Part of the Family

I've known Scott for a few years now (his wife and I have known each other for 11). When it comes to being around groups of people that I don't know very well, I'm extremely introverted, so I tend to keep to myself. Scott is the complete opposite; he's gotten pretty good at bringing me out of my shell. When Hannah told me that he and his friend were in the process of opening up their own coffee shop, I was excited for them. From the beginning I knew that I wanted to play my small part in supporting them, so that they would succeed (as did many of their friends and family). 

 

When the shop first opened I was pretty careful when deciding when I should go in so I could avoid being around a bunch of strangers. The more I would go in to visit with Scott, the more some of the other baristas would recognize me. I'd walk up to the register and Austin would greet me by name, while Chelsey asked if I wanted a mocha (my usual drink at the time). Because of how often I would go in to RMC, I decided to make a conscious effort to get to know everyone a little more. I began with some basic small talk, discussing where I work, personal interests, etc. After a while these strangers weren't strangers anymore. The more I got to know everyone, the more I'd go in, which I didn't think was possible considering how much time I was already spending there. If I didn't go in for a few days, it didn't go without notice. And when I did finally go in, I was greeted with smiles and enthusiasm. RMC had become a huge part of my social life. 

 

When I go into the shop, I'm not just seeing the super-cool RMC baristas, I'm seeing my friends. We no longer only have conversations about work; we're discussing the new movies we've been wanting to see, who would win in a fight between Batman/Flash vs. Superman/Green Arrow, and exciting events going on in each others' lives. The people at Round Mountain are a family and somehow I managed to find my place in there. You don't have to be on payroll to be a part of this unique band of misfits; just be open to connecting with new people and don't be afraid to let your true self come out. 

Meet the Team: Holly

How long have you been working at RMC?

Four months!

What’s your favorite color?

Gray. I prefer a darker gray.

If you could create a brand new drink right now, what would you name it?

Uh oh. Now I can only think of things that start with gray.. Oh gosh, I’m not good at these things on the spot. What do I like, what do I like… Skip me, go to someone else.

What is your favorite drink (coffee and non)?

I think the one and one is probably my favorite coffee drink. I also like mountain dew a lot, I know it’s not good for me but..

What’s your favorite quote?

I actually used to have a book of quotes but they were from One Tree Hill… OH! It’s by Thomas Watson. Christ went more willingly to the cross than we do to the throne of grace.

Briefly describe one thing you’ve learned about yourself since working at RMC?

Oh, I’m way worse at making conversation than most people.

Do you have any nicknames working at RMC?

No. Nobody calls me anything.

What compelled you to apply to work at RMC?

I like, begged Scott and Kyle for awhile. I just really wanted to work at a coffee shop because I like the environment and I really like Scott and Kyle so.

Describe Round Mountain in 3 words.

Oh, well.. It’s homey, trying to think of how you say…not just good but you know…crafted? Crafty? I don’t like it. Careful, like caring what you do? Full of care! What do you call like making people want to know stuff? Educational!

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would that be?

Uhm, I really like where I am. I would probably be in Seattle with Alex because that’s where we spent our honeymoon. But if he’s not there I DON’T want to be there.

What is one of the funniest things you’ve witnessed behind the bar?

Well the other day Scott thought he was being good by cleaning the cold brew tower and stuck a towel in the coil thing and it got stuck. No one else probably thought it was as funny as I did.

Last, what is one characteristic/trait/hobby/habit of yours that most people don’t know about/realize?

Uhm, let’s see. I probably got some good stuff. -Scott: She naps, a LOT. “I sure do nap a lot *chuckles wildly*. Oh, ok. I love comedy. So my favorite hobby is sketching comedy with my friend Hannah. It’s not funny at all so I’m glad no one knows about it.

Back to the drink question!

Don’t give up on me please…that’s not the name, no! That is a good name though.. OH, I would name it a cry for help! I think its funny when people call things a cry for help.
 

Want to listen to the full interview?

Composing A French Press

When it comes to brewing coffee at home, most are familiar with the traditional french press brew method. The real question I want to pose to you is how much do you truly know about this family favorite? Starting from origin to process to final product, this post serves to inspire you to give the French press a try in your own home!

 

Brief History

The French press was originally patented by two Italians, Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta in 1929. Shortly after in 1958, a Swiss man by the name of Faliero Bondanini mass produced a model that is widely used in coffee shops and households today. Bondanini manufactured it out of an old French clarinet warehouse and gave it the name Chambord. The initial popularity of the final product in France gave it the name we know today; the French Press! With this brief background now, would you consider this a French, Swiss or Italian product? Leave us a comment below with your ideas!

