Thursday, February 21, 2013

Filter Grinding at Home

Not the easiest of things : grinding coffee at home.
Espresso is almost hopeless, unless you're willing to invest big money and take a training. Filter grinding is a whole lot coarser of course, and .... easier.
A quick guide through some gear and a couple of tips to get the perfect brew at your own kitchen counter.

Hand Grinders are the cheapiest solution if we talk filter.
Nothing as good as freshly ground coffee, and with €35 in your pocket you get yourself a grinder for some daily fresh coffee in your filter or press. Mostly it does not take more than a minute to grind 20 grams by hand. And it's a good early mourning exercise on top. :-)

An overview of hand grinders i've been working with.

Hario Skerton : the classic one. We've sold a lot of these Japanese hand grinders.
It's light, rock solid and relatively easy to adjust.
The grind quality is very good, but ergonomics sucks. After half a minute my hand start to hurt. The attachment of the grinder with the (glass) jar is too wide.
This jar is an extra point though. Looks good and easy to clean. 7/10
(we also sell the Tiamo copy sometimes. It also exists in different cool colors. it's cheaper and i didn't spot a difference in quality yet)

Tiamo Grinder Manual Stainless Steel (old skool look) : It's 5 or 10 euro's more expensive then the classic Skerton, but a whole lotta faster. It looks good to a lot of people. We had 4 in store and they were all sold within a week.
I tested them once with 120 grams - for a Kenya Batch on the Bunn. It worked really well and the quality of grind was good, but I don't really trust the fixation of the shaft with the burrs. It seems to be a bit shaky. And once you start to get a bit of movement on the spindle you risks it breaks off one day or another, because of all the force you put on it. 7/10

Hario Slim Mini Mill : The small and more plastic version of the Skerton.
Once we bought a box of these and had a lot of complaints. All kinds of things seem to go wrong with this grinder. Not the best of options!! 4/10

Porlex JP30 Stainless Steel Hand Grinder : I only tested this once. It felt really good in my hands, it's ergonomical and easy to take with you on holiday. It felt strong but not very easy to adjust.
It's not the cheapest, but I heard a lot of good reactions about it and so I'm willing to give it a 7,5/10.

Zassenhaus Wooden Hand Grinder : These are classic grinders from long ago. Also Peugeot and many other manufacturers build similar 'old fashioned' ones like these.
I once had a Zassenhaus grinder. After the second use it blocked completely and I trew it in the garbage can.
It's not very hygienic either, bad ergonomics and difficult to travel with. 5/10

Grindripper : As far as i know they build the Tiamo in China and the Grindripper in Korea. There are 2 version in my possesion. A couple months ago they sended me a box with Grindrippers, just packed in plastic, with a small plastic coffee tube to attach to the grinder. That's my favourite one.
The others (classic box) we sell since 2 years (easily 30 a year!) and is wrapped in a nice box with a travel bag and a small plastic dripper that works fantastic for small cups.
The Grindripper is very ergonomic. When you put the tube or the small black cap on it, you have a lot of freedom with your hands and I can easily reload it 3 times in a row without getting cramps. (One filling of the container is about 20 grams and mostly a good size for a Clever Dripper or big Aeropress or V60 brew, so you can measure out your quantity like that).
It's easy to adjust, light, the grind is very stable and I never had one complaint about it!)
8/10 for the box set (this one is more expensive). And 8,5/10 for the cheaper version!!

Over to the Electric part :
Starting with the small electric grinders with knife :
Better a knife than pre ground, but I would stay away from these type of grinders.
They cut the beans which isn't helping the taste.
And you don't know how fine or coarse you're grinding. 3/10

Bodem and other small espressso grinders :
They're used for espresso and therefor not so great for filter. On top of it I notice a lot of noise, very static and not the best building quality.
Again, better than nothing, but not recommandable. 5/10

Mahlkonig Vario :
A great and easy to handle grinder.
You have a lot of options and the grind quality is very good.
The steep price sets this grinder 2 points back though. 7/10

