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Saturday, February 19, 2005

malabar pepper and decaf sumatra

yes i know it's hard: but i am often asked to recommend or at least talk about decaf by you, dear readers. and so today i made up a pot of gillies decaf sumatra, swiss water method.

it comes in a spiffy blue package reminiscent of. . .water. i'll have something to say about this so please stay tuned.

i made it up in the cafetiére only to discover that my beloved salter electronic kitchen scale suddenly went into negative mode. that is, the more coffee i added, the lower the numbers went!

hmm. new battery or new scale? will figure this one out later.

but in running off to my hair appointment i did get to stop by the fabulous kalustyan's for spices. i bought 4 kinds of ground chile (for my famous cerro gordo turkey chile, which was posted here long long ago and like most of the early posts were forever lost in an early tragic blogger server crash) and also some malabar black pepper.

this meant i could as well pick up mr. right one his favorite sweets: rasmali.

posted by fortune | 4:36 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Friday, February 18, 2005

dried cherries & chocolate pudding

i can't stop wrestling with this gillies organic and fair-trade certified sumatra tankengon gayo double-pick (dp) european preparation (ep) coffee.

i've been making it in different strengths in the cafetiére to see where the best balance of flavors comes out.

in my usual way -- 55g. (2oz.) coffee per 1 liter (32-33oz) water -- the chocolate-y, allspice aromas of the coffee came out clear. i also thought there was something a little sparkly about the coffee: brightness or pink grapefruit?

what was also clear is that it had an unusually heavy body, even for a sumatra. i used the word "gelatinous," since i'm really searching for new ways to say "thick enough to stand a spoon in."

yesterday i made it stronger -- 65g (2.3oz) coffee -- and a nice dried cherry note came out right away. the chocolate feeling also intensified and combining that taste with the thick mouthfeel of the coffee, i had an instant "chocolate pudding" memory.

and yet there was also a mysterious "other flavor. . ."

however, making the coffee this strong shocked some people, so this morning i made it again at 50g (1.8oz) coffee to 31 oz (0.9 liters) water. this revealed that the "other flavor" was in fact tongue-pinging.

but not a sparkly or grapefruit tongue-ping: pepper. others describe it as tellicherry pepper.

as you can see this gayo is just a special coffee that rewards thought and attention. highly recommended.

posted by fortune | 7:38 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Thursday, February 17, 2005

shake shake shake

a propos of yesterday's post on foaming milk in a jar, i tried it this morning.

i made up another cafetiére (you know, french press) of gillies organic sumatra tankengon gayo -- increasing my usual 55g. of coffee per liter to 65g. and reducing the time a tad -- then put 3 oz. of milk in a clean bon maman jar and shook it.

in about 30 seconds it had tripled in volume. all good -- except that the milk was covered in foam with huge soap-type bubbles, what pro baristi dismissively call "sea foam"! i took the lid off, popped the jar in the microwaved, and heated it on "high" for 30 seconds.

since i didn't want to overheat and scorch the milk, i stopped at 30 seconds, but of course depending on your microwave, you'll want to adjust. the sea-foam stayed stiff and sea-foamy as i spooned it onto the coffee.

and on the coffee it sat for about a minute before it melted away -- it just vanished, starting to fade at about 45 seconds on the coffee. maybe it needed to be heated longer?

in a pinch this method might work, but it's certainly no substitute for proper microfoam. long-time bccy pal bruce cole of sautewednesday wrote in with his take.

i wonder if it worked better for him? anyway, all of you weigh in dear readers, i'll recommend you that those of with a deep interest in the physics and organoleptics of milk foam run on over to morten münchow's site (and here, if you read danish).

morten is the danish expert on all things milk-n-coffee. he's going to do the ultimate milk foam study sometime this summer with the danish royal agricultural university.

until then. . .

posted by fortune | 8:22 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

april weather & milk foam

naturally as a long-time harold mcgee fan, i was very interested in this article (use bugmenot), which at the end explains not only how to foam milk for coffee without a steam wand or device, but also show that harold's being playing with ted lingle's scaa flavor wheel!

