The Daily Grind
SOME people on this island cannot function without their morning cup of joe. Luckily for them, Cape May Roasters — the little bean company brought to you by the people behind Love the Cook, Lucky Bones, and the Washington Inn — is heading into their third season… and they’re smelling better than ever.
We stopped by the Cape May County Airport, where the coffee is roasted in the same stretch that houses the Cape May Brewing Company. “If only I could get free samples from them,” joked head roaster Doug Marandino.
But with the aroma wafting out his door, we’re wondering if it isn’t Doug’s neighbors who are jonesing for samples from him.
Inside, taking up most of the floor space, were 55 burlap sacks, full of beans from “pretty much everywhere” via a North Jersey-based distributer. Think Hawaii, Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Columbia. When we arrived, Doug was busy readying the Costa Rican beans for roast, which meant measuring out 75 pounds worth. “That’s the max you can do at one time,” he told us. “On average, we’ll roast between 400 and 500 pounds a week.”
This means that Doug is putting in up to 30 hours a week at the airport during the busy season… which is quite a bit, considering he’s also the sous chef at the Washington Inn, a post he’s held for 20 years, father to son Marcus, and the owner, along with wife Andi, of Cape May Honey Farm, which opened a store on Sunset Boulevard this spring. “There aren’t enough hours in the day,” he told us.
But one position does benefit the other.
“I’m able to recycle those burlap coffee sacks,” he said. “I use them as fuel for my smoker.” Which, he explained, is a contraption used to calm his Honey Farm bees during an inspection of their hives. The smoke also initiates a desire in them to feed on honey, which causes their bellies to distend and makes stinging more difficult. Who knew?
From the scale, Doug moved over to his stainless steel Loring SmartRoast Machine, which is eight feet tall if you don’t count the self-cleaning exhaust stacks which extend even further – about 20 feet – through the roof.
And what makes it a “smart” machine, we wanted to know? “It minimizes greenhouse gas emissions,” Doug said. We looked it up, and a roaster who uses a Loring, as opposed to a conventional machine, reduces his impact on the environment by nearly 80%.
Actually, the environment is a concern which seems to permeate every aspect of production at Cape May Roasters. Even some of the beans are organic, like the company’s High Grown Mexican Beans, which, interestingly enough, have been decaffeinated using the Swiss Water method. (When beans are immersed in water to extract caffeine, some of the more desirable oils are lost as well, so this method calls for immersing the beans only in water that’s been fortified first with these good components, a strategy which minimizes their loss.)
As Doug used what looked like a household vacuum attachment to suck his beans into a top canister called a hopper, he also preheated a bottom canister — a drum – to 400 degrees. He did this with the machine’s touchscreen controls, just one of several high-tech elements. It’s even possible to operate the machine remotely from an iPad or laptop, but “I prefer to be hands-on,” Doug said. Case in point: once the drum is ready and the beans are dropped inside, Doug monitors their color through a tiny window, watching as paddles constantly rotate the beans to keep them from burning.
The entire process takes between 14 and 16 minutes. After that comes the flavoring, done by flavoring guru John McCulley, and the bagging and labeling. Then, the various blends are shipped out to wholesalers like Love the Cook, Depot Market, and Bliss ice cream.
It’s a process Washington Inn owner, Michael Craig, sent Doug to learn in Raleigh, North Carolina. Then, Loring’s designer and manufacturer, Mark Ludwig, met up with him in Cape May for even more training. And it was a course of study well worth the effort, Doug says. “The difference between coffee that’s been ground fresh and coffee that’s been sitting on a shelf for who-knows-how-long,” he said, “that’s night and day.”
For more information on Cape May Roasters and where you can find them, log on to their Facebook page, where you’ll see instructions on how to sign up for their recently launched newsletter as well.
In the meantime, stop and smell the coffee, Cape May.
CAPE May has old Victorian houses and the water, and one or the other draws people to visit or move here. Old houses get plenty of attention all year round. Harbor Fest on June 15 celebrates the water aspect: the sea, the harbor, commercial fishing and seafood. The event has turned into a huge street fair. All the city needs is a sunny day. If heaven forbid it should rain Saturday, the festival gets moved to Sunday.
Cape May has a beautiful harbor but a few years ago it was becoming Davy Jones locker for sunken and abandoned boats. One boat burned to the water line after its owners jumped ship on a November morning in 2007.
New Jersey Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May is the focal point of Harbor Fest. Executive Director Gretchen Whitman said that, during the winter of 2007-2008, abandoned boats were ruining Cape May’s harbor.
A group of businesses surrounding the harbor formed, the “Harbor Partners” including the Nature Center, South Jersey Marina and Lucky Bones Restaurant. They worked with representatives of the city and Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May to find a way to remove the abandoned boats, which were hauled away by Sea-Tow.
The group established an event to bring awareness of the harbor and to pay for removal of derelict boats. The “partners” picked up the concept of Cape May’s defunct “Sea and Sky Festival.”
“We said Cape May really needs to have a festival that focuses on our maritime heritage and the importance of the seafood industry here,” said Whitman.
As part of the event, cooking demonstrations will be held in the Nature Center’s classrooms highlighting underutilized species, fish that are commonly caught in the area but not found on many dinner tables.
“Local people don’t eat a lot of squid even though squid is one of the main catches here,” said Whitman.
