Dark Matter Coffee's 10th Anniversary Party!

It's been ten fun years since Dark Matter Coffee humbly began in the confines of Star Lounge Coffee Bar. We are honored to be a part of this great city and want to throw the best damn party to celebrate!
This isn't just any party though, no, this is THE party of the summer, full of beer, food and tons of music! And to make it even better, it's a benefit for Hope For The Day!! That's right, instead of spending money on tickets, food and beverages, you can put that towards a charitable contribution for Hope For The Day.
Dark Matter Coffee is making sure that the beer, food and music are TOP NOTCH! We asked friends from all around the world to help use celebrate and raise money at the same time. So mark your calendars and we will see you Saturday, July 8th!
 
Music
Wild Jesus
Cameron Hodges Press Pot Recordings, Twinpeaks DJs)
Chuck Wren (Jump Up Records)
Ben Ezra
Big Gidz
Slow Planes
Vapor Eyes
Malci
Hüng
Sherpa
Tijuana Hercules
Ben Fasman
Powermad
 
Food
FFF
18th Street
Essentia Water
Funkenhausen
Half Acre
Haywood Tavern
Kimski's
Naked Juices
Noosa Yogurt
Roots Pizza 
Ruth & Phils
Sauce & Bread
 
Beer
FFF
18th Street
Anchor
Archies Tavern
Band of Bohemia
Central State
Dark Horse
Devils Trumpet
Eagle Rock
Forbidden Root
Goose Island
Half Acre Beer
Haymarket
JK's Ciders
Local Option
Marz
Mikkeller
Modern Times
Off Color
Old Irving
Perennial
Rockwell
Pipeworks
Revolution
Ska Brewing
Stillwater
The Bruery
Scratch
Virtue Cider
War Pigs
June 21, 2017 by Kyle Hodges

Beer & Coffee Lovers Can Finally Have It All!

DMC are crazy beer geeks just like you. From our collaborations, to our packaging, etc, it's a fact that we love beer. Now we have taken things a step further and incorporated different fermentation using ingredients that make beer possible. These experimental processes are new to both the DMC inventory and the coffee community as a whole. Our goal is using a culinary approach to coffee, combined with knowledge, and fun, we learned from our many beer collaborations over the years. Now combining all that together, we are ready to introduce a new series of coffees that will satisfy even the biggest beer geek/coffee fanatic out there. 

These releases will be a combination of single origin and blends, using hopped or yeast fermented coffee. (Just like the beer making process) The first two in the series, Citra hops and Saison yeast, were also released last year, with great success. This year's harvest is no different, yielding yet another round of delicious coffees. 


Future releases will involve the following yeast or hops. 
Crystal Hop Fermented Catuai
Beer Blend (Combining one yeast and one hop fermented coffee.)
Bohemian Weiss Yeast fermented Catuai
Hallertau Blanc Hop Fermented Catuai

Saison Fermented Catuai

Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a species of yeast primarily needed to produce beer, wine and bread. Because of the abilities of this microbe, Saccharomyces has become one of the most studied and cultivated organisms in the world.

Yeast, a type of fungi, is a single cell organism needed for coffee to be processed. To be clear, coffee fermentation doesn't need Saccharomyces, as there is a whole universe of other yeasts out there for fermentation. Fermentation tanks usually consist of a soup of microbes that also feed on coffee sugars and are almost always open air, and made of cement. Beer, wine and bread need the byproducts of yeast for them to be successful and gain complexity and flavor, while coffee does not. At the very least, coffee needs microbes to break down the sugary gelatinous layer of pectin surrounding a coffee bean to be dried properly. We've purposefully inoculated coffee fermentation tanks with Saccharomyces so we can layer the esters and acids it produces into the coffee.

When propagated, yeast will live the most amazingly simple life on the planet - it eats, it mates and sleeps in abundance, and if it's happy, that's all these critters will do their entire life. All yeast strains have slightly different preferences to be happy but overall they need:
-Sugar
-water with regulated temperature and pH
-oxygen
We've had great results from Saison yeast in the past. It's sturdy and not particularly fussy over its environment or *food*. Characteristics like this are ideal for us, due to the unruly and unpredictable nature of open-air fermentation tanks. Saison yeast produces esters and phenols that give saison beer their signature flavors - think bubblegum, banana or clove. As the coffee sits, it can absorb these flavors and take on a unique set of characteristics.

