Monday, July 30, 2007

World Barista Championship 2007 Competitor Showcase MTV

Thanks ZacharyZ and James H.for bringing the WBC via this blog to Belgium.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

My own coffee plantation

What do you think about my first coffee tree?
Click on the photo to enlarge it and you'll see it really is a coffee bean germinating. Incredible!

In my early days of blogging i visited Viva Sara Coffee Company. Peter gave me 2 coffee plants and some cherry's. All my efforts to have plants growing from these beans failed.

Then 2 months later Michel from AKC gave me a couple more cherry's from their tree and .... bingo.

I do not know anything about it, but with a little bit of luck it's going to grow and grow and grow.
We'll keep you posted.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Barista news

Next week is the big week you fellas.
World Barista Championship or WBC.

Monday presentation of the 50 (!) candidates.
Tuesday and Wednesday competition.
Thursday big finals, for the 6 highest scoring competitors.
Favorites? Hard to tell. I don't know who's competing for all different country's, but at a first glimpse it's Norway, Great Britain, Canada and Iceland for the title.
Here, you can click for the pdf (not complete) list.
And our Belgian participant?
Peter Deprez has been training as a madman last weeks. He's way better prepared than last year and in a good day top 20 would be fantastic. His Signature has the credo 'why not' and that's the right way of looking at it i think. His beans selection is not public yet, but i hope to have it posted soon. Or Peter can comment us directly if he wants to.
Good luck Elder, James, Rose, Tasos, Peter and others in Tokyo.
For more info : click here.

Meanwhile i'm planning my holidays for august.
En autre Paris pour un weekend, avec la byciclette au long de la Seine .
En Nederland, 4 dagen.
And Stockholm at the end of August. Curious if i can catch up with the people from Espresso Specialisten for Teflon Partafilters, Presso tamper or other Barista tools.

This week i've been drinking AKC Indian Mysore A, Tazza D'oro and Eustachius straight from Rome, Costa Rica Tournon EState HTM, Panama La Tarcoza Estate Bouquete and right now on Chemex, from Stumptown, Ethiopia Misty Valley Idido. Not a bad week uh?

Soon more posts about my coffee plant finally germinating, the Stumptown beans, Espresso Porn Pics and the fantastic Costa Rica espresso of the week.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Latte Art, the sequel


Look closely at the froth of this cappuccino.

Also check the latest post on FUN

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Thai Starbucks: Wawee Coffee

One prime example of Chiang Mai's coffee culture.
(flickr photo from Ididu)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Chiang Mai and the high rise of Oriental Espresso

If you think coffee, you think Seattle or Copenhagen or London or ...., but Chiang Mai Thailand? Not directly.
Fact is that Chiang Mai's cafe culture and coffee production is creating a buzz.

Want to know how 'developed' a country is? Don't waste your time confusing statistics, but simply look at how much coffee it consumes. The top coffee-drinking country's in the world also enjoy the highest standard of living, while those who eschew the brew come in at the bottom of the list.
To be fair, this is an overgeneralisation and highly unscientific. Yet there is the past in which we saw that coffee drinking did a lot of good the people and their community. Is it a concidence that Microsoft and Starbucks both came of age at the same time, in the same city of Seattle?

Coffee not only gets the brain going full-tilt, but it is a vehicle to connoisseurship ; like fine wine, art and complex music.

Chiang Mai, that disarmingly city in northern Thailand is certainly on prime example of the above stated 'theory'.
Aside from a breakneck boom in five-star and boutique hotels, cutting-edge restaurants and bohemians art galleries, the town is advertising its ambitions most evidently in the explosion of a domestic coffeehouse culture.
Where five years ago, 'fresh coffee' meant you had just broken the seal on your jar of Nescafe, today you can't wander for more than two minutes without spying a flashy new coffeehouse, or even just some humble little espresso machine at a roadside shack.
Happily, unlike some other Asian cities, Chiang Mai has steered its upward momentum with a ginger style that has come typify what makes the town so appealing to visitors.

Starbucks made their appearance in the streets already a year ago. And where the Seattle-based chain has often been known for the way how they build up their espresso bars next to the small coffeehouses and eventually running them out of business ; it looks like the opposite is happening now.
Wawee, 94, Cafe Nero, Smoothie Blues, Bake and Bite, Kopitam and others are full of costumers, while Starbucks hosts far less, primarily rich Thais from Bangkok and foreigners who are bound by brand loyalty.

