Monday, December 23, 2013

Year in Review

In the eleven years that we have been together, Jim and I have made a tradition of reviewing the past year and marveling at our accomplishments and goals met. In the past, the focus always has been on our personal life. Now that we have Paramour, well, I'm not sure if everything is personal or nothing is personal!

To put it simply, 2013 was a blur. So, this probably will be a good exercise in laying the groundwork for some new goals. Summarize what we've done, so we can more clearly see the path ahead. Right? Here's what we did:

Launched our Website
Won a couple awards
Secured financing
Introduced Wizard's Blend and our first custom label
Got on Amazon
Spruced up the shop with a new counter
1000+ likes on FB
Got our name trademark registered
Made a sweet video

What lies ahead for 2014? Aggressively increasing our Web presence. Developing wholesale accounts. Experimenting with some limited edition roasts. Looking into alternate sources for beans. Doing more regular and frequent blog posts. My secret project that doesn't involve baking. If it works, you'll definitely learn the secret. If it doesn't work, I'll think of a new secret. Who doesn't like a little suspense? It's going to be a fun year!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wizard's Blend!

We are elated to introduce The Wizard's Blend! Three things make this a very exciting announcement for us.

1. This is the reincarnation of last year's holiday blend, which Jim developed specifically to be a crowd-pleaser. We kept getting requests to bring it back. What the heck. Jim can come up with something new for the holidays this year.  Good stuff needs to be semi-permanent.

2. The fancy label was designed by a real artist who knows what he is doing, as opposed to yours truly, who sometimes fakes it well. This artist's name is Adam Birt, and you can see some of his impressive portfolio here. Unless you are on an iPad. Then you best get to a PC and follow the link.

3. The Oz Museum is carrying limited stock for us, so we're officially selling out of a second location now! It's a win-win, particularly if we are closed and they are open. Limiting the stock will ensure we can keep it fresh.


Visit us at

Friday, September 6, 2013

No (Coffee) Bullying

"Go somewhere where they are nice to you and have great coffee."

This was the closing line of a recent interview on an Esquire Magazine blog post.

Go somewhere where they are nice to you and have great coffee.  This perfectly expresses our philosophy. We want customers to feel welcome and appreciated. We don't want them to feel intimidated by fancy coffee jargon or looked down upon by the extreme geekery that is rampant in today's cafe culture (AKA Third Wave). What I really like about the interviewer in the Esquire post is that he confronts the coffee snobbery head-on. He may have just started a coffee anti-bullying movement.

Good coffee is accessible, doesn't require a PhD to enjoy, and you should drink it the way you like it. That means cream and sugar won't hurt our feelings. Neither will a half-caf almond soy latte with extra foam. If that's how you like it, we are happy to serve it to you. We are not worried about the coffee's flavor being muffled by milk, syrups or other additives because we are confident in our product and its ability to adapt to your taste preference. So, make up a drink! No need to stick to the menu.

Better yet, take home some beans and experiment with different brew methods. There are great ways to brew at home that don't cost an arm and a leg, such as French press, moka pot and cold brew. We'd love to hear about your favorite techniques! Read more about our coffee philosophy and check out our excellent selection of fresh roasts here, at

Friday, August 2, 2013


We went on vacation for 10 days, and not only is the place still standing, it thrived in our absence! We're pretty sure we have the best help ever. And although it is great to know we can leave, this vacation accomplished exactly what it was supposed to do: gear us up mentally for a long march through the fall and holiday season with little time off until Christmas.

Every day there seem to be more tasks on the to-do list: Website tweaks and ongoing development; working with the SEO guys; packaging for the Wizard's Blend (soon to be available at our local Oz Museum); tracking down some good beans and stocking up; planning holiday merchandise; figuring out cold brew equipment/technique; designing labels, ads and package inserts; and numerous random but time-consuming projects. All this on top of my day job, and with Jim already putting in 12-hour days. Who wants to clean our house? We sure don't!

For our vacation, we rented a lakefront house with friends, ate good food, drank good wine, and saw some sights. Imagine our bemusement with the options on the coffeemaker in the rental: 

Delay brew or brew now. Strong or regular. Pure silliness! On top of that, they had Maxwell House in the freezer. Or was it Folgers? I must have blocked it out. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fourth Wave

I have been reading up on the light roast v. dark roast debate, and it has me rather intrigued. In case you haven't noticed, there is a light roast craze going on in the coffee world. Coffee geeks are calling this the "third wave" of roasting in the U.S., with the first wave being the distinguished Alfred Peet, and the second being Starbucks.

