Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New Antwerp Barista Spotted

New Staff in Town.
No, we're not talking about this 9 year veteran and warrior of many wars on the left, but the cowboy with smart looks and ridiculous hat on the right.
His name is Matt and although he's Canadian, his Dutch is fluent and his Barista skills up to level! Welcome in our team Matt.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Drink (Espresso) Till You Drop

Every day again we're talking, talking, talking about coffee.
And we're measuring, weighting, dosing, counting coffee.

But do we know enough what we're talking about?


Since 100 years it's a quick drink. Let's say 2,5cl content, made with a machine that presses hot water through a cake of finely grind coffee.

It seems everybody has a different opinion about how it should taste, and this opinion is changing on and on.

In 2013 we made big progress on Espresso at Caffenation. We used 3 machines, 2 different water filter, different grinders, different cups and different portafilters.

Moving from the mighty Mistral to a Simonelli T3 and now a La Marzocco Linea PB we now have the ideal machine to pull 4cl double shots with naked portafilters.
Does the Linea PB helps? Sure. And it helps working in a consistent matter. It's easy to change the temperature, pre infusion time and resting time. It feels like there's still a lot of testing to be done, and every time we change the beans we need to look at it again. Every day as well.

The water we have now is a Brita system - on test - that neutralizes the water, like osmose, and then adds the necessary stuff to get it at championship level. We came recently down from 200 ppm to 80 ppm, but that seems to be a bit too much. Most important is to change the filters often enough. Once you go wrong there, you may damage the machine seriously.
Did it help a lot?
Yes it did. We have a higher definition. More taste, but also a more shaky coffee. Everything needs to be exact to have an improved cup.
Maybe the biggest advantage of the new filter is that we can brew hotter. For the moment 92,8 degrees in stead of 91 before. This means we get more out of the coffee.
Do we tame the acidity enough? Mostly yes. :-)
We're still in the testing fase. Maybe we need to roast a little bit higher for this technique, what would be a dangerous thing to do, cause all our clients have a different machine, water temp, and so on...

For me the big thing with espresso brewing is that we need to tame the acidity. We need some, mostly at the start, but not too much. It's like a bottle of good red wine. You don't need to taste it all the way through and after.
But once you don't have any acidity at all ; you have a boring, flat drink.

Different grinders. Next week we expect the new Simonelli grinder with heated burrs. For the moment we use a Robur and a Super Caimano. The Robur clumbs a bit more; yes it does, but both grinders are top level and produce great shots.

On cups we noticed that smaller cups with a
round bottom gives best crema and less acidity. Test it.

And naked portafilter gives way better mouth feel and creaminess. Also a darker crema. Nice.

We hope these experiments helps you to get your shots tastier and more consistent.
You're not sure? Of course you can always buy yourself a refractometer, but best is to drink more coffee. Not only from your own machine, but from anywhere. The more you drink the more you know. Certainly if you drink with other Barista's and discuss the flavors.
Good luck.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

CD TOP 10 2013

Not a lot of blogging in 2103.
Some kind of a writers block i guess.

But still no problem to make me a TOP 10 of my best new CD's. We don't buy that many new music any more, although enough stuff to make your ears buzz.
Attention every music loving Barista (are there any other?) : Here we go :

1) Sixto Rodriguez : Searching for Sugar Man (Soundtrack '71).
I took a while to hit me. The first time i thought it was 'so-so'. Then i saw the positive reviews on amazon, tried it again and liked some of the songs. I decided to order the CD. Now it's my number 1.
Rodriguez sounds like Bob Dylan meets Henri Manchini meets Neil Diamond meets Johnny Cash. The lyrics are incredible, his voice as sweet as honey, the music poetic, exotic, minimal, vulnarable and very addictive.
To get into it I can recommand to watch this award winning documentary, from which this CD is the soundtrack and sort of a best of.
Check this link for a teaser and more info. Enjoy!

2) Bob Marley : Soul Revolution part 2. ('72)
When i thought I heard everything from Bob Marley it seemed like i missed this CD. And now it became my favourite Marley record.
Lee Perry gave it a pure and timeless production when Bob sounded still fresh and vibrant. His voice is pure and melodic. The songs feel all very natural and never bores you. Totally essential brilliantly remastered stuff.
Listen for yourself.

3) Muchacho : Phosphorescent ('13)
The only new CD in the list.
Intelligent recording. Good songs. Sometimes he sounds like Springsteen, sometimes Sly Fox, sometimes Ry Cooder. He keeps on surprising time after time.
Maybe not the ideal music for everyday in your bar, but sure thing this CD is gonna last.
The 'Song for Zula' clip here. (sorry for the stupid clip, but what a song!)

4) JJ Cale : The very Best of JJ Cale
5) Dub Collosus : Road To Addis
6) Serge Gainsbourg : L'ettonant
7) Muddy Waters : Electric Mud
8) AC/DC : High Voltage
9) George Duke : A Brazilian love Affair
10) Blow : The Soundtrack