Besides of the fast rise of espresso bars we also see a very productive coffee bean production, with local, mostly fair trade, brands like Duang Dee, Doikham and Kocth. Specialty coffee picked and processed and roasted it the same country you drink it ; this opens huge opportunities... and definitely worth a visit.

(inspiration and information from Oliver Benjamin's article for Fah Thai Magazine)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The truth on fresh

Nearly all of the coffee, even at coffee retail shops, is stale.
The good news is that stale coffee is drinkable if you've never had truly fresh coffee.
Talking fresh coffee, I'm not talking about coffee that has been roasted in one or another factory. And definitely not ground! Once ground, even packed vacuum, pads, pods or in capsules, the taste evaporates very quickly. We notice already a really big difference after 5 (five!) minutes.
The bad news is that once you've tasted truly fresh coffee, you'll be forever hooked. It will make you giddy every time you go to make a pot. Tingle right down to your toes. Reverberate around your head like a funky aura. That's because coffee, just a few days out of the roaster, is nature's most flavorful drink - more complex than even wine - containing well over 900 flavor compounds to dance on your taste buds. But after a few weeks, you'd be lucky to see half that number.

How do you know if coffee is stale?
Simple test : If it's bitter or flat, it's too late. Coffee is actually know by connoisseurs as a 'sweet' beverage. But shush ... you're not supposed to know that. And who doesn't want you to know? Coffee companies who make their living on convenience. And yes, believing that freshness is as simple as slurping air out of a coffee container, is convenience.

Truly fresh coffee is a pain cause you have to order it frequently.
First you have to find it though. And then try to have it week after week fresh and unspoiled.

(flickr photo by sirwiseowl)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Antwerp Barista goes Home Barista

It was about time.
Pullling shots at home.
Bought me this vintage 70's Pierre CArdin Styled Gaggia via Ebay. €42!!! You see, it's still possible.
Not sure how to get the best results with this mini lever. The taste is almost ok, but it lacks crema. Someone can help me out?
And the demoka is slow, but with good results.

You're all invited.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Is Cold-Brewed the 'hottest' iced coffee?

Think Coffee
Think Coffee in Greenwich Village employs the cold-brewing method for its iced coffee.

I read this article a while ago on the net.
Curious about this so-called new way of making iced coffees i started to experiment.

Cold brewing asks for cold water in stead of warm.
You let the coarse ground coffee soak in the water over a night.
Then you filter it and the result should be a full and sweet tasting cup/glass of iced coffee.

Knowing my regular problems of instant brewed iced coffee's i was interested to give it a go (see photo).
Next to it i made another jug with the same technique, except with warm water.

The day after i filtered the coffee with a Chemex filter added a couple of ice cubes and tasted both (house blend) iced coffee's.
Besides of my planned Gimme and Grumpy bar visits i need to go to Think as well i guess, cause my cold-brewed iced coffee was not very tasty.
The warm-brewed iced coffee on the other side tasted just as described : full and sweet. Also full caf yes, but as a warm summer morning or afternoon drink this can't be a problem.

As i said before it isn't always easy to prepare large iced coffee without milk. The problem is you need a lot of ice cubes or ice cream to cool down the hot espresso. With this system you give it a night to chill in the fridge. So more work up front, but faster once prepared.

Later on the week i made me a jug Yirgacheffe iced coffee and that was - as expected - even better.
Then a glass with a bit of milk and bingo.
Nice idea for coffee of the week.
Now it's only a matter of waiting for the sun.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Danger Dan at Cafe Grumpy New York.

There is only one city.
And in this city ... there's Cafe Grumpy. And sometimes Dan.

Don't forget to pay attention to :

- those two fantastic Clover machines, the first at the East Coast.

- the coffee ; a Kenyan Geisha, family from the original Ethiopian Geisha coffee bean and infamous after last two years Panama winning farm La Esmeralda had top record biddings on their bags. At the fantastic Stumptown website you can find an interesting article about this bean. Click 'Source trip', then 'Africa' and then scroll to 'Malawi : the search for the elusive African Geisha continues'.

