Thursday, April 30, 2009

A New Coffee World

2 weeks after Atlanta it feels like I entered a new coffee world.
There are so many things to see and taste at a SCAA show. And a WBC of course.

I'm still a little bit confused about the way these American Elite Barista's are pulling their shots, the roasts they use and their equipment on the bar.

1. Barista Techniques. I hardly saw someone pulling single shots. And if they pulled singles it was mostly on our (European) request. A general way of working is having a fully loaded filter basket with freshly ground coffee, probably 18 to 20 grams. The ground is very fine ; not as fine as in Italy, but finer then ours. Then they extract 20 to 25 seconds for 3cl of espresso. It's actually a small double ristretto - to my opinion.
I needed some time to get into it, but it's ok.

2. Where the espresso's become smaller and stronger, the larger coffee tend to become larger and less strong. Chemex and Melitta are very popular amongst coffee enthusiasts. The French press is still there (to stay) and a Clover comes in play at the most specialised shops. Where the espresso's lacks some 'air' and offer only a quick fix, the brewed coffee's are very open en detailed and give you enough time to stroll through the New York Times, meanwhile sipping your single estate or whatever. Not such a bad system, this combination.

3. There's a machine revolution going on.
Della Corte offered us new insights in espresso brewing technologies, but it's the new West Coast Machinery that seems to take over the steering wheel. Slayer and Cynesso are getting a lot of attention, and for reason. With a new generation of coffee makers, it's kinda normal there's a new look as well. Slayer, Cynesso and also Kees VanDerWesten show the espresso bar client a totally different styled piece of equipment. Not always the most user friendly machinery, but very solid and with nice designs.
Take the Slayer booth at the SCAA fare in Atlanta. It was probably the busiest place on the floor. Dozens of Barista's from around the globe were queuing to get a look at the machine, and by preference the possibility to drive it. With wooden paddles and steam stick (what's the name actually?) the feel is very warm and classy. The X-shaped sides are very beautiful, but most impressive is the feel of the machine while you're pulling shots. The paddle controlled group head have two pressure set points to play with and with only naked filters and a sort of a stainless steal mirror along the back end of the drain tray, you can see the flow of your shots straight away!! This is very sexy ladies and gentlemen. Espressoporn all day long, without the need to kneel down - if you know what I mean.
A nice vid of Slayer in Atlanta.

But for me the nicest machine was the new paddle group machine from La Marzocco. This looks to be the future of espresso preparation.
It's a bit difficult to explain and therefor I'll propose you click this link to get you connected to Tim Wendelboe's blog, on which he wrote a post about this revolutionary machine. (also read the responses).
It was on this machine I had my best shot of the weekend. A natural Trabocca traded Ethiopian, roasted by Counter Culture. Magnificent.

4. The expert coffee roasters in the year 2009.
No Stumptown in Atlanta. With didn't really miss them with lot's of others doing their thing. I did not visit all of them, but some.
Of course Intelligentsia had a great stand with good coffee's and well educated staff, but the most impressive booth was the Counture Culture one. A big platform with continues cupping, espresso brewing and filter brewing, all in a different corner and with very friendly and skilled people helping out. All very open and down to earth. Truly amazing. Thanks CC for these efforts.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A New Bar/Blog in the Town of Gent

Next week we have a new Espresso Bar Run on the agenda.

Not overseas, but one really close by.

In the neighbour city of Gent there's a new bar : Or.
Katrien Pauwels and Tom Janssen were already doing their thing in coffee and finally opened an espresso bar by themselves.
Knowing the equipment, staff and beans are very high rated, the expectations are high.

And linked to this, one of their Barista's Isabelle launched her own coffee blog.
A Cup Of Isa.
Well written and with lots of passion she deserves a link in our link list.
Welcome Isabelle in wonder coffee land. And if Dave from Intelligentsia, a man with enormous coffee knowledge and passion, tells me you were a great student in their classes, ......
Go Isa!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Practice Session for the BCC 2009

Belgian Cupping Championship is next week.
We went to the Efico lab to do a small test.
The Caffènation crew only picked 2 out of 5 correctly.
Laurent and Jean 4 out of 5.
Bart (defending champ) 5 out of 5.

