Archive for June, 2010

June 26, 2010

Oh well …you can’t win ’em all! Shame John G didn’t get through, but nice to see Colin do so well for Ireland, and Mike Phillips is indeed a worthy winner (wow – what a set!). It just goes to show how high the standard of competition is, and how hard it is even to get through to the semifinals in the world championships.

I only actually got to Caffe Culture briefly for a couple of hours on Thursday (primarily at that point to see Schomer’s talk, but sadly he was taken ill). A combination of factors then dictated in the end that we wouldn’t go again on Friday, like 1) the tube to Olympia being rubbish; 2) John not getting through; 3) I didn’t need to be there to compete or anything which makes a welcome change after recent times at the UKBC; and 5) the fact that there’s so much more to life and London when the weather’s nice and you’re on a rare and brief break there with your better half, than staying inside doing coffee stuff! It was a pity not to catch-up with more people, and see more of the competition, but you can’t do everything – maybe next time!

One thing’s for sure – London’s coffee scene is great, regardless – there are so many gems offering deliciousness on the London Coffee Map – and I’m sure this is something that will continue to thrive. Didn’t make it to the Penny University either, sadly, but it seems they have opened at exactly the right time, with pourover and other brewed coffee methods, coincidentally, popping-up everywhere right now!

Watch the competition here.

The (Coffee) World Cup, London June 2010!

June 19, 2010

If England’s performance at the World Cup in South Africa this year is often shaky and hard to watch – then why not take the opportunity to also support the UK in another world championship happening right here in the UK, in London next week – the World Barista Championships, on the 23rd – 25th June 2010?!

As with most world championships, each year the WBC is held in a different country. This is the first time we have hosted it here in the UK, and so this is a rare chance to see the World’s very best professional baristas (people who specialise in making espresso and other coffee drinks) all competing here. Each year around the world, many countries hold their own national Barista Championship, as did the UK this year between January and March, in the search for a final, winning barista (Shameless plug – I myself came 4th in the UK final this year!) who then goes on to represent their country at the World Championships. This year John Gordon won the UKBC, and will be in London competing for the title of World Barista Champion 2010 – so come along to this event to support him (free if you simply register …or even just watch live online instead) and find out a little more about the fascinating cuisine of espresso and coffee, and those dedicated to preparing it at the very highest level!

In case you’re wondering… this is far from the mass-produced, disinterested, push-button type of coffee you might see being produced in many chains and coffee shops up and down the country. Coffee can be a bit like food – you can have situations where it’s just microwaved or deep-fried without any real quality or skill involved – or it can be made by skilled chefs who are knowledgable and passionate about great ingredients and techniques. This is very much the sort of level that baristas who compete in barista championships are working at – often they have years of experience, together with an intimate knowledge of their materials, ingredients, machinery and techniques. These baristas will know exactly where the beans in their own personal espresso blend have come from – the individual farms – how they have been harvested and processed in the origin countries, and crucially the subtle flavours and textures their blend will exhibit. They will have worked closely with a small, expert, artisan roaster, or even roasted their own coffee, and will have gradually developed and adjusted their coffee through extensive tasting and testing. They will have spent weeks, even months, perfecting a ‘signiture’ drink, along with their espressos and cappuccinos, and honing their whole set for the stage – where every second counts – and where sensory and technical judges will then assess in detail the skill and the flavours of the drinks they craft within the allotted time.

This (dare I say …unlike football?!) is something we here in the UK are becoming consistently great at! Although there is still a lot of bad coffee around (and it’s sadly probably the norm in fact), there is actually a small but fast developing speciality coffee scene here, driven by a handful of the best independent coffee shops, micro-roasters and baristas – together with the UKBC – that is in many ways world-leading. Over the last few years the UK and Ireland have won the WBC every year, with the current World Champ, Gwilym Davies, having won for us last year in Atlanta. So support your country’s emerging coffee culture (wherever you’re from in the UK!), and John Gordon, in the World Barista Championship this year!

And if you can’t make it, but love coffee anyway – do yourself a favour, and check out a great cafe near you, by checking the Good Coffee Map UK …Or if you’re in London, specifically the London Coffee Map!

There’s also the ‘Unofficial WBC Blog’ for all the latest news surrounding the event!

June 19, 2010

I’ve been investing and experimenting with filter brewed coffee much more in recent weeks at home (sadly not at the cafe …yet), with my new Chemex and one cup Hario V60, and am beginning to get some great results!

Initially I made the mistake of trying to brew with the Hario like my other Melitta-style pour over, in a kind of ‘pour and fill’ way, resulting in very quick pours. I instantly assumed I would simply need to grind much finer than usual, but researched pourover brewing and soon learned it was necessary to adopt a very different, more subtle pouring technique for the V60 …which may also generate positive results for the Chemex, etc. After buying my new brewers, I couldn’t justify the Hario Buono pouring kettle at about £45 on top to accompany them, so (after trying to modify stove top kettle with a spout, with limited success!) I searched for something that would do the same thing at a more affordable price, and looked at a range of orchid watering cans, teapots, oil pourers and kettles, before Claire suggested an oil drizzler by Kitchen Craft (which I then also spotted on a post by Tristan Stephenson). I now have the 1 litre version, which is superb, and, on a budget, almost the same as the Buono kettle, I’m sure. It’s allowing controlled pouring of the water, and an ‘unfurling’ of the grounds in the filter after the initial bloom, with great results.

Now I’ve dialed the grind back up for the V60, even coarser than I used to use (but still finer than french press), and am hoping to do more with the Chemex soon too, thus continuing to gradually improve my knowledge of filter technique and brewing, from where it was before.

Had a great cup today of Square Mile washed Yirgacheffe through the V60:

14g grounds
20g water added for 30 second bloom at a starting temp of 93.5C
About 260g water added over a total brew time (including bloom, after adding water for bloom) of about 2 minutes 40 seconds
With the brew weighing about 225g in the cup.

This coffee is fantastic – different things emerge with each slightly different brew – so light and floral and delicately complex!

June 13, 2010

Learning how to pour milk takes a long time …will it take as long to learn how to pour water?

June 7, 2010



 …It’s Landed! …Wow!

Yemen/Costa Rica/India/Brazil

 Now at the plan cafe

June 2, 2010

Oh baby! That’s me set for the weekend(s)!

Several personal firsts for me (all of which I probably should have tried long ago!): Hario V60 one cup pourover (as opposed to my usual Melitta style flat based); Yemeni coffee; Square Mile coffee (at home, at least) (Oh and can I just say – lovely bags! Seriously, for any coffee-bag-fetishists out there (you know who you are ;)), these SQM bags must surely do it for you – a delight from top to toe, in every possible respect!!!); and Hario two cup size filter papers for experiments with my (also new) Chemex!

So lots to try, hopefully learning a little along the way …when has learning ever tasted so great?!

…Although monster threads like this make you think twice about even going near a kettle! …But that’s all part of what makes coffee so exciting and intriguing I guess!

I only wish I could (happily) drink and sample a greater volume coffee – I’d like to brew and drink all the above coffee, in many different ways, at home, within the next two weeks whilst it’s at its peak …but I fear it may take me quite a bit longer!

The Rocky’s all cleaned and ready to go though:

…And there’s the decidedly iffy “pouring kettle” mod to try out too (!!):