The Pirate Biohacker: Interviewing Tait Fletcher of Caveman Coffee

An Interview with Tait Fletcher on  

brain enhancement and biohacking

Interview with Tait Fletcher, CEO of Caveman Coffee

Among influencers in the space, Tait Fletcher has one of the most wide-ranging resumes we’ve ever come across. A professional fighter turned actor, stuntman, entrepreneur, and coffee connoisseur, Tait’s appeared in some of the biggest movies and shows of modern times: Breaking Bad, The Avengers, Jurassic World, and John Wick. You may not have known it at the time, but trust us, you’ve seen him.

Here’s Why (Grind) Size Matters

There are some fundamentals to brewing a great cuppa the good stuff, and grind is one of the most important. Each brewing method you choose can warrant a different grind size. Why can’t you just chop up some beans, swirl some water in there and enjoy your brown juice?! It’s just not that simple. Let’s get down in there and see what is really going on.

If this is what your cup looks like, you're doing it wrong.

Coffee is soluble. Water is the solvent. When exposed to water, the coffee breaks down and releases solutes. These solutes are what make up the flavor and color of coffee. The water needs surface area to do its magic. The more finely the bean is ground, the more surface area is presented for the water to get all up in. That all translates into more flavor and color being extracted.

What else do we need to know? Well, exposure time is important. The different methods dictate the grind based on how long you want the water to chill with your coffee. Here’s a breakdown of the water's exposure time per brew method:

  • Regular coffee maker-Hey, just here passing through. Just picking up a few snacks.
  • Pour over-Hey, yeah, I'll hang out to say hello, are those cookies? Well it would be rude to have just one, but I really have to get going. You can show me your cat pics next time.
  • Aeropress-Hey, I don’t have any plans so I'm free to hang out, maybe a light lunch? Five albums of cute animals, huh? Well, maybe I don’t have that much time.
  • French Press-Netflix and chill.

That's the best I could come up with.

Now that we have the knowledge of how much time the coffee gets to mingle with the water, we need to apply this to what we know about grind size. Size matters, people. I’m not above that joke.

In this case, how you use it ALSO matters.

Here we go; let’s get quasi-mathy. Exposure time/Grind size= extraction. Hold on to that "equation." We’re going to need it. The best cup of coffee is going to coincide with the sweet spot in that equation. If your grind size is too fine for the brewing method, then the water is going to be exposed to too much surface area for too long, resulting in an over-extracted cup that will attack you with an assertive bitterness. On the other side, if the grind size is too coarse for your method, the end result will be brown water. Disappointing and bland, like the unplanned middle child.

How am I supposed to dress for success when all I have are hand-me-downs?

The best we can do to harness that sweet spot is to grind for our brewing method. Here’s some grind size guidelines:

  • French Press: Coarse, normally the coarsest setting on a burr grinder. Should resemble kosher salt.
  • Standard Coffee Maker with a basket filter: Medium. Should resemble, well…I dunno. Something between kosher salt and table salt? There’s got to be a salt for that.
  • Pour over (Melitta, Chemex, Aeropress): Medium Fine. Should resemble table salt.
  • Espresso/Turkish: Extra fine. Should resemble powdered sugar. Wait. That’s not salt!

Armed with this info, go forth and tackle brewing that perfect cup of coffee. Hit the grind running (I’m the author, here. The puns don’t have to be practical.) Put your best cup forward. Keep brewing the good brew. Etc. I’ll show myself out.

Questions? Email me!

Looking to upgrade your grinder game? BEANSPLOSION OF FLAVOR!

Brew Your Face Off-Chemex Edition

Three minutes.

All you need is three minutes to head into a coffee shop, order your cup of coffee, and get out of there. Three minutes, and the end result is expected to be a glorious elixir of caffeination. How do you really harness the beauty of the bean in three minutes?