 

Consistency of a French Press

The French press is a full immersion brewing process with a mesh filter that allows the natural oils to come out through the coffee. This process is similar to steeping tea or brewing a cup of coffee using an Aeropress. The oils are what gives the French press its mouthfeel and full bodied flavor, which typically results in a bolder cup of coffee versus other methods. 

 

Materials

  1. French Press
  2. A grinder (if you've never purchased one before, look for a burr grinder!)
  3. A scale (optional if you want to get the best consistency and flavor from your coffee)
  4. Whole coffee beans (the fresher the better, so be sure to buy locally)
  5. Water 

 

Brew Process

  1. The Grinding Process
    1. Because the French press is a full immersion coffee brewer, it is important to grind the coffee so the final product particle size is similar to that of course sea salt. Most modern in-home burr grinders will have a 'French Press' setting, be sure to use this! If it is not explicitly labeled, use the more coarse grind option available. 
  2. The Ratio
    1. Coffee ratios are key to brewing the best cup of coffee at home. This is where the importance of using a scale comes into play. Here at Round Mountain Coffee we use a 1:15 bean to water ratio. 
    2. Example: If we use 24 grams of coffee we will pour 360 grams of water into the press.
    3. There is no correct or 'best' ratio! Feel free to experiment with other ratios. A helpful tip is if the coffee is tasting too bitter in the end, increase the ratio (1:17 ratio) and likewise if it is not strong enough, lower it (1:13 ratio). 
  3. Water Temperature and Brew Time
    1. For best results, it is important to get the water to an optimal temperature between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit (to achieve this temperature without a thermometer, after your water comes to a boil, leave it sitting for approximately 30-60 seconds to reach this temperature. Using this temperature range allows the solubility of the coffee to extract at an appropriate time. Water that is too hot can over-extract your coffee and leave it too bitter while water that is too cold can leave you with watered-down coffee. 
    2. If your temperature is within this range and the grind setting is correct, the brew time should be around 4 minutes from the moment water contacts the dry coffee. 
      1. Times can vary depending on the particle size of the beans and temperature of the water. 

 

Example Brew Process

So much information! What to do with it? Follow these instructions below to get an optimal cup of coffee in your own home! (this example is using a 1 to 15 ratio)

 

  1. Heat your water to 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. While the water is heating, grind 24 grams of coffee on a course setting
  3. Preheat the French press with the hot water (you don't want to pour hot coffee into a cold container)
  4. Dump water out from the press that you used to preheat the container
  5. Add your ground coffee into the empty french press
  6. Start your timer and pour 60 to 70 grams of water in a circular motion to fully saturate the coffee
  7. Allow the coffee to de-gas (give the grounds a chance to soak in the water) for 30 seconds
  8. Pour the remaining 300 grams of water into the press
  9. Place plunger on top (don't press yet!)
  10. At the 4 minute mark, gently press the plunger down to the bottom
  11. Serve and Enjoy!

 

Pro RMC Tips

There's so much more than goes into making an awesome cup of coffee from a French press. Here's a few more tips for you!

  • Give the slurry (slang for the coffee/water mixture in the press) a stir after you finish pouring the water. Stirring allows the cofee to not settle as quickly which yields a more even and flavorful extraction.
  • If the coffee is too heavy due to the type and roast of coffee, use two spoons to scrape the top layer of oils off the slurry before pouring. This allows for a less heavy coffee mouthfeel.
  • Decant all of the coffee into a different device after done brewing so the coffee does not continue steeping.

 

We hope you enjoyed this week's blog post! More coffee brewing how-tos will be coming your way soon; be sure to follow us on all forms of social media to stay up to date with new articles! 

(Links to social media accounts below)

Meet the Team: Scott

What do people call you at RMC? At home?

Uhh, dad, uhh father, uhhhh Acro-yogi, . . . that's about it. Outside of Round Mountain Coffee, just about the same thing.
 

How long have you been working at RMC?

I have been working at it since about three years ago when I came back from DC and I've been wanting to open my own coffee shop since. So, its been a long journey, and then RMC opened on October 24th, 2016 so now it's 2017. So it feels like a long time. . .
 

