Q&A with Lancaster Newspaper: Gerhart Coffee Co. Adapts as Market Goes in New Directions March 16 2015, 0 Comments
by Chad Umble, originally seen at LancasterOnline.com
It’s been 135 years since Paul Gerhart founded the Lancaster coffee company that bears his name.For much of that time, Gerhart Coffee Co. was the only game in town, supplying coffee to local merchants in 35-pound drums.
In recent years, the coffee roasting business has gotten more crowded, with niche roasters popping up around Lancaster County. Gerhart Coffee Co. has been forced to respond to the new competitors as well as the changing tastes of coffee drinkers.
While it has been branching out into retail sales, Gerhart Coffee’s core business remains as a wholesale supplier to restaurants, hotels, schools and colleges within a 70-mile radius.
Gerhart Coffee Co. is now owned by Darrel Burns. Burns and Justin Smay, the company’s sales and marketing manager, recently discussed some of the issues the company faces.
Describe some of the ways the company has changed over the years?
Burns: My grandfather started at the company in 1955. He ended up buying the company in 1973 and ran it until 2010 when I bought it.
At the end of my grandfather’s tenure we started branching out into specialty coffee, but it wasn’t until I came on board and when Justin came along (two-and-a-half years ago) that we really started to emphasize the fact that we do the specialty coffee along with taking care of fine restaurants and hotels.
Why did you start offering those specialty blends and roasts?
Burns: The market went that direction. We kind of realized that we needed to follow suit. But we weren’t going to just follow suit and do what everyone else was doing, we wanted to do it with high quality stuff.
Smay: As a roaster, you need to start reacting to a different palate. However, we as the old roaster that we are, we still have a lot of people that say, “I just want a regular up of coffee.”
How do you satisfy both family restaurants and fine espresso bars:
Smay: The simple answer is relationship, meeting each customer or possible customer where they are and being careful and conscious to serve them well. And, from time to time, offering suggestions around how they can keep improving the coffee they serve their customers.
Your main business is supplying restaurants, but you recently added a consumer brand, Running Pump Roasting, which is sold at some grocery stores. Why?
Smay: We felt that having more of a retail and consumer presence would keep us relevant in the business-to-business restaurant service world.
When did you start noticing more coffee roasters?
Smay: Here in Lancaster we’re talking the past seven years.
How can you compete with new coffee roasters?
Burns: It is just kind of letting everybody know what all we can offer.
We’ve been around 135 years because we know what we’re doing. We do a big range of things, but we try to do them as well as we can.
Smay: We really feel like our heritage is a huge part of who we are as a company. Our signature coffees have stood the test of time — we have customers that have been using that blend for 120 years.
How important is your company’s long history in talking about Gerhart Coffee?
Smay: People are really looking for authenticity and history and heritage these days. We’ve always reminded people that we’ve been here and were the first people to bring fresh roasted coffee to Lancaster. That conversation has become more important.
Go where they're brewing 'Flavorful' coffee.... November 04 2014, 0 Comments
We've been roasting coffee here in Lancaster PA for over 130 years. For the majority of that time we've stayed behind the scenes, roasting for friends' restaurants and businesses. We peek our head out from time to time, sending our coffee to local Grocers and Farm Markets, and now of course our coffees are available here, online.
But our strong suit is roasting for restaurants!
It's why we do what we do! Everyone loves a flavorful cup of coffee with breakfast, or after a big dinner with dessert. When the fine dining establishments we're working with get a great remark on their coffee, we beam with pride!We're hear it at the Roasterie pretty frequently, and there's nothing more rewarding: "I had a cup of coffee at ____ Restaurant/Cafe, and it was THE BEST cup of coffee I've ever had- I asked where the coffee came from and they sent me here!"
After roasting for all of these years, the list of restauranteurs we serve has grown quite large, and DIVERSE!
Take a look at a starting list. We'll try to continue to build it, and will likely miss a few at first...
Where did you first enjoy Gerhart Flavorful Coffee?
