Freitag, 5. September 2008

Judging for the 2. Hannoversche Barista Battle

Edzard did it again: he organized what could be summarized as a barista jam, latte art throwdown and preparation for competition event. Together with the good people, the vegetarian food, a coffee cart outside and too much alcohol in the evening - what a nice day!

Quite a shame that I only get around writing about it half a year after the actual event took place. But better late than never, and since I get a surprising amount of friendly nags from people who actually read what I write I feel the urge to at least finish this post that sat in the pipeline for three months!

So, back to the event: The second (now hopefully annual) Hannovesche Barista Battle, taken place on August 31st at Edzards DerMuffinMann, Rehbockstr. 2 in Hannover. As I was fully aware that I'd not be as good as last year, and at the same time the others would've become better and better, I tried being smart for a change: to get on the judges panel instead of competing and making myself look like a complete idiot! Luckily, Edzard agreed, and I got to do my very first (though not 'SCAE official') judging. A very strange and good feeling: not being the one to be judged is a real relief. Takes the pressure off it. But at the same time arises responsibility: you want to be fair. To everyone. That cappu, is that 7 or 8 out of 10 points? And how to justify that decision if not by gut feeling? If the last was 7 then is this one 5 or 6? Not so easy as it turned out!

Judging also showed me that I often had a different opinion than the others, which initially confused me quite a lot. But since I could communicate my point more often than not, that confusion went away and I quickly grew more confident in my own tasting and judging. That was quite a day! Unfortunatly, I didn't take any camera with me and so far didn't catch any pics online. I'm sure the pictures captured the feeling from that day very well, and if they pop up I'll link them here. Edzard even promised some videos, let's see how that one turnes out!

Really look forward to the next episode of the Barista Battle, and I try to write about it rather sooner than about this one, but I don't make any promise here as the next year is already planned to be a dense one!

All the best, merry christmas and a happy new year to my few lovely readers!

Freitag, 5. September 2008

Panama Hacienda La Esmeralda Especial Batch 5

It took me that long to write up something on that special coffee. No apologies for that, as was quite busy (and still am) at the moment, and this sat long enough in the pipeline to be ready now.

So. What a name for a coffee. But it's good to be precise on this one - it allows poeple to identify the exact batch of coffee I'm talking about. That doesn't happen too often even in the special specialty coffee world, where direct trade models are being established, importers buy based on quality and building long-term relations with the farmers, roasters roast to perfection with each bean and blend having it's own roasting profile. So this is the batch I received from Walter's Kaffeespezialität, and I finally decided to write what I think about it after a friendly nag from a friend (I wrote this quite a while ago but only now managed to find the time to overlook and publish it).

The setting of this tasting was quite a thing for me. At Squaremilecoffee, roasted by Anette Moldvaer, together with a good friend that I've made through, side by side with a Cup of Excellence from Costa Rica, El Portillo if I remember correctly, and an unnamed Rwandan sample if memory servers me right.

It was a blind cupping, that means Anette arranged the coffees for us, three cups of each, without us knowing what was what. But to be frank, it was outright clear from the first sip which coffee was the Esmeralda, just because it was so different from what I was used to. (Now this is the point where I stopped writing some two months ago. Great.)

I could grasp why people are paying so much money for coffee from this farm. It's different. It's one of these showcase coffees that Steve talked about in the latest common grind podcast. But it's more than that: it is actually very, very, very, very, oh yes very enjoyable. The mouthfeel was more tee-y than any coffee I'd encountered before, light on body in a good way, the smell was very peachy as was the taste. Very sweet, too. Somehow, the taste reminded me of that lovely peach iced tea I used to drink ten years ago. Thouroughly enjoyable. It's a shame that I didn't make more notes back then, but I will have the chance to cup it again, as I still have around a hundred gram left that really need to be roasted soon. I just don't know yet how, as always!

In the eternal department of new toys my newest addition: Bestest of cupping spoons ever invented (not that I'd know ...) Thank you Dr. Schwarz, it's a blessing and such a lovely tool!

