Friday, August 31, 2007

Srockholm Coffee Academy

Visited: 30/08/07

I got a chance to visit Stockholm's coffee academy, it is a very special place. If you like LaMarzocco you are in heaven. THE Marzocco technician Magnus occupies this space with fantastic toys. The space is just spectacular, lots of room to throw massive parties, and from what I hear they often do! There is a big kitchen and even a shower! Costas Pliatsikas actually lived and trained at the academy prior to the 2007 WBC.

On the left hand side there is a fully automatic Diedrich roaster, David got it started and we roasted some coffee, here is a short video (30MB) of coffee coming out just before the 2nd crack. It was fun to see a fully automatic roaster in action. All the graphs and curves are updated on the large colour screen so you visually pick and choose the profile you are trying to achieve. The graphs are awesome as you get a pretty accurate reading of when the coffee bottoms out. We also roasted coffee on a fully automatic mode, all you do is pick what coffee you are roasting from a preset list hit roast and walk away :) It all worked out, nice way to take skills required out of the equation. These are my first steps into roasting and must admit, I am getting hooked on it!!!

Magnus services and distributes machines so he has few new machines there as well, he has a spanking new 4 group FB80 in white. Very special indeed, would love to have one of them in my kitchen! The other two group FB80 is for "personal use" along side mazzer robur indeed a nice combo. I believe Costas was practicing on that machine, its tuned really well .8 restrictors - the whole deal! Pulled few nice shots out of it, very cool!

There is a display wall full of interesting things. Books, tampers and various tools. Le Nez Du Cafe kit has caught my nose, I am very much into smelling, perhaps i will suggest one of these kits to mum for Christmas.

This coffee academy is very private, you need to be invited to go there. There is no education taking place in it for the public so I am not sure why they call it an academy. Its more like a really spacious service centre with cool toys and gadgets.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Kenya AA Gethumbwini

Kenya AA Gethumbwini - roasted 20.08.07

Although this blog was dedicated to my espresso runs ... I have decided to spice it up with some extra posts to keep you guys in the loop of my interesting doings :) From now on I will throw in few random coffee thoughts as well ... enjoy

soo ... my coffee of the week will have to go to Gethumbwini.

First time I had it fresh 2 days from its roast, it carries a lot of heavy blackcurrant smell and thats very much reflected in the cup, very sharp and distinct from all the other flavours. As it cooled down it picked up amazing berry-like acidity and carries through nicely, with a sweet, slightly smoky finish.

10 days past ...

The blackcurrant smell is even stronger and is just captivating! On the palate the blackcurrant really really stands out however mellows out into pleasant lingering citric aftertaste. The mouthfeel is just amazing, very creamy and rich, mmmm... the smokiness was gone and the finish was much cleaner.

This is really something special, absolutely adore this

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Norway – Oslo (Part 1)

Visited: 08/08/07
Norway – Oslo (Part 1)

I was going to Oslo with very high expectations, but never did I imagine having such a wonderful experience. Oslo is recognised as the best city in Europe for having wonderful espresso and rightfully so. It was fascinating to see how much different Oslo espresso is from the rest of the world, a very specific palate for lightly roasted coffees with bright acidic notes.

Tim Wendelboe (Gr√ľnersgate 1) – the name really speaks for itself. Straight off the plane this is the first place that I went to. It is a little tricky to find but if Tim is roasting you can let your nose guide you there. This shop has been long anticipated by many people in the coffee industry, as you might know Tim won the 5th annual world barista title in 2004 and he is all about perfection. This espresso bar/micro-roastery is a paradise to any barista. I saw it as an amazing playground with expensive toys but never the less they mean serious business there! You tend to loose your eyes among all the trophies on the wall while anxiously waiting for your espresso. Finally it was in front of me - the long awaited shot of coffee but I will get to what I thought of it a little later …

