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Saturday, May 27, 2006

the batdorf pico del tucan, redux

My BCCY Podcast as if yesterday wasn't enough -- which it wasn't, because this is fine coffee -- i brewed scott's batdorf bolivian c.o.e. pico del tucan in the cafetiére this afternoon. this is the way to go with scott's coffee.

pressing this bean increases the body, moving it from mere(!) plush to ultra-deluxe plush, near velvety. taking the plunge lessens the brightness a tad, which is rather the trade-off here, unfortunately.

i drank this cup black, without cream or sugar, even tho' as a good noo-yawker i do like my so-called "regular." it just doesn't need any additions; it's perfection.

i however needed a cup of coffee after a wacky shopping expedition. living along the water in style-y "moonstruck" bklyn as i do, italian groceries are a no-brainer; jewish and eastern european specialities, ditto; arab and middle-eastern specialities just a hop, skip and handstand away.

but i decided to make a mexican yellow mole from oaxaca, based on a recipe by rick bayless. this, i believed, entailed a trip to a nearby latin nabe at the end of carroll gardens.

so. after much travail, i find masa harina, yuca, sundries, and come all the way back. ok, now to fetch the chicken.

so i walk 1-1/2 blocks away to my local supermarket to get chicken and cilantro. as i wander past the aisles (i'm solely a perimeter shopper usually), i see a new sign hanging over one of the aisles: "latin specialty foods."

ok, i bite. what used to be a perfunctory display of a few dusty goya cans is now a giant aisle of everything i sought: fresh yuca, fresh malanga, fresh ñame, great plantains, fresh tomatillos, piles of jicama, fresh chayote, fresh calabaza, 3 kinds of masa harina, everything but fresh epazote and hoja santos.

the joke was on me. but at the same time i had to ask myself, when did my double-i nabe become a latin hang?

no problem! me all happy, because nothing was more than US$0.69 a pound!

it's gonna be a mexican summer, that's for sure. . .break out the altura. . .and you bet i make my own tortillas, fresh.

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posted by fortune | 1:49 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 2 comments | leave a voicemail

Friday, May 26, 2006

the batdorf pico del tucan

as promised, i brewed up yesterday's batdorf bolivia c.o.e., the pico del tucan in the chemex. i made it just as i had made peter g's counterculture version the other day.

so. the first thing i noticed was that scott from batdorf had roasted his take on this prize-winning coffee more lightly than peter g. did, what i might call standard+. this roast level, plus the week age difference, makes it hard to compare these coffees head-to-head.

so i won't. let me consider scott's coffee on its own merits, altho' i think some things about how scott and peter handled the coffee could be contrasted. for example, when i first opened peter's bag, the scent was beautifully nutty; whereas scott's bag had a stronger straight vanilla smell.

i also thought scott had a more chocolate-y aftertaste, while peter's coffee had more vanilla-syrupy aftertaste. in terms of the flavor wheel, i'd say scott's coffee is more bakers chocolate, while peter's is more what the wheel calls swiss, which to me is how vanilla custard, like flan, tastes.

in short, this comes about technically because peter roasted his on his smaller machine to a ground agtron of 63; scott has a bigger machine and obviously went lighter. (please scott call me with your agtron number, ok?)

so both of these coffees are vanilla coffees -- it's just how and where the vanilla enters into the picture you know? and both of these variations make sense in terms of the roast level, i think.

these are also both very floral coffees: peter's fresh dry grounds reminded of a bouquet, of wandering by the flower store (he calls it "wildflowers"); scott's is very similar. i think that's just the nature of the pico del tucan itself.

and both coffees are caramelly -- i think they both have a honey-type smell when the water hits them and they bloom.

the two also share a great body. it's a medium-bodied coffee, but just feels great when you smooth the coffee across the roof of your mouth.

scott uses the word plush, which i think works for both coffees. as for the taste, scott's is slightly brighter, more lively, altho' the pico del tucan itself is a bright coffee.

since scott's roast looks slighter lighter in color, i would expect it to be a tad brighter. i love both of these coffees, and if you're considering which to order, i'd say: first choose the roaster that's nearest you for freshness and second go for roast color.

but the roast color difference, while noticeable, isn't extreme. if you like slightly darker coffees and live nearer peter in the carolinas, go for peter.

if you like a slightly lighter roast, and so a somewhat brighter coffee, go for scott. scott roasted this batch, jessica tells me, in olympia, on the west coast in their big probat, altho' batdorf does also have some roasting in atlanta.

myself, i'm happy to have been able to have tried both. so in the end, it's not about peter vs. scott at all.

rather it's all about the farmer, anacleto uluri, and the nuances he grew hidden in this lovely bean, the nature of his origin. peter and scott, each talented roasters, sampled this coffee and then applied their own artistry to it.

both are interpreters of what the farmer gave them. in this way, drinking these two versions of the coffee is like listening to different recordings of a piece of classical music; think of it as a tone-poem in flowers, honey, and vanilla.

this conductor led his symphony to emphasize the finish of the coffee; the other, to emphasize the lilt and movement in the coffee.

some classical music listeners will buy both versions. others will carefully choose the one that suits their own temperment.

which type are you?

