LAMILL Coffee Roasting Tour & Cupping Experience

Last week, I received the chance to attend and learn more about the roasting process at LAMILL Coffee! Their warehouse and office is located in Alhambra, and everything from the receipt of the beans to the packaging occurs here. 

Process: Farmer > Milling > Transport > Roasting > Coffee Shop > Barista 

LAMILL gets most of their beans from Central and South America, and each bag comes as heavy as 130 lbs to 150 lbs. The beans are a light greenish brown before roasting, and it had a earthy scent that smelled subtly like vegetables. There is a natural protective coating covering the beans called parchment, and after it is dried in the sun, the outer coating is removed and placed into bags to be shipped to the LAMILL warehouse. 

The beans are then placed in a bucket elevator (below photo) which holds up to 132 lbs of beans. The elevator shoots the beans up through a shaft and takes the beans to a 60 kilo drum roaster that continually rotates over 400 degrees (420 for a dark roast). Every couple minutes, the roasters look and smell the coffee to make heated adjustments as time affects acidity. There is also a roast tracker that tracks every roast that they've had for quality purposes. For example, a longer roast would result in a chocolate caramel like smell, whereas a lighter roast is more lemon-y and citrus-y.

During the roasting process, air is incinerated and exits clear with no smoke. There is also a chaff byproduct that flakes off during the roasting process which is shown in the photos below. As the beans roast, you can hear crackling which indicates the moisture building up as well as the steam pressure. Sounds almost like popcorn popping in the microwave but more distinct! The crackling is used as a time marker at what stage the beans are at! 

For small batch coffee, a smaller roaster (12 kilos) is used, and it can hold up to only 26 lbs at a time. The more expensive coffee is roasted here. The lightest roast can be as fast as 10 minutes, and the darkest roast will take up to 17 minutes. 

After the beans are roasted, it is packaged into smaller pound bags and ready to ship! 

After watching the roasting process, we were taken to the cupping room to try the different types of beans! We received a light, medium, and dark roast to try. This part was super interesting as the process is extremely different from how normal coffee is brewed! At this part, John, the director of coffee, taught us the appropriate way to brew. 

After grinding the beans, he used filtered water at 195-205 degrees to brew the coffee. Distilled water has no taste, and hard mineral la water is no good as there are too many minerals. At 204 degrees, co2 is forced out by the water, and crusting occurs.

We were then taught how to "slurp" the coffee- you take a spoon and after breaking the crust, you slurp in the small sip of coffee to get the full flavor all throughout your mouth. The louder the slurp, the better! We repeated this process for every roast after cleaning our spoon in the water cups!

My favorite ended up being the light roast as it was more vibrant and citrus in flavor. I had such a fun and educational time learning about the roasting process and the various beans! Thank you John and LAMILL Coffee for giving us a roasting tour and showing us how to cup! 

Public School 213's New Spring/ Summer Menu

Public School 213 has always been a local hangout spot for me for drinks and snacks, and I was excited to try their new spring/ summer menu! New additions include a grilled watermelon & heirloom tomato stack, pizza di verdure, and meatballs & linguine. They have a huge selection of beers on tap, and I had The Earl of Juniper, an earl grey infused jin with lavender and lemon that was delectable. 

We started out with the grilled watermelon & heirloom tomato stack that was topped with feta, balsamic, and marcona almonds. This dish had the best textures! Both the watermelon and the tomato was super juicy, but the tomato was more soft and spongey whereas the watermelon was crisp and light. The contrast of the two really complemented each other well, and the almonds was just the cherry to the dish. Obsessed with this combination- I need more of this in my life! 

The Pizza di Verdure with zucchini, arrabbiata angry sauce, caramelized onions, basil, goat cheese, truffle oil, and lemon gremolata was next, and the combination was delicious. Lots of intertwining flavors and textures throughout, and I really liked the subtle hint of truffle oil in the pizza! 

Last but not least, the Meatballs & Linguine included the arrabbiata angry sauce, rapini, grana padano, and basil. This was the favorite of the table as the sauce had a spicy kick to it from the arrabbiata angry sauce. The linguine was cooked perfectly, and the meatballs were so flavorful and juicy! I was super impressed with this dish.

We had a great time at Public School 213, and I'm so glad we finally got to try the food! The overall theme of "school" with composition books, "incomplete" to go boxes, and school tables is so cute! Love how they have seasonal items so that the menu is always changing! 