Baratza Virtuoso :
Very popular grinder that should be able to grind espresso as well. As most of those lighter espressso grinders I notice a lot of problems. Beans are too tough and the grinder and burrs too light to achieve a solid long term quality grind.
Yes you can use them for filter only, but then the Maestro is even better, and .... cheaper.
On top of that there were manufacturing problems with this grinder last year and we had to return 4 or 5 of them. Great service from the company, but I prefer grinders that do the job all the time of course. 6/10

Baratza Maestro+ :
The one and only.
You don't have coffee stuck in between. 20 grams goes in : the same (but ground) 20 grams goes out!!!
It's very easy to adjust. It's stable. Easy to clean. Very cheap. Not static.
But most of all it gives you a fantastic grind. The Maestros conical burrs are especially build for filter grinders and this you can taste.
Also you have less 'fines' than with the big jumbo grinders and therefor I prefer using this one at home in stead of a big Burr or Ditting.
After a couple of years I notice the rubber is getting less flexible and you maybe need to change burrs sooner or later, but for such a price you can't complain about this. Best Buy By Far. 9/10.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Latte Art Throwdown - Clash of the Lowlands bij Viggo's Antwerpen

En den Boone kwam, zag en overwon! Juuuuuj!
(en ik was er weer niet - met goed excuus - , maar gelukkig mijn kopjes en onze Simon wel)

Online Membership coffee Feb 12 : PNG Kimel (Dutch)

Papua New Guinea Kimel Estate.
Heel lang geleden dat we nog eens een koffie uit Papua New Guinea vinden die ons aanstaat. En dan nog een Peaberry, of zo'n rond boontje. De meeste koffiebessen bevatten 2 boontjes die tegen mekaar aan gedrukt zijn en daarom een platte kant hebben. De Peaberry of Caricoli daarentegen zit alleen in de bes en heeft daarom geen platte kant.
Meestal vindt dit natuurkundig fenomeen plaats in de besjes op het einde van de tak. Hier is er minder waterdoorvoer en daardoor zijn de boontjes meestal klein. Deze Peaberry echter is van gemiddelde grootte, screen size 16.
De reden dat wij dikwijls proberen het Peaberry (PB) lot vast te krijgen is omdat deze iets langer vers blijft en ook net iets krachtiger en minder scherp smaakt; een serieus voordeel bij voornamelijk espressobereidingen. Een extra bonus is de soms lagere aankoopprijs; de meeste koffiebranders vinden de Peaberry er niet mooi uitzien in hun melange. De meeste traditionele 'meesterbranders' zijn evenzeer 'meestermelangeurs', maar wij zouden het doodzonde vinden om zulk een mooi boontje te gaan vermengen en bieden ze dus als 'Single Estate' aan.

De Kimel Estate is een redelijk grote plantage, oorspronkelijk opgestart door Australiërs, maar nu in bezit en uitgebaat door lokale inboorlingen die de traditionele eigendommen van de streek opeisen.
Het is gelegen in de Wahgi vallei, nabij Mount Hagen in de Western Highlands Province.

Opvallende aciditeit voor een koffie uit dit werelddeel. Doet me denken aan aciditeit van een Riesling wijn, inclusief het florale aspect.
Verder medium body en naar het einde toe veel chocolade en zelfs Meditteraanse kruiden. Een zeer complexe en levendige kop dus.
Enjoy! En tot volgende week, of die daarna. :-)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Caffenation Bar Run 2012

Lots of new clients last year.
And while some were not specialized, others should be very attractive for the average coffee 'snob'.
Here a short list :

They have a vintage clothing shop next door to The Village Utrecht. Meanwhile they also became fan of our bar in Antwerp.
A first meeting made things very clean : we had to collaborate in Antwerp.
Now we are very proud about this very cosy place called Sussies. It's a cross over between Vintage clothing, furniture and top class coffee.
Our retired workhorse, a 3-group Linea is still doing a pretty good job for our Little Green Bag beans.
Official Adress : Zwaluwstraat, is perched in between Groenplaats and Oude Koornmarkt.

