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Portland coffee company wins Good Food award

William Pratt photo | BDN
William Pratt photo | BDN
Tandem Coffee Roasters owner William Pratt after he received his Good Food Award Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 in San Francisco.

A crop of America’s top food producers were recognized at a ceremony in San Francisco Thursday night and a Maine company was among the chosen few.

Tandem Coffee Roasters of Portland was one of 14 coffee companies to receive a Good Food Award. Their Aylele Yirgacheffe Ethiopia beans, which sell for $11 a half pound, rose to the top in a blind taste test by coffee experts.

“It’s super complex really, really sweet. Very floral with a nice citrus to it,” said Tandem’s William Pratt of the single-estate coffee that’s hard to come by. “It’s a huge compliment.”

The accolade was a coup for the year-and-a-half old company that roasts in a small brick building in Portland’s East Bayside. Owner Pratt was humbled by the honor.

“It’s pretty amazing to get this recognition already. These are some of our favorite roasters in the country,” said Pratt, who did not expect to join their ranks so soon.

Coffee is one of 10 categories the awards celebrate. Winners were selected from 1,450 entries from across the country. Also honored were makers of beer, chocolate, confections, oils, cheese, pickles, preserves, charcuterie and spirits.

The director of the awards Sarah Weiner called the winners “poet revolutionaries” for their commitment to tasty and responsibly produced food.

Culinary heavyweights Ruth Reichl and Alice Waters gave out the awards held at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts.

On Saturday the top products will be unveiled at a public marketplace at the San Francisco Ferry Building, a foodie magnet.

Does the Tandem win further Portland’s gastronomic reputation? “Lots of the companies are from the Northwest and California,” said Pratt, whose skills as a roaster are getting noticed. ”It’s pretty great to represent Maine out there.”

And what does this mean for Tandem? Are expansion plans in the works?

“It will get us some recognition that would have taken longer for sure,” said Pratt. “We’ll see when we get home if the phone starts ringing.”

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