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Saturday, January 29, 2005

espresso party in mall-hattan

ok, so i have all this coffee -- stockfleths, doma -- and i thought, hey! let's see what oren and genevieve think! so we arranged an espresso party at one of o's stores, much to the apparent puzzlement of his staff.

the newest, adam, confessed he was actually a dead-leaf person. uh-oh: i was gonna be faced with a very difficult crowd.

let's be fair and begin by saying the coffees were both a tad old, altho' not quite in the same league as the 2-group faema, which apparently dates from 1991. i have to say that i applaud the staff at that store, because i personally found it hard to pull shots there -- the hot water wand was bent back, making it tough to rinse the portafilter, and the drip tray screen was rather close to the spouts, meaning it was hard to squeeze a cup in there.

also the dosing mahlkoenig grinder area made it tad challenging to tamp level. so kudos to the patient staff at o's! did i mention we were hogging the machine and grinders while they were attempting to serve customers?

o said he was planning to re-do the store soon and put in some stools along the front window. . . and install a new cimbali. yay!

at its now-advanced age, the stockfleths was definitely showing the past-crop character of the brazil component. many of the delightful higher notes had gone, making it unfair to compare to a fresh batch of o's beowulf.

genevieve found the stockfleth's zero brightness a minus. she said she preferred some detectable brightness even in espresso -- a long-standing a pervasive division between the pro coffee taster and the consumer. as most alties and c-members will testify, low, low brightness is often preferred in the general coffee-drinking population.

i think is partially because consumers tend to associate that bright tongue-tingle with the bad folgers experiences that set them on path to specialty coffee in the first place. . .

i also found o's faema a tad hot and we had to run quite a bit of water thru to get the temperature down to tim's stated temperature.

the doma was just to my mind waaay too old for a fair taste, albeit everyone was much impressed with the pic of the smiling sun etching prize-winning barista jon lewis from doma is known for. for some reason this espresso had a very strong, almost artificial nut smell.

we were worried it had been scooped into the bag with an implement used for flavored coffees. mostly at this maturity, the doma gave off really strong cooked brown rice sensations.

genevieve actually compared it to wild rice. but as i say, i think this coffee was just too aged for a good tasting.

we listened to a lot of old police (the '80s are still back!), chowed on little squares of cafe tasse -- oren sells great candy -- and then it was time to go.

i had to run down to christine chin for my appointment. since i've only known new york as rudy guiliani's disneyland, i was a little worried to go down there after
the recent murder/robbery where a roving gang of hip-hop dressed thugs shot a woman right in the chest during a purse-snatching
(use bugmenot).

whoa! not 2 blocks from the salon! no way do i wanna be down there after dark anymore.

what was also surprising was to see that the "secret," unnamed boutique hotel down there across from economy candy had finally opened. marked only by the undulating lights sunk into the sidewalk, you wander by the slanted facade, peer in the fogged glass and see an elevator graced by a lone mies van de rohe barcelona daybed.

will this black leather/mid-century modern/bauhaus craze never end? it's sooo new money, and just cries out "insecure, insecure." every boring associate in a law office has one of these now.

i actually went to open the door to take a peek, but as soon as my hand touched the door, a figure in all black prada materialized and snootily waved me away. i guess i wasn't good enough to spoil the glass with my cashmere gloves.

i personally have no patience with this kind of pretentious fakery and so didn't go in to check out what is supposed to be a stylish bar. their loss not mine.

i mean if they can't spot a marc jacobs bag and flats, i can't help them. (note to hotel owners: prada is so yesterday's status label. . .)

posted by fortune | 4:34 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Friday, January 28, 2005

the doma americano

i awoke this morning with the full intention of making terry's doma espresso as both a cappuccino and a plain triple. which would have been exciting because he sent no particular instructions that i could see on temperature, etc.

but i have to say i love the nice big roast date stamped right on the paper bag. i received this coffee at 9 days old, which i would normally think was skating towards social security for espresso, but hey, the stockfleth has broadened my horizons on this one.

however i'm not ready to go so far as peter lynaugh of terroir and proclaim that roasted coffee freshness is "tertiary." anyway, i awoke this morning, bounded into the kitchen and discovered a decided lack of milk.

