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Saturday, November 26, 2005

siberia, part iv

as promised yesterday, i brewed scott and jessica's batdrof "latitudes" siberia pacamara in the chemex. naturally, i used oren's ratio of 1.85 oz/52 g fresh ground coffee to 26 oz./769 ml water, for a total brew time of 4 mins 7 secs.

the coffee's now 8 days old. taking my own advice, i ground it 4 notches finer (since the saeco is marked at whole and half numbers) taking it down from a "12" to the "10" point. this was wise, as immediately i could smell the sought-after lime-leaf aroma as the grounds hit the hopper during grinding.

i repeat myself -- i do believe the siberia benefits from a slightly finer grind! experiment and see for yourselves. . . .

ok, now to the scaa flavor wheel. we remember scott roasted this to full city, right?

this floral, lime-leaf feeling i've already mentioned was fully in the dry grounds. as the coffee bloomed in the chemex, i smelled some sort of "dried" sensation, but i wouldn't say it was the raisin i've been seeking.

sipping the coffee, the chemex brings the lime into the cup, no doubt, along with a brown-sugar-y or maybe very dark honey feeling.

as the coffee cools, the brightness becomes more noticeable as does the lime. i really like this coffee with a bit of raw sugar -- that makes the lime sort of "key lime," which i like a lot.

when i added a little light cream, i thought the coffee acquired a strong vanilla syrup-type aftertaste. and the chemex does the body of this coffee justice; ironically, i preferred the body of this coffee in the chemex as opposed to the french press.

in sum, i think the siberia is best as a single-origin espresso or in the chemex! those are my recommended brewing options for this lovely, rare bean.

but of course, you must try it yourself and see how it works for you. . .

devoted readers will recall that i'm going to sydney very shortly. i hope to be able to blog 2 or 3 times a week there, since internet cafes are everywhere.

naturally, i will be pursuing my interests there:

coffee: campos, toby's, michel's patisseries, bar cupola, sugarcube, spring espresso, bar coluzzi, vinyl lounger, and hazel de los reyes' roastery, when i can find out its exact address! some of these places are probably more about atmosphere than the brew, but i'm very interested in oz's coffee culture, so that will be good too.

artisan chocolate: belle fleur, kimberly

artisan bread: infinity sourdough, sonoma woodfired baking, victoire, st. honore sourdough, bourke st. bakery

certified neapolitan pizza: pizza mario

yoga: acharya yoga, samadhi bliss, city apothecary, lifesource, yoga moves, lotus. this will be interesting, because sydney has 80 yoga studios -- 320 classes a day! this is much more than nyc,w hich i think has only about 200 classes a day.

if any "sydneysiders" have any suggestions or comments about this list, please, don't hesitate! i'm looking for the best sydney has to offer!

posted by fortune | 12:27 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 4 comments

Friday, November 25, 2005

siberia, part iii

i awoke on this frightfully frigid morning to continue yesterday's coffee tasting by brewing scott and jessica's batdorf "latitudes" siberia pacamara in the french press, properly known as the cafetiére.

again, since i had to get going this morning, i made my little ancient 2-cup bodum. that's 10 fl. oz./296 ml water and 0.6 oz./17 g fresh ground coffee, which i steeped for 4 mins.

and i will say that the coffee did have am improved, lovely smooth body and a light brightness! but in general, it was otherwise similar to the brew i got from the vac pot on the first attempt.

not that there's anything wrong with that! so truth to tell, i think it's a grind situation -- i am beginning to believe that this coffee comes alive with a slightly finer grind than you might at first use.

yesterday's espresso definitely leads me in this direction. . .a good test of this will be tomorrow in the chemex.

i'm grinding at "12" now on my saeco 2002, but tomorrow i'll try taking that down to a "10" to see if those lime or raisin flavors pop out at me!

posted by fortune | 8:49 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Thursday, November 24, 2005

siberia, redux

yesterday's siberia brought its namesake weather with it to nyc! today's holiday is cold with a vicious wind.

while i had planned to make scott and jessica's batdorf "latitudes" siberia pacamara in the chemex, this raw morning made me do an about face, and instead i decided to brew it as a single-origin espresso in my silvia.

devoted readers may recall that yesterday i couldn't find the lime aroma that is said to be a hallmark of this coffee -- clearly it's in the grind. because when i ground the siberia in the mazzer mini for espresso and stuck my nose over the doser, the lime-leaf scent was unmistakable.

i pulled this coffee as a 30-second triple, and i loved it. it's a great coffee this way!

i easily drank it without any sugar, not that there's anything wrong with adding sugar to espresso! my heavens, the italians add loads!

what i'm saying is that as an espresso, it offers a very sweet taste, with a light tangy brightness. it also has a surprising amount of crema even at 6 days old.