Now, I get it. There is a level of service and expediency that is expected from your go-to shop. There is merit in slowing down, however. Take your time, get to know your coffee inside and out. Relax and enjoy the process. There will be plenty of time to rush afterward, when the caffeine kicks in.

The pour over method harnesses just that: a slower, more nuanced coffee-at-home experience. Our latest release, Holiday Vintage 2015, lends itself quite well to the Chemex pour over. Bust out your gear and slow down with a cup of this new bean.

Here's the breakdown of what you'll need:

  • Trusty Chemex
  • 54 grams of Holiday Vintage 2015, ground medium fine
  • 918 grams of filtered water

The scale betrayed me!

A little bit about grind. What does medium fine mean to you? Ideally you'd be looking at something around the consistency of table salt. I didn't have any table salt, so I had to improvise below:

Somewhere between Kosher Salt Island and Sea Salt Island lies the perfect Chemex grind.

Depending on the filter you are using, you may need to pre-wet it. Doing so removes some of the paper flavor that the filter may pass on to the coffee.

  • Dispense the ground coffee into the filter.
  • With water just off the boil, pour 108 grams over the grounds in a circular motion, insuring that all grounds are wet.
  • Wait 1 minute.
  • Resume pouring water over the grounds, slowly. The entire pouring process should take about two minutes. When pouring, maintain a circular motion, starting in the middle of the filter, and gradually moving outward. The goal is to create a flat and even bed of grounds. Continuing with the theme: slower pouring is the name of the game.

Steady. STEADY!

  • Once the filter has dripped out, the coffee is ready to enjoy.

Take the time to slow down and savor each sip of this exclusive Colombian bean. Everything else can wait.

Caveman Highlight – Keith Jardine

When you hear the name Keith Jardine, the first thing that comes to mind is legendary athlete. Known to fans as Keith “the Dean of Mean” Jardine, he is a ruthless fighter, a skilled competitor and a dedicated athlete. Outside of training Keith owns and coaches at his, one of a kind, lifestyle and fitness studio, Hot Yoga Infusion. In 2013 he co-founded Caveman Coffee Co and leads the way in new product innovation.

For over a decade, Keith has trained diligently and sharpened his sword to become one of the most well-known & loved mma fighters in the world. He spends hours in training and continues to try new techniques and learn new skills. What is sure to be a lifetime of dedication to learning combat sports, Keith is an inspiration to many people around the world. It’s a challenge to simply walk around with him in public without getting stopped to take a photo or talk with a fan about training. He stops and satisfies every request. Being near him, one is coached by simply being near him.

While his personal experience competing is very much at the center of Keith’s world he is also an entrepreneur and takes his dedication to learning into the business world. Keith and his fiancé Jodie Esquibel own and operate a wonderful facility called, Hot Yoga Infusion in Albuquerque, NM. They are the first facility to combine the endless benefits of hot yoga with innovative TRX training. With a full schedule of daily classes and 9 experienced coaches on their team, it’s a great place for all levels.

In 2013 Keith teamed up with Tait Fletcher and Lacie Mackey in a little coffee project. That project has turned into Caveman Coffee Co. and Keith is the leader in new product innovation. From working directly with the roaster and co-packers and product suppliers to incorporating new innovations from all over the world, Keith is hands on in research and development. His personal quest for excellence spills over into this company. He tests and researches every product and personally meets with suppliers to make sure their standards match those of CC. When it comes to brewing, he pulls out a scale, thermometer and timer. There is no winging it when it comes to the perfect cup, and Keith is, by far, the most dedicated partner, in this regard. You can even catch him taking barista training on the side and it’s been said that he can pull the perfect shot of espresso. From a performance perspective, Keith practices what he preaches and is a leader in the Caveman Coffee Co nutrition practices for performance.

In addition to 2 full time businesses and a professional fighting career, Keith is on the silver screen. He currently has 25 credits on IMDB including John Wick, Gamer, Crank, Inherent Vice and From Dusk Till Dawn TV series. Keith can do stunts but he has recently been focused on his acting skills and landing character rolls. Approaching this the same way he would anything else, Keith takes acting classes, participates in acting workshops and works with an acting coach as often as he can. With 7 roles in post-production this year his dedication is, again, paying off.

