Sunday, June 28, 2009

I Won an Award

A couple of months ago I couldn't believe my head was on the SCAE website because I was nominated for one of the SCAE awards for Coffee Excellence, as a Hidden Treasure.
Most generally I'm not so fond of being in meetings and organisations and having myself on the front page, but apparently that was a little bit the reason I was nominated as 'Hidden'.

So after a Friday with 13 hours of work and starting very early at the bar Saturday Bert and I raced toward Köln on Saturday afternoon.
Even without excessive speed it only took us 2 hours and 15 minutes. Easy.

Once arrived at the fare it was nice meeting so many coffee friends and business partners and greeting the large Belgian representation.

In the evening we were at the Gala Diner sitting at what later became a prestigious table. Peter, the newly crowned Latte Art Champ is an Antwerp Barista as well, so it was no surprise we joined up. Across of me Jeanne Gennar. For a couple years we only met at Championships, which she organises, but since she's also organising Coffee Consulate workshops and distributing Weber and CC we starting knowing one another better and even noticed we were born in neighbour villages. First price of the evening was for Jeanne who became the National Coordinator of the year. Congrats Jeanne and well deserved.

Then time for the other awards.

Lifetime Achievement Award : Neal Robinson (Bunn)

Young Entrepeneur Award : Filip Akerblom. Bart and Peter Deprez were also nominated for this award!

Passionate Communicator Award : Franz Grunwald

Outstanding Producer Award : Ipanema Coffee's Brazil

Coffee Photography winner : Johanna Wechselberger

Hidden Treasure Award : Rob Berghmans.

Although experienced with speeches in a past profession it felt weird to be there on stage in front of all these coffee experts and enthusiasts.

Very proud but still not understanding all of it, I continued the eve. It all sank in better after a couple of beers with the Barista's Gwilym, Colin, Ben, Stephen, Bert, Kim, Peter and others. That's more my habitat I guess.

Ok, enough self confidence and energy to keep on working like I did last couple of years. Very hard and with a coffee bean in the heart. Greetz. Rob

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Peter Hernou World Latte Art Champion

I still can't believe this but he made it.
I knew he was impeccable on free pour and it showed this year.
After dropping his pitcher last year he came back in full revenge and took the crown. It reminds me a bit of Fred De Burggraeve who slipped off the starting blocks at the Olympics one year, but won the Olympic title 4 years later on the 100 meter breast stroke.

Congrats Peter. And of course I have to think back how it all started 4 years ago with the 2 of us discovering the Latte Art and learning everything by ourselves.
Very very proud and happy to have an Antwerp Barista as world champion!!!!!!!!
Next latte at Caffenation is on my account. :-)

For those who want to see how it all looks like : click it.
(the best capps I ever saw on stage)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Barista Jam June 21

This one again was a so-called non professional one, although 3 new Caffenation clients sent over some rookie Barista's. An evening like this feels like the best introduction into our wonderful wonderful world.

First part was the same as always. An overview on Arabica varietals and origins, to finish off with some cupping. Besides of three very different tasting beans we also had a market leader coffee from Sara Lee. Unfortunately for SL some people were angry at me to have them tasting this, not so pleasant, 'factory' coffee. And angry at Sara Lee since they feel like they've been fooled for ages. I understand.

Second part was Roeland experimenting with all different ingredients. Like making improvised signature drinks. Katrien and I couldn't believe our eyes how fluently he mixed up all ingredients (14 in total) with 3 different coffee bases. A remarkable performance for a try out!!

Then extraction and espresso theory, to finish with a Latte Art demonstration by Katrien, who's these days swinging her arms into all possible directions to end up with perfect rosetta's.

Q&A and time to go home after 2 and a half hours of 'coffee class'. New Jam in September. And an advanced Jam - also for pro's - in October after the champion ships. Promised!

(all photo's by Keefe C.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


WEHTMMM runs from 8th July to 30th September 2009 at Caffenation Hopland, and is a project by Keefe Cordeiro.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Poor Mans' Clover

Poor mans' Clover, or the AeroPress.
I don't really know what took me so long, but finally Has Bean Steve shipped over a AeroPress Coffee Brewer.

Probably the Tim Wendelboe post about the Aero Press world championships was the final push I needed. Before some of my most fanatic clients tried to get me into it, but I had still so many other brewing systems to discover and master...

Anyway, it all arrived on Tuesday and only by Saturday I did my first brew.
Directly my taste buds were attacked with a very full taste. The coffee had very good body and stronger then expected. That was just a Daterra (Sweet Collection) cup, which is, by the way, our Roast of the Week.
The second was with the same (basic) technique and an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. Flabergasted. That's what Michael Phillips wanted the judges to be at the WBC in Atlanta. We were Saturday with our second AeroPress brew. Very rich, fruity and long lasting cup of coffee, best to be compared with a Clover cup, more than with an espresso machine.
Now I understand why Tim sold his Clover.

