Thursday, May 31, 2007

From the Bloggle archives : the legend of Kaldi

Once upon a time, in a faraway land called Ethiopia — or maybe Abyssinia, it was a very long time ago, after all — there lived a young goatherd named Kaldi. By all accounts [and there are many, as the story has been retold many, many times] Kaldi was a very responsible young man, and not one to do foolish things.

Every day Kaldi would set his goats to grazing in the hills that surrounded his village, and every evening his loyal goats would return home. This, of course, would suggest that the goats were the responsible parties. How foolish is it, after all, to just turn your goats loose into the hills every morning? But, back to our story…

One evening, Kaldi’s goats did not return home. The young man, no doubt feeling a little foolish by now, searched for his herd all through the night, and as morning broke he found them, leaping and dancing with reckless abandon and apparent glee round a stand of shiny, dark-leafed shrubs with bright red berries. Kaldi took in the scene before him, amazed. He soon decided it must be the berries that caused such reckless behavior in his otherwise responsible goats, and — forgetting everything his mother told him about eating strange foods from strange places — Kaldi sampled the berries, himself. In no time, he too was dancing gleefully with his goats around the green-leafed shrubs.

Soon, we are told, a wise and learned man passed by — an imam, or monk — trudging sleepily on his way to prayer. The imam rubbed his eyes and took in the scene before him — Kaldi and his goats — dancing gleefully about a stand of shiny, dark-leafed shrubs with bright red berries.

Being both a curious and learned man, the imam gathered some of these berries, himself, and on returning home he studied them. In his experiments with the bright red berries, he roasted them, boiled them and sampled the resulting beverage. He shared what he found with the rest of his fellow monks, and soon none fell asleep at prayers! And so coffee spread from place to place, creating a more gleeful, and wakeful, world.

So what of Kaldi? Perhaps he and his goats are dancing, still.

(Many thanks Mr Phelps (photo) and deCadmus (text))

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

BBC Qualifications Report

Belgian Barista Championship Qualifications

Big day for all Belgian coffee lovers. At Bocholt Limburg 14 Barista were competing for a place at the BBC finals in Gent end November.
In this order :
1) François Knopes
2) Benny Smet
3) Dirk Janssens
4) Bert Van Wassenhove
5) Vincenzo Bongiorno
6) Miriam Bijnens
7) Rudy Gabriels
8) Detlev Battiau
9) Michel Veneziano
10) Vicky
11) Patrick Hanssen
12) Jeroen Clauwers
13) Bart De Puyt
14) Rudy Wanters

Lots of new faces. Of course they need some more competition practice, but better performances than expected.
François opened the competition with a blend made by his father who is a roaster in the province of Luxemburg. Tough call to start the event for a 20 year old rookie, but nice job it was.

Then Benny came on stage. 7th on world Coffee in Good Spirits finals last week and a fluent and fast show.

By then it was time to help my Caffènation Barista Bird to get ready for competition. Because of a lack of time we only practiced two 15 minutes shows. It showed. Things were not going all the way we wanted, but good extractions for a first timer. Good microfoam in the Cappuccini and a delicious Sig Drink for which he used two gassed infusions. One with the espressoshots and honey. The other with green tea, vanilla, chocolate, cocos and cream. Awesome. 23 seconds overtime but definitely good enough to advance to this years finals.

For the others i lost track a bit. I saw Detlev’s show. Very good! Besides of a couple of underextracted shots it was a big show to finish with a nougat, pistachio semi cold sig.

Michel is the cool hand guy from Kimbo and Jeroen Lavazza’s trainer and number two last year. Michel looked too laid back and couldn't get the shots running correctly.
Jeroen was his good old self. Good verbal presentation and an experienced Barista show.

And reigning this year semi finals was the Rombouts gang.
With Miriam as 'ancien' and Rudy and Vicky as new forces they gave us a big show.
I couldn't follow Vicky's whole show, but from what i saw she had great milk, a beautiful sig and she worked very precisely. Will she be this years favorite for the finals?