thus i chose to be a good person and leave the milk for mr. right's cereal. (just another reason one should always have a spare box of the wacky vac-pac uht milk.)

so i made do with a 30-second pull of the doma as an americano. i'll talk more about it when i've had time to experiment a tad.

and i will drink the harrar tomorrow afternoon, oh yeah! playing with all these lovely coffees people have so sweetly sent me has kept me from jimmy's blog recently, which was a loss, as i was thus slow to discover the report of his jan. 26 visit to reg barber.

i've had a reg for years, a flat one -- but reading jimmy's piece makes me want to get a curved one for carlos expobar. . .and i liked seeing the big box of tamper handles bearing the logo of long-time bccy pal doug zell of intelligentsia, famed for the black cat espresso blend.

posted by fortune | 6:43 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Thursday, January 27, 2005

stockfleth, the americano

as long-time readers know, every thursday is my private yoga lesson with the famed viniyoga teacher and former pro skater carl "upside down" horowitz. usually after laughing our tails off being, well, upside down, we enjoy a square of artisanal chocolate.

carl's quite fond of slitti's utter heroin, the renowned lattenero. but today was so bitterly cold that carl asked for a cup of coffee.

oh boy can i do! carl had never had an americano, so that was that -- i whipped out the stockfleths and we went to oslo.

it was amazing how carl, who is at best a casual coffee drinker, instantly attained coffee enlightenment. "this is the best cup of coffee i've ever had," he said slowly.

there's a certain look that people get when they have a truly great cup of coffee for the first time. dear readers, you all know it; i don't have to explain.

carl had that look. "so, hey, guy," i asked as quietly as possible, "tell me what you think."

"it's bold and smooth," he said without hesitation. "it's rich but not bitter."

carl takes his coffee with light cream, no sugar. i pulled him a near-2-oz. double in 30 seconds, and added 4 oz. of water.

the crema eddied gently on top of the java as carl poured in his cream. i made myself a cup o' the same.

tim's blend of course loses some of its intense and subtle flavors as an americano. but it's still a coffee that anyone could love.

and i do. to make the day perfect, terry's doma (yeah, i know: flash required) coffee arrived; he sent me his espresso in both regular and organic, plus an ethiopian harrar.

for a change, i might make the harrar for breakfast tomorrow. i am, as everyone knows, so terribly fond of harrar. . .

posted by fortune | 7:20 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

regional coffee culture, part xxviiii

"drinking coffee has caught on among the young in major chinese cities nowadays."

when will china soon join japan as a "formerly tea-drinking nation"? not if, only when. . .

i know many people are still surprised to learn that japan is the world's third largest coffee importer. for the third time, allow me to pretentiously quote myself: one world under specialty coffee's passionate sway!

back on my own little island off the coast of the united states, i'm still enjoying the stockfleth's from yesterday. i drank another cappuccino of it this morning, but alas didn't have time to try it as an americano.

i swear i'll get to this tomorrow. in the meantime, we can all enjoy dougie's pix from his visit to origin.

he looks esp. zen-like raking the coffee on the patio into perfect rows, doesn't he?

posted by fortune | 8:28 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

opening the stockfleth's: norwegian coffee cake

no, not kringlas. i don't know the proper name for it -- help me, thomas gauperaa! -- but the second i sipped tim's mindblowing stockfleth espresso this morning, i immediately understood what was going on. . .

let me begin by saying that i've never had a coffee quite like tim's before. it's a very proustian coffee, if you know what i mean.

i've never had it before, and yet it drove all these old memories and feelings immediately to the surface. we'll get to that later.

grab your scaa flavor wheels. it's simple, but we're going to have fun.

we'll recall that this bag created an atmosphere of roasted candied hazelnuts. alas, by now that has faded somewhat, but was still present when i attacked the kilo bag this morning.

the stockfleth espresso is a medium-dark coffee, a northern italian color; rather similar to that of the batdorf dancing goat, actually.

