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Saturday, May 06, 2006

the el naranjal americano

continuing from yesterday, after the morning batdorf dancing goat cappuccini here at the bccy household, i went straight to pulling an americano from kevin's gimme colombian c.o.e. el naranjal.

i believe this coffee's now about 4 days old. i ground it at my usual setting on the mazzer mini -- one fantastic thing about the arrow point on the mazzer is that it appears to work for a wide range of coffees, thus reducing the time-consuming dialing-in process -- and pulled a 30-second triple on my beloved italian princess, silvia.

i tasted the el naranjal as a single-origin shot: both pungent and bright; syrupy; dark caramel; turpeny, to be concise about it.

i had about 2.25 oz in the cup, and so i added just a tad less than my usual 4 oz water. i gave it a stir and another taste: turpeny, alright.

with a splash of cream and a dash of sugar-free simple syrup, however, this coffee came alive for me. that made a really enjoyable late morning cup.

since most new yorkers take cream and sugar in their coffee (the so-called "regular"), i now understand kevin's decision to serve this coffee as americano.

espressohounds will be pleased by the turpeny, while most drip coffee lovers will have their eyes opened to the notion of the single-origin shot when they regularize the el naranjal americano.

he's a clever guy, that kevin. . .if you're a dark-roast lover, i highly recommend you check out this el naranjal. but even if you're not, you may be surprised at how enjoyable it is as a regular americano.

i was!

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posted by fortune | 8:11 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Friday, May 05, 2006

bench pressing the el naranjal

following up from yesterday, i brewed kevin's gimme colombian c.o.e., the el naranjal, in the cafetiére. this brewing method suits kevin's coffee much better to my mind.

as you'd expect, the brightness is reduced nearly to pure mildness, while the body gains substantially. i also thought the press emphasized the pungent finishing qualities of the roast.

i can see where kevin is going with serving this coffee as an americano. i also think it would make a superior moka pot brew.

you can bet that tomorrow i'll be trying the americano version myself!

as i was contemplating this coffee, who should phone but the amazing andrew b. of ecco? after we chatted, i was left thinking: what a nice guy, how passionate about coffee.

of course, this is pretty much my experience when talking to 99% of the scaa pros. they are truly unique in their love for specialty coffee, and it makes them a pleasure to be around.

i think andrew's biggest news is that soon his website will have a shopping cart, making his coffees easier to buy than ever! we'll be staying tuned to hear the exact date andrew launches.

good luck to you, a.b. rock out

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

Thursday, May 04, 2006

the gimme el naranjal colombian c.o.e.

i wasn't kidding yesterday when i said i couldn't wait to rush home and brew kevin of gimme's el naranjal colombian c.o.e. up a.s.a.p.

got your scaa flavor wheel handy? ok!

the coffee doesn't have a roast date, so i can't tell you exactly how old it is. i'm sure this is just an oversight on kevin's part.

the roast color's one of the darkest i've seen for a while, which isn't too unusual for a gimme coffee. the beans were lightly oily all over and many had divots missing from the sides; i'm calling this an espresso roast.

which makes sense, since kevin is pulling shots from it for americanos in his shop!

as promised, i brewed up a half-pot chemex of this in the "oren proportion," for a total brew time of 4 mins. 10 seconds. the first thing i want to say is that despite the lack of date, the coffee's quite fresh.

the grounds actually hissed as the carbon dioxide escaped during the first bloom. those fresh grounds had a lovely orange-flower-spicy fragrance as i spooned them into the filter.

the taste, however, was less bright and crisp than you might think, due to the darkness of the roast. i'd call it slightly nippy.

as the coffee brewed, some nice dried citrus peel and dark molasses flavors wafted thru the kitchen. these came through clearly in the cup, along with spicy, warming notes.

think cedar and woody-spice, with a solid dose of roastiness. the body was lighter than i expected for the chemex.

in short, i don't think the chemex is the way to go for this coffee. it might be better off, body-wise, in the cafetiére.

you know me, i'll be pressing it tomorrow without fail! thanks kevin, tons. heart

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posted by fortune | 8:35 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

breaking yoga news

long-time readers know i'm a big yoga nidra fan. and the yoga nidra cd i do most often recommend is swami janakananda's.

i feel like i'm the last to know, but today the mail brought me a list of lectures and (ooh ooh ooh) live yoga nidra sessions taught by the swami himself around the new york area.

he'll be in nyc itself on may 7 at yoga sutra, at 6:30 in the evening. skip the sopranos and go!

brochure here. tragically of course, i won't be able to make it. . . .sigh. i've never met the swami in real life, nor actually do i know anyone who has, but i have long loved his cd!

