Saturday, January 08, 2005
a very pleasant visit
so the fabulous catie "sustainable coffee is my middle name" baril of green mountain and her friend monica came down from vermont for a fair-trade tea event, held by zhena to benefit eve ensler's great v-day cause.
held at famed fantasy palace abc, eve spoke for a bit (never have i heard the "v-word" used as so many parts of speech: adjective, adverb, verb, preposition, etc.), zhena spoke for a bit, the pure belly dancers undulated, and then we went out for pizza!
i just think catie is one of the coolest and most orange people in the world! we came back to bklyn and i made her a triple macchiatto of andrew's ecco caffé northern-italian espresso.
this is the coffee based in the sweet, heavy, superpremium, prize-winning brazils he buys from a greenie in europe!
i just think it's a fantastic coffee, very smooth. i'll try drinking this tomorrow in a more analytical way, but let me say that catie was impressed and is taking the pound of his organic version back to vermont with her to sample around. . . she also made off with a pound of caffé d'arte's firenze blend.
and in other news, the long-absent kitchenaid stand mixer, blanche, came home today after repairs. i love solomon's appliances: they fixed her for free! zero! zip! zilch!
this kind of excellent customer service is the kitchenaid way, and solomon's is an authorized kitchenaid center, so i suppose i shouldn't be suprised. but i am "v-word" grateful!
finally, i looked today in awe at mary beth's sourdough rye. she's nailed it after just 3 tries; seriously i could see this floured loaf on sale at dean & deluca for US$8.
and what's incredible is her heated aquarium setup for keeping the sourdough starter at the perfect working temperature. i repeat: incredible.
Friday, January 07, 2005
first, a reminder for my scaa nyc jan. 12 event at 7pm at the juan valdez cafe!
our door prizes now include: the US$200 capresso coffeetec (thanks again, jim!); a set of 4 demitasse with saucers in a "coffee leaf" pattern (thanks, steve colten of atlantic!); and some roasted specialty colombian coffees winging their way to me now, i hope (thanks, greyfriars/rare coffee, gimme, and gillies).
r.s.v.p. while there's still time!
and for the bi-coastal among you -- or who just happen to live in la-la land:
"The Barista Guild of America would like to invite you to our first ever Western Regional Barista Guild Jam hosted by the Specialty Coffee Association of America!
Saturday, January 15, 2005
Location: SCAA, 330 Golden Shore Suite 50, Long Beach, CA 90802
Time: 8:00 am to 6:30 pm Jam - 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm Reception
Cost: $25 BGA Member
$50 Non-BGA Member
Please RSVP by filling out the Registration Form available for download.
For additional information, please contact Michelle Campbell by phone at: (562) 624-4100, or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schedule of Events: (Times Subject To Change)
8:00 am - 9:00 am: Continental Breakfast & Jam Time
9:00 am - 10:00 am: Mastering The Fire - Roasting Talk & Demonstration
10:00 am - 11:00 am: Open Jam Time
11:00 am - 12:00 pm: The Tao of Perfect Espresso
12:00 pm - 12:30 pm: Taming of the Milk: Latte Art Demonstration
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm: Lunch (provided by the SCAA) & Jam Time
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm: Espresso Cupping
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm: Barista Competition Overview, Tips, and Q & A
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm: Espresso Machines & Theory
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm: Open Jam Time
7:30 pm - 10:00 pm: BGA Reception (For Registered Jam Attendees Only)
Place: GameWorks, 10 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802"
Thursday, January 06, 2005
world quality blends
so i was sitting this morning enjoying andrew's unusual yrg -- the one that smells like earl grey but has the body of an indo -- when i held the valve of one his espresso bags to my nose.
ah! delicious! this coffee has one of the most delightful scents you can imagine. (also i might be a tad delirious because for the first time in days and days i can almost smell again. . .)
this immediately reminded me of part of the conversation andrew and i had, about superpremium brazils, specialty coffees grown only for use in the highest quality espresso. (think "coffee statesman" marcelo v. here).
andrew theorized: perhaps many american roasters have an attitude that brazils are just cheap blenders, and so they don't seek out the prize-winning, best sweet & heavy coffees from the cerrado and sul minas. (but, um, andrew of course does!)
with this running around in my brain, it collided with the fact i heard from david of new zealand's atomic coffee. david independently proposed this same point.
i have remarked here before that, frankly, the best u.s.a. baristi go to the world championships and get kicked to the curb. it's no secret the scandinavians and down-under types own the top spots.
what do their specialty coffee cultures have that we need, if we want to win? well, for one thing, it might be these superpremium brazils.
but it seems like many of them aren't even available for sale here in the u.s.a. for specialty roasters to buy! without these world-quality coffees, can american specialty roasters actually make world-quality blends that will triumph on an international level?
i wonder what our roaster and barista friends think about this issue. . .