Scup, also known a porgy, was once overfished but the population has now rebounded and it will find itself in the frying pan at Harbor Fest. Under a big tent at the Nature Center, children can pick up a horseshoe crab or starfish.
There are also activities on the water such as the “Paddle for a Purpose” kayak and canoe regatta, a tour of the harbor which raises money to provide scholarships for Coast Guard children to attend summer camp at the Nature Center for free. Even inexperienced kayakers are invited to take the tour.
Live entertainment will be a bit different this year. WIBBAGE–FM, WIBG will broadcast live from 10am until 2pm from the second-floor deck of the Nature Center. WIBG’s Philly Bill Culp will play the music and interview attendees.
Unfortunately, federal cutbacks have scrapped the annual Coast Guard search and rescue demonstration on the water, but the Coast Guard will be present at Harbor Fest with a display of their boats. Recruits will set up an obstacle course for youngsters.
Vendors along Delaware Avenue will include arts and crafts items, displays from non-profit organizations and food. Whitman said Harbor Fest is a reminder of how many local residents are employed in the fishing industry.
“We have a beautiful harbor, said Mark Allen, South Jersey Marina marketing director. “You can’t take it for granted because it’s a confined water area and if you let it get polluted, you lose it.”
Allen will oversee a blessing of the water ceremony Friday evening June 14 at 5:30 at the Fisherman’s Memorial at the end of Missouri Avenue to remember commercial fisherman who lost their lives at sea. A solemn ceremony will be held with the placement of a wreath on the memorial. It is often attended by family members of lost fishermen.
Doreen Talley, marketing and events director of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May, said there will be more activities for children this year including a rock wall for climbing and a sand art table. Vendors will sell items ranging from birdhouses to honey and all sorts of nautical gear.
A beer garden, sponsored by Cabanas, will be operating next to a tent where local chefs will be preparing their best scallop dish.
Chamber President John Cooke said organizers hope to create more of a block party atmosphere with WIBG’s Philly Bill spinning the tunes. After 2pm, live music from Cape May singer/songwriters will begin with Carl Behrens, Gordon Vincent and Red Mare.
Cooke said the goal has been to increase the quality of the vendors. With the harbor rid of derelict boats, Harbor Fest has become more a “destination” event, he said.
“People plan their weekend or vacation stay around Harbor Fest,” said Cooke. “It draws anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 people.”
Harbor Fest may be the ultimate Cape May experience: sun, seafood, boats, beer, horseshoe crabs, local songwriters and the Coast Guard. All that’s missing are ghosts and fudge.
Where The Art Is
YOU know that feeling that comes in June? Where anticipation for summer creates a buzz unlike anything else? No one has had time yet to feel jaded by sunburns or mosquitoes or traffic. The sight of a full bike rack makes your heart flutter, and the smell of a warm salty breeze or a whiff of coconut-flavored sunblock brings a fuzzy feeling. You get the urge to go running through a working sprinkler every time you see one spraying a garden, just like you did as a child. In fact, you feel more like a kid then you have all winter.
One of the greatest hubs for this buzzy vibe is only four exits away, on the Wildwood Boardwalk — where a single ride on the ferris wheel is enough to flood a person with nostalgia. It’s one of the reasons we’re a major part of a little artists’ colony and café called [artBOX], launched in conjunction with Morey’s Piers, and one of the reasons we spent last Sunday evening dining al fresco in front of the [artBOX], soaking in all of that good, kid-like energy.
Some have wondered why we’d want to have a presence in Wildwood, when Cape May is such an idyllic little piece of the planet, and so opposite the delightfully tacky ambiance of Exit 4B.
It’s because Wildwood can be an important part of the Cape May experience, even if it’s just a quick, one-night trip you take during the course of a Cape Island vacation. How nice to come to the original seaside resort for a relaxing day spent on a pristine beach overlooking beautiful Victorian architecture, and then take the family to the boards for an experience that’s energizing, even if all you do there is sit and people-watch?
Which is exactly what we did.
With our plates of sushi and edamame from Café 4B, and glasses full of crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, we listened to the hum of little girls chattering about the five days of school they have left and how excited they are to ride the Spring Shot — which thrusts a person into the air at 75 miles per hour — with their father. We listened to 20-something guys discuss their day spent wakeboarding and dolphin watching. And we watched the 160-foot, rotating arm of the Skyscraper ride silently turning above us, against a dusky sky still fighting to hold on to some sun, despite the late hour.
“That ride turns everyone into a sailor,” said David Macomber, one of the featured [artBOX] artists, who is based in Cape May.
In addition to the reclaimed shipping containers that serve as the Exit Zero Museum Shop containing loads of very cool maritime-themed merchandise and authentic Morey’s Piers memorabilia, there are three other shipping containers in the colony, all of which house impressive works from on-site painters/photographers/graphic artists. It’s a multi-level little village, so you can enjoy the panoramic view of ocean and adjacent piers while you take in the art. Or dine where we did, in the little tables set up next to Café 4B, where you can enjoy first-class sushi courtesy of Tokyo.
Equally exciting is the live music you can expect to hear on a nightly basis here, courtesy of Philadelphia’s School of Rock… the international organization whose students have played at such big-name venues as Philadelphia’s The Trocadero and BB King’s Blues Club in Times Square.
So come check it out, Cape May. And in the meantime, enjoy feeling like a kid this time of year.