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.

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