Tim has an amazing space that he designed himself, a luxurious bar with wide work benches. The machine is perfectly lifted for a barista to work, even the customers bar fits the shape of the magnificent Marzocco FB80. I was the first guest barista behind that bar and am very proud of that fact. This FB80 is like no other, it is custom built according to Tims order, you can trigger each group to run at different set temperatures allowing the machine to function like a synesso. The word on the street is that La Marzocco soon will have that option available for customers on demand. Mind you, Tim also re-wired the whole place just to have his grinders running on 3 phase, so of cause he has a Mazzer Robour. In his cupping lab he has a small PROBAT microroaster that has never been used yet and a GS3 that is an absolute eye candy of a machine! You can tell by the picture how much geekiness there is in the setup, did anyone notice how far away the grinder is from the machine haha. Anyway Tim loves that machine and pulls very decent shots on it, the only thing is the boiler is awfully close to the top surface, so the cups get extremely hot. La Marzocco have tried to insulate the boiler but the heat from it is still great. You could say that this espresso bar was designed by a real coffee geek and rightfully so Tim is a pioneer in latest and greatest. Even his water filters through a special stone allowing him to sweeten it. This way he can afford to roast lighter and allow natural acidity to shine through with water sweetening the overall balance, all fascinating nerdy stuff but the end result is so damn worth it!

So espresso … the roast was very fresh when I tried it so we didn’t get the best out of the coffee as I had mentioned in my “Espresso Cupping with Tim Wendelboe” blog post, please read it and relate to it. The coffee had a distinct aroma of blueberry bouquet, and on the palate that fruity acidity, with slightly smoky feel and texture due to freshness of the coffee. I bought a small bag of beans to take home with me to Sweden, to test the espresso again and get maximum out of it at the right time. I have tried it when it was 3 weeks from its roast and I must say the results were mind-blowing. Although I didn’t have all the gadgets Tim does I was still able to pull an amazing shot on the trusty FB80.

The coffee was showing light oils due to its light roast, I pulled shots like Tim would, dosing just on the 18g line with a finer grind allowing the shot of espresso to run for its full length right through the colour change. He specifically designed it this way so it would be unfair to judge it otherwise. Having aged the coffee; the smokiness was no longer present, instead I was treated to an array of new flavours and much smoother tasting espresso. The smell evolved from very floral into a fruity almost citrus-like aroma. On the palate it very much reflected that natural fruity acidity with an amazingly smooth taste right to the last drop. I was very impressed how delicious it was with milk too … this time I used Swedish milk which is 100 times better than Norwegian milk. I don’t normally judge coffee by adding milk but this was spectacular. Not a hint of bitterness or unpleasantness, very smooth with milk adding on additional sweetness, really enjoyed it!

I simply have to bow to Tims efforts and achievements, this is the guy that was and is my idol through the very start of my coffee days. I am very blessed to have visited him, although it was only for few days I learnt so much. This espresso bar sits right at the top of my list of places that I have visited. Ten out of ten!

Norway – Oslo (Part 2)

Visited: 08/08/07

This is the continuation from my previous blog from my Oslo visit, so if you haven’t read it yet -
please read it before you read this one …

I already spoke about the best espresso in Oslo and that was Tim Wendelboe's place so refer to this post please.

The second favourite espresso bar in Oslo was from Stockfleth's (Karl Johans Gate 25), their coffee is roasted by Solberg & Hansen, a large coffee roaster supplying for lots of espresso bars in Oslo. The coffee was really good, once again pushing espresso all the way, getting that natural acidity to shine through in the cup. The coffee had more body and was much sweeter than the one at TW. From what I gathered a slightly darker roast (leaning towards medium) and more brazil driven coffee, very nice and I believe would pull great as a ristretto also, if you desire.

These guys are the pioneers of Norwegian espresso tradition so it’s a must on your list! The shop inside has a great display of trophies all over the walls, mind you all the trophies that Tim Wendelboe won are now gone, but still there are tons and tons!

A place Kaffeefuglen (Universitetsgaten 2) didn’t make a good first impression on me, as you walk in you see, a well looked-after FAEMA machine, and an arsenal of paper take-away cups. So I was expecting the barista to serve me my espresso in a paper cup. Some how he sensed that I was a little serious about my coffee so I got a special treat in shot measure glass. The coffee was outstanding, they actually buy the Stockfleth's blend and make a good job out of it.

The reason they only have take-away is due to one of the health regulations in Norway. If you don’t have a toilet or a dishwasher than you can’t have any crockery or cutlery. I think on special request they let you enjoy your coffee out of a measure shot glass, as long as noone finds out its all good so shhhh … don’t tell the chief health inspector, haha.

You are almost guaranteed an excellent cup at a place called Mocca Kaffebar (Ullev√•lsveien 47), once again an espresso bar with its own rostery in house! It is really fascinating and has lots of feel to it. Nice coffee equipment well knowledgeable staff and the coffee is fantastic. There is a little trick though, this place is really hard to find, windows are not labeled at all and there is absolutely no signs outside, so its really easy to walk past. It’s a really strange philosophy to employ as a shop owner, however this espresso bar rates right at the top of the weekly coffee consumption in Oslo.

