Updates from thebeanvagrant @ the plan cafe, Morgan Arcade, Cardiff

It’s no secret that I’ve become a big fan of Caffe Naturelle in recent weeks. This blend of some lovely coffees from Guatemala, Brasil and Ethiopia is clean, sweet chocolate, nuts, and bright, ripe citrus – fantastic espresso, delicious flat whites – and it’s organic too!! It’s so good, I’ve gravitated towards this as the blend that we serve most regularly …But it’s exciting to try different things (or things from different angles!), and so this week, for the next few days, you will find San Juan La Laguna making its 2nd appearance at the plan as a single origin espresso – a new crop Guatemalan coffee from 52 small farms that is SO clean, bright, and fresh – great!

If you’re a regular at the plan cafe, you may have noticed drinks tasting even more special this last week or so, and Yes – something else has been tweaked! In a long overdue move I have arranged for all our milk drinks to be prepared with organic whole milk as standard now, rather than semi skimmed. It’s just so creamy and luxurious (yesterday we had a batch that smelled and tasted amazing when steamed – so sweet – like caramel and biscuits – wow!). For those of you who worry about the percentages, I’d reassure you that we are all about smaller, delicious coffees that are flavorsome, rather than huge highstreet buckets – so, in moderation (in smaller cups that still taste of coffee!), I think you can afford to treat yourself to the richer taste and texture of whole milk! But for those of you who really worry about the fat, or those who just find whole milk too ‘milky’, have no fear; we still offer skinny semi too – just ask!

‘Naked’ double shots through our new bottomless portafilter continue to make for potentially crazily fantastic espresso – I rarely drink anything else at the moment! But remembering a post by Hugo on TMC a few months ago though, the other day I popped the single shot basket into the bottomless handle and pulled a few shots …Oooooh! and …Oh! I always have ‘issues’ with single basket shots (like a lot of espresso people), and have always put it down to the basket shape being, simply; rubbish! BUT, the naked single shots I tried did something rather strange – they generally issued very evenly, centrally, and beautifully! They were lighter, brighter and fruitier than naked doubles, but still lovely! So! Perhaps it’s just that single basket shots are too small and fragile to endure all that spout contact successfully? Another myth dispelled by the ever revealing naked portafilter? On this basis, I would love to try to get our spouted single handle machined so that all our single basket shots can be de-robed, asap! (The only problem being that you can’t dose and distribute in the same way that you might in a double basket, which might still cause single basket shots to be inferior – but the naked p/f seems to really help …or perhaps I’m just addicted to naked shots!)

Much hard work and perseverance in recent (and not so recent) times (and as a constant, unceasing endeavour), has paid off in terms of the barista skills of staff at the cafe. As well as now having a reputation that can attract coffee-loving employees (occasionally already skilled baristas wanting to work with some of the best beans you can find anywhere, in an environment that is uniquely serious in our little corner of the world about trying to make great espresso), all staff  are empowered with the knowledge needed to make good coffee; and several members of the team are now beginning to flourish, and actually turn-out some pretty serious drinks! Shots are all ground fresh to order, they are timed and judged by the barista, NOT the buttons, and milk is steamed fresh to order – and freepoured! All of this is supported constantly by myself by continual adjustments behind the scenes to the grind, the temperatures, the coffees we use, and machine cleanliness, etc.

Speaking of which, Our fabulous new espresso machine, Gloria, is devotedly cared for, and is thoroughly cleaned every day when I’m in the cafe, together with lighter cleaning throughout each day, and at the end of the day. The benefits of which are something of a newfound revelation. With a new high-end machine now, things like this are really worth doing, and can help to edge things towards the possibility of the sublime on occasion..!

This is the level of quality, and attention to detail, in the pursuit of great coffee, that I strive to nurture and sustain for the cafe, and our customers!

Oh …And did I mention that a certain grinder has been given the go ahead..?

Hmmm! A little snap-happy today perhaps  (that’s the over caffeinated, over excited result of turning up before the crack of dawn to sample espresso shots for new coffee possibilities) …but why not?! 

4 Responses to “Updates from thebeanvagrant @ the plan cafe, Morgan Arcade, Cardiff”

  1. Youri Vlag Says:

    Well done on some great pictures but also on motivating the whole team to produce coffee to such a standard! Very good.

    Still have to come and visit you 🙂

  2. Brian - Coffee Grinder Reviews Says:

    Some fantastic pictures of your work there. It is amazing the designs that can be done in these. You should be extremely proud.


  3. thebeanvagrant Says:

    Thanks very much. It’s taken a long time to get them here! 🙂

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