Barista Eyes

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Citric Addiction

Good times.

So, I find out randomly that I have a new obsession.


Sweet zesty spheres.

The epitome of my new obsession was realized yesterday when I was straining a reddish goey mixture from a coffee filter.

But wait...
I'm getting ahead of myself.

Two months ago I discovered Tonic Water.  If you have never had it, you should prepare yourself and take a sip.  The stuff is just ridiculously good.  Tangerine, Grapefruit, lime, lemon, coriander, allspice, and most importantly, Quinine.  I've never been one for carbonation, but for the ambrosia, I make an exception.

So after familiarizing myself with the stuff, I check out the ingredients.  What do I find near the top of the list but High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Bleck.  Saying Fructose makes me feel nauseous.

So I begin my quest for a tonic with cane sugar instead.  Nowhere is one to be found.  But!  I did find a recipe...

So after collecting the ingredients in some sort of ironic grand scavenger hunt, I begin.

The most surprising and least cooperative faction is Cinchona Bark.  This stuff is nasty.  I don't care if the Jesuits discovered it in the mid sixteenth century and used it to cure pretty much everything... It smells like bad mulch.  Why Cinchona Bark? (one might ask) I will tell you!  It contains Quinine - the bitter and lovely element in aforementioned ambrosia.

After concocting the witches' brew, to find red powdery cinchona all over my kitchen, I pour it into a coffee filter to remove the sediment.

It drifts through swimmingly for perhaps... five seconds.  Then it stalls.  The only option is now to hand press it through the filter.  "How is one to do that?" You're thinking to yourself.  Well... it's difficult.

So after folding my coffee filter into origami, and hand straining it, I finally filter out the nasty bits.  It is at this point in the evening that I realize that I am a junkie.  Tonic water is just too good.

P.S. Have you ever seen someone flame orange zest?  That junk is sweet.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New Coffee!! Hooray!

New post time!

Ok, two new coffees...

Number one, Herbazu.   Yum.  Super bright and overly astringent when not roasted correctly, but really nice when the acidity is dulled.  Chocolate!  I taste chocolate, and sometimes that is all.  The other notes that pop out are a floral note, similar to an El Salvador, and an almost lemony note, though it doesn't have the usual brightness on it.  Very nice.   This is also part of the 2007 champs WBC Blend.  Hats off, Mr. Hoffman.

Aaaand number two!

Indian Mysor Nuggets.  Eighth grade jokes aside, this is a great coffee.  The one I tried is from the Biligiri region for what it's worth.   This one was taken right up two second crack, and dropped right when it started.  This one had some really nice spicy notes.  I'm not even sure what kind of flavors there were, but definitely some sort of pepper, and a nice cinnamon-y and clove-y kind of tinge to it.  Chocolate notes were also huge and deep, and there was a lace of vanilla to it.

The most surprising thing about this coffee is how balanced it is.  Not one of those overpowers the other, and the overall impression is simple even though there is a lot going on.


I've also been on a binge of Tea, Honey, Chocolate, and Pastries lately.   I learned bunches of random things that will hopefully show up in a pairing class to be had here very very soon.

Aside from the usual tasting and things that have gone on this week... I have really been crawling through this past week.  Now it is a Sunday, and I am listen to Mendelssohn's Violin concerto in e minor, op. 64.  (Thank you Lauren for inspiration.)  And enjoying a great cup of the Costa Rica, Tarrazu Pastoral.  Yum.  It's at that great point after being too bright, but before loosing complexity.  A slow and simple Sunday is a good thing to have.  Cheers to you, coffee.

I hope all of you are doing well, and enjoyed your slow Sundays, too.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Today the Daniel and I pulled some completely tasty shots through our Linea.

The first was an espresso roast by our friends at Crema Coffee.  It was excellent.  I believe it was a blend of Harrar Blue Horse, Guatemala Finca Medina, Brazil Oberon and Fazenda, and Costa Rica Tarrazu.  Delectable.   Especially when you add just a bit of milk.  It made a great "wet" cappucino.

The second was a blend of Fazenda Ipanema and an aged Aceh Sumatra.  The buttery things were so sweet, and there was a distinct dry vanilla note when the shots were pulled a bit short.   It was great as well.

Daniel and I were buzzing a tad and tid-bit.  (or, at least I was... that man is a hoss.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

This Year's Coffees

2008 has brought with it a persnickety issue involving me and coffee.  The more I cup and try coffees, the less I'm satisfied with my older standards.  This especially applies to espresso, but even so to French Pressed coffees and other things of the sort.  Unfortunately the constant renovation of such things tends to lead to snobbery.  This is unfortunate.  I cannot express how much I would like to head to any old coffee shop and be able to enjoy it.  However, I simply cannot slurp down some of the coffee drinks they offer.