Merksem is in the North of Antwerp and, as far as i know, the only Specialty Coffee Bar in that part of Flanders.
Claus, who's a veteran in coffee, beer and tapa land Antwerp, opened his own dream house.
The place feels very retro cosy and their Flashy Green La Marzocco FB 80 is one of the most beautiful espresso machines i ever saw. Little Green Bag on the menu.
Bredabaan 517.

Opened up at the beginning of 2012.
The owner Liesje is a person with a plan. Although I had problems understanding this arty co-working espresso bar space kind of concept; i have to admit it's a big success.
Her bar now is home for lots of creative and young people. And Liesje a great Barista and host.
For sure a bar you need to discover in 2013. Ask for a LGB shot.
Sint-Lambertusstraat 1, coming from Albertpark, going into Boomgaardstr, 3rd street to the right!

3rd wave espresso bar par excellence.
Kobe was the man who steered the La Marzocco Linea for our client in Mortsel, De Voorspoed.
I never met such a Cup and Brew Gear fanatic as him. And his urge to keep on experimenting should be one of the many reasons to go visit his bar, and witness his unique white FB 80, 3 white Anfim Super Caimano's set up!
At the corner of Grote Pieter Potstraat en Vlasmarkt.

This 'mobile' project of Chris and Agnieska is the one you need if you're on the look out for a cool coffee catering with Caffenation House Blend and Little Green Bag.
Their revamped Renault Van looks blistering, their Barista technique start to get really smooth and hopefully we'll meet them soon more often in the streets of Antwerp, Gent or ....

6th bar on the list and the 6th one with a La Marzocco engine! Their black FB70 is a cool machine and our former Caffenation Barista Fanny did a magnificent job in this Idealab project with the bar at the ground floor.
Here you can drink great coffee's in company of students and creative people. Very recommandable.
Lange Klarenstraat 19. On the Meir, take a turn at the Disney shop; smell the LGB spro.

Yes, not very busy in The Netherlands, but this bar is really shaking the booty!
A must visit for every coffee tourist in Amsterdam. Koko girls Karlijn en Carolien are the most stylish, friendly and best trained female Barista's a man (or woman) could wish for.
La Marzocco (GB5) paired with 3 Super Caimano's and some Little Green Bag coffee do the job in this Fashion/Design/Coffee House.
Oudezijds Achterburgwal 145, nearby Damplein, Damstraat, Wallen.

While you're there to drink a cup at Koko, why not visit Amsterdam West and our friends Guy and Graham in their coffee bar, restaurant, traiteur take out. This no-nonsense place is a nice spot to find some rest in this hectic city.
They got our House Blend on the grinder and get bit by bit grip on their shiny Simonelli espresso machine. A nice project with a great future ahead.
Bellamystraat 2

This part of Gent didn't have a good cup of coffee to offer till IObjectore came here to realize their ambitions. Of course their own home and working space/company, but annex a great resto coffee bar that is really worth a visit, or 2, 3, ....
Design coupled with inspiring people and great coffee. What more are we asking for?
Another La Marzocco perhaps? Well, this classic E61 machine is doing the job fine I think.
Dendermondsesteenweg 104

Maybe not a specialized bar. And maybe not such an ambitious project, but finally someone has the balls to offer filter coffee in stead of espresso based drinks. A girl has!
Annemie offers hand brewed filter coffee with her snacks. And a lot of friendlyness in a great interior. The place to be for you afternoon break.
Cassierstraat 38, nearby St-Jansplein, cornered with de Pretstraat.

More specialized and further away from home, but what a project!
When Gerben came to visit me 2 years ago we immediately had a click. It was a long and windy road towards this specialty coffee bar in the center of Groningen, but big G got character and character goes a long way. And i guess we could say it's going all the way up, and the sky is the limit.
A Synesso Hydra (yes!) coupled with Anfim do the job. Specialty Coffee with a capital 'S'.
Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat 32 - LGB!

