Archive for July, 2010

Espresso offerings at the plan July 2010

July 29, 2010

Just a brief mention about the coffees I’m using for espresso now. They’re altering less from day to day than they were a year or so ago… Not because we (or rather, I) are getting lazy, or uninterested – FAR from it – the opposite is true!

Since we installed our great new espresso machine last year, and twinned it with the awesome Anfim Super Caimano grinder earlier this year, it’s become more possible to really focus on more fine attention to detail, consistency, skills, and the attempt to best represent the great coffees we use (as I had anticipated). This has led to the realisation that just one great seasonal blend, or SE espresso, for longer periods at a time, holds within it a complex balance of depth, variance and elusive greatness. Appreciating and attempting to pinpoint these qualities is now possible in a way that it was not before (which was partly why I previously just threw caution to the wind and tried as many different coffees as possible through our old machine!) and is often enough – without constantly switching from one coffee to another. All our coffee (except house filter) is still from our roaster, JGC, as I feel it is so important to have a firm relationship with just one primary roaster who is of this exceptional level of quality. The coffee from just this one roaster is varied and amazing enough to never need to look elsewhere. All this said though, my belief in serving frequently changing coffees for espresso at the cafe is still VERY much alive. Last week, I put El Salvadorian La Fany on for a day, and within the next two weeks, I hope to put Kenyan Miroroma on for a day as a single origin espresso too. Maybe we might even have guest espresso from other artisan roasters sometimes too. This sort of thing helps me and us to learn more about coffee and our craft, and offers interest and excitement to the customer and all concerned! But, in-between times (and with only one grinder for espresso), I am currently tending towards attempting to offer fantastic (and still transient) seasonal blends that we  have a more intimate knowledge of like Bold Red espresso, or Caffe Naturelle (a blend which is more ‘permanent’ but still seasonal), as mainstays, amongst the wider exploration of different coffees as well.

Attention to detail with all things espresso has also recently included for me the implementation of a little personal project to manage the freshness and supply of our stock much more carefully – walking a tightrope to really keep freshness in the zone where I most like it (although there is much debate about this subject), and where I feel we can develop the best degree of consistency (you wouldn’t order fresh cakes only once every two or three weeks, so why treat fresh coffee differently?). The aim is that it should never be too fresh, but equally never usually past a certain target period from roast. The difficulty is you have to try to predict the future (busyness), which is …interesting! Otherwise you either have coffee that is outside the ‘window’ …or NO coffee at all!!

One other thing I’m toying with over the next week or so is the possibility of a VERY low-fi mod to our Anfim. Great as it is already, a little tweak could create more subtle grind adjustment that would mean less dramatic jumps here and there …if I can get it to work..!


July 27, 2010

Just one sample bag (…for now!), which lasted for just the first hour and a half of the day today.

Spent the brief time with this Kenyan espresso dancing back and forth with the grind a little to try to get it at its best, and tasting some really exciting shots!

One customer who I made a double shot latte for whilst it was in the grinder came back later in the day for more, describing it as ‘the best latte ever’ and ‘orgasmic’, and was most disappointed at its disappearance!! I guess there can be no greater endorsement of a coffee than that!

Maybe it will return for a day or so …SOON!

Radio Wales (meets The Bean Vagrant!)

July 22, 2010

I had the pleasure of chatting about coffee on the Radio Wales morning show today with Jamie Owen and Lisa. I guess I’m pretty used to talking about coffee: in competition to judges and baristas, in the cafe, online, and so on (…OK, whenever I feel I can get away with it without boring people too much!) – but it’s still a bit nerve-racking doing it live on-air on national radio! Partly because you’re so keen to get the message across successfully, I suppose. But the presenters and the whole production team were really friendly and professional, which helped to put me at ease, and enabled me to tell them a little about the various aspects of what I do with coffee, and the sort of coffees I work with – including the UK Barista Championships, latte art, origins and traceability, seasonality, and roasting, etc. Thanks guys!

On the BBC iPlayer for the next 7 days (just over an hour into the show, in two sections)

18th July 2010

July 18, 2010

New seasonal coffees for cafetiere menu at the cafe for summer-autumn 2010 to include:

Keyan Karimikui 2010 – Rungeto Farmers’ Cooperative Society

New crop El Salvadorian Finca La Fany

New crop Guatemalan Finca las Nubes

…I plan to have this up and running within the next two weeks!!

July 17, 2010

Wow. Fresh coffee in the grinder (too fresh, infact, but hey, that’s another story), and two shots pulled and tasted. Very similar extractions, almost identical at face value, but the subtle details make the taste so very different. First shot 28 seconds …appears ok, but the taste is not great – quite sour, at the same time a little flat and thin, and severely stunted sweetness. Second shot 0.1 of a second more on the timer for the dose, another 1, maybe 2 seconds more at most brew time, very slightly shorter volume, with maybe a little less blonding allowed. Still a fairly respectable size for a double (albeit ristretto). Tastes fantastic (for the most part) – sourness has become zingy brightness, sweetness is so sweet, and the fluid has that slightly sticky, syrupy quality, all the way to the end. This is the reality. This is the margin for error (none). This is the elusive, daunting, impossible, and enchanting quest! 🙂

*sighs, and gets scales ready to take in for next week* (!)

July 13, 2010

So! Right now at the cafe, we are serving, and loving, the Bold Red Espresso blend. This will be featuring as our primary coffee for espresso …until it runs out! It’s just lovely, and, for me, it’s so exciting to be able to offer blends like this, which are seasonal, and potentially ‘one-offs’ – maybe NEVER to be seen again! All the coffees we deal with from our micro roaster are seasonal to some greater or lesser degree, and (thankfully – it’s part of what makes them so great!) subject to a constantly refreshing flux, but certain blends like this may really only be here for just a fairly short time – it’s a little sad …but beautiful too!! Anyway, effusiveness over! Like all coffees, this does different stuff at different times, and when brewed in different ways (somebody stop me!), but essentially, there’s red and grapey fruits, a wonderful, drying, red-wine/tannin quality, hints of natural-process that are not at all overpowering, and chocolatey richness! A great all-rounder for espresso and flat whites …or stumpys?! (not actually on the menu, but you could request, if you like your coffee really rich and in a really odd, makeshift glass vessel! Just experimenting!)

SOON, amongst this current appreciation of the Bold Red blend, there will be just ONE day of single estate madness with the espresso, from Finca La Fany, El Salvador.

And, as always, the coffee will be fresh …but now even fresher than EVER – the latest part of trying to fine tune my espresso-learning, and the quest for constantly improved quality, consistency and (hopefully!) taste at the cafe, through attention to detail!