Thursday, September 27, 2007

Triangle Cupping

Triangle cupping is the type of cupping done on championships.

The basic idea is you have three bowls, or glasses, to cup. Two of them are similar, one stands out, and that's the one you have to pick.

Anette Moldvaer, who won the world crown at the world championships in Antwerp earlier this year, told me it's all about practicing. So, i followed her advise and threw it into our staff social last Sunday.

These are the combinations i had on the table :
Honduras A against B. I did not have the exact region.
El Salvador Picacho against Costa Rica Tournon.
Sumatra Mandling against Sumatra Lington.
Kenya AA against Zambia AA.

From the 15 participants, there were only 2 who had 4 out of 4. And Anette is right : it were the two guys who did some practicing. Luckily i was one of them, although i need to train myself harder if i want to make a chance at the Belgian Championships November 21 in Gent.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New York Times slide show.

From cherry to cup : click the cherry.

From Cherry to Cup

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cupping Event Staff Social

Twice a year we try to get the group of staff together for some fun after working hours. This time i combined it with some cupping and latte art competition.
It's going to be a post in 4 parts, to start today with the regular cupping.

A large row of top class espresso beans at Caffènation this week. I thought it would be a pity not to invite some extra friends to this happening. One of the friends was also my sponsor, Jazzy Jeff, who is here on the photo with Daisy, and laughing with the kopi luwak and the whole idea behind this coffee resting on his spoon.
The whole list :
Kopi Luwak Indonesia (the all famous 'shit' coffee)
Sul De Minas Brazil
Herbazu Costa Rica (the one James Hoffmann took with him to Tokio)
Sumatra Lingtong (from Hasbean)
Australian Mountain Top (from Hasbean)
Indian Peaberry Bold
Kenya AA Top Superstar (from AKC and our espresso of the week, whoewaah!)
Pedra Preta Brazil (Terroir)

Later on the evening some more side cupping, but that's for another post.

The reactions? Very divers. Although the reactions were most positive on the Kenya and that Sul De Minas from Caffé Del Doge, i wrote about a couple of days ago.
From my side i had to notice the most of the beans were picked for espresso preparation and therefore often on the heavy side. The Indian came out better than expected and the Kopi Luwak was not worth the price, but it was a very good clean cup. On Monday we pulled one small and a couple big coffee's with it. Very very tasteful. Medium body, sweet, good balance, well dosed fruit and a super clean finish. If someone can make me a decent price for this one i'm willing to buy some bags.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Coffee for Dummies Down Under

The dummies' guide to coffee

5:00AM Monday September 10, 2007
By Jennie Milsom
Auckland flat whites usually contain a single shot of espresso whereas Wellington is generally a double shot city. Photo / Mike Regan

Auckland flat whites usually contain a single shot of espresso whereas Wellington is generally a double shot city. Photo / Mike Regan

Fed up with with extra foamy cappuccinos or scalding lattes, which taste of burnt milk? Top barista David Huang spills the beans about what we should expect from our daily caffeine fix.

What to order ... flat white, latte, cappuccino?

A flat white is a single shot of espresso, with steamed milk and a thin layer of foam. A cappuccino has a thicker layer of foam and is sprinkled with chocolate or cinnamon. A latte, usually a double shot, is milkier than a flat white or cappuccino and served in a glass with a small head of foam. A short black is a single or double shot of espresso and should have a distinctive reddish-brown crema on the top. Serve it with an equal amount of hot water, in the cup or on the side, and it becomes a long black. A macchiato is a short or long black, topped with a spoonful of milk foam or a short pour of steamed milk. Piccolo lattes are mini lattes made from a single shot of espresso and steamed milk.

How hot should it be?

The temperature of the coffee should be around 60C. If it's too hot to drink, chances are the milk's been over-steamed.

Why is some milk bubbly and frothy?

Because the barista added too much air during steaming.

And the beans?

They should have been roasted within the past two weeks and freshly ground to order.

How long should my coffee take to arrive?

Up to five minutes if the cafe isn't busy, ten minutes if it is. After that, tell the barista you're waiting.

Any regional variations?

In Auckland, a standard flat white or cappuccino has a single shot of espresso. Wellington is generally a double-shot city.