You can call this a snack bar or baguetterie, but for me this is a perfect example how to bring in better coffee in whatever kind of place.
The Wega and 2 grinders are set for coffee, all kind and sizes. The atmosphere is great and the clients happy. Owners Tim and Valerie show how you can boost a Sandwich bar with great coffee!
Schaluin 49

For years I was dreaming to spread the Caffenation word in Leuven.
Muriel and Kris finally helped me fulfil this dream.
Their vintage looking Wega is fitting fantastic in this cosy specialty coffee bar. Not the first specialty bar in Leuven, but for sure the first 3rd Waver, with light roasts, filter coffee and a no nonsense atmosphere.
Kris is mastering the skills of welcoming young and old. This is a place to feel home and for sure lots of coffee lovers will state it like this. Only open 9 months this bar is a true hot spot, and with reason.
LGB at Naamsestraat 49

Keeping the best for the last. Yes, this bar is a Rob favourite.
Cause, from all new bars in 2012, this one is approaching the closest the Caffenation original. The equipment (Linea and Anfim and more), menu, atmosphere, grungy feel, positive vibes are really Caffenation and it's ... very crowded. I'm proud Marc and Gemma had the guts to trust me and follow my ideas. And very happy they and a whole lot of people in Hasselt appreciate this day in day out. :-)
Want to feel the vibe? Go for LGB Maastrichterstraat 58.

(not forgetting we started to get the art of spro in some restaurant environments as well. In 2012 Oud Sluis, Radis Noir, Miro, Bar Hasard, Troubadour, Glorious and others show that a good meal needs a good finish and Caffenation is proud helping them - and you)
(and sometimes you get thirsty : At Hopper, Korsakov and Zeppelin Cafés they think their clients need a good cup of Joe any time of the day and so they dropped our coffee in their coffee doser last year)

Thank you all. And up for an even better 2013. Paris, Barca and many other in the pipeline!!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Antwerps Koffie Woordenboek (Dutch)

With Venuez coming up and a lot of Dutch coffee tourist it's time for some Antwerp coffee words or expressions, with the Dutch translation.

Verder dus in de moedertaal en Aantwaarps.
Eerlijkheid gebied mij te zeggen dat ik zelf het Antwerps totaal niet meester ben. Al 26 jaar woon ik in de 'koekenstad', maar mijn Limburgse roots laten me in mijn taalgebruik niet los. Er was dus best wel wat opzoekingswerk nodig om deze post tot een goed einde te brengen. 

We beginnen bij de basics : 

Koffe = Koffie
Zjat koffe = Kopje Koffie
Koffejup = Koffiedrinkster
Koffeklatsch = Een praatje maken bij de koffie (klinkt eigenlijk heel internationaal)
Koffedrits = Koffiebezinksel
Koffejo = Iemand die veel koffie drinkt. Dus : ga zedden achte koffejo. 
Serveus = Dienster
Koffe Boëne = Koffiebonen
Paddevergif = Slechte koffie
Sloebere = Slurpen
Tas = Kop

En enkele dingen in de marge :
Bitterpeeë = Wortel van cichorei, vroeger gebruikt als surrogaat voor koffie
Petitfours = Koekjes
Sjokkelattekoffe = Chocolademelk
Heuning = Honing. Eventeel om een koffie verkeerd met honing te bestellen. Dat zou dan mogelijk worden : Ne Lait Russe me heuning

En dan zijn er nog veel mogelijkheden om slappe koffie te bewoorden :
Zwibber (nog nooit van gehoord, maar klinkt wel geweldig vind ik)
Of, nog straffer : Das zeik van boeremie

En tot slot nog een leuke manier om een kopje koffie te bestellen :
Veur maa ee koemmeke troëst. 

Veel succes ter velde, al kan ik je niet garanderen dat de gemiddelde Antwerp Barista je verstaan zal. :-)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

BAC 3 : Aeropress Championships on April 1 2013

Here we go again : 3rd year in a row Caffenation is organizing the Belgian Aeropress Championships.

And we have a very very solid reputation here in Belgium.
After a second place and two consecutive world titles in this discipline we have the eyes of the whole world peering at us.

Later on I get you the coffee - we don't know yet - and the rules.

Today we give the date and the tournament rules.

We have, just like at the WAC, 18 participants.
In the first round we have 6 groups of 3.
The winner advances to the semi finals.
Here we go 1 against 1 and the winner of this knock out advances to the finals.

