Once an eyesore on the corner of Transit Road and Seneca Street in Buffalo, NY, the old broken down garage/gas station has been remodeled into a charming, cozy coffee house-with a very unusual name: The Mudhouse Coffee Cafe. I ask how the name of the cafÃ?Â© was created.
“Mud is a slang term for coffee, ‘cup of mud’. When we began remodeling, there was a lot of mud on the property,” a smiling brunette answers from behind the counter.
With the original Buffalo brick and high ceilings, the Mudhouse CafÃ?Â© opened for business August 30, 2004. Karl Dembik, a construction worker, and his wife Maria, an interior designer, took a chance on their dream to run a successful gourmet coffee cafÃ?Â© and take their rightful place in the business community. With some 50,000 cars passing by them daily, the husband and wife team were sure they could entice some patrons into their establishment for some coffee, conversation, and relaxation.
Their efforts and steadfast determination paid off. It seems the place to be on any given Saturday night to either conclude the night’s entertainment or to begin it. It’s also one of my favorite places to be during the week after a long day’s work, or on my day off, working on my laptop. The cafÃ?Â© has internet access for those looking to get on the web in a soothing, distract-free environment.
Besides having a plethora of gourmet coffees to choose from, what makes this place unique to some of the competition is that they roast their own coffee right there on the premises. Maria and Karl have over thirteen years experience roasting coffee beans. The beans come in 150-200 lb burlap bags from all over the world. The Mudhouse mostly buys from Costa Rica, Africa, New Guinea, Tanzania, Sumatra, Brazil, Columbia, and Kenya.
Coffee beans come in a coating which is hand-peeled and resembles a cherry.
The beans are then put in the roaster which cooks the beans by a gas flame. The Mudhouse has a 6 lb roaster that spins the beads like a dryer. The whole process is based on time, color, and temperature. The trick is to listen for the beans to crackle at two different intervals. The amount of seconds between determines the roast. French roast is a darker bean with a longer roast time. The end result is an intense flavor with an oil sheen to the bean. The roasting machine was impressive enough to look at. They have it displayed in the front window off to the side. I didn’t know what it was until Maria walked me through the process. There’s a whole art to roasting, making, and pouring coffee and espresso.
The Dembik’s also custom roast for vendors and cater parties with their, “portable espresso bar”. The Nuova Simonelli is an Italian Company specializing in making espresso machines. The term, “espresso” means “expressed” as in pressed out. It’s all about the, “crema”-Italian for cream; the cream off the bean.
“Crema should be on the espresso. It means the bean is fresh. If there’s no cream, it means it’s a bad espresso,” Maria states.
Espresso is ground fine, like a powder, whereby coffee is courser. The espresso machine is cleaned every day with the entire system being purged once per night. Humidity plays a factor in how the end product pours out and has to be monitored and adjusted regularly.
“Presentation is keyÃ¢Â?Â¦technique, layer, pour, foam,” she says with a smile.
After getting the grand tour of Maria’s daily roasting routine, I order myself a Mocha Espresso-chocolate milk steam and whipped cream coffee, and have a seat to admire my surroundings. My lips seem to have a newfound appreciation for the “mud” I’ve come to savor over the years. I’m having a difficult time deciding which room to relax in; the back room with the baby grand piano or front room with gas fireplace built into the wall. .
The Mudhouse is filled with laughter, mingling conversation, soft lighting, and soothing background music. Just a few hours prior to my interview, I was busy typing away by myself next to the piano. This coffee house has a tempo to please everyone’s interest. The future is alive with ideas and possibilities for this establishment. Maria tells me a cold sandwich menu will be offered in time.