Way better level than last year’s finals and a good prep for the big work next november.
Only two questions : What's going on with the tamping? Almost all participants had coffee sticking to the sides of the filter basket. Throw away those Dalla Corte tampers guys and buy something decent!
And so many underextracted shots!! Is it the machine or grinder they're not used to? Or don't they dare to dose a bit higher?

Bird's shots running smoothly on the Dalla Corte 3-group.

Judge John scooping of foam from a Detlev Cappa.

Coffee Kids Tour Costa Rica

Tour to Explore Coffee and Culture, Nov. 6-11, 2007

ScholarsJoin Coffee Kids for a fun and informative tour to beautiful Costa Rica. This five-day tour will focus on the student scholarship project supported by The Rural Children's Education Foundation (FHC), which helps young students continue their education. On this trip you will have the opportunity to learn how coffee and grassroots community development serve as critical elements to providing families and communities the opportunity to secure a dignified standard of living and hope for the future.

Coffee Kids has been supporting FHC since 1996. Scholarships help defray the costs of textbooks and supplies, transportation, and school uniforms. Since the project's inception, more than 7,000 students have benefited. Many of them have returned to their communities to work as teachers, agronomists or accountants.

For more information or to reserve your spot on the trip, please visit JavaVentures.

Price: $1,295 (Land Costs Only)*

Washing CoffeeOn this trip you will:

  • Meet with farmers to understand how coffee and Coffee Kids support community development in Costa Rica.
  • Observe Coffee Kids and FHC projects in action.
  • Understand the coffee process from tree to cup.

Itinerary Highlights**:

Day 1: Tuesday, Nov. 6 - Arrive in San Jose, capital of Costa Rica, and receive welcome and orientation .

Day 2: Wednesday, Nov. 7 - Visit COOPESARAPIQUI Cooperative to witness a scholarship awards ceremony for local students and then spend the night near the Arenal Volcano and enjoy an evening tour.

Day 3: Thursday, Nov. 8 - Visit COOPELDOS Cooperative for a demonstration of the coffee process from tree to cup, hosted by of the youth members of the cooperative.

Day 4: Friday, Nov. 9 - Spend the day at COOPESANTAELENA Cooperative and learn about a project developed by young coffee farmers.

Day 5: Saturday, Nov. 10 - Visit the SINTERCAFE Coffee Conference.

Day 6: Sunday, Nov. 11 - Return to the United States

* Tour fee includes a donation to the The Rural Children's Education Foundation.

** Price is per person, double occupancy. Single supplement is $350. Itinerary is subject to change.

For more info click on link list : Coffee Kids

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Belgian Barista Championship Qualifications

Tomorrow photo's and a full report about the qualifications for the finals of the BBC 2007, upcoming november in Gent.
Now the results :
Out of nowhere came a fine young lady named Vicky. She was the only one with no last name on the list. Fine with me and congratulations.

1) Vicky 633 !!
2) Jeroen Clauwers 633
3) Detlev Battiau 570
4) Bert Van Wassenhove 570
5) Bart Depuyt
6) Miriam Bijnens 552
7) François Knopes 497
8) Patrick Hanssen 489
9) Michel Veneziano 452
10) Benny Smet 450
And not in the finals, but worthwile mentioning :
11) Rudy Wauters
12) Vincenzo Bongiorno
13) Dirk Janssens
14) Rudy Gabriels

Soon more.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday afternoon cupping

Very busy friday. People stormed in right after opening doors at 9 AM.
Halfway afternoon there was this small dip and one glance at this Cup Of Excellence Nicaragua from Blanche Dael was enough to get us cupping.