i believe it to be a mélange, that is, the several components of the coffee are roasted separately and then mixed together. i conclude this because a few of the beans show pinpricks of oil, while the majority do not.

alas, i didn't have time to cup this properly this morning, but simply tasted it as brewed espresso in silvia. i ran a lot of water thru her to try to bring the temperature down as much as i could to tim's instructions.

so here's my very first impression of tim's coffee: norwegian coffee cake.

the dry grounds offered a fragrance both floral and fragrant, very similar to cardamom. altho' tim suggested a rather short pull, i tried to squeak it out to 25 seconds. (tomorrow, i'll put it shorter as he recommends.)

even at 9 days old, the coffee oozed out as pure crema, and clung tenaciously to the back of a demitasse spoon. it is one of the heaviest, most buttery coffees i've seen yet.

sipping it i found a touch of citron(!), those hazelnuts, with honey and that chocolate-y sensation called "vanilla-like." the aftertaste is maybe a tad woody spice, i'm thinking clove, but i want to drink this some more to work that out.

there's also a subtle bitter quality that instantly reminded me of saffron.

no doubt this coffee tastes sweet. in my first espresso however, it seemed like it would occasionally flirt with the tiniest hint of brightness, as if it were teasing the edge.

but i didn't have a chance to let the coffee sit to cool a bit, which is often when brightness becomes more noticeable. so it might have just been the citron playing with my mind.

now you see what i mean. cardamom, saffron, clove, vanilla, citron, hazelnut, honey: the flavors of a classic norwegian coffee cake.

what the heck is it called? with a stockfleth's espresso, you can skip the morning danish because it's already there.

i made up a second shot for an italian-sized 6 oz. cappuccino. i loved this coffee in a cappuccino, it's fantastic.

the foamed milk and a pinch of splenda emphasized with sweetness and vanilla feeling of the coffee.

that's when the whole proust thing hit. . . so far, i love this coffee. just love it.

[note: in the first summer of graduate school, i was living a home, and i read swann's way in french; i checked it out of the local public library. however, the library only had the remaining volumes in english.

i have indeed read proust twice -- the second time completely in english. i make no bones that it took me 4 months to do so.]

posted by fortune | 7:18 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

buy those plane tickets now

yup, it's convention time again -- already. scaa 2005 in seattle is nearly here!

thank goodness this year the press release mentions us c-members. if you're not a c-member yet, you can join now, or on-site in seattle.

we c-members have our own series of exciting events:


9-10:15am: "Descriptive Cupping: Tasting Terminology" with Paul Songer.

10:45-noon: "Coffee and Philanthropy: How Your Cup Heals Those in Need" with Bill Fishbein of Coffee Kids, Rick Peyser of Green Mountain and Karen Gordon of Cup for Education.

1:30-2:45pm: "In the Beginning: The Early Days of Espresso in Seattle" with Fergy Ferguson of Fergy's Espresso and Mauro Cipolla of Caffe D'arte.


9-10:15am: "The Art of the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony" with consultant Willem Boot and Tadesse Meskela, an Ethiopian farmer.

10:45-noon: "Coffee Tasting with Ken Davids"

1:30-2:45pm: "Zen Coffee Meditation" with Rev. Frank Jude Boccio and a Korean Zen Master.

5-6:00pm: c-Member Reception. Location to be announced.


11-12:30pm: Guided tour of the Exhibit Floor with Barry Jarrett.


1-4:00pm: "Tours of Famous Seattle Coffee Houses." US$25 extra.

Connoisseur/cMember registration will be US$60.

and finally, another reason to make your coffee drinks at home:

"for instance, when you're drinking that starbucks frappuccino, you're drinking three cheeseburgers worth of calories."

ouch! a 6 oz. home-made cappuccino with skim milk: 2 oz. espresso coffee, 0 calories; 2 oz. skim milk (foaming it makes 3 oz.), 22 calories (86 in 8 oz., divide by 4); splenda, or 1 oz. flavored davinci syrup with splenda, 0 calories.

frappuccino: 770 calories, 19 g. fat; home-made cappuccino: 22 calories, 0.1 g. fat. end of story!