551 West - Lancaster PA
The Accomac Inn
The Alley Kat - Lancaster PA
Alvaro Bread - Harrisburg PA
American Music Theatre - Lancaster PA
Aussie & The Fox - Lancaster PA
The Back Page - Leola PA
Bird in Hand Bake Shoppe - Bird in Hand PA
Bully's Restaurant & Pub - Columbia PA
Byers Butterflake Bakery - Leola PA
Calee's Eats & Treats - Landisville PA
The Candy Factory Co-Working Space - Lancaster PA
College Corner Cafe - Lancaster PA
Commonwealth on Queen - Lancaster PA
Conestoga Wagon Restaurant - Conestoga PA
The Creamery Bed & Breakfast - Strasburg PA
Crumbs Cafe - Sinking Springs PA
Deinner's Family Restaurant - Lancaster PA & Seneca SC
The Dragonfly Cafe - Lititz PA
Enck's Catering - Lancaster PA
Fireside Tavern- Strasburg PA
Flinchbaugh's Orchards - York PA
The Flour Child - Columbia PA
Flowers in the Kitchen - Elizabethtown PA
Fresh Donuts - Lebanon PA
The Gin Mill - Lebanon PA
Hinkles Pharmacy & Restaurant (Our oldest customer, enjoying Gerhart Flavorful Coffee for over 80 years!) -Columbia PA
Honeybaked Ham Co & Cafe - Lancaster PA
House of Clarendon - Lancaster PA
Hunger n Thirst - Lancaster PA
John Wright Restaurant - Wrightsville PA
Knead Bread - Lancaster PA
Lizzmonade - Brooklyn NY
The Loft - Lancaster PA
Maplehofe Dairy - Quarryville PA
Manheim Township Library Cafe - Lancaster PA
The Moveable Feast - Mountville PA
Mr Stickys - Lancaster PA
Neptune Diner - Lancaster PA
Oregon Dairy Restaurant - Lancaster PA
Our Cafe & Bakery - York PA
Outback Creamery & Grill - Ephrata PA
Roseville Tavern - Lancaster PA
The Sandwich Factory & Sports Lounge - Neffsville PA
S Clyde Weaver - East Petersburg PA
September Farm Cheese - Honeybrook PA
Smoketown Diner - Smoketown PA
Stage Deli on George - York PA
Strasburg Creamery - Strasburg PA
Sunnyside Up Cafe - Mountville PA
Tapenade Bistro - York PA
Tellus360 - Lancaster PA
Tony's Mining Company - Mt Gretna PA
Tropical Smoothie - Lancaster PA
The Udder Choice - Ephrata PA
Union Canal House - Hershey PA
What If... - Hershey PA
White Swan Restaurant - Lititz
Willow Street Restaurant - Willow Street PA
Willow Valley Clubhouse - Willow Street PA
Classical Coffee October 20 2014, 0 Comments
(Originally seen at taysted.com)
The North East enjoys a heritage steeped in an old English and French Colonial aesthetic, and it’s no surprise that it’s these classical roots that inspire a thoughtful approach to food and service at The Accomac.
To Executive Chef Andre Ebert, the Classical French approach is best defined as ‘Quality’:
In a nod to an era bygone, Accomac’s servers can often be seen putting table-side finishes on signature dishes. Table-side service is a special part of the atmosphere here, and the staff strives to bring the experience even to larger private dining parties.
While Executive Chef André Ebert and his team would refrain from strictly using the term farm-to-table; his cuisine revolves around the fresh and wholesome foods that surround them in South Central PA. Their Spring and Summer menus, especially, are made up almost entirely of foods sourced directly from local producers and farmers.
When we at Gerhart Coffee were given the privilege to serve The Accomac- with the goal of creating coffee that considered all of the best parts of this Classical Approach- we settled on a Directly-Sourced Guatemalan bean from Finca Piña Blanca. The coffee is brought to us for roasting seasonally, fresh off of the trees, and imparts a straight-forward and rich flavor that is an instant classic.
Keeping with the Accomac sense of ‘Quality’, a Manual-Press Preparation was added to the menu, finished table-side of course.
Plan a visit to The Accomac and enjoy thoughtful cuisine and unhurried service, the way it’s been done here, along the creeping Susquehanna River, for more than 200 years.
Mary, Quite Contrary - Meet Joe (or, Spent Coffee for Healthy Gardens) May 02 2014, 0 Comments
For the Professional Chef and Amateur Foodie alike, one of the best things about watching the weather warm up is planning menus around fresh veggies. In fact, many fresh-conscious restaurants are actually growing a bit of their own produce, truly embodying the “farm-to-table” mentality.
You’ve probably heard rumors about the benefits of using spent coffee grounds around your flowers and vegetables. It’s absolutely true- however, there is often a bit of speculation and guesswork around the rationale. Here are a few facts that should help make the most of that soggy coffee.