Dienstag, 19. August 2008

Being an admin and doing things right:


Samstag, 16. August 2008

Square Mile Coffee

So I had the pleasure (and a pleasure it was!) to visit Anette, Stephen and James at Squaremilecoffee two times during my stay in England. They are located a little outside of central London towards Hackney, in a small road alongside car repair shops, car painting shops and a glazier's workshop if I remember correctly. It's basically in a garage. That's what surprised me the most: they are a small small shop, having one room at the moment plus upstairs, and all their stuff packed in that tiny (or so it seems, it's packed full of coffee stuff: roasters, bags of greens, tins (with valve) of roasted, a myriad of coffee brewing devices including their Synesso) garage! I'd have taken photos, but that would have kind of ruined the atmosphere for me if you know what I mean. Most of the time I sat there staring around, being impressed and unable to speak much. I wasn't able to attend the cupping on the first day since I had to catch my coach towards Bristol, but I left them the small bag of the Esmeralda for Anette to roast so that we could cup it the week after. About being challenged in established views: James made a little french press of their Muchoki Peaberry: grind really coarse (with their Ditting grinder), poured, steep time 4 minutes, afterwards spooning away of the top 1-2cm of foam/grounds/coffee (I first thought 'wtf?!', but proof was in the cup!), press, wait, pour into cups. Contrary, what I'm used to: grind way finer, but still coarser than for filtere (with my Major), wet the grounds and stir to get them all wet, wait a few seconds, pour the rest, steep time 3 minutes, press, pour into cups. Result: a completely different flavour profile in the cup. That french press he made was about the cleanest and cup I've had from a french press, nearly no sludge, no perceived body because of the fines, very nice mouthfeel, very aromatic (well thanks to the Muchoki). The roast was quite light, but in that french press it worked damn well. While trying to replicate this profile at home, I found that my Major just isn't up to the task of grinding coarse, consistently. I can get about half as coarse as James with the Ditting (quality of grinds are so hard to compare verbally!), and with his method it leads to a very nice cup, but it's still far away from the clean, overly aromatic cup I've had at their place. One day I'll get one of those Ditting or Mahlkönig bag grinders just for my morning french press pleasure!

Okay, I somehow hesitate to write about the Esmeralda. Why? It's a really, and I mean it, special coffee for me. I fear that trying too much to describe the taste and aroma might do no good to my memories of it. I'll let a few more days pass and decide later wether I'll describe it or not. A small regret that I left the rest of the roasted Esmeralda with Anette and took the rest of the greens with me - it should've been the other way round. No chance I can roast the rest anywhere near as good as Anette did with the first half, and I suppose the greens would have been more useful for her as they're to me right now. I realized that on the plane next morning. Gah.

Samstag, 16. August 2008

2. Hannoversches Barista Battle

2. Hannoversche Barista Battle

See you on August 31 in Hannover!

Sonntag, 10. August 2008

Coffee in London

Last week, I've been to England and visited London for two days. When I'd been there last year, I just hated that city. Now I know that this was mostly due to lack of planning and most definitly lack of good coffee. When I woke up at Toast's place we had a quick chat and a quick coffee. Believe me, waking up in a totally foreign city, being with a friend and having a good espresso is priceless. Equipped with a map and the address of places I'd liked to visit, my small journey started: on to flat white, where I had some really unexpected coffee. Dwayne (is that spelling correct?) pulled an incredibly rich, thick, dense, chocolaty fruit bomb short black (or double ristretto as I'd call it) from their new Square Mile Coffee blend. That shot was totally unusual for me, as when I watched him prepare it I just thought "oh my don't be so cruel and put so much coffee and aargh you're tamping way too hard"! But boy was I wrong. So that's the antipodean style of coffee then. Brilliant. I was so impressed that I came back later to try some of their milk drinks, and man, was I impressed. Again. Just about perfect. Never seen that kind of microfoam - at all - before. So well balanced. If you ever get there, the piccollo latte is about the perfectest balance of coffee and milk as it can get. We are so middle-age in germany! Okay enough praising of flat white. Went to Monmouth as well for a cup of filtered coffee, and it was quite nice - well filtered, good coffee, although just a tad bit overextracted for me. A gram more in the filter would have done wonders to the taste balance, but that's not to say it wasn't good. Better than most if not any other place where you get filtered I've been to yet. Next on the list (on day two) was Fernandez & Wells (thanks Cakeboy for the recommendation!). They have two locations in the same block that are funnily intertwined, one is a Café, the other I'd call a Bistro. Had a very nice chat to the three guys operating the Bistro and some delicious breakfast! At the Café, the shot I've had was very nice (they use the Monmouth espresso blend), but I've really never seen a barista working so incredibly messy on the grinder. They must waste about double the coffee they actually use! Very interesting style, but hey the coffee was good so I don't complain. Highly recommended, and just around the corner of flat white.


