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Saturday, April 22, 2006

mocha made easy

the day's becoming progressively colder as it wears on. brrr!

i decided i definitely needed a post-yoga hit of coffee and chocolate. most people call this concotion a mocha, and often it entails all kinds of craziness, u-bet chocolate syrup, whipped cream, espresso, sweetener, whatever.

long-time readers know i want the best of everything while remaining indolently lazy. thus, to satisfy my desire with the least amount of work, i reached for andrew b's ecco certified california organic, fair-trade espresso.

all the flavors of a mocha with none of the hassle. why?

remember, dear readers, andrew's espressi are famous for an intense dutch cocoa aftertaste. that eliminates the need for the chocolate syrup right there.

so i popped open andrew's coffee, roast-dated apr. 17, and looked at the beans. maybe a little different than usual: most beans showed dots of oil, which i'd call at full-city+ roast.

i expected this coffee to be floral, nutty, with that great chocolate flavor. and since it seemed a tad darker than usual, lots of warming roast notes, maybe even slightly woody-spicy.

and guess what? andrew never fails to satisfy expectations!

i pulled a nice triple espresso into a cappuccino cup and enjoyed watching the rich, dark hazelnut crema blob outta the portafilter. andrew's espresso always has a decadently buttery, motor-oil body, probably due to his use of super-premium brazils.

then to the 2.5 oz coffee, i added about 4 oz. water, a spoonful of light cream, and a dash of da vinci's unflavored sugar-free syrup. instant mocha americano, no fuss.

ultra-yummy. highly recommended.

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posted by fortune | 2:27 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

regional coffee culture, part multi-many

i know i used to keep this topic nicely ordered with chic roman numerals, but i had to give up somewhere around part 55 or 60. it just got absurd.

nonetheless, i love this topic and can't keep myself away from perusing interesting coffee consumption trends and statistics while sipping my morning dancing goat cappuccino. they give me great hope as to the easiest way to end the coffee crisis.

which simply is to help expose people everywhere to the delights of coffee appreciation:

"....[the] head of operations at the i.c.o., said brazil's coffee consumption increased from 10.1 million 60-kg bags in 1995 to around 16 million in 2005. he predicted at least 17 million in 2007.

he saw a similar trend in india, where consumption had increased to 1.1 million bags in 2005 from 800,000 in 1995. the i.c.o. said china's coffee consumption was rising at a rate of about 15 percent per year and the country was expected to import more than 500,000 bags in 2007 versus 375,000 in 2003.

in russia, which traditionally has a culture of tea drinking, coffee was widening its appeal, with imports up from 1.2 million bags in 1999 to around three million in 2004, according to i.c.o. data."


the present pattern seems to be that consumers new to coffee often begin with cheap, low-quality instant (soluble), and then as their appreciation and incomes rise, they make the switch to higher-quality ground or whole bean arabica-based coffee.

these countries appear to be set to follow this trend:

"demand in emerging economies was particularly strong for soluble coffees made from robusta, analysts said. . . 'you get the taste for the coffee from the instant and gradually you see a turn towards more quality products such as ground coffee.' "

and this is why i love the relatively recent surge of better coffee blogs, websites, chat groups and podcasts. every single person who participates aids in expanding the pool of coffee knowledge -- and to know coffee is to love coffee.

as more people talk about coffee, the more people become interested in drinking coffee. and there we have it: increased global consumption, which is the greatest gift we can give coffee farmers.

this is why i have always considered the cafeo-sphere exempt from the "empires of boredom" charge. so-called cheeseburger blogging is harmless and amusing for those who do it.

coffee blogging -- however surprising it may seem -- serves a much larger social purpose, as coffee has historically always served larger social purposes. (if you doubt that, check out the well-known creation of modern capitalism, news media, and political parties from their origins in coffeehouses.)

the broad structures of the contemporary world are, without exaggeration, rooted in coffee culture. and the world's development in the future also seems set to play out there, which is, after all, here.

but every blog obsessing about how the author adjusts his espresso machine for more precise temperature, or describing the beauty of an estate varietal, excites interest in others to buy machines and drink black gold. thus creating a feedback loop that slowly but surely results in more consumption and increased understanding of coffee as a fine beverage.

it's an unseasonably chill and gray day today -- perfect for an after-lunch americano made with andrew b's ecco roman espresso from yesterday. . .don't fret, dear readers, i will continue following up with batdorf's exciting los lirios colombia c.o.e. tomorrow. . .

