Archive for June, 2011

27th June 2011

June 27, 2011

LOVING this at the moment as pourovers at home!!! From our roaster, James’s Gourmet Coffee. It’ll be available at the cafe for cafetière later this week. It’s also a component in JGC’s New Summer Espresso, which I’ll often be serving as the espresso ‘of the day’.

My new selections for the cafe’s seasonal coffees for cafetière menu will include:

Ethiopian:    Kelenso Mokanisa

Notes of sweet citrus, apricot, stone fruit, cocoa and florals. A delicious washed coffee from this cooperative in the Sidamo region, composed of mixed Heirloom varietals. Organic and Fair Trade brand certified.

Indonesian:    Single Estate: Wahana

Sweet fruit salad with spice notes. Remarkably clean and juicy – so different to most typical Indonesian coffee. Toraja seed varietal micro lot. From Lae Mungkur village, Northern Sumatra.   

Tanzanian:    The Hope Project

Juicy currants and citrus. Mbeya region. The Hope Project has set up 23 coffee pulperies in the region, which raises coffee quality, and therefore allows the farmers command higher prices for great coffee.

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Current coffees at the plan cafe June 2011

June 19, 2011

Exciting times at the moment with various wonderful, fresh,  new season coffees and blends from the roastery appearing at the cafe!

Last week I was serving this year’s crop from Finca La Fany, El Salvador, as our espresso for a day – and it’s really memorable this time around!

With Completo either side of this, the La Fany was such a contrast, and a completely different shape in terms of flavour, even though both coffees share a few basic flavour generalisations. The La Fany struck me as more ‘linear’ or less-dimensional, but still, delicious in a very different way. The combination of crisp, dark chocolate-coated berries and nuts, with deeper chocolate and caramels in the background reminded me of previous years when this coffee excited me …rather than last year, perhaps. The washed, fruity acidity sang sweetly through milk too. Once dialled-in, small differences in the brew ratios/extraction moved it between the brighter fruit, and the softer caramel notes, although I was surprised to settle on only dosing a little more than for Completo, and aiming for a brew ratio of around 57%, with particular attention on not tightening the grind too far. It kept me on my toes much more, as a single estate (I think anything would, compared to Completo’s stability), but well worth it, when it all aligned. There will be another day of this soon!

Then back on Completo the next day, and as a small, just warm double capp – Wow …like the most wonderfully rich, satisfying, complex hot chocolate!

Recent weeks have found me happier than ever with shot success rates generally, but repeatability and consistency remains the bugbear, the challenge, and the Quest (I know I’m not alone [hat tip to Jimseven, for instance]. If this has never concerned or challenged you, your coffee might not be as good as you think!). I don’t think it’s fair on the coffee, the craft, or yourself to expect every shot to be a Godshot, or even to have that amazing balance, sweetness and ideal representation of the coffee that is conveyed by a generally Great shot. But nevertheless, I think we owe it to the coffee, the craft, the customers, and ourselves, to aspire to achieve this as often as possible, and with increasingly regularity as we move forward. There are (a few) people out there who claim high % rates of repeatability (some even sincerely and with integrity!) – and that is the bar to aim for.

Last week I sampled a brand NEW seasonal blend from JGC too, and I’m really excited about this!!!! Blind, the aroma and taste reminded me of some of the great washed Latin/Central-Ethiopian blends that I’ve loved, and I knew straight away this might be particularly the sort of espresso I especially enjoy! Much more clean, delicate acidity than Completo (not that Completo is dirty – it’s not! It’s been awesome, and I’m sad to be down to my last 2 bags …but that’s the beauty of great coffee) – a juicy, fruity acidity (whilst not overly citrusy), paired with clean, creamy chocolate. I wondered if La Fany might be in this somewhere (and I can see where I got that), but it isn’t. I instantly ordered a lot more, it’s here now, and it’ll be on at the cafe soon, in due course! This blend has now been revealed as JGC’s latest seasonal blend: ‘New Summer Espresso‘! This is fully washed Guatemalan, Sidamo, and Indian coffees.

One component of this espresso blend is a coffee I’ve become increasingly excited about as a filter profile over the last couple of weeks. I’ve brewed this as various filter methods at home, and it just gets better! …This will also appear soon for cafetières!

(Mostly) Enthusiastic rant over! 🙂

7th June 2011

June 7, 2011

First things 1st: Massive congrats to John Gordon who represented the UK for us at the World Barista Championships in Bogotá this year at the weekend, and who got through to the Finals! Top 6. Yet again the reality of what’s happening in the UK is being done justice on the world stage. Great work. I also loved USA’s Pete Licata’s set, and thought he might take it… But it was El Salvador’s Alejandro Mendez who won in the end with a fantastic presentation. Great to see a coffee producing nation (unusually) take the crown – and in a coffee producing country! Producing countries have tended in the past to lag behind in terms of top end espresso/barista competition, but now the tide is clearly turning, and (as James noted in the live commentary at the time) great baristas emerging from origin countries now are in the enviable position of having ready access to, and therefore greater connection with, all aspects of their coffees at a farm-level. Imagine being able to visit your farms regularly, even during national competition, or just as part of your general practice for that matter! The whole thing’s kind of flipped over for Alejandro though, in that he has his coffee on his doorstep, yet (understandably) decided to go exotic on the sourcing of his speciality microroaster, in choosing Steve Hasbean here in the UK! A big trend in this year’s competition generally was definitely for even greater examination and showcasing of these aspects of varietals, processing, and the whole coffee-fruit. Where next? Technique minutiae? Exciting stuff. Another trend and temptation this year is clearly to get a beard on, to go with my already bald head …but I will resist!

Back ‘home’, I have my current FAVourite coffee for espresso on at the cafe right now for another day or so! Solum. Semi-washed Catuai microlot via JGC. When its bang on, the red fruit/walnut/cake mixture thing can be just fantastic. I’m also musing a little more these last couple of weeks about the subtle interplay between PID temp stability, ground coffee hygroscopicity and temperature, and dose/grind size. For what its worth. And praying for a time when I will be grinding for the shot I’m making, rather than the next. Some grinders come closer, I think, but all have their issues.

Either side of this, I’m also still brewing Peter’s awesome Completo blend (it’s just so good, for all sorts of reasons I don’t need to go into right now). I’m often the first to question the true success of the coffees I/we make, but Completo and Solum are both performing particularly well this week (partly due to tighter than ever control over various key factors), the percentage of shots I’m happy with is perhaps at an all time peak, and this has a ripple effect on all the drinks, naturally. I hope it continues, and continues to progress!

I’m also getting the new seasonal cafetière menus ready for the cafe! Kilenso Mokanesa, Hope, and Wahana will feature soon!