Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The titanium GS3

This machine was displayed over at the La Marzocco stand as part of their 80th anniversary. It was bought by Magnus in Sweden and then sold to someone else in Sweden. I spoke to Lars from expressivo, he told me who the lucky owner was but I did not remember the name.

As you can see on the picture the whole machine is see-through with 2 titanium boilers. Apart from its cool looks the machine is noticeably lighter and in a way more portable, too bad it didn’t fit into my bag haha. They didn’t let anyone use it for obvious reasons. It really added on to the LM stand and was centre of attention.

[edit]: The lucky owner is Jens Brine from impod

Swiss Milk

For past months I’ve been taking interest in fresh milk in different countries. Last weekend I stayed at a friend’s house among lots of cow farms in beautiful Swiss Alps. There was a small store in the village where they sold fresh local products such as milk and cheese. I must say that I have never had such good milk, not even in Sweden. As you can see on the picture the milk carton is very generic and has no branding. The milk is 3.5% fat and is rich and smooth. It is also organic as the cows have a large space to walk around, and get pristine care from their farmers. The cheeses were outstanding also.

This milk would be just perfect for coffee, Swiss people are very fortunate to have nice daery products, it is a real shame that there is no quality coffee to compliment the milk.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Milano Fiera RHO 2007

I finally get a little break to blog about my Milano experience, as many of you already know I’ve been traveling around Switzerland. Living in the beautiful alps and enjoying amazing Swiss nature. I don’t think I can put a scale to this exhibition, it is HUGE. In order to understand the size of it you will definitely have to go there. Anything from ice machines pavilions, pizza makers, gelati machines ... it is just ridiculously big. The coffee sections was 2 pavilions full of various “stuff” and a ton of generic machines and grinders and bits and pieces. Only 5% of the exhibition is worth seeing and mentioning, as the rest is just various junk.

Day 1
The exhibition started slow on Friday but never the less a very good amount of people came for the first day. Lots of networking and socialising with good friends and industry related people. It was great to finally meet baristas like, James, Troels, Storm, Anna ... . A bunch of outstanding people whom I had lots of time to hang out with and talk coffee. Visits from Adelaide were very overwhelming: Tony from Rio Coffee dropped by, it was great to catch up with him as I haven’t seen him for almost a year. As well as Maria from CIBO, old friends that gave me my first push into the coffee world, people that I very much respect and care about. Got to catch up with Paul Bassett over at the café series stand, it is really amazing what the guys are doing with domestic espresso machines, I give them real credit!

I was given a position to work on the Clover machine over at the MAHLKÖNIG stand, got to play around with lots of nice single origin coffees that I had. Trying and drinking all day, I think Christian from MAHLKÖNIG and I were buzzing all day from lots of fine coffee.

The standout coffee from the clover was Rwanda Peabery that David Haugaard from Stockholm kindly donated. This coffee was full-bodied, very round and well balanced, as it cooled it picked up light citric notes, as well as some earthiness. On the smell a distinct hint of spice and cumin.

That following night we went to La Marzocco cocktail party, some more networking and socialising, great times drinking with Guido he is genuinely a very nice person. Anastasia from Clover was there also so between the drinking we had a chance to chat about coffee. That same evening the whole espresso warehouse crew went to a very nice restaurant near out hotel, James and Annette came along too, it was very inspiring to chat with James about coffee.

Day 2
Despite the headache the exhibition the next morning (Saturday) went smooth, perhaps the busiest day at the show. The clover got a real work out, it was good to work with Anastasia as we shared the stand and took breaks. I got to play around with the show Linea machine that La Marzocco had at their stand. I pushed through Haugaard's mellqvist blend and also Coffee Collective that Klaus sent over. Both espresso blends were outstanding, Klaus’s blend was on the acidic side where David’s was sweeter and more full bodies. A good example of good quality difference. It is a little hard to remember the fine notes as I was dosed up on coffee that day, but I remember them being both outstanding and everyone at LM were highly impressed, possibly the best espresso served at the exhibition.

