Friday, October 24, 2008

Trip to Origin

By the time you're reading this, I'll be on my way to my first trip to origin.
Jimma, Yirgacheffe, Harer and other Ethiopian city's and coffee fields are on the list.

Meanwhile enjoy your cup.

A (probably long) report with photo's at your favourite :-) blog soon.

Rob (and Isabel)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Bar (Choq) in Town

Jens is a Caffeholic since years.
He was a guy famous for sitting hours and hours at our big table, drinking espresso's meanwhile working at his laptop.

One day we talk about his job and he's telling me he gets bored and wants to start something for himself.

One year later Bar Choq, Antwerps' first chocolate bar, is open.

What's my part in this project?
I've been giving Jens a helping hand in the very important Coffee part. Caffenation now is some kind of an Espresso bar with a lot of chocolate drinks. Bar Choq is the other way around.

The place feels very good. Good light, nice interior and Jens behind the bar ; a man you can trust and want to spend time with.
The espresso yesterday was fantastic!
Good luck with everything Jens, and I hope we can work together for as long as possible.

Bar Choq, Minderbroedersrui 64 (around the corner of Wolstraat).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Monocle and Juices, Java & Jazz

issue 18 . volume 02 . November 2008
I can't remember to post articles about those times we hit the press, but for this one I'm willing to make an exception.
In the Monocle this month we have two photo's and a short review of our Caffenation Bar Juices, Java & Jazz at Oever 18. This street is connected to the Kloosterstraat and that street is 'street of the month' in this beautiful magazine that goes around the world. We've been proud for less.

The link of this article on the website. The full content is only for subscribers. If you're not; just run direction magazine store.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

God in a Cup

Cover image for product 0470173580
For me, 'God in a cup' is the best coffee book of the year.

This is a book about specialty coffee. About Esmeralda Special from Panama. About Geoff Watts (Intelligentsia), Peter Giuliano (Counter Culture), Duane Sorenson (Stumptown), Menno Simons (Trabocca) and other passionate coffee lovers. About the perfect bean. About Ethiopia. About Cup of Excellence. About Clover. About coffee in America. About Cupping, Fair Trade, Direct Trading and much more.

An short piece from the Prologue :
'Perfectly textured reddish brown espresso foam intermingles with the stiff froth of steam-blasted milk, and a brown outline of an evergreen appears in the center of the cup. The design-called rosette-lingers as I slowly drink my first real coffee.
Hemingway had it right. The first time, the earth moves.
The milk and coffee are as sweet as sugar and as thick as cream, but the effect is achieved magically, as he used neither of these ingredients. The milk and coffee together are as luxurious as cashmere and bright mouth memories of caramel, chocolate, and hazelnut.
"I've never tasted anything like this," I tell Nick.
"Most coffee is swill," he answers cheerfully. Later , I learn that Barista's call this kind of an experience a Godshot moment, a rare but perfect example of their craft.
With that first cup of Murky coffee, a door opened and I slipped down the rabbit hole into coffee land. I got caught up in the story of specialty coffee, and you might say I haven't been home since.'

This book is a must read for all (specialty) coffee lovers.
It's masterfully written by Michaele Weissman (her blog) and published by Wiley.
Click here to order one.

The only note I want to make is my fear that most of these people in the U.S. bring more and more specialty coffee to the market at very high prices. This way they are going to make it a product for the 'elite' and not for the mass and that's a pity. My goal is to bring top class coffee for everybody. Imagine yourself young, or a just starting artist, or mother of a big family and you want to savor a good clean cup of coffee.... Forget about these top players, cause their prices go through the roof. Yes, their quality as well, but I hope they don't they forget where they come from their selves. Haven't they or some of their staff been unemployed and/or counting every penny by the end of the month once?
Let's go together on the search for the perfect bean, but don't forget the men in the street. Ok?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bend that Blend

Due to the typical Latin American disease we see ourselves obliged to say 'goodbye' to our El Salvador part in the House Blend.