Note there was a discussion about the last triangle we all thought it was the fifth, which was a mysterious (defective) brew. Whatever. Not our best day. Hoping for better buds and concentration next week Friday at the Championships in Bonheiden.
Stay tuned for a full report after the battle.

Monday, April 27, 2009

First Practice Session for BBC 2009

I wasn't very productive indeed. But fun it was.

Also been testing this Intelligentsia Zirikana Estate.
Not the one Michael Phillips was using at the WBC, but close to it. As a way of learning from the champs.
Yes, this type of bean would be something to compete with. Strong sharp attack, going over in very fruity accents to finish with a long lasting shiny and clean after taste. At Intelligenstia they say : 'it lingers pleasantly on the tongue'. Yeah! Sure thing you need to drink it not too large. 25 ml max. Hmmm!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Road To Octane

Your reporter didn't only drink coffee and talk talk talk ; there was also a lot of sport.
4 times I walked the road from the World Center to Octane. The first time because Melissa said she did it as well, but also because of ...... (see the photo's).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Brooklyn Espresso Bar Run

Big 10K run this morning in Central Park. Like the old days, but slower.

By noon I was walking around in Brooklyn, looking after those famous bars Isabelle and Jeff were talking about.

Earth Day today and no better place to sense this but in Brooklyn. The city seems to be packed with environmentalists, green boys and girls, veggie's and many of them with tattoo's, piercings and loose Urban Outfitters styled clothing. A bit like the East Village, but purer.
Not only Earth Day, but also rainy day.
I took the L train/subway in Manhattan without rain. I get off in Williamsburg/Bedford Avenue and it's raining. 4 hours later I'm back in Manhattan and it's dry again. Hm....?

Coffee now ; that's what this site is about.
Heading to N 4th street I immediately saw this Oslo bar at Roebling street. Oslo at Roebling ; sounds nice. They have a second bar on Bedford.
Half industrial setting, which seems to be kinda typical these days in the States.
Coffee of the house comes from Caffe Vita, a Seattle based roaster. $2,50 for an espresso sounds expensive for this location. Very Italian taste. I miss some brightness. I understand espresso comes from Italy, but we're 2009 now. I remember that also in Stockholm lot's of bars had these kind of espresso's. Copenhagen was way different.
The bar is a nice cool concept with, during my visit, 80's music.
They sell whole beans : the Thor House Blend, Freya Dark Roast and Odin Espresso Blend.
I forgot about the equipment, sorry.

Wandering through the streets of Brooklyn I ended up at Urocafé at 277 Driggs Avenue, a place nobody else is visiting except for Jake, and that's a mistake, cause here I had my best cup of espresso in 2 days of running in and out every hipster bar in the Big Apple!
They brew coffee from the Wisconsin based roastery Ancora. Finally a well balanced cup with a clean finish and no need of a glass of water to rinse the mouth. Clean equipment, good temperature control, the right cup and this Barista Adam pulling single or double shots on his Simonelli Aurelia 3-group. Well done.

Time for the all famous El Beit bar on 158 Bedford Avenue.
(photo from TimStyles, thank you for that)
As in the most of bars it looks more an Internet cafe than an espresso bar. I guess 70% of the clientele in these bars are surfing the net or working charts or something. I presume that's how they get these bars filled, with an exception for those who refuse laptop use inside (Grumpy for example).

