Sunday, January 25, 2009

Home Brewing Training

Good news for all Antwerp and other Flemish coffee amateurs. Soon I'll start up some Home Brewing classes at Caffenation.
Since I get bored of giving those Non Pro Barista Jams, I was seeking for a new challenge. Home Brewing classes could be the answer.

At home I'm getting more and more fanatic in brewing my coffee's in all possible ways. And every week again I discover some great things. With some small changes you can create sometimes a totally different taste. Not always for the better, but off course I'm ready to take on a hurdle left and right.

It happens very often people ask me coffee brewing advice. Sometimes I ask them if they are happy with their cup at home. When they tell me they totally adore it and believe me, there's a huge number of people who can't handle the day without their morning cup and not only because of the caffeine, but also because of the delicious taste, I mostly advice them to stick to their routine. But if they really want to change or improve I'm very happy to offer a helping hand.

On the photo you see my new home scale. I have a precision scale at the bar, but now this one helps to note down the exact weights for the different ways of coffee preparations.

This all doesn't mean we cut the Barista Jams. A professional one we organise once a year. And for the Non-Professionals we will continue planning some, but less often and in a different structure.

Meanwhile keep on reading this blog, since I have a whole lot of Home Brewing news in the pipeline.
And click 'Jimseven' for great vids on Home Brewing. Perfect help. Thanks James.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I "Heart" Caffeine

Jeremiah McNulty mailed this last week :

Greetings Rob,

I'm a graphic designer that loves coffee and
while seeking out other coffee admirers I
stumbled onto your coffee related blog.
I thought you and your readers might be interested
in a fun side project me and my wife launched last year that
displays ones admiration for this little bean through a fresh line of t-shirts.
As an added bonus this particular series of shirts donates a portion
of its proceeds to a coffee related charity (series-1 charity: Coffee Lifeline).

See more details at:

Thanks for your time.
Jeremiah McNulty

So, Jeremiah, you see how lazy I am. Copy, Paste and Post. Good luck with this nice initiative.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cupping Championship in Belgium

Friday May 8th we'll have our 3rd Cupping championship in Belgium.

At the offices of Lion Products, Gestelhoflei 6, 2820 Bonheiden.
Start 10.30 am
Judge and Host is John Sherwood. Brewmaster Keith Collins and the Bunn equipment delivered by Limarc.

Caffenation is going to be represent by two Antwerp Barista's.

We did some practicing last two weeks already and hopefully soon some more at our bar and maybe one day at Efico, who delivered the beans and champs the last two years.
Hopefully our new Coffee Consulate cupping spoon is going to be a big help.
First I couldn't believe there were tasting differences with cupping spoons, till I tasted with this one...... Oh my!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Heerlijk Helder Bazar

Where are the days Freddie Heineken was biking his big transport bike with bottles of Heineken?
Or wasn't this the story behind the brand?
Anyhow ; today they launch their own coffee and tea line : Bazaar Coffee and Tea.

What do I think about it?
The proof is in the pudding. I didn't taste it yet.

But I do have problems with their 'quality' policy. If you click on the 'kwaliteit' (quality) button they tell you it's a 100% arabica blend. So....?
Please Heineken : if it's good, then you tell us what you use. I hate it when all these company's tell us they use the best beans. If they are that good, why not informing the client?
Of course it all very subjective, but this 'high quality' label is very doubtful...
And how fresh is it's going to be? Do they dare to print roasting dates? Of course not.

I'm afraid this is not going to help the Dutch coffee market. Neither did the Douwe Egberts Espresso Blend.
The Dutch consumers are so focused on fresh milk, but not on fresh coffee. At Inspire (Breda) they use maximum 3 weeks old beans and the main blend is blended after roast. Who else is going to help us spreading the word?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