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
ecco, st. hamelman & the great coffee podcast
almost don't know where to begin. let's pick up from yesterday, with andrew's ecco yrg.
i didn't have time to cup this formally this morning, and so just made it up in the cafetiére (a.k.a. french press). i very much want to check this coffee out in the vac pot to ensure i pick up on its nicest nuances.
so let me take this moment to just quickly say that andrew's coffee is the most "tea-like" of all the yrgs i've ever had. as i was frantically stirring down the bloom (this is an ultra-fresh coffee!), the scent of black darjeeling tea formed an intense cloud.
in fact, combined with the light citrus aroma this coffee also offered, the smell was surprisingly reminiscent of a fine earl grey tea! (actually i think earl grey is more traditionally made with assam, but again, i freely confess to knowing little about the dead-leaf thing.)
in the press, the coffee also displayed a thicker body than i might have expected. also, it wasn't as winey as other yrg's i've had recently -- but this could be due to making it in a press as opposed to a vac pot!
long-time bccy pal mary beth has definitely got this sourdough bread thing down. using hamelman's starter instructions and his "vermont sourdough" recipe, she's making some impressive looking loaves.
finally, i think by now everyone knows about podcasting. practically the entire planet has an ipod nowadays -- even mr. right -- i seem to be alone in not yet owning one (however this is partially because i am holding out for a new screamin' demon powerbook).
so we shouldn't be surprised to see our favorite topic, coffee, made the subject of podcasts. garrick v.b. of minnesota has a few on his site that may interest home roasters.
before you can get the podcast thing working, you need to download a little helper software, like ipodder.
once you've got that, then you can rush over to g's site and grab his archived podcasts, like this one on home coffee roasting with a popcorn popper. (don't laugh -- this is the way a lot of people do it!)
what did you say you were waiting for?
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
barista magazine & ecco, ecco
look for it in march. i'm glad our old bccy pal from fresh cup, sarah allen, has landed in such a cool spot!
good luck to you, sarah! the editorial board also includes other bccy friends, like john hornall from hines market coffee, as well as a pile of high-profile european and scandinavian baristi.
this shouldn't be a surprise as even a quick survey of the world barista championship results prove that northern europeans dominate the top ranks of the profession. i was however surprised at the relative lack of baristi from australia and new zealand, another hot spot for killer coffee talent.
whenever i see a list like this i always look for my personal fave barista, emma markland-webster, who besides being a top-notch kiwi barista, also happens to be a super-cool girl. i think she's working for atomic coffee now.
and let me take a moment to thank andrew barnett of ecco caffé. he sent me 3 awesome pounds of coffee: his northern-italian espresso, his organic northern-italian espresso, and an incredibly famous certified organic, fair-trade, bird-friendly [the stunningly beautiful prince ruspoli's turaco is the main protected bird you are helping when you drink this coffee!] ethiopian yrgacheffe from the award-winning oromia co-op.
ken davids in a review last october rated this coffee an easy 90 in the hands of another roaster! i'll definitely be making this up in the cafetiére (a.k.a. french press) tomorrow. . .
long-time readers know yrg is one of my very favorite coffees, so i'll be drinking this one up with real joy. this is exactly the kind of highest-quality, hand-crafted coffee you'd expect from andrew, who's using his artistic background to raise specialty coffee to the supreme level.
he is exactly the kind of roaster and pro scaa member we here at bccy are proud to know.
i talked to andrew yesterday a bit and was completely thrilled by his passion and devotion to artisan specialty roasting. more coffee lovers need to know about andrew!
Monday, January 03, 2005
to quote charlie brown. reading reviews or suggestions of "where to find a great cup of coffee in new york" is always frustrating, since the foodies and most newspapers never mention the places that actually serve great coffee.
(for the record, this article misses probably the 2 best tea places in nyc as well as screwing up the coffee recommendations: moby's hot teany, and the swanky t salon. not that i know anything about the whole dead-leaf fad.)
why do these stories never mention 9th st. espresso (voted best espresso 2004 by the voice), gimme coffee, joe's (voted best espresso 2004 by time out)? the story above has a picture of halcyon, but doesn't actually mention that since it moved to dumbo, it no longer serves coffee!
i think of coffee in many ways, but really, never as a moral lesson. . .
this morning i did make up a cafetiére (a.k.a. french press) of the caffé d'arte wood-roasted drip coffee, the velletri.
like all d'arte coffees this is a very dark and oily blend. i couldn't drink it black; even with splenda and a tablespoon of light cream, i couldn't finish the cup. it's just a tad too darkly roasted for my personal taste.
however, it did offer an incredible bloom and an interesting body. the ultra-roast dominated the coffee with a pungent taste and smoky, pipe tobacco notes; obviously, with such a roast level, the coffee displayed no brightness.
for lovers of the far shores of deep roasting! i know there are a large number of people who adore their coffee well beyond vienna and heading into french -- the velletri's for you -- it will speak to your sophisticated soul.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
no, thank you!
sometimes you forget that few things on the internet ever die. they are just archived somewhere, and the right combination of search terms can unearth them.
thus i was really surprised to receive a nice note from ron in newport beach about one of the first recipes i posted on the predecessor to bccy -- the famed rustic apple tart. hey ron, i'm glad you like it, and i'm thrilled you still make it.
so you shouldn't thank me, i should thank you for keeping that fun and very easy recipe alive.
alas i used to make it often but mr. right is not particularly fond of apples. . .one of the great things about living in new york is that the farmers market used to have really cute upstate heirloom apples.
now so many of the upstate orchards seem to have been sold for chi-chi celebrity country homes (i understand those poor suffering people need a fourth home: when manhattan is too confining, the hamptons are filled with horrible social climbers who don't seem to understand how declassé it is to actually winter there, st. barths gets too insular, of course they need to retreat to their former apple orchard and cashmere lap throws to feel homey. . .) -- i'm not seeing the same variety of apples in my local greenmarket like i did 5 years ago.
wow, when did i get so cranky?
what i'm trying to say is that i used to make that recipe with northern spys because they cooked well and were juicy. if you put down a little flour, the juice wouldn't ruin the crust, but would bake and carmelize nicely, mixing with the sugar spread on the top.
plus, they actually tasted like apples, always a good thing.
and let's wish long-time bccy pal mary beth g. at orientation good luck with her second batch of sourdough bread! it appears to be rising even as you read this. . .