Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ethiopia 2015

Yes, i'm back.
Due to hard work and the fact i put all my writing energy in my coffee book, - should be written by the end of next week...- i didn't do some blogging for a while.

There was a lot to talk about though and one day i will.

But today we stick to Ethiopia.

As you all know, we are big Ethiopia coffee lovers. About 35 to 40 procent of our annual coffees come from the birth land of arabica.
But not so this year.

Why not?
Well, because of 2 reasons.
The first one is the price. For years Ethiopian coffee has been price way below the value. Last year we were able to buy top notch Ethiopians (cupping 86-88 points!) for 5/6 euro's a kilo. This year we pay 8 for the same quality. On our total volume this means easily 40000 euro's of extra costs if we would stick with the same type of coffees and prices. Seen the fact some of the Ethiopian coffees goes into blends on which we have less margin, we had to replace them with some with more conventional Ethiopia or other origins.

Second reason is very simply, because of the quality.
It isn't difficult to find a good Ethiopian, but very difficult to find a superb one.
Main reason is the lack of acidity (and floral touch) in the cup this crop year.
For espresso roasting it's a relatively easy affair. We need less acidity. And so we bought a good amount of Sidamo's this year - Guji, Conventional, ...
But almost no Yirgacheffe.

We are in September and finally we have a couple of very nice Ethiopian coffees entering the warehouse. Hunkute, Biftu Gudina, Suke Quto Pulped Natural.
Again no Yirgs, but quality it is. Although very expensive. 11 tot 13 euro's a kilo. This almost sounds like Cup Of Excellence coffee prices.

Probably the Specialty Scene finally found the tasty stuff and this raised price.

Hoping for a better crop and more Yirgacheffe's next year.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Blogging News

Never been blogging less then this month.
But there are good reasons for this.
First of all i've been bloggin about all our new singles on this blog :

And secondly I'am writing a coffee book.
Sorry for the English minded, cause i'm writing it in my mother language, Dutch.

When and what will be known soon. :-)

Any news for now?

Yes of course.

We think Guatemala is the nicest origin for this summer.

We are working hard to get our EK43 ready for pulling our clean espresso shots soon. It is sooooo different and our machine doesn't have the newest software yet, so it'll need a while before we can give it a go.

New staff at Caffenation that needs to be introduced.

New art at our walls soon. By Ana Jaren.

New Caffenation Dealers. I need to update our site. 7 real dealers ready by August. That's a lot!

An article in the pipeline about the incredible Pullman Tampers - unbeatable!!

And some info on other new gear...

See you soon. Nice Holiday's.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mister LGB Summer 2015

We have equal parts of 
Ethiopia Sidamo Guji grade 1
Guatemala Huehuetenango Finca Isnul
Costa Rica Tarrazu Monte Canet Estate

All 3 washed coffees and each one of them specially picked for a good reason:

The first part is from our favourite coffee origin Ethiopia and a super clean grade 1 pick. This Sidamo grown coffee has low acidity and an excellent mouthfeel. The Guji came in First place in our Top 5 Espresso ranking 2014!
The Costa Rica Monte Canet is another Caffenation classic and it's 4th year already. The coffee has lighter body, but more brightness and fruity tones.

The Finca Isnul was is the Mr LGB Spring2 already and well appreciated for its spices, body and low acidity. This bean binds the two other coffees to ensure stability in the cup.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Chemex : Where it started and where I am now

More than 8 years ago this post was my 5th ever.
Meanwhile a lot of things happened and both coffee and Caffenation are now in a totally different phase.
But the Chemex is still there. What happened with it after all those year though?

8 years ago the Chemexes i bought were probably unique in Belgium.
And i started to make my coffees with this brewer time after time, to end up ... frustrated. I could not understand what to like about the Chemex, except for its look.
Of course in those days, (filter) coffee brewing was a new experience, and a totally different texture and taste than the espresso, lungo or americano we were used to drink.

When in 2009 Scott Rao launched his book with a big chapter on extraction ratio's, we were all quickly understanding this would change our view on coffee dramatically.
And at the same time he was so negative about the Chemex, the whole 3rd wave coffee change was shaking on its feet.
Read this very interesting discussion on, between Rao, Thompsen, Hoffmann, Piccolo and others.

After my negative experiences prior to this discussion i gave my Chemex to a friend. I was on the side of the non-believers.

Bit by bit the Chemex became more popular - see this photo underneath from a popular Horeca shop, Hanos, that stocks the Chemexes today, to my surprize - and bit by bit i was ready to restart experimenting with the brewer again.

