There is a science and an art to making great coffee.
"We're roasting coffees to bring out all of the good stuff that's in there," said David Yake, co-founder of Camber Coffee. "We want to bring all of that natural nuance that comes through at the farm level to our customers."
In a region where coffee is almost ubiquitous, Camber Coffee stands out. Based in Bellingham, Camber has racked up a slew of accolades, including being named best coffee roaster in Washington state by Food & Wine Magazine.
"We started Camber in 2015," Yake said. "There was three of us. Our goal was to go out and find the best coffees we could, coffees we would be excited to share with our friends, coffees that were sweet and complex and balanced, coffees we just loved to drink."
Yake explained the process the team at Camber uses is similar, in a number of ways, to winemaking. It all starts with the beans themselves.
"For me, for us, the perfect coffee has a balance of brightness and sweetness, much like a perfectly ripe apple. The balance of those two elements is really what makes a coffee special for us and a coffee that jumps out for us," said Yake.
Determining which coffees are 'special' is done using a process called cupping. The cupping process is standardized across the industry, allowing farmers and roasters to speak the same language. First, the beans are ground and graded for aroma. Then, water is added. After being steeped for four minutes, the coffee is tasted three times at different temperatures before finally being scored out of 100.
"A solid speciality coffee (usually scores) around an 86. We're shooting for coffees in that 86 to 90 realm. Those are really sweet, balanced, delicious coffees," explained Yake.
Camber's signature espresso blends, single-origin coffees and artist series, which features particularly rare varieties, are all available for delivery through their website. But, if you want the full Camber experience, you can visit their flagship cafe, located in the heart of downtown Bellingham.
"We're a big team of baristas that cares a lot about the coffee we make...and just having a little spot in this community where we can share our roasts," said Gloria Baldwin, general manager of Camber Coffee Cafe.
"I think developing that human connection with people, in addition to having a product that is so beautifully crafted, I think that's what brings people here."
And while coffee may be, on the surface, a simple beverage, the process to get it to your table is anything but. At Camber, it takes time, effort and a whole host of people to create the perfect cup.
"I think really great coffee presents the opportunity to stop, take a moment and just appreciate how delicious it is."
Learn more about Camber Coffee here.