Java (Niels Juels gate 70) is a really awesome espresso bar. This shop is owned by the same guys that own Java so once again no signs on the windows, so be very observant looking for this place. I myself walked right past it. As soon as you walk in you see 2 eye catching things. First thing is a custom painted La Marzocco linea which is fantastic to look at and the second things you see is the clover! I was really excited to see the clover as not many people have them in Europe, not to mention using it in an espresso bar. The clover sits far away on the back bench and looks very lonely. Unfortunately for the clover it gets very little use if any. The wall of single origins is great it really is too bad that people in Oslo are not drinking drip coffee.

The coffee is roasted “inhouse” at the java location as the owners are the same, the espresso is also great and staff jump around from place to place, so the skills and quality are there.

One more place definitely worth going to is United Bakeries (Bogstadveien at Majorstua), it’s a brand new store with 2 x four group FB70 and a big inhouse roaster with a spectacular cupping room, with latest and greatest. The shop is more of a museum of new and old coffee machines. On the back wall they have a whole lot of different coffee gadgets and its really interesting. The coffee itself wasn’t as good as the other place I went to but more or less drinkable!

You will notice that 5 out of 6 coffee shops roast their own coffee … that is amazing!!! There must be such a competition going on between micro-rosteries that’s why the coffee standard in Oslo is extremely high. This city was amazing and the people have a great palate for true espresso. I guess you could compare Oslo to Seattle except in Oslo baristi are more focused and professional in a sense that they treat their job more like a privilege, I respect that very much. If you are serious about your coffee you cannot go past Oslo!

Monday, August 27, 2007

One perfect day ...

Today I got a chance to visit David Haugaard at his roasting facility! It was a lot of fun watching David roast different blends and see the whole process from the side :) It is amazing how much care and love he puts into every single step, no wonder they call him the best in the business! The roasting facility is really well planed out to the very fine detail, even the water sprinklers in case of fire emergency in the pipes! Green coffee is nicely stored in divided chambers and sucked through the pipes into a PROBAT roaster, all good fun I must say! Also got a chance to play around with a BG5 upstairs in the cupping room and bought an evasolo as a present for myself ...

so like i said ... one perfect day!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Espresso Cupping with Tim Wendelboe

Visited: 08/08/07

Tim had just come back from WBC in Tokyo and has brought over 2 bags of roasted coffee with him. Paul Bassett - Signature Blend and Counter Culture – Tuscano so we paced them out along side Tim’s espresso blend.

Paul Bassett - Signature Blend

Tim quickly rushed over to his LaMarzocco GS3 and started to pull shots. The machine was tuned to 93C. Once everything was set to go Paul Bassett signature blend was up first. I reviewed this blend not long ago and was anxious to compare my tasting notes to the ones I had made earlier in my blog. The obvious difference was the place where the beans were roasted. The PB blend that I reviewed was roasted in Adelaide and the one that Tim brought over was roasted in one of the PB stores in Japan.

This particular bag was roasted in Japan on the 29th of July so was 11 days from roast, visually the coffee looked great with rich oils that have come through. The roast itself was a little darker as to the one Tony D’Angelo roasts in Adelaide. The beans smelt fantastic, very distinct caramel aroma was just mind-captivating. Everyone in the room was anticipating something very special. The blend itself is designed for a ristretto with coffee packed right up to the 18g line, so Tim pulled a few longer shots to get more of an espresso feel to it, still having to updose but not as much as they do in Japan. The coffee was noticeably different to what I have reviewed earlier last year, not too sure if the selection of beans has changed however the robusta bean was still present perhape 5% to 7% to give the coffee more body and hold the crema a little better.

As expected espresso was very dense and rich - full of crema that held for a very long time, due to its roast profile and selection of beans. The smell reflected the taste; distinct toasted nuts on the smell carried and lingered on the palate. The last drops were an explosion of blueberries mellowing out into sweet acidity with hints of dark chocolate. This espresso was all about mouthfeel and lingering aftertaste, very velvety with great depth and complexity right through to the last drop

Counter Culture - Tuscano Espresso Belnd

I believe that I have come through this blend in NYC at 9th street espresso. I am pretty sure they use Tuscano. There was something not right about this coffee, might have been to do with the fact that it had to travel to Japan from the USA and then a long journey to Norway. It might have been checked into heavy luggage on the way to Japan and could have been ruined from temperature changes, it was 3 weeks from its roast so should have been ok.