The highlight of the day however was the latte art throwdown organised by espresso warehouse. We had a great turnout, few surprise entries included Jack Hanna (current latte art champion) Troels, Chiara (Spanish barista champion), some veterans of the industry overall about 7 competitors. There were some close calls but the trophy went to Chris Baca from ritual, a well deserved victory. Spectators and competitors enjoyed the show raising over 150 euro for CoffeeKids.

That following night we went to the Hyatt for drinks and then to a nice typical Italian restaurant, after that I went to the pub to celebrate THE LOSS of English team in the rugby world cup final.

Day 3
Sunday was a great day, not too busy so I got a chance to pull some espresso with Paul Bassett over at the café series stand. Paul pushed through Tim Wendelboe’s new espresso blend through sunbeam domestic machine. I must say that I was highly impressed with this little machine. It has fluctuation of only 1C, it is really amazing to see what the guys at café series are doing, they are really pushing home espresso to the next level. Tims coffee came out great, long infusion time made very it interesting. The infusion time was roughly about 13 seconds and extraction 4 seconds. A well balanced espresso in the cup, with slight acidity, round, well balanced. Paul and I both enjoyed drinking it.

That following night we went to URNEX party, this was the best party ever! The food was great and the bar was open, so we were drinking grappa all evening. Skip was calling rounds of grappa every 10 minutes, we got really wasted.

Day 4
Monday morning I could hardly stand from previous nights of drinking, good thing I had lots of coffee left over to keep me going. The exhibition has started to loose its buzz with lots of people leaving. We had some spare time to full around and waste milk, Chris was pouring latte art into a massive cup, which made its way around the exhibition hall.

That following evening we had a nice relaxing dinner in this very nice restaurant. A time to relax and go to bed at a reasonable hour was well needed needed.

Day 5
On Tuesday morning I took some time off to go around Duomo during sunlight. It was really fascinating both inside and outside. A quick stop at the exhibition in the afternoon to collect presents and say final goodbyes wrapped up my Milano experience.

I would like to thank espresso warehouse crew for giving me the opportunity to be there. It was great to meet so many interesting people, you guys know who you are so forgive me for not naming everyone. Hope to see you all again some time very soon.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Quick update

Hi Everyone,

Sorry for being underground, just letting you know that I am well and still alive. Here are the pictures from Milan Fiera RHO, I will write about it when I get some time.

At the moment I am at my friends mountain home in Switzerland, still travelling going to Paris on the 2nd … any ideas for quality espresso in Paris??


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Swedish Dairy

I would really love to talk about milk, this topic has been on my mind for quiet some time now. Ever since I lived in Sweden I’ve been fascinated by vast amounts of dairy products available in the supermarket. The shelves are filled with all sorts of yogurts, fermented milk drinks in all shapes sizes and fat content. The hardest part is to actually choose exactly what you want.

Let me run you down through all the milk that is available. I am going to talk about one brand in particular “Arla” they hold the monopoly here in Stockholm, they sell to every supermarket and convenient store in town.

Here is a picture of all the available choices; the design on the packet is simple the fatter the stripe on the packet the fatter the milk.

The red packet with fattest stripes has 3% of fat and is very consistent throughout the year. Almost all the coffee shops use this milk for its great taste and its consistency. I’ve used this milk on many occasions. As well as its amazing taste this milk textures extremely well; it’s a very nice milk to work with and it is reasonably cheap 5SEK for 1L thats about $0.7USD if you buy in bulk.

I would like to talk about other milk that Arla makes, but in particular their organic range, so here is the picture. Just for reference the barista milk is not organic.

Lately I’ve been playing around with the organic milk (ecological) that Arla release, it is the one on the far right (oldstyle milk), this milk has more fat 3.8% - 4.5% so compared to the regular milk it is not very consistent through out the year. This milk is not processed and fat levels vary throughout the seasons. Never the less this milk is amazing, it textures even better and tastes fantastic.

The other milk I would like to talk to you is the barista milk, I personally think that this is a marketing scheme, this milk has less fat but more protein (3.8g vs 3.3g). They stress that issue claiming that the milk will texture better. Although it textures just as good it doesn’t taste better by all means. More fat more flavour ,so I favour the organic milk.