Spent coffee actually has a relatively neutral acidity, as most of the acids in roasted coffee are extracted when you make a cup of coffee. Coffee is high in nitrogen, feeding the heat necessary to breakdown the seeds and other undesirables found in compost bins. Other chemicals, Phosphorus and Potassium, can also be found in spent ground, and will release slowly into the ground.
Take-Aways: While mixing spent coffee into the soil around your garden may help over time, the best benefit is found when adding them to your compost bin, in order to aid in breakdown, and to add to the mix of essential minerals that will slowly release from the java.
By the way, the filters are fine in the mix, too. They’ll compost in no time at all.
If you find yourself looking for more spent coffee than you can create on your own (without serious heart-palpitations), stop by your local cafe or restaurant- most will be more than happy to set aside their spent coffee for you.
Colombia Bolivar Source Trip April 10 2014, 0 Comments
Three weeks ago, Darrel was able to visit one of our Farmers in Colombia. While trips to "source" are always educationally priceless, the information he brought back from one of the largest coffee-producing countries in the world gave him a whole new insight into the Coffee Industry.
Take a look at some of the pictures he snapped while he was down South, and be sure to pick his brain next time you see him!
Panorama from Hacienda Balandu in Jardín, Antioquia, Colombia
Coffee Lot Quality Cupping
Darrel with Exporter Aaron Beydoun, Farmer Juan
Arboleda, & Importer Charlie Requadt.
Beyond Irish Coffee January 18 2014, 0 Comments
(Original posted on Taysted.com)
Our North Eastern Winter has been an especially brutal one so far. Wet, sub-zero winds drive through our wool pea coats and scarves, and no number of layers seems to help. When late January is so unforgiving, coffee might not quite do the trick.
It’s safe to say that Aussie and The Fox – fruit of Lancaster’s recent crop of Buy Fresh eateries – has found the cure. Home to a full-fledged espresso bar, carefully trained baristas, and award winning bartender Frank Fontaine, they’ve stepped well beyond the common Irish Coffee.
Properly blending specialty coffee and fine liquor isn’t as easy as it might sound. The bright citrus-fruit and chocolate flavors of a quality, fresh-roasted coffee can be hard to pair with a great whisky or gin.
Mr. Fontaine’s thoughtfully crafted Coffee-Centric drinks introduce herb and fruit flavors, among others, bringing each distinct flavor together in unexpected and wonderfully comforting combinations.
Do yourself a favor: don’t risk ruining a great bag of coffee or expensive bottle of spirits. In the deep cold of this late Winter, stop in to warm up with the blokes at Aussie and The Fox.
Aussie & The Fox
38 West King Street, Lancaster PA
Brewing A Proper Coffee December 06 2013, 0 Comments
During the Holidays, everyone enjoys WOWing their guests with delicious dinners, desserts AND COFFEE!
To be a coffee-brewing-genius, you should learn a little bit about the "science" involved. In the end, knowing will help you make a really nice brew without much difficulty.
Start at 1oz Coffee PER 16oz Water. If you're brewing on an automatic brewer at home, the lower temperature (anything under 200F) isn't going to extract as easily, so add about 10% more Coffee. If you're using a French Press and can control the temperature, feel free to lessen your coffee measure by 10% or so, due to the full immersion of the coffee grounds.
Darker coffee looses some of its density during roast (along with caffeine, sugars, etc...). Because of the lost density, you should expose less of the bean's surface area to the water: ie, use a coarser grind and a little more coffee.
If you prefer a lighter roast, the coffee you're drinking is still more dense, and so exposing more surface area will allow more flavor to come out: ie, use a finer grind and a little less coffee.
Fresh grinding is SUPER important; but so is proper grinding. If at all possible, grind within minutes of brewing. As soon as the coffee is ground, you're letting aromas into the air, with means those flavors won't be in your cup. However, it is VERY important to use a good BURR Grinder (see here for a great low-cost option). BLADE Grinders chop beans in a very inconsistent way, which means the water will over-extract some of the grounds and under-extract others.
Cool, clean water makes all the difference. It makes up 98% of the final brew, so use GREAT water!
If you're using an automatic brewer at home, the coffee should be finished within 4:30 minutes. Otherwise the coffee and water have been in contact for too long, and you will end up with sour flavors on the back of your tongue- that's over-extracted coffee!
A French Press should steep for about 4 minutes. An 8 oz Manual Pour should finish dripping by about 3 minutes. An espresso should extract in about 25 seconds. If you're brewing too fast, use a finer grind and a little less coffee. Too slow, use a coarser grind and a bit more coffee.