Once the saison yeast is active, we add it to the fermentation tank with freshly pulped coffee. This process fundamentally alters the ecosystem of the tank. The combined characteristics will stay present through the rest of processing, roasting and finally brewing.

Citra Hopped Catuai
We have played with hopping coffees using two processes. Currently, we send out iced coffee brewed with Citra hops, but this process is not related to this whole bean coffee. 

In this process we added dry hops to freshly pulped coffee in a fermentation tank at the farm. Hops flowers have resin glands that produce bittering compounds that inhibit microbial production. The dissolved hops make a "marinade" for the coffee to ferment. Similarly to the saison yeast, the roasted coffee has a subtle layer of hop character, which should add juicy fruity qualities to the bean.

June 11, 2017 by Kyle Hodges

Anthrax's Charlie Benante & DMC Join Forces!

ANTHRAX'S CHARLIE BENANTE JOINS FORCES WITH
DARK MATTER COFFEE CO. TO ENHANCE AND RELAUNCH HIS
"BENANTE'S BLEND" COFFEE LINE
LOS ANGELES, CA - (Wednesday, June 7, 2017) -- Anyone who knows Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante knows his deep and passionate love for the taste of coffee.  So much so that two years ago, he launched his own line, "Benante's Blend."  Today, having forged a collaboration with Chicago's Dark Matter Coffee Co., "Benante's Blend" has undergone enhancements that include higher quality choice of coffee beans, a change in the way the beans are roasted that give the coffee a larger and more flavorful taste, and other tweaks, Benante and Dark Matter are proud to announce the relaunch of "Benante's Blend."
Charlie Benante
Photo credit: Francis Ruiz
The coffee will still be available in two varieties, the "Be All End All" blend which is a dark roast with a real kick, and the "Forever Metal" blend, a milder coffee.  And, despite the upgrades, Benante is keeping the price the same.
"I'd been hearing about Dark Matter for awhile," said Benante.  "They're based in Chicago where I live, so I tried some of their coffee and thought it was great.  We hooked up, I went down to their headquarters and spent a day there just talking coffee, doing some tasting and I have to say, I felt like I was part of this coffee family.  Everyone there really enjoys the art of coffee, as do I, so this was something I was really interested in being a part of.  We worked together to come up with what I feel is a perfect cup of coffee, and I'm happy to say that my Benante's Blend is under the umbrella of the Dark Matter coffee family."
Benante spent a good deal of time over the last ten months in Dark Matter's "cupping lab," tasting a variety of coffees, different blends, flavors and roasts. This process allowed Charlie to peer behind the curtain, learning why the Central American coffees sourced by Dark Matter are among the best in the world.  After numerous blind tastings, Charlie zeroed in on what would make his perfect cup of coffee. 
 
"One of the most exciting things about working with Dark Matter," Benante added, "is that they're not just going to put out my two Benante's Blend coffee line; we're already talking about our next project, another coffee idea that will blow people away, and we're all really excited about that."
June 07, 2017 by Kyle Hodges

Dark Lord Day 2017 Merchandise

A quick update regarding the Dark Lord Day 2017 Merchandise. 

As of Monday, May 22, 2017 at 9:30 am CST, both of the Blood Lord mug and Snifters are SOLD OUT! 

The remaining bags of Blood Lord coffee will be available at our stores and online while supplies last. Please with sugar on top, don't call and ask for any bags to be held, as these are on a first come, first serve basis. 

For those of you who ordered items, the following information will be useful should you have any further questions. 

1. Orders will be processed as they were received. 

2. We will begin processing orders immediately. You will receive a second email once the items have shipped. Please be respectful of this and avoid calling to check on updates. We are working as fast as possible to process orders and your patience is appreciated. 

3. Problems with your order? We have a form just for that! It can be found HERE  Once you have filled that form out, we will contact you as soon as humanly possible. Again, your patience will go a long way with making things go smoothly and will be appreciated so much from the hard working DMC staff! 

4. We will have a small reserve of both snifters & mugs in case of breakage during shipping. These will be released at a later date in our stores ONLY. Again, this is a very, very small reserve and will be on a first come, first serve basis, with no reservations taken. 

5. Cleaning your snifters or mug: we recommend hand washing these items. The mug is also microwave safe. 

May 22, 2017 by Kyle Hodges

Launch of Supernova Cannabis + Coffee + Chocolate Bars!