In my conclusion I must say that I admire dairy products here in Sweden. The coffee industry is very fortunate to have companies like Arla, they deserve the recognition for doing what they do best. My favourite milk to work with is deffinately the oldstyle milk, for its richness and taste. I believe that guys in Norway are struggling with their milk and Tim Wendelboe has been putting together a partition to import organic milk into the coffee scene in Oslo, I wish him all the best and if you can join forces with him, please do!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Reg Barber Tamper Bases - The Conclusion

After about 2 month of experimenting with my new tamps, it is now time to wrap up to my conclusions.

Here is a quick summary of all the posts:

1. Reg Barber Tamper Bases (Metal Evaluation - First look)
2. Tarnish looks
3. Base Durability
4. Tamper base diameter test
[edit: 10/09/08]
5. Reg Barber Ripple Tamper Evaluation

The right choice here depends on various factors but mostly your personal technique and preference.

If you want a heavy tamper then I will recommend getting an aluminium handle and either brass, copper or stainless steel base. If you prefer a lighter tamper then I would suggest a wooden handle with an aluminium base. The aluminium base is by far the lightest.

If you are going for a specific look suited to your likings or theme than I suggest going on Reg Barber website and having a look at different coloured handles and matching the base to your preferred handle.

Durability is very important, you should choose the right tamper according to level of use. If you are going to use it in a busy café than be sure to get stainless steel base as it is by far the strongest metal and it will not tarnish. If it is a specific base look that you are after for home use or your competition, perhaps other metals will do the trick. Keep in mind that if you drop your precious brass, aluminium or copper tamper on the floor it will dent, so take good care of it.

If you are going for an all round tamper that will last you a long time and will not tarnish, then your best choice is getting one with the stainless steel base. It looks and feels fantastic.

The curve choice is mostly a personal preference based on your technique. I found that for my technique, American curve and c-flat extract a nicer shot than euro or flat. Once again it all depends on your tamping technique.

The diameter is perhaps the most important factor to perfection, so the right size should be picked according to your technique. If you think that your technique might change over the years, or simply want an all-round base to work with different filterbaskets I would recommend 58.0mm.

I would like to thank Reg Barber for his great tampers, they really do an outstanding job both in the industry and home use. I could comfortably stay that this tamper is every professionals choice one way or another.

I hope that this summary was of help to you in choosing your future tamp.

Monday, October 8, 2007

quick update

Sorry for not posting for a couple of days. Here is a little update to my previous post "Tamper base diameter test" I have recorded a video of my technique for you guys to see and understand it a little better .. here it is (under 2mb)...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Panama Hacienda La Esmeralda Jaramillo Especial geisha (Plunger/French press)

Panama Hacienda La Esmeralda Jaramillo Especial geisha (Plunger/French press)

Having tried Hacienda Le Esmeralda through a an espresso machine (read here) I now have my hands on something even more special, this particular coffee is grown in a region called Jaramillo which is ran by famous Finca Esmeralda and the Peterson family, this geisha is grown on high altitude in perfect conditions and is an award winning crop like no other in the world. This particular batch was roasted by David Haugaard with immaculate care! This is a light, 7 day roast.

I really wanted to get maximum out of this coffee so I have used a slightly finer grind approach. I have found that For many acidic coffees this approach is the best, as you get more natural acidity coming through into the cup. The dose is very vital also, you don’t want to use too much coffee as flavours will become overpowering. I used almost 3 full standard table spoons (15ml) of ground coffee per 350ml of water.

There was an interesting array of smells, as soon as you break the crust you smell a distinct chocolate note, however that note disappears in the cup completely. In the cup it is very floral with hints of cinnamon and spice, those smells dominate the cup as it cools.

On the palate you get a distinct lemongrass acidic note and green grape as the cup cools. The last drop of the plunger is the most intense part, a balance of sweetness and bright acidity makes it taste like lemon lollies. The best part of this coffee is the finish; it is slightly sweet, very crisp and clean!

