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Queens’ barista training grounds in Ozone Park

A cupping in progress at Dallis Bros. Coffee. Photo by Suzanne Parker
TimesLedger Newspapers

Coffee, a drink to wake you up in the morning, keep you going during the day and relax with after dinner, is all that and more. And these days it’s an opportunity for connoisseurship and competitive sport. Queens’ own Dallis Bros. Coffee is at the epicenter of the specialty coffee movement.

“Wake up and smell the coffee” is the collective job description of the employees at Dallis Coffee. At this almost 100-year-old vertically integrated coffee company, they are involved in every aspect of coffee production from farm to cup. They import green beans from their own farms, and from growers all over the world. They roast the beans in small batches to produce specialty coffees. They sell and maintain coffee brewing equipment, and train their clients to brew a perfect cup. Some of their most illustrious clients include Union Square Café and Gotham Grill.

On the first Saturday of each month, members of the public can enjoy a factory tour and “cupping” of their specialty coffees. A cupping is a formal coffee tasting with more rules and ritual than a Japanese tea ceremony. The main thing to remember is to forget what your mother told you about not slurping, and make as much noise as possible when you withdraw the coffee from the tasting spoon. Reserve a spot by calling (718) 845-3010.

If there is a national brand of coffee that you are loyal to for its consistent flavor, you might be making a mistake. According to coffee über maven John Moore, the freshness of the coffee is the most important factor to consider, and coffee is a plant with different seasons in different growing regions. In order to achieve a consistent product, various coffees, with differing peaks of freshness must be blended to achieve the same flavor every time.

Coffee experts take into account terroir in judging coffee, just like wine connoisseurs. “The quality of the beans,” explains Moore, “is intrinsically linked to the ecosystems and social conditions of where they come from. And today you have a perfect storm of technology and communications providing opportunities that never existed before.”

The label on a package of Dallis Bros. coffee goes way beyond dark, medium or light roast in its dissemination of information. In addition to the country of origin, it lists the farm, the growing region, the varietal(s), growing altitude, manner of processing and “cup” (scents and flavors found therein). Too much information? Not for experts at Dallis Bros. who have attained the status of “Q Graders,” a designation from the Specialty Coffee Association of America.

Competition is a natural outgrowth of this passion for coffee. In April, Dallis Bros. hosted the Northeastern Regional Brewers Cup. “The NERBC,” according to their website, “is the ultimate showcase of barista skills, pitting competitors against each other, their coffee and time itself! The baristas are given 15 minutes with which to wow judges with their mastery of the product and their tools. In this time, they must present to the judges three flights of coffees, including espressos, cappuccinos and a signature beverage of the barista’s creation.” The signature beverage must contain a single shot of espresso and no alcohol of any kind. Other than that it’s a freestyle event, so expect anything from exotic herbs to bacon-flavored foam. The foam is also a canvas for eye-catching art.

Want to sample some of this pampered joe for yourself? You can try a cup at:

Sage General Store

24-20 Jackson Ave.

Long Island City

(718) 361-0707

Il Bambino

3408 31st Ave.

Astoria

(718) 626-0087

Bakery de Paris

3819 Union St.

Flushing

(718) 460-0004

Prefer to brew your own? Although they don’t have a retail operation as such, you can order from Dallis Bros.’ website or by phone in any quantity, and pick you order up at their Ozone Park showroom. Their coffee is also available at Whole Foods, and at the Union Square holiday market.

Dallis Bros. Coffee

100-32 Atlantic Ave.(corner of 102nd Street)

Ozone Park NY 11416

Tel (718) 845-3010

Fax (718) 843-0178

dallisbroscoffee.com

Open Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

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