Sunday, April 29, 2007

Coffee Kids Foundation

Coffee is, after oil, the second most traded commodity in the world. But so many people working in those coffee origin country's do not have enough income to give decent education or basic needs to their children.

Daisy, our senior female Barista at Caffènation, had this fantastic idea to use a part of the tip jar, for charity. Now it mostly goes to our daughter Rocky, but there are so many children in the world who can use some extra support, so we decided to donate 25 dollar a month to Coffee Kids.

COFFEE KIDS has helped thousands of children, women, and men in coffee-producing regions in Mexico and Central America to improve the quality of their lives and build more sustainable communities. Founded by coffee roaster Bill Fishbein in 1988, Coffee Kids is an international nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. The staff works with local non-governmental community organizations in Latin America to create education, health-care, training, and microenterprise programs for coffee farmers and their families. The projects respect the cultural integrity of their local partners, foster independence, and promote long-term self-sufficiency.

What is Coffee Kids’ mission?
To improve the quality of life for children and families who live in coffee-growing communities around the world.

Via a link on our blog you can follow all their activities.

Hopefully people appreciate the action by leaving a bit of the change in the tipping jar and so maybe we can in the future increase our donations.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Coffee Fiesta Antwerp

From May 18 till 20, Antwerp is going to be Europe's coffee capital.
The SCAE organizes plenty of coffee championships, workshops, etc ...
For all those who are interested, here's the program for the most spectacular event :
Latte Art Championship
and the official SCAE website.

And don't forget the party!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

And the Danish winner is ....

Again James and his articles on his website inspire me for writing this article.
The world Barista championship is coming closer and more and more country's present their participants. Next monday we will know the Dutch champion, but last weekend we had the Danish finals. Very important knowing this country's barista is immediately one of the favourites for the world crown.

1. Lene Hylddahl (695 points)
2. Soren Stiller (644 points)
3. Marianna Jonsdottir (590 points)

For the first time ever we got a female winner in Denmark.
Lene is owner of the 'Behag Din Smog' espresso bar and works with a by Dupont roasted Estate Blend, worldwide known as the roaster who helped Klaus Thompsen win the WBC in 2006 . Estate coffee is taken over the number one position Kontra had for several years.
The weird thing with both roasters is that i prefered Estate when i was in Denmark, but at home i had way better results with the Kontra mixture.

Congrats Lene and good luck in Tokyo.

For more information and photo's about the Danish championship :
(Flickr photo by King Seven)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Thesis Thomas vragenlijst

Vorige week had ik het voorrecht om een avondvullende babbel te doen met Thomas, naar aanleiding van diens thesis - emoties, ervaringen en herinneringen in de waardeketen. Voor een stuk Apple - ja, ik ben een fan, Starbucks en als tegenhanger ook Caffènation zijn onderwerp van onderzoek.
Het was voor mij een openbaring om na een kleine twintig jaar als (part time) marketeer een gesprek met een expert ter velde te kunnen hebben. Veel dingen die bij mij vooral onbewust kwamen en waar ik nooit diep over nagedacht had, werden me ineens zeer duidelijk. Andere dingen aangaande lopende en toekomstgerichte zaken kregen een ander licht en gaven me een beetje het gevoel dat Thomas die avond zo'n beetje mijn 'marketingpsychiater' was.

Vandaag vraagt Thomas of er Caffènation klanten zijn die mee willen werken aan een kwalitatief onderzoek naar Caffènation ervaring en door hun ervaringen mee te delen een bijdrage zouden leveren aan de kwaliteit van de thesis.
Doen zou ik zeggen : deze jongen is baanbrekend werk aan het verrichten.

klik hier

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Faema E91

As we look at our current Faema E91 (3-group) i ordered a new one today. The same, but new.
Why Faema? What makes the E91 so special?

At the beginning of the 90's, Faema appointed Giugiaro Design to create a product which could recall the prestige and success of a legendary model in Faema's industrial history : the E61. Advanced technology with extra attention on steaming, temperature control and reliability, that was the goal, and so the E91 came to light.