Supernova Bar
We are super excited to finally share this great news, our first collaboration of cannabis, coffee and chocolate! DMC & Nature's Grace and Wellness are teaming up to produce a new line of products, with the Supernova Bar as the first offering! Join us on Thursday, April 13th (6-9pm) for the launch party at Emporium Logan Square

Art Gives Me Hope 2017

 

 

 

Hope For The Day's Art Gives Me Hope 2017 is presented by Dark Matter CoffeeBucketfeet, and Threadless.

Art Gives Me Hope is HFTD’s annual spring pop-up art show with 100% of the proceeds benefiting Hope For The Day’s proactive suicide prevention programs. We're excited to have the art show at Communitas this year!

Once again we will be offering a diverse selection of amazing art donated by an eclectic list of artists from Chicago and around the world curated by Lance Curran & Threadless.

2017 featured artists include: Shepard FaireyMatt SkibaJill ThompsonMorleyKristen Liu-WongAlex Pardee,  Joel BirchRosey JonesWrdsmithTravis LampeKarl GerzanTara McPhersonLuke PelletierCasey Weldon,  Alex SolisJeremyvilleCraig ShimalaArthur HickmanKevin LearyAdrianne HanleyJohn MaloofSowDean BernardiniDenialCode of ConductJeff GuerreroConrad Javier,  Michael SiebenE. Lee,  Lauren AstaBucket Feet x Ello ElloKatie LukesSteve SeeleyFortoul BrothersCoopAngryblueBirdcapJason Rowland (R6D4)Jason BrammerDerek HessKaren MooneyNatalie ShugailoMitch O'Connell,  Erik Lundquist,   Amanda Adams,  Jamie Foster, Allison PoplettJackie Carmody

Dark Matter Coffee and Essentia Water will be flowing along. We are thrilled to also have food generously provided by our friends Uncle DougiesOsteria Via StatoNacional 27Tallboy Taco, and Pork Shoppe.

March 27, 2017 by Kyle Hodges

15th Annual CHIRP Record Fair

 

The 15th Annual CHIRP Record Fair & Other Delights is happening on April 8th. Join us at Plumbers Hall to dig through thousands of crates of vinyl records, as well as DVDs, CDs, posters, and more. It's a music collector's paradise!

More info and tickets at: http://recordfair.chirpradio.org/

This year, we will be expanding into Plumbers' Lower Hall to bring you EVEN MORE Delights! Chicago's own Vintage Garage Chicago will hold a special-edition vintage fair in the lower level. You can register to win $50 in Garage Bucks to use at the Record Fair! Go to: https://vintage.leadpages.co/chirp-chicago/

More awesome ‘Other Delights’ that will be happening at the CHIRP Record Fair:

LIVE MUSIC:
Donna from Beat Drun Juel Paul from Dust Bunnies, Danielle from Impulsive Hearts, Izzy fromHalf Gringa (more to come!)

First Time will be MCing and doing stories between sets!

DJ SETS:
Flesh panthers, dj shAde (Fridays @ Logan Bar & Grill), DJ Franktronic (Thursdays @ Exit), Avery R. Young, plus more to come!

FOOD:
Moxee Barbecue & Cajun and Mad Mouse Brewery
Puffs of Doom

DRINK:
Dark Matter Coffee (bags of CHIRP Radio Blend beans available as well!)

The NEST:
South Side Hackerspace: Chicago - ssh:chicago,Tandem Felix Letterpress, Pedal To The People LLC (bike fixing), GlitterGuts Photobooth

See you there!

March 27, 2017 by Kyle Hodges

Great Lakes Tattoo Collaboration Blend & Event

DARK MATTER COFFEE PARTNERS WITH GREAT LAKES TATTOO FOR EXCLUSIVE COFFEE BLEND
Look for the Great Lakes Tattoo Blend to premiere at the Walk Up Classic on March 18th, available in Dark Matter retail stores and online thereafter
 “Once you've come to be part of this particular patch, you'll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real.” - Nelson Algren, Chicago: City on the Make
 
Two prominent Chicago-based businesses, Great Lakes Tattoo and Dark Matter Coffee, have collaborated for the first time on a limited edition coffee: the Great Lakes Tattoo Blend.  To be released at Great Lakes Tattoo’s flagship event the Walk Up Classic (March 18th and 19th, 2017) and available in Dark Matter retail stores and online shortly thereafter, this blend comes from beans from El Salvador and covers a range of colorful characteristics; like our city, it’s loud, complex, and always genuine.  Something that everyone can enjoy.  Great Lakes Tattoo aims to capture all that Chicago offers: the grit, the beauty, the strife, and calm, and is dedicated to preserving the history of tattooing in Chicago and determined to make history of its own.
 
