee – nutty, sweet, and refreshingly mild.
The tasting notes for this “Jersey Diner-style” blend made me smile: The classic all-American cup with a smooth kick, nutty finish and endless refills of good times.
Personally, I think coffee goes with most things, but the pairing suggestions were apt – “fried eggs and potatoes, pork roll, old friends.”
So, with The Ladies™ at school, we went to Booskerdoo’s flagship roaster and café in Monmouth Beach to meet with James Caverly, Booskerdoo’s founder.
James discovered coffee late in life and became evangelical: a kindred spirit, no less. His quest to make the perfect cup of coffee led him to roasting his own beans in his tiny NY apartment. After smoking the place out (the oven has to be blasting hot to roast beans) he discovered he could make excellent coffee: he had found his vocation.
James’s philosophy for good coffee is simple—the beans have to be fresh—and so he does not sell anything that is over a week old. Booskerdoo sources beans from all over the world–Nicaragua, Burundi, Peru etc.–but if they’re not sold after a week, they are ground up and given away.
His simple approach is evident in his attitude: as long as the beans are freshly roasted and you use filtered water and clean equipment you should get a great cup of coffee.
What was equally refreshing was that there was no coffee snobbery from him. He does not insist that one way of brewing is superior to another, so you can get automatic drip, pour-over drip, French press, vacuum pot, espresso drinks – whatever floats your bean boat. If you like milk, have milk. Half and half ? Go for it. Sugar? Knock yourself out.
We treated ourselves to a latte each and shared a coconut scone. While we tucked in, we caught up with James.
“We’re inclusive”, he said. “Coffee is the everyman and woman drink. We’re not snobby. People apologize when they put milk in and we’re like ‘what are you apologizing for?’” There are no judgments at Booskerdoo.
I asked James about the coat of arms that adorns his packaging and the wall of the coffee shop. He said he’d always been a fan of such crests and it made sense for his brand. The quartered logo includes an anchor, a goat, a dragon and a coffee bean.
While the latter needs little explanation and the anchor hints at Booskerdoo’s home on the Jersey Shore, I was intrigued to learn that coffee is reputed to have been discovered by an Ethiopian goatherd who noticed that his goats, upon eating certain berries got a bit lively and couldn’t sleep. The fire-breathing dragon is there as a symbol of roasting. Naturally, I interpreted it as pro-Welsh sentiment…
The coat of arms is finished off with a motto: Fresh Roasted Coffee For All. Again, no snobbery: bringing good coffee to everyone is clearly their mission.
The coffee shop itself is cozy and smells amazing. The decoration is simple, provided mostly by the color burlap coffee bags and the striking coat of arms. A second store will be opening in March in Fair Haven, NJ.
Most of the coffees instore are organic and free-trade. They offer about 10 different types of beans with several signature blends. We tried the Bottle Rocket – a lively mix of Ethiopian beans, Columbian Supremo and dark roasted Honduras SHG. It is both citrusy and caramel-like.
James told us that he tries to make sure all their blends taste different: Obviously, Bottle Rocket was bright and citrusy whereas Jersey Diner was a classic smooth blend of Columbian and Brazilian. Another blend, Black and Tan, is mix of light and dark beans hence the name.
Besides the coffee, it is worth going for the music: anywhere that plays The Clash and Ska (both old school and revival — we heard both The Specials and Prince Buster) in heavy rotation is my kind of place.
But if you want your coffee closer to home you can order online and such is their commitment to “fresh, fresh, fresh”, Booskerdoo ships coffee on the day it is roasted.
Fresh to the end. And a Welsh dragon to boot…
Disclosure: I was given coffee from Booskerdoo to review for this blog post. All opinions are my highly caffeinated own.