Today Faema introduces E91 Ambassador SE (Special Edition), but that machine review is for next month.
Our old, revised, E91 is a very strong and reliable work horse. And the company Faema is an ideal partner for those who look for good professional advice and follow up.
There is very limited electronics and no digital stuff, great! It all sounds wonderful to hear what those new machines can do, but the more they can, the more they break down.
At the same time we live in Belgium. With all those lungo and tea drinkers we can use a big boiler, and 17,5 liters is big. It's also thanks to this big boiler that we got this steady temperature. As long as we flush well before every shot, i see very little temperature fluctuations.
The biggest disadvantage i see is the steaming part. Due to the incredible power, getting microfoam is quite a challenge. Now Ronny (Faema's rep for Antwerp) gave me some new steaming tips to do some testing. I'm curious and keep you guys informed.

To finish of i want to give you our daily credo :
We do our best, and Faema does the rest. (free translation of the dutch : "We doen ons best en Faema doet de rest".

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Road to work

One week a year i find on my way to coffee heaven, also known as my work, a pink street.
The street in between the old palace of justice and the all famous Brasseurs restaurant is one of the streets i bike through almost every day.
Always a nice moment when nature colors the streets pink.
A princess pavement to make my little girl Rocky jealous.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Barista jam NP 2 - report

Last sunday another jam for coffee lovers, non professionals.
It's great to see them dripping in one by one. A bit nervous, curious about the event, craving for a good cup of black liquid gold.
Present : Rick, Ben I and II, Björn, Julie, Hannah, Noömi (a new professional Caffènation Barista in the making), Staf, Jeanine, Bart, Geert, Ellen, Johan, Wouter and Marcel.

It was almost the same two hour routine, but this time in good health, thank God.
I spoke in our first report about the first half of our jam, this time i'll go a bit deeper into general brew techniques and milk texturing, with cherry on the cake ; latte art.

To show people how a good shot looks and tastes like we briefly talk about our three most important elements in extraction control ; weight, grind and pressure. This i always need to repeat more than 5 times throughout the class. Most people still think it's the machine that controls the flow. Of course partly it is, depending on the bar pressure and type of machine, but our most important tool is our grinder and then our hands.
I showed them how we train ourselves with a naked filter, to pack the coffee this way we control the flow of the (lazy) water.
Then we show underextracted and overextracted espresso. This is sometimes a bit difficult. It is easy to give the coffee a faster or slower run, but with our clean machine, fresh coffee and grinding, the crema still looks almost ok. To top things of we pull a state-of-the-art-espresso of the blend of which they just cupped the four components. Only a look at our first photo (taken by Ellen) gives you an idea of how enchanted they were with the result. Me too. Bird as well.

Milk texturing. First we show them a classic wrong foaming technique, where we stretch up the milk from 4 till like 80 degrees. All bubbles, too hot and a very light foam.
Then a correct one. Half a pitcher of cold milk, 3.2 fat %, stretching till 45 °, binding till 65-70° max and, don't forget!, tapping the can, give it some resting time to make the milk a bit fuller and rolling (is this the correct English word?) the foam to keep it all together.

To finish of some latte art, etching, question and do-it-yourself. Fun.

Again a perfect sunday morning start. Great people, sunny weather and good coffee, say no more.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Stumptown coffee roasters

I started seeing the name thanks to their incredible ads in barista magazine.
From time to time you hear about their topclass roasts and brewing techniques.
Today they are the topbidders at the Colombia cup of excellence auction.

Colombia auction results

Somebody's passing by Portland one of the days to buy me a bag of Stumptown?
As a warming up you can start to check their fantastic website.

(Stumptown flickr photo by hummanna)

Monday, April 9, 2007

Latte Lingo for Dutch speaking, deel II.

Na in het eerste deel de warme milk based drinks terminologie onder de loupe te hebben genomen, is het nu tijd voor een woordje uitleg over de andere koffiespecialiteiten.
Let op : bereidingswijze en benamingen kunnen verschillen van land tot land, merk tot merk, Barista tot Barista ; geen exacte wetenschap dus ....