La Caféothèque de Paris

A visit to La Caféothèque, by your traveling reporter, Jazzy Jeff

Every time I go to paris, there is only one address to go to for my cup of joy. It’s a little gem known as la caféotheque, on the banks of the seine river, right in the middle of the city. The service may be a little bit slow but it’s what’s in the cup that matters to me. The experience is akin to that of a wine bar, of course we’re in France, so that would be normal.
There’s always a café du jour, this time it was a special Yirgacheffe. I ordered a lungo and espresso. One of the owners and Barista Gloria uses a Rocky grinder (why not a better one?) and a La Marzocco machine to pull the coffees. Once prepared she sets it up on a neatly designed ceramic tray and serves it with some cookies and water. “Bonne degustation!” she says with a smile.
Wow, this is how coffee should be drank in France, at least in the future, or at least for specialty coffee. The taste of the lungo: clean, red berries, flashes of acidity, some chocolate. The espresso, as expected a little bit harsh and sour, not because the extraction was wrong, but because the beans were roasted on the light side. Any bean they have in store can be selected for a tasting, and they have quite a lot. I counted at least a dozen, because of the owners; mostly Guatemalan.

Their selection (- a few) when I was there:
Brazil: Fazenda Samambaia
Columbia: La Ceja Supremo.
El Salvador: Escocia Harry, El Jocotillo, Finca El Zapote.
Ethiopia: Limu Organique Kemal Abdelia.
Guatemala: Antigua Classic, Pulcal, Rainforest Coban, Chitul-Tirol, Volcanic San Marcos, Barrancas, Fraijanes Plateau, Santa Ana.
India: Monsooned Malabar.
Kenya: Gethumbwini Estate.
Rwanda: Région Butare, Mugombwa.

All were aptly described.

The store featured a small 1, 2 or 3 kg roaster. Which is almost constantly in operation, it also features a little gene roaster for samples. Bags of green coffee adorn the place and give an almost rustic feel, there is a solid connection with the raw natural material.

Gloria said there were tasting sessions for anyone who is interested in knowing more about coffees. In our conversation she mentioned that she experimented with the participants by making a blend and comparing it with all the single ingredients of it. Her belief and argument was that a blend always deludes the flavors of the individual components. Needless to say the shop only serves single origins.

Paris is a difficult city for coffee, I call it the capital of robusta, thank god for this diamond in the rough.

Thanks Jeff for the post.
The adress of the Caféothèque is 52, Rue de l'hotel de ville, 4ème arrendissement.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

In Season Coffee

This upcoming Intelligentsia text is what's all about : working with the freshest beans on the right moment. I took over their text since I can't explain it any better.
It's a struggle to reshuffle that main House Blend all the time, but it's worth it, because that way we can work 'in season'.
It's time the consumer starts to understand there's a season for every type of origin. Of course vac packed greens are going to be a big help, but here in the Antwerp harbour we don't see them yet, except for the Daterra's.

Have a good read :

"Specialty Coffee has it all figured out, right? Direct relationships with growers, careful roasting, Baristas pulling perfect shots� we�ve squared the circle. Not exactly, as there is a final missing piece: seasonality.

Coffee is just like great fruit and vegetables. Most coffee-producing countries have only one specific harvest season each year, and once the coffee is picked from the tree, it begins the inevitable process of slow decline, losing quality with the passage of time. The result is that no matter how great a coffee tastes while in its prime, the day will always come when it loses the very things that made it so tasty in the first place.

What then does Intelligentsia In Season� mean? It means that our coffees are offered only while they are fresh and retain the vibrancy that both nature and the fastidious coffee farmer intended. It means that the coffee offers the same kind of compelling traits it did when we first selected it and brought it to our Roasting Works

The coffee industry has long perpetuated the idea that coffee is a year-round crop without recognizing publicly that the harvest cycles do not allow for this. So you really need to know when a coffee was actually harvested. Selecting your coffees in this way ensures that you are getting them while they are their most delicious. The Intelligentsia In Season initiative is our commitment that every coffee encompassed by this effort has no more than 10 calendar months between its sale and the completion of harvest."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Spent Coffee Grounds as a Versatile Source of Green Energy

Forget vegetable oil, little green fungus or most recently, human fat. University of Nevada Reno scientists are banking on a new form of biodiesel -- one that's more stable, easily producible and smells like a fresh cup of Joe when expelled. Yep, that's right. Coffee beans are being tested as the latest biodiesel derivative. And by some estimations, the new biofuel could save the world hundreds of millions of gallons in regular fuel usage if produced on a global scale.

