Merry Christmas! Dancing Mule will close at 3 pm Christmas Eve and re-open Friday the 26th at 6 am. We will be closed New Year’s Day. Thank to your support we have had a record Fall season at he Mule. We are a family owned business (the Hart’s and the Austin’s) and we live and work in the Springfield community. Your support of local business means your money goes back into the local economy and you have choices beyond the chain stores. Thank You!
We continue to use our trusty Fetco Brewer to batch brew the majority of coffee we serve at Dancing Mule. We also offer pourover brewed coffee for those who want to try additional coffees or just want an individually brewed cup of coffee. We believe a batch brewer when properly programmed, maintained, and used with exact procedures and guidelines for brewing can do an excellent job of making great coffee. The main reason we batch brew most of our coffee is our customers mostly want coffee ready when they are ready to drink it. Our drive-thru is an environment where coffee needs to be ready for the customer when they arrive. Many of our in-house customers are also on the go and appreciate a fresh cup ready to serve. Ken Nye with Ninth Street Espresso had this to say in a recent Fresh Cup Magazine article,
“The difference today, says Nye, is in the freshness of the beans. Cheap, instant coffee won’t taste good regardless of the brewing method. After more than twenty years immersed in specialty coffee, Nye maintains that batch-brewing is still the most reliable method of making good coffees shine, though he’s happy to make a Chemex for curious customers considering a different roast.
“By-the-cup brewing, pour-over, these are all methods that were designed to happen in your kitchen,” says Nye. “If you try to make 400 pour-overs a day, they’re going to be wildly inconsistent.” He attributes this to the pour-over’s “micro-environment,” where every issue regarding extraction is exaggerated.”
If you would like to check our the entire article you can view it here: http://www.freshcup.com/back-to-batch-brew/ The article is a suprisingly well balanced discussion of the merits of batch brewing especially given the recent mania with pourover and other manual brewing methods.
At Dancing Mule we start with fresh roasted excellent coffee, we grind it immediately before brewing, we carefully measure the dose with a scale every time, we use filtered water with chlorine and lime removed, we clean our grinders and check for the proper setting regularly, we check the programming on the brewer and clean it frequently, we pour out coffee when it is past serving time, and most importantly we taste our batch brewed coffee every day throughout the day to make sure it is brewed correctly. Yes it is possible to make bad coffee with a batch brewer. It is possible to make bad coffee with any brewing method, even when starting with great coffee beans, if you don’t pay attention to the details. The batch brewer is after all a pourover brewing method. It dispenses water evenly over the ground coffee at a consistent temperature and even allows for the coffee to bloom before adding more water in pulses throughout the brewing cycle. As a coffee consumer don’t automatically discount batch brewed coffee as inferior to manual brewed coffee. We will have a cup waiting for you when you want it.
New Featured Brew from Grounded Coffee
Tanzania Burka Estate* Peaberry* Plus
Location: Mount Meru, Arumeru District, Arusha Region, Northern Tanzania
Altitude: 1334 meters (4376 feet)
Type (Varietals): Kent, Bourbon, SL
Preparation: Wet Processed/Washed
Drying: Sun Dried on Patios
Notes: Medium-Bold Intensity / Complex sugars, chocolate, citrus
*Estate – A “coffee estate” is used to imply a farm that has it’s own processing facility, a wet-mill. In Spanish this is called aHacienda. A Finca (farm) does not necessarily have a mill. In a strict sense an Estate would have both a wet mill and a dry mill, meaning they prepare coffee from the tree all the way to ready-to-export green coffee in jute bags. Estate coffee is not necessarily better than any other type, except the Estate has the possibility of controlling the quality through the entire process.
*Peaberry, also known as caracoli, is a type of coffee bean. Normally the fruit (“cherry”) of the coffee plant contains two seeds (“beans”) that develop with flattened facing
sides, but sometimes only one of the two seeds is fertilized, and the single seed develops with nothing to flatten it. This oval (or pea-shaped) bean is known as peaberry. Typically around 5% of all coffee beans harvested are of this form. Normal coffee beans are less commonly called by contrast flat berry.