What’s your favorite drink? RMC and elsewhere

It tends to change, I would say that my favorite drink at RMC is the flat white, I like the complexity of the milk with the shots of espresso, its just enough milk to cut some of the sharpness of the espresso we have, yet at the same time, a really sweet beverage overall. I would say if it was a coffee drink I love and hold dear to my heart, it would be (random mumbling, something about shots of shine) the One + One, it has a shot on the side of the cortado, so it's a cortado shot separated so that it allows me to taste the sweetness and the colorful tasting of an espresso shot and how well the steamed milk is done by the baristas. I usally get that when I go to another shop. (Continues to miss the question) But all I like is coffee!
 
 

Apples or oranges?

Oranges.
 

If you had a super-power, what would it be?

I already have a super-power, and it's the ability that I can say anything to anybody without them getting super mad at me, but if I had another, it would probably be the ability to control things with my mind, lift things up, what is that called. . . psyco something. . . (Figures out name 4 hours later). TELEKINESIS. Boom! Figured it out! 
 

What is something you’re passionate about?

Besides coffee, uhh, I'm passionate about helping others complete their dreams, I think that's why I'm called dad a lot. I'm also passionate about lifting people up in the air with my hands and feet, literally.
 

If you could travel to any place in the world right now, where would that be?

I would travel to . . . probably New Zealand, it is on my bucket list for sure, but if we're talking about inland, I would want to see the Red Woods and the Grand Canyon for sure.
 

What’s unique about RMC you can’t find anywhere else in Conway?

I would say that the overall experience of RMC is one of the most unique experiences you can have because we create relationships on a first name basis, and the fact that there is so much hugging going on at RMC that makes it a unique experience between employees and customers. I would say that that's really unique, besides roasting in house, . . . I love that we're so friendly and the atmosphere, and we're just super helpful to everyone around us and we care more about our community than anyone else around.
 
 

What’s the one thing you look forward to most coming in for a shift?

I just get really excited about the conversations we're about to have and the one dope-a$$ latte art pour of the day. 
 

Someone who has never tried coffee before in their life comes in (excluding Steve Forbush) to the store, what do you say to them?

Give it a chance; I feel like coffee has such a bad rap. I've been reading a lot of books recently about how most coffee gurus first experience was with canned coffee . . . Folgers, and that was my first experience too. During my Starbucks interview, I B.S.ed it saying I loved coffee but I had never really liked it.  It's not something you're going to love when you first start trying it, but its something you can learn to really appreciate and love it overtime. Give it a try! We have plenty of other alternatives for those who don't.
 

What’s something you’ve learned about yourself working at RMC?

Oh geez, a lot. I've learned what it takes to be a leader and how to communicate better. Personally, about myself, I've learned how much I love creating people's day. How much joy that brings me, that the start of their day begins with me and that its full of energy and life. 
 

What’s your favorite food to pair with any kind of coffee?

I really like fruit . . . oranges with acidic coffee, fruit really brings out a different characteristic of coffee. Coffee is originally a fruit, it starts off as a cherry and it becomes the roasted coffee bean you see. Any kind of fruit pairing with coffee is great. 
 
 

If you could pair any of your six roasts with any kind of food, what would it be?

I really like our Pinnacle blend with our butter bars . . . when you pair those two together, the bitters and the tobacco taste pairs so well with the bars. Outside of the store I would pair blueberry cheesecake with our East Timor roast. You have these really nice sweet tones of the cheesecake plus the blueberry that makes everything really pop in the coffee . . . I like it a lot.
 

 

We hope you enjoyed this next installment of Meet the Team! Keep an eye out for more additions in the future. 

Interested in hearing the full audio file of John and Scott's interview? Link below!

 
 

A Morning in The Life of RMC

6:30 am -- I began my morning shift with the one and only Kyle Sackhoff (aka my boss/brother from another mother).  One person comes in at 6am to prep for the day while the other comes right at the beginning of the store opening up for our lovely customers to arrive.

 

6:50 am -- Our first customer arrived!!! Usually mornings start off slow because we are up before the rooster crows.  Lela is a regular who we see in the mornings.  A wonderful, sweet African American lady who loves her lattes.

 

7:07 am -- Customer number two and three make their way into the store.  These two people were none other than another regular, Amber and her son who was getting ready to head to pre-school.  While she got her coffee, the little boy desired and devoured one of our delicious chocolate chip cookies.

 

7:20 am -- A couple of customers strolled in through the door.  But they were not just any customers, they were Nathan and Nora.  Nathan is one of our super regulars who spends every other transaction at RMC, and Nora is his little daughter who might be one of the cutest kids ever.  She always comes in with a sippy cup and a baby doll.  Her favorite thing to do when she is inside the shop is play peekaboo through the pastries window since it’s exactly her height.  We have turned Nathan into a pour over kind of guy and everyday that’s what he gets.

