Today i planned to meet lovely Isabel for a quick break in Flanders seconds biggest city, Gent.
Just outside Antwerp i passed by my roasting friends from AKC to pick up samples :
Ethiopia Djimmah, Brazil Cerrado Perla Estate, a Colombia Supremo, French Roast mix of Santos, Costa Rica and Java and a couple of others. Soon at the cupping table.
And a couple boxes of prime coffee beans : Old Brown Sumatra, Honduras Monte Cristo Estate, Indian Mysore A, Papua New Guinea Sigri and Puerto Rico. Soon in our grinder.
Serge, the co-owner, just came back from Brazil where he visited several farms and cupped some amazing stuff, so we’re eagerly waiting for those great Daterra and other pearls.
Rendez vous at this small coffee house with the name Barista. They offer Viva Sara coffee on La Cimbali and Mazzer equipment. This can’t go wrong you start thinking, but the espresso missed presence and detail and was a tad too large with medium dark crema. Not bad for Belgian standards though. Peter Deprez, our representative for Tokyo can be proud of the products and knowledge he and his family delivered, but there’s room for improvement.
Then it was time to wander around the old city center. I have to admit Isabel is a top class guide. We quickly passed by this must see Wallpaper store Priem to pick up another roll of vintage vinyl paper for her daughter's bedroom.
To celebrate this we moved on to Mokabon. This very old fashioned, dark and noisy place is the best known and most visited coffee house in town. The atmosphere is very unique, but don’t expect any top quality coffee. A bit comparable to Antwerps’ Cuperus, very old fashioned with still dozens of people a day who come over for a half pounder of fresh desert coffee beans.
Better coffee beans at Simon Levelt. This well known Dutch Tea and Coffee supplier, active since 1817, opened up this very nice coffee store with a very wide choice of non electronic brewers, espresso machines, tea’s and coffee beans.
7 different single origins on the shelf. Although i wasn’t sure of the freshness and a roast on the light side i couldn’t resist to buy me three bags :
Guatemala Alta Verapaz, known for it’s vulcano underground.
Nicaragua Finca El Limoncillo, shadow grown.
Brazil Fazenda Lambari, organic bean from the Novo Mundo Estate.
I told this fine young lady behind the counter (sorry i don’t have her name) about my ongoing search for fine coffee and wrote her down this url. She was very enthusiastic and as a true magician she conjured up this white bag of coffee as a present. Fortune Coffee, the secret of China.
I while ago i met a guy who couldn’t stop talking about this wonderful golden triangle area in the West of China, where they harvest fantastic coffee, and his brother was managing some farms. Since then i was in a search for a sample of China coffee and so today i found this very rare bean. Exciting and thank you very much.
We still had two more hours to relax, enjoy the sun, eat and start dreaming about all the cupping and brewing that’s awaiting me the following days.
To be continued .....
A University of Toronto study has shown that there is a genetic basis for caffeine-seeking behaviour.
While stopping short of calling it "caffeine addiction," researcher Ahmed El-Sohemy said men who possess certain dopamine-receptor genes experience an elevated mood after consuming a caffeinated beverage.
The study was based on 600 students from the University of Toronto who were asked to document their reactions to caffeine and provide samples of their blood.
Men who experience this elevated mood seek out caffeine to continue to feel elation. Those who don't report elevation of mood might be less vulnerable to caffeine dependence, Mr. El-Sohemy said.
The same genetic link has so far not been found in women.
Mr. El-Sohemy, a nutritional sciences professor who holds the Canadian Research Chair in Nutrigenomics, said the gender differences were puzzling and require more investigation, but are not entirely surprising. It might be linked to the differences in how women process dopamine compared to men. It is also well known that women metabolize caffeine at a much slower rate than men.
The 600 subjects were asked to rate how they felt within 12 hours of consuming caffeine. Mr. El-Sohemy wanted to know whether subjects felt an elevation of mood and increased energy. He also wanted to know whether, after 48 hours without consuming caffeine, the subject experienced headaches and nausea and felt irritable.
The blood samples were also analysed to look for certain genes related to dopamine, a chemical in the brain known to affect mood.
Mr. El-Sohemy found that 22 per cent of men with a particular form of the dopamine receptor gene experienced an elevated mood after consuming a caffeinated beverage.
More than 60 per cent of men with a different form of this gene reported the same kind of mood elevation, which Mr. El-Sohemy described as a "fairly big effect." He still has to figure out what other factors influence whether or not men experience an elevated mood.
Fifty per cent of women who consumed caffeine reported experiencing an elevated mood after consuming caffeine, regardless of the version of the gene they possessed. The research was funded by Canada's national Advanced Foods and Materials Network.
Mr. El-Sohemy said there has been an ongoing scientific debate as to whether there is a biological basis for caffeine-seeking behaviours. The World Health Organization recognizes that people can be dependent on caffeine, whereas the DSM-IV, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, does not.
These results may provide a genetic explanation as to why some people become dependent on caffeine and others do not.
(Flickr photo : Starbucks addict)