We beginnen bij het kleintje : de RISTRETTO. Meer een Siciliaanse specialiteit. Dit is dit kleine bodempje, 2cl, ultra straffe koffie, een nectar bijna, restricted! Het is echter wel zo dat sommige bonen zo het best tot hun recht komen. Een perfecte ristretto is voor de Barista niet altijd even makkelijk om te zetten. Meestal wordt het kopje na een seconde of 15 onder de loop uitgehaald. Ik geloof echter in een volledige extractie en dus veel en fijne koffie in het filterbakje voor de tragere doorloop. Hier heb je wel een heel krachtige machine nodig, ander komt er gewoon niets uit of is de cremaontwikkeling ondermaats.
Verder omhoog met de ESPRESSO (3cl) of de koning aller koffie's. Dit is het klassieke shot dat er op kampioenschappen gezet wordt. Niet enkel als 'straight/clean shot', maar ook als basis voor de cappuccino en signature drink.
DOPPIO ESPRESSO. Doppio staat voor dubbel, 2 espresso's in 1 cup dus. Sommige speciaalzaken als Espresso Vivace Seattle serveren enkel dubbele, geen enkele, omdat ze geloven dat de perfecte flow enkel bekomen wordt met een dubbele portafilter. Bullshit vind ik, maar dat doet er nu niet toe. Persoonlijk geef ik wel geen enkele espresso's mee in Take Away, wel dubbele, en dit voor temperatuurtechnische redenen ; een enkele espresso in een meeneembeker zit al onder zijn correcte temperatuur vooraleer ie je smaakpapillen bereikt.
Er zijn voor ruige kerels als Hugh Jackman en John Travolta in Swordfish ook drankjes als triple espresso, maar da's meer voor de show dan wat anders.

Dan komen we bij de LUNGO aan. Lungo betekent simpelweg 'lang' en dat zegt al iets. 12 tot 18 cl koffie, smaak en textuur al naargelang zetwijze en/of koffieboon. Wereldwijd meestal gemaakt door 1 of 2 espresso's bovenop een deels met heet water gevulde kop te zetten, maar onze 'lage landen techniek' is veel beter vind ik. Aangepaste blend, branding en vooral maling en dan de juiste extractie zoeken. Kan heerlijk zijn en heeft t.o.v. de espresso het voordeel dat zachtere, scherpere bonen beter hun smaakpallet weergeven zonder dat de aciditeit gaat overheersen. Vele Amerikaanse (zuid - latin - caribes) blauwere bonen missen body en kracht voor een espresso, maar we kunnen er wel een lekkere grotere koffie mee zetten. Ook via andere zettechnieken als Aeropress, Clover, Chemex, French Press of reguliere filter.
AMERICANO : ik bezie dit als een doppio lungo. Grote mok dus, een doordrinker, waar je net zoals bij een lungo, melk en/of suiker naar believen toevoegt. Let op de doorlooptijd! Deze zet je met een dubbele portafilter of met toevoeging van heet water aan een reguliere lungo.

Dan de Iced Coffee's :
2 grote delen. Je hebt, 1, de gefrappeerde, waar , al naargelang techniek, de melk, ijs, zoetstof en espresso geblend worden. Deze heten meestal (zie o.a. Starbucks) FRAPPUCCINO, FRAPPE LATTE, ...
En je hebt, 2, de niet gefrappeerde iced coffee's, die, met behulp van ijsblokjes, eventueel roomijs, zichzelf koelen. Meest gekozen namen hiervoor zijn ICED CAPPUCCINO (ong. 25 cl), ICED LATTE (ong. 35 cl) en, zeer populair, ICED MOCHACCINO (met chocolade dus en ongeveer 35 cl).

Dus vooraleer aan de slag te gaan als de klant je een Café Frappé of Iced Coffee besteld, vraag wat ze in gedachten hebben of stel je eigen drankjes/favorieten voor.

In Italië krijg je soms nog andere namen op je bord gesmeten, als Frapperiato, Shakeriato en zo, maar ik zal het maar op de Amerikaanse benamingen houden.

Bestel er nu in je lokale espressobar maar op los zou ik zeggen. Schol!

(coffee reflection photo by HaniAIYousif)

Espresso Bar Stories

As is most public places people meet and strange meetings happen.

Last month we had a drunk. Not the first drunk ever off course, but this was a special one.
The look? Leather jacket, greasy black hair, 45 years, drunk. The smell? Alcohol.

