Sunday, November 30, 2008

andrew's brazil as an americano

what a horrible, icky, miserable, drizzly, dreary day today! and i ended up talking to various people about that depressing topic, the financial crisis.


the only thing keeping me happy this afternoon &mdash beyond my habitual pizza-making &mdash is andrew's brazil as an americano.

highly recommended.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

great coffee, fuzzy pic

oren's holiday gift
ooh ooh ooh — i know the pic's not the greatest, but i was so excited when i received a sample of oren's awesome holiday gift pack!

it features 4 of the fantastic coffees i've written about here: his brazil daterra yellow bourbon (i do have a weakness for yellow bourbon!); the amazing amazing yemen mocha haraaz; his very nice guatemalan amatitlan; and many people's snappy fave, the famed la minita. (if only he could get his hands on some sun dried. . .!)

i myself happen to find the antique map box charming. obviously this is highly recommended as a gift for coffee lovers by coffee lovers!

a problem many gift packs have is that they can be a little girly in construction, too cutesy. this a quite handsome in contrast, appropriate for men as well as women.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

in response to readers' requests

how kind of you to email me asking about my dinner! ok, brace yourselves. . .consider how i started a new tradition here in bklyn.

truly long-time readers may recall that i frankly believe no man should be forced to eat turkey. if you sit them down, they will all, once they are fully convinced it's safe to do so, confess that they hate the stuff.

this is certainly true in my house, and stick-with-it bccy pals will remember that as a result, i now always serve porterhouse for thanksgiving. oh yeah: the perfect no-work holiday.

forgive me, i just can't understand people who work all day, sometimes even baking the day before, only then to face more than an hour of clean-up after. and for what? turkey?

look, i have total respect for everyone else's holiday traditions. i encourage you to work like a dog to uphold them. . .but really, i think he'd prefer you didn't!

1-1/2 inch thick porterhouse, a sensibly priced california cabernet sauvignon, a little salad, a little delicata squash, and julia childs' chocolate mousse. that's it.

the great thing about this menu is that there's almost no cooking. you make the mousse in 20 minutes at noon: putting julia's mousse together basically consists of microwaving the chocolate and whipping some cream. next.

the squash you halve, butter, drizzle with maple syrup and bake for an hour in a foil pan. salad gets spun, then dressed with a quick hazelnut oil vinaigrette.

the porterhouse you grill for 12 minutes. pop the cork — you're done. later, everything just goes in the dishwasher. no scrubbing.

i'll hand-wash the wine glasses tomorrow morning. and the best part? you feel like royalty.


posted by fortune | 8:25 PM | top | link to this | email this: | | | 0 comments

more on oren's jbm, andrew's brazil

and a happy holiday to all of you!

i began yesterday morning with another cup of oren's fantastic jamaica blue mountain. i really have to talk about this coffee in some detail because it's really sparked an entire meditation on the coffee cupping concept of ashy/mineral.

it's clear, i think, from drinking o's rws jbm that is grown in some powerful volcanic soil — it has the floral fragrance, brightness, and a "mineral" taste that comes from being grown in a pumice-type soil. to continue the description, it also has a lovely caramel aroma and a super silky smoothness.

what it doesn't have is a strong cocoa character in the aftertaste — so if that's a prominent sensation you seek in all your jbm's you won't find it here. oren's setting up a different, more elegant experience here.

the overall balance of the coffee is remarkable, if you are a careful enough taster to appreciate such structural poise, which i believe is a hallmark of oren's general coffee style. the issue here is how to describe that volcanic mineral taste, which we seek in coffees of this type.

here's also a moment to consider the difference between us specialty cuppers, who search out positive nuance, as opposed to commercial-grade cuppers, who primarily seek defects and taints. i mean, if a commercial cupper finds a nice flavor, you'll see them write "good mild" or something on their cupping sheet. but they just aren't concerned with these aromas the way specialty folks are; they're just not in that business.

most specialty cuppers will use the term ashy to mean the sensation a very dark roast can give a coffee's aftertaste. they are trying to use this term in a positive way, to describe a pleasant, soft, dark roast characteristic, as opposed to carbony, which we all agree is all bad. carbony = the mermaid. avoid that.

commercial cuppers however use the term ashy to describe this volcanic soil flavor, and this is where the confusion can arise, should a specialty cupper try to discuss a jbm with a commercial cupper. this is why i prefer to use the term "mineral," esp. since i do believe this flavor is due to the pumice in the soil.

this is one of those times you just wish flament talked more about soil conditions in the final coffee flavor chemisty, you know? altho' it's been quite chic for the past few years to discuss the terroir of coffee — and as here in oren's jbm, the terroir can show — but in general, processing, roasting, and preparation also have a huge effect on what the coffee lover finds in a cup.

the effect of terroir can often be quite muted in coffee by these factors; whether you think this is an issue or not pretty much shows where you stand on the fine coffee idea map.

even as i consider this, i must say, i'm enjoying doppio macchiati of andrew's ecco brazil, the fazenda cachoieta i received this week. just a wonderful single-origin espresso! and it is marked by a strong dutch cocoa aftertaste!