I was willing to order a Herbazu Clover coffee, but was excited to taste the Epic Espresso. We had this 49th Parallel Roasters coffee at Caffenation a couple of months ago and I was curious to see how different it would come out. The young Barista failed on his first shot and seemed to be happy about his second try, although his tamping techniques didn't look too professional to me. It was not bad, but again too strong for me. I prefer regular espresso's in stead of double ristretto's.
The equipment : La Marzocco, coupled with Anfim Super Caimano's and Nuova Point cups.
Very annoying was the music. They had a very bad set up and the garage guitar stuff that came out of the speakers was not helping to build good atmosphere. A typical thing I noticed in a lot of cafés and espresso bars all over New York and Brooklyn, with the exception of some, like Ost. Price for the espresso $2,25.

This was my espresso bar run for today. Tomorrow we fly back to our home country.
This week in the USA I had a very exciting, productive and learnful run.
I hope you enjoyed the reports and maybe some of you can use this material for future coffee adventures. Good luck.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New York Espresso Bar Run

What an intensive day.
I'm so caffeinated for the moment I'm walking like Robocop in stead of Rob.

Started early this morning - still not adjusted with the hour at this side of the ocean - with a juice and muffin. Forgot the name of this joint on 9th, but it must have been one the best juices I ever had. Knowing I started up 2 juice bars, this means something!

Then my first bar : Café Grumpy on 20th street between 7th and 8th. Strolling through the streets of Chelsea was like I was on a ride with a time machine. Going back in the time when I was in my 20's and dating a Brooklyn girl who live with her sister a couple blocks away from Grumpy in an identical street. The look of the streets is still the same, but in those days there was no espresso bar around.
The equipment is stunning. 2 Clovers, a big Cynesso and 3 big Mazzers. Wow! The bar is small, but not too small. The bar is crowded and Joe is helping me out with my order. I decide to launch myself into the scene with a Ritual Brazil Boa Sorte Campos bla bla espresso. The Barista (flat capped!!) is pulling it the way Chris or Drew doing it in San Francisco. A sweet tooth espresso : small, fruity and strong. We Europeans need to make a click to taste these kind of espresso's. The first ones in Atlanta were not really my thing, but I'm getting into it. Nice.
Then a Clover coffee. A Verve roast : Bonko Sidamo, from the Adem Bedane Mill. It was ok, but a bit one dimensional. I like Clover, but I think a good Barista with a good coffee can make an even better coffee on a press or filter.

Ninth Street Espresso opened a bar at the Chelsea Market, 9th Avenue between 15th and 16th street. A great location, although I'm missing in this open bar a bit of atmosphere. Also the welcome was not that warm, but once chatting away with Barista Tray I feel more comfortable with the space. He pulled me an Intellligentsia brewed triple ristretto (they recently switched from Stumptown to Intel because they wanted their own label in stead of brewing the Hairbender like 40 others in New York - I understand) from the Alfabeth City Blend. Lots of Brazil, but too fresh. A 5 day old Brazil is not really my cup. I'm missing some fruitiness and hate the astringent after taste. Probably better next time.
The equipment : La Marzocco FB80 2-group coupled with an Anfim Super Caimano. Sweet.

Next stop was Think on Bowery. Very busy and the espresso very Italian. I was curious after their famous Cold Brew, but knowing I had to do some more bars I decided to stick with a single shot. A pity they don't give a glass of water automatically. Also no spoon. Typical for America, although it wouldn't harm them to get used to stir the espresso before drinking.

Abraço on first Avenue is the smallest bar I've ever been to. And it was packed. That means 4 people. Maybe it could have been 5 ...
Very funny atmosphere with these people hanging there, talking coffee.
I thought the Counter Culture Aficionado espresso was way too bitter. After tasting one at the CC booth in Atlanta (an article about it later on) from one of their own funky Barista's I may claim I'm an expert. ;-)
After telling so (not about the 'expert part' of course) the audience starts to mingle into our small discussion. I felt a little intimidated by this, but when the Barista pulls himself a shot and agrees with me, the discussion was over. But my 2 dollars spilled anyhow. Can't those people see when the crema is almost black and 'bubbly' there's something wrong?
Although a place to recommend for a filter and the weird setting.