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posted by fortune | 7:28 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Thursday, May 25, 2006

batdorf surprise!

and what appeared in the mail this morning but scott merle & jessica marshall's batdorf bolivia c.o.e., their lot of the pico del tucan!

we've seen peter g's counterculture take on this prize-winning coffee; now it will be very interesting to compare scott's!

roast-dated the 23rd, these beans have an appointment for tomorrow, in the chemex. . .as always with these special batdorf beans, jessica wraps them nicely in a lovely copper-foil bag and a cute taffeta drawstring pouch with a bronze sheen.

great for gift-giving. or for keeping your own charming little sundries!

thank you, jessica.

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posted by fortune | 8:52 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

so cal espresso report

the news from long-time bccy pal, scaa pro member, and espressohound about l.a., marshall fuss:

"We finally made it to Martin Diedrich's new shop this weekend in Newport Beach, CA. He named it Kean Coffee for his son. Martin is doing all the roasting himself on the shop floor on a smallish Diedrich (what else?) roaster. We had a long talk about starting over in mid-life (Martin left his namesake company to start this venture).

Naturally, I bought a bag of his espresso blend and took it home. I tinkered with the grind and temp for my first three shots and then experienced one my most complex and satisfying espressos ever. I detected citrus, chocolate and spices (I think Jim Schulman would have a field day with flavor descriptors).

Anyway, if you're interested in buying a bag, I'd be interested in your reactions. No, he's not a client, and I don't expect him to be. He roasts every day and dates each bag.

The website is, but for some reason it's down this evening, except for the home page. He changes his coffee selections as the new crops come in (he was very excited about the new shipment of La Lucie from Zimbabwe), and may be updating the order page.

But the site normally has a full shopping menu. There is only one espresso blend. You can also call at 949.642.KEAN (5326). I don't normally do this sort of thing, but I was blown away by this coffee, and I respect your opinion."

long-time readers know i'm a huge marty d. fan, so i was riveted by marshall's report. must mail-order this coffee soon!

if any of you, gentle coffee lovers, have tried marty's new coffees or been to his place, do comment below! i wanna know!

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posted by fortune | 8:35 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 1 comments | leave a voicemail

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

coffee meetup = huge & sara's yrg, redux

woke up this morning and realized i still have 75 people coming to the nyc coffee meetup tonite at the nybot grading room, where long-time bccy pal jim p. of 1st-line will give an espresso machine demo. wow!

he's bringing a semi-auto, a super-auto, and a killer grinder. . .

while thinking about all the craziness -- will everyone actually show up? how will get the boxes upstairs in light of the union elevator rules? etc. -- i saw that i still had a scoopful or two left of scaa pro member sara's everyday yrg.

naturally i reached for my copper ibrik. winey coffees like the yrg make fantastic turkish, so that's what i brewed today.

as turkish, sara's yrg had no bitterness or astringency -- and i added only 1 teaspoonful of simple sugar-free syrup to the pot. so i'm calling that all good.

on the yoga front, if you still don't have the namarupa varanasi walk-thru cd, you are definitely missing out. the reviews of this have been nothing but raves.

i've been on the cheb i sabah mailing list for a while now, so believe me when i tell you the music's good.

and while we're on this subject, i still get a lot of sweet email where people ask me for my favorite yoga book. you know, after all this time, i still recommend erich schiffmann's moving into stillness.

it's a rare book that covers poses and yoga 'tude both. it's quite readable and you have the sense that erich is speaking to you personally from his heart, but without being maudlin, self-conscious or fake.

his presentation of yoga philosophy (his thinking may not be strictly advaita vedanta, but it's non-dual and way radical in the nicest possible way! wink big nose) has to be the most down-to-earth, makes-sense-to-a-six-year-old ever.