In wave one, Alfred Peet introduced us to specialty coffee. (This will require further definition in a future post, but for now think, stronger, darker, bolder than anything commercially available in the 1960's.) He roasted on an antique, 5-kilo machine at his shop in Berkeley, California. Here is a photo of the actual, original roaster, which lived in our house in California until we sold it for a larger, more practical, less sexy roaster.

In wave two, Mr. Peet taught the Starbucks guys how to roast, and they applied their marketing genius to take the latte international. As much as we all hate to give credit to the evil empire, they taught the masses to appreciate more flavorful, fuller-bodied coffee.

Now, here we are in the third wave, and I keep reading inaccurate and disparaging comments about any coffee that has gone beyond the 'second crack'--terminology that refers to darker roasts (and another future-post subject). Based on all I have heard about Mr. Peet over the years, I'm imagining him at least fidgeting in his grave. 

Jim's take on this debate is multi-faceted. First, it's largely a matter of personal preference. Jim recalls Alfred liked the smokiness imparted by the super-hot perforated drum on the old Royal pictured. Jim prefers a cleaner and lighter roast than that. Personally, I can't stomach a coffee so light it tastes like tree bark. Next, there is a certain art to developing each bean to its fullest potential in terms of flavor, body, acidity, and the proper balance. That's the 'art' in artisan coffee. Finally, it's about bean selection. Every bean has an ideal roast profile, be it light, French, or anything in between. Some people think the flavor nuances of the region or farm are basically cooked out of a darker roast. However, it is possible for a highly skilled roast master to maintain these subtleties while still developing body--but this often requires venturing beyond the second crack.

For Jim, this is where things get exciting. If you have met him, you will understand completely. He talks about bringing the coffee right to the edge of a cliff, and knowing the exact nanosecond to stop the roast to keep it from going over the edge. That was in the old days, barely pre-second-wave. Knowing where the edge of the cliff is allows him to step back appropriately and find the coffee's sweet spot. Jim's style is passionate, bold, and adventurous. I believe these qualities are evident in his coffee, the same way he believes that if he is having a hard day or strife at home, it comes through in the roast. We do what we can to prevent that, and roast happy coffee.

So, what will be the fourth wave?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Our Website went live this week! We are excited, elated, relieved, and a little anxious.

Jim turned the office into a shipping room. He dug his old tile tools out of the shed and installed a beautiful black granite tile counter. Now we can process orders in style! Here it is not quite finished. Holy boxes, Batman!  Let's see...we have coffee beans stashed underneath, G's pink beanbag, a Post-it just waiting to multiply, my keys to the right, because everything I do is on the fly. Gotta run! Buy coffee!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Muffin Man

Jim has accused me of trying to turn his coffee shop into a bakery. When we opened, the plan was to have someone else come up with a few recipes and spend five or six hours each week preparing freezer-friendly items that Jim could thaw and pop into the oven. Then I could satisfy my baking urges at whim, with fun, seasonal treats.

That's pretty much how I roll with baking. I'm at the market, and if they have the most amazing grapes ever, I will figure out how to bake something yummy with grapes. So, to answer Jim: No, I do not want to turn your coffee shop into a bakery. That would require adopting a production line mentality, and that just isn't fun.

We started with the bacon-maple scones and salted bread sticks. A friend developed the recipes for us and made them for the first couple months. When she graciously bowed out, I had to take over, of course. If I had to do the baking, I was going to make what I wanted to make--and that was muffins.

There are two things I love about muffins. 1) You can get really creative and throw in almost any ingredients. 2) they are hard to screw up. I experimented with lots of different recipes, and soon concocted my own secret muffin base recipe. This now serves as the base for many of the exclusive muffins we sell, including peach cobbler muffins, ginger-pear muffins, and the best blueberry muffins in the world. Really. I bet I could eat four of those suckers on my way to work.

The thing is, the muffins sort of took off, and the scones are kind of famous now. I found myself at the shop every weekend and some weeknights, cranking out muffin batter, prepping up to 20 dozen muffins in a day. G was plopped in front of the computer to play games, unless we could find a friend to take her for a play date. I was not living the dream, and I was a bad mom to boot.

Enter "D". Never mind that he currently is our only employee; this kid is guaranteed to get Employee of the Year. With just a little training, he has taken over nearly all of the baking. He deciphers my chicken-scratch recipes. Jim springs ingredients on him, Iron Chef style. (Your secret ingredient today is....mangoes!) D powers through the baking with a positive attitude and a smile on his face, always asking, "how can I help next?" Mom and Dad of D, if you are reading this, congratulations--you've raised a winner, and we are grateful. You should be very proud.