It was a saturday afternoon 2 o'clock and he was polite when he ordered 'a coffee'. I was a bit afraid of having him at the big table with the other customers, and that was the direction he walked up to. Luckily his chosen chair was a couple feet away from the others and he kept his mouth shut. Because of this man's peaceful glow i was not really afraid for any bad things to happen, but you never know.
Ten minutes later he waggles, with a half cup and a cigarette in his mouth corner, back towards me and the bar, sits down and asks if we do not sell anything alcoholic? "No". At this part of the bar it is not allowed to smoke, but it didn't want to argue so i allow him to do so.
Then he finishes his cup and he comes at the cashing, gets a 2 euro piece out of his pocket and asks : "Can i ask you a question?" I am curious about what's going to happen. "Yes, off course"
"Can you tell me where i am now?" he asks.
I give this question a small thought, while i see a couple of other people following my conversation with this odd man. As far as i could judge this man and his question i answer : "You are in Antwerp, Belgium", which seems to be the right answer. "Antwerp?!" he yells, meanwhile almost losing his balance.
So, i ask him, since i noticed from the first second on he was dutch : "Where you from, Amsterdam?" "Yes," he said, not even wondering how i guessed it right. "You want to go back to Amsterdam now?" was my next question? "Yes, yes," he stumbles.
So i tell him, if he needs to get to the train station, how to walk. It's a very easy walk from us to (the most beautiful) train station (of the world).
"Oh yes, well thank you," he answers, waves his arm and walks zig zag his way out.

People all thought this was great fun after all and i could go back to my usual routine of orders, espressi, small take, jazz, iced cold tea's and other Saturday rituals.

(photo by Thomas Hawk)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Conillon is coming

Read an interesting article in the latest C&C I (Coffee & Cacao Intern.) about Brazil's mega crop in prospect. The coffee industry around the world is waiting for confirmation of the likely size of Brazil's 08/09 crop. This crop could push world stocks back up to close 60 million bags, and restore the stocks to consumption ratio to the highest for 3 years.

Most interesting part of the article is the finish. I'll copy it for you.

Beans are responsible for about 60% of the retail price of coffee in Brazil, which compares with the 20 per cent beans form of the retail price in developed countries. Packaging, logistics, marketing and profits account for much more of the retail price in the developed world than they do in Brazil.
The relatively low price of coffee in Brazil- which also ensures that few roasters make much of a profit - has allowed consumers to buy superior types of gourmet, or premium beans, in the past few years., despite the fact that such types cost several times as much as the more traditional blends.
Until very recently, these activities were confined to states which produce mainly Arabica beans, namely Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo, but with the increasing popularity of Robusta beans, of the Conillon type - of which about 10 million bags are now normally produced in Brazil each year, the majority in Espirito Santo State.
Winters tend to be damp in Espirito Santo, so beans cannot be left outside to dry naturally, as they can in most places where Arabica is grown. Farmers dry their coffee in rotary drums, which are heated by wood fires, and until recently, wood smoke has often passed directly over the beans, which has affected their taste and quality in the process.
More recently, however, new techniques have been adopted that ensure that only the heat - and not the smoke - passes over the beans. The results have been spectacular, so much so that many of Brazil's most experienced tasters have found it almost impossible to distinguish a well prepared Conillon from an Arabica!!!
Not unnaturally, this news has been welcomed by farmers growing Conillon, which costs only half as much to produce as Arabica, and which, as a result, has become increasinly popular in recent years. About 40% of the beans used by roasters in Brazil nowadays - and in many other countries - is Conillon.

What do we see at this picture (Flickr photo by Joagy) above?
This is how its done in the Phillipines. Coffee cherries are laid out to dry in a garage (though people in the provinces dont have cars and use them for this purpose), on the roads (just like rice), basketball court or in this case their 'backyard'. Crude but effective.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Barista Jam NP - report/verslag

This is the report of last sunday's Barista Jam Non-Professionals.
Cause all participants are dutch speaking (as a first language) i will change language. For non-dutch readers : enjoy the pics.

Evert, Elisabeth, Kwient, Christophe (-5min), Vincent, Els, Katrijn, Patje, Vincent, Thomas, Isabel, Karen, Erik & zoon - jong geleerd is oud gedaan, Teddy, Marianne, Jensz en Jeff.
Niet alleen iedereen was op de afspraak, er waren er zelfs enkelen meer. Niet te geloven! Toch niet voor een stad als Antwerpen, waar het niet makkelijk is iedereen, en tijdig, op de afspraak te krijgen.
Een goed begin dus.
Ondergetekende sukkelde met een stevige keelonsteking, en meer, en was dus maar als te gelukkig om een stuk van het werk te kunnen overlaten aan deskundigen Jessie en Bird.