but no, let's say you decide to go hog wild! let's say you want a 12 oz. home-made latte: 2 or 3 oz. espresso (with that much milk you might want more coffee), still 0 calories; 1 or 2 oz. davinci syrup (with that much milk you might want more syrup), still 0 calories; 5 oz. skim milk (about 8 or 9 oz. when foamed), 55 calories, 0.25 g. fat.

you could have 14(!!!) home-made 12 oz. lattes for those 770 calories! and yet still only get 3.5 g. fat.

posted by fortune | 8:18 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Monday, January 24, 2005

a new york exclusive: stockfleth's arrives

and but what came in the mail today -- from norway -- but barista champion tim wendelboe's stockfleth espresso? i nearly fainted with joy and gratitude.

thank you thank you thank you, tim! you rule. globally! did i say thank you enough yet?

what amazed everyone in my office is how aromatic this coffee is: even through the wrapping the delicious scent of roasted candied hazelnuts hovered about the box.

o-mi-god. i wish i could describe to you how fantastic this smells just peeling back the cardboard to reveal the bag. . .which by the way appears to be decorated with the logo of long-time bccy pal trygve k., former scae prez and the reigning coffee emperor of scandinavia, from solberg-hansen.

i believe i am one of the first, if not the first, in new york city to have this world-quality espresso. after all, this is the coffee that helped propel tim to the championship.

tim informs me that he prefers this coffee at 9-10 days after roasting, which is why he kindly sent it to me via a slow mule through patagonia. as he wrote me, he thought this coffee would peak "at its optimum flavour at the 26th to 27th of january," because this age "really gets the smoky flavours out and relieves the bright, fruity acidity."

and of course, the blend is based in a superpremium brazil natural. so in a sense we are continuing the brazil theme that's been going on ever since andrew's ecco espresso.

tim offered some fairly precise brewing instructions. he said he personally brewed this espresso as a not-quite-2-oz. (but not a ristretto, apparently!) double shot at 92-93 degrees c. (about 197-199 degrees f.) in 19-23 seconds.

i also have to note here that tim roasted these beans himself on a 1950s-era vintage probat ug22. he roasts 'em, then makes world's best espresso with 'em: what a guy!

watch this space: i will open this bag wed. or thurs. per tim's instructions. . .i hope the extreme weather didn't harm them in shipping.

posted by fortune | 8:17 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Sunday, January 23, 2005

après blizzard

ao i awoke this morning to just about 1 foot of snow, not nearly as bad as predicted. it was clear, sunny, and the snow plows cleared the streets about 3 times, thus burying all the cars on my block and ensuring they won't move until april.

frankly, as i stayed inside drinking yet another triple cappuccino made with jessica's terrific dancing goat from batdorf -- its walnutty taste goes great with yesterday's dense, chewy brownies -- i wondered why anyone would have a car in new york.

i mean, the insurance is incredible, you have to struggle to find a place to park it, and you have to move it every other day at 6 a.m. before the cops tow it so they can clean the streets. then on the day it is inevitably towed because you overslept, you pay the fine, get it outta the pound, only to have it side-swiped by a taxi before it's stolen.

or you can pay an amount equal to a second mortgage to buy an indoor parking space. this whole scenario makes the subway's prime people-watching even more appealing.

but i realize not everyone can be so philosophical on the morning after the blizzard, especially when christine chin calls and cancels your eyebrow appointment. for example, long-time bccy pal mary beth, who lives waaaay upstate, what we eustace tilly fans think of as "basically canada," apparently got socked hard.

but like all sensible people, she too deals with the vicissitudes of life by baking. in her case, she tried the fabulous challah recipe proposed by the holy hammelman.

and i have to say her results are molto impressive: mine, hers. good job, m.b.!

now it seems like you have something to eat until they come and dig you out up there. . .in the meantime, we are all tapping our fingers impatiently until dougie cadmus posts the pix from his trip to origin.

it's just getting ridiculous. everyone's been to the coffee fields now except for me!

this must be rectified. . .does anyone know a greenie with an extra space on their corporate jet as they head down to guatemala, costa rica, el salvador or brazil?

posted by fortune | 6:57 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

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