Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Old vs New

After getting back home I made a discovery. In my kitchen cupboard I found a sealed bag of CIBO blend coffee that was roasted on the 24th of December 2006. This bag of coffee has been aging for approximately one year. So I decided to compare it to a freshly roasted CIBO blend. The aim here is to see how much of a difference there will be in the flavour profile between old and new bags.

I have put both coffees thought the plunger simultaneously. The visual appearance between the two wasn’t so noticeable. Perhaps the aged coffee didn’t bloom as much, but like I mentioned only a slight difference.
After 4 minutes I broke the crust and sensed the immediate difference. The aged coffee was much sharper in smell, at this stage very hard to pin point main aromas.
Here are my tasting notes:

Smell: Hints of rubber, wet cardboard
Taste: unpleasant overpowering stale feel and taste
Wet grounds smell: yeasty

Smell: Caramel candy
Tate: Sweet, distinct dark chocolate
Wet grounds smell: Freshly sliced cucumber

Newly roasted coffee was very flavoursome in the cup where the aged coffee was overpowered by stale taste and aroma. No matter how well the coffee is sealed it will lose its character after a period of time ... someone please forward this post to illy.

I didn’t expect a different result, once again I have proven to myself that coffee is all about freshness.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hong Kong Espresso Run

visited 1/12/07
Considering that population of Hong Kong is almost 7 million people compacted in 1,104 km² of space, a quality coffee shop is extremely hard to come by. Big chain companies such as sturbucks dominate the coffee market and is extremely popular among the locals. Despite this sad factor there are just a few coffee shops that are worthy of mentioning.

My favourite Zambra cafĂ© (G/F., 239 Jaffe Road, Wanchai) it is located on Hong Kong island and is convenient to walk to from Wan Chai ferry or Wan Chai metro station. They have another location close to this shop, however I’ve been told that it is not as good as this one, so I never got a chance to go there, the address is: 13 O'Brien Road Wanchai

The owner of the shop is a New Zelander so you are guaranteed to find few surprises on the shelves. They have a large variety of pastries and healthy lunches. I had a meat pie for lunch, I must say that the quality of the pie was rubbish and I don’t recommend it to anyone. They occupy a large space – downstairs and a large upstairs area, clean cut interior. The best thing about this place is that it is on the courner so it gets a lot of sunlight coming in and believe me among all the monster buildings that is indeed a rare treat anywhere in Hong Kong.

On the bar you will find a LaMarzocco FB70 machine with a couple of Mazzer grinders. They pull a decent shot of espresso. The coffee is rosted in their own facility, I believe that they have a Probat roaster and roast for both of their stores. The baristas are knowledgeable and are very friendly. I made friends with a really cool guy El, he is really into his latte art and can do swans and all sorts …

I strongly recommend this shop as it is the only thing to good espresso in Hong Kong.

The only other espresso bar that is worth mentioning would be Crema Coffee (67 Mody Road, Shop G36 Peninsula Centre, Tsim Sha Shui East) A very tiny coffee shop in a relatively busy area. These guys have a LaMarzocco Linea with a mazzer grinder. They cook some lunch foods such as pastas and fresh sandwiches so it does get busy around lunch, I recommend going there before lunch or after.

They roast in house on a small microwave oven like roaster. I am pretty sure that it is an electric drum roaster and it is made in Korea. The roast itself is very dark so it is hardly impossible to taste any fine flavours. The coffee itself was overextracted, toasty and dusty in texture.

As the shop itself is not very big I felt like a lonely sardine in a can with vast amounts of people trying to cramp in for a take-away cup of coffee.

I think Hong Kong coffee market will keep progressing and there will be more and more specilised coffee shops in the nearest future. Paul Pratt is doing a great job with supplying Marzocco equipment and he has just started roasting so hopefully sooner or later there will be an overall higher standard of espresso in Hong Kong, until that day …

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Visiting Paul Pratt in Hong Kong

visited 7/12/07

First and foremost I would like to apologies for long absence from my blog. I am back in Adelaide now after my fantastic Asian travels I have a few posts to catch up on so please keep checking back. In this particular blog I would love to share my Hong Kong experiences. Whilst in Hong Kong I had a chance to visit few espresso bars as well as Mr. Paul Pratt at Just Java.

As many of you know Paul is the man behind bumper tools, I personally used some bumper gear back in the days, especially the tamping stand. Paul has a very creative mind when it comes to coffee tools. Everything that they make gets assembled in their workshop they even polish and refine each and every tamper handle. I got a little insight on future products, one in particular caught my eye: bottomless knockbox that comes up above the counter. A very practical and clean idea as the waste goes straight into the bin.

Behind Paul’s creative mind is a serious mind of espresso machine collector. Paul is world known for restoring vintage espresso machines, he even keeps a webpage. Here is one of his recent projects the infamous Faema E61 a real eye-candy to say the least and I got to see it first hand. The amount of effort that went into restoring this machine really is unbelievable, you can read all about it in Paul’s two part documented posts on coffeegeek.

Paul is also a very big collector of LaMarzocco machines so he has a few restored vintage machines around the place. Some of the machines are plugged in and are in frequent use, I even got a chance to play around on the original GS1, we pulled some decent shots. Also got to play around with few LaMarzocco lever machines.

I must say that visiting Paul and seeing his collection was possibly the best thing I have done in Hong Kong.

On top of bumper and restoring machines, Paul also keeps busy with roasting coffee as a boutique coffee roaster on his Probat roaster with crazy indoor exhaust filtration system, it allows him to roast indoors without pipes running out of the window.

I would like to thank Paul for fantastic tour of his facility. It is amazing to see people like Paul pushing the coffee industry to another level, very inspiring!