Final coffee destination was Alex and Aaron's bar Ost at Avenue A and 12th street, East Village.
Saturday evening April 18 Atlanta. In the middle of the night I'm wandering through the outskirts of Atlanta together with 4 Estland Barista's ; totally lost. Then Alex stops his car at the sidewalk and tells us the Counter Culture party is further up the road.
Half an hour later Alex and I are drinking American pilsner and talking coffee. What a life.
Now a couple days later I enter the bar and feel very happy. This feels like home. Very cosy interior, nice people, great music and a good coffee.
And I'm not alone. At the bar Troels Poulsen (former world Champion), Jens Norgaard (also Kontra and Europe) and Dave LaTourelle are enjoying their cup. I join the group not to play cards but to talk coffee and discuss the local scène. Dave, former Clover and now working for Intelligentsia New York is, as usual, a warm guest. This is one of his latest projects. He and Daniel Humphries have been training these Barista's at their Brooklyn training center and they did well. The Black Cat Espresso is well balanced and punchy.
There's are worse places and friends to drink coffee with.

So, enough for today. Photo's will by posted next week.
C ya all tomorrow.

Flat Cap in New York

I had to laugh with James telling on his flickr account he was thinking to put on a flat cap as well.

The day after Glilym winning the championship I bought myself a flat cap. I wanted it for years and this was the ideal moment.
Hoping to be a better Barista now.

"Photo, photo!" I hear ya all screaming now, but problems with the camera connection, so...

In stead of getting bored in Atlanta I only went to see the last 2 days and combined it with a city trip to my favourite city : NEW YORK CITY.

As always the city's very vibrant and inspirational. I easily dare to say I always had my best idea's in this city. First some input in Atlanta, then NYC. We have a meeting next week to start the training for the Belgian BC, which is going to be early this year (October 1). I'll have plenty of things to say to my trainees. Good!

If 'flat cap' would mean a flat white cappuccino then I'm not hoping to encounter some more today. I do want to taste gorgeous coffee and count on Grumpy, Ost and 9th street to brew me some.
Time to hit the street of Manhattan.
ps : beautifull flat cap pile flickr photo from LondonSLR. Great shot. Thanks

Monday, April 20, 2009

The New World Barista Champion is Gwilym Davies

They did it again.
Who's 'they'?
James and Annette.
James Hoffmann and Anette Moldvaer. 3 years in a row James won or trained the winner. 3 years in a row Anette selected and roasted the beans. Unbelievable but true.

I think coffee was even a bigger winner today. The top 3 really highlighted the coffee, the holy bean, what you can do with it ; what tastes you may get out of it.

They finished very very close to one another and were a joy to watch.

3rd finisher Michael Phillips made endless combinations with his Rwanda Maraba. He changed doses for every drink, extraction times and even grinder settings!!!
I think he didn't win because he was a little bit too undefined (we couldn't hear what he was saying) and a big bit too nervous. Never seen such an experienced competitor shaking this way. It can't be he didn't make a couple of small mistakes because of that.

2nd finisher Sammy Piccolo did a fantastic, transparent and well balanced show. The Costa Rica-Ethiopia shots looked great and he's a brilliant talker and performer.
This is the 3rd time he's the runner up - once he was 3rd! Lot's of people wanted him to win, but again .... he didn't.
Well, I compared him up front with snooker player Jimmy White. He was always second, but year after year his popularity increased.
Plus, the champ won't be back next year. The vice champ can always come back. I hope so. Please Sammy.

1st place for Gwilym Davies. One pair of shots was running a too slowly and he had to redo them. Therefor he ran short in time. He could have done it in time, but instead of raising his hand he continued his story. It's about coffee, not winning. Respect! And he won anyhow. Never seen before.
I spoke with a judge afterwards and asked what was so special about it. And it was the taste! This Colombian Huila was a big fruit bomb and by far the best shot of all.
Congratulations England ; this is something!!!!
And if I see his age ; I could start dreaming about a come back.