When the new crop rolls in, we are thrilled to see what quality comes in. This year we were very happy with the El Salvador Everest SHG, till ... July. Yes, already after 4 months we noticed a downfall in taste. Less detail, less balls and an upcoming jute-grass-straw taste that's very prominent now. And we don't need this.
We had the same problems with the Dominican Republic and Honduras in the past, although this last one seems to keep its taste longer.

Briefly, we rebuilding. For the moment with some extra Honduras, but soon with that fantastic Cerrado we stumbled on. For that one we fear for the same problem by ... March, but then the new El Salvador arrives.....

Sorry for the brief post.
I got to go now.
Soon more about the wonders of blending.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This Week's Diary

The new opening hours at Hopland are a big hit.
Not for this extra morning hour, but between 1800 and 1900 hours it's very busy.
Now it's every weekday from 8 till 8, but possibly we'll cut the first and last half hour later on.

New Anfim Grinders arrived yesterday.
Their smallest model, the Haus Self, is the perfect grinder for me to sell to home Barista's or restaurants. I was thinking this could be a great thing to line up 4 of them with some nice single origins in each one of them and a good boiler to brew french presses. Wouldn't it be fantastic to have a small coffee card like you have a wine card? It would finish of the diner in a perfect way. "You want a fruity Ethiopian Yirgacheffe or a more punchy Indonesian Mandling or a mild Brazil Cerrado sir?"
Now all restaurants in Antwerp having an expensive espresso machine, but not handling it the way they should. Stupid.

Later on a full review.

Yesterday I met my friend Jeanne Gennar at our mother house. And she was not alone. Stephan Weber came with her to present his company Weber Packaging. This Stuttgard company is mastering the art of producing the ideal take away coffee cups. I directly ordered 4000 of their Guatemala cup action. Beautiful 4 color prints and for every cup 1ct to this charity programme for Guatemala coffee farmers!
And also Steffen Schwartz came along. It's always a pleasure to meet someone who is more fanatic about coffee than I am. Yes, Steffen was, as always, unstoppable, demonstrating a new drip brewer, discussing the newest Latte Art Championship rules, talking about Gabriel from Fazenda Cachoeira, promoting the Coffee Consulate services, and so on and so on...
Unfortunately we only had one hour, but it was a nice, warm and productive meeting. And good luck with all of your projects Jeanne.

Tomorrow I'm heading to the new Bodum dealers for our region. I already did some Bodum sales, but nevertheless the quality was outstanding, sales never went great.
For our online project I think this could work out better.
Their showroom is really close by, so we'll drop by tomorrow to see their newest products. Curious.

Next Sunday October 19 : Barista Jam.
On the list : Isabel and Tine, Ben, Kristien, Marleen, Fanny, Laurent, Dirk, Addie with 6 people from Inspire Coffee, Daan, Pieter, Simon and all the others I forget. 6.45 pm.

And to finish off a small word about our espresso of the week : Indonesian Makassar.
Very strong, wild, earthy, rustic and deep flavors ready to shaken up your buds for a while.
As usual our trader couldn't tell a lot about the beans. One thing is sure : it's a washed one and the screening is a 20 (i guess). Huge.
The roast is a full city ++, or the way I like Indonesians the most.
Come on in and check it out for yourself.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Reg Barber Ripple Tamper

It is fresh in, our Rippled Reg Barber 58mm Flat Tamper.
It's a bit too early for final judgement, but the first days of working with this spectacular tamper have been a big success.
We have the two different ones in stock. The Ripple and the C Ripple. This last one is the one on the photo and has a flat circle around the rings. I don't know yet why.

For us the two biggest advantages are, of course, the very nicely packed coffee in the filter basket. The Antwerp Barista's adore the looks. And the second advantage is the speed. We have the idea it works faster than a traditional one. Could this be?
Soon more....

Meanwhile we have here the first tests from Tamper Expert Kiril at Espresso Run.

And the Reg Barber site.

And for ordering ; ESW.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tulip by Sammy Piccolo

I want to welcome Sammy Piccolo back in competition. First the Canadian title and then up to the so-diserved WBC one.

Here you see him, on slippers!, pouring fantastic latte art. His style is ...... like he doesn't care. Awesome.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

Coffee Kid Nicaragua

Originally uploaded by Coffee Kids 1988
This girl is enjoying a drink made by Stephen Morrisey! Isn't it fantastic Coffee Kids is offering help and good times to so many people from those poor coffee family's in Latin America?
And Stephen giving a helping hand.
Big applause.