 

7:30 - 8:10 am -- Since only a couple of people were strolling in through this time, we decided to take some inventory in order to see what we needed to order for the upcoming weeks.  During this time, we also had some more of our lovely regulars come through to grab their morning cup of coffee.  Their names were Marlin, Dena, and Zach (aka Zach Attack).  Zach Attack has become more than a regular customer to us; he has become a really good friend who we hang out with from time to time.  He works at the Rep and is the man to talk to when it comes to tickets for shows, which you all should go support our Central Arkansas theatrics.

 

8:17 - 8:50 am -- These are the moments we like to call “just a lil’ busy”.  Person after person started coming to the shop to grab their lattes or house brews or a nice tea.  With busyness, you feel just a little bit more of the weight of getting every order right and helping put out the orders as quickly as possible.  Also, there are times when us, baristas, make mistakes or forget to warm up sandwiches and people come up to ask if their sandwich is almost done and then the feeling of dread and shame comes upon the barista who forgot to prepare the sandwich.  That barista was me in this instance.  But I quickly fixed the problem.  During this busy span, Kyle was a workhorse and was pumping out drinks left and right; all of them having lovely latte art as well.

8:50 - 9:30 am -- The crowd died down and we went back to a slower paced rhythm.  When it is slower after a busy spell, we spend time doing the dishes and cleaning up any messes that may have occurred.

 

9:40 - 11:00 am -- College students were getting out of their first class, meetings were happening and people were starting to hang out at the shop.  It was a steady stream of customers coming in and a wide demographic of people from young to old, to African American and Latino to Caucasian and Asian.  I love seeing how many different kinds of people walk through our doors and feel at home when they do.  RMC always reminds me that it is a place for community that stretches beyond social stigmas and boundaries.

 

The final part of my day was teaching a man about different brew methods, primarily using the Chemex.  Coffee education is one of my favorite parts of my job because many people are still beginners when it comes to the science and methods of coffee and how the industry is growing from the Folgers/Starbucks world.  I would say Chemex is my favorite brew method and it is exciting to share it with our customers to help them “Take Coffee Everywhere”.  And this is just a glimpse into RMC.

Coffee Shops and the College Student

 
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I’ll admit it, I used to be one of those Starbucks girls.

You know the ones: they come in groups of three or more, ordering the skinniest Frappuccino’s possible. You really can’t call them “coffee drinkers” because their typical beverages have as little coffee in them as possible. But yes, that used to be me, as shameful as it is for me to recall. However, everything changed when I experienced one of Conway’s local coffee shops.

 

I’ll admit it, I’m pretty introverted.

And when nursing school hit my life like a train, I became even more holed up in my dorm room, buried in my studies. I’m sure you can see how I eventually got a bit of cabin fever from being holed up in my room all the time. I needed a new study place, somewhere that wouldn’t be too distracting but would still provide me with some background noise. Luckily, I discovered Blue Sail in the summer of 2014. Blue Sail quickly became my study home; my friends knew that if I was needing to study for an upcoming test, they could find me downtown at a two-person table with a white mocha next to me. In November of 2015, Zeteo opened a few blocks away from Blue Sail, giving me yet another study home to rotate out with Blue Sail. And in the last few months, Round Mountain Coffee opened its doors, becoming one more great place for me to not only study my life away, but spend time with friends and learn about the coffee subculture.

 
 
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I’ll admit it, I knew next to nothing about coffee. 

I knew that espresso was… essential? But I didn’t understand different types of coffee or ways to make it, and how that was significant to the makeup of my drink. But the longer I’ve been coming to Conway’s local coffee shops, the more I’ve learned about coffee and its subculture. It’s actually kind of ironic; I came to coffee shops to learn more about the subjects I was studying in school, but I ended up also learning about the beverages I was drinking. I now know what a Chemex is, and I now sort of understand the purpose of those giant glass things that look like the coffee is taking a roller coaster down to the bottom. Most importantly, I understand the unique steps behind each cup of my coffee and what role that plays in our little coffee scene here in Conway.

 
 

I’ll admit it, I’ve become somewhat addicted to my coffee shops.

I have a go-to drink at every single location, and a few baristas know me by name. I have been back to Starbucks a handful of times in the last year, but if I had a choice, I’d rather have a cup of joe handmade by one of my neighbors. I have studied in the library on occasion, but if I’m able, I’ll more than likely be curled up in a cozy coffee shop a mile or two away from campus. Some of my best papers have been written next to a locally made white mocha, and some of my best test grades have been the result of an 8-hour study day with an Americano (or three) in my hand. And when graduation day comes, I’ll owe my coffee shops one giant thank you for getting me to the end of my academic journey. But until that day comes, you’ll find me here: sitting cross-legged at a table, buried in one of my massive nursing textbooks. And of course, a big mug of coffee right next to me.