How'd scientists figure this out? Well, like most epic discoveries, it was by accident. Professor Mano Misra happened to leave his coffee out overnight and noticed a ring of oil on the cup the next morning. Intrigued, he and his team extracted the oil and found that coffee beans contain 10-15% oil by weight. Using their trusty chemistry kits (more like state of the art labs), they then successfully converted the oil into biodiesel.

UNR scientists believe with the low cost of conversion and abundance of expelled coffee grounds from national coffee chains (i.e. Starbucks), their biodiesel can be produced for around $1 per gallon. The fuel is also said to be more stable than biodiesel made from soy beans or corn.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Latte Art Swan by Peter H

This is an Antwerp Barista!!! Can't believe I gave you your first Barista training Peter.
Good luck at the championships in Köln.

Latte Art Bear by Peter H

Well done Peter. Very inspirational. Bert transformed into a pig. Very Caffenation of course.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Toren Espresso op een KVDW (Dutch)

In de reeks 'A New Bar in Town' gaan we een keer Nederlands talig.
Het was vanaf het begin van deze blog de bedoeling om te switchen van mijn moedertaal naar het Engels en omgekeerd, maar gezien de grote hoeveelheid 'andertaligen' lezers op de blog, het in de koffiewereld alomvertegenwoordige Engels en Amerikaanse vakjargon en mijn natuurlijke behoefte om me te verbergen via een pseudoniem en vreemde taal, heeft het weer heel lang geduurd om het Nederlands nog eens boven te halen.

Espressobar Den Toren te Schilde.
Lang geleden had ik in onze sapjes- en koffiebar Pitten & Bonen een meisje die ons op zaterdagen wel eens uit de nood kwam helpen. Ze heette Inge en kwam toe op een zware moto en eens achter de bar was het een wervelstorm. Ze werkte die dagen hoofdzakelijk in de Moeskop te Zurenborg, maar in die dagen wisselden Ad (Moeskop) en ik wel eens meer van personeel, en ideeën.
Niet veel later zou ik zelf mijn werkzaamheden te Pitten & Bonen stoppen en gezien in ook nog maar zelden op Zurenborg geraakte, vergat ik haar.
Tot een jaartje geleden ze te Caffenation binnenviel en me vertelde dat ze een zaak ging starten te Schilde, en een Kees Van Der Westen machine gekocht had, en ze een Barista cursus gevolgd had, en nog veel meer...
Mijn mond viel open van verbazing en appreciatie en ik hoopte om onze koffiebonen bij haar op de molen te kunnen krijgen.
Koffiebonen is nooit onze corebusiness geweest, maar wel mijn passie, en ook van waaruit het allemaal vertrekt. En het is wel mijn droom om koffie te kunnen branden voor mensen overal in het land, en zelfs Europa, die achter de espressomachine een Barista genoemd mogen worden.

Intussen zijn we alweer een tijdje later en is Den Toren 'up and running'.
En wat een succes!
De Kees Van Der Westen Mirage 2-groeps brouwt koffie's alsof het een lieve lust is. De mensen in Schilde en omstreken hadden zeer snel door dat hier de lamp brand als het over koffie gaat.
Inge, en Mark, hebben een mooie uitgebreide koffiekaart waarop zowel Caffenation klassiekers als eigen fantasietjes aanwezig zijn.
En het gaat zo ver dat een van die eigen fantasietjes zelfs bij ons in Antwerpen begint binnen te sijpelen. De Quattro!
Op een dag was er zeker man, Wim genaamd, die een cappuccino te zacht en een double shot cappuccino te straf vond en vroeg om een tussenmaat. Inge nam een Duralex 25 cl glas - waar wij gewoonlijk de iced cappuccino's in serveren - en 'pullde' twee shotjes. Daarop perfect 'getexturde' melk met een latte art motief en de Quattro was geboren.
Yes indeed a very fine brew. Hij heeft een punt, die Wim ; ook ik vind een cappuccino net iets te zacht tenzij je kleinere kopjes (15 cl) neemt, maar dan wordt het weer een te klein drankje eh.