For more coffee kids info : click the Coffee Kids link at the link list.
For more Stephen Morrisey : click the Square Mile link.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Amsterdam Espresso

Small picture from a small bar in a small street in Amsterdam city.

Second cup is a surprisingly cosy espresso bar in a city where people drink lots and lots of coffee, but with a quality level that's below everything. Here at the Heisteeg 5 they try to do things differently. They work together with the Golden Coffee Box, which is a major specialty coffee player, located in Baarn, the Netherlands. This company is promoting their Brazil Fazenda Santa Terezinha Organic fiercely. I can understand. It's, although very expensive, a recommendable and nice coffee, but I can't understand why Second Cup takes this one as their main bean, to prepare all drinks with. For me the espresso was ok, but not very memorable. The price (€ 1,60!), size, temperature and type of cup was perfect, but the taste was boring, too bitter and not very detailed. Of course there could have been a lot of reasons for this. Mostly it's the (too dark) roast, lack of freshness, a dirty machine or warm grinder burrs that's shows this kinds of taste. This morning it was very quiet and the bar just opened....
Unfortunately I didn't see his milk texturing. That's for next time. Or for you, dear reader .... let me know.

The milk texturing at the Coffee Company is known for me since long. This market leader did a decent job years ago, but there where we know day by day better how to control our extractions and pour sweet latte art, the CC's quality seems to go downhill day after day after day.
At the Berenstraat the espresso was barely drinkable. Very bitter and a fucked up aftertaste.
But that's nothing compared to the cappuccino Isabel ordered. For every drink they take the same pitcher over and over again. This dirty 1 liter pitcher got some warm milk left overs on which to pour a bit of cold milk. And then they start to stretch it all up again, and stretch, and stretch .... till it reaches 80 degrees or something!!
Hello!?? This is 2008 in a market leading espresso bar in a big city. Are they copying Starbucks? It looks like.
We knew they have the strange habit to make all cappuccino's dry. For me a cappuccino is the perfect marriage between coffee and milk. Here at the Coffee Company they first pull two of those bitter espresso's in a big glass and scoop some warm foam on top. Basta. The result was a disaster. Sorry, but this was totally undrinkable.
Isabel thought the percolator coffee at the breakfast table in our hotel this morning was superior to the CC one. How do these people stay in business?

Time for Inspire Coffee or someone else to attack the city. From my part ; I'm ready to help. I have some successful food and beverage expertise in this city and find it very painful to see that this nice and international city, 8 years after I left, is not making any progress quality wise.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Kellogg's Cappuccino Cruesli

I found this Muesli in the local supermarket the other day.
I can't say I was waiting for this product, but bought it anyway. Maybe I was hungry?

At home I took a big bowl, some Kellogg's Extra Crunchy Muesli Cappuccino with coffee and chocolate taste, poored it over with cold whole milk and grabbed a spoon.
The mouthfeel was not very nice, as with most Cruesli's.
The taste of coffee came through, but not to my liking. Of course it tastes chemical and of course it's not a replacement for a cup of coffee and/or a chocolate bar. At least not for me.

The biggest disappointment were those chocolate coffee beans. First it took me 3 minutes to find one and then the chocolate was inferior in quality and nothing of a coffee bean inside. Nowadays you see these more and more, and sometimes they can be delicious, but this one ..... not!
A missed chance for the Rooster. Better stick to your local Roaster!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Vacuum Packed Guatemala

Originally uploaded by edwinfvh
Green vacuum packed coffee's seem to become standard in nowadays specialty coffee land.
On the latest Trabocca spot list we find vacuum Kenya. Years before Daterra of course launched it all.
This photo is taken at the Finca Vista Hermosa in Guatemala where Edwin and his men work their asses of to keep all the greens out of jute.
Since we had major problems, mostly with Latin American Arabica's, to keep freshness over time ; I'm curious how much longer we can keep the fresh 'new crop' taste this way.

To see the whole photostream : click here.