Lakeview coffee shop offers precise brewing

November 6, 2009 (CHICAGO) Every step of the brewing process is considered, analyzed and executed with precision. And the results are a cup of coffee with few rivals in town.

Most coffee shops buy beans that have already been roasted somewhere else, and if you want regular drip coffee, they dump it in bulk into a large coffee dispenser that's plugged in all morning.

But at Asado Coffee, they do things quite a bit differently. In fact, every cup they serve is handmade.

Unlike most baristas, Kevin Ashtari is so meticulous about his coffee, he prefers coddling his beans every step of the way. At his tiny, new coffee shop - Asado - which straddles the Lakeview-Ravenswood border - he and his wife manage everything from roasting to brewing.

"There's a huge difference in quality, in quality control that we put into a roast and a brew is going to be far superior than mass produced coffee which has been sitting on a self for who knows how long," said Ashtari.

It all starts with beans of course. High-quality African beans, still green, right out of the burlap sack, direct from Uganda.

"We use family farms in Uganda east Africa and it's a direct trade bean, so we are trying to make sure that the farmers are getting there fair share for their crops," Ashtari said.

Ashtari scoops the beans into his custom-made roaster, which agitates and heats them for about 15 minutes, until they've turned a dark, caramel color. Every now and then he'll insert a trowel and remove it, checking the amount of roast. Once they're finished, he opens the roaster, and the beans fall into a cooling chamber, where they're agitated again, until they've completely cooled - about 10 minutes. The beans go into buckets and eventually, air-tight containers overnight. When a coffee order comes in, the beans are poured into a grinder, then ground finely, depending on the density of the bean. The barista wets a filter, places it into a porcelain "bee house" dripper, then adds a scoop of the finely-ground beans. A little fiiltered water is added.

"The pre-soak will allow the beans to rise up and expand a bit - aerate if you will. Then we will go ahead and start our brew and pour over that it basically creates a nice bed to start the brew with and make sure all the water is coming in contact with the grind," said Ashtari.

After the pre-soak, more water is poured in, and the beans are again agitated, while the pure, deep, almost fruit-filled aromatic coffee fills the sturdy cup below. Ashtari says customers seem to be fond of a serious cup of coffee.

"They enjoy the whole process for the most part and see that it is made by hand and I think that really, really shines through in the cup as well," Ashtari said.

Ashtari also sells his beans - either whole or ground to your specifications - and you can be sure they've been roasted within the last day.

Asado Coffee
1432 W. Irving Park Rd.

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