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posted by fortune | 8:54 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Friday, April 21, 2006

the los lirios c.o.e., redux

as promised, dear readers, i made this lovely batdorf "latitudes" coffee in the vac pot today. as expected, it brewed up brighter -- beyond sparkling or crisp near to a clean, hard snappy; it approached a kenya aa in brightness.

i still couldn't quite find what scott was calling black currant, but i did find a little hint of a sweet evergreen quality in the aroma. the los lirios is nice in the vac pot, but i think i prefer it in the chemex, where it might be a little more balanced brightness vs. aroma-wise.

tomorrow, the cafetiére!

also, a big bccy congrats to doug zell of intelligentsia for that nice piece on him in kiplingers. long-time readers know i'm a big zell fan: see 4 reasons doug zell rocks.

finally, thanks again to andrew b. of ecco for another surprise shipment of his roman espresso! will drink tomorrow!

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posted by fortune | 8:34 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Thursday, April 20, 2006

the los lirios c.o.e.

today i'm going to talk about the coffee i received yesterday from scott & jessica from batdorf, the 2005 colombian second harvest c.o.e., the "los lirios." lirios means irises or lilies in spanish.

so appropriate, as you will soon see. . .

got your scaa flavor wheel handy? as promised, i made a half-pot of this coffee in the chemex in the so-called oren proportion.

and once i did, i understood why scott loved this coffee so, even tho' it wasn't one of the highest-ranked coffees by the end. why?

lemme say something very strange and wild, and then explain myself. drinking this coffee is like watching nureyev dance.

hold that thought, please.

scott roasted this coffee, roast-dated the 17th, to what i'd normally call full-city. but it's hard to describe this: many beans show small patches of oil, but the roast color isn't as dark as you'd expect for showing oil; actually the color is a light-city color, but with oily bits.

when freshly ground, this coffee has an intense, narcotic floral fragrance -- scott says stargazer lilies -- and i think that's pretty close.

it's definitely in the running with that jasmine/gardenia/ tuberose thing. you know, heady, intoxicating.

the flavors appeared this morning as malty, nutty and with a lot of lovely vanilla-like syrupy aromas. this coffee, to my mind, is the textbook definition of the sparkling taste.

scott talks about the black currant flavor, but i didn't see that this morning in the chemex. i'll look for that in the vac pot tomorrow.

what i want to note is the silky, supple body and the cup's elegant balance. here's where the nureyev comes in: it's a wiry, balanced cup.

just like looking at the above linked picture of nureyev -- this coffee has a pefectly taut, balanced, muscular, and equal "line," so to speak.

many coffee lovers grew up with some version of the classic colombian cup, and i think it's those people who would really love this coffee without quite knowing why. the why is that this bean's a gorgeously refined version of that classic profile.

but not little-dogs-and-heavy-drapes-prissy-refined. nope: nureyev's-feral-athletic-dancing refined.

i think love this coffee, can you tell?

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posted by fortune | 8:09 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

the colombia c.o.e. and the poas volcano

first, let me kindly thank scott & jessica of batdorf for the surprise gift -- their c.o.e. second harvest 2005 colombia winner, the los lirios. here's what the farmer, ramon perez, has to say about his coffee:

"i was born in the farm where i live today. my father bought this farm 30 years ago. we live in the same house, my parents, my brother, two sisters and my wife. i am 100% committed with the production of quality coffee."

could you imagine a more beautiful statement, fellow coffee lovers? and here's the pictures of ramon, his entire family, and of course, his donkey, since he's a proper cafetero.

scott loved this coffee so much he paid ramon US$3.00 a pound for it green -- he noticed this coffee right away and it stayed with him as a personal favorite through all the rounds of the competition. when you're a coffee-buyer, ya gotta go with your soul, and so he stuck with this coffee to the end.

he calls it "the find of the auction." i absolutely cannot wait to brew this baby tomorrow; thank you scott & jessica!

in the meantime, yesterday was just an overwhelming coffee day. first, scaa chief ted lingle sent me an original of the 1974 coffee brewing handbook! out of the blue, a complete and delightful surprise.

while the science behind some of the standards has been updated a bit, this document contains a lot of the source information on which many of today's standards are still built. it'll make fascinating reading: wow wow wow.

and! i received by messenger -- in a dhl envelope -- a most unusual coffee blend. ready for this?

a mix of papua new guinea (winey! i expect that!), costa rica poas shb (this is a rather uncommon coffee from the rare cloud forest on the slopes of the poas volcano at the edge of a national park in central costa rica), and a brazilian morgiana. not your every day blend.

the point of this was to show how growing coffee in a soil heavy in volcanic ash -- poas is an active volcano -- can increase body. normally one would expect a costa rican coffee to have a rather medium or medium-light-ish body, but because of the ashy soil in which its grown, the poas demonstrates a surprisingly heavy body.

this is good "ashiness," not bad roast "ashiness" from over-roasted beans. i brewed this up in the chemex this morning in the "oren proportion." lemme me describe this in sum: winey, nutty, toasty and with that surprising body. . .

more on all of this tomorrow.

