Saturday, February 05, 2005
where did the day go?
heavens, i woke up this morning, had a dancing goat cappuccino, made a pan of killer brownies with extra chocolate chips, then mary petitt of juan valdez came by (feb. 9 is coming up fast), and we made some of don schoenholt's famous gillies yrgacheffe.
(with the brownies i gave mary the choice of gillies "kuda mas" triple-pick, grade 1, japanese preparation sumatra -- which don sent 3 ways, regular, swiss water decaf in a spiffy blue bag, and organic, for comparison -- or the renowned yrg.
i was sure with chocolate she would choose the sumatra! but no! the yrg! and she was right. . .)
then she had got a parking ticket, and was late for dinner. next thing i know, i'm in the middle of hero, that high-wire combination of kurosawa, bertolucci, and zhimou's own melancholy style.
strangely, it pretty much works and is lush to look at. wham! it's suddenly now.
where did the day go? at least the yrg was fantastic. . .so lemony. . .so balanced. . .i made it in the cafetiére (french press to you!) and it came out as delicious as always.
this isn't a tea-like yrg, the way andrew's ecco yrg was. not at all. it's an amazing cup of coffee, that's all there is to it.
Friday, February 04, 2005
the coffee at l'ecole
long-time readers know that one my favorite restaurants in new york city is l'ecole, at the french culinary institute. fantastic prix fixe lunch, and the dining room is without a doubt one of the more elegant, private, quiet, and airy in all the city.
plus the food is unusually fresh and inventive without screaming trendy. sure, i've had some wacky only-in-new-york moments there, like the time i took catie baril and friends from green mountain there only to find they had run out of food.
but since it happened to me, i'm pretty sure it won't happen to you!
needless to say i was thrilled to receive a pound of l'ecole's new-ish exclusive coffee blend. got your scaa flavor wheel ready?
i'd say this coffee is properly a mélange, or different coffees roasted separately and then blended together. i say this because some beans seem a nice city, while others are roasted a little beyond that into full city, showing scarce pinpricks of oil.
i didn't have time to cup this properly this morning, so i just brewed it up the cafetiére (a.k.a. french press) at the usual 55g (2 oz.) of coffee to a liter (33 oz.) of water.
the fragrance of the dry grounds was sweetly floral, and the coffee bloomed moderately when i poured in the 200-degree water, so it seemed fresh enough to me. (unfortunately the package had no "born-on" roast date.)
actually it had a nice 1/2 inch of hazelnut-skin brown mousse-y foam, and pleasant vanilla and candied nut aromas. the coffee is bright: definitely a lightly bright taste that i'd call nippy.
with a splash of cream and splenda added, the aftertaste of the coffee developed a lovely light milk chocolate feel. that's the way to drink it, i think.
it's a really friendly coffee and quite easy to drink. i can see that it would appeal to a broad spectrum of people and wouldn't interfere or clash with any food.
in fact, since most people here in new york do take their coffee with cream and sugar, the light chocolate aspect would seem extra pleasing, and compliment many desserts.
so i understand why the chefs at l'ecole chose this particular blend. if you're looking for a good drip or french press coffee, i'd recommend this one.
a little bird tells me it won't do so well in a vac pot, which i can believe -- that would unbalance the coffee by overemphasizing its brightness. and for the same reason, it wouldn't make a nice espresso, to my mind. . .
they do sell this at the restaurant, and i bet they take phone orders, too.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
feb. 9 coffee meetup
i've spent some time over the past few days trying to round up coffees for the upcoming nyc coffee meetup event. this isn't a formal cupping, just a basic tasting of a few origins.
i'm exploring what's available and really good right now. i had originally hoped for some la minita, a great kenya aa nyeri, a yummy yemen mattari or ismaili, a superior sumatra lintong, and an ethiopian harrar. mary petitt of juan valdez has offered her rare colombian maragogype.
but i may do some substitution: maybe the guatemala antigua la tacita in place of the minita, for example, depending the situation. 6 coffees may be too many, too overwhelming; 4 might be better.
i hope to have this all sorted out by friday. in the meantime, i hope you're all planning to make it!
if you're at all interested in coming -- and i do wish george howell or peter from terroir could come and speak! -- please r.s.v.p. at the meetup site. this is crucial becasue i have to know how much coffee to get, how much to brew, how much space to set up for the tasting, etc.
right now only 12 people have r.s.v.p.'d, which is a tad disappointing after the nice turnout we had in january. i'm hoping people are just procrastinating a little bit here. . .
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
home coffee roasting
"as more and more Americans grow concerned about what they put into their bodies, he said, home roasting has taken off as a hobby."
what a very nice article on the continuing trend: experienced home coffee roasters turning pro.
if i stop and think about it, i must know 6 people myself who've followed this path now. but before you decide to join the home roasting roster, stop and think about it for a minute.
how will you:
- vent the smoke? while roasting, coffee doesn't smell like fresh roasted coffee quite yet. unless you use a zach & dani's, you will generate more than enough smoke to set off your smoke alarm and permanently perfume the drapes.