Expect a short writeup about my visit to Square Mile Coffee and the tasting of the Esmeralda, me being challenged in my established views of brewing coffee again (don't you just love that!) and that mysterical pressure profiling device that didn't work quite as well under 232 bars of pressure but James said that 132 bars was just about perfect. Oh and a sighting of the GS/3 in a small café at Hackney road which at that time to me was like an oasis!

Samstag, 26. Juli 2008

Rwanda Nyamagabe

I can't help but just lean back and enjoy this coffee. Every single cup.

More description would ruine the experience. Love!

Montag, 21. Juli 2008

Kenya Gethumbwini Peaberry

I'm sorry to pollute you with my tasting notes, I feel the urgent need to get some more training on developing my taste descriptions and what's the best place for it if not here?

The Gethumbwini was on my wish-list for the most part of the last year, but I never really got around ordering and roasting it. That moment finally came last week and I'm now sipping a cup of nicely brewed Gethumbwini Peaberry, roasted three days ago on my lovely stovetop roaster, possibly a tad bit too dark but still before the first pops of second crack.

This coffee tastes in many ways as I expected it to, which is a nice suprise and means I can start to really trust in my own senses and sensuary memory (I've had the non-peaberry over a year ago and still remember clearly how it tasted to me back then).

Brewed in a Melitta porcelain filter (I really need to rinse the paper filter for longer beforehand), this cup is so bold and so clean at the same time. It has a very blackcurrantlike zing to it and high, pleasantly high acidity. That berry taste is a bit like the Fortaleza which has that notes more in the aroma, whereas the Gethumbwini has it in-your-face in the cup and in the nose. The aroma of the fortaleza I'd describe as more wildberry like, whereas the Gethumbwini is really more blackcurrant than anything else. The body is as bold as you can get through a paper filter, very distinct and not overwhelming at the same time.

Through altering the roast profile I could possibly bring out the blackcurrant a bit smoother and mute the acidity just a little little bit, but I fear that's out of my possibilities with the stovetop thing and reserved for times having a proper roaster. Curious how this will taste in the vacpot!

Update: sipping through my second cup, of which I thought I wrecked up the brewing. But holy cow this is liquid blackcurrant juice, or wait, more like blackcurrent fruit tea. wow.

Dienstag, 15. Juli 2008

Fresh Coffee

A while ago, I wrote about the freshness of coffee. The last two days, friends were coming to taste some of Walter's coffees I told them so much about - the Fortaleza and a blend of Rwanda Nyamagabe and the Guatemala El Bosque (guess where the idea originated from). The coffees were roasted on July 3rd (the blend) and July 7th (the Fortaleza), that makes them 8 and 12 days "old". I won't go into the tasting details today (other than we all got the berry berry berry aroma of the Fortaleza (which I still can't really believe) and a very interesting ... mix of the fruity plus liqourice plus great mouthfeel from the blend), but there's one thing both of my friends said:

"So this is how fresh coffee tastes!"

Both were stunned (at least that's what I interpret into their facial expression). One of them a home barista, one a professional.

Hell yes, this is how fresh coffee tastes and I have to admit that my writings of April last year don't take into account just how crazily good fresh great coffee tastes.

Montag, 14. Juli 2008

Fazenda Fortaleza

Incredible coffee.

Brazil Fazanda Fortaleza (sorry for the poor quality picture, Jessica is in Bristol with all her nice'n'shiney cameras doing amazing things so I only have the webcam to make pictures)

I've had this before, but never with my shiney new old La San Marco. And I certainly would have remembered if it tasted like this one now: it has dark, ripe berries all over from the smell of the grounds to the armoa to the cup - the aroma is incredible, it reminds me of childhood times when my mother made concentrated juice of dark berries and the whole kitchen smelled of it. What a backflash. I was quite surprised initially as I've had this berry aroma before though not as concentrated - in a brewed cup of Kenyan coffee (I don't remember which one, perhaps the Gethumbwini), but never in a brazilian! That berry aroma translated well in the cup, which had a concentrated juice-y mouthfeel and was sweeeet. I'll report back when I'm over that berry taste and try to describe the taste a bit better, but for now it's all berries to me.

neuere Einträge ...

ältere Einträge ...

Made with Django.
Creative Commons License