I have spotted a very interesting smell profile after all the coffee was gone. The wet grounds (silt) in the plunger smelt exactly like freshly ground cedar wood led pencils; this really brought back childhood memories. The strange thing here was that there was absolutely no woody smell or taste in the coffee, both were fantastic through out the cup. So this cedar smell is not necessarily bad but yet another surprise.

This coffee is an art-form to say the least. The variety of flavours is a rich unpredictable bouquet. Through out the cup this coffee evolved into endless amounts of different smells and tastes, this is what makes this coffee what it is! No wonder it’s highly rated among best coffees in the world!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Panama Hacienda Le Esmeralda geisha (Espresso)

Panama Hacienda Le Esmeralda geisha (Espresso)

For those who know coffee this geisha doesn’t need further introduction! Just before I tell you about my espresso experience I would like to go into a little bit of history and processing behind this special bean.

This coffee has been out on the market since 2004 and every year since has won “The Best of Panama” competition. What makes this geisha crop so special? This coffee is grown in near perfect conditions it also gets a thorough treatment through processing and drying. They use a quick wash process and then sun dry the coffee on a concrete slab. You can read all about the history and detailed process on their website.

So, one may say putting this bean through an espresso machine is a crime, well it is! But if you have the opportunity to do so it is a very rewarding one also.

This coffee was Lightly Roasted roasted by Johan & Nystrom in Stockholm. So here is what the espresso tasted like:

On the smell this coffee was very fruity and floral with dried prune notes almost resemblant to Ethiopian Sidamo Beloya selection one coffee that I tried in Toronto not long ago, that batch was of similar light roast and was roasted by NOVO coffee. This is a very aromatic coffee and is a very striking standout!

Visually the coffee has a lightish crema that dissipated rather quickly, I didn’t expect it to hold from a single estate coffee.

First few sips were very fruity with sharp natural acidity, a very distinct tone of lemongrass and lemon zest mellowing into light sweetness, this coffee was very gripping right on the last drop. The last few sips were superb, imagine pealing a green grape and chewing on the skin – well that is exactly what the last drops are, I cant describe it any better than that!

The smooth overpowering acidic taste balanced with slight sweetness makes this espresso a very memorable one indeed. The fact that it stays with you for at least 20 minutes is a great sign of excellent cup.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Tamper base diameter test

Just before I start, the abbreviation NSEW mean – North, South, East, West. As you know I have 5 different bases, they are all of different diameter, so I will put them to the test and come up with the best diameter for my tamping style and liking.

First of all I am going to describe my tamping style and pace each of the bases exactly the same way with the same dose. I am packing the coffee just on the line for better visual result. I generally collapse the coffee twice, a decent 2-drop collapse on the grinder arms and then a light collapse on top of the doser before levelling the excess coffee back into the dosing chamber. Here is the video (under 2mb) for you to understand a little better.

My tamping has changed over this year drastically, that is why I need a tamper that will suit my current style best. As I am not tapping the side of the portafilter before my 2nd polish, so need the tamper to grab as much edge as possible with little coffee left on the inside rim of the basket. For this experiment I am using a standard 18g LaMarzocco basket, which has a dose line groove. I would much rather a synesso basket that doesn’t have the line groove, soon I will get my hands on one eventually and do this very same experiment.

I took all the photos after my tamping routine without flicking the waste so you can clearly see the excess grounds left behind. So here is my verdict…

57.7mm – Stainless steel – c-flat

This base is considerably smaller than 58.0mm and really feels that way, as soon as you put it in you can really feel the room between the basket and the tamp base. This size base is perfect if you use “NSEW” technique. Some people actually prefer their tamper to be smaller, here is a post by Mark Prince I read on coffeed a while back. I don’t use the same technique as Mark, so didn’t favour this size at all, as you can see from the picture there is a considerable amount of coffee along the rim that this base didn’t grab.

If you do decide to go with this size, I recommend you chose the c-flat base, just like mine. It will be more forgiving than others (if used properly). The shot that it pulled was great; I really like the c-flat extraction.