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posted by fortune | 8:50 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

gimme keeps its promise

this morning i meandered into the kitchen, where i could be found gazing sadly at my empty bag of scott & jessica's los lirios, the c.o.e. colombian. it reminded me of the wonderful c.o.e. colombians i had also cupped last week with the beautiful scaa board member and shining juan valdez star mary petitt.

(you know mary gets rather bashful about this, but one of the reasons i admire her so is that she is a feminist coffee pioneer, one of the first 2 women to pass the rigorous nybot exchange cupping exam and work as a professional cupper there. as such she, like erna knutsen, the mother of us all, has helped pave the way for many women to forge their own careers in coffee.)

let's face it: in the past, we specialty coffee lovers sometimes gave colombian coffees short shrift. we thought they were all the same, the stuff we were used to, basically a crisp taste experience not that distant from folgers, but of better quality when bought from our nabe independent roaster.

then we discovered mesa de los santos. this reminded us how good colombian could be when it was good.

and so when most people new to specialty coffee (who tend to like colombian because that is what they know and were rather used to) asked me for a nice morning drip, i would often recommend scaa board member oswaldo acevedo's mesa.

but you know -- after the los lirios, after cupping with mary -- i feel i owe colombian coffee farmers a huge apology. because colombian coffee isn't the same old-same old.

not at all. colombian coffee can be fantastic coffee, and we should all re-aquaint ourselves with the regions and micro-climates colombia offers.

as this train of thought passed through my sleepy head, i set about brewing up the last of peter g's counterculture caranavi. as i wandered over to get dressed, i noticed a small package not far from the phone.

did i get a box yesterday?, i asked my poor husband. oh well, he said, i forgot to tell you.

and what, dear readers, was in this box? salvation!

yes, kevin from gimme had warned us all that the colombian c.o.e. el naranjal from huila was nearly ready. and here it was.

thanks kevin! this hits the chemex first thing tomorrow, altho' it looks like kevin's recommending it as an americano. . .

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posted by fortune | 8:42 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

evil spammers stealing content!

gentle readers, while perusing my stats this morning, i noticed a referrer i didn't recognize. the great thing about this coffee blog gig is that almost all of my referrers are from google searches, or fellow coffee bloggers and scaa members.

it's a nice community we have developed on the internet, in which all of us play a part in educating ourselves and the average coffee lover about the wide range of global issues offered by specialty coffee.

curious about this referrer, i checked it out. and it turned out to be an evil spam yoga blog!

these criminal spammers steal content from innocent bloggers, put it on a fake blog, and then put up google adsense ads to make money. this is a clear violation of google's adsense terms of service.

if you all are cruising around the 'net and spot one of these, it's really super-duper-good web karma to report it as a policy violation to google.

i only found out about this crime because the evil doers stole a piece of content that linked back to me. someone clicked on it to come to the real bccy and so it showed up in my stats.

fellow bloggers, it's important to look at your stats and even google yourself for your popular posts to ensure this doesn't happen to you!

and if it does, it's crucial to report it to google. they will take action, ususally within a week or so.