Ultimate Umami Burger Nine Course Tasting Menu

9 drinks, 8 burgers, and 3 sides? Challenge accepted! The ultimate Umami tasting menu is not for the weak, and the four of us went for it head on! The tasting menu is meant to be shared family style between four people for a $95 total (so around $25 per person). With that, each person eats a total of two burgers and sides, which is extremely reasonable once you divide up the prices! Not only that, you also get to try almost all of their burgers on the menu! I would also recommend the beverage pairing at $175 total for 4 ($44 per person)- for $19 more, you get 9 rounds of various drinks to sip and savor. 

We started out with their sides: thin fries, sweet potato fries, and tempura onion rings. These dishes were served with their house made sauces: diablo sauce, jalapeno ranch, garlic aioli, and house umami ketchup. The array of sauces were delicious- we could not stop dipping our sides into the different flavors! My personal favorite was the house umami ketchup which had a hint of truffle in it as well as the diablo sauce as I love my spice! The garlic aioli was also a favorite of the table. The fries were crispy and soft in the right places, and the malt liquor batter of the tempura onion rings was perfection! We got a real sugar Mountain Dew to pair with these sides which tasted so much better than the regular Mountain Dew you get in stores! 

First burger: Truffle burger with truffled aioli, house truffle cheese, truffle glaze. The first bite was heavenly, and I loved how the cheese oozed out of the burger! We were still starving at this point, so this burger was devoured in seconds. This burger was paired with the Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout; stouts are typically dark and bitter and this was no exception. I am personally not a fan of stouts, but I can see how it paired with the burger well!  

The Manly burger with house beer cheddar cheese, bacon, lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, and Umami house ketchup mustard spread was next, and this was just my type! It did feel manly indeed, and this was one of my favorites especially with the drink pairing! Of course, you can't be a man without a maple bacon old fashioned which was tasty. 

Burger three and still going strong! The Ahi Tuna burger with seared ahi tuna patty, daikon, sprouts, crushed avocado, gingered carrots, wasabi flake, and wasabi tartar was a light and refreshing burger compared to the first two. The carrot added a nice crunch complement to the ahi, and the fish was fresh! This burger was paired with the Victory Golden Monkey (all the way to the right in the photo below). This beer was lighter than the stout which I found perfect for this burger! 

The Hatch burger with roasted hatch chiles, house cali cheese, and roasted garlic aioli had a nice kick to it! It reminded me of a Mexican fusion burger but even better. This was paired with the Velvet Mule which included Tito's Handmade Vodka, velvet falernum, fresh lime juice, ginger beer, bitters, and mint. The drink was another highlight of the meal- I love how they added a touch of velvet to it! At this point, we all devoured one burger each and we were starting to slow down. 

Turkey anyone? The Greenbird burger with turkey patty, crushed avocado, green cheese, butter lettuce, sprouts, and green goddess was my friend's go to burger when she visits Umami, and I can see why! This is her healthy alternative, and I've never had such a yummy turkey patty! Add avocado and cheese- it's a win for me! This burger was paired with a light and crisp white wine, the 2014 Laurenz Gruner Vetliner. 

Really starting to slow down at this point... the Cali burger with butter lettuce, roasted tomato, carmelized onions, house spread, and house cali cheese was a blur to me. We were starting to question our life decisions, which was uncanny timing for the Spicy Mezcalrita with Lunazul blanco tequila, pomegranate liqueur infused with cucumber and serrano pepper, fresh juices topped with Xicaru Mezcal and Cointreau foam. The drink had a kick to it, and it woke us up out of our daze! 

Time for a throwback.. to another burger! The Throwback burger with two 3.5 oz seared beef patties, white cheddar cheese, miso mustard, Umami house ketchup, soy pickles, and minced onions was my favorite hands down! The two patties were so succulent and just dripping in juice.. Even though I was stuffed, I finished my portion! My mouth is watering talking about this.... the burger was paired with real sugar Pepsi (not pictured) which was fitting! 

Last but not least, the famous Umami burger with parmesan frico, shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, carmelized onions, and Umami house ketchup. We were completely done from the Throwback burger, so we ended up taking this one to go. This was paired with the 2013 Seghesio Zinfandel (not pictured).

We ended up almost finishing two burgers, which is pretty impressive in my opinion as the tasting lasted around 2 hours (more reason for the food to settle in). Truth be told, we weren't able to finish our beers, but I definitely finished all of the other drinks! My friends and I had a wonderful experience with the tasting menu, and I'm so glad I got to try basically every burger at Umami as I would not have tried them otherwise! Thank you Umami for having us, this meal is definitely one for the books! 

Tasting Menu for Reference 

Tasting Menu for Reference