by Tony Hall, Dining Room Manager
Rob Fogarty from Kobos performs an espresso demo for OCI management students

Imagine going out for a nice dinner. Your appetizer consists of thinly sliced prosciutto and fresh melon salad with a minted melon vinaigrette. The saltiness of the prosciutto, blending with the cantaloupe and honeydew melon, helps accentuate the natural sweetness and flavor of the melon, while the mint in the vinaigrette pulls it all together to finish it off. Like a world-class symphony warming up, your palate is piqued and you know you will be in for a treat of beautiful music, or flavors, throughout the rest of the night. You move into your salad course. Song number two consists of local Hood River cherries, so fresh you can still taste the sunlight that brought them to the matured state that they’ve reached. Sweet, juicy, and bursting with flavor. Accompanying them are shaved almonds and goat cheese with honey vanilla vinaigrette. The numerous different flavors and textures, working together like the woodwinds and string instruments, make beautiful music on your taste buds. Moving into song three, you decide to mix it up a bit. You get the Grilled Lamb Chops and pair it with a soft, velvety Bordeaux with tamed acidity and tannins, as if it were hand-picked from the right banks of France on the monocultural plateau of Pomerol. The wine and food, working together as though Paul Potts himself made a guest appearance to sing the words to the symphonic tunes of a perfectly collaborated rendition of Nessun Dorma. You move into dessert. Song four brings you a piece of chocolate torte. Soft and smooth, almost the consistency of warm fudge, melting in your mouth — death by chocolate, as some would say. A nice teaser leaving the audience thinking the music is done for the night. And then the encore comes. The last song of the night. The way to cap it off, pulling everything together for one amazing experience. For the last song of the evening, you get a warm cup of coffee. Instant coffee crystals that you just add hot water to.

Not the ending you expected, right?

One of the things we teach our students is the importance of the last cup of coffee. It’s one of the most forgotten and overlooked items in a dining experience. You can do everything perfect throughout the night — the food, the service, everything. You can exceed the customer’s expectations in every aspect of the night, but if you give them a cup of coffee that has been sitting since the lunch shift, then the last taste in the customer’s mouth is bitter and burnt, and that will linger in their mouth the whole way home. That’s what they remember. All of the hard work that went into the rest of the perfectly orchestrated meal is forgotten.

One of the criteria I had when looking for the right coffee for the OCI restaurant was sticking to our aim of using as much local product and supporting as many local businesses as we can. That brought me to Kobos. David and Susan Kobos founded The Kobos Company in October of 1973. They began in a small 1200 square foot retail space in the Water Tower at Johns Landing in Portland, Oregon. David purchased a Probat drum-style coffee roaster directly from Germany and began roasting coffee in the front of the store.

In 1995 they moved their headquarters from the Johns Landing area to a 42,000 square foot office, warehouse, roasting plant and retail space on the edge of Portland’s trendy Northwest neighborhood. The ability to buy in larger quantities helped them to become a more efficient coffee roaster and to create greater consistency in the quality of their coffee.

At Kobos Coffee, they drum roast all of their coffee beans in small batches. This not only ensures the coffee they sell will be as fresh as possible, it also allows them to focus on the unique characteristics of each varietal bean.

Kobos Coffee is still owned and operated by David and Susan along with Brian Dibble, who became a partner in 2001. Brian is a Master Coffee Roaster with over 25 years experience in specialty coffee.

I ultimately choose Kobos as the coffee we would serve in the restaurant. I went with them because the quality of product, attention to detail, and respect for the product shows with every cup. When I place an order with them, the beans are roasted the day before they are delivered to us. This ensures that I’m getting as fresh a product as possible. It’s the perfect finish to the meal the students work so hard in preparing. It’s our last opportunity to make a final impression…the last flavor of the night…our final song — our “Pièce de résistance.”