This partnership comes in conjunction with Great Lakes Tattoo’s second annual Walk Up Classic, which features 22 artists from all over North America who converge for a two-day convention-style tattooing event.  Last year, the artists were able to complete over 200 tattoos in two days and this year, they will undoubtedly surpass that.  GLT recently announced the full lineup of artists that will participate this year, which features some of the most vital and influential tattooers in North America:
 
Beau Brady (Captured Tattoo - Tustin, CA)
Steve Byrne (Rock Of Ages Tattoo - Austin, TX)
Greg Christian (Tattoo Faction - Cleveland, OH)
Nick Colella (Great Lakes Tattoo - Chicago, IL)
Mike Dalton (Great Lakes Tattoo - Chicago, IL)
Mario Desa (Great Lakes Tattoo - Chicago, IL)
Chip Douglas (Port City Tattoo - Long Beach, CA)
Brad Fink (Iron Age Tattoo - St. Louis, MO / Daredevil Tattoo - New York, NY)
Erik Gillespie (Great Lakes Tattoo - Chicago, IL)
Tony Hundahl (Rock Of Ages Tattoo - Austin, TX)
Marina Inoue (Traveling Tattooer)
Jen Lawes (Pearl Harbor Gift Shop - Toronto, ON) 
Kevin Leary (Great Lakes Tattoo - Chicago, IL)
Nikki Lugo (Tattoo Paradise - Washington, DC)
Miles Maniaci (Great Lakes Tattoo - Chicago, IL)
Angelo Miller (Inksmith & Rogers - Jacksonville, FL)
Mike Rubendall (Kings Ave. Tattoo - New York, NY)
Robert Ryan (Electric Tattoo - Asbury Park, CA)
Dan Smith (Captured Tattoo - Tustin, CA)
Scott Sylvia (Black Heart Tattoo - San Francisco, CA)
Glennie Whittall (Pearl Harbor Gift Shop - Toronto, ON) 
Matt “Beatdown” Ziolko (Great Lakes Tattoo - Chicago, IL)
 
Between the hours of 11am and 7pm on Saturday and Sunday March 18th and 19th, clients will be able to walk in and select designs to be tattooed the same day - no month-long waiting lists or multiple sittings, no attitudes or egos, just efficient and reliable tattooing in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere - by some of the greatest tattooers in the country.  Additionally, GLT will host an opening party and flash preview the evening of March 17th where clients can choose from designs prepared by all participating artists exclusively for the Walk Up Classic.
 
More news and information about Great Lakes Tattoo's Walk-Up Classic 2017 is below.  For now, keep up with the GLT crew on Instagram @greatlakestattoo and on Facebook.com/GreatLakesTatooCo and follow Dark Matter Coffee at Facebook.com/DarkMatterCoffee and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/darkmattercoffee.
 
GREAT LAKES TATTOO WALK UP CLASSIC 2017 DETAILS:
When: March 17, 18 & 19
Opening reception: March 17th from 7pm-10pm
Walk Up Classic Tattooing Hours: March 18th & 19th from 11am-7pm
Where: Great Lakes Tattoo, 1148 W. Grand Ave.  Chicago, IL 60642
 
March 06, 2017 by Kyle Hodges

Coffee Sourcing 2017 - Finca San Jeronimo Miramar

Chicago isn't known to be the friendliest of places to call home during the cold winter months of January through March. Lucky for DMC, this is prime season for purchasing all the new coffees for 2017! 

These coffee purchasing trips are the time when both DMC and our farming partners get a chance to reflect on the previous coffees from 2016, what we did/didn't like, and preview the new crop of coffees for 2017. Why would we want to review coffees? 

Coffee is a just like any other crop and can change from year to year. Coffee can also change during the year, while we have it stored in our temperature controlled warehouse. Having open communication with our farming partners allows for us to continually learn, which leads to better tasting coffee! 

Another factor that is unique to DMC is our experimental coffees, which we started releasing in 2016. (Ale yeast, wine yeastHopped or Tamba, and Cocoa are all examples.) These experimental coffees are a way for DMC to push the envelope with coffee, expanding on knowledge acquired from collaborating with breweries, distilleries, chefs and other creatives. 

All of these projects are a result of the relationship that we have with our farming partners in Guatemala, a farm that is as forward thinking as the DMC crew. Each experiment requires a great deal of time and effort to make sure that we can gather all the knowledge about each project as possible. Some of these projects turn out great and are released, others not so much. (We learned papaya fermentation doesn't taste good.) Because the coffee crop can have some variation with each harvest, it requires constant attention to detail to make sure that it comes out good. 