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posted by fortune | 8:25 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

congrats to scott & jessica

and in more exciting news from the cupping pavilion at the recent scaa conference, i've confirmed that the number one coffee in the cupping competition there was the petersons' la esmeralda panama geisha. which you and i, dear readers, know from scott & jessica of batdorf.

you may recall how i just couldn't stop writing about this coffee -- and for good reason. here, here, here, and here. . .

alas, this spectacular, benchmark coffee's long gone; intelligent coffee lovers snatched it up fast. we can only await the new crop with hope.

however, there is still a bit of the fabulous batdorf ethiopian kello left, and if i were you, i'd catch that before it too vanishes. . .

as promised yesterday, i did brew up a half-pot of andrew b's ecco santa terezhina in the chemex this morning. this coffee's roasted dated apr. 13, making it now 6 days old.

for half-pot chemex brewing i've pretty much converted to what i call the "oren proportion," or 2 oz/56 g fresh ground coffee to 26 oz/769 ml water. my total brew time was 4 min. 27 secs.

andrew roasted these beans to what i'd call city; there's not a speck of oil anywhere. i'd like to note that this coffee came in at number 23 in the 2005 brazilian c.o.e.

this is high-quality coffee, and as a result the farmer received US$3.85 a pound green. let me note finally that this coffee is of a variety called "mondo novo."

this is noteworthy because this cultivar has a reputation for producing coffee with a tendency toward brightness and a somewhat light body. so let's go ahead and talk about this coffee, with the scaa flavor wheel.

freshly ground, this coffee has a wonderful floral bouquet. when the water hit the grounds in the chemex, the coffee bloomed beautifully, revealing what seemed to me to be an unusual aroma -- i know it sounds crazy -- but it really did remind me a little of hot fried plantains (maybe because that scent was in my mind from dinner the night before?) -- a starchy banana quality -- i thought the rest of the bouquet was malty and slightly woody-spicy.

and of course it had the dutch cocoa aftertaste so many of andrew's coffees have; i just think of it as the "ecco aftertaste" practically. the chemex gave the coffee a medium-light body.

the taste hovered between sweet and lightly bright, i thought.

a very nice breakfast coffee, i'd say, with dry toast. add a splash of light cream and splenda, and the chocolate became milky.

i think this coffee would have a wide appeal. yummy.

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posted by fortune | 6:45 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 2 comments

Monday, April 17, 2006

congrats to oren

long-time readers know i've just been a big fan of oren's incredible finchwa yrg. and i'm not alone -- this coffee won the 2006 roasters choice award at the recent scaa conference in charlotte.

yuppers, the best specialty roasters in north america all agreed that oren's finchwa was the stand-out of the year. a big bccy round of applause for oren!

and let me also take this moment to say how touched i have been by all the emails noting my absence from the conference. sorry, guys, just couldn't make it this year.

but i do hope to see you all in nyc at fancy food and the usual scaa-member reception!

and finally woo-hoo! thank you andrew b. of ecco for the care package -- containing the santa terezinha super-premium brazil from farmer paulo almeida. this certified organic coffee's from sul de minas, and is also bio-dynamic!

can't wait to try this one out in the chemex tomorrow.

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posted by fortune | 7:19 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Sunday, April 16, 2006

secrets of the bunny creation

yesterday, while i was making iced coffee, my husband took a walk down thru dumbo by jacques torres' chocolate shop.

there he reported a line that snaked along the cobbled street, while through the plate glass window a horde of busy apprentice chocolatiers could be seen furiously unmolding large easter bunnies, heaping them on a stainless steel table for quick packaging and sale.

since we here at bccy celebrate everyone's holidays, esp. when they give us an excuse to eat more chocolate, i greeted this morning with a nice bar of café tasse 77%. and, alas (sniffle), the last of the beautifully blue finchwa yrg, which i took as a single-origin triple espresso. . .oren, thank you again, ever so much!

today being sunday, naturally i am celebrating with my household's traditional easter pie -- that is a pizza pie, not an actual torta pasqualina, altho' those are widely for sale today in my moonstruck-bklyn nabe along with the classic almond cake in the shape of a dove. it's all good.

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posted by fortune | 10:29 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

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