First we took on a Colombia Medellin, Medium Roast by AKC.
We have this one as espresso and lungo of the week. It's not every ones favorite, but a good example for what Colombian coffee can offer.
Medellin is one of Colombia's major city's and the coffee with this name from the Antioquia coffee area is one of country's most popular.
What did we taste? Clean and crisp coffee with almost no aftertaste, but nice fruit, medium mouthfeel and a light caramel toffee and bergamot notes. Nice

Then we jumped on a Sumatra. We had on Barismo big discussions on the Sumatra. I think, even if the processing can be irregular, it's always worth to give it a try. If we're looking for a good 100% arabica espresso blend, i prefer working with a Sumatra in stead of a Java or Suwalesi, although i heard they sell Old Brown Java at Hasbean. I can't follow.
Most Indonesians needs this full city roast and that's what we got. Just into the 2nd crack but nothing more thank you.
And the cupping? Very strong. The coffee attacks the taste buds immediately. It's full, dark and complex with a bit of earth and a lot of bitter (walnut like). Great to blend in i guess. We'll surely order some more to play with later on.

Finally a Cup of Excellence on the cupping table.
Last week at the Barista Party at the MmmmH we had the occasion to pick up a small bag of Nicaragua La Carolina.
I don't know why it's that lightly roasted, but we decided to pull a couple espresso shots with the Macap grinder right away.
Not drinkable. Too sourish.
Cupping : Although Nicaragua's better beans are known for their body, this one had little mouthfeel, bits of non ripe fruits and a little touch of flowers. And a very disappointing sour aftertaste.
What happened here?
Maybe i can ask the company as i'm planning to visit them one of the months, together with the city of Maastricht and some of the Coffee Lovers Baristi.

That's it for today deer coffee blog readers.
Soon more about our new Faema E91 3-group and Coffee Fiesta photo's and info. Ciao.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Juices, Java & Jazz

Look at the window and us guys working our a.. off at our newest espresso bar.
Caffènation II - Juices, Java & Jazz at Oever 18 (kloosterstraat).

Besides the all known Caffènation House Blend espresso and espresso based beverages, we also serve Juices, Shakes, Iced T's, Chai Latte, Italian Soda Cassis etc...

This makes 2 specialised coffee joints in our city and a third (no Caffènation) is on its way. So the 3rd wave is hitting Antwerp, finally.

Hope to c u soon monday-saturday : 11-18h or sunday : noon till 18h.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

WHAT THE ....??!!

(photographer unknown)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Latte Art World Championship

This is how the stage looked like 2 hours ago.
I don't have all the names and scores yet, but sure thing is Australia takes the world cup, before Denmark and Russia.
While i was at Caffènation with Sè, James, Anette, Friso, Onno, Jeroen, Kees and many others the competition finished of with a spectacular show from down under Jack Hanna.
Also late on stage, and therefore missed by me, was Denmark. Again a Kontra trained Barista. Not as spectacular as the Australian, but you can be sure the taste was top. Nobody is better in building championship blends than this Copenhagen roasting company.
I'll hope to find some Barista names soon.

I enjoyed watching our German competitor Christopher. Best show of the day after giving the best show on friday eve (party) as well. ;)

Then our main man Peter.
We started working together 3 years ago and step by step we worked our way up in the coffee business in general and championships in particular.
Who would have expected in those days he would ever be on this stage? And this with a fluent performance. Top ten in his first competition ever!!! Lots of risks on the macchiato. Double rosetta, nice try Peter, but i'm afraid you lost a bit on there. More than decent Cappu's and a Sig show performance par excellence. Well done Peter, and well done Benny from 'het leugenpaleis' Antwerp for finishing 7th in the Good Spirit championship.
Team gold was for Iceland.
More news about this wonderful weekend soon.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Barista Party. The day after.

Last night i was so busy talking i forgot to take pictures.
Well, you have to know your priorities of course.

Never expected to meet so many coffee people in my hometown.

It all started late afternoon when Henk, Donar and others strolled in the espresso bar at Hopland.
Then by 10.30 i arrived at the MmmmmH. A tad late yes.

I do not want to write down the names, the list would be too long, but i'm going to make one exception. Finally i had the opportunity to meet James Hoffman who was here yesterday to support his girlfriend Anette, who crowned herself as the new World champion cup tasting - congratulations! and nice meeting you again. James, who will be starting sunday at the Latte Art competition. It was nice chatting and I was most suprised by his fysical presence ; he's tall, even taller then me, mm.

The most popular spot, besides the big beer fridge ;), was the Mirage 2-group. I was happy to see my man Bird taking control over the machine and competing with the others guys. Fun.
And nice to have a small talk with Kees Van Der Westen at the same time.