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posted by fortune | 7:00 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

peter g's counterculture pico del tucan, redux

it's interesting how coffee prompts a person to evolve and grow, isn't it? how long ago was it that i -- a hardcore java/sumatra fiend -- had difficulty with winey africans and bright new world coffees?

and yet now i love them as much as my old, old aged sumatra, which for years i gleefully splashed around in. how could i have let my inexperience with good winey prevent me from bathing in my now-beloved blueberry ethiopians?

and this too is how i feel about the recent andean coffees i've been privileged to try. what took me so long?

in reality, it was the c.o.e. and the foresight of some of america's best roasters -- that's what i needed. i needed to see these coffees not as the boring, even dreadful stuff commonly peddled.

i needed exposure to the full quality potential hidden in these origins! and i suspect many other coffee lovers are in the same position.

as i made peter's counterculture pico del tucan from yesterday this morning in the cafetiére, i wondered if i could have even imagined how much i would enjoy a fine andean coffee in those old aged sumatra days.

i wonder. . .

at any rate, after pressing it this morning, i do believe that the cafetiére is the way to go for this coffee. why?

simple: this coffee has great body in the press. very appealing!

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posted by fortune | 8:18 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Monday, May 22, 2006

peter g's counterculture pico del tucan

oh, dear readers, i bet you believed that i had forgotten about peter g's new c.o.e. bolivian, the pico del tucan. never!

this now 5-day-old coffee hit the chemex this morning. i made it in a less-than-oren proportion: 1.75 oz. fresh ground coffee to 28 oz. water.

got your scaa flavor wheel handy? no?

why don't you have it as a mousepad, hmm?

but seriously, i think this coffee's a city roast, since i don't detect a single speck of oil anywhere. just sticking my nose into the bag gave me a nice whiff of nuttiness, a soft-ish sweetish nut, maybe pecan or brazil nut?

the fresh dry ground seemed floral, which was great. and as the vapors drifted up from the bubbling, blooming grounds -- even at a few days old the bloom was considerable here -- i smelled great malty aromas. more nuttiness, caramel, and nice vanilla.

i agree with peter is in his discussion of this coffee that these bolivian coffees all seem to share a nice vanilla feeling. the taste was bright, more nippy than piquant.

i loved the body of this coffee outta the chemex; it was heavier than i might have expected. overall a clean and nicely balanced cup.

congrats to you peter for this nice coffee, and we should all recognize the accomplishment of the farmer, anacleto uluri.

alas, the c.o.e. apparently isn't going to back to bolivia, due to stupid political nonsense. so i encourage all you coffee lovers to scour your favorite independent roasters for these nice bolivia c.o.e. beans while they last.

who knows when we will see their like again?

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posted by fortune | 7:48 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Sunday, May 21, 2006

congrats to our baristi pals & hello fairway!

first let's begin by congratulating our long-time baristi friends on doing well at the world championship: yay to our dreamy candadian pal, sammy p. of artigiano, and of course the american, matt riddle of intelligentsia.

alas -- but rather expectedly, we must admit -- first place went to a scandinavian, klaus. let's face it, the scandinavians don't just dominate the championship, they own this competition.

this is one reason why when people ask me where the best coffee is, i usually have to say, well, objectively, denmark, norway, australia. . . and italy. but i'm happy to say that an american finally cracked the top 3.

bovetti in other news, after fortifying myself with my usual morning batdorf dancing goat cappuccino, i braced for the bus trip to the new fairway market (at 52,000 sq. feet, it is larger than an acre!) in bklyn's red hook, a prime location right on the most historic and beautiful portion of the waterfront.

while on sunday the bus -- only 4 blocks from my house -- is supposed to run every 20 mins, let's face it, this is new york. so basically, the bus runs every 45 mins. next time, i'm taking a car.

anyway, the new fairway is in a lovely old 4-story converted spice warehouse. it has everything -- almost. no real italian spinach, no (sob!) russian coffee cake.

but! it does have 350 cheeses, including fiori di latte made on the spot; a small drum roaster for roasting fresh coffee; 200 kinds of olive oil, including my new favorite, the australian; 25-year-old basalmic vinegar for just US$48.00; the famed chocolate babka; the famed noodle kugel; the famed selection from the salad bar (ah! the carrot souffle!); the incredible tomatoes; and a small but acceptable selection of artisan chocolate, including the hard-to-find handmade bovetti from perigord.

the prices are quite wonderful -- for example, valrhona bars, which are often US$4 or even 4.50 other places, are just US$3.49, close to the economy candy price. best of all, they deliver to my house!

so i returned from my giddy trip by car, freighted with babka, kugel, basil, tomatoes, bovetti. long-time readers know that my first house in nyc was on the upper west side right by the first fairway, where i lived for a while before coming to boo-di-fal bklyn.

thus i have been waiting 7 long years for fairway to finally get itself open in bklyn. and here it is.

hooray! i celebrated by brewing up some of sara's everyday sumatra as an americano -- creosol, spicy, turpeny -- and tearing into the chocolate babka. ah, heaven.

but! i am calling the fairway management next week and begging for the russian coffee cake. that stuff is addictive and finds a niche deep in every soul. . .

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posted by fortune | 12:52 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

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