Friday, July 08, 2005


wherein we sing the praises of oren and sue

if anyone ever doubts why the specialty coffee family is so awesome, and why i love it so, let us consider the case of oren bloostein. scion of a department-store family, he abandons a secure career in high-fashion, high-style retailing because he is driven by an entrepreneurial and perfectionistic passion for the world's finest coffees.

striking out on his own, getting up at 3 a.m. to roast coffee himself, oren toils through the years to build a 9-shop chain, with which he does battle against the mermaid's corporate mediocrity every single day.

along the way he develops the reputation as a discriminating cupper who will never compromise one whit on bean quality. and yet he also develops the reputation as a caring, funny, unegotistical, and friendly guy with an unblemished ethical record in his business dealings.

anyway, for those of you who don't know oren, here's another example of his famous generosity. . .

so oren and i were discussing one of my favorite subjects, ethiopian harrar. (dear readers, i'm sure harrar is one of your favorite subjects too!)

after raving like a fiend over the stumptown "ravishing indigo" harrar, i wanted to try oren's harrar longberry, which the fabulous genevieve felix described as having "prune" flavors. (since she's french, i think she means the english "plum" here.)

thus i got some of this harrar from oren's hipsters at his grand central station store, and rushed home to brew. unlike the stumptown, which blossoms in the vac pot, oren's harrar was a tad more challenging for me to make.

my usual vac pot ritual didn't work for it, and making it as i regularly do in the cafetiére wasn't happening for me either. then the oren-angel intervened.

oren, you see, is a big fan of the classic chemex, which he says has "the best extraction of any method." he loves the body you get from this brewer, but also the clarity and taste that comes from the special heavy, fine-grained chemex paper filters.

he also has an exacting technique that he describes so:

"you want to pre-wet the filter with hot water first. then scoop in the coffee, then pre-wet the grinds...oh, and when you pour, do it in discreet amounts.

for one liter i would wet the grinds with maybe four or five oz, then after the bloom, add water at 6 oz at a time, being sure to pour all around. until the last, then less water for a liter ha!"

notice that neither oren nor the official chemex instructions call for stirring the grounds during brewing. and for that matter, neither does tom at sweet maria.

however, i do remain concerned about the best grind for oren's harrar with my saeco 2002. oren has previously suggested i try "12," which would be medium coarse.

at any rate, today through an absolutely pounding rain -- not just dogs and cats, but wolves and tigers -- oren's angel, sue, appears with said chemex, fresh harrar, and some of his tremendous celebes kalossi/sulawesi toraja for good measure.

oren, i thank you and sue deeply. now i will finally understand what your coffee's supposed to taste like.

and also, since among my various press pots, flip pots, espresso machines, vac pots, etc. etc. possibly the only brewing method i lacked in my collection was a chemex. i feel so happy i could do cartwheels between the raindrops.

as oren says, "i love the chemex.. i think everyone should own one." now i do have a history with chemex, actually.

(cue the way-back machine sound effect, mr. peabody.) my best college buddy, hav doherty, lived in edgewood, new mexico on a nice ranch -- at one point her father kept sheep on the north forty to maintain the "lawn."

i used to love to stay at her house in edgewood, where her mother carefully made coffee every morning with a large chemex. yummy!

then hav and i would rush off in the battered red farm pickup, the local free-form public college radio station blasting its wacky mix of punk, classical, frank sinatra, john cage, jazz and ladino music, to have various adventures in alba-quirky. (this is a seriously underrated town, imvho.)

don't get me started -- even tho' i think the statue of limitations on all these things have long expired. . .

posted by fortune | 12:15 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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