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Saturday, July 17, 2004

vac pot amusement

eager to repeat yesterday's heavenly experience with sidamo, i got out the trusty bodum santos vac pot, ground up the fresh batdorf coffee, measured 55g. of coffee into the top globe, filled the bottom globe with one liter of water and waited for the boil.

ah! but as the water was about to boil, i got called away. i returned to find water boiling furiously. i turned the heat down a bit, popped on the top globe (with lid in place), and watched a freak thing happen.

the water was still boiling intensely, and i heard a little "ping!" as the hook that holds the filter in place at the bottom of the tube (see step 4) -- it must have been a bit loose and then jostled free by the hard boil -- unhooked itself and recoiled on its spring up the tube with such force it sent the filter flying up to slam into the lid.

with the filter came a huge spurt of water, which hit the fresh coffee, which bloomed like a fiend! the lid was knocked slightly ajar, and the bloom foamed at the very top, threatening to explode and bring a volcano of boiling water, coffee grounds and filter right to the ceiling and all over yours truly.

i quickly slapped the lid back into place -- luckily this gesture didn't knock over the top-heavy pot -- and turned off the heat. the water and coffee grounds instantly fell into the bottom globe.

note to self: always double-check to insure filter is properly and firmly in place when using vac pot. always use lid when vac pot brewing! never leave vac pot unattended on stove top. never let water in vac pot come to full roiling boil!

the second pot brewed uneventfully. ah -- delicious sidamo!

but perhaps time for me to consider vac pot brewing in a slightly different and more stable configuration. royal coffee palladium balance syphon brewer, anyone?

posted by fortune | 11:59 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Friday, July 16, 2004

sticking with my vac pot

i understand that if you're used to drinking canned supermarket coffee from your aged home auto-drip machine, pod coffee from the new 1-cup brewers seems like a revelation. i also understand that if you're a small family with a crazy schedule, these brewers make sense.

i'm happy to see these brewers on the market, because they can only encourage more people to make coffee at home. and long-time readers know that we here at bccy do little else but stand on our heads and beg people to enjoy their coffee!

however, while like the author of the above article i'm a precision-oriented coffee lover, unlike him, i'm keeping my vac pot.

and the reason is that no pod, no matter how carefully manufactured, can equal the delicious intensity of fresh coffee carefully crafted from a local artisan roaster, freshly ground just before brewing.

if i needed any reminders of that, it came today as i made jessica's batdorf ethiopian sidamo in the bodum santos. delightful enough yesterday, the vac pot this morning heightened the nuances of the coffee and shifted them about.

today the fresh peach moved more towards a strawberry, actually making me wonder if this wasn't a mislabeled harrar. (harrars are famed for their noteworthy berry aromas.)

the roasted hazelnut melted into honey, and the baking chocolate deepened into a strong vanilla-syrup feeling. sometimes coffees lose body in the vac pot, but this one stayed fairly sturdy. . .

i highly recommend this coffee. it's the perfect demonstration of what you give up for convenience when you go pod.

posted by fortune | 10:27 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Thursday, July 15, 2004

ungrateful never but still can't save your versace

if i delay any longer on bccy heroine jessica's sidamo from batdorf, i would truly feel ashamed.

i made a cafetiére (a.k.a. french press) of it this morning. experience has taught me to pour water slowly when handling batdorf coffee. it's so fresh the bloom will explode all over the countertop!

lemme just quickly describe the coffee in the great linglese: this medium-dark roast (i'm calling it full city +) possesses a winey taste, and a surprisingly thick body. the rich bouquet offers a floral fragrance, fresh peach(!) and roasted hazelnut flavors, then winds down with a great baking chocolate aftertaste.

fantastic! the flavor nuances would probably be even more accentuated in a vac pot; will do tomorrow if i have time in the morning.

one of the tiny annoyances of being a coffee lover: the coffee stains. but, no more with this suggestion. must check this out for myself.

feel free, dear readers, to give it at try and post your own experiences in the comments. . .do note that the author cautions you against using this on silk.

i really must ask our pro cupper friends how they get the stuff outta their italian ties!

finally, i'm aware that the atomz bot i've been using for search here since forever completely sucks. its index is messed up yet again.

thus, please be patient with its horrid results until i get a chance next week to install a new search engine. guess which one?

posted by fortune | 9:51 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

regional coffee culture, part xxiii

or, is anyone still counting?

that aside, i was fascinated to read today about a new coffee craze sweeping brunei. i suspect it will soon spread elsewhere.

why? long-time readers know we here at bccy have been chatting about the health benefits of coffee for years; and now the nca -- think commercial coffee and the "big four" multinational coffee roasters, firms like sara lee, kraft, nestle, p&g, even tchibo, or those red & blue cans in the supermarket -- are finally getting wise to this.

thus the nca's decision to launch a health-oriented coffee ad campaign at consumers.

those espousing the "red coffee" in brunei are also touting the health benefits. i guess i wasn't aware that beetroot is packed with anti-oxidants, just as coffee itself is!