*David Huang co-owns Espresso Workshop, opening next month in St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell.

- Detours, HoS

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sul De Minas : Weed coffee

Cupping with the friends.

We had two Sul De Minas Yellow Bourbon on the program.

First one is one from Caffe Del Doge. A Venetian Roaster with lots of specialty's. I can't find back more information about the one we had, but it was stunning.
It starts with the smell : Weed. Dutch weed, grass. I have nothing against smoking 'fun cigarettes' but are not doing it myself, but i know the smell, and that's what we had here.
The bean was a Yellow Bourbon Peaberry from Sul De Minas, i didn't even know these type peaberry existed over there. Italian Roast.
Lots of body with weed. Sweet acidity with light lemon notes. Very good binding with a bit of bitter and grass/jute aftertaste, but clean.
Very strange indeed, but everyone liked the shots we pulled. And so came in Henk from ESW who admitted we had that afternoon the smell of a Dutch Coffee House.

The second one was a George Howell product. A Cup Of Excellence winner from Brazil Sul De Minas : Pedra Preta.
Heavy Indonesian styled smell. Very prominent mouthfeel. Light citrus and stone fruit acidity. Very well balanced. Chocolate aftertaste. Clean. Heavy on the tongue.
It lost some points on the cooling down. It lost the balance it had and a not so pleasant taste of burnt caramel and spiced biscuit took over.
It scored 87, which is lower than the 92 COE score, what can be seen as normal due to the age of the beans.
Unfortunately no time for espressi from this one.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Kid From Brooklyn Starbucks

Already a couple of months i had this video in the waiting room. Today it's time to post the Kid from Brooklyn. Hilarious.

Another Jam

Alexander looking at Pieter and Thomas.
One of the immortal moments at our 5th Barista Jam Non Professionals, and the last one in this current form.

Very nice bunch of coffee amateurs last Sunday at Caffenation.
A bit of history about the espresso, coffees of the world overview, information about the harvesting, processing and roasting, cupping 4 different varieties, cupping overview, espresso extraction theory, milk texturing, latte art and etching.
Our newest force Thomas was a very good helping hand. And my hand is that one on the photo, holding the pitcher. ;-)

This Sunday we have a staff social with some cupping (kopi luwak, Costa Rica Herbazu, Brazil Yellow Bourbon COE Pedra Preta, Sumatra Mandling, Kenya AA and many others) , triangle cupping, a blind latte art contest and some more fun, fun and fun.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Tonx-Intelligentsia article : Latte art in LA

absurd latte art challenge

My pal James Hoffmann, who recently won the title of World Barista Champion, has thrown down the gauntlet for some equally silly barista shenanigans. His absurd latte art challenge is attracting some interesting entries, the best of which will be up for voting very soon. The exact prize is unclear, but the glory is irresistible for some. I got the privilege of photographing Ryan Wilbur of Intelli L.A.’s fully-absurd submission today.

ryan wilburs absurd latte art challenge">

barista porn.

Devin makes the sacrifice for Ryan’s art, now immortalized in jpg.

I’ve heard several baristas speak of this idea in the past, but this may be the first time its been done. Ryan’s canvas was provided by fellow barista Devin Pedde, who is recovering nicely. I took many photos of the stunt which can be found on Flickr. Some of them might even be considered a bit racy!

I stole this blog from
Thanks guys.
At Intelligentsia Los Angeles coffee sometimes gets a whole new meaning. Not only in terms of taste, but also in looks. AWESOME.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Championship practice : The Cappuccino's

This is my first article about our road to the championship finals.

At the end of November, Flanders Expo Gent is hosting this lands best Barista's. One of them is Bird, and i'm training him, as good as i can.

For me there are a couple of very important things to train.

First the blending. In our case it's done by me. As you all know i'm constantly on the lookout for some good beans, perfect roasts and tasty blends. We still don't know yet what it's going to be, but with dozens of new beans arrived at Hopland this week we soon find out which one to use.

Second we have the presentation. Bird is verbally good, but doing this presentation, wired in front of a professional jury, camera and audience, it's a different ball game. I think we have a good idea about the lines now and he's ready to start rehearsing these as often as possible.