Meet the Team: Amanda

Our first installment of "Meet the Team"! Every month we'll give you an insight into who's behind the bar at Round Mountain Coffee. This month's spotlight is on Amanda Trice!

 
 
 

How do people address you? 

“Uhh, there are multiple ways.. Ok top three: Manda, Red Manda, and three, uhhhh… Sass-Master Flex. I’ll also add Julie as another one.”

 

Summarize yourself in 3 descriptive words:

“Ok, uhm.. Not Sass-master Flex. But Sassy is definitely one of them. I think I’m a people person so probably outgoing. And… Uhhmm musical!"

 
 
 

What compelled you to apply to work at a coffee shop?

“First the need for money! Two, I have known Scott for a couple years now, so when I heard he was opening up a coffee shop with Kyle, that was definitely something I wanted to be a part of, either being a barista or anything else. That’s what drove me to apply.”
 

If you were in a Star Wars film, how would you destroy the Death Star?

“Ooooo, (chuckles silently) that’s a great question. I would probably, why is this a question… I would convince someone on the inside to do it. USE THE FORCE. MIND CONTROL. What do you want me to say, I WOULD SHOOT IT?!”

 

Were you an avid coffee enthusiast/drinker before starting at RMC?

“I was a coffee enthusiast, I wasn’t an avid coffee enthusiast, but now obviously its my job now and I enjoy it so much more.”
 
 
 

What's your favorite drink? (Coffee and non-)

“Ok great, so my favorite drink here is the Ozark Autumn latte on the seasonal menu. Outside of here, my favorite drink is La Croix. I would say I’m probably 75% La Croix and 25% sass, that’s probably who I am.”
 

What's your favorite thing about RMC? 

“My favorite thing about Round Mountain Coffee is that as a coffee shop, it’s very personable, very relatable, and it makes coffee an approachable thing. It’s not something like you just walk up and order the first thing you can pronounce, and we encourage questions. Just the education part is cool.”
 
 
 

What is something you're truly passionate about? 

“I am truly passionate about loving people well around me, and fostering creative environments, not just for me but for people around me. First of all that’s how I function best is in a creative environment."
 

In your opinion, how does RMC contribute to the coffee culture in Conway?

“Like I said before, I think we make coffee an approachable thing. More than just giving you your drink and you being on your way. We encourage questions and from everything in the store [its setup] and the way baristas interact with customers…its a very open coffee shop that’s welcoming.”
 

Do you think RMC encourages customers to learn more about coffee?

“Yah absolutely. Like I said in the previous question, it’s a very open environment.”
 
 
 

What would you say to someone who doesn't like coffee?

“I was like you one time! It is an acquired taste. I don’t know of anyone besides my mother who just liked coffee [the taste of it]. There’s just so many variables, it just depends on what kind of coffee you’ve been drinking. I would say come to RMC and we’ll change your mind!”

 

Who has better hair, Scott or Kyle?

“Can I say me?” Uhm..”They both have great hair, it’s fantastic”
 

If you could summarize your experiences with RMC in one sentence, what would that be?

Kyle - “The birth of sass-master flex.” Amanda - “I would say that my experience here has not only made me so much more of a coffee lover, but has encouraged me to go after my passions that I have that have nothing to do with my job. Like the music I’ve been writing and school; it’s really inspired me to push for the things I’m passionate about. I’ve seen Scott and Kyle do it, that’s exactly what they did with RMC.”
 

Thanks for reading! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list for updates on new blog entries! We hope to see you soon!

Christmas Memories

 

     Ever since I was a little girl I knew I would love Christmas forever. I remember my parents old home in the Texas Hill Country where we would gather around our silver Christmas tree (yes, a silver tree) and unwrap our presents under the watchful eye of my mother’s hand-held camcorder. The feeling of waking up on Christmas morning and tiptoeing under the mistletoe to the present filled living room was magical.

 
A hand made stocking my grandmother, Martha, made for my mother. 

A hand made stocking my grandmother, Martha, made for my mother. 

 

     As I grew older and learned the truth about Santa I loved the season even more. I help my little brother bake cookies for Santa and write him letters, not to mention keep an eye on our Elf On the Shelf. I became a ‘Santa’ myself: wrapping presents, hanging lights, and keeping the Christmas spirit alive.