the lime-leaf flavor is quite clear in the espresso, along with a very dark caramel, and a long after taste of dutch cocoa and that note jean le noir in his nez du café just calls "roasted coffee."

not too long ago i had a passion-fruit crème brulée type object with a burnt caramel crackly top in a chocolate tart shell. so imagine a similar thing in a thai version, with a lime-leaf and coffee-scented custard instead.

yummy. as espresso, it also offered a lovely creamy, buttery body, which is to say it coated the back of the demi-tasse spoon like thin gravy.

i had just finished making the chocolate mousse for thanksgiving dessert -- i was using julia childs' dead-simple recipe for the mousse -- and had built little "cages" of piroulines glued together with dabs of chocolate to hold the mousse.

my intention is to randomly drizzle the plate with chocolate sauce, position the cookie cage so that the hardening sauce will hold it in place, heap the cages with the mousse, then garnish with fresh sliced strawberry "roses," powdered sugar, and michel cluizel's white-and-dark chocolate caramel mushrooms.

long-time readers know i dislike overly-fussy food and presentation, so this simple conceit is about as far as i'll ever go in plating. if you try this for your own gig someday, take care to make it nice but don't get all perfectionistic about it or else you'll fall into the dread, sterile martha stewart land. . . show-off suburban-foodie stuff to photograph, not to enjoy eating.

this isn't hard to make at all -- in fact it's idiot-easy to assemble while making you look like pierre hermé or david lebovitz to those who don't know -- but when you have molten chocolate you have to work a little quickly you know before it cools too much.

so after this burst of creativity, i had to kick back with a shot of the fantastic siberia. purely in the interests of culinary exploration (harumph!) i did of course try this as an americano, but it wasn't nearly as good to my mind.

this is one siberia where i could easily spend the winter! but this coffee is so rare, i don't think there's enough to last that long!

posted by fortune | 10:32 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 1 comments

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

banished to siberia. . .not!

i really have to thank jessica & scott of batdorf again -- what arrived in the mail yesterday but a lovely copper-foil bag of the third coffee in the "latitudes" line, the el salvador siberia pacamara, another c.o.e. prize-winner!

it's charmingly presented in a fine muslin sack with a matching copper ribbon. but let's talk for a moment about this unusual varietal or cultivar, which isn't one that coffee lovers see a lot in most bean stores.

the pacamara is a cross between a salvadoran bourbon coffee and the famous giant "elephant bean" or maragogype. thus pacamara trees produce larger-than-usual beans that maintain the fine taste qualities of a bourbon.

this coffee was grown in el salvador by rafael silvia, a fourth-generation coffee farmer, on his land in the apaneca mountains. his family nicknamed one distant section of the farm along a high ridge "siberia" because of its isolation and chilly weather.

his pacamara trees seem to like that spot at 1450 m/4,757 ft! and it's this siberia from which the coffee takes its name.

let me emphasize again that this is a rare coffee -- only 21 bags. period. no more.

now for that darned scaa flavor wheel. . .

as devoted readers may recall, scott roasted these wet-process beans to full city. the roast date on the bag is 11/18, so when i opened them this morning they were 5 days old; the occasional bean did sport a spot of oil.

the fresh dry grounds smelled rather like torn fresh purple basil leaves or maybe spearmint to me. very intriguing.

as is my wont with c.o.e. coffees, i rushed this morning to make it in my vac pot, at 60 g/2.1 oz fresh ground coffee to 1 liter/33 oz water. i let the water sit up top for 2 mins. and then removed it from the burner to cascade down for a total brew time of 4 mins. 15 secs.

you bet i stirred the bloom on its way up to prevent massive overflow! wow, big bloom.

when i sipped this coffee hot i thought it had an interesting brach's caramel flavor with a hint of cinnamon in the aftertaste.

when it cooled a little, its lightly nippy brightness became more apparent, and i thought the coffee had a more powdery, dutch cocoa note in the aftertaste.

hmm. i poured myself a cup with light cream and some raw sugar. i thought this coffee came alive a little more then myself -- the i think the cream and sugar developed that nice chocolate flavor, and the coffee went from nippy to a kind of nutty sweetness. . .oh i don't know, maybe faintly giandjua?

altho' that probably sounds pretty yummy, i don't think the vac pot is the best method for making this coffee, actually, since the body seemed thinner than i expected. and i didn't catch any of the raisin or even lime(!) aromas the pro cuppers mentioned in the competition.

i would love to get some of that sweet, sticky raisin quality into the cup. oh yeah.

wouldn't that be great for breakfast? like a sweet cinnamon-raisin-chocolate danish on the saucer.

i'm thinking chemex or cafetiére might be a better way to go for this one.

and i'll try it out first this tomorrow! well, first thing after making chocolate mousse for thanksgiving dessert.

mr. right is really not much of a turkey person, as dedicated readers may recall -- thus as usual, we're having steak!