In the finals the 3 'survivors' from previous rounds prep their best possible drink and see who the judges pick for 3rd, 2nd and 1st place.

Is young Jedi Vincent Bruyninckx going to regain his title?
Will Charlene De Buysere show her world title class again?
Or is golden oldie Jeff Verellen coming back for a new trophee?

Soon the names of the 3 Dutch Judges and 18 Belgian 'warriors' (the list is almost full already).
Adress : Caffenation, Mechelsesteenweg 16 (Nationale Bank), Antwerp.
We start at 11, till 14h. Then the bar stays open till 18h, with the Lounge reserved for all participants and fans and beers.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Coffee Bar Grinders : Which one to pick?

Over the last 15 years I've buying and selling a lot of coffee grinders.
At least 40 for my own use and over 150 just for sale.
Lots of times I was happy with the grinder, but never a fully 100%.

Long ago we were just hastling in Belgium with Santos and San Marco and Gaggia grinders. As long we were prepping Lungos (15 cl one spout dripping monsters coming out of one or another espresso machine) there's wasn't so much of a difference in between them. Of course it didn't take long to understand that a bit more power and bigger blades were very convenient, but a lungo is just was it is : a bad cup of coffee. Ok, there are differences : some are bad, some are very bad and others are plain awefull, but bad it stays.

When grinding for espresso it does not take very long to see what you need in a professional environment.
First of all power. If you have an unknown grinder in front of you, first thing to do is to lift it. The heavier the better. It's a little bit like amplifiers. You need some weight in most of the components to be shure they last and not going to over heat once they're on the roll.
Then you should start checking the blades. Mostly it comes down to the same type of advice here : the bigger and heavier the better. 75mm are better then 65 and the later ones are better then 53mm and so on. A coffee bean is very hard and espresso grind is very find, so power and volume and toughness are a big help in such an environment.
Then we should start thinking about the type of grinder. Are we talking about grinder on demand or just a 'simple' on/off grinder. If it's a grinder on demand you have two types : one with or one without a doser.
After the On Demand Grinders became succesful, people thought about grinders with dosers to become monsters from ancient history, but sometimes you have to take a step back to advance again.
When I saw Stumptown rebuilding the big Mazzer Roburs, knocking off the big metallic funnel and replacing it with a traditional doser I thought it still made a lot of sense to continue distributing your find grounds with a doser.
When you take the, say, 20 grams of espresso coffee, pull by pull by pull you have no clumbs and you can have them all nicely spread in your filter basket.
The way the Ritual boys Drew Cattlin and Chris Baca dosing their coffee and tamping it straight away was in 2008 a revolutionary method, and still a almost perfect way of working 5 years later. No clumbing, no waist, no leftovers, no hassle and it all looks very professional and with lots of craftmens ship.
And you can't do this without a doser. Sometimes I dare to say a regular On Demand Grinder is for monkeys and On Demand Grinder with doser is for Baristas. Of course it's a joke, but there's a lot of truth in here. I see a lot of Baristas laughing with automatic machines. And then they position their selves behind the bar to use ..... an automatic grinder. Phew.

I dare even go further down this road and then we end up where the problem is with all our grinders. If you wouldn't use a grinder on demand, but just a, what I call a On/Off grinder, we would probably be more precise in dosing.
When you fill a basket, without tapping the portafilter half way, and you make sure to swipe of all coffee above the rim of the basket, you would most probably have a very accurate dosage. In between you're not struggling with 3 variabels (volume, grind angle and tamping) but only 2, cause volume is done by the Barista and not by the grinder.

When installing some On/Off grinders the last years, mostly because of budget reasons, I met a lot of professional Barista's who thought I was very unprofessional and these grinders were very hard to handle. Wake up guys, you just pull the handle and once the basket it full you distribute, if needed, and swipe off. You have a full basket left. You tamp and pull the shot. Too fast? Grind finer! To slow? Grind coarser!

