Monday, August 31, 2009

Humphries on the Roll

Daniel Humphries ; an Intelligentsia man in Brooklyn is on the roll with his blog. It was 3 weeks ago I read his last post about the Guatemalan Huehuetenango beans. He is not known for a lot of internet activity, but look ; at once he's throwing in almost a post a day.
Definitily check it : click here.

Keep up the good work Daniel and hope to meet up soon.

Also a good read is Hoffmann's post about Natural Processed coffee's. People who read my blog from time to time or spoken with me about my favourite Specialty's know I'm a huge fan of these Naturals. The natural Yirgacheffe's, Sidamo's, Limu's and Harrar's I've been drinking were all very exciting and totally my cup of 'tea'.
James was talking about that certain 'barnyard' smell/taste you often encounter while drinking these coffee's. I have to admit I like that. Also for cheeses and wine I'm a big fan of those deep, sweaty, earthy tastes. Mixed with tons of fruits the naturals contain (of course because of their processing technique that keeps some 'berry flesh' covering the bean) it's my favourite type of coffee bean/processing technique.

Hope taste some more soon and have some at Caffenation one of the months.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Agenda Update

Very quiet in blog land. It's been awhile I read an article online that was worth mentioning.

Meanwhile we're standing at the doors of September and a lot of activity.

Monday September 7th we go to Mechelen for some good old 'regional' Barista Championships. Roeland has to defend our colours and this is going to be a huge task I you see also Melanie, Stefaan and François are there.
In between Louis Donck. Very interested how this coffee roaster/cupping champ is going to perform in such a specialised discipline as a Barista CC.

And special attention for Isabelle Verschraegen of Or Gent. She's been training with us and that was very promising.

  1. Stefaan Behaege
  2. Melanie Nunens
  3. Louis Donck
  4. Kathleen Serdons
  5. Isabelle Verschraegen
  6. François Knopes

  7. Irma Sinagic
  8. Hanna Kaulalenco
  9. Fred Cristinelli
  10. Kenny Burssens
  11. Chakamol Supho
  12. Renoto Bogglière
  13. Roeland Lenaerts
  14. 2 or 3 Natural Barista's
Best of this list are going for the title October 1st at the San Marco Village, Boomsesteenweg A12.

And best 3 of the best perform that evening for the title.
It's going to be busy and more expensive than last year, but this way our National Rep will has some more experience for the world championships. Last year Melanie only had 15 minutes of experience and that's not enough of course.

September 15 we see Bird participating at the Semis of the Latte Art Championships. 8 minutes for 2 machiato's, 2 cappuccino and 2 creative drinks.
The best 3 Latte artists also go to the San Marco Village October 1. Exciting.

One of our Barista's at Caffenation gave birth to a baby!!
Congrats Fanny and hopefully a good recovery and soon back to pull some good old shots at Hopland. We miss you.

Today I'm going to Bodum to see their newest stuff.

Tomorrow I'm going to order my first Aeropress delivery. After a disappointing performance Friday we had some very sweet and flowery Yirgacheffe yesterday at Hopland. And as always : super duper clean!
I want to start doing home brewing classes with these beauties in October or the latest November.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

German Invasion

While Pauli is over from Germany and having her Barista training, the WEHTMMM exeb is featuring a HEIMAT production. Coincidence? Yes.

This is a serious training Pauli is having. For her school she was looking for a place to work and study. As her father is a serious coffee lover and friend of Stephen; via Jeanne they ended up at Caffenation.
And it's an honour to train this very young and gifted girl.
2013 German Barista Champion : Pauli Leffhalm. ;-)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Coffee Puck Dump

Found this dump nearby a client of mine.
Hopefully it's seen as a fertilizer.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pierre & Joseph : Caffé Serré

Parisians never really talk about their coffee. Its something one sips when the other is giving its latest views on socialistic politics. Coffee is just there, and according to them, the best of the world, fin de discussion.
I never really agreed with their assumption, coffee in France isn't even french, it's Italian. If you ask an espresso you will more than probably get a watery coffee in a small espresso cup. The best thing is actually to ask for a caffe serré, as this will come very close to what is know in the rest of the world as an espresso.
So when I asked around where the coffee might be better than the accompanying cookie, I was referred to Verlet in Rue St Honorée.
When entering it was clear that they were serious about their business, there was loose tea and some precious spices displayed alongside their speciality coffee house blend. There was also no bar for hanging and talking, only tables, this was a place for savouring and tasting,
All tables were full so we decided to go upstairs to the second floor. To our surprise there was another espresso machine, a grudgy looking Faema 2 groups.
The menu was pretty small, we took the espresso of the house blend. Jeff was already weary and took a sencha green tea to share, something we have been exploring lately. We were curious about the running time so we actually timed it, after 30 seconds we were looking worried. Our concern grew after another 10 seconds, turning into disbelief after another 15 seconds, than there was denial and afterwards acceptance. The espresso ran for a whopping one minute and forty two seconds, while the barista was looking at it in a very concentrated manner, all the time holding the cups firmly under the sputtering machine.
It is unnecessary at this point to make a serious review about the coffee. If something was unique in that bean it was now shattered and cooked beyond recognition. The same could be said of the green tea, witch was served on cooked water, way to warm for any serious delicate extracion.
The cookie however was, as always in Paris, vraiment impeccable.
Like thirsty men in a desert of bland blends we just cave in to our needs and went into a random café around the corner of Le Bon Marché on Rue du Bac, it was called Café les Mouettes. We had the lowest of expectations, nonetheless we ordered deux eXpress, to our amasement it wasn't all that bad. It's been years that I tasted a factory produced coffee. I have long had a theory that these mass produced brands actually adjust to the end producer of the coffee, for example the cafe's of France. They adjust their roasting procedure and select their beans specifically for/or to tolerate underextraction (wich in the case of France happens very often). It is only logical and cheaper than training every possible barkeeper. Underextraction using the beans in Caffenation would have a dramatic impact on the taste, the espresso would be very acidic. This is not the case in the bar in Paris.