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

the finch wa yrg, part iii

how best to describe oren's finch wa yrg when brewed in the cafetiére? blue.

once again i repeat if the origin sourcing on this coffee wasn't airtight, i'd swear this was a harrar. even at 11 days old, these beans present a luscious, appetizing blueberry muffin aroma just from opening the bag.

and even tho' i've enjoyed this coffee in the chemex, and the vac pot, i personally think the best way to get the blue outta the steam and into the cup is with a french press. but this is just because i personally love a blueberry coffee and think it's one of the most special attributes java can display.

this is just a lovely coffee and i suggest everyone try to get their hands on it; again, it's in such limited supply -- less than 20 bags. . .

over the weekend, i had the occasion to speak to one taylor clark of portland, ore., who's writing a book about coffeehouse culture. he seems amazingly mermaid-positive and american focused, even tho' he has recently travelled to europe to visit coffeehouses.

when i told him about the stories i have personally heard from independent retailers about the mermaid's hardball business practices, and also the allegations from former baristi that have led to union calls, he interrupted me and said, "don't those sound like conspiracy theories?"

well, taylor, no, they don't. i urged taylor to call oren, who is the poster child for how an independent roaster-retailer can survive the mermaid's onslaught.

but somehow i doubt he will! oh taylor i dare you!

but seriously, taylor seems like a nice young fella, yet it did break my heart to have to explain to him that the u.s.a. doesn't have necessarily the best baristi or the most innovative coffeehouse culture -- if the world championships mean anything, those honors may belong to scandinavia, australia, and new zealand.

when it comes to coffeehouse design and style, the honors might belong to japan. nonetheless, it will be interesting to see what taylor's book will look like. . .and i wonder when or if he will see the truth of the argument that the mermaid isn't really so much in the coffee business anymore. . .

posted by fortune | 8:23 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Monday, November 21, 2005

back to yoga!

yesterday for the first time in a month, i finally went back to yoga. sure, it was a fairly basic class, but still there i was, albeit in halasana (plow pose) instead of "fancier" inversions. and now that i have my new fancy glasses, i also voraciously read my way through the recent namarupa.

this morning i enjoyed the batdorf "latitudes" panama geisha before it fades away into age. what a lovely coffee this remains!

this means i'm still looking to get oren's finchwa in the cafetiére.

otherwise i'm trying to collect myself because it seems i will be visiting australia in december, and so i'm trying to collate a list of the most awesome coffeehouses, chocolatiers, yoga studios, and artisanal pizza places in sydney!

posted by fortune | 7:10 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 2 comments

Sunday, November 20, 2005

norman's mix of coe2

i first met norman vazquez at an nyc coffee meetup. now, like half of the people i know, he's gone pro.

and he was kind enough to send some, as he says, beanz. (let me also say that besides being a super-nice guy, norman has a beautiful italic hand, which is admirable.) alas, since i've been blessed with so much coffee recently, it took me a bit to get to his c.o.e. blend.

yuppers, you've read that correctly. norman has taken beanz from 2 separate c.o.e. farms -- both colombian. he's put prize-winners together from the aura silva and carlos otera estates, which include a mix of coffee varietals.

so he's roasting colombia, caturra, and typica in this blend. the beans he sent were roast dated the 12th, which means they're now 8 days old.

looking at these beanz, i'd say they were a vienna+ roast -- with a nice sheen all over and some beanz showing heavier spots of oil. got your scaa flavor wheel?

the fresh dry grounds are sweetly floral. the coffee offers a full bouquet, no doubt. because i had the chemex out, i went ahead and brewed it up in that pot.

norman didn't offer any particular brewing hints, so i just used oren's 1.85 oz/ 53 g coffee to 26 fl. oz/ 769 ml water. total brew time: 4 mins, 35 secs.

i found this coffee to be a classic colombian situation -- crisp, clean, balanced; with a pure sweet taste and medium body. the darker roast level gave the coffee a black currant stem-type aftertaste, since his roast's dark enough to go into the "dry distillation" territory.

it's the colombian coffee you've always wanted, the way you know it could be, if you follow me. a fine example of the colombian category at a slightly but not excessive dark roast.

this would probably make an interesting single-origin espresso if pulled at 3 days old too. in fact, i think this blend would be fantastic for an upscale, specialty version of the classic cuban coffee.

i just loved it when i drank it with a generous amount of whole milk and more -- much more! -- than a pinch of raw sugar. ah! café con leche.

everyone agrees that's yummy, yummy stuff. it gives "crying uncle" a whole new meaning.

posted by fortune | 2:07 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

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