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posted by fortune | 7:45 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

bolivia & brussels. . .

woke up this morning, just really hungry, so i leapt outta bed to snack on some concord grapes. when my eye fell upon peter g's counterculture bolivia caranavi. . .

the next thing i knew, this caranavi was brewing my little cafetiére. pressed, it was still crisp, nutty, and very vanilla -- with fantastic body for an andean coffee.

fine, fine, fine! my husband's slipped disk is much better now; thanks for the email asking.

while we were talking yesterday -- for some unknown reason -- the subject of brussels sprouts emerged. of course, most people know that they loathe these little cabbages on their wacky stalks.

some sites insist the sprout was developed in northern europe; others insist it was grown by the ancient romans and brought north by them.

whatever. what's crucial to know is these babies, often associated with a nasty bitter flavor and an ugly cooking smell, can actually be good. if you get 'em small and young and early.

the italians understand this -- a big cabbage is a cavolo, a brussels sprout's a cavolini -- and they make them into soup and saute them in butter to serve with parmesan.

(the french also do something similiar, by separating out each little leaf(!), sauteeing them in brown butter, and topping 'em with cheese. for a long time this was the only way i liked 'em.)

however, they also serve them as a salad, with cheese and speck, which is basically a smoked prosciutto.

for some reason this appealed to me yesterday after my husband and i had talked about it, so i ran down to my local upscale market and got some fresh sprouts, 1 lb. i also picked up a bunch of thyme, some curly endive, and i already had a meyer lemon around the house.

like all italian things, this is so simple to do. i made this all up while listening from the kitchen to casablanca (really, one of the best movie scripts ever):

1 lb. small, fresh, early brussels sprouts
5 large white mushroom caps (the kind you get for stuffing) or cremini
1/4 lb. chunk good parmesan
1/4 lb. speck
fresh thyme
1 or 2 meyer lemons (or normal lemons if that's all you can get)
1/3 - 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 salt, or more to taste
fresh ground black pepper

take out your favorite big chef knife (mine's a 10" wusthof, or you could use a mandoline) and halve each sprout lengthwise, trimming a little off the bottom if it's brown or hard.

discard any bruised or ugly leaves. slice each half as finely as you can, into mere slivers.

this will give you a large pile of stuff that looks strangely like mini-coleslaw, but instead of being damp and nasty, will be suprisingly delicate and lacy-looking, in pretty spring-like shades of green.

slice up the mushrooms vertically, also as thinkly as possible. gently put these together in a big dish.

you'll be surprised at how much there is.

now make up a little quick dressing -- squeeze the juice from your meyer lemon (my one lemon gave me 3 tablespoons juice) into a jar with a lid, and add the salt.

chop up a teaspoon or so of the fresh thyme leaves, and add to the juice. stir it all around so the salt dissolves. add 1/3 c. olive oil, put the lid on the jar, and shake to blend.

taste to see if you want more lemon juice, more salt, more thyme, more oil. . .make it so you like it.

pour this dressing over the sliced sprouts and mushrooms and toss with extreme care. there should be just enough to very lightly coat the mixture; you'll be garnishing the salad with a drizzle more oil, so don't add too much dressing at this stage.

i like to let this sit overnight so that the mushrooms absorb the lemon-thyme flavor. taste the salad to see if it needs a bit more salt, but remember that the parmesan and ham garnishes will be salty.

to serve, make a base of your curly endive or whatever green you like, scoop about 1/2 c. of the sprout salad on top of that.

nicely but with a casual air, drape over a slice of speck on top. on the speck, add a nice big shaving of parmesan.

drizzle this attractive heap -- think of it as a spring haystack -- with good extra-virgin olive oil, and as much fresh black pepper as you like.

this is a pretty way to showcase nice seasonal produce and trick your friends and family into eating healthy brussels sprouts.

having soaked overnight in lemon and thyme, with nice oil, the bitterness should be reduced greatly if not completely offset into a pleasing radish-like flavor. since you're not cooking them, the sprouts won't smell up your kitchen in a nasty way.

you can enjoy them for their crunchy texture, which should contrast nicely with the ham.