57.8mm – Aluminium – flat

Slightly bit bigger, from the picture you can’t really see much of an improvement on the edge. This is a flat base so I definitely do not recommend getting it smaller than 58.0mm. There is no advantage to it even if you use “NSEW” technique. The purpose of this base is to grab the edge as much as possible and at this size it has simply failed to do so. It felt very loose in the hand. The extraction results were decent but not great, due to its diameter and flatness.

58.0mm – Brass – c-flat

This base is 0.2mm bigger than previous and already you can visually spot the difference. As you can see the edge is much sharper, my concern with it was the LaMarzocco basket, the coffee gets stuck in the line, still the c-flat base is more forgiving than other bases, so it pulled a very good shot that I was happy with. I am assuming that it will pull a better shot out of the synesso basket as it doesn’t have the line in the basket. This size is the industry standard for many reasons, if you use “NSEW” technique it will suit you just fine as there is enough room between the base and the edge. And if you use my type of technique it is also a very solid performer. You can definitely find some middle ground with this base and wont go wrong by choosing it.

58.1mm – Brass – American Curve

Once again I am not too happy about the coffee getting stuck in the line and visually this photo doesn’t look much different than 58.0mm but I assure you it felt much better tamping down, much tighter, closer to the edge with less room between basket and the base. This grabs the edge nicely and is great for my technique. The shot was very solid!

58.2mm – Copper – Euro Curve

This is my favourite size, feels amazing going down on the first tamp. The diameter is just perfect and fits the basket like a glove. Right up to the edge leaving practically no coffee up on the sides of the basket. For my dosing technique it is perfect. As this was a euro curve the extraction expanded from the sides into the middle, I think I would prefer a c-flat base which is curved like “euro curve” on the sides with a flat, even extraction in the centre - expanding up onto the shower screen. The coffee tasted fantastic, so I am all for this diameter.

Choosing the right base for yourself should be decided according to your tamping technique, if you like to experiment I would suggest getting a standard 58.0 and something smaller and/or something bigger. Personally I am leaning towards 58.2 at the moment. The curve is also a very important choice and also depends on what style of tamping you use. For me it would have to be a c-flat base or a curved base. The flat base is also great but for me doesn’t pull a better shot over other curves, many might argue, but my experiments have proven my taste buds right, over and over again.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Aging coldbrew – day 6 & 7 + summary

On day 6 my coldbrew has started to take a turn in a slightly negative direction. The taste has picked up some bitterness and stale deoxidised taste, I have added some sugar syrup that I have prepared, it added sweetness and got rid of the bitterness. This way I was enjoying the coffee much more. The sugar brings out the sweetness a whole lot but doesn’t enhance nor change any of the other flavours.

Day 7 was exactly the same as day 6, the coffee is starting to get a stale bitterness that I wasn’t much fond of! I think this experiment is well over and I can do my conclusion now. I have actually added a drop of nice whisky to my glass, it made a really nice mix, smooth sweet, superb! I encourage you to try that also.


Process - A very fun, easy process please read my step by step guide.

Day 1 – After 10 hours of brewing this coffee was ready to drink. Sweet chocolate notes, no acidity or bitterness. Enhanced sweetness with added sugar syrup.

Day 2 – 1st day of aging, coldbrew has started to take a turn and develop character. A sharp edge almost resemblant to cheap scotch or whisky. Really nothing special, not a very enjoyable overpowering taste.

Day 3 – This was a highlight for me, on this day the sudden magic cicked in. The sharp edge on day 2 was completely gone and the coffee has stared to smooth out and balance out the sharp unpleasant edge, still containing the chocolaty sweetness.

Day 4 and 5 - A solid drinkable cup, excellent all round, both days were almost the same, coffee nice, smooth and rich in flavour.

Day 6 and day 7 – The decay has started, the water has become stale and deoxidised, nothing special, perhaps in a form of a base for a drink. Perhaps adding it to quality whisky. As I have done that the flavours work rather well together not overpowering one another with a smooth alcoholic balance.

The highlight for me was day 3 where the coffee has taken a noticeable turn. The best day to drink it was day 4 and day 5. The best part about this coldbrew were the stages and waking up to it every morning. I hope that you get mazing results like me, goodluck. If you got any questions let me know.