He fell in love with coffee in Italy, but when media literacy instructor Dan Goldblatt was tasked with creating a coffee shop for Paramount Schools of Excellence, he made it his mission to learn from coffee professionals around the country. He eventually received a diploma from the Specialty Coffee Association and has created state-of-the-art coffee shops at both Paramount Cottage Home and Paramount Brookside, charter schools on Indy’s Eastside. “I learned that Italian-style coffee was not actually the best in the world, and that people across the globe, especially in America, were treating beans differently than they had in the past,” Dan said. “Coffee roasting had become much more nuanced and created flavor profiles that did not fit the traditional mold of ‘hot, black, and strong.’”
How did you get into the coffee biz?
My second year at Paramount, CEO Tommy Reddicks asked if I would be willing to run our fledgling coffee shop at the school. He said that he wanted to make it the best coffee shop in the city, so our teachers missed nothing by skipping their morning Starbucks run. I agreed and took the next two years to not only run the shop, but also travelled all over the country learning both the art and science of coffee from various shops, roasters and coffee professionals partnered with the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA).
How did you create such top-tier coffee shops at Paramount?
I took what I learned from the SCA and what I learned from our staff at Paramount and worked with Keystone Construction to build a custom, state-of-the-art coffee shop from the ground up at Paramount Cottage Home. We set the space up to not only serve the staff at Paramount Cottage Home, but the entire community. Not long after, we received a grant to upgrade the coffee shop at Paramount Brookside, and I once again worked with Keystone to create a brand new, purpose-built, third-wave coffee shop that serves the staff and community at Paramount Brookside. We have our own proprietary blend we developed with Tinker Coffee in Indy, who roasts all our beans for us.
Tell us about the coffee pairings you create for the Culinary Crossroads Sunday Supper Club chef dinners at Paramount. What do you consider when pairing coffees with food?
I like to think regionally when I create a coffee pairing. If a dish is from a particular part of the globe, I look at coffee drinks from that region for inspiration. I also look at certain ingredients and think about how a region’s coffee might pair well with that ingredient. For example, an Ethiopian bean with a floral, bright aroma may pair very well with a root vegetable or even a salad.
Are there any coffee and food pairings that might seem surprising?
I’ve learned that sparkling waters and espresso pair well together. I think anyone who is getting into specialty coffee for the first time would be surprised how different specialty coffee can be compared to mass produced flash-roasted beans from Starbucks or Folgers. I really like pairing coffee and wine, as both have small nuances between varieties that can be found when paired together.
What’s something people do wrong when making coffee at home?
The biggest thing I see is when people freeze their coffee or use beans that are not freshly ground. You should keep your beans in a dry, dark place like a cupboard. The temperature differences and moisture in a freezer can be very bad for your beans. Also, grind your beans right before you are ready to brew them.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone wanting to up their coffee game?
Check out beans from your local roasters. There is no specialty equipment needed to brew coffee. You can get a pour over brewer for less than $10 on Amazon and if you have a teapot and a thermometer, you can get your water to the ideal temperature of about 202 degrees.
We know you don’t have coffee beans in there, but tell us a few things that are always in your fridge at home?
Duke’s mayonnaise, Waterloo seltzers, several kinds of pickles and nine different types of barbecue sauce. With a bag of Funyuns sitting on top.