NOT. :-)

Thanks for the photo WBC blog photographer.
For more info about the finals, click this link.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day 3 at the WBC Atlanta

A group photo of the 2009 finalists.
From left to Right :
Sammy Piccolo for Canada.
Michael Phillips for USA
Gwilym Davis for UK
Attila Mornar for Hungary
Colin Harmon for Ireland
Lee Jong Hoon for Korea.

Melanie Nunes for Belgium 27th.
Sander Schat for The Netherlands 34th.

What did we notice :
6 out of 6 : Men (a shame)
5 out of 6 : Made the cappuccino's 2 by 2 (I think)
4 out of 6 : Predicted by Antwerp Barista (not bad, not bad at all)
3 out of 6 : Anfim Super Caimano grinder (every year one more and 6 by 2012)
2 out of 6 : Ethiopian coffee beans from Bagersh (proof is in the pudding)
1 out of 6 : Asia (is on the rise)
0 out of 6 : Scandinavia (remarkable after their dominance over those first 10 years)

Ireland suprized me, but when I heard later on he used these fantastic Bolivia Machacamarca ; Stephen's favourite coffee I wasn't so shocked anymore. But it wasn't him who picked this bean. Colin picked it blind out of 14 beans presented to him. I was willing to buy in some of these greens the other week ; now it think it was a mistake I didn't do it. I hope there will be some left after this championship. I'll ask him tomorrow if he can put some on the side for Caffenation.

And so Vince Piccolo promised me to give a bag of Sammy's coffee tomorrow. It's a blend of Costa Rica's Herbazu and the very popular Yirgacheffe Aricha. Good pick. Is he the main favourite for the finals? No, it's still the next guy :

Michael Phillips used a Rwanda I tasted at the Intelligentsia booth. They made me a double ristretto I found a tad too strong and overwhelming ; why aren't those American's serving any single/normal shots anymore? I regret!
I missed his performance by accident, but it must have been overwhelming. Curious for Sunday.

Lee John Hoon from Korea came out of nowhere. Afterwards I heard from Liesbeth (last year's number 3 - so she knows something about this competition) he had excellent technique. Must be if you're able to handle the 2 portafilters at the same time for dosing, distributing and tamping!!!! Way to go Lee.

Gwilym Davis had a terrific signature drink. It was very interactive and spontaneous. He ran almost out of time, he was very nervous and his espresso's seemed to be kinda small (25 mil said James although they looked smaller - must have been the type of cups...), but it's a worthy finalist and in the mood for a top 3.

Attila Mornar was my outsider for the finals and he did it. Congrats Attila, this should boost the specialty scene in Hungary.

Melanie finished in the middle of the pack for Belgium. She lost a lot on inconsistency. His first shots always ran too long. Strange. I know some people do not like simul spro, but it's a sure thing it keeps the extractions a lot closer to one another.
Also bad points for coffee taste in the signature drinks, but very high scores in techniques and presentation. Good job Melanie and well deserved.

Sander was disappointing for Holland. He lost a lot of points on almost every aspect, but mostly on his very complex signature drink. Nice chap who deserves way better. Maybe next year Sander ; 'kop op'!

So now we're of to the Counter Culture evening for a good beer and chat with Barista friends from all over the world.
Tomorrow report from the finals.
After tomorrow a brief overview from my most interesting encounters at the Fare.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Atlanta arrival

Atlanta we made it
Originally uploaded by reggietamper
Stole this photo from the 'reggietamper' flickr account.
Noticed I forgot my small cable to transfer photo's onto my laptop. Maybe a good thing..... Inside (competition) photo's is not my specialty.

Just arrived after a long flight.

I'm lucky my hotel is a couple of blocks away from the world center.