And here is when it all starts to become more interesting. Most striking in this whole story and discussion is that we did not specify enough what type of Chemex we used. When checking out the 6 and 8-cup Chemexes i noticed an enormous difference between these big ones and the 3-cup Chemex, i started with in 2007.
If you would use approximately the same pour over technique on both models - stating both the 6 and 8 cup are seen as the big model - the outcome is very different.
The Small Chemex is extracting shorter and give way less body and bitters and more acidity.
The Big Chemex is slower, with more body, sweetness and less acidity.

In general i found the brews from small ones very often under extracted and the big ones over extracted.
As most people i forgot about the small ones and started training on the bigger version.
Very often the problem was that it started of really well the first 2 minutes or so, but then we had 2 problems to fight with. One was the fact the Chemex is sucking itself vacuum too fast. Having the triple layer of filter on the pouring side was helping a bit.
Second and biggest problem is the fact - and here Scott Rao is right - that too much of the coffee grounds got squeezed in to the bottom part of the filter and this is not capable of letting the water through fast enough. All the coffee and water is sitting there and with some bad luck your extraction quickly goes up to 5, 6 minutes or more.

Best tips to avoid over extraction is to grind coarser but most of all not using this brewer for large brews. I know it looks like you can make 0,6 up to 1 liter of coffee with the Chemex, but don't go there. To my opinion it is not capable of brewing stable when you go over the 0,5 liter mark.
But even staying low is not always helping and way too often my Chemex brews are unstable. Over the years i have been cursing so often at it, i started to loose my trust in them.

When a couple of years ago Hario launched a similar type of brewer, the V60 Dripper Decanter, i had, on my first usage, the cup right where i wanted it. That was the day i gave my 6-cup Chemex to a friend.

With no Chemexes in the house and less Chemexes around it felt like we could bury the discussions we were in for over 7 years.

In 2014 we were called in by the famous and one of a kind restaurant In De Wulf in Dranouter Belgium to have a look at their filter coffee.
I was deeply impressed by the chef's cooking skills and we helped him with his coffee at his Superette resto project in Gent. But the filter coffee i had at In De Wulf 2 years prior was not to my liking. Old coffee, dark roasted and a brew that lost all of its freshness by keeping it too long in the pot.
Now they were ready to serve 3-cup Chemex, with fresh roasts from Mok and/or Caffenation.

Ok, so Jens from Mok, Valentine from Superette - who organized this project! - and me were testing some coffees in Small and Big Chemex brews.
And i was pleasantly surprised by the small Chemex brews. It had less dept and body, but great refinement and freshness.
I  noticed at Caffenation, and we follow a bit the world wide trend on this, we make our espresso's stronger and more complex and our filter coffees lighter and more refined, over the last couple of years. I don't want to judge too hard on other desires or preferences, this is just how it feels right to us; it is a personal thing.

Now we are 1 year into brewing Chemex at this great restaurant and we have the 3-cup back on the shelf in our shop and on my own kitchen work table.

So almost 8 years it took to finally embrace this awkward looking coffee brewer with funky filters.

I feel that there's still a lot to experiment, but this is the way i work with the 3-cup now :

Folding the filter is still the same way as i always did it, although i put more pressure when folding it.
Then you have to brew with a minimum of 300 grams and a maximum of 360 grams of water, of which appr 15 grams stays in the grounds at the end of the brewing cycle.
I heat up the water to 90 degrees in a kettle with a fine spout.

Of course i rinse the filter paper first, meanwhile heating up the vessel/brewer.
Then i bloom with 10% of my water and leave it for 15" blooming.
Then i pour half of the water slowly in circles in the middle of the filter.
When it lowers a bit i tend to slowly add the rest of my water. I always stay in the middle.

This morning i had a total brewing time of 2 minutes and 30".

Conclusion : The Chemex is very nicely designed coffee brewer that can be the perfect tool for your coffee at home, work or in a professional environment, but it's a tricky one.
Your grind, water temperature, ratio and pouring technique need to be just right, to get the all the nice things in your cup and the bad out of it.
First train your taste buds, then your brewing skills and this could work out just fine.

