Eirik just sent me a link to a new (norwegian) article about a cool coffee bar called Kaffefuglen in downtown Oslo (Pilestredet). I've been there a couple of times and I liked both the atmosphere and the espresso. Check out their nice homepage. 5/23/2004 11:42:00 AM
Friday, May 21, 2004
I got to cup coffee the other day with Eirik Johnsen and some other employees (Jonas, Stine? and the ever smiling Emily) of the Stockfleth's coffee bar in Lille Grensen, Oslo.
Eirik had just returned from a stay in Mexico and had brought with him an assortment of coffee samples. All was preroasted and packed in bags, so we didn't have the chance to roast to the exact same degree before cupping. That is normal practice in most cases, but then you need a sample roaster etc. This was more of a social gathering to sample some interesting coffees. We didn't for instance use any grade forms. What we did however was to pick three favourites each. The winner was a peaberry coffee that I sadly don't remember the name of. Eirik, if you read this post, could you please write a comment with the name?
Most Mexico coffee comes from the southern part of the country, where the continent narrows and takes a turn to the east. Veracruz state, on the Gulf side of the central mountain range, produces mostly lowland coffees, but coffees called Altura (High) Coatepec, from a mountaineous region near the city of that name, have an excellent reputation. Other Veracruz coffees of note are Altura Orizaba and Altura Huatusco. Coffees from the opposite, southern slopes of the central mountain range, in Oaxaca State, are also highly regarded and marketed under the names Oaxaca or Oaxaca Pluma. Coffees from Chiapas State are grown in the mountains of the southeasternmost corner of Mexico, near the border with Guatemala. The market name traditionally associated with these coffees is Tapachula, from the city of that name, but coffee sellers now usually label them Chiapas. Chiapas produces some of the very best and highest grown Mexico coffees.
The typical fine Mexico coffee is analogous to a good light white wine - delicate in body, with a pleasantly dry, acidy snap. If you drink your coffee black and prefer a light, acidy cup, you will like these typical Mexico speciality coffees. However, some mexico coffees, particularly those from high, growing regions in Chiapas, rival the best Guatemala coffees in high-grown power and complexity.
Mexico is also the origin of many of the certified organically grown coffees now appearing on North American specialty menus. These are often excellent coffees certified by various independent monitoring agencies to be grown without the use of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, or other harmful chemicals.
Coffee from many of the most admired Mexican estates seldom appears on the United States market but is sold almost exclusively in Europe, particularly Germany. Some of these names, should they ever become relevant for the North American aficionado, include Liquidambar, Santa Catarina, Irlandia, Germania, and Humbargo.
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Btw, Eirik mentioned that it is not allowed to import green beans to mexico, so all coffee served is from mexican beans. I found that fact interesting.
I brought some fresh roast "Mexico Liquid Ambar" that I roasted just an hour before the cupping started. This got some compliments when ground, but scored rather low when water was added :). It was too fresh and a lot less complex in taste then the others. It tasted like smoke, cardboard and was flat in taste. Probably my worst drip roast till date. Typical :)
After trying the mexican coffees we cupped some classics that they sell in the coffee bar on a daily basis, like a kenya, monsooned malabar, colombia etc. The best of them was "Kilimanjaro", an El Salvador cup of excellence winner of 2003 if I am not mistaken? It is mentioned in the linked article that Solberg&Hansen bought this coffee for a pretty high price last year. I am quite certain that we sampled this exact coffee. It is very nice, balanced, fruity, candy like. I love it. Try a 250g bag if you live in Oslo. I highly recommend it.
If you want to learn more about cupping then read the nice article "Beginner's Guide to Cupping" that was posted on coffeegeek some time ago. 5/21/2004 11:40:00 PM
Alexander von der Lippe just e-mailed me photos of the 2004 finnish barista champ Petri Parviainen from Robert's Coffee.
(Check out the Rancilio Classe 10 in the background, and the siliva) 5/21/2004 11:25:00 PM
Monday, May 17, 2004
I've been really focused on my photography the last week, taking a lot of pictures and spending hours in Adobe Photoshop. My employeer has given me funds to access an online training resource called lynda.com online learning library. It contains lots of high quality (video) instruction on all kinds of graphic software tools, like photoshop, illustrator, flash etc. I'm learning a lot from this and having fun. Here's a macro shot I did yesterday of my battle scarred reg barber tamper.
I took it in my kitchen utilizing the nice light from my large kitchen window.
Still playing with my Bodum Mini Santos. I think I'm doing it correctly now since the coffee is real nice. Still, I find the coffee from my OBH Nordica King of Coffee brewer to be more to my liking. It is specially engineered to brew at perfect temperature and time. I am not saying that it is a better brewer, just that I think I prefer drip. This is an important point that is often mentioned in the discussion groups when people get too caught up in the technique and technology of brewing: find out what *you* like. If you for instance prefer the taste of an espresso brewed outside of the normal parameters of 20-30 secs etc, then by all means do so, and don't feel guilty for not following the golden rules.