Note: if you are using an automatic brewer, a slow brew cycle could be due to mineral build-up in the machine. If you can clean the brewer it will help, but you might need a new machine!
We hope this helps. We LOVE sharing our coffee with you, and we're confident that these basic guides will help you make the most of your Gerhart Flavorful Coffee!
Central Pennsylvania's Grocers & Markets Love Gerhart 'Flavorful' Coffee November 21 2013, 0 Comments
The Gerhart Coffee Co actually had its start in Central PA's General Stores. In 1880, Paul Gerhart brought the concept of fresh, locally roasted coffee into Lancaster. Back then, a lot of coffee was brought in from New York and Philadelphia. But Mr. Gerhart knew that something as important as coffee- the First Flavor of the Day, the Stimulant of Politicians and Philosophers- could NOT be shipped in from some "BIG CITY". So he began roasting and supplying the local merchants with fresh, Flavorful Coffee.
The most important quality in your coffee is the roast date. When your coffee is roasted in Vermont, Seattle, or Ohio; Warehoused; Shipped; Warehoused; and finally stored on the grocery shelf with a year-long expiration period... you WILL taste it in the cup!
Do yourself a f(L)avor. BUY ONLY LOCAL, FRESH-ROASTED COFFEE!
Here are a few places you can find ours!
Private Label & Fundraiser Coffee Programs November 11 2013, 0 Comments
A LOT of the coffee we roast goes to restaurants, businesses and non-profit organizations around Central PA (and beyond...). In fact we are actually the largest Wholesale Coffee Roaster in the area, and have been for a long time! We love the variety that Wholesale Roasting brings us. It is extremely rewarding to to see our partners' dreams come to full realization, and humbling to be a part of the journey!
One form that Wholesale Roasting takes is in our Private Label/Fundraiser Program. While some of our partners prefer that we stay behind the scenes, some of the brands and blends that we've helped to create are a Fully-Visible Collaboration.
Take a look at a few of the companies we've worked with recently!
American Music Theatre: Rockin' Roast -- http://www.amtshows.com/
Amelia's Grocery Outlet: Running Pump Roasting -- http://www.ameliasgroceryoutlet.com/
Hope for the Children: 'HOPE BLEND' Fair Trade Organic -- http://hfclove.org/
Issac's Famous Grilled Sandwiches: 'For the Birds' Rainforest Alliance Certified -- http://www.isaacsdeli.com/
JDRF Central PA: 'Speed Walk Blend' -- http://centralpa.jdrf.org/
My Heart to Fear - Band, Solid State Records -- http://www.myhearttofear.net/
September Farm Cheese: 'Farm House Blend' -- http://www.septemberfarmcheese.com/
The Strasburg Creamery: 'Our House Blend' -- http://www.strasburg.com/Strasburg-Creamery/
ABC27 - WHTM: 'Daybreak Blend' -- http://www.abc27.com/
Fill out our Wholesale Inquiry Form or call us if you're interested in working with us. We'll talk over coffee, our treat!
Guatemala Source Trip October 24 2013, 0 Comments
In February Darrel visited two of our Guatemala source farms, in an effort to learn more about our partners' farming techniques and on going improvements to their land. He was bale to see first hand that these farms are committed to quality in their beans and fair labor practices for their employees.
We're excited to share a few photos from his trip.These were primarily taken around the Piña Blanca Farm near Santa Rosa Guatemala.
Scroll the to the bottom of this post for exciting news!
Bourbon Cultivar Seedlings in Santa Rosa Guatemala
Ripening Coffee Cherries
Harvested Cherries, Bourbon Cultivar
Overlooking Lake Amatitlan near Santa Rosa Guatemala
Inspecting Root & Trunk Health - Bourbon Coffee Bush
Our prized find from Darrel's trip arrives next week:
Guatemala, Chimaltenango, Acatenango, El Carmen : Guatemala Cup of Excellence Winner for 2013.
In short, this is one of the best coffees to come out of Guatemala this year! Stay tuned!
Italian Roast Now Available! October 18 2013, 0 Comments
We're fessing up. This was a bit of an accident.
We were roasting one of our favorite African beans (we're going to keep the bean a secret...), and a few moments' distraction created the Gerhart Coffee Company's first ever Italian Roast.
Now, we're not much for especially dark-roasted coffee. Our "Dark Roast" is relatively lightly roasted in the scheme of things...
But this Italian Roast came out QUITE nicely. The bean lends some incredible sweetness and the flavors overall really held up to the higher heat.
So after a very positive response to our first (serendipitous) Italian Roast offering, we're making this a part of our regular line-up!
