Nine Bites from This Year’s Minneapolis Farmers Markets

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

We visited last week’s First Taste Minneapolis Farmers Markets Preview and discovered that there’s a new crop of makers at our markets and good reason to stroll in the almost-summer sun. Along with ramps, tender greens, a few morels, and those oh so sweet overwintered parsnips, you’ll find a pantry’s worth of pickles, kraut, kimchee, and sauces, crafted from local produce. Each of these items pops up at various markets in the area – check the websites for current details.


Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Topos Ferments – Tangy carrots brightened with mint, golden beets with ginger, garlicky ramps, crafted by Jim Bovino, master of microbes. Light on funk, not too sweet, the flavors of each vegetable shines through.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Kiss My Cabbage – Adrienne Logsdon makes a kraut to love. That beet curtido loaded with cumin turns scrambled eggs into a dinner-worthy meal. Her kimchi changes seasonally.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Craft & Vine Picklery – Traditional pickles are packed in a balanced brine to be crisp and crunchy, hamburger ready. They’re available in Original Dill or Habanero Hot!

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Mazzah – This traditional Afgahn sauce looks like pesto and tastes like a chutney. It’s a smooth bold blend of heat and warm spices. It’s translated to mean “flavor” in Farsi, and created by sisters Sheilla and Yasameen, using their mom’s traditional recipe.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Jen’s Jars – Chef Jennifer Alexander’s spinach and pine nut pesto makes a fine alternative to the classic basil blend. There’s plenty of garlic, a bit of heat, and the color is spring bright. Swirl into soups, toss with pasta.

Sweet Root – Take a break! Eat a vegan cookie – the one with chocolate chips spiked with cayenne (which offers a nice sweet heat).

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Calvits Drinking Shrubs These shrubs are for drinking, not mixing, and they’re tart and bright, sparking a range of summery sips. Try the Ginger Lemongrass with vodka, Beet Ginger with sparkling water and lime, Thai Basil and dark rum.

Root To Rise Kitchen’s Walking Vegan Tacos Loaded with fresh veggies draped in creamy cashew cheese with a fiery hot sauce, these can compete with any taco in town.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

3 Bear Oats Grain Bowls Try the Shangri-La curry, with coconut, cashew and crystallized ginger for lunch or a light dinner. Not too hot, not too spicy, and plenty of zip … this one is just right!

Camel Burgers and the Morning Roundup

Bill visits and digs the Windmill Cafe in Savage, Safari Express is going to start serving camel burgers, a rundown of the Saturday lineup at Taste by Mpls. St. Paul, and a fantastic photo of poutine.

The Dangerous Girls’ Guide to Cooking

How to kill a live lobster. How to drink whisky. How to flambe. How to eat a ghost chili (the world’s hottest chili). All this and more at the awesome-sounding demo by Chef Marianne Miller, which takes place this Saturday from 11:15am-noon on the Main Culinary Stage at the Mpls.St. Paul Magazine Taste event.

How to Use a Pour Over Brewer

Eric Faust / Heavy Table
Eric Faust / Heavy Table

Every morning millions of people wake up, walk across their kitchen, and press the little button on the side of their electric drip coffee maker. The sound of suction and steam as the machine brews a fresh pot is an integral part of many mornings. The stains in the bottom of the carafe and and the glow of the “on” button on the side of the machine are part of the morning ritual and comfort that a pot of coffee can bring.

To many the thought of fumbling with an espresso machine or the rich hearty brew of a French press is too much in the morning. The ease of the electric drip brew machine is what makes the morning bearable.

Unfortunately the coffee that most electric drip brewers deliver is less than satisfactory. As more coffee shops have opened, people have opted for a $2 cup of coffee rather than the black swill that they make at home. This is because many electric drip brewers do not have the capabilities to brew coffee properly.

The biggest problem with the average electric drip coffee brewer is that it does not heat the water hot enough for brewing coffee. Many brewers drip water over the grounds at lower temperatures and then rely on the heating pad holding the carafe to heat it to a temperature that is suitable for drinking. Only high-end machines like Bunn and Technivorm heat water hot enough for proper extraction.

Spending over $200 on a coffee maker may be out of the question, but spending $5 is worth a try. The pour over brewer has been overlooked for as long as electric drip brewers have been available. It has been written off as ineffective because it is simple and affordable, but still it is a brewing device that is as capable of brewing a superior cup of coffee.

Like those of the French press, the key variables to consider are coffee quality, grind, water, and time. With the pour over brewer, another variable to consider is the filter. Most pour over brewers use a cone filter rather than a flat-bottom filter used in many electric drip brewers. Bleached, natural, and bamboo are among the varieties of disposable filters, but there are also reusable filters made from a metal screen. The reusable metal filter is the most effective because it allows for the most flavor to pass through and into the cup. Among the disposable filters the bleached white filters are the most neutral. The bamboo and natural filters give off a slight earthy taste that in time will detract from the flavors in the cup.

The water used for the pour over brewer should be the same as the French press, between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Taking a pot of water off of a boil for a few minutes will allow you to easily reach an ideal temperature.

The grind for the pour over brewer is not as coarse as the French press and not as fine as espresso. The cone filter needs a slightly finer grind than a flat-bottom filter. This will slow down the rate of flow and allow more time for extraction. The grind should be similar to the coarseness of sugar and have a uniform look and feel.

Eric Faust / Heavy Table
Eric Faust / Heavy Table

The coffee should be ground after the water is heated, and the amount used will vary depending on your taste. The Specialty Coffee Association of America recommends 14.5 grams of coffee for every 8 oz of water — approximately 2 tbsp of coffee for every 8 oz of water.