but then it turns out that so many of the traditional accompaniments to coffee also have health benefits -- remember that story about cinnamon not long ago? i'm always sprinking some on my cappuccinos now.

my advice to the nca, as an average coffee lover: stop thinking you can sell low-quality, stale, junk coffee to the public by re-doing the packaging, the additives, the marketing.

improve the quality of the coffee itself and then let 'er rip. . . until that time, i'm sticking to the fresh delicious specialty coffee available at my local independent roaster, coffeehouse, or bean store!

posted by fortune | 10:17 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

said krentenbrood & another moment for the ted lingle fan club

even casual readers of bccy know that scaa chief ted lingle holds a high place on my personal coffee retablo.
thus i was so happy that the ever-wonderful chipper of that amazing charity coffeekids -- really, it may be the best-run philanthropic group i know of, period -- sent me a link to this piece about fair-trade coffee that quotes lingle himself.

i will however venture timidly to disagree a tad. lingle says that coffee lovers are reluctant to spend their money on goods related to social causes.

i personally think it's mostly a matter of consumer education and a fear that fair-trade might not really work. then too there is a perceived quality issue: is the current crop of fair-trade coffee truly of the highest specialty quality?

that is, does the coffee itself taste good enough to warrant the extra few cents, besides the social and moral benefits? as always i quote a former scaa prez, steve colten: "quality begets price begets quality."

once these questions are more firmly settled in the average coffee drinker's mind, i venture that much of the resistance could fall away.

in other news, the e.u. goes completely off the deep end when it comes to hygiene in roman coffee bars (scroll down to 5-22-2004). really, is the traditional bowl of sugar cubes a drastic public health threat or do we have a case of bureaucrats looking for something to do?

and finally, as promised -- m. meijer's own authentic dutch currant bread recipe, straight outta the comments and headed for posterity with google. he even includes how to make your own fresh almond paste at the end:

Dutch Krentenbrood with Amandelspijs

300 gm raisins
100 gm currants
50 gm candied (lemon or orange) peel (optional)
500 gm flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 package dried yeast
35 gm baking sugar (fine grind sugar)
2 dl milk (room temperature)
1 egg (beaten)
75 gm melted butter
1 teaspoon lemon, rasped
250 gm almond paste
2 teaspoon coffee creamer or milk
1-2 teaspoon lemon juice
oil for the baking plate
butter and powdered sugar

Wash the raisins and currants, put them 30 minutes in water that they are just covered. Dry them thoroughly with kitchen paper, add the candied peel (optional) and set aside.

Mix the salt with the flour, make a hole and put in the yeast, baking sugar, and lemon rasp. Add the milk, half of the beaten egg and the melted butter. Start from the middle to mix and knead the dough until it gets soft and supple (or until your hands are clean); put the dough in a bowl and let it raise until double in bulk.

In the meantime, prepare the spijs [click here for recipe for Amandelspijs]: loosen the spijs with a fork, add the coffee creamer or milk, the rest of the egg and lemon juice, mix it thoroughly and roll it into a small "sausage". knead the dough again and add the raisin mixture and mix it again until all the raisins are in the dough. Let it raise again.

Put flour on the working table, roll the dough in a oval shape with a rolling-pin, put the spijs in the middle and fold the dough (in a rectangular shape). and press the sides to have them closed very good. Put the whole bread on a baking-plate, thinly covered with oil, cover the bread again with a towel and let it raise for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven on 250C, in the middle, +/- 45 minutes until it is brown and done. Take it directly out from the oven and coat it with melted butter and powdered sugar. When cool, cut it in slices and eat it with butter.

Amandelspijs (almond paste)

130g sweet almonds + 3 bitter almonds (bitter almonds are hard to find in the u.s.a & canada; you may want to buy some bitter almond flavoring from your local italian bakery or scroll down this page to see an interesting substitute using boiled apricot pits! worse comes to worse i suppose you could toss in some amaretto!)
130g sugar
1 egg
lemon peel (rasped)
vanilla (optional)

Blanch the almonds by putting them in boiling water for approximately 2-3 minutes; then take them out and peel them.

Grind them, grind them again together with the lemon rasp, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Roll it in a long "sausage" form.

Keep the "spijs" in a closed jar. After 2 days the spijs can be used, but after 2 weeks it's much better. It takes quite a long time to do, but I think it is worth to do it. Maybe you can try it already earlier, but I think the longer you leave it the better it gets.

posted by fortune | 11:15 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Monday, July 12, 2004

said frisian sugar loaf

i heart coffee and chocolate, but this makes me strangely squeamish. . .

in my recent call for dutch recipes, fabulous r. kilby responded in the comments. but this gem needs to be indexed by google.
so as promised, i'm reprinting here for posterity. m. meijer's krentenbrood recipe follows tomorrow:

Frisian Sugar Loaf

1 cup sugar cubes (i personally would use brown, myself)

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

6 cups all-purpose or bread flour, approximately

1/3 cup nonfat dry milk

1 package dry yeast

2 teaspoons salt

2 cups hot water (120-130)

3 tablespoons shortening


2 medium (8 1/2"-x-4 1/2") loaf pans, greased or Teflon, lined with wax or parchment paper


5 mins.

