Yes, there are plenty of wine-blending opportunities in the Valley, but only one place where you create your own blend of coffee, and can reorder at anytime in the future. Imagine a honeymoon or anniversary blend, or a special birthday blend, or a “just because I can do it” blend. Our local coffee roaster offers local businesses the opportunity to create their own blend to offer to customers and guests. We attended one of these sessions and when it was over we asked if he would be willing to offer something exclusive to the guests of The Inn On First. After a discussion on how to make it happen, he said yes!
We sat down with Charlie (the owner) and Ryan (the manager) for about 1 hour, we tasted the various stages of beans (from green, to lightly roasted, to dark black), learned about the nuances of roasting and the flavors that are imparted. We were given 3 coffee slurries that were meant to be tasted and not consumed. These were 3 different beans from around the world, each with a unique flavor and nuance. There was one from Mexico, from Costa Rica, and from Africa. One had a hint of chocolate and minerality, another a bit of caramel and cinnamon, and another held a hint of smoke and earthiness. As we were educated on how to smell and taste the pure bean flavor, we found our palates opening up to the nuances of coffee. Until then, I have to admit, my palate knew only 3 kinds of coffee: Starbuck’s, anything French Dark Roast, and Espresso. Suddenly the heavens opened as I realized that there are as many varieties of coffee as there are grapes. The soil content and weather all play a part in the magic of the bean, and then the coffee professionals put their own nuances on the flavor by roasting and then mixing the ground beans. Based upon our reactions and responses to the 3 very different bean slurries, Charlie and Ryan then presented us with 3 different blends. What surprised us both was that there was one clear winner- this wonderful, earthy tone with a hint of caramel: The Inn On First blend.
For those who want to do something unique and fun that is not wine-related, we offer you this opportunity for 90 minutes of tasting, education, and blending of coffee. Working with a Coffee Educator, you will see what happens to the beans at different stages of roasting, taste the “characteristics and flavors” of different beans from around the world identifying which ones you enjoy, learn how to brew a perfect cup of coffee with a coffee press, and then create your own personal blend of coffee. At the end of your session you will go home with a bag of your custom blend, a french coffee press, and the opportunity at any time in the future to call and reorder your very special blend. And, of course, to drink all the coffee you want while you are there. We need at least 3 days notice to make sure your Coffee Educator has the time to roast all the coffee beans used in your session. You can either do this locally here in Napa (walking distance from the inn) or you can go to the original coffee roastery in St. Helena and tour the equipment as part of your education. $150/couple.