When the coffee has been properly ground and the water is at the ideal temperature, the water should be slowly poured over the grounds in a varied manner allowing the grounds to slowly moisten. The coffee should be stirred, and as it drips, the sides of the filter should be scrapped allowing for the water to continue to extract flavor from all of the grounds. The entire brew will take less time than a brew in a French press.

There isn’t a button that lights up or a heating pad to keep your coffee warm. It takes a little extra effort, but in the end it is a simple and affordable way to brew a superior cup of coffee that will put your electric drip brewer to rest.

How to Use a French Press

Jeremy Pieper
Jeremy Pieper / Heavy Table

The French press is one of the most basic yet intimidating methods of brewing coffee. The name alone frightens people into thinking that it is some form of elite French coffee brewing that requires extensive knowledge and an artistic touch. The reality is that the French press is one of the simplest ways to brew a high-quality cup of coffee.

The idea behind it is basic: You immerse the coffee fully in water and then press out the grounds. Before the press was invented, coffee was brewed by fully immersing the coffee beans in water and then using items like an egg, slices of cod, or some other ridiculous additive to create a reaction that would make the grounds sink to the bottom of the container.

The creation of the press allowed mankind to properly brew coffee without making it taste like egg yolks or fish. It opened up the door to nuances and flavors that are part of the natural make up of the bean.

The four key variables to consider are coffee quality, grind, water, and time. You must first select a whole bean coffee. Coffee that is pre-ground is most often ground for drip-style brewing unless it is stated otherwise. Selecting whole bean coffee will allow you to grind it to the desired coarseness for ideal extraction.

The grind for a French press is the coarsest grind of any mainstream brewing device. The grind should not feel powdery in your hand; it should feel crumbly and have a uniform look. A grind that is too fine will result in an over extracted coffee that tastes bitter and astringent. Too coarse a grind will result in an under extracted coffee that tastes weak and thin.

Jeremy Pieper
Jeremy Pieper

Water is one of the most important aspects of properly brewing in a French press. If the water has a poor taste before brewing, it will be present after brewing. Some coffee shops use filtration systems to create an ideal mineral content for brewing coffee. At home, it is important to trust your palate and experiment with your water. If your water has been softened too much, it can result in a weak and flavorless cup. If you have water with a high mineral content it might taste great, or it might detract from the taste of the coffee. A Brita water filter can be a quick and affordable fix that can greatly improve the quality of your coffee.

The water should be heated to 195-205° F. Simply taking a pot of water off of a boil for a few minutes will allow you to reach the ideal temperature for brewing your coffee.

Coffee should be ground after the water has been heated. The Specialty Coffee Association of America recommends that 8 oz of water be used with 14.5 grams of coffee; this translates into about 2 tbsp of coffee for every 8 oz.

After the water has been added to the coffee it should be stirred. The fresher the coffee, the greater the “bloom” will be. The bloom is when the coffee expands rapidly, forming a crust on the top of the press. If the coffee is old there will be little or no bloom. The coffee should be stirred at the beginning of the brewing process to ensure that all of the grounds can come in contact with the water.

The brew should take about 4 minutes. The brew can be shorter or longer depending on the desired taste. When the coffee is pressed, it should be done slowly and steadily such that the screen seals with the side of the press and all of the grounds are pressed to the bottom. The coffee should then be poured into cups. If coffee is left in the press, it will continue to extract flavor from the coffee grounds, resulting in over extraction.

If done properly, the French press will deliver a cup that is bold and beautiful, preserving the integrity of the terroir and diminishing the acidity of the cup so that the nuances of the coffee can be tasted and enjoyed.

Cafe Imports in St. Paul

If you know your coffee roaster you have made the first step towards becoming a connoisseur. You have pursued coffee beyond a fancy package and showed your friends that Folgers just isn’t good enough, that coffee is more than a caffeine buzz and actually has culinary qualities. When you pick up your beans you chat with the roaster, telling them about how much you like the new blend or the nutty notes in the Brazil. You linger on the few juicy details they offer about coffee to use at your next dinner party, like “the peaberry is actually a mutant coffee bean” or “the Brazil is grown in the Cerrado mountains.”

Every time you leave you wonder how they know. Have they walked the soil and shook hands with the farmers? Some roasters have, but most use a broker. Mark Norgren of Reality Roasters says “your coffee is only as good as your broker,” the reason why he and many other roasters in Minnesota use Café Imports, a nationally recognized green bean coffee importer in St. Paul.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Andrew Miller, President of Café Imports, started importing green coffee beans in 1994. After over a decade, Café Imports has become one of the premier coffee importers in the United States. The Café Imports warehouse holds over 400 different coffees from countries all over the world. Every year Miller and members of his staff travel to places of origin to walk the soil and shake hands with the farmers. This past year he traveled to El Salvador, Rwanda, and Burundi. Jamin Haddox, Café Imports Quality Control Manager, traveled to Colombia to be part of the international jury for the Cup of Excellence Competition. Other members of the staff traveled to Costa Rica, Mexico, and Ethiopia.

To keep their roaster up to date they keep an online blog and photo journal where roasters can learn about their coffee and Café Imports trips to origin. As Café Imports pushes forward by learning about their coffee, they also push forward by telling their customers everything they can about the coffee. For a roaster in Minnesota and around the country, Café Imports is not only a source for green coffee, but a connection to the origins of coffee.

Cafe Imports

2140 Energy Park Dr
St. Paul, MN 55108
OWNER: Andrew Miller
HOURS: Mon-Fri 9am-4pm (warehouse pickup)