Ok, nobody still wants to do that, so we're stuck with On Demand Grinders.
With the brands I mentioned before I survived for the lungo's. Never ever had a decent espresso grind out of a Santos grinder. Don't know why this machine doesn't do the job, but that's how it is. And let's forget about the Fiorenzatos, Gaggia's, San Marco's, La Cimabali and other machine builders.
With Compak we had a lot of hope 5 years ago, but they didn't really deliver after all.
And then came the all mighty Mahlkonig company.
The K30 and the double twin are omni present in Belgium and The Netherlands. If you would start up a bar without any experience and you start looking around with dealers, in bars and trade shows, you would think this machine is the one to buy.
Well, I bought 2 K30 and was not so happy about them.
They grind fast yes, but this is together with the relatively small burrs, the main reason why the burrs heat up very quickly. Use them 30 minutes non stop and you have the burrs heated. And don't think they cool down the first half hour.
Warm burrs means faster extractions, means readjusting again, means even warmer burrs, ....
Of course you don't notice such when using a dark roast. If we would go check grinders in the city of Rome you would notice most of grinders in the big bars run very hot and burn the coffee, but of course you wouldn't really notice cause the (dark) roasting flavor is over powering the defective grind. Same with the very hot water, old and cheap coffee and lousy baristas ; roast dark and you'll get away with it.

Besides of that I think the K30 engines are on the light side, the digital technique is shaky - at least with the ones I had - and the ease of maintenance (cleaning, changing disks) wasn't on top of the designers/engineers list. They're very expensive on top, but let's come to where we need to go to finish this article : accuracy in dosing.
I remember Bert and I went with a paper of dosing statistics to an old master of Rombouts, I forgot his name, when rehearsing for his Championship competition in 2007 (i think). We were at the office of the MK distributor and he explained us very precisely why the dosage (for doubles) jumped from 18,5 to 20 to 19 and 20 again and so on.
It all sounded very logical and we started to life with it.
But when we discover the Anfim Super Caimano one year later we noticed these grinders were way more consistant! And therefor our extractions became way more stable.

When Isabelle and Roeland from Zwart told me last year they had discovered big variaties in dosages from the Anfim I was suprized. Of course I knew every shot was a bit different from the one before, but generally I was very happy with the consistancy.

Then a couple of months ago I had the opportunity to taste our coffee on a Mazzer Robur at The Village in Utrecht. We have a Mazzer Kony in our bar for the week specialty's and was not deeply impressed, nor dissapointed with this grinder, but his big Robur brother seemed to have a better reputation.
The grind was fast, the sound of the machine fantastic and the cup brilliant.
Back at home Vincent started his rehearsels for the Championship and I decided to buy a Robur for his convenience and to add speed and quality into his line up.

Everyone told us we had to season the machine for a couple of weeks in the bar though.
And then came good old Bert into play. When we noticed variable extraction times on our espresso's we started to measure the Robur dosages and we discovered some shaky figueres here as well.
Then we the Super Caimanos grammages as well, for a full bar shift.
And the result was : less shaky results on the Super Caimano! For a grinder 1/3rd of the price of a Robur!
Of course the discs are lighter, the engine as well and the look of feel of a Super Caimano is not at the same level of the Robur.
On the other hand the Super Caimano with doser is a lot of fun to work with, the cleaning and burr changing can by done by our grand mother and we have still our dealer ship in Belgium, so .... we moved to Mazzer Robur but to the shelf in the basement. Anyone interested in this monster? Or do you want to buy a Super Caimano. ;-)

Oh yes, in between I also bought one Simonelli Mythos grinder. It's fast, accurate and doesn't heat up too quickly. We have it running for our weekly specialty's in our Take Out bar in Hopland but I never really working a lot with it. It felt too plastic and difficult to program, but probably needs more study. Later on ...??

Yes, the perfect grinder is not build yet. Even our fav grinder Super Caimano is shaky, you need a fan on it when you grind over 4 kilo's a day, the sound is not so pretty, it has always one double shot sitting in between the burrs and the doser and maybe the looks are discussable.

Oh yes, I was willing to start talking about big shop grinders and small espresso and filter grinders as well, but that's probably a bridge too far for todays blogging.
Have a nice day,
See ya all tomorrow?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Etienne Knopes : R.I.P.