Third the clean shots : 4 Espresso's. We talk about that next time.

Fourth the signature drink. We talk about that after next time.

But for today : The cappuccino's, il cappuccini.

Last years finals i was the only one with a full latte art attempt. Because the competition tables are very low and my own table very high, i decided to train myself the free poor. I saw James doing it in Bern and gave it a go.
Because my hands were too shaky i ran into trouble. As you can see on the photo, a lot of spoiled milk and half finished patterns. Even more : i surely lost the title there. A shame.
Now for Bird it is going to be a bit easier.

A guy who is used to pull a couple hundreds of rosetta's a day ....

So we went to the practicing tables last weekend with the question : shall we do it with one big 1 litre pitcher or two smaller 0,6 litre ones?
Almost everyone is getting for the second option. I saw Rose Van Asten in Bern using only one big one and that looked pretty good to me.
The advantage of one is that, with this amount of cold milk, it's less likely to stretch big bubbles.
Another advantage is the speed. One will be faster than two.
And a third one is the temperature. With two pitchers you risk the first two cappuccino's cool down.
We decided to go for one big pitcher for four cappuccino's and after two successful efforts we're confident this is a courageous but wise decision.

The result is shown on the picture above : 4 almost equal and very tasty cappuccino's!

The cups : some Walkure 6oc/18cl. The ones we use all day. Nowadays we see these competition cups getting smaller and smaller to stimulate working with more delicate and sweeter beans. I expect our blend will be strong enough to confront this amount of milk though.

New York Times article

I noticed this article on the shotratings site. Very nice piece of (coffee) journalism. A must read.

Today’s New York Times featured an article on how the upper echelon of coffee roasters pursue the finest cup the world over: To Burundi and Beyond for Coffee’s Holy Grail - New York Times. Introducing a number of America’s celebrity roasters, including Stumptown and Intelligentsia, the article touches on some of the key tools of today’s trade: direct trade, professional coffee cuppings, and coffee tasting competitions such as the Cup of Excellence.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

One day at Caffenation

Some nice examples of coffee's we serve on days like last friday.

Beautiful latte art, a special macchiato and an etched honey.

All credits to Bird to achieve this nice level in coffee art.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 16 Barista Jam NP

The last Barista Jam Non Professional in its current form.
End of September and October we do two cupping nights and after that we'll try to bring in some new items in the Jams.

Again i had no problem at all filling up the list. Thanks to the blog i also met nice people from other places than Antwerp. They were very enthousiastic to attend this event.
Welcome next Sunday at 17.45 hours :
Geert, Bart and Bart, Julia, Lorin, Linda, Siska, Johan, Bianca, Olivier, Christophe, Machteld, Gilles, Viola, Danny, Aline, Francis, Kris, Alexander and Maggy.
I look forward.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Coffee Puck (Dutch)

One of the main objectives of this blog is to obtain a higher level in espresso making in Belgium and The Netherlands and for this public i'm going to write this article in my mother language; Dutch.

Coffee puck is een Engels woord, zoals we zoveel Engelse woorden gebruiken in de koffiewereld. Koffiekoekje lijkt me het meest passende Nederlandse woord.
En een koffiekoekje is wat er uit het filterbakje moet vallen als je de piston/handgreep/portafilter uitklopt.
Het koffiekoekje dient vlak en volledig te zijn en je kan aan de hand hiervan zien hoe je extractie verlopen is. De foto boven is een koffiekoekje van een eenloopsportafilter en weegt droog een 10-tal gram. De vraag is nu natuurlijk hoe deze te bekomen.

Laat ons beginnen bij het begin. Verse koffie, vers gemalen. Of nog meer terug in de tijd : het juiste filterbakje. Doordat er in het algemeen, meestal al vanuit het fabriek, te grote filterbakjes meegeleverd worden beginnen we al met een probleem. Een standaard voordosering in een koffiemolen is maximum 9 gram. Wij bij caffenation gebruiken voor een enkele espresso ongeveer 10 gram, en werken dus nooit standaard met de voordoseringskamers van de koffiemolen.
Maar om dan een extractie (doorlooptijd van het water) van ongeveer 25 seconden te bekomen voor een 3cl espresso is er vanzelfsprekend een erg fijne maling nodig, wat dan weer impliceert dat bij een te lage dosering (gramage) je koffie erg diep in de basket/filterbakje komt te zitten. Op zich klinkt dat als geen probleem, maar nu gaan we even kijken hoe een espressomachine en zijn water werken.