I noticed the system prefers lighter roasts, which is sometimes a problem since we do not roast that light.
Although I often read and heard the AeroPress is keeping the bitters low, I had more bitters in the cup with this system then with filter brews. It balanced more towards a +5 minutes press or Eva Solo. Even in the after taste I do notice good bitters. But the intensity and flavor harmony does remind me very strong at the Clovers I had before - 2 at Estate and 1 at Grumpy.

A big huray for the AeroPress. I think it's even time to organise a new Barista Jam soon in which this system can be highlighted.

To finish a quick link with brewing advise from the world masters Jensen, Kaminsky and Juras. The first two seem to be a bit more technical and complicated with Lukasz his system closest to mines. Unfortunately I can't find nothing but stupid video's online.

I hope I can post you soon the way we think it's easy and good to work with this 'machine'.

For those interested in buying one ; you can click here(GB) or here(NL). Maybe it's a good idea in the future to stock some at Caffenation. I'll keep you informed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

POST 500

For once I'm sitting down with pen and paper, Rocky's notebook. She won't mind. Like so often midweeks, she's in her bedroom dreaming the sweetest dreams, while I'm blogging.
And today I'm looking back at 16 months of caffenation dot blogspot dot com.

500 posts!! I still can't believe.
When I started the blog, I hardly knew what a blog was. And I was asking myself : An online diary? Why would I keep a diary? A coffee diary? What do I have to say? What could be interesting enough? What isn't on the web yet?

Then I thought about Jeroen Veldkamp and his Dutch Barista blog. Written in English but very instructive for the Dutch (and Belgian) coffee community.
Since there wasn't anything like that in Antwerp or Belgium I decided to call it Antwerp Barista.
It sounded nice, even though I'm not a full time Barista. But my job and wide intrests seemed to be an advantage to keep the blog divers. I do cupping, green beans outsourcing, roasting control, planting coffee, managing of espresso bars, Barista training, competition at championships, organisation of Barista jams, consulting starters in coffee or coffee related businesses, etc....
However I still wondered what exactly to write about?
I listed some idea's I wanted to write about and ended up with 18. That seemed to be enough.
And from 18 I went to 100 and James Hoffmann's world title. And quickly I had 200 articles - a Daterra info post. In those days half of them were more copy-paste articles then real (personal) articles, but I felt myself some kind of coffee reporter and I kept on going.
Today 500 posts, one way or another all about the, or should I say 'my', coffee world.

Since that first day in February 2007, I've visited plenty of coffee company's, traders, coffee farmers, Barista champs, home Barista's, espresso bars, big (coffee) city's, coffee fares and so on. Not every visit was that interesting, and for sure not all blog posts were interesting, but in one way or another it felt ok for me to write about it. And via that way, bit by bit, I helped to improve coffee knowledge and increase the coffee level in the Antwerp and Flanders area and even further. Yes, bit my bit, I also made myself known to the wide coffee world.

Today I'm still anxious and excited to attack new championships (Köln is waiting), new coffee's (the Daterra Sweet Collection just arrived), new brewing techniques (the new aero press is waiting to be tested), new coffee lovers (every day again) and so much more. All things to read about soon on Antwerp Barista.

Finally I hope that my Dutch speaking friends/readers are not too offended by the (poor) English writing. I hope they understand 50% of the readers not master my mother language. And I also hope they understand that one of the best things in this 3rd wave coffee world is the fact that it's all about coffee. One big coffee world without borders, with lots of fun, love and friendship and an ongoing open communication. We're all here to spread the word aren't we?

Y'all ready for another 500, or more?
I am.

Lots of love,
and good coffee,
your Antwerp Barista.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Mailman Always Delivers

With the NBA finals over and Kobe winning his fourth ring (and Didier his first), I have to think back at one of the greatest players ever without a championship ring ; Karl Malone, the man who always delivered.

In our profession we have our daily routines. And sometimes it's hard to keep on delivering. A couple hundreds of arty cappuccino's a day. Hundreds of great espresso's. Perfect etching and all the time make sure the client has a good time.

I was happy to see I was still able to deliver last week in a small latte art throw down against Bert and Dieter, although the last one was definitely under achieving, he normally is outstanding.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Paris Espresso Bar Run

Quick Paris visit. It's only 1 hour and 50 minutes from Antwerp, so ...

Finally visited Soluna myself.

