Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Company (Carmel Valley Coffee) for nearly 30 years has been roasting coffee and now has three locations in Carmel (Monterey County), California. The family-scale company has always served coffee that embodies its “commitment to provide superior handcrafted coffee.”
And since 2003 (for nearly 20 years), Carmel Valley Coffee before “organic was mainstream,” began to roast only organic coffee beans. In the story told on its website, the McAthie family notes that it knew they “wanted to roast beans that could be traced back to the lot where they were grown.”
This California business also believes in “taking care of farmers” and buying its coffee responsibly. It’s committed to Fair Trade and is also Certified Organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF).
This coffee lover, on an unexpected trip west to Monterey on the Pacific coast of California to attend a memorial service of a dear friend of more than 50 years, discovered Carmel Valley Coffee. It wasn’t just the need for the morning cup of coffee that led me to Carmel Valley Coffee’s café on Ocean Avenue in Carmel. I knew that my close friend (rest in peace), who was my college roommate and who enjoyed multiple cups of coffee on a daily basis for decades, enjoyed many visits to this café and enjoyed his time drinking his coffee, while enjoying a muffin or two, and watching the lively street scene.
So the morning after the memorial service before the drive up to the airport in San José to return home to Albany in upstate New York, I paid quiet respect to my friend by enjoying a cup of Carmel Valley Coffee’s delicious brew and a blueberry muffin. And trust me when I write that I could feel the presence of my friend in some hard-to-explain way.
It was an easy decision to include this family-scale coffee business in the coffee directory on this website which now has 90 listings. On Carmel Valley Coffee’s website, it describes its “old-school” process for roasting coffee beans, relying on “sight, sound and smell.” And its philosophy is simple: “Never over roast.” The roasting method is to “bring the heat to the point of perfection and gently nuance the myriad of flavors inherent in the beans to the forefront, and then let them shine.” It roasts in “small batches” on a vintage 1940s Farina Italian coffee roaster lovingly referred to as “Vincenzo” or “Big Vinney.”
The deliciousness of its coffees is also rooted in its “freshness” and the business takes pride “on keeping it moving out the door right away and into your hands.” Carmel Valley Coffee is roasted and shipped within hours and days, not weeks. As of the date of this post, this coffee roaster for a limited time is offering “free shipping for all domestic orders over $75.”
And on the drive from the Monterey peninsula north to the airport in San José on the more scenic drive on Routes 1 and 17, avoiding as best I could the California freeways, I also stopped in Los Gatos (Santa Clara), California to check out a craft bakery that has long been on my radar.
This website’s directory of craft bakeries is a go-to resource when traveling and now includes 97 listings throughout the United States and some in Canada, England and Ireland. Manresa Bread has been included in the craft bakery directory almost since the start.
The bakery was founded by Avery Ruzicka and she learned her craft of bread baking at Restaurant Manresa owned and operated by renown chef David Kinch. The website Spoon Mob for “foodies featuring podcasts, reviews, and photos” has a fascinating portrait of Avery Ruzicka detailing her path to “one of the most recognizable names in baking today,” and her nomination and finalist selection by the James Beard Foundation in 2020.
Easy to see why this bread lover stopped at Manresa Bread to take home to upstate New York a couple of loaves. In addition to a loaf of the bakery’s whole grain whole wheat, made from organic wheat, water, salt, and a starter, I indulged in a loaf of Manresa Bakery’s extraordinary Cherry Chocolate bread. What to close out this post but a simple WOW! And, of course, rest in peace, Richard.
(Frank W. Barrie, 11/4/22)