- the New York street atmosphere. Grumpy is located at Chelsea. Unfortunately they were not yet existing the years i found shelter with the Strafella's at 16 street between 7th and 8th, but soon i'll be back for a (dangerous) coffee break at the big apple, promised!

Cool new espresso maker

Image Gallery (2 images)

Making a well-extracted espresso coffee should be a simple process and the Presso espresso machine is certainly elegant in its simplicity. Despite the many variables that go into a good brew such as water pressure, temperature and the grind of the beans, the ideal machine should be reliable and robust, with moving parts kept to a minimum. The Presso meets these criteria by using an entirely mechanical design based on leverage that by-passes the reliability problems often associated with the use of electric pumps in smaller consumer oriented espresso machines.

The key to a good espresso is for water, not harsh steam, to be forced through the coffee to preserve the delicate flavor without burning it. The result is not excessively bitter and features the desired fine ‘crema’ layer on the top. Typically this is done via an electric pump - all very well for a large commercial machine but for a home unit, moved frequently and built to be light, the number of moving parts can present reliability problems. This is what makes the manually operated Presso mechanism a very sensible option.

The mechanism can be compared to the ‘coffee plunger’ or ‘French press’ (designs that have also undergone innovative revamps in recent years) with the difference being that instead of moving the grounds down through the water, Presso is similar in function to a commercial espresso machine. Heated water for this unit is drawn from an exterior source meaning no internal boiler is required – this increases the longevity of the machine as such boilers are prone to tainting over time but on the downside, you still need to get the hot water from somewhere.

UK site

Monday, July 9, 2007

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Coffee and liver cancer

Can coffee reduce the risk of liver cancer? According to findings published in the medical journal Gastroenterology it can. "Data on potential beneficial effects of coffee on liver function and liver diseases have accrued over the last two decades," states Drs. Susanna C. Larsson and Alicja Wolk, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

11 studies involving 2,260 liver cancer patients and 239,146 individuals without liver cancer showed that for every 2 cups of coffee per day, the investigators observed a 43 percent reduced risk of liver cancer. Coffee contains large amounts of antioxidants, such as chlorogenic acids that have an inhibitory effect on liver cancer.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Barista Jam NP 4

Lijst van deelnemers op onze vierde Barista Jam Non Professionals.
Worden zondagavond te Hopland 46 verwacht om 17u45 :
Jelle, Ingrid, Klaartje, Joris, Luna, Jeroen, Jan, Louis, Eline, Bert, Peter, Sabine, Kristine, Philip, Steven, Marjon, Matthias, Karen, Hilde en Soner. Big group, good group.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Junior Barista Training

Rocky Bergami in action.

Is this a future Barista Champ demonstrating a new tamping technique?

She is my future, that's for sure.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Lungo of the week : New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea Sigri is our coffee of the week.

In the title we write lungo, because the roast is on the light side to pull perfect espresso shots. Only acidity amateurs find their pleasure in drinking it short.
I hope to find a possibility to taste it at a darker roast soon, cause this year's crop of the Sigri was very well rated at our cupping table.

Mounthfeel : Strong, very pleasant, caffeine high.
Acidity : Low, woody, reminds us of the better Sumatra's.
Flavor : Also Indonesian styled, wild, ceder wood, sweet spiced nutmeg-cardamon, musky.
Aftertaste : Clean, sweet herbs.

Cupped by Noömi and Roberto, July 2 2007

Coffee Harvest Pictured

Information on how they pick the cherries, dry them and stock the bags.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Where is our street gone?

This is how our street Hopland looks like.
First they do the piping and later on they give us a brand new street with wider sidewalks etc...

It sounds unbelievable but we didn't pull less shots due to the works. Everybody is that addicted?

Today was the first day of Sales.
Of course the boutiques in our street were not so happy. There was visibly way less traffic because of all these works.
For us it was full house. Those first two saturdays of sales we always feel there is some extra movement within our clientele.

Espresso of the week is a 100% Kenya mixture. It's from a small coffee company from Den Bosch, Netherlands. They're called Kilimanjaro coffee and only go Fair Trade.
Mostly the Kenya is too acidic for me, but with this dark roast they give it, there is much more balance. And strenght!! Poewa, this blend kicks in!

This last photo is from some concrete the workers used for the sewer drain. I looks like they show me all respect with writing my name on it. ;)