This week we heard the sad news Etienne Knopes passed away.
Way too young. And what a loss to the coffee scene in both Belgium and Luxemburg.

The first time we met in 2007 was Bocholt. His son Francois was 19 or 20 years old and showed a lot of potential at his first Barista Championship appearance. Click here for the report.
Later on Francois would be on all positions in the final, but never able to win. To my own disbelieve, cause he had some great coffees on the grinder, his technique looked fantastic and the espressos and cappuccinos I tasted backstage were one of a kind. Together with Isabelle Verschraegen he must have been Belgians best competition Barista without a crown.

But back to Etienne.
For years Knopes was Belgians best coffee roasting company and definetely the first real 3rd wave roaster.
Of course that was meanly thanks to his sons Fabien and Francois who came in the company on a certain moment. They had a more progressive look on the whole process, from picking the right greens, to blending, roasting, bagging and pulling the shots in their bars in Luxemburg city or Province.
And of course that wasn't always easy for him to deal with. We see it with a lot of roasting companies were the son(s) take over the steering wheel; it's not so easy for the elder generation to accept things change and the way they have been working for decades is maybe not the best possible choice/technique any longer.

But every time I spoke to Etienne he didn't look like frustrated or old fashioned. He seemed to fully understand the revolution and really enjoyed the new kind of coffees and bars.
He came to our bar in Antwerp from time to time and those meetings were always very warm and relaxed.
And that one day I drove my car to the Knopes espresso bar and roastery was a very learnful experience and the openess and friendlyness he showed were to be never forgotten.

We started roasting ourselves in 2010, but up to the last day before opening the roastery we did buy a lot of Knopes coffees. Most of that stuff were sourced at Mercanto in London and all Specialty coffee with a capital S.
Even more; for thousands of Caffenation clients, these coffee were the first encounter with the real stuff. We always openly displayed the fact these bags were roasted in Luxemburg. On espresso we mainly continued our 'own' coffees (roasted by Jean), but for filter roasts we headed more and more towards Knopes.  Even more, it were those filter roasts and their quality that paved to road we now firmly walk now, on and tens of thousands of people with us.

So, thanks Etienne for all the friendship and fantastic coffee you give us, you will never be forgotten.
And lots of strenght to his wife and sons and daughter in law Anaïs in these hard days.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

9 maanden Caffenation Nationale Bank

Caffenation Mechelsesteenweg/Nationale Bank opende intussen 9 maanden geleden zijn deuren, en we hebben niet stilgezeten.
De hoofdbedoeling was om de algemene sfeer en kwaliteit van Hopland voort te doen leven.
Niet de makkelijkste opdracht omdat het 9 magische jaren waren in een straat en huis dat een heel andere sfeer uitstraalde.
En intussen was ons bedrijf toch ook serieus veranderd en verschoof onze focus evenzeer richting branderij.

Alles bij mekaar zijn wij een heel gelukkig team om al wat we, dankzij onderlinge samenwerking, de voorbije 9 maanden verwezenlijkten.
Hier een opsomming van de extra's die we te Caffenation hebben kunnen toevoegen, in termen van service, beleving, kwaliteit en algemeen welleven :
- Verkoop van Keep Cup/ecologische meeneembekers, 4 nieuwe koffiedrippers, Caffenation filter mugs, drip stations, weegschalen e.a.
- cup sleeves, om de koffie warm te houden
- cup trays, voor gemakkelijkheid van transport
- 2 tot 3 filterkoffie's die gratis kunnen voorgeproefd worden
- zakkensealer, om de koffie langer vers te houden
- gratis WIFI (2 modems), al blijft het een bijna dagelijks gevecht om deze aan de praat te houden :-)
- meer stoelen
- meer ergonomische stoelen
- meer zetels
- meer krukken
- strandstoelen
- meer kunst
- extra poetsbeurten
- 4 watertogen, drink zoveel (gratis) water als je wenst
- extra keuze in (namaak)suiker
- airco, voor de hete zomerdagen
- meer dagbladen, en er komen er nog bij....
- meer planten (al is het nog altijd geen hof, ik weet het)
- (eindelijk) een kerstboom
- verse thee (11 smaken)
- filterkoffie refill a €1,60/kop
- extra toiletten en wastafels
- racefietsenstalling in de sous sol
- ruime kinderwagenstalling
- open op feestdagen (behalve met Kerst en nieuw)
- ruimere openingsuren op zondag
- extra koffieklassen
- extra free cupping sessions
- leenfietsen afhaalpunt om de hoek (dank u Stad A)
- Bancontact flappentapper (dank u Citybank)
- double espressocups op maat
- meer keuze in koffiebonen, bijna dagelijks aangeleverd
- de La Marzocco Mistral (een kunstwerk op zich)
- mogelijkheid tot reservaties (op rustige momenten)