“Keith is not only a great partner but I consider him a friend. I appreciate every moment I get to work with him. He has accumulated wealth of knowledge, passion and information that I continually lean on him for.” – Lacie Mackey ”
— Lacie Mackey
“This guy-where to begin? I love him. I’ll start there. We met as grappling competitors and grew into training partners for one another. I’ve learned as much from him as I have from any coach or teacher.

I was saddened as thy road ended for me, but not long after, KJ and I were re-joined in many, many films. We have even been cast as mimicking life. Shortly filling that, we decided to do what we had always wanted to do-have a business with each other.

Soon, CavemanCoffee was born and Lacie, KJ and myself came together like Voltron! What a beautiful life it’s just letting go and following dreams. He’s as much a teacher tone now, as he ever was.” #SeekDeath || #PirateLife

— Tait Fletcher

Cavewoman in Colombia

Somewhere between the modern world and the old world lies a country doing traditional things in a new time. In the Colombian farmland, they don’t label things “grass-fed” or “farm to table” because that is just how it is. The food is grown locally, with traditional practices. There’s no such thing as advanced technology on growing things faster or making them bigger or genetically modifying. It’s simple; you grow it with the tools that nature and the land provide. Coffee is one of the largest exports of this land and it’s been growing there for decades.

Cali, Colombia. September 2015.

My trip to the Villa Myriam farm, started when I landed in Cali, Colombia. Cali is one of 3 main cities in Colombia. This list also includes Bogotá and Medellin. Located in Cali is one of the major export ports, for South America. It feeds most of the western hemisphere with fruit, flowers, sugar cane, chia seeds and of course, coffee.

About an hour outside of Cali and into the southern part of the Andes Mountain Range, lies sprawling farmland that stretches up major hills, off the side of cliffs and down into the rainforest, river beds. In this, lies the farm where we source all our Colombian coffee beans.

Villa Myriam is named after one of the daughters, of the man who founded the farm. Here I took a majestic trip back in time. With the original farm houses still in use and the original plots of plants still growing. You can feel the history. The soil is rich and full of nutrients. It’s red and black and is vibrant against the green of the vegetation and rainforest. Some areas are dry, showing the effects of the extreme drought that is happening across South America, due to El Nino. However, it is still wet enough that there is no irrigation. The plants are growing off rainwater.

You can’t visit this region without the awareness of the not so distant reality that swept this land. Gorilla terrorism and cartel issues are still recent memories and current concerns for the people. Small towns with missing buildings from bombings and bullet holes in the brick walls are a reminder of how real this issues was and the concern that is still resting in the back of the locals minds.

A strong military presence brings a feeling of security. When you drive past a guard on the road, you give them a thumbs up. They give you one back. It’s like saying thank you and a communication that we are in this together.

My heart hurts for what these people went through but the resilience of their spirit is palpable. Despite a total shut down of normal life, and in some cases a mass exodus, progress is happening here and people are had at work.

The missing building, was a family home that was blown up by because the family refused to pay the tax that the guerrilla group forced upon the people of the area. The bombing was over 15 years ago but the missing structure is a reminder of the not so distant past.

When we arrived at the farm, there was a regional water shut down. This is an effort to conserve water and the government basically turns off the water to millions of people for a 12-hour time slot. Remarkably, no one is grumpy about this and everyone just smiles and says “No hay agua”. We picked up a few bottles of water for drinking and we used nature’s facilities aka the back garden to relieve ourselves.

Our first hike was at dusk and seeing the farm at sunset was so magical. The old/original wet mill for taking the fruit off the beans and drying them was just around back and while it’s still the same process used today in most specialty coffee farms the new one is a much larger version. On our walk, we looked at different plants and tasted what seemed like a million coffee cherries to see who could find the best one. I was initially surprised that there was no irrigation set up. The plants are growing off rain water alone. This is a lot different than my grandfathers avocado farm in SOCAL that used to require tons of watering.