Our current featured brew, roasted by Grounded Coffee in Springfield, is from a farm in Guatemala called Monte Nuevo. The coffee is grown on a 5 acre plot within the farm and is wet-processed or “washed”. The method of processing is one of many factors affecting the taste of the coffee in the cup. We recently featured another coffee from the same farm grown on a different 5 acre plot using the honey processing method. The taste difference between the two coffees is subtle and difficult to discern even in a side by side comparison Top producing farms experiment with different processing methods in an attempt to find the best method for a particular coffee. The following is a description of processing methods excerpted from www.coffeereview.com. An excellent source for all sorts of coffee information and reviews of coffee from around the world.
“Coffee processing” refers to the method of removing the cherry pulp and parchment from the coffee seed (bean), with the finished result being the hard green beans ready for roasting. Generally speaking, there are two methods for processing coffee: Wet-processed (or “washed”) coffees are brought to the mill soon after picking, where the coffee cherry is de-pulped, allowed to ferment for about 20 hours, washed of all pulp and then dried (usually on cement patios). Dry-processed (or “natural”) coffees are whole, intact cherries dried directly on patios, raised beds, tarps or rooftops; once dried, the hard cherry pod is hulled to remove the skin, pulp and parchment in one step. There are over 70 countries in the tropic zone that grow coffee and, as you can imagine, many variations of these two processing methods have evolved over the years based on tradition, climate, economy, quality and so on.
About seven or eight years ago, we began to see coffees from Costa Rica and Panama called “honey-processed.” This is a variation of the “pulped natural” processing method in which the skin and pulp are removed, but the sticky, sugary “mucilage” is allowed to remain and dry on the bean. The name is derived from the honey-colored appearance of the beans after they have dried for a day or so. If performed carefully, with ripe cherry, this process can add perceptible sweetness and body to the final cup character of the coffee. Drying techniques are critical in the honey process, as mold and fungus defects can easily develop if the coffee is not properly and uniformly aerated. African-style raised beds have become the standard for drying honey coffees, as these allow for good air circulation and easy access for turning the coffee at regular intervals. Proper drying requires that the bed depth of the coffee never exceeds two inches. Even for a small farm and mill, honey processing necessitates quite a bit of square footage dedicated to raised beds. Along with the added labor involved for proper drying, this means that honey processing can be more expensive for the producer. The added costs, however, can be well worth the effort when the result is a sweet, clean and full bodied cup.”
Here is the description of the Guatemala Finca Monte Nuevo:
Coffee: Guatemala Finca Monte Nuevo – fully washed
Variety: Bourbon, Caturra
Altitude: 1600-1800 meters
Harvest: December to February
Flavor: milk chocolate, plum, pecan
Acidity: apricot acidity
Finish: clean sweet
We are changing the date for the Espresso class to Saturday, April 13th at 11 am. The class will be at Dancing Mule and will be presented by Sean Hunziker of Grounded Coffee/Copper Canyon Roasters and Randy Austin from Dancing Mule. We will discuss the basics of espresso preparation and then get hands on and pull some shots. Please reserve your spot for this class by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The date for the milk steaming class has also been changed to Saturday, May 11th, at 11 am at Dancing Mule. If your are an aspiring home barista or just curious about how it is done you will be able to explore during this class. We will get our hands around some pitchers and steam and texture some milk. We can’t promise you will be a latte art champion after this class but you will be headed in the right direction. The date for the roasting demonstration has not been set at this time. We will post more information about the roasting demonstration on the Dancing Mule website and Facebook when it is available.
Dancing Mule will be hosting a series of Coffee Education classes beginning Saturday March 2nd at 11 am with a Coffee Cupping. Coffee Cupping is the standard format for tasting and evaluating coffee for purchase, or during the roasting process, or in our case just for fun . One of the core values of Dancing Mule is to educate in a positive manner without being condescending or arrogant. We want to share what we know about coffee because we love great coffee and want others to appreciate it as much as we do. All of our classes will be free. We ask for participants to sign up in advance so we can make sure we can accomodate everyone who wants to come. We will limit the number of participants for each class however, we will schedule more classes if needed. We will keep a sign up sheet at the register. You can sign up in the shop or give us a call at 417-883-5114 or email to email@example.com. We will also offer a 10% discount on our wide selection of coffee or brewing equipment after any of the classes. Check the website and our Facebook page for updates on upcoming classes.
The schedule for classes will be:
Coffee Cupping, Saturday, March 2nd @ 11am - We will explore the different tastes of coffee through the standard cupping process.