Below are a small handful of pictures that show several of the working projects, coffee processing in general and the overall beauty of Finca San Jeronimo Miramar! 

 

Gesha Finca San Jeronimo Miramar 2017

The Gesha at Finca San Jeronimo Miramar is almost ready to be picked! The 2016 crop was another outstanding coffee in the DMC portfolio. Sweet peach nectar, jasmine, pineapple, and milk chocolate!

 

Micro-lots at Finca San Jeronimo Miramar

"Micro-lots" in the cardamom dryers Finca San Jeronimo. We have been cupping alternate fermentation and drying experiments! Photo Jesse Diaz

Fermenting Coffee Finca San Jeronimo Miramar

The process of fermenting comes in many strange forms. In this case, it resembles a satellite image over a desert. These plumes of foam are yeast activity piercing the surface layer of coffee in a fermentation tank. Photo Aaron Campos

Finca San Jeronimo Miramar Sunrise

A beautiful sunrise at Finca San Jeronimo Miramar. This was taken by Kelly Roederer, GM at The Mothership. It was her first trip to Guatemala, but certainly not her last. DMC is proud of our ability to take different Family members on each trip, as it really helps to connect the person with the coffee. Being able to experience moments like this helps bring everything full circle for both the coffee farm and the family member. We are all in this together, working as a team to make everyone involved proud of what we accomplish. 

Experimental Coffee - Wine Yeast Fermentation

These coffees represent our continued development with fermentation, specifically, a species of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Saccharomyces is primarily needed to produce beer, wine and bread making it one of the most important species in the animal kingdom for humankind. These elemental contributions to us have made this Saccharomyces one of the most studied and cultivated organisms in the world.

Yeast, which is a type of fungi, is a single cell organism we need for coffee to be processed. To be clear, coffee fermentation doesn't need Saccharomyces as there is a whole universe of other yeasts out there for fermentation. Fermentation tanks usually consist of a soup of microbes that also feed on coffee sugars and are almost always open air, and made of cement. Beer, wine and bread need the byproducts of yeast for them to be successful and gain complexity and flavor, while coffee does not. At the very least, coffee needs microbes to break down the sugary gelatinous layer of pectin surrounding a coffee bean to be dried properly. We've purposefully inoculate coffee fermentation tanks with Saccharomyces so we can hopefully layer the esters and acids it produces into the coffee.

When propagated, yeast will live the most amazingly simple life on the planet - it eats, it mates and sleeps in abundance, and if it's happy, that's all these critters will do their entire life. All yeast strains have slightly different preferences to be happy but overall they need:


-Sugar
-Water with regulated temperature and pH
-Additional yeast to reproduce with  


Specific wine yeasts have been much more adaptable to the conditions of fermentation tanks in Central America. I'm generalizing here, but beer yeasts, for the most part, tend to be fussier to temperatures, sugar and environment. Experimentation with Premier Cuvee, a yeast most commonly used in Champagne and sparkling wine, is not unheard of for coffee certain processing in Central America. Premier Cuvee is ideal because it is able to thrive quickly and relatively easy within the environment of a coffee fermentation tank. There tends be flavors associated with pears, apples and other fruits high in malic acid production when brewed as a cup. 

Pasteur red wine yeast is named after the grand daddy of fermentation Louis Pasteur a chemist and microbiologist who famously invented the technique of pasteurization.  This yeast in wine will produce more exaggerated, full-bodied character - zinfandel winemakers commonly use it because of its fruitiness. Not as tolerant as Premier Cuvee but still handles nicely in a fermentation tank. 

These experiments were all conducted at Finca San Jeronimo Miramar, our allies in coffee nerdism. They've allowed us to dive into these alternative styles of fermentation and couldn't be more thankful to work with these guys.

If you need a little more help with understanding fermentation, read our previous blog post that helps to explain some of the fermentation and drying processes that are used. 


Country: Guatemala
Farm: Finca San Jeronimo
Cultivar: Caturra, Catuai
Process: Washed, fermented in Pasteur Red Wine Yeast
Taste: Sweet Cherry, Gala Apple, Hazelnut


Country: Guatemala
Farm: Finca San Jeronimo
Cultivar: Caturra, Catuai
Process: Washed, Fermented in Cuvee Yeast
Taste: Cantaloupe, Meyer Lemon, Marmalade