Nice meeting Yady Elyas who informed me with all love about their business and beans.
Tasted the all famous Rwanda Nyamagabe. James Hoffmann once wrote a very interesting article about this bean. No 'Potato' taste for me, but lots of chocolate, medium strenght, fruity flavoured coffee with great finish. I tasted once a very fresh shot of Stephens championship blend, which contained some of this Rwanda. This was my second try and it will definitely not be my last.

Took home some Gua, Ethio and Peru coffee. Maybe soon more about these coffee's. Hopefully it's going to be fresh crop, cause sometimes they have old beans lingering around the place. I understand it's hard to sell all these bags of specialty coffee, but at the prices asked for these beans, I expect some new crop ones!

Besides of Soluna Caféotheque de Paris I had two small cups. One was at the Temple cafe, besides the metro station. Disgusting! Yes, Paris isn't known for top notch coffee preparations. Hopefully we may change some things with Caffenation in the future. With the train Paris is closer by than Amsterdam, and with 10 million people eagerly waiting for good coffee ; the market is huge and wide open.

One more espresso at Brasserie Le Marigny at the Boulevard Port Royal 86 and not bad at all. Good job for a 'regular' bar actually. Congrats. You see, there's some light at the end of the tunnel.
The beautiful 'Café Florio' photo was taken on their terrace.

For the amateurs : attached an article from the Flying Thud about his Paris experiences. We passed by Laduree, but found a Japanese expert around the corner of our hotel, also on the Bd Port Royal, with great macarons and chocolates. Hmmmm!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Doppio Ristretto

Most specialised places around the world are offering those thick strong small espresso's. I do see this more as a doppio ristretto.
And that's what we have on the mirror since this week.
Our 'Afrique C'est Chique' blend drinks really well this way. 24 (twenty four!) grams, 20 to 25 seconds extraction and 25-30 ml in the cup. Very strong, syrupy, pronounced acidity and flavours and a very long lasting aftertaste that doesn't need a glass of water to rinse your mouth*. That's the way it should be.
Next week we'll have a darker blend as Roast of the Week. Very interesting on ristretto as well.

* This doesn't mean it's not smart to drink some water after a strong cup. It's better to do so, a minute or so after your shot, to rinse your stomach.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Intelligentsia LA Venice

Is this worlds finest espresso bar?

Personalized drinks made with the best beans in the world, by the best Barista's in the world, prepared on the best equipment in the world. At least, that's the idea.

A pity California is a tad too far away to be at the opening today. May the one who's lucky enough to visit the bar leave a comment.

Congrats at Kyle, Doug, Dave, Chris, Daniel and all the others.

(photo by seanbonner. click the name(link) for more Intel photo's)

Brassperge 2009

It was a big honour for Caffènation to present our weekly Roast of the Week : Afrique C'est Chique - a unique blend of 4 African coffee's - at the Brassperge festival this year.

Johan did a great job brewing the freshly grounded beans on a professional drip brewer, 60 grams a liter.

A total of 30 liters of our Roast went down the throat of the enchanted participants!!

We'll be back next year with more great stuff.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Peaberry - Caracoli

Roast of the week at Caffenation is a Brazil Caracoli.
Another name for caracoli is peaberry.
At Wikipedia we found the following explanation :

Peaberry, also known as caracoli, is a type of coffee bean. Normally the fruit of the coffee plant develops as two halves of a bean within a single cherry, but sometimes only one of the two seeds gets fertilized so there is nothing to flatten it. This oval (or pea-shaped) bean is known as Peaberry. Typically around 5% of all coffee beans harvested are of this form.

Normal coffee beans are less commonly called by contrast flat berry.

Peaberry coffees are particularly associated with Tanzanian Coffee. [1]

This week we also tested a Tanzania Peaberry called Hope. Tanzania is indeed known for it's peaberry, although you find them in many Eastern African country's.

Very interesting to see that it looks like the peaberry is better for espresso than his flat berry brother. It still remember a documentary by Paul Bassett in which the owner of the well known Sydney espressobar Campos is full of passion for Kenyan coffee and especially the peaberry one they offer.

Last year we've been cupping a lot of Brazilian coffee's and this caracoli stood out for body and cleanliness.
On espresso it shows ; more body then the other Santos and Cerrado beans we find in the harbour and a less acidic finish.
For this special price of €3,80 a bag (250gr) this week at Caffenation.

One last thing about this funky looking peaberry/caracoli. Sometimes you wonder why they're so small, but apparently you mostly pick the beans at the end of the branch and are therefor less developed.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Geisha Coffee On the Rise

Not only the all famous La Esmeralda, but also other Panama Geisha coffee's are getting more popular.
An interesting read : click it.

More about the geisha variental : click it.