Er zit een enorme kracht achter een professionele espressomachine. Door de lagere afvulling krijg je, na het indraaien van je piston/portafilter in de groep/machine, een ruime scheiding tussen de oppervlakte van je gemalen koffie en het zeefje/dispersion sheet. De pre infusie (het lekken van wat water doet de koffie zwellen) geeft wel meer volume aan je koffie, maar als je koffie dan niet voldoende aansluit met het zeefje (onderkant van de grouphead) dan gaat er door de enorme kracht van het doorgestuwde water de gemalen koffie fel omgewoeld worden. Hierdoor gaat het water een vrijgeleide krijgen en de makkelijkste doorgang zoeken doorheen de gemalen koffie. Dit resulteert meestal in een minder volledige smaak en te korte extractie.
Problemen qua smaak dus en je zal het zien : veel natte drab en zeker geen koffiekoekje bij het uitkloppen van je koffie achteraf.

Hoe dan wel?
Stap voor stap een duidelijk voorbeeld van een mooie opbouw tot een perfectie extractie, met als eindresultaat een puck par excellence.

Zowieso werken we met een portafilter die nog in de grouphead zit ingedraaid. Dit voor de warmte. Als er nog een vorige puck inzit, des te beter : je grouphead zal hierdoor een betere starttemperatuur hebben.
Je klopt het filterbakje leeg. Met kracht klop je het filterbakje op de rubberen (of houten) baar van de afklopbak. De portafilter komt op de baar neer net naast het midden van het filterbakje, zo valt de inhoud mooi in je afklopbak.
Dan gaan we het filterbakje proper maken door middel van een doek. Hiermede vegen we alle oude koffieresten weg en ook krijgen we een droog filterbakje, wat maakt dat er bij de volgende afklopbeurt minder makkelijk gemalen koffie aan de filter blijft kleven.
De molen laten we, a la minute, koffie malen. Niet te veel, niet te weinig, maar wel vers! 'Klik, klik, klik', we halen de hendel van de koffiemolen over en vullen het filterbakje. Met (propere) vingers verdelen we de gemalen koffie gelijkmatig in het bakje. Het gemakkelijkste systeem is de dosering zo te doen dat je het volle bakje gelijkmatig afstrijkt met een rechte vinger. Dit doe je boven de afklopbak of boven de voordoseerkamer van je molen.
Mooi ; tijd om te tampen (tamponeren). Welke tamper en welke techniek is een ander hoofstuk, maar we gaan de gemalen koffie levelen, gewoon lichtjes aandrukken, maar wel heel recht.
Met de achterkant van de tamper gaan we nu tegen de zijkant van de portafilter tikken. Dit doen we om de vastklevende losse koffie aan de zijkant van het filterbakje los te krijgen. Dit is vooral belangrijk omdat er zo een minimum aan losse koffie zich kan vastzetten aan de grouphead in je machine. Deze koffie immers gaat zich daar ophopen en later gaat ze door de hoge temperatuur, bij de passage van water een bittere, ranzige smaak afscheiden, en dat is wel het laatste dat we in onze koffie willen proeven. Ga maar eens naar de Zuid-Europese landen koffiedrinken en doe de test. Ga in de ochtend op een propere machine een shotje drinken en dan nog eens laat in de namiddag. Door de ophoping van oude koffieresten rondom de grouphead, alsook op de legering van je portafilter, krijgt je espresso een alsmaar viezere smaak. Dus : tikken die filter - en poetsen die portafilter!!!
Tamper, deel twee. We drukken de tamper aan met een kracht van minstens 15 kilo. Heel gelijkmatig en recht, want ons water is 'lui' en zal de weg van de minste weerstand zoeken en een .... mislukte extractie eventueel, maar zeker een onvolledige smaak, omdat het water niet doorheen al de koffie gegaan is en dat willen we natuurlijk niet.