 
My balloon from the 2015 East Texas Christmas Balloon Release, in honor of loved ones that have passed away. My grandmother, Mokie, who passed away that summer, was the pillar for our family Christmas festivities.  

My balloon from the 2015 East Texas Christmas Balloon Release, in honor of loved ones that have passed away. My grandmother, Mokie, who passed away that summer, was the pillar for our family Christmas festivities.  

 

     One of my favorite Christmas traditions was East Texas Christmas, where my family would load up in the car and drive out to my grandparents’ house for an early Christmas. In the mornings, I would sit with my grandparents at their kitchen table and watch the birds flock to the feeder outside the window. We would lounge around the house drinking coffee (sadly not RMC coffee) until aunts, uncles and cousins would fill the house, bringing with them fresh gumbo, cornbread and fudge pie. After dinner, the kids would pass out all the presents and we would open them in turns, from youngest to oldest, until every present had been unwrapped. The anticipation and smiles on everyone’s faces will always be in my heart.

 
My mothers most prized Christmas possession from the 50's (and if you are familiar with them, yes, she does have the color wheele.)

My mothers most prized Christmas possession from the 50's (and if you are familiar with them, yes, she does have the color wheele.)

 

     Some things have changed, like the coffee in our cups and the loved ones around us, but the joy of Christmas will always be the same. What are some of your favorite family memories? Those stories are the best to share over a great cup of coffee at RMC or at home with your family and friends. So, sit back with a seasonal mug in hand and enjoy the memories you are making with family and friends; one day you’ll be reminiscing on this holiday season. 

 
Happy Holidays!
Morgan

Latte Art Throwdown

 
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Steamed Milk and Espresso

That was what everyone was there to see. Really, it was. But in a subliminal sense, it was much more than that. It was a symbol of community, a community surrounding coffee. And that community includes all types: the coffee shop flies that sit in bar seats in front of the espresso machine for hours, the baristas that run the espresso machine all day with fluid movements and flicks of their wrists, the coffee gurus that slurp their cups of coffee to “let the flavor coat their tongues,” and the college kids who just wanted to see a spectacle. It was all a little bit overwhelming with a fervent undertone probably caused from all the caffeine, but it was a testament to how far the coffee culture has grown and how passionate people can become for it.

For me, as a participant in the competition, it was a very surreal experience.

I have only been a barista for a little over a year at a few different coffee shops with varying degrees of artisan focus. So, needless to say, I didn’t feel like very confident in my abilities to compete with some of the other competitors. There were training managers from many big name coffee shops competing and their proteges. But I was here to represent Round Mountain Coffee in place of one of the owners who couldn’t attend, and I wanted to do my best even if I would most likely be out the first round. 

Kyle and Chelsey both showing off their latte art skills

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There were what felt like a hundred people crammed into the small coffee shop holding the latte art competition, and all eyes were on me when my name was called for the first round. I clutched my milk pitcher to my chest and approached the espresso machine, a Slayer I had never used before. My opponent, a former roaster for Onyx Coffee, shook my hand. A jug of milk was shoved into my hands. Murmured instructions from a voice behind me. Then the shots were pulled. My mind shut out the white noise of the crowd and the blaring music, focusing instead on steaming the milk, getting the rotation, letting the steam wand kiss the milk at the appropriate time. Next, I caressed the unfamiliar mug in my hand that now had the espresso shot swirling in the bottom of it. Still, in my unbroken concentration, I poured a subpar tulip out of nervousness. I knew I had lost. Finally breaking my trance, I absorbed the roar of the crowd and looked down at my competitor's work. And my heart stuttered.

            He had poured a shaky, uneven heart.

            I had actually won my first round.

            And the second round.

On the third round, I was up against the favorite to win. An Arkansas native, he now lived in Memphis and worked at a big coffee shop as the head trainer, but the five hundred dollar prize money had drawn him back to Arkansas for the competition. He shook my hand and told me his name even though I already knew it. The shots were pulled, and the steamers started.

As I held the pitcher, monitoring it’s temperature through my hands as the milk swirled, I reflected on the competition as I knew it was coming to a close for me. I had entered into the competition expecting nothing, figuring I would come and be knocked out the first round. But I hadn’t. I had won not one, but two rounds. I had thought I wasn’t good enough to enter the competition and had only done so out of pressure from my boss, but I was good enough. Even though I wasn’t the best, it didn’t mean I was the worst either.

I had found myself more capable and competitive than I thought I would be. 