A Tip for Brewing: Darker Roasts MUST be brewed using more coffee. When brewing this Italian Roast, we recommend you use about 1.15oz of coffee per 16oz of water, and a coarser grind.
Enjoy, and let us know what you think!
Keeping Flavorful Coffee Fresh - Storage October 08 2013, 0 Comments
We get this question ALL the time, and sometimes end up in long discussions about the myriad theories and methods people have come up with or learned over the years.
If you're curious, perhaps interested in coming up with your own new method, there are 3 important factors: Oxygen, Temperature, & Light.
Overall, one of the best things to remember when taking care of your coffee is this:
Coffee is in its healthiest form in the cherry, on the tree. Each step in processing and preparing is, in essence, destroying the bean.
1b) Hulling, Wet Processing, Drying
The more you can protect the bean in each of these stages, the better flavor you'll end up with.
1) Protect your coffee from drastic temperature fluctuations. If you MUST buy more coffee than you plan to use within 14 days, you can freeze the coffee ONCE. Once you're ready to begin using the coffee, keep it at a consistent temperature, between 45-75 degrees (F).
2) Some people will store coffee in their refrigerator's "crisper" drawer, which is acceptable, if you plan to use the coffee within 14 days.
3) No matter where you store the coffee, keep it away from oxygen and moisture! Air-tight containers, whether in or out of refrigeration.
4) Keep coffee out of direct sunlight. An opaque, airtight container will solve both of these last points!
5) As often as possible, grind your coffee within 15 minutes of brewing. Keep those aromas in the brew! Fresh, QUALITY grinding is the biggest improvement you can make to your brewed coffee!
One last thing that many people don't consider is this:
If you are drinking a dark-roast coffee, consider that the bean has already been through a lot. The longer/hotter roast has destroyed much of the chemical make-up of the coffee compared to a light-roast coffee.
The darker the roast:
the more careful you should be with temperature and humidity during storage;
the sooner you should drink the coffee;
the more freshly ground the coffee should be;
and the more careful you need to be with extraction/brewing.... But that last point is for another post.
Simply put, we love to tell people "Just buy what you need for the next week- we love seeing you more often, anyway!"
Cold Brewing Your Coffee July 23 2013, 0 Comments
Welcome to warmer weather! We know you’re all looking for refreshing new ways to enjoy your Gerhart Flavorful Coffee this Spring.
Here’s our original guide for your Springtime Brewing Pleasure.
First, FIRST, RATIOS:
When brewing coffee traditionally, with hot water, it’s best to use between 1.75-2.25 of coffee (BY WEIGHT, not volume) for every 32 oz of water. Adjust the amount of coffee, and the grind, for your brewing method and equipment.
When you cold-brew your coffee, the cool water is going to get less flavor out of each particle, so you’ll want to use a bit more coffee. You should experiment with different coffees at different volumes, but a starting point is 3.50oz of coffee, ground 'medium-coarse' for every 32oz of water.
We’ve found that the best brew comes out of a 3-step process: Steeping, Pressing and Filtering. You can skip ‘Pressing’ if you don’t have a French Press-type Brewer; but when straining, be sure to pour slowly, leaving as much of the ground coffee at the bottom of your steeping vessel.
1) Steep your coffee in cool Filtered Spring Water in a glass or stainless steel container for 18-24 hours in the refrigerator. Some recipes suggest setting the coffee on your counter over night (8-10 hours) but our recommended ‘Fridge Steeping’ will produce a more consistent, sweeter brew.
2) Press the coarser particles out of your brew with a French Press.
3) Strain using an unbleached paper filter. Ideally use a rinsed, heavy filter, like those used with a Chemex Brewer; but you can start with the smaller filters that you use with your Mr Coffee Brewer.
IMPORTANT: Some recipes will suggest broadly that you can use cheese cloth or any strainer; but in order to get the best taste from your Cold Coffee, it is important to remove all of the smallest particulates and oils from the brew using a paper filter. This will also allow you to store your coffee in the refrigerator for up to a week without the risk of on-going extraction!
Try your Cold Brew on the rocks, or add a little bit of Sweetened Condensed Milk for a more decadent treat!
As you get a bit more comfortable with your new found cold-brew method, try adding dried berries or vanilla bean to the grounds as your brew steeps!
Let us know what you come up with- don’t forget to share your pictures!
PS - Restaurant Owners & Bar Managers: we'd love to help you improve your Cold Coffee Program this Spring & Summer. Let us know if we can help!