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Friday, November 21, 2008

googling andrew barnett's fazenda cachoieta

deep joy ensued here when i received a message from long-time bccy pal andrew barnett that a pound of his ecco fazenda cachoieta brazil yellow bourbon for espresso was on its merry way. i had to find out more about this bean.

so i picked up my iphone, tapped the new google voice-activated search app - oh i was so happy to see google geek mike labeau! finally, a guy who listens so he can give me exactly what i want - and just started talking at the sound of the tone. now the first time you use the google voice search app, you may not get the best result, because you can't speak too fast or too slow.

for example, when i installed it, the first name i tested was robin hanson. but i was too fast, and google app thought i said "robinson." second try, i was too slow, and google app starting search at just the "robin," which gave me a nice wikipedia article on little birds. but i had the hang of it by the third try and got, well, robin hanson.

now confident in my ability to talk to that google cutie mike labeau through my beloved iphone in a way that boys could hear, i just said "andrew barnett coffee fazenda" and mike ran out to get me "andrew barnett coffee." which got me to a dining article about ecco, and then a link back here to bccy! poor mike just couldn't catch that "fazenda." work on that, ok, dreamboat?

the next search i tried thru mike was "oren bloostein coffee jamaican," in honor of oren's awesome jamaican blue mountain, which is what i'm drinking this week. but mike absolutely couldn't handle that, he tried "korean bluestein coffee jamaican." well, mike's young, we'll wait for mike 0.3.2.

both of these exquisite coffees, by the way, are highly recommended.

posted by fortune | 7:44 PM | top | link to this | email this: | | | 0 comments

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

yemen to die for

for the past week i've been living on — let's face it — oren's yemen mocha haraaz. just open the bag and the whole beans smell like blueberry jam.

oh, that is all good.

the fresh grounds keep that gorgeous blue going. oren loves to chemex all his beans, but honestly this is another one i prefer in the cafetiére (a.k.a. french press to you!), as it benefits the body so.

when i pour the hot water in, the bloom of this ultra-fresh coffee's just intense, like shaking a liter of coca-cola. wowza! is that stout or coffee?

at the second pour, after the first bloom subsides, the careful nose can detect many defects or taints. but oren's mocha haraaz is clean, almost surgically so.

i suppose this might disappoint the true romantic cupper, who thinks all yemen should have a hint of the clay roof on which the coffee dried, and that mysterious historic mixture of straw basket bathed by donkey sweat as the farmer brings it down from the high mountains to sanani. ah donkey sweat!

get out your scaa flavor wheel: oren calls this coffee's taste bright, but unh-unh, i think it's wine-y. and i'm pleased by its strong caramel aroma. the coffee's also impressively smooth, again, an artifact of the press brewing, i think.

of course this coffee's completely organic, doesn't even need to be certified: for the simple reason these tiny yemen farms are just too remote for agribiz trade 'hos to get there and the farmers are frankly too poor to afford any chemicals even if said shysters could arrive.

when it comes to that last point, we coffee lovers really shouldn't feel to good about it, so when you see o's charging US$19 a pound, don't be afraid to open your nose and pay through it. the coffee's worth it, and the farmers deserve it.

you'll be glad you did. a delicious, delicious coffee.

posted by fortune | 7:38 PM | top | link to this | email this: | | | 0 comments

Monday, November 03, 2008

must have coffees from oren

i've been a tad remiss in discussing oren's latest coffees, so let me get started quickly here by noting the must haves:

  • his c.o.e.-winning nicaragua - this came in second in the competition and is just a wonderful floral, bright, citrusy, caramel coffee, coming from just a few trees two sweet little farms. he sent me his yrg with which to compare - honestly, this is better. worth every penny. i mean it.
  • his smooth-as-james-bond canterbury blend - charming in the morning
  • his holiday blend - you have to do this in the chemex for best effect. seriously, otherwise its lemon-candy thing is overwhelming. but in the chemex, it's great. and the aroma's amazing, it will fill your house! well, it does mine.

posted by fortune | 9:07 AM | top | link to this | email this: | | | 0 comments