however, i have to say that the milk foaming instructions give me a little pause. i haven't tried this method yet myself -- since i create my microfoam with silvia or carlos expobar -- but it seems as if it would give you the less-desirable "stiff" foam, not the silky-soft pourable "italian-style" foam suitable for latte art.

but the method of just shaking milk in a jar for a minute until it doubles in volume and then microwaving it for 30 seconds to heat it seems simple enough for anyone to try. in fact, let's all try it and tell me in the comments below how it works out for you!

this morning i jumped out of bed, looking forward to another day of this warm late-april weather we're having. it's unseasonable, but who cares?

and i really enjoyed my morning cafetiére (a.k.a. press pot) of gillies organic sumatra. it's a lot different than don schoenholt's usual sumatra lintong, the grade 1, triple-pick, japanese preparation "kuda mas."

gillies certified organic and fair trade sumatra tankengon gayo imported by forestrade has the thick, gelatinous body you'd expect, but lacks the light tobacco-y aromas of the kuda mas. instead, it seems more floral, with a hint of earth, while retaining the allspice flavor you'd expect in a nice sumatra.

in fact, when the coffee cooled a bit, i thought there was even a tiny hint of brightness!

posted by fortune | 7:40 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

what to do in northern california this weekend?

go watch the west coast barista championship competition, of course, with long-time bccy pals taylormaid farms!

what's so awesome about this is that mark inman of taylormaid worked with the winery to create a special wine commemorating this event. the wine itself, i was told by trish herself this morning, is a 2001 vintage shiraz.

i'm hoping to beg a bottle of this for myself, which of course in the pure interest of the public trust, i will most dutifully review for you all here. if it weren't for this job thing -- isn't it amazing how daily life sometimes restricts one's opportunities to appreciate coffee? -- i would actually hop a flight there myself.

but never fear; i'm sure next week we'll hear the news of the outcome from mark or trish.

meanwhile there's been a lot of talk about how sara lee wants to spin off its coffee businesses to create more revenue. the asking price: a mere US$300 million.

i can think of several groups who should call a venture capitalist pronto and buy that business. for example, could you imagine what could happen if the roasters guild en masse bought those brands and filled those cans with specialty coffee?

posted by fortune | 7:12 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Monday, February 14, 2005

caoba & yoga stays mainstream

happy valentine's day! you may all send me dark chocolate. thank you.

but seriously, since mr. right prefers milk chocolate, i gave him a bar of el rey caoba, 41% milk chocolate. this bar also proved popular at blogger, when i sent a box to google a while ago. (how ya doing, eric?)

in other news, i was beginnng to look forward to the end of the yoga "fad" so we could all practice with more seriousness. but maybe it's best that the trend continues a bit, after all.

time magazine's current article on tumi's forthcoming yoga bags -- isn't everyone always looking for a better yoga bag? -- shows there's life in this yoga thing yet.

but then again, this u.k. yoga-based reality gross-out show seems to herald that surely the whole rage is about to collapse from its own silliness. . .these extreme techniques described by the article really aren't appropriate today, unless you intend to go back in time to become a medieval hindu ascetic. . .

posted by fortune | 7:51 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Sunday, February 13, 2005

nyc = chocolate heaven

lemme put this article in the "i've been telling you this for 5 years now" category. new york is chocolate central.

this was so clear to me last tuesday as i was strolling up lower broadway in the sunshine clutching still-warm ethiopian harrar to my chest while munching on a white chocolate and cappuccino buttercream bonbon. but seriously, that vosges olive-oil candy? no thanks.

it's a just a day for old bccy pals
matt and alison of the chocolate bar, as they are mentioned also today in ny times
. remember the party at spa they threw when they opened?

we rather went our separate ways when they started serving illy podwater, but i understand they are now serving other bccy friends, gimme coffee. so that's all good!

and finally, since juan valdez is nice enough to hold my nyc coffee meetup, let me congratulate them on their coming new store in times square.

as i was making mr. right his usual batdorf dancing goat latte this morning, i noticed the coffee had a stronger berry note than usual. yummy: berries and walnuts!

that's a great way to start to your morning. thank you as always, jessica!

posted by fortune | 5:38 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

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