I stopped the steam wand and peaked over at my competitor who was already pouring. Damn. He was in the process of making a beautiful, full tulip with clear, distinct lines and a symmetrical body. I couldn’t do that. Trying to pull a trick out of my bag, I attempted to pour one of my experimental designs where I make a rosetta that hugs the perimeter of the cup, making a rosetta circle. But out of sheer nervousness and lack of execution, I failed and blew out the rosetta. I had made a blob. But I did finish in the top eight out of almost thirty competitors.

Creating Community

 
 

     If I have learned anything about human beings growing up, it’s that we’re special.  Sure, we have had to fight, eat, and find shelter to survive just like all other living creatures, but we also have done some pretty special things in the meantime.  We learned how to freeze time onto paper and develop film, we learned how to harness natural resources into energy, we learned how to travel at insane speeds and we’ve learned how to combat a lot of diseases that threatened our existence.  We’ve produced incredible art through film, music, paint, and every medium we can dream up.  No matter how you look at it, we have been given incredible potential to create.

     Growing up in my small hometown without a specialty coffee shop, I hadn’t really experienced the coffee culture until I moved to Conway for college.   After four years of consistently visiting local shops, it was an off day if I didn’t get to sit down in one of the stores and work on music or read while enjoying my favorite beverage.  At some point I learned it wasn’t just the coffee I enjoyed, it was the community. I met my girlfriend at a local shop because we had recognized each other a few times after returning visits. I further developed older relationships yet at the same time created new relationships and opportunities through cups of coffee.

     My favorite aspect of coffee became the people that enveloped it.  I loved seeing people of different walks of life, coming from different homes and from different backgrounds, coming together to enjoy that atmosphere of creation that we as humans crave.  I like to believe that creation is an integral part of not only making coffee but also enjoying it.  If you look around a coffee shop on any given day, you’ll see people creating.  Whether it’s a project for school or work, whether it’s a new art piece they have been working on, whether it’s creating a new playlist as they discover a song they like on Spotify, or whether it’s creating a new relationship through a first date, people are creative beings when it comes to coffee.  

     When asked what I wanted to bring to Round Mountain in my interview, I told Kyle and Scott that I only knew I loved making music and community, and I wanted to be involved in creating the same experience I had encountered when I walked into the coffee culture of Conway four years ago.  Creation, in any context and to every extent, is the most special part about human existence, and I’m glad I get to experience it every day, thanks to a fruit we call coffee.

 
-Austin Keith, Round Mountain Coffee Roaster
 

Thanksgiving Thankfulness

Thanksgiving Thankfulness All Year Round

     Over the holidays a friend came to me with a notebook, a pen and a few questions about this Thanksgiving season: What was I thankful for, what would I remember most about this Thanksgiving, and who was I thankful for? I was most thankful for family and the memories we have made. Her questions made me think about who I consider as family and what family meant to me. I quickly realized that it was much larger than just my parents, grandparents, siblings, and aunts and uncles. My family also consisted of my team, boyfriend, best friend, and the amazing friends I have made over the years in Conway. Family is more than just a blood bond, it’s a love bond.

 

     During most of the year many of us get busy with work or school and forget to show our large families that we love them. The feelings of love and thankfulness that we share over the holidays should be shared every day not just over Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving thankfulness is for every day. You may be thinking, There are so many people and such little time! How do you show your thankfulness for everyone? Well I’m glad you asked because I have a few ideas. You could send a quick text or a card (everyone loves mail), or you could take them to your favorite local coffee shop for a cup of coffee and a nice conversation. Nothing says “I’m thankful for you” like a thoughtful note or a well brewed cup of coffee.

 
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     Going forward with the year into the Christmas season don’t forget to embrace your thankful feelings and a cup of your favorite drink from RMC! 

- Morgan Best

 

RMC + Silverlake : A Logo Story

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Without further ado, here's the Silverlake secret sauce (shhh!) for how we crafted the Round Mountain Coffee logo. Grab a cup of joe & enjoy! 

Crafting the Round Mountain Coffee logo was beyond fun for us.

It’s fair to say that our team is made up of coffee addicts, so meeting at coffee shops to talk about coffee logos was pretty much a win-win.

Plus - you know those brands that you just connect with? That’s totally Silverlake and Round Mountain. It’s probably the nature vibe, and we aren’t mad about it. :) 

At Silverlake, logo design is like digging for diamonds (oh yes, that's a thing), lots of rocks to turnover before you find that hidden gem! When you design logos for a living, you look for inspiration everywhere and sketch ideas on anything- napkins, coffee cups, you never know when an idea will hit ya! Seriously though, logos are SO important to a business, and we are super passionate about creating visual brands that match the business's identity and voice. 