So...I was at the market Friday, and the first peaches of the season had arrived. I got that excited, oh-the-things-I-can-bake feeling. If you've followed our Facebook page, you understand. At the end of last summer, in a desperate attempt to preserve a little bit of peachy goodness for a blustery winter day, I had a marathon peach-peeling session late into the night. I froze enough sweet, juicy peaches for about five dozen muffins. I waited, waited, and just when everyone was hating on winter and customers started dreaming out loud about peach cobbler muffins, I knew it was time. Then the freezer died, taking the peaches as collateral. It was a sad, sad day.

Meanwhile, back at the market...I bought those peaches on Friday. I bought enough for about five dozen muffins. Then I plopped my kid in front of the computer so I could blissfully peel, dice, mix, and create something delicious that happens to be the perfect accompaniment to a cup of frehly roasted gourmet coffee.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Web Launch

We are preparing to launch our Website and it is completely nerve-wracking.

It's 3:00 a.m. and I have been tossing and turning for a good hour, maybe two. I am in a sudden state of panic about our site design, which has been in development for months. Is it dynamic enough? Does it tell a compelling enough story for people to buy from us? Because if it is not, or does not, it will be very expensive and difficult to change.

Our developers have been great. They specialize in creating Websites that optimize themselves for the viewer's device. That makes our site just as easy to read and navigate on your cell phone as it is on your iPad or your laptop or your computer at work. (Now, everyone take a moment to admit we all have shopped online at work.) My goal for our site, from day one, has been to make it quick and easy to buy our fresh, roasted-to-perfection, artisan coffee. My worry is that we have sacrificed salesmanship for a too-clean design.

It looks cool and is largely free of distractions, but what is that one magic element that will make people believe they must, at this very moment, with the boss lurking perilously close-by, purchase a pound (or more) of coffee they have never tasted? Because I guarantee you will love this coffee. This is gourmet coffee at its finest. Pure latte love, java joy, espresso exhilaration. You must try this coffee because you will fall in love and you don't want to miss out on that fluttery feeling in your soul, do you? Can we just say that?

True story: A customer recently walked in and handed over a bag of coffee purchased from a competitor, asking Jim to throw it in the trash. This was $20-a-pound espresso from a company that has won major specialty coffee roasting awards. The customer had made one pot and found it simply undrinkable. She walked out of our store with four pounds of Paramour espresso, thrilled that she would never run out or be disappointed again. Yes. It is that good.

So, barring any glitches, should launch in the next couple weeks. It will be a visually pleasing, easy-to-shop Website that a lot of people have poured their hearts into creating. I love the overall look and theme, which speak to our passion, vision, quirkiness, and the mood we want the Paramour brand to evoke. Be happy. Love your coffee. I think I feel better now. But it will take quite a bit of coffee to make it through the day.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Beginning

Where to begin? If I were to ask my husband, Jim, he would say, “At the beginning.”  “Very funny,” I would reply.  “You don’t even know what I’m talking about.” Then he would say, with a glimmer in his eye, and the hint of a George Clooney head bobble, “I don’t need to. Why would you start anywhere else?”

Our very first photo together as a couple
Such is our life.

Our biggest struggle regularly revolves around which one of us is making sense—me in my uber-logical, analytical way, or he in his What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get way. Po-TAY-to, Po-TAH-to—that’s us. Yin and yang. Peanut butter and jelly.  He likes the meaty part of the bacon, and I like the fat. We like to think we complement each other more than we torment one another.

Which is why going into business together is fairly annoying, but also an amazing partnership. We have completely different skill sets. We take entirely different approaches to solving problems. We might as well speak different languages. But when we get over the language barrier and work toward a common goal, there is no stopping us.

Whether to start a coffee business was never a question. Practically from the day we met I knew it was a lifelong goal of his. He had done it before, too, but without financial resources or an incredibly supportive woman behind him.  The question became, “When do we start this business?”—as if we were planning our family, worried about whether we could afford this baby, educate it properly, raise it to be a productive member of society, or simply sleep at night.

When the time came, we both knew it as sure as our real child was down the hall, not sleeping. Jim flew into action. He found a storefront to rent. Bam! He started remodeling. Hallelujah, he started moving all the equipment from the last venture out of our house! At the same time, I started thinking. What do we call this strange, new baby? We tossed around hundreds of ideas. Nothing seemed appropriate. Nothing seemed to speak to the pure passion that was going into its creation. One idea was dropped due to its unpleasant definition in the Urban Dictionary.

Then, late one night as I was lying in the guest bed to escape the snoring, I asked myself, “Why are we doing this at all?”  That was when the answer came to me.  “Because Jim loves coffee.” One thesaurus look-up later, we had it: Paramour.

Here’s the catch. Most dictionary definitions of ‘paramour’ imply some sort of adulterous affair.  Jim definitely loved coffee long before I entered the scene. That would make ME the paramour.
Huh. I think I’m OK with that.

The end.

Just kidding. Hang on, because this is only the very beginning.