Archive for September, 2011

14th September 2011

September 14, 2011

I have a bag of the newest (released!) arrival at the roastery that I am eagerly anticipating for my days off at home this week: Kenyan Kayu washed Peaberry. The talk is of clean lemon citrus, blackcurrant, orange, and all things epitomising great Kenyan coffee!!! We know the Cooperative, how many farmers make up its members, the regional district, where the wet mill is, the altitudes, varietals, and the processing,  …but what’s REALLY fun, as I’ve just discovered, is this time we can also actually SEE the collection center and surrounding countryside on a satellite map – this makes traceability feel really tangible! Well, I found it quite exciting, anyway! 😉 Can’t wait to try it.

I’m training, training, training at the cafe right now. Lots of new staff, and great (even good) coffee doesn’t ‘just happen’. Many have a long way to go (as do I, don’t we all?!), but the training is in-depth, and the monitoring and guidance is full-time, 5-6 days per week (not just the result of a brief visit from a trainer). Therefore all our baristas  can take the opportunity, run with it, and potentially gradually develop real pride, expertise and passion for their work. Failing that, a high level of basic proficiency is trained as standard and is in place before anyone makes drinks for our customers, and everyone knows what to aim for as they move forward! There will be a natural variance in skill levels, because baristas can potentially develop their knowledge of the craft over many years, but not all baristas seek to progress to that level of professionalism.

Naturelle has been stripped back a little to its juiciest, purest form, and is due out soon (perhaps more of a calculated move, than a seasonal one?). Las Nubes will return next week too, before my holiday. Then Naturelle all the way through, before new espressos arrive from the horizon in October!”

4th September 2011

September 4, 2011

Over the last several weeks at the cafe, I’ve been alternating just two different coffees for espresso. These coffees have been one seasonal blend, Caffe Naturelle (currently featuring coffees from Brazil, Guatemala, and Ethiopia), and one single estate, Finca Las Nubes (Guatemalan washed red catuai varietal). This has partly been because these are currently my two favorite coffees for espresso at our roaster, and partly because I have once again felt the desire to focus on fewer coffees for a while, in an attempt to observe them more closely, fine tune techniques, represent the coffees better, and learn more! I will continue to use these for the next few weeks …and then new things will begin to appear!

Both these coffees are just my thing. Clean, juicy, citrusy and fruity, in different ways and degrees – perfect for the summer too! The punchy yet soft orangey citrus of the Las Nubes, along with its other notes, is stunning. I had to do quite a lot of work at one stage to get this coffee to where I like it best, but have been rewarded. I’m brewing it at about a 57% brew ratio, ideally.

I had another brief visit to London recently. I usually only get the chance to visit once or twice a year, and whenever I’m there I try to visit some of the top artisan coffee shops – some new ones, and maybe some that I’ve been to previously as well. The scene is flourishing in London, and while there used to be just a small handful of places of note a few years ago, there are now amazing places opening up regularly. You still have to know where to go though! Please, if you like coffee, and are visiting London – make the effort to check some of the top places out – you’ll rarely be disappointed – and hopefully very much the opposite! On the Great Coffee Links on the main page of my blog, there’s the London Coffee Map, and the London’s Best Coffee App for IPhone and Android to help you find the right places. This time I visited Nude’s newest shop in the square, and Notes Music and Coffee. Great stuff!

Over the last 9 months or so as we have moved through winter and summer, I think I can say I’ve been making some connections with various subtler aspects of seasonality, particularly with espresso, in relation to issues I was aware of theoretically, but haven’t been able to observe to this extent before. The effects on flavour of seasons both in terms of our seasons here, and, very differently, those of the coffees, dictated by origin, in terms of changes over the duration of their stay.

The Pages on the blog tend to be fairly fixed entries, but these are occasionally updated, modified, or even rewritten as things change, or as I reassess how best to convey the topics…

Nice mention on Stephen Nottingham’s local food blog recently. Looks like a fascinating and extensive blog – great to have people in the area doing stuff like this.

And …There’s a new coffee in at the JGC roastery, which I’m pretty excited about …Kenya Kayu! Can’t wait!