With the handle of kitchen shears, an ice cracker, or a tack hammer, crack the sugar cubes. Don't crush them. Try to break them into halves or quarters. Place them in a small bowl and sprinkle with the cinnamon. Turn with a spoon or fingers until all of the broken pieces are well dusted.


10 mins.

In a mixing bowl place 2 cups flour, the dry milk, yeast, and salt. Pour in the hot water and add the shortening. With an electric mixer beat for 2 minutes at medium speed, or 150 strong strokes with a wooden spoon. Stir in the balance of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is a rough mass.


8 mins.

The sugar cubes are added gradually during the kneading process whether by hand or under a dough hook.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 2 minutes with the rhythmic motion of push-turn-fold. Flatten the dough and sprinkle with about 1/4 cup sugar cube mixture. Fold the dough over the cubes and continue kneading. When the cubes have disappeared into the dough, add another 1/4 cup. Again work the sugar into the dough with a kneading motion or under the dough hook. Repeat with the balance of the sugar cubes. Knead for 8 minutes by hand or dough hook.

The dough will have taken on some of the cinnamon color, but this is desirable. If some of the sugar bits work their way out of the dough during the kneading process, press them in again. If the surface of the dough becomes sticky with sugar, dust with flour.


5 mins.

Attach the plastic dough blade.

Place 3 cups flour in the work bowl; add the dry milk, yeast, salt, and shortening. Pour in the hot water. Pulse the processor 3 or 4 times, until all the ingredients are well blended. Add additional flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough is no longer wet but soft and slightly sticky. Process until the dough forms a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl.


50 secs.

Let the dough knead for 50 seconds.

The broken sugar cubes are added to the dough after it is taken from the work bowl. The spinning blade would simply pulverize the cubes if they were put in the bowl with the dough. See the kneading instructions above for working the sugar bits in the dough.


1 hour

Place the dough in a greased bowl. Turn to coat the dough completely. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and move to a warm place (80-100) until the dough has doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

(If prepared with a new fast-rising yeast and at the recommended higher temperatures, reduce rising times by about half.)

To proof the dough in a convection oven, place the bowl on a rack. Turn the dial to a low setting. The oven should be warm, about 90. Leave the oven on. Proof for 45 minutes.


15 mins.

Turn the dough onto the work surface and divide with a sharp knife. When the dough is cut, moist pockets of sugar will be exposed. Carefully close the cut edges, pinching the seams tightly. Shape the pieces into balls, and let them rest for 3 or 4 minutes.

Form a loaf by pressing or rolling each into an oval-roughly the length of the pan. Fold the oval in half, pinch the seam to seal, tuck under the ends, and place in the loaf pan, seam down.


45 mins.

Place the pans in a warm place, cover with wax or parchment paper, and leave until the center of the dough has risen 1/2" above the edge of the pan, about 45 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 400 about 20 minutes before baking.


15 mins.


40 mins.

If desired, cut a pattern in the top of the loaf with a razor blade or sharp knife. Place the loaves in the hot oven for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350, and bake for an additional 40 minutes. Mid-way during baking shift the position of the tins so the bread is exposed equally to temperature variations in the oven.

(If using a convection oven, no preheating is necessary. Bake at 325 for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.)


Carefully turn the pans on their sides on a cooling rack. Tug gently on the paper lining to loosen the breads and pull them out. Allow the breads to cool before serving.

These loaves make exceptionally fine toast but must be watched so the sugar does not burn.


Estimated time (minutes)
Total Time > 90

posted by fortune | 8:53 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Sunday, July 11, 2004

recipes too good to be lost in the comments

in my recent call for dutch bread recipes, my prayers were answered by new bccy pals r. kliby and m. meijer. they're angels.

i'm going to drag these recipes outta the comments and post 'em proper so google can index these gems.

in the meantime, mr. right surprised da house by bicycling out to well-known gourmet shop, bierkraft. don't let the name fool ya.

you might think it's just a supply house for brew addicts, but actually it's a full-fledged premium store, stocked with great cheeses, niman ranch products, artisan breads, and of course chocolate.

unlike certain other bklyn "gourmet" stores, the bierkraft folks are friendly and welcoming -- no manhattan attitudes or prices here!

mr. right appeared with a difficult-to-obtain-in-the-summer bar of that utter heroin known as slitti lattenero 62%, as well as the delicious galler 70% noir.

that bierkraft is associated with long-time bccy guy jim munson of dallis coffee has nothing per se to do with my enthusiasm. . .it's just the slitti speaking!

of course, today is pizza day at bccy, and i'm making up the dough as usual. every household has to have routines, as one of my closest friends recently remarked.

and while the dough whirls, doncha know, i'm polishing off the last of gillies lovely iced guatemala antigua "los volcanes." hot or cold, this coffee is right up there with oren's famed cobán.

posted by fortune | 9:52 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

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