If you feel it's too much of a hassle and complicated, you better go immediately to a Hario V60, Kalita flat bed, Aeropress or even Clever dripper.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Inspirational vid

With good old Jean and a sparkling Isabelle. Next stop : Gothenburg.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Flat White 2015

This is what i wrote 3 years ago :

All over the world the Flat White is on the rise. There are a lot of different recipes and stories about this drink, but all around i see the double ristretto based cappuccino, size approximately 18cl-6oz, becoming the favourite drink of the new generation.
The 1 oz espressoshot became a double ristretto, very strong, high on acidity and very siropy. The milk is fresh and steamed at +/-60 degrees. The mugs mostly brown or white and from Italian origin. The equipment is somewhat more flexible

And what do we see now april 2015 : The Flat White is (almost) the most dominant drink in the Specialty Bar in the big cities in Western Europe.

The figures are up. We prep 5 times more FW's than 3 years ago and it's closing in on our number 1 drink 'the cappuccino'.
We still use 20cl cups - Nuova Point.
The milk is super fresh milk from a local farm - Hollebeeckhoeve.
And the coffee - mostly a tad too acidic to drink clean - more concentrated (we use 3,2 cl double shots). This gives us a way better mouthfeel. Water and milk are enemies and the less water we use, the better the marriage between both. And an improved mouthfeel.
Also we get a darker coffee which gives us more contrast in the Latte Art. Yes!

Wanneer je groene koffie te kopen? (Dutch)

Het is vrij moeilijk om te zeggen welke koffie wanneer op zijn best is.
Een oogst kan wat vroeger of later uitvallen.
De koffie kan minder goed bewerkt of verpakt of bewaard zijn. 

Bijvoorbeeld in de winter blijven onze 'groene' bonen (dus ongebrand) langer op smaak dan in de zomer. 

Maar het belangrijkste is toch de origine.

Wanneer je start met een boon waar meer smaken in zitten is het logisch dat er ook meer over blijft. 
En sommige origines houden gewoon langer hun smaken - meestal komt dit door betere processing.
Ons grootste nadeel is dat we starten met heel clean cups die we ook licht branden en dan subtiel zetten. Dit betekent een koffie die een pak zuiverdere smaak heeft dan we in de markt gewoon zijn, maar waar je ook de fouten snel in terug vindt, en dat kan bv de veroudering zijn. 
Wanneer dit gebeurd spreken we van 'woody' flavors. 

Kenya en Ethiopia kan je meestal tot 1 jaar bewaren nadat ze verpakt zijn. 
In Latijns of Zuid Amerika blijven Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala en soms Mexico lang goed.
Brazilië - veruit de grootste producent ter wereld met 40% aandeel - is middelmatig. 
Colombia en Indonesië bewaart, uit mijn eigen ervaring, het slechtste. De te snelle en slordige processing ter plaatse lijkt de voornaamste oorzaak voor dit fenomeen....

Hier een overzicht wanneer we welke origine kopen, over een jaar gezien :

Eerste kwartaal vh jaar (dus januari, februari, maart) : 
Ethiopia en Kenya van hun Late Harvest/Fly crop van het vorige seizoen.
Rwanda en Burundi zijn dan heel vers.
Brazilië Late Harvest. 
Panama lukt ook nog en meestal krijgen we ook een prima Indonesische koffie binnen. 
Colombia piekt nu. 
Tanzania kan ook werken als ze ginder weer niet te traag zijn. Deze origine wordt ook snel woody.

Tweede kwartaal :
Feest met de komst van verse oogsten uit Ethiopië en Kenya!!
Vanaf mei komt ook Costa Rica en Guatemala binnen.
Colombia blijft interessant omdat ze het hele jaar door oogsten. En nu nog grote volumes. 
In juni komt nieuwe topoogst Indonesië toe, maar specialty volgt later pas. 

Derde kwartaal : 
Ethiopia en Kenya op volle kracht.
De rest uit Latijns Amerika komt toe : El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, ....
Makkelijkste kwart vh jaar.

Vierde kwartaal : 
Nieuwe oogsten Peru en Brazilië landen. Maar niet makkelijk om daar tasty koffie's te kopen. Om verschillende redenen.
Panama blijft heel interessant.
Nieuwe oogsten Burundi en Rwanda komen mogelijk al toe tegen einde jaar. 
Mexico wordt het laatste geoogst en kan prima in vierde kwart.
Heel cleane en goed verpakte Latijns Amerikaanse koffie's kunnen nog zeker.
Ethiopië blijft scoren en de laatste jaren kochten we onze beste Kenya's het laatste kwart. 
Ook alternatieven uit Zuidelijker gelegen Afrikaanse landen kan nu : Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia.