Making beans magic

Walk or drive James Street east of Thompson Road and smell the pungent, pleasant aroma of roasting coffee. Enter Caf (c) Kubal, 3501 James St., and find a convivial, personal shop serving carefully prepared coffee and food.

The caf (c) is named after a Mayan word meaning divine soul or God. Owners Matt and Rachel Godard serve "coffee for the soul," the tag-line humorously illustrated with an over-sized coffee bean crowned by a halo. Rachel speaks that Mayan dialect, having lived in Guatemala, while the first beans Matt roasted were from Guatemala.

Whether Matt, 32, is scooping and twirling the coffee beans in the decorative brass-plated, cast-iron roaster or attentively making espresso drinks, he talks enthusiastically about coffee.

"I'm more or less self taught," he said.

His early interest in coffee--he roasted coffee beans in a popcorn popper in his college dorm--developed into a wholesale roasting business.

"We opened the caf (c) to encourage understanding of coffee locally," he said.

From crop to cup

Matt considers coffee a special beverage, and respects the work and effort of everyone involved in the process. This starts with the beans he buys from fair-trade cooperatives or directly from individual farmers around the world.

"I'm sensitive to the hands that grow the coffee," he said.

Then he roasts and blends the coffees to the best of his ability. Pounds of coffee beans are sold for $9.49. He recommends trying the Kubal gold special, a reserve blend that showcases a "top-to-bottom flavor scale, bright and dark."

The caf (c) serves meticulously prepared coffee drinks, such as lattes ($2.85 to $3.85) or espresso shots (95 cents to $2.75 for four.) Two different roasts are served as drip-brews of the day ($1.65 to $1.95).

"We're more about quality than quantity," said employee Katie Huntington. The baristas personally control how finely the coffee is ground, as well as the quantity of water and rate of infusion for each espresso shot.

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