Na een kort stukje espresso-geschiedenis konden we ons over mijn pas veroverde koffiewereldkaart buigen. Hierop is duidelijk te zien waar in de wereld welke koffiegebieden bevinden. Plus een korte omschrijving voor de verschillende continenten hun meest typische koffiebonen en smaakkarakteristieken.

Vervolgens een inzicht in verschillende soorten groene en gebrande bonen en daarop aansluitend het waarom van 'Cupping'.
Voor een modale koffiedrinker lijkt dit een ver-van-je-bed-show, maar oh nee, ik vind het van essentieel belang om de iedereen te laten inzien hoe er wereldwijd koffie gekeurd en geproefd word. Cupping is een zo belangrijk onderdeel in de koffieketen dat het een goed ding is om het een keer naar de consument toe te brengen.

De cupping was zo opgevat dat we twee vliegen in een klap konden vangen. Eén, het onderscheiden van smaak in verschillende soorten bonen van verschillende continenten. Twee, een ontleding van een blend en te zien uit welk een verschillende onderdelen/bonen deze bestaan en hoe deze mekaar aanvullen, met na de cupping de mogelijkheid om te proeven hoe de som groter is dan het geheel der delen.
Het was een genot voor het oog en oor om al deze mensen te zien en horen slurpen en spugen. Brazil Santos, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, El Salvador Picacho en als laatste een donkere branding mix van Robusta-Java-Latin. Variatie troef dus, en dat konden zelfs minder geoefende tongen proeven.

Over hoe het tweede deel er uit ziet zal ik in het verslag van onze tweede Jam melden.

Ja, de eerste Jam was een succes. Iedereen vond het heel leerzaam en amusant. Het heeft hun ogen geopend over voor professionele Barista's evidente dingen als extractietijd, aciditeit, microfoam, temperatuurcontrole, tamping, .... .
Ik kijk nu al uit naar de volgende sessie.
Worden verwacht zondag 15 april : Rick, Ben, Björn, Julie, Tim, Stijn, Flore, Ellen, Hannelore, Carmen, Johan, Jelle, Lobke en Marcel. Goede mix voorwaar! Schol.

How is McDonald's doing?

Friend of mine just came back from London and reported me the city was one big Starbucks, Nero, Costa Coffee and Mc Café.
I said : "Mc Café?"
Ben : "McDonald's coffee"
"Oh yes, of course" - all in dutch

They are putting incredible effort to get the people back from Starbucks to where they came from, as a matter of speaking.

The last time i was in New York i noticed already a lot of empty mc do's and packed sbucks, and that's 4 years ago. Reminding me of the Big Apple, i think it's time to visit my favourite city again.
Time for the real questions now :
Why should we go drinking coffee at McDonald's?
Do they have Barista's?
Do they serve their espresso's in a decent (no paper) cup?
Do they have sofa's?
Ever heard Miles Davis through the speakers?
Is the La Marzocco well adjusted?
Do they have the right beans?
YES, or maybe. At least they seem to put any effort in there. In the States i heard are projects with Paul Newman Coffee, who doesn't have such a bad reputation and it's a fair trade.
And now McDonald's UK has announced that it will be sourcing all of its coffee from farms certified by Rainforest Alliance (RA). All 1200 restaurants in the UK and Ireland will sell Kenco coffee, a Kraft Foods high-quality Arabica coffee containing 100 per cent RA certified beans.
I may hope they soon have positive answers on the other questions as well, international and national.
By the way : did you notice the Belgian colors on their cups?

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Up to date.

Due to bad internet connection, a whole lot of work and illness i haven't been able to post some new articles this week.
Don't give up, i'll be back this week, with an article about our first Barista Jam Non-professionals, more Latte lingo and hopefully a couple coffee bean reviews.
My neighbour bought himself a small Solis espresso machine. We have a look at it soon.
Plus an article about the preps for Jessie's and Bird's run for the pre selections of the BBC. Mmm, interesting...!