So, we hope to receive many of those coffee enthusiasts today at Hopland 46. Unfortunately i can't be there, cause starting up the new one, training staff, meeting people. But sunday will be my day of rendez-vous at the Hilton. I'm looking forward.

Congrats to Peter, Peter, Jeroen, Ben, Petra and the others for organizing this great party. Fantastic!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

SCAE COFFEE FIESTA this weekend.

There is a buzz in the streets of Antwerp.
Although today we're not open and very busy working at the new Caffènation, i already had the opportunity to meet participants, from all different country's, for the good spirit, cup tasting and latte art championship.
Hopefully they are going to like the city of Antwerp and the espressi we'll serving them at Hopland 46 or Oever 18. For Hopland we have besides of our House Blend and Mokka Harrar, also the superb Australian Skyburry on grinder.

Again i had the opportunity to meet Paulo and Holger from Dalla Corte who had great news regarding all novelties on the existing and future Mahlkönig and Dalla Corte equipment. And the fact the machinery is selling in over 30 country's worldwide, 2500 a year! Wow, nice start and keep up the good work.

As written on the SCAE site :

SCAE Fiesta Competitions and Conference

May 18-20, 2007 - Venue: Antwerp, Belgium


The SCAE Coffee Fiesta in Antwerp 18 - 20th May 2007 promises to be different, focusing on a number of key elements. You will experience some exceptional coffee days, during which there will be some great competitions, fascinating presentations, and much more. Here are 10 reasons why you must not miss the SCAE event of the year - The COFFEE FIESTA 2007:

  1. PRESENTATIONS - some of the best experts in the field making two very different but equally focused presentations on the speciality coffee market outlook and on traceability, both topics of real interest and a 'must-attend' for all of our members;
  2. WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS - Three Great World Championships. National champions will battle it out to be crowned the world's best. All three competitions are fast, demonstrate incredible skills and are unbelievably exciting;
  3. NETWORKING - One of the best networking opportunities available this year, giving you the chance to meet up with fellow speciality coffee professionals in Europe;
  4. WORKSHOPS - The opportunity to participate in some of the best skill-building workshops available, some of which will be presented by national or world champions;
  5. SCAE AGM - The chance to air your views on the Association and to hear from the Board of Directors on how they see the SCAE developing.
  6. SOCIAL PROGRAMME - The opportunity to enjoy a great social programme where you can meet up with fellow delegates in a relaxed atmosphere;
  7. AWARDS - The chance to see first hand those who made the shortlist and who actually won a SCAE Award for Coffee Excellence within six different categories;
  8. TABLETOP DISPLAYS- Spend some time wandering around the tabletop displays, where you will see some great new products and suppliers, all of whom are dedicated to speciality coffee.
  9. PHOTO COMPETITION - View all the photos entered into our first-ever Photo Competition and see if you agree with the panel of judges.
  10. THE CITY OF ANTWERP - And by no means last, the opportunity to see one of Europe's greatest cities. A city full of culture and history, a great place for shopping and, according to those who know, an unbelievably lively night club scene!
Why wouldn't you be there?
Because they ask a, sit down, €150 entrance fee plus extras for participating in workshops or presentations.
Unfortunately i only have a couple tickets for myself and staff, but with a bit of luck they open, last minute, doors for the championships.

(Thank you Mr. Phelps for another great Flickr picture)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New Faema E91 arrival

This (low res phone) picture shows the situation this morning at 10. A bit later we installed our new E91.
Fantastic of course.
Later on the testing results.

And what did we do with the old one?
We installed it at our new Caffènation espresso bar.
Later on more about this sensational news. :)

For now i'm a bit too tired after another stressful day. Where's my bed?

Monday, May 14, 2007

First Espresso/Week : Barbera Classica

See this empty bag of Barbera Classica.

When Henk from ESW Den Haag comes along for a chat and of course a couple of fresh cups, he likes to bring a present. One day it was a bag of Barbera Classica.

