alaska coffee roasting co

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 michael Gesser, Alaska Coffee Roasting Co.'s main man, is the most caffeinated person I've ever met - easily. In a few hours we taste coffee sent to him from Hawaii and some other major coffee exporters, we roast an entire batch of beans and see them go from green to that familiar toasty brown, and he drinks about ten espresso. When I ask him how much coffee he drinks a day - I can't help it - he answers, "Me? I drink a lot." 

It takes a lot of energy to run an operation like Alaska Coffee, on Biscayne and 131st between Oleta River State Park and Johnson & Wales University. Not only is this where every cup of coffee you'll drink is roasted, it's also an authentic Neapolotian pizza place (they have a certificate of authenticity to prove that they're using the right "00 Flour" and have a proper oven with materials flown in from Italy and all), a bakery where everything is made from scratch, a sponsor to Formula One race car driver Alexander Rossi, Michael has the energy for all this and more. He's a friendly guy who tells me about living in Africa, why they have the best butter in Provence, and how he's invented a light-weight alternative to coat a wood fire pizza oven all in about ten minutes.

He loves coffee and is happy to spend a day chatting with me, setting up a mini outdoor tasting session for us and giving me the education in coffee roasting that I've always hoped someone would volunteer to do. Seriously, I've been poking around the Miami coffee scene hoping that someone could give me the run down on something that I guzzle all day and have always wanted to learn more about. The crowd grows throughout the day. By the end of the afternoon, I'm his assistant and there's a handful of people who are embarking on this impromptu coffee roasting and tasting together.

We learn to not use a paper filter on a French press because it gets rid of the tasty fat layer atop the coffee. We learn that the water should be 204 degrees for an ideal brew. We hear about Sivitz, the MIT engineer and mastermind behind the rare coffee roaster that's housed behind a glass case at Alaska and smells the whole place of delicious, fresh roasted coffee when it's on. 

At Alaska, if you ask a question about the quiche, you'll get a real answer. They won't make up some nonsense about the eggs that sounds like a Portlandia sketch, they'll tell you that it was made from start to finish about five feet from where you're standing. If Michael is there, he might invite you into the kitchen to see for yourself. 

It's not a trendy place. There are pictures of eagles and brown bears on the walls. Alaska Coffee Roasting Co. comes from, as the name suggests, Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska. The cafe is pretty much an exact mirror of the Alaska location. One gets the impression that Alaska Coffee is big in Fairbanks, like, it's the best place to go to get everything from a much needed hot coffee to a breakfast pizza with prosciutto and eggs. 

There's no doubt that Michael has a caffeinated energy, but it's clearly not just the coffee that keeps him going. He loves coffee,knows everything there is to know about it and you can taste it in the coffee. Stop by Alaska for a taste of real, fresh coffee and ask for Michael. You may leave with the coffee jitters like I did from one too many tastes of a Hawaiian blend, but it was well worth it. 

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 13130 biscayne blvd