At night we built a bonfire and cooked steak and salmon on the open flames, using only a wet cheesecloth and sea salt. It was unbelievably tender and delicious. Check my Instagram for a pic and an easy recipe - @lmackey31. In the morning we picked fruit for breakfast and paid a visit to the dry mill.

Specialty coffee from all the farms in the Cauca Valle, Colombia. These beans represent the 30% of the beans that come into the dry mill, that get the stamp of approval, to be specialty grade coffee. If they make it into a bag, then they pass the cut! They will next be exported to sociality roasters, all over the world.

Each bean goes through a crazy process that only allows the best, most perfect beans to be considered specialty grade.

Lacie and "The Colombian's" Dave and Juan at the regional dry mill for specialty coffee.

The regional Dry Mill is where all the specialty coffee farms bring their beans after the wet mill process is complete. Here each bean gets further processed and scrutinized until only the perfect beans are selected as specialty grade. Less than 30% of the beans that enter this dry mill make it past the strict testing process to be approved as a specialty coffee.

What happens to the other 70%?! Well there are other companies that buy up these rejected beans that may be too light, spoiled or actually a rock. We won’t name names here but you know who you are.

Cauca, Colombia, specialty coffee ready to ship all over the world.

From here the beans that pass the test are bagged and exported all over the world to specialty roasters. Our beans ship from Cali to Albuquerque NM, where we roast them to perfection, in small batches, just for you. The roasts that contain these beans are the White Gold, Blacklisted and the Onnit Amber Roast. All our Cold Brew products are also made with these beans. They are also roasted by a Master Roaster (David) who is part of the family that started and runs the farm. It’s kind of amazing how unique that makes these products. 

One afternoon, we walked the coffee fields and took a look at the cherries that will be harvested soon and roasting in the new year. I realized that I am really grateful and proud to be a part of something so real, so organic and so old world. From the farm to your cup, every bit of the product is specialty. The process and care that each bean takes to create, is remarkable. It blows my mind that this is possible and it get's me fired up to do more.

Some Coffee Facts, from the farm:

  • Each plant takes 4 years to mature enough to produce cherries.

  • Most coffee plants will produce cherries for 20 years.

  • Each coffee cherry will mature at a different time than the ones next to it on a branch.

  • Each cherry must be hand selected by a trained eye.

  • The cherry must only be picked when it is ripe or it will not have enough nutrients or flavors to produce a good taste when roasted.

  • The cherry must be picked before it starts to get hard and go bad. There is a point when it is past ripe.

  • Only 30% of beans sent to the dry mill will pass inspection and meet the standards of a specialty coffee bean.

  • From picking to roasting a bean journey is about 4 months.

  • Banana and plantain trees are planted along with the coffee to create shade.

  • You can taste the flavor profiles of the vegetation around the coffee plants. Flowers and citrus trees are all over Villa Myriam and you can taste it in our roasts, especially the White Gold and Onnit ® Amber Roast.

  • Part of maintaining our Rainforest Alliance Certification is using nature to maintain the land. All the extra fruit is composted and given back to the earth.

  • No chemicals are ever use

  • Issues can be a rusting of the plant, drought and bugs.

  • The farmers track everything from daily sunlight and could coverage to daily rain levels.

These plants will be the crop in 2020. The future is already in motion.

Hours of direct sunlight are measured on this device.

Flowers and other vegetation grown on between the coffee trees, can be tasted in our roasts.

Each branch will have a variety of coffee cherries at various levels of ripeness. It is very important that they are hand picked, only when ripe. The taste and nutrient quality will show this.

A tranquil river runs through the farm.

This is the worlds tallest grass and it's everywhere in this part of the world. Careful if you touch it because it's sharp!

More of the beautiful flowers and vegetation that you can see on the farm.