Thursday, February 16, 2012

Logan Square Pastry Market + Bridgeport Coffee

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This Saturday, I visited the Valentine's Pastry Market at the Logan Square Kitchen, and I had a fabulous time. As soon as I walked in, I was assailed by that lovely smell that only comes from the marriage of flour, butter, and sugar. Ahhhh pastry. There were many bakers and artisans sampling their wares, from cream puffs and pie to baklava and truffles. It was sugarholic heaven.

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Cream puffs from Puffs of Doom. She's filling that box up for me! I got bourbon banana gingersnap, cardamom white chocolate rice pudding, strawberry lemon drop, chocolate caramel pecan, and butterfinger.

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Honey Pie Cafe

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Whoopie pies and other treats from Pomegranate Sweets and Savories.

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Handmade baklava from Sheekar Delights.

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Hand-decorated artisanal chocolates from Veruca Chocolates.

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Among all these swoon-inducing sweets, the real standout in my mind was the Bridgeport Coffee Company, who were doing custom pours of three of their blends. I had the Peru, which was full-bodied, smooth and chocolaty, with a clean finish. I also picked up an info sheet which explained some of the challenges the Peruvian growers face, and the ecologically sensitive farming and drying practiced they have employed. As I sipped my coffee, I spoke with Mike Pilkington, founder of Bridgeport Coffee, who is knowledgeable and obviously passionate about his product. He takes pride in the company's commitment to developing personal relationships with its growers, and understanding the unique economic, political and climatic challenges they face. He shared with me how eighty percent of the world's specialty coffee is actually grown organically, for simple economic reasons, but that only ten percent of it is certified organic. Small farmers, who produce seventy percent of the world's coffee supply, are often denied access to organic and fair trade certifications because of cost, paperwork, and bureaucracy. From 1972-1990, El Salvador was racked with civil wars, and farming families fled to the cities in search of safety. A generation later, farmers still live in the cities and commute to the farms to work. Because of this technicality, most of these farmers are ineligible for fair trade certification, though they exceed fair trade requirements. Bridgeport Coffee sidesteps the middle man and builds relationships with farmers, eliminating the need for official certification. And they make a darn good cup of coffee.

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