It was nothing to what I tasted in NYC very fruity and grassy on the smell and the teste was rubbery with sharp acidic edge that wasn’t very plesant. The crema dicepated almost straight away, so I am sure it wasn’t the best example of Counter Culture coffee, but that’s ok I’ve seen the best of it in NYC so by all means I am not doubting its capabilities. Too bad it didn’t shine through on the day!

Tim Wendelboe - Espresso Blend

This coffee was 3 days from its roast and was still very fresh, so it didn’t come out at its best but never the less was outstanding. You will notice the breakdown is right there on the bad. Tim has no secrets from anyone – what you see is what you get! He told me that he is still learning so has plenty to share and plenty to learn from others. Just by looking at the lable you can tell that this blend was designed for espresso, to add the natural acidic note to the coffee. The beakdown of sweet brazil is only 42% so I wasn’t expecting a very sweet or full bodied coffee.

The coffee was very lightly roasted with slight oils showing. Due to freshness the crema was pretty bright in colour and had dissipated very quickly. The coffee was very grassy and smokey as it was a little too young, showing distinct notes of berry acidity. Overall the espresso was very delicate and well balanced with great though and complexity throughout the cup.

The stand out of the day was PB signature blend, this coffee is all about the mouthfeel and a large spectrum of different flavours. I also loved the rich crema that held for a very long time, excellent!

My second favourite was Tims espresso blend and my least favourite out of the 3 was counter culture blend.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

London Espresso Run

Visited: 02/07/07


Before I jump into the espresso side of things I would like to give you a little bit of history about London and its coffee. I have spoken to one of the roasters from Monmouth and she told me a lot of great things that I didn’t know before.

Well, the local coffee monopoly is held by a company called Mercanta they import green beans. One of their loyal clients who also happen to be a roaster are called Monmouth. The selection of roasted beans is vast in single origins and few blends for espresso. Basically from what I’ve been told Londoners are use to freshly brewed coffee and Monmouth has been doing that for years and years before putting an espresso machine into their store. So a typical Londoner has a palate for a single origin cup of coffee that they can always get at Monmouth for example. The espresso market is starting to grow through out London. Unfortunately only a handful of places will serve you a great cup and the winners are …. haha

My London favourite would have to go to a place called Flat White (17 Berwick St. SOHO) This place is ran by a guy called Cam, he moved from New Zealand to open this shop. From what I’ve been told Cam was trained by Paul Bassett back in the day and it really shows from endless collapsing and generous coffee dosing that Flat White employ.

Using 2 x two group Linea – Mazzer combination baristi are very familiar with equipment and use all the right extraction methods. They use Monmouth espresso blend which is a medium roast consisting of 100% arabica, the espresso or rather ristreatto is very complex in flavours. The fruity, slightly rubbery smell really reflects in the cup. The last drops of the espresso are the best part very interesting acidic almost nectar like sweetness is mind-blowing really. Staff at Flat White are really friendly and Cam is a top bloke who is willing to talk to ya for hours and hours. Their latte art is on the money most of the time and great consistency all round makes this espresso bar what it is. Oh and did I mention they serve flat whites haha.

espresso price: £1.70GBP expensive right ?? that’s about $3.4USD

Monmouth Coffee Co. (27 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden) really is a coffee shop, their prime market is in selling beans. The specialise in drip coffee making, they use melitta cups with filters so the coffee is freshly ground and hot water is poured over the top, hard to get it wrong, that’s the beautiful thing about melitta drip cups. They have a variety of different single origins and even throw in seasonal specials and to rotate their stock they do a brew of the day, so the customer gets to try something different every single day. A really cool concept. They employ the same idea at both of their locations, the other shop is in Borough Market (2 Park Street, Borough). Both of the shops are worth visiting, I recommend experiencing a few different single origins through the filter before moving on to espresso, you will like it believe me!

Ok espresso side of things … from what I’ve gathered espresso for Monmouth is almost like a sidekick. They only have espresso machines because the clientele has developed a palate for it, however as I am told they much rather not even have espresso all together. Both shops have Linea machines and Mazzer grinders. Sadly there wasn’t a single barista working in the shop that had passion or knowledge about espresso, so the shots were very average, coffee would gush out and you get an overextracted shot of coffee every time. Deep inside though you can sense the fruity light acidic notes just like at Flat White. It really is amazing how much of a difference you get between flat white and Monmouth espresso wise.