Ok back to RMC, aka Round Mountain Coffee- Kyle and Scott came to us wanting something that would feel unique and true to their identity- lovers of people and adventure. Their story and name creation is very powerful (ask them - we know they’ll tell you!). One of the best reasons for the name- our cozy city of Conway is shielded from tornadoes and storms by a mountain just outside of town called Round Mountain. Because of this, one of the first places we looked for inspiration was the topography of the mountain itself! (See if you can find it in the final logo!)

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First thing's first, the logo questionnaire. What colors do you love/hate, what feeling do you want your logo to evoke, etc, etc. Kyle just wrote, "Make it even more hipster than the Silverlake logo" to which we replied "IMPOSSIBLE." jk jk

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Then comes the color - this speaks so loudly and really helps us reign in the vibe of the brand. Round Mountain's color palette was inspired by coffee plants from across the globe and the forests of Arkansas .

 
 

FONTS. We could write a whole blog on fonts. Enough said. 

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The best part- Pencil to paper! Our rough sketches begin to unveil what works and what doesn't. The topography of Round Mountain really tugged at our heart strings so we really wanted to find a way to use that imperfect triangular shape.

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Here's where we start to put the puzzle pieces together - this is the process of reigning the chaos in. Up until now, everything is still an option, but this is where we make some crucial decisions for the business’s identity. The biggest questions we're asking at this point are "What does this say? What will the first impression be? and of course- How does it make you feel?"

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Now it's business time- we begin mockups on different products to see how the logo feels in real life. You don’t just want a strong logo that only looks good solo, on a white backdrop- it has be able to work with other textures and backgrounds!

 
 

We hit "Send" and presented RMC with our 3 strongest logo options. 

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We do any final tweaking and sometimes even combine elements from a couple of the options then we deliver the brand new logo in every file type you can imagine (hence the 10 different sticker options at RMC)

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Style Guide: We like to wrap the logo in a nice and neat package where you see your icons, logo, colors, fonts and textures all working together in harmony. 

 
 

This is the part where our client prints their new logo on everything and begins walking in the confidence of having a brand that truly represents who they are! Happy Dance!!

Now that you've seen a glimpse into our design process, we're so excited to see you guys get creative this week- get ready for the...

SILVERLAKE + ROUND MOUNTAIN COFFEE INSTAGRAM CHALLENGE!!

Round Mountain Coffee is about taking coffee everywhere. During your Thanksgiving holiday, capture any moment worthy of our mission statement. Take coffee wherever you go, whether it's at home with family, or on a camping trip in the middle of nowhere.

Get started by following @roundmountaincoffee and @teamsilverlake!

RMC Flavor - Enhancing the Coffee Community

 
"It's a great place to meet new people and make connections."
Round Mnt Classic made with honey, cinnamon, espresso, steamed milk, and love.

Round Mnt Classic made with honey, cinnamon, espresso, steamed milk, and love.

Enhancing the Coffee Community

     The first time I walked through the door of Round Mountain Coffee I knew I was home. The cozy shop was flooded with sunlight from the large front windows and bright, smiling faces welcomed me. I sat and watched as people flowed in and out of the front door and I noticed the diversity that RMC was attracting; it is one of the many things I love about the shop. It isn’t all students fighting over outlets (don’t worry students there are plenty of outlets) but there are also families, professors, and business leaders who enjoy RMC’s coffee. It’s a great place to meet new people and make connections.  The abundance of varying people is also great inspiration for a writer like me; don’t be surprised if you read one of my works someday and find shocking similarities between yourself and a character!

     In addition to the great people that RMC attracts they also have a wonderful environment for the community to thrive in. The open layout is full of chairs and tables where you can sit and enjoy your drink and the company of awesome folks. Soft music plays throughout the store and creates a fun and relaxing atmosphere. Often the shop is filled with people but it never gets too loud or distracting. The steady flow of conversation, laughter, and music blends together in a calm tune (and if you need a quiet place they have a study room just for you). 

     What would complete this equation for happiness? A great cup of coffee of course! RMC is dedicated to making the best coffee and they want to teach you how to make it too. A few of my favorites are the Round Mountain Classic, the Guatemalan AeroPress, Hot Chocolate, and the Cortado. There are plenty of drinks to choose from; you can check out the RMC menu here or stop by the shop and check them out for yourself.  

Stop by and see me soon. Who knows, you may end up in a story someday! 

- Morgan Best