- are you prepared to make your cars homeless? if you have an attached garage, you may think this will do. but do you really have enough room and adequate ventilation in your garage? it's hard to freeze outside in your cold garage only to discover the smoke has leaked into the house anyway under the door!
- are you committed to freezing on your backyard patio and deck? how will your neighbors feel about the ribbons of interestingly scented smoke drifting over the fence?
as long-time readers know, i live in a snooty building in noo yawk where roasting is impossible. plus, i have easy access to many sources of great, fresh-roasted specialty coffee.
but i understand that not every place has a specialty roaster, and those mail-order costs can quickly add up! if so, ken davids' far-famed home roasting book is what you need. . .
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
regional coffee culture, part xxx
"but it seems that coffee could [sic] becoming a more popular tipple than beer. . .the switch to caffeine is being [sic] to look like a serious social trend."
i welcome the british to the wonderful world of coffee! this article analyzing the market results of u.k. pubs finds that beer sales are down, specialty coffee sales are up.
while occasionally the dead-leaf people fantasize that the u.s.a. will be a "tea-consuming nation in our lifetime," the beautiful truth is that the entire planet appears to be in the gradual but quickening process of switching en masse to specialty coffee.
as long-time readers know, japan is already the third largest coffee-importing country; in india the trend is very positive; and i just did the piece on the growing trendiness of coffee in mainland china itself. now, the u.k.!
let me quickly jump to say that while i often tease the tea sippers, i don't really have anything against withered sidewalk scrapings. (just kidding!)
actually, i myself love matcha and genmai cha ara.
they're great for artificially aging decorative prints. . .no, really, i'm joking, i'm joking!
i also have a nice collection of hand-made cast-iron iwachu japanese tea kettles (properly called "tetsubin"), complete with trivets.
don't ask me how much the best examples of these beauties cost! better yet, don't tell mr. right. . .they are strikingly elegant, and astonishingly functional.
but i still maintain that coffee is the most romantic, passionate, and intellectual beverage!
Monday, January 31, 2005
way to go, caribou
a big bccy salute goes to caribou coffee for donating US$106,000 to the coffee kids sumatra relief fund. i've been encouraging you, dear readers, to contribute to it as well.
since even areas not harmed by the water have experienced problems from the earthquake/tsunami disaster -- such as collapsed bridges, destroyed roads -- people lack food; of course in banda aceh itself there are many homeless. also, many inland people have relatives and children who attended school or worked in tsunami-stricken areas.
so there's no doubt that all of aceh has been affected by the catastrophe. thus i urge you, if you haven't yet, to offer a donation to the coffee kids sumatra fund, or to buy relief coffees, such as peter g's counterculture aceh relief coffee.
and while this is a fascinating piece of chocolate research, i do have to ask: why would anyone want to dampen their chocolate cravings? wouldn't it be more easier and more pleasant just to have a small square of chocolate than listen to the static on tv?
there's nothing wrong with eating say, a small 1/3 oz. (9 g.) square of dark chocolate once in a while, after all! even one square a day would hardly be a danger to anyone's diet, seeing it's only about 50 calories!
Sunday, January 30, 2005
wanna see me throw myself on the floor and weep? this article had me sobbing into the floorboards.
this eat-n-run "lifestyle" is what is making so many people dangerously obese. seriously. it's killing us.
it also removes pleasure from our lives: the pleasure of a great, fresh cup of cofffee, the pleasure of sharing that with friends and family. in what sense could it be called a lifestyle really, since in the end it strips anything of value in style and substance from our lives?
it would be more accurately called a "deathstyle." and on a practical level, i just don't see the need for this new product. . . these low-quality "convenience" products just rip us off. . .in terms of money, coffee experience, and yes, time!
because making coffee takes no more than 30 seconds in a home espresso machine anyway. but this microwave stuff above -- why do i just somehow know it's not made with specialty quality beans? -- makes me wonder if maybe there shouldn't be a slow food category for coffee!
in pursuit of my own fabulous morning cup, we here at bccy began the day with our usual cappuccino of batdorf's dancing goat. our weekend cappuccino is just a great time for me and mr. right to spend connecting, a pleasant way to start in the morning in the context of home, you know?
after doing a bit of shopping in the day, i returned before yoga determined to finally get a cafetiére (a.k.a. french press) of the doma organic ethiopian harrar made before the coffee fossilized.
working with the doma has really re-emphasized for me the importance of coffee freshness. by 12-14 days after roasting, the coffee just isn't what it once was.
the great flavors have left and at best you get flat, cardboard-y type flavors -- sometimes you get strange off-tastes appearing too.
this harrar should have had a great body, blueberry tones, and a dark cocoa finish. but alas, all of that but the body and cocoa had fled.
and the great aroma was gone too. i will have to talk to terry about trying to get some fresh harrar, because i know he is an artisan roaster.
i just can't talk about this coffee; its age would make it unfair. . .