Pierre & Joseph,
Antwerp Baristi à Paris

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tasting Champion Water Choice

You don't need the best taste buds in the world to know Water + More Bestmax Filters are the best around.
Casper (the man with the best buds) knows. And so does Caffenation.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

San Francisco Coffee

Gerrit and his friend are back in town to dance for 'our' Ballet Van Vlaanderen.
Actually San Francisco is their hometown.
One of my dreams is to go their to see some good bars and taste their coffee's.

Oh lord I was happy when they brought along some goodies from San Fran this week.
Two Blue Bottle bags, One from Fourbarrel and a last one from Ritual. This Ritual Sundae Espresso Blend was a very full bodied drink. A bit comparable to the Stumptown Hairbender but not so brutal.
Then Blue Bottle's first was 17 Valley I think. Tasted like it contained a bit of robusta. Not as good as the Ritual, but still a very good cup.
The other two bags or for Saturday. If you're at Hopland fast enough you can taste them....

Meanwhile Apetown's art work is not getting the attention it deserves. Is this the reason he looks so offensive on this photo?

And a self portrait.
No, I wasn't drunk.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Executive Finish

In the past we had menu's where we offered several topping possibility's for some drinks.
Sometimes clients asked us what executive finish means.
Here you are :

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hungry For Competition

All people who follow the Barista Championships in Belgium know that Caffenation is a big fan of most of the Coffee competitions.
After participating by myself three years ago, we had Bird two years ago and last year Jessie and Katrien.
This year rookie Roeland is our man for the Barista Championships. Bird is going to show his skills at the Latte Art contest.

Very often I think by myself these competitions are consuming too much energy and time. And sometimes I'm even thinking of retiring.
But then, when a couple of months without any competition are passing by, the hunger comes back.

And so I was very anxious to move over to Hopland last Sunday for a session with Roeland.

The man is used to train by himself, and does all the hard work (prep, dishwashing, ...), but I am his trainer and when you train somebody new there's a lot of work to be done.

Before - two months ago - we went over the tactics. Simul Spro of not? One or two grinders? Music? Cappuccino's 2 by 2 or all 4 together? Theme? Sig drink tactics and so on and so on.
Then I did a 15 minute to give an example of how it works and then it's up to the Barista to exercise.

Last month Roeland did a couple of trainings by himself and one with me.

Now, we're 4 weeks away from semi finals and a lot of issues have been tackled.
Now it's time to train it dry. The theme is fixed. We have a blend. We have the lines. We have the milk. We have most of the music. We have Roeland working his way through the hundreds of rules. It's a lot of sweat with a drill instructor like me on the side line.

Biggest challenge and training labour for Roeland is to bring the lines like a veteran. Then a good quarter hour at the semis and working towards perfection for the finals October 1st.

This week Pauli from Germany is joining the team as a runner.
And Isabelle (Or) hopefully next Sunday for her first training at Hopland. Exciting.

After a couple of run throughs it's time for a Horse Ale at Kassa 4. Well deserved.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Starbucks is Coming to Town?

Today online :

Starbucks komt naar Centraal Station Antwerpen

De Amerikaanse koffieketen Starbucks gaat later dit jaar een winkel openen in het Centraal Station van Antwerpen. Het gaat om de eerste winkel buiten de luchthaven van Zaventem.

"Starbucks streeft ernaar op vooraanstaande internationale reizigerskruispunten aanwezig te zijn en het Centraal Station van Antwerpen beantwoordt aan die criteria", luidt het. Ook de NMBS is al geruime tijd bezig stations om te vormen in winkel- en ontmoetingsplaatsen. Momenteel zijn er meer dan 320 winkels in de stations en dat aantal blijft stijgen. (belga/bdr)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cafelat Pitcher & Tamper

Finally some Cafelat stuff on the counter.
Espresso West is doing the online distribution.
We do like the pitchers. Metal is thin, design is fantastic and prices ok. But also dis advantages. Pouring asks a special grip, because the handle is too far away from the pouring mouth, you have to put your fingers on the top of the pitcher. For those who're looking for more and finer leaves in the rosetta, this pitcher could give you some extra help.

A question to pitcher manufacturers : why do we so often find 0,4 l and 0,7 liter pitchers and not so many 0,5 and 0,6 liter pitchers? Steaming with a 0,4 is dangerous. With a 0,7 you quickly texture too much milk for 2 cappuccino's.

The new Cafelat tamper line looks fantastic. Pillar, Nikka, Drop and Royal are the names.
They seemed to be a bit heavy to me. Lately I'm very concerned for my Barista's to crack the coffee puck while tapping the sides of the filter baskets. Most of them are still used to tap the baskets. With the Coffee Consulate tampers there's no risk and with this rubber Cafelat Pillar Tamper we want to keep it like that.
Problem is the very flat top of the base. We're not used to it. I like to have Barista's personalise their techniques. They have to since every person is different. Dieter his hands for example are double the size of Katriens. Dieter sticks with a rock solid Reg Barber, lots of pressure and a tick and double twist technique. Katrien prefers the smallest CC, high dose, 15K with a tick and small twist.
Result of the test : nobody took the Cafelat as a personal tamper. This doesn't mean it's a bad tamper though.
Coffee Consulate Profi tampers still recommended. Very well priced and a fantastic result in the cup. For sale at KOFCA or CC.

Caffenation Staff Social Barbeque

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Latte Art by a Champ

One of my favourite vids ever.
The more 'pressure' the better.
Morrisey is doing just fine.