Two years later i'm always happy to add on my ESW order list a couple bags of Barbera. Mostly i'm not so found of Italian big factory Blends, but for the Barbera i'm willing to make an exception.

Messina 1870. The bracing air of early morning is enriched with intense fragrance in via Garibaldi where the little shop of colonial products and tobacco radiate light and aromas onto the street.
On the pavement, Domenico Barbera is roasting coffee in a small roaster, he does this every day with the meticulousness of the Piemontese, which still lives inside him, and with the cheerfulness of the Mediterranean people, which by this time he felt he had become.

Nowadays, Barbera the coffee magician, a joint-stock company since 1978, distributes its products all over the world and boats several certificates and premiums.

But surely the most important award is the unconditional consent of its customers.

Based in Arzano, the fifth generation is roasting this Napoli styled coffee with the same passion as they did the first day 137 years ago.

The taste is full and strong, lots of fruits, a touch of chocolate and it keeps its smell and aroma even in the last sip.
There is only one thing i can't wait for : that's the two bags of the Golden Barbera that are awaiting me for next month.

Espresso of the week €1,60, Doppio and Lungo €2,20.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Steep, brew, sip and chew

On my search on the internet i sometimes heard American bloggers talking about a new style coffee house called 3 cups.
Here it is :
The Courtyard of Chapel Hill
431 West Franklin St.
at Roberson Street
in Downtown Chapel Hill

What's so special about it?
They don't use an espresso machine. In stead of that they swear by the French Press - they call it press pot - and manual drip.
The shop seems to be most definitely worth a visit for all press lovers. I won't say i don't like it, i'm just an espresso man. For me these are two totally different approaches on coffee brewing.
Nevertheless i think this 3 cups format is a good initiative to get people aware of were coffee comes from and what kind of taste it carries inside.

I need to add, on the photo it doesn't seem to be as funky as the new 'Gimme!' in Manhattan. It looks more like an old England tea house. Mmm, why not?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

New (summer) Menu

Every first week of may our summer menu takes over the winter one.

As usual a new fresh colour and new recipes.

The biggest change on the menu is the decision to swop blends.
In the past we used our Master Blend (mainly Yirgacheffe Ethiopia and Santo Domingo Organico) for espresso, machiato, milk based drinks with chocolate and all iced coffee's. And our Italian Roast Espresso Blend for ristretto, cappu's and latte's. Besides of that we use our BIG Ditting for lungo Brazil Santos and Decaf grinding, a Mazzer mini electronic grinder for the House Blend in big cups and a similar grinder for Mokka Harrar single origin on espresso, lungo Harrar and a sig drink with espresso, 12,50 gram of dark Belgian chocolate and cinnamon.

Today we got rid of the Italian Roast and Master Blend, all replaced by our new House Blend, fine grind on a Mahlkonig K30 grinding on demand.
The left over space is taken in by our Macap grinder for Espresso and/or Lungo of the week.

Later on we inform you on regular bases about our weekly specialty's.

New on the menu, besides of the above written, is a nice cioccolato machiato (machiato with 12,50 grams of Belgian Milk Chocolate), Iced Dolce (iced latte with extra cream and cinnamon sugar), Iced Spiced Latte (with extra spicy monin syrup) and the infamous Italian Soda, besides of the Chai Latte omnipresent in most 3rd wave espresso bars.
All to go or to stay.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Monkshead Cappuccino

I saw a very cool Monkshead Cappuccino one of the days. It's incredible, the cool pics you can make with coffee drinks/beans/....
You want proof? Check the Espressobsessed flickr album.
Of course it takes a while to make Monkshead Cappuccino at the level seen
on this site/album. Although we took a shot today.

Nice look, but next days i suppose we need to give the milk some extra rest before the poor to get better binding of the fats. And a double shot for darker colours.
We're also discussing the difference in result by using chimney or glass, and thick or thin cups....who knows may help to create the ultimate monkshead cappu.
Try one yourself, but most important ; enjoy the taste!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Bagels & Beans

Back in the days i was starting up a juice and espresso bar in Amsterdam, i'm talking 7 years ago, i sometimes went to Bagels & Beans.
My own company had a bit of the same image, a mixture of feelgood, low profile, big city buzz at the same time and juices, coffee and a bit of food on the menu.