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

Monday, May 01, 2006

gillies colombian supremo sparkling water co2 decaf

as promised yesterday, this morning i brewed up another half-pot chemex of the don schoenholt's gillies colombian supremo in its "sparkling water" co2 decaf version. i think of the major decaf methods, this one is the least known among consumers.

and it's a shame, because from my tasting this morning, it seems on par, or close to par, with the european method. certainly, it was superior to swiss water decaf.

you'll note for example that many fine specialty roasters, like counterculture, offer primarily sparkling decaf.

i think the european method preserves a little more the delicious fresh coffee aroma -- you know the general smell of freshly made coffee -- but the sparkling method was very close. the sparkling colombian may have been very slightly less crisp than the european process coffee.

but i thought the sparkling process may have kept a little more of the nutty flavor. so i would say that the two may balance out, actually.

since most americans, according to consumer studies, report drinking their coffee with milk and/or sugar, even a splash of either would cover any differences between european and sparkling, in my experience. espressohounds who find themselves needing to drink a decaf drip black might prefer the sparkling method, since they tend to shy away from brighter coffees.

but i think serious drip lovers would most likely prefer the european method. let's be honest: i don't think anyone need fear any of the 4 major decaf methods, be it european, natural, sparkling, or even swiss water.

(purists are going to say that actually the european and natural are basically minor variations on the same "solvent" method. but they are named differently on labels and use different agents, so for clarity's sake, i'm separating them here.

and yes, gentle readers, note i say major: there is a 5th process, which is relatively new and rarely seen in the market yet, the so-called "mountain water" process, done by the mexican company sanroke. i've haven't tried this yet, but its fans say it too is superior to swiss water.)

in sum, i liked both the european and sparkling versions of gillies colombian very much. i personally might give the edge to the european, but the difference is so slight, it could come down to a question of personal preference.

my recommendation is you try both at a close interval and see which speaks to you!

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posted by fortune | 7:15 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Sunday, April 30, 2006

gillies colombian supremo european decaf

long-time readers know i'm not personally a big decaf fan, but only because most decaf you see is swiss water. i like the owner of swiss water, frank dennis, a great big huge whole lot, and he's an scaa pro member.

but that doesn't mean i like what swiss water does to coffee. i know, frank works hard to improve that process every year.

still, i think european decaf tastes better, more like regular coffee. i confirmed that for myself this afternoon by brewing up a half-pot chemex in the "oren proportion" of don schoenholt's gillies colombian supremo european decaf.

what's interesting about this bean is that it's one of the darkest gillies roasts; i'd call it vienna. dark, and each bean has a glistening sheen of oil, without actually being oily.

as with all decafs, you can tell it's not regular right away -- it just lacks some of that fantastic, delicious, mouth-watering aroma you expect from freshly ground, freshly brewed coffee. there's no getting around that with any decaf, i think.

but, the main aromas of a colombian are there and the darker roast adds some nice roasty notes that really boost this coffee beyond ordinary decaf. it's the best decaf i've ever had, actually.

got your scaa flavor wheel handy? at about 6 days old, the coffee was pleasantly crisp tasting, just as you'd want from your colombian.

the darker roast moved the aromas into the woody-spicy and dark nutty range. because i made it in the chemex, it had a medium body.

even with a half-pot, i had a little more than i could drink, so i chilled it for iced coffee. now i'm going to get really enthusiastic about it, because this was truly superb iced.

when i came back from a crowded yoga class -- why do i always somehow get stuck next to that new macho gym guy who falls outta shoulderstand and just barely misses your head as his beefy feet come toppling down because he won't admit to the teacher that he needs help? -- really, watching this guy fall was like the slo-mo implosion of a skyscraper -- he's coming down, girlfriend, and you're frozen in terror at his base -- lemme just say i truly needed a refreshing, crisp, cold drink!

i shouldn't sound so snarky. this guy was a newbie; he wound up his courage to go to the sissy-girl yoga class, and endured having his butt kicked by all the poses, only to embarrass himself in front of the whole room by falling down.

he didn't know any better per se, since toughing it out is what they taught him at the gym. altho' fear might have brought him wisdom to ask the teacher for help.

but the teacher should have been looking out for him a little more too, once he told her it was his first vinyasa yoga class. however, i escaped doom and made it home for delicious iced decaf.

so that's a very good day. tomorrow -- the gillies co2 colombian supremo decaf, same bean, same roast.

we'll see which tastes better!

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posted by fortune | 3:43 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

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