En zo zal ik nog wel wat dingen vergeten zijn.
Natuurlijk zijn er links en rechts ook wel wat dingen weg gevallen, don't get me wrong.

Moest je nog suggesties hebben om uw verblijf en ons werk leuker of makkelijk te maken; onze oren zijn gespitst....

Ik dank nog eens allen voor de steun en de dagelijkse gezelligheid, en tot snel in de bar.

Rob (en het hele Caffenation team)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Deze week Exclusief voor Abonnees : KONGA!!!

Abo - Ethiopia Konga Unwashed Yirgacheffe. Roasted 30 Jan.

We kochten deze koffie via de meest gespecialiseerde Direct Trader van Ethiopische bonen, het Nederlandse Trabocca.
De koffie werd 2 weken geleden op de Barista Kampioenschappen gebruikt door Valentine. Zij is een sinds een kleine 2 jaar werkzaam te Labath Gent. Ze haalde het hoogste aantal punten van de 15 Barista's en zal einde april, samen met 'onze' Vincent strijden voor de titel van Belgisch Beste Barista.

Een bom op espresso, maar ook op filter zeer uniek.
Het lot komt van de Konga Cooperative en is hoogst waarschijnlijk onze meest spectaculaire Ethiopische koffie ooit.
Zoals altijd in Ethiopië is dit een mix van diverse 'Heirloom' variëteiten.
De besjes werden met de hand gepikt wanneer ze op zijn rijpst waren en daarna op een natuurlijk wijze bewerkt. De 'Dry Processing method' houdt in dat de volledige bes in de zon te drogen wordt gelegd om er dan later het vruchtvlees en het vlies af te halen, in één ruk. De techniek is vooral nadelig omdat bij de normale 'Wet Processing' de koffie eerst in het water gaat en er zo al vele slechte (onrijpe of foutieve) bonen van de goede gescheiden worden. Bij 'Dry Processed' wordt deze scheiding puur visueel gedaan. Dit betekent dat er vrij veel 'afval' in de uiteindelijke branding komt en wij heel veel werk hebben er er die later ook nog eens, zo goed en slecht als het gaat, uit te pikken, maar de cup is zo zoet en vol met fruit dat al dit werk de moeite loont.

A Cherry bomb deze koffie. De lichte walm van een mestvaal zal sommigen onder jullie zeker tegen de borst stoten, maar het is net dit beestiale karakter dat de koffie zo populair maakt.
Gedroogd fruit, een siropige body, volle mond en vooral heeeel fruitig! Goede moed. Rob

Friday, February 1, 2013

Roasting Degrees

This (Sweet Maria's) photo shows very well the different degrees in roasting.
Almost all over the world we see coffee that's roasted too dark.

We always curse on those companies that roast very dark. In Belgium we see most of the artisanal roasters roast 12 for filter and 13 for espresso. Italian coffee is in between 13 and 15.
We roast 9 or 10 -full city - for filter and 11 - city+ - for espresso and an occasional 12 depending on bean/equiment/purpose (for example at the Belgian Barista Championship, on a Dalla Corte, we go for a 12).

A roast thats too dark looses of course a lot of flavors. When you roast espresso on, for example, 14 you may be sure more than half of your flavors are already gone through the chimney.
This saying; I don't think it's because of not knowing that lots of coffee in our country is roasted that way; it's because this masks the old, woody, cheap - very often robusta - coffee.