Brewing Class, Saturday, March 16th @11 am – We will explain and demonstrate Pourover and French Press brewing methods including the reasons for following the best brewing procedures and not just the techniques.
Espresso Class, Saturday March 30th @11 am – Are you an aspiring home barista? Learn about the espresso brewing process and even try your hand at extracting a great espresso.
Milk Steaming, Saturday, April 13th @11 am - Start your journey to becoming a latte art champ, well at least the first step on the journey. Steaming and texturing milk is one half of the equation of making a great latte.
Roasting – Time and date to be announced, This class will be held at Copper Canyon Roasters and will include a roasting demonstration and explanation of the process.
Recently Ed Peaco, a free-lance writer for the Springfield News-Leader asked if he could interview us for an online article about Dancing Mule. We said yes, of course, since we aren’t shy about receiving free publicity for the Mule. Ed spent about 2 hours with us sampling food and drinks and talking about the Mule. It is always interesting to see the results of an interview knowing it will have to be condensed and edited to a reasonable length. We appreciate Ed spending so much time with us and including much of what we talked about during the interview. Our only regret is we didn’t have our more attractive staff members available for the group photo. You can check out the article here: http://www.news-leader.com/article/20120709/ENTERTAINMENT12/307090048/Restaurant-Profile-Dancing-Mule
I was reading an article in the April/May issue of Barista Magazine written by Michael Phillips and it made me think about the choices we offer at Dancing Mule. Michael Phillips won the United States Barista Championship and the World Barista Championship in 2010. He is supremely qualified to comment on specialty coffee and is certainly entitled to his opinion. The article is about choices Handsome Coffee Roasters (his new coffee venture) have made in setting up their retail coffee bar. The article brings up an ongoing debate in the specialty coffee community about limiting choices we offer our customers. Dancing Mule believes our customers should be able to enjoy their coffee drink the way they like it. We believe the best coffee for our customer is the one they like the best not the one I or my staff like the best. Some coffee shop owners believe milk choice should be limited to whole milk. Some believe drinks should only be served in traditional sizes so the notes in the espresso are not drowned in milk. Flavorings, according to some, should be limited to either none or a few basic flavors. Some believe in serving only traditional drinks and eliminating or minimizing the condiment bar so the customer will taste the coffee without cream or sweeteners. The drive-thru is a negative in the mind of some shop owners and baristas because they believe the customer can’t possibly appreciate the awesome goodness of coffee while drinking it from a paper cup in their car.
What is the justification for this kind of thinking? In some cases I think it is a completely negative and snobbish attitude that ultimately hurts specialty coffee shops. No one likes to be looked down on by someone serving coffee who thinks they have it all figured out. I believe most of the time the motives are pure and shop owners are trying to differentiate themselves as true specialty coffee shops. They are trying to elevate coffee beyond a commodity. They are trying to showcase the hard work of the farmer, the roaster, and the barista by serving the coffee in an unadulterated form. I respect their commitment to quality and only selling what they perceive to be the best coffee prepared in the best way. I feel the same commitment to great coffee only I want to let the customer decide the best way to enjoy their coffee. If you enjoy a 20 oz vanilla soy mocha, then the Mule Team will try to make you the best one you have ever tasted, pour a Rosetta in the top of your paper cup, put a lid on it, and serve it with a smile through the drive-thru window. I will also be happy to serve your double espresso in a demitasse with a fancy little spoon. I believe the customer should not be judged or reprimanded or lectured for how they enjoy their coffee. I believe in offering as many choices as we can manage so we can serve great coffee to a wide audience. We enjoy talking with our customers about proper milk texturing, latte art, how the espresso is carefully prepared, how the beans are the top 1% available in the world, and by the way would you like to try an espresso? I believe gently educating when the opportunity arises is the best way to turn people on to great coffee.