We zorgen, voor we de portafilter indraaien dat we alle losse koffie nog even afschudden of -vegen. Indraaien, zo snel mogelijk de knop indrukken en kopjes zetten. 25 seconden geduld en 'aaah' vloeibaar goud.

Waar nog meer op letten :

De filterbakjes : zoals ik al zei is het makkelijker om met geen te diepe filterbakjes te werken. Wij draaien die 10 gram in een 6-gram filterbakje! Hierdoor sluit de getampte koffie perfect aan bij het zeefje en kunnen we goed de loop van het water controleren. 6X2 is 12. Voor de dubbele portafilter : 12 gram bakjes!

De temperatuur van het water. Een correct afgestelde machine is natuurlijk onontbeerlijk. Niet alleen de technieker zorgt echter voor de juiste temperatuur. Ook door voor het eigenlijke zetten van je espresso wat water laten lopen zorgt voor een stabielere watertemperatuur. Ook de temperatuur van je portafilter en servies moet goed hoog zijn. Een te lage temperatuur zal je espresso immers snel een zure en ranzige smaak geven.

De filterbakjes moeten intact zijn. Vaak wordt door verkeerdelijk te tampen of slecht af te kloppen (kapotte rubberen stang) het filterbakje beschadigd en sluit deze slecht af.

En nog eens : voldoende koffie. Het in België bekende (Illy)verhaal dat er maar 6 gram nodig is voor een espresso ... eerst zien en dan geloven ; ik kan het in elk geval niet.
Snelheid ; niet getalmd bij het malen, levelen en tampen, want ... een lagere temperatuur van de portafilter geeft een lagere temperatuur aan je espresso en .... je weet het al.

Veel succes met de koffiekoekjes of pucks. Stuur me gerust een foto door met je resultaat of de vragen als het niet lukt.

Hier mijn favoriete coffee puck foto. (niet toevallig van King James)
En de grappigste. (Mr. Phelps)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Les sirops de Routin

It was Alain from Kafka's Brussels who introduced me to Luc.
This friendly man is representing Routin and many other top quality products on the Belgian market.

It took a while to clear my Monin stock, but now i'm on the roll with this great brand.

I always found Monin way to sweet to may liking, which is causing not in the least a problem with the pumps getting jammed on high trafic moments. I hate that.
With Routin you have a more spiced syrup and the range is as wide as that of any other.

We at Caffenation use in the first place Vanilla for iced coffees, Cassis for Italian Soda and Noisette, Macadamia Nut, Irish Cream and Cinnamon for fun drinks left and right.

Terroir Coffee COE Colombia

Coffees of


Frequent readers of this blog already spotted the name of a guy called Jeff before, mostly by his nick name Jazzy Jeff. He's one of Antwerps most fanatic coffee aficionado's and thanks God a good Caffenation client.
Yesterday i was happy to receive a big bag of HasBean roasts from the Fed Ex man. But the package JJ brought along was impressive as well.
Two bags from George Howell Terroir Coffee Company.

Let's go for some cupping :
Cup of Excellence Colombia El Descanso (Huila region).

Smell : Liquorice, lemon, chicory
Mouthfeel : Almost non apparent body. You directly notice this one is all about light fruit tastes.
Acidity : Fruit explosion. Citrus, mandarin, a bit of berries. Thanks to the (medium) Full Flavor Roasting.
Flavor : Very well binding of the sweet, sour and bitter.
Aftertaste : This was the most impressive part. Very clean and cooling down we were drinking the cup and it tasted like coffee lemon tea with a touch of honey. Great.

Question mark!
On my research for more information about the bean i don't see anything on the COE website.
Due to a lack of time, we haven't been to the espresso stage yet, but it's hard to see this coffee and the way it's roasted on espresso. I understand while roasting high, lots of the aroma's vanish in the air, but on their website it sounds as no problem at all to pull good espresso shots. We'll see.

Last June we were drinking from the same region the San Augustin. Then this one was five times better. But once we had the Colombia Medellin for one third of the price of this El Descanso, and with almost the same quality.
To be continued...