Went quickly to the Coffee Kids event. Known that I'm the biggest Belgian contributor (also the smallest actually, since nobody else is donating, ..... a shame!) I thought it was up to me to represent the country.

Met Melanie and Peter. They had great reactions on the show yesterday. Thumbs up for a place in the finals. You never know.

Now a shower and on my way to Octane for some coffee and coffee people.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Where's Nana?

Your Antwerp Barista is still at home. Trying to watch the US Live Stream.
One way or another I managed to miss Melanie and Sander. How stupid. Hopefully they show us delayed video's later on.
Saw photo's and a brief explanation of their performance. Nice job by both the Flemish and the Dutch Barista. Congrats.
For those interested : the live feed.
Or the Barista Mag pasteboard.

Did catch our South African Barista. I told earlier this week that he would bring along some great Origin Roasts. But not only his beans were very convincing, also his show was splendid. What a natural flair.
A name to remember : Ishan Natalie.

Strolling through the field of competitors I missed the German candidate.
After some research I spotted this Twitter message from James.

Nana-Holthausen Vehse would have been the participant with the nicest name, but unfortunately the German Barista champ couldn't find enough funding to fly over the ocean towards Atlanta. Yes, it's shocking. A 80 million people country with such an upcoming coffee culture and good Barista's ..... and no money!!??

Tomorrow on the 6.10 AM bus to the airport for my Continental flight. Exciting.
Cu in Atlanta.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

WBC 2009 Predictions

Dear coffee friends,

Last year I had a 4 out of 6 in my predictions for the finals. Not bad, not bad at all (dixit Laboratoria).
And after the qualifications I predicted Stephen to win.

This year it's going to be tough to score as high in my predictions. But, I'll try.

Starting with the easy part : the veterans.
Everybody knows the class of Carl Sara and Salvatore 'Sammy' Piccolo. Only bad luck can get them in the audience in stead of on stage next Sunday.

Then the home Barista and Intelligentsia forwarder Michael 'Mike' Phillips. If I have to pick one name ; it's his. But is he able to handle the stress? We'll see.

Three down, three more to tackle.
It's easy to pick the guys from Scandinavia. And it's easy to pick the Square Mile man. But my 4th man - yes I predict a male festival - is the Hungarian Barista Champ Attila Molnar.
He has this furious first name, experience (11th last year), great coaching (Fritz S.) and good coffee.

Two places left and we didn't talk about Belgium and Holland yet.

Sander Schat, representing our Dutch Neighbours, especially moved to a new apartment where a championship set up - including the Simonelli Aurelia - was placed right in the middle. This is a pro surrounded by a very good, experienced team and great Bocca coffee. I wish him all the luck, but the finals ...... I'm afraid not. Top 10? Maybe.

Melanie Nunes is our lovely Belgian Champ and trained by veteran Peter Deprez. Peter never fails, but Melanie is probably not experienced enough to make it to the finals. Top 20 is the goal, everything better would be a bonus. Good luck Melanie.

Let's go back to Denmark, Sweden and England.
Morten Vestenaa represents Denmark. He got the perfect coaching (by Danish former w-champs !), experience and maybe the most interesting coffee of the pack ; the Bagersh Idido Aricha - a type of coffee I talked about in my previous post about awkward beans and roasted by Championship Specialist roaster Peter Dupont. That should be good enough.

The Swedish Barista is Mattias Björklund. He got the looks, a sizzling +700 points at the SBC in Stockholm, Swedish know how, the beans - a Daterra-Beloya blend!!!! - and the looks. That should be good enough.

UK Champ Gwilym Davis : the oldest of the pack. But this shouldn't be a disadvantage. He got self confidence, a Square Mile roast - winner last 2 years!!!, an Anfim Super Caimano and the best trainer in the world. That's more than good enough.

Morten is not going to make it. He takes 7th place. Is the Aricha a bit too wicked? No, it's just a wild guess.

We'll see it all from tomorrow on. At the website : you can find the schedule and much more.
For covering the competition ; keep an eye on the Barista Mag blog (see link list).