Later on they were starting up a big chain of B&B shops and i lost interest.

A couple of months ago i met this young Barista at Caffènation. His name is Sietse Van Den Berg, he was 4th on the Dutch Barista Championship a couple of years ago and manager of a Bagels & Beans shop. Because of him and his enthusiasm about their great Panama coffee beans i planned to visit Bagels & Beans on my next trip to Holland.

On Sunday i went to visit friends in Breda and combined this with the B&B shop at the Coothplein in the city center.
Rocky and i ordered a bagel, juice, espresso, ristretto and muffin. I recall really well the first time i drank a Panama Bouquete espresso from the La Tarcoza Estate and liked the sweetness and body, but in Breda there was no sweetness and there was little body. I can't believe the girls, who were really friendly and welcoming, ever had a proper Barista training. It was even hard to spot some crema on the ristretto! A shame for these wonderful Panama coffee they import, if i don't get wrong, with the collaboration of the Golden Coffee Box.
All the rest was very tasty and also very cheap. So i definitely visit them again, but first after making an appointment with Sietse in Den Bosch.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

3rd wave coffee community

That's our wave!
What? Why? Who?
Jason Haeger calls himself a Barista Coffee Guy. He's a young and gifted Texan, who's philosophic way of looking at things opens up eyes.
At his blog i found a nice description of this 3rd Wave. And now i copied it for you.

Jason wrote :

I'm sure there will be people who will read this and think, "Oh God, this has been beaten to death... give it a rest!".

In this case, it's about the title description of this particular blog, and my own questioning of whether it's appropriate.

Let's recap.

1st wave: People are drinking coffee. It's the norm, and life in these United States has never been the same since.

2nd wave: People are introduced to the phenomenon known as "Specialty Coffee". Essentially, the notion that coffee has a gourmet side. Starbucks flourishes, and the Italian word for milk becomes common terminology in regards to coffee in the average household.

3rd wave: Quality is king. People are taking this "gourmet coffee" thing seriously. Microlot artisan roasters begin popping up, the SCAA, the BGA, the Roasters Guild and everyone involved become key figures for the "new" niche industry in which the art and science of quality coffee begins. Among these trends is the triple basket, the naked portafilter, microfoam, latte art, and the infamous ristretto.

Here's the dilemma. The 3rd wave was described by the industry as the time in which we "let the coffee speak for itself.". What I see is something else. I see taking a coffee, and forming it to fit the concept of what quality coffee, at the time, is accepted to be.

I notice a new wave of progress within this "3rd wave" niche community. Updosing is the new old-school. Light roasting is making its way back to just in front of the curve. Last but not least, the growers are in the game, playing ball with the rest of us. Many would argue that this is all part of the 3rd wave.. sure. For a few, but it wasn't in the volume or growth of what I would personally call a "wave".

Tiny farms are being rewarded for their hard work through the efforts of coffee auctions such as the Cup of Excellence, and others are taking notice. The concept of "Quality as the primary means of success" has trickled down to the earliest stages of the chain.

And beyond that, single origin espresso is no longer exotic. It's almost the norm for great baristas everywhere. Light roasts enhance the work of the grower, and allow the coffee to really showcase what it is, before the flavors of the flame over-ride the dizzying array of non-coffee flavors present in the green. Green coffee flaws, while still present, are MUCH easier to avoid for people like me. You just have to know where to look, and there is an increasing number of options popping up.

There is the formation of a group within this niche of people advocating quality, and more importantly, absolute honesty in the cup. While those really pushing this practice forward have been called "young guns", its practice is most accurately defined by one of the oldest guns in the North American Specialty Coffee Industry.

There is also the formation of a group of home espresso enthusiasts with a strong tendency to make everything technical and scientifically complex, to the point of, in my opinion, diluting the artistry and basic skill involved and associated with the craft.

The only problem I see, is that the 3rd wave has not finished its initial progression, and yet, here is a 4th wave forming in its crest.