Just 3-4 weeks until my trip to Italy and the WBC. It will be interesting to try some espresso in the real italian coffee bars. I guess I will be disappointed by the coffee but thrilled by the atmosphere? If you know a great coffee bar / place in rome or trieste, please let me know by commenting this post. Btw, I really appreciate the comments you make to my posts. It is really motivating me to continue updating this blog.
I witnessed some nasty espresso brewing practices the other day. After work I stopped by a coffee bar / ice cream joint called "con Gusto" in the Grønland area of Oslo. I ordered a double americano and some nice italian ice cream. The guy proceeded to push the doser lever twice, and then *scooping* up some of the stale, spilt grounds from the tray at the base of the grinder! 5/17/2004 07:31:00 PM
I spent last weekend in Sweden visiting some friends in Helsingborg. While there I picked up a Mini Santos. The mini model of the santos is not available in shops in Norway. The big brother eSantos however is everywhere. I met a Bodum tech guy in a shop once and asked him why I've never seen the smaller model. He said that is was available by special order, but only a selected few shops have been interested in stocking it. The bigger eSantos had apparently been troublesome since so many customers returned it because of failures (mostly because they didn't clean it sufficiently), so maybe that is why the mini is nowhere to be seen.
My first impression of the Mini was that it looked even smaller than I had imagined. The handle has a nice feel to it. The general impression is all good.
First brew was fun even though the brew was slightly weak. "Up north time" was only about a minute, but that was as expected. I had read lots of posts about tweaking it before buying. Last night I tried some of the tricks like angling, putting quarters under the front end and so on. It didn't work that well and I mostly ended up around 1 min 30 secs. Btw, "up north time", means the period of time that all the water is in the top part of the brewer mixing with the coffee grounds. The brewing process consists of three parts : 1. Water heats up in the bottom part and rises slowly to the top part slowly mixing with the coffee grounds, 2. All water is in the top mixing powerfully because of hot air bubbles rising from the bottom part, 3. Water has evaporated in the bottom exposing a sensor that cuts the power. The temperature drops and the vacuum sucks the coffee dwown again and through the filter. The results is a brew very much resembling french press tastewise, but a lot clearer and almost without mud in the bottom of the cup.
Bodum has a nice video (click "view product demo") demonstrating the process.
I will continue to experiment with it in the coming days. I think I will have to grind a bit finer to compensate for the short extraction. 5/11/2004 09:25:00 AM
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Just an update concerning the "Forbrukerinspektørene" video clip with Tim Wendelboe. When you open the previous link you have to click "Se FBI på Nett-TV". Then a window opens with a list of programs on the left hand side. Click "Sendinger FBI" and then "FBI 05.05.04". The feature about espresso machines coffee is in the last third of the program. Tim talks about and uses a bialetti and milk frother, a nespresso pod machine and a rancilio silvia with rocky. All in norwegian I'm afraid, but it is still cool to watch, especially the pour and crema of the nespresso. I know it ain't good...I've tasted it myself and burnt my tongue in the process. It was real bitter too.
Oh, I almost forgot. Since the registration is in norwegian, you english speaking guys and gals can use my account : username : gauperaa, password : 928110 ...and no, that is not the one I use at home or at work ;) 5/06/2004 02:48:00 PM
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
I had two really, really nice espressi at Stockfleths Lille Grensen yesterday. They were probably the best I've had from the stockfleths espresso blend that barista Tim Wendelboe is roasting. 1.5 oz or more, great body, smooth, balanced, sweet and with just enough bitterness to not make it boring. When espresso is that good it really beats every other coffee drink. Oh, of course the blonde barista should get some credit for her nice extraction :). I don't know her name, but she seemed really nice. Very friendly with the customers.
I am really curious about conical grinders these days. Do they (Robur, Kony etc.) really produce a better espresso? is it noticable?, or are conical grinders just a better choice because they rotate slower giving lower temperature from friction in a high volume coffee bar? and thereby not harming the beans with high temp? If that is the case, then it shouldn't matter what type of grinder the prosumer chooses. On the other hand, if it really makes a difference how the beans are cut/sliced by a conical blade, then I am going to start saving for a Mazzer Kony :)
One last thing, Master barista Tim Wendelboe will be on norwegian television again on wendnesday. He will be talking about different brewing devices (in norwegian). The program can later be viewed on WebTV on the program "FBI" (short for "Forbrukerinspektørene") homepages. Click the link "Gå til avspilleren her". You have to register to watch the clip. 5/04/2004 09:41:00 AM