Have fun, speak to you soon.
Your reporter : Antwerp Barista.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Origin Coffee Roasters South Africa

When you're on a espresso bar/coffee run in South Africa Capetown : Origin is the place to be.

Bird went there last month and was astonished by their coffee's, atmosphere and friendliness.

He brought along a couple kilo's of goodies. Well done B.

The Origin Espresso Blend is a mix of different single estates roasted with the highest precision and this you can taste. I have to admit that this is the kind of upper class blend I'm looking for. Lots of details and all of them on the right place. The South African Barista Champ, Ishan Natalie, is going to Atlanta with coffee from Origin. With a blend like this, coupled with great crafts mans ship he can score high.

We had also a Dominican Republic and a Ethiopian Sidamo on the Anfim. Both fantastic single origin coffee's roasted and packed to perfection.

But the coffee that was beating the s... out of us was the Rwanda Musasa. We couldn't stop drinking this wonder of nature. Deep sweet asparagus mixed with dark quality chocolate and raw can sugar. Unbelievable. I understand this taste subscription may sound a little bit weird and unbelievable to some of you, but it was all there and tasted great. At least to us and most of the clients, although some were a bit offended by this crazy bean and said it had nothing to do with coffee. I can understand this. It's a bit like the molecular kitchen. You love it or you hate it.

It brought back memories to our first 'crazy' bean we encountered at the cupping table : the Ethipian Idido Mistey Valley from Stumptown. Or more recently a natural Yirgacheffe from the same exporter : Bagersh.
You taste a lot of things you usually never taste in coffee and it asks a certain flexibility from you and your buds.

Great job Origin Roasters. And you may always send us some samples to cup for you. :-)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

WBC Countdown

For those who don't know : we have a new World Barista Championship around the corner.

April 16-19 Atlanta organises this yearly event.
Barista Champions from 50 country's around the globe will be entering the arena to see who's going to take over the crown from current champion Stephen Morrisey.
To have an idea about the quality's of 'worlds' best Barista', you can click here to see his winning performance of last year.

Your Antwerp Barista got his flight tickets and hotel booked and is going to report you about the competition and other news surrounding the championship.
Besides of this I'm going to do some espresso bar runs in the towns of Atlanta and New York.

In a future post I'll bring you a closer look on the most important Barista's competing.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Honduras on the Rise?

For years we used Honduras coffee's in our blend, but not as Specialty Coffee.
Sweet Maria's (who made the map) tells us that their main problems are logistics and the processing of the beans.
But things are changing.
To begin with their Cup of Excellence program.

And this Reuters article in Flex-News-Food shows Honduras has the plan to push their Specialty's up to 20% of their total volume by the year 2010.

In Belgium the Honduras is traded a lot, but till today actually only for it's price ; it's cheaper then beans from neighbour coffee country's as Guatemala and Nicaragua.
We used Honduras not so much and only for blending between the months of March and November. Two years ago we had this fantastic Honduras Lempira SHG. Wonderful results, but never saw a bean that lost their taste so quickly. Six month after crop arrival the taste was gone.

Looking forward for more and better Honduras (still at a great price?).....

Friday, April 3, 2009

April Fools' Day

Espresso for Artists

Lots of young artists at the espresso bar. All kinds of artists. Young and old. Male and Female.

The most active and spoken off must be Benjamin Verdonck.

Last month he has this very spectacular project around the corner. A big bird died in an accident and was covered up with a white blanket. Around the dead bird, police who had to keep the audience at distance. That was talk of the town for a day and Benjamin came in every other hour for another espresso kick since he worked all night long at this project. Splendid.

This week we notice a couple blocks away a big pink ball on a well known statue. We were all wondering who did it, but it didn't take long for Benjamin to show up and asking us if we saw it already.
Conclusion : Drink Caffenation House Blend for good inspiration. :-)