One thing I didn’t like about Monmouth is that they leave their coffee exposed to the air all the time, the coffee that they sell behind the counter sits in massive plastic buckets. Would be nice to see them seal all the coffee after roasting for freshness sake.

espresso price: £1.00GBP Much cheaper than Flat White, Filter coffee i believe is £2.00GBP

Bar Italia (22 Frith St, SOHO) a very traditional Italian espresso bar, with cool 3 group piston machine with very Italian philosophy. These guys have been there since 1946. I make you coffee like my great great uncle Mario use to make it in Milano and you are gonna like it! So of cause the coffee is imported from Italy, the shots are gushing out and the end result is sub par. But hey … go there for experience, great atmosphere and nice Italian pastry.

There is one more espresso bar that I would like to mention, sadly after a month of living in London I never went there. It is called Climpson & Sons (67 Broadway Market, Hackney) and I hear great things about it. The owner use to work for Flat White so I am guessing expect a similar cup, but don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Airbrushing Mazzer Major

Airbrushing Mazzer Major

I always wanted to make a blog about my little grinder do, but its been too long since I’ve done it so I didn’t have the motivation to blog it up. Its about time I get it out of the way, I guess I need to thank Tim Wendelboe for a tiny bit of encouragement. This one is for you Tim .. haha

Ok so here is the story … I bought a Mazzer Major grinder on e-bay, it was cheap so it turned out a good deal overall. When this grinder got to me; it was in a pretty bad shape. You could tell straight away that it has been used an abused on so many different levels. The guy that actually sold it to me hasn’t even cleared out the left over grounds of coffee. The grinder mechanism was in good comdition but the blades were worn out. So here I am cleaning it with a compressor and everything. I decided to restore the grinder completely, this is what I did to it:

Airbrush designs:

I wanted to do something special on the grinder, something simple. Many people recommended patterns such as flames or tribal art, but I wanted it unique. After all its not a car. So it came down to two conclusions: pink panther or pac-man. Both were pretty easy to sketch in illustrator and very original. I decided to go with pac-man as I had more flexibility to come up with my own design and really make it complicated and interesting all the way around. But then still why pac-man?!?! Well every one knows it and has played it on Atari so why not …? Here you can see my illustrator sketches of the mock maze which was later lightly modified by my airbrush artist.

Taking the beast apart:

As you see the grinder body has lots of chips and dents and its not the prettiest thing to look at either.

First steps first … I stripped the grinder completely and unwired everything. Taking the coil way a pain in the ass, I didn’t follow any internet instructions but someone recommended putting it in the over for the metal to expand and that way the could slips out with slight force. So if you ever get around to taking it out, you might wanna do that …

Laying coats:

I needed to sand little chips and imperfections over for the paint to be nice and even. So I put 3 coats of undercoat and sanded all the imperfections, on the last photo you can see that everything is smooth and ready to be painted black! Be sure to air spray everything, you will get a nice even result through out the project. I did 3 coats of black paint, I actually used a matt car paint to give it a more sexy appeal. The whole thing will be clear-coated at the end so plenty of smoothness … just wait and see.

The airbrushing:

From here I took it over to my airbrush artist. I have given him all my illustrator vector designs so he was able to cut out stencil and get the job done, he has personally told me that it’s the craziest smallest project he has ever seen. He even requested photos which I believe are on his website. This guy has never heard or seen a coffee grinder in his life so for him it was a challenge to paint around the sides and making it look shmick! As you can see everything turned out according to plan. On one of the photos you can see my new-bodied beast sucking up 80kg of coffee to season the new blades.

I hope you had fun browsing through photos and if you have any further questions please let me know … I am always open to tips and help so shoot …

I guess I will take this opportunity to thank a few people, it is indeed an impossible task getting this done on your own so here it goes.

Dan thanks for helping me take everything apart and then putting it back together, your shed is indeed a goldmind haha and don’t worry about the clicker wheel, I got a new one :)

Sammy, my best buddy – we sprayed and we sprayed … got it all done in the end, cheers for your help mate

Guys at the airbrushing studio … you guys rocked did an awesome job!

Tony D’Angelo thanks for providing me with a ton of robusta to season my blades

And last but not least Tim Wendelboe for poking my motivation with a stick

Comments anyone??