Dancing Mule Coffee is all about offering choices to our customers. We have 8, 12, 16, and 20 ounce sizes for hot drinks in paper or ceramic cups. We have 16, 20, and now 32 ounce sizes for our cold drinks. The 32 ounce size is certain to get our coffee purist credential revoked. We started offering the 32 ounce cold drink because some of our customers requested it for iced tea. Who am I to say someone shouldn’t have a 32 ounce frappe if they want one? We have skim milk, 2%, whole, half and half, soy, and almond milk. We have even steamed heavy cream upon request and eggnog during the holidays. We can make almost all of our drinks hot, iced, or blended and decaf. We will attempt to duplicate any combination of modifier you might have for your coffee drink even half-caf (although that is the hardest one for me to understand). We have a wide variety of flavors including 14 sugar free flavors. We serve 2 varieties of Chai, 8 Harney and Sons hot teas, unsweet and sweet iced tea, and we will ice any of our Harney and Sons tea upon request. We have juice boxes for kids, hot chocolate, Italian sodas, crèmes (flavored blended drinks like a frappe without the coffee), and six varieties of fruit smoothies for the non-coffee drinkers who come to the shop. We will serve your drink to-go, in the café, or out the drive-thru window. We have 15 – 20 different coffees available for retail sale including single origins, blends, a couple of flavored coffees, and coffee from two different roasters. We stock whole bean coffee to keep it fresh but we will grind it for you. We keep 2 or 3 coffee choices in addition to our house and featured available on the pour-over bar so our customers can explore the coffee world.
Every coffee shop owner, really every business, has to decide what they will serve and how many choices they will offer their customers. The marketplace will ultimately decide if a business is providing for the needs and desires of their customers. I respect any coffee shop that is doing what they think is right for their customers. A rising tide lifts all boats. All independent coffee shops benefit when we make specialty coffee truly special and better than what the customer expects. I would appreciate any feedback or comment on the choices Dancing Mule offers to our customers especially by our customers. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or comments. We want to constantly improve our service and our coffee so any suggestions are helpful.
We have 21 different varieties of coffee available for you to enjoy at home. Including two new PT’s Direct Trade Coffee’s from Bolivia. We have the Juan Yujra Micro-lot from Finca Senda Salvaje featuring notes of roasted hazelnuts and brown sugar. The smooth, buttery cup rounds out to a delicate and refreshing sweetness of melon as the coffee cools. The Vicente Baltazar Micro-lot features a creamy body with notes of gentle honey, caramel, and a juicy acidity. The cup rounds out with a delicate jonagold apple sweetness as it cools.
Our current featured brew is also roasted by PT’s Coffee and is from the Tarrazu region of Costa Rica. La Candelilla Estate consists of 9 small coffee producers working together to produce their harvest. The pickers at La Candelilla Estate take special care to ensure they only harvest cherries at 100% ripeness. The cherries are brought back to be pulped, washed and processed. The coffee is then set out on drying patios to be sun dried, until the proper moisture content has been reached in the drying process. This coffee has a very nice aroma, hinting at caramel, chocolate and almonds. The cup has a mild acidity and a well balanced body with notes of caramel, gentle cedar and a soft melon sweetness.
We have five coffees from Copper Canyon Coffee Roasters in Springfield, Mo available for you to take home. Our current Copper Canyon selection includes the Sumatra Black Satin, Costa Rica, Matagalpa, Rwanda, and the Swiss Water Processed Sumatra Decaf. All of these coffees are Fair Trade Certified and Organic.
At Dancing Mule we enjoy offering a wide selection of retail coffee. We are happy to talk coffee and help you select the right one for you. We can also offer suggestions on getting the most out of your coffee brewing experience at home. We can always order any of the coffee available from PT’s or Copper Canyon for you if we don’t have your favorite.
As the holidays approach, the giant foreign factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods.
This year can be different. This year Americans can give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no excuse at gift giving time that nothing can be found produced by American hands. Yes there is!
It’s time to think outside the box! Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?
How about gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber? A gym membership or sessions with a personal trainer are appropriate for anyone thinking about health improvement! Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamin’s on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps the grateful gift receiver would like their driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or rounds at the local golf course.
There are many owner-operated restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint, or a gift card from a local coffee shop. Remember this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
How many people could use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?
Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning service for a day. .
Maybe you are looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and make scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes. Local artists and framing shops can help you find or create a unique gift that will be treasured for many years and not discarded after a season.
Plan your holiday outings at locally-owned restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. Support your local grocery store by shopping there for your Holiday feast. How about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre? or a local musician?
Do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of lights almost nothing stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.
Shopping local for Christmas is about encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. When we support local small businesses we show support for our communities and the benefits come back to us in ways we can’t imagine!