Allen daarheen dus te Schilde, Dorpstraat 50, aan het kerkplein. Een ongelooflijk gezellig interieur, mixed met leuke mensen en vakmanschap achter den toog.
Oh ja, en dan natuurlijk onze koffie :-) en die KVDW Mirage machine gekoppeld aan een Mahlkonig K30 voor de espressomaling en een retro looking Fiorenzatomolen voor de grotere koffie's. Kan niet beter.

Keep up the good work Mark en Inge en nog eens proficiat met de zaak.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Planning & Predictions 2009

What's on the Antwerp Barista agenda for the year 2009?

We start with some Trabocca imported coffee. Finally.
Just ordered 15 bags of organic Yirgacheffe. It was about time we found one another.
This isn't a first grade single but work horse for our House Blend in which it always played a major role. Hopefully it's in stock be now and for sale from next week on.

Meanwhile waiting for the newest Latin American beans to roll in. Fresh Guatemala Antigua Gloria, El Salvador Everest, El Salvador Pacamara, Costa Rica Tournon, Costa Rica Blue Mountain, Nicaragua Maragogype, Columbia Popayan, some naturals and a Panama are on the buying list. Exciting times for us.

And we can use some of these beauty's since I decided to start our Caffenation online shop from March on. Unfortunately only for Belgian buyers. The Netherlands should be following one or two months later and the other country's once we're on the roll, probably by September. I'll keep you all informed.

My own plantation is bit by bit growing. I brought along some personally picked Sidamo cherry's from Ethiopia and now 18 fresh plants should be showing their heads this month. Ethiopian coffee plants in Antwerp, hush hush.

New milk. Ra Ra, wait and see....

At Hopland we planned again to install our newest espresso machine, the La Marzocco Linea. First plans for installment in December failed due to electrical problems. Hopefully by end Jan we'll be pulling shots from this Florence build beauty.

For April we have an early WBC. If they continue to shift the championships forward they will organize the 2010 edition in February and the 2011 by the end of 2010! Poor Stephen to be ambassador for only 10 months.
My planning is to visit the fair and championships in Atlanta on Saturday and Sunday and to combine this trip with a New York city visit before or after. It's way too long since I last visited my favourite city, so I'm really looking forward!!!!!

As Jimseven is predicting the trends for the year, I can't stay behind; so here are my top 3 predictions for the upcoming year :

1) Tamping chaos. What tamper to use? Do we have to tab the filter or not? If yes, where do we tap? How hard do we tap it? What tamping pressure? A tamper with wooden steel, aluminium or iron? Flat or convex? And what about the right distribution technique or shall we all go Anfim with hopper? Tamp once or twice? Do we need a different tamping technique for 54mm baskets? .... It's getting more complicated by the hour and surely not all answers by the end of the year.

2) Singles on the rise. This is not America and people in Antwerp and Belgium don't get a good understanding about what a Single Origin or Single Estate is. Sometimes they seem to understand and then finally they ask me : "And how much robusta you have in there?" Yes, we still have a long way to go. I hope to show you the way, since I believe it's very, very important people start to taste all these different singles. And the better the taste buds are used to all this, the better also the blends will be understood and taste and being appreciated.

3) For the Barista Championships I predict the end of the Latte Art, which I regret. The most spectacular part for the audience is bit by bit going to disappear due to the new rules. So, who's going to applaud for a boring looking cappuccino (if there's still someone watching)?
They made the Latte Art Championships a top class act, but meanwhile the regular Barista Championships became a specialty show soo boring that even pro's aren't watching anymore. Let's hope Sammy Piccolo and/or one the Ritual boys are going to give us some magic and a win in Atlanta and not one or another 'silent' performer without latte art.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Nescafe Espresso Space Experience

Looks better than it tastes.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Belgium coffee maker Vid

Could be a good system, but can anyone tell my why they call it a Belgium coffee maker?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Our Roaster Jean

2 weeks ago I invited Addie from Inspire to visit our roastery.
Jean was Roasting us some unforgettable Indian, Zambian, Brazilian and Ethiopian coffee's.
Enjoy the pics.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Best Wishes for 2009

Originally uploaded by tim lebacq
To all of the readers and Caffenation clients : a very happy 2009!