Here in Lubbock-land, the 3rd wave is almost non-present.. and you can just forget about the idea of a 4th wave.

While I think that my part of the country could use a healthy helping of 3rd wave mentality, I'm not sure I should imply that I am helping to progress the third wave, especially since I have a tendency to side with the "young guns" in the search for green quality and absolute honesty in the cup, and constantly progressing towards what appears to be a wine-model approach to coffee in the green state... even the notion of "vintage" coffees.. the same idea, but far from the same practice.

There has not been a stopping of motion between the 2nd and 3rd waves. It seems to me that it was one big motion, just a change of direction, or a vector shift.

At what point does the 3rd wave end, and the 4th wave "begin"? Here's a thought.. when did the second wave end... Now, when did the 3rd wave begin?

I surely going to follow Jason in the future.

(3rd wave flickr photo by Dogmilque)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Championship practice

Today practice for the upcoming semi finals of the Belgian Barista Championships in Bocholt May 29.

Ingrid of Schuilenburg, the company delivering the awesome Dalla Corte Machine and Mahlkonig K30 grinder, planned a full day with Manu Demets, organizer of the BBC, and all 17 participants of this year's semi finals.

Unfortunately Jessie couldn't make it, so Bird and i were racing for an evening session.

As usual Manu was in a good shape, explaining all rules and techniques in detail and answering all questions immediately.
The most astonishing thing was how he could read the weaker elements in our blend just be seeing the crema.
It's true we got, due to price pressure and limited choice in beans, a couple weak elements in our House Blend, but never i expected them to come out that hard is it happened tonight at Schuilenburg on the Dalla Corte's.

After scoring weakly on tamping on last year's Championship finals i raised the question what's seen as a good tamping technique.
Oh my god, why didn't someone explain this a bit better before. After one year and a half of practicing and rumbling i finally saw a couple of extra do's and don't i can work in our way of tamping. What's the pressure? Where to knock? How to keep straight? Why polishing?

Thanks Manu for all extra advice. And thanks Ingrid for your helping hand all day long.

A very informative meeting and ideal moment for Bird to master the machine and training on typical championship details/techniques.

Let's get ready for action!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Barista jam NP 3 - report

We had three times 18 persons over on three sunday mornings in the month of april. Three non-professional barista jams. Not only for the participants, but also for us it was a great time and learning experience.

It was striking to see the people bowing over my coffee world map. Maybe looking for area's they've been visiting themselves or in search of the exact location of the Harar area.

It was great to see their faces after tasting a clean house blend shot, very fanatically hoping to find all tastes promised by us.

It was a bit of a surprise how few people ever saw how green coffee beans look like.

And what it means of having medium or dark roasts. How beans crack, evaporate and change looks and taste over time.

We were enchanted about how willing they were to take stand behind the machine for tamping and steaming advice and practising.

Haike, Marco, Tim, Stijn, Dieter, Bo, Walter, Myriam, Benno, Kurt, Fré, Frank, Geerte, Saartje, Karl, Thomas, Eric and Michael. Thanks for coming and hopefully you learned stuff you'll never forget. Spread the word and our goal to get people in Belgium drinking better coffee comes closer and closer and closer and .....


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

And the Dutch winner is ...

Not so much information available, but sure thing is Louis, owner of 'Café De Blonde Pater' from Nijmegen, did it again. If there's one person who knows what a championship is all about, it's him. Number one and two are again Louis' pupils.

1) Liesbeth Sleijster
2) Liane Van De Braak
3) Yakup Aydin (restaurant 't Jagershuis)

At the same time Friesche Vlag also offered milk for the Latte Art Championship. We know Rose Van Asten her fabulous milk texturing and pouring technique and she demonstrated these again with winning the competition.

I get a bit confused by all the mixed information coming in, but if i don't get wrong it's Rose who's heading to Tokyo for defending the Dutch honour at the WBC. Good luck.

Last but not least there was a special medal for Henk from ESW (who also delivered the necessary La Marzocco machinery). Well deserved if you ask me. Congrats Henk.