"Is this a good or bad thing?" one might ask.  The answer is: I'm not sure.  Several friends of mine have different opinions, but I tend to argue that snobbery is a bad things inasmuch as it makes you a jerk, and a good thing inasmuch as it urges you to love perfection.  It is what we're striving for, after all.

So, this dilemma averted, I began to try coffees with a different aim; to find perfect coffee.  Sadly for me, there are no perfect coffees.  Though, I did find some that taste really (really) good.

The first winner I tried way back in January: El Salvador, Monterey Estate.  A 100% Bourbon varietal.  Yum.  This coffee was great.  Lovely body, subdued spiciness and brightness with a buttery, nutty lace on it that absolutely catered to me.  This is a coffee that many people aren't impressed with.  It doesn't cup exceptionally well, nor does it knock everyone's socks off, but it has been my favorite American coffee these past months.

Number two really floored me.  This one is an Ethiopian Sidamo,  from Korate (or maybe Karate.)  This coffee kicks.  We're currently featuring this at the shop, and you should definitely pick some up.  If you're really into it, maybe even ask for a shot of it pulled in our Linea.
So yes... this may be my favorite single origin espresso I've ever had.  It's immensely buttery and fresh tasting with a bunch of berry notes, especially blueberry, and a nice chocolaty body to it.  It is excellent as a shot or macchiato.  This coffee floors me.  I had a press of it just tonight, and it still holds up to its hype for me.  This coffee has also been blogged about quite a bit by Mr. Wilson Hines, as well as here.  The stuff that addicted me was roasted by these guys.
From my perspective, this is my coffee of the year.  I've tried a lot of stuff, too.  Even some of the microlots roasted by Counter Culture, Intelligentsia, and one from Square Mile, but the Korate (or was it Karate?) truly stood a shoulder above.  Bravo Kevin!


Sunday, September 28, 2008

More cuppings!

Last night I enjoyed a cup and half of some Guatemala Antigua.  This is a "pastoral" varietal, I believe.

And today I enjoyed some Costa Rica from the La Pastorale farm.  (a Tarrazu region farm)

Both were excellent!  I was surprised.  I don't generally fall in love with central American coffees.  Though, come to think of it, that has happened this year with an El Salvador Bourbon, and a Brazil or two.  (more on that later)

The Guatemala was nice and smooth.  A very dull acidity that was nice, and a really smooth finish.  This would go excellently in an espresso blend.  I enjoyed it along with a few friends and we paired with it some dark chocolate that brought out some gorgeous flavors.  Very nice, and very bitter-sweet.

The Costa Rica I didn't fancy quite as much, but perhaps that's because I didn't have the time to sit down and truly enjoy it for what it is.  The Pastorale was quite a bit brighter and more citrusy.  (Something I don't fancy unless it's roasted well.)  But when the coffee cooled off a little it gave way to some smoother flavors and lovely floral, but not bright, things.

Both great coffees we're now selling at the shop.  Stop in for a french press or two, and talk to someone.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

First Cuppings

This blog is also hopefully going to be a public journal for my coffee cuppings.  Often it's difficult to keep tabs from just a mental standpoint.  My brain is not that talented, anyway.

The first two on trial today are

Mirundi - a Kenyan AA


Tanah Tingi (I think that's how you spell it) a Sumatra similar to manhdeling

First up is the Kenya.  Lots of people say they get a dark Berry vibe with a strong Raspberry flavor, but alas even at two roast points I didn't get any of that flavor.  I felt a strong spiciness, cinnamon-like, and though I had a chocolatey taste, any fruit notes were subtle and felt more like spices on the palate.  It was super bright, too.  High acidity, I almost had to smack my lips after drinking a cup.  It got better as it cooled off, way more complex.  Good coffee, not my ideal Kenya, but someone out there loves the spiciness, I'm sure.

And the Sumatra...
This was a really nice experience.  The beans smelled of a curry spice and peanut butter.  The nuttyness carried over to the cup in a subtle way, and the spices took a back seat to the woodsy flavors.  Some people see this as a defect, but it's something I've grown quite fond of, especially in sumatras.  Overall very earthy, a balanced acidity, nutty, sweet, not too peppery or weird, and it's a coffee you don't have to think too much about.  A very nice cup.  This one may show up soon at my coffee shop.  (where I may be teaching some cupping classes soon!)


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

And the blog begins!  This is to provide a (somewhat) anonymous and biased view of local and international coffee goings-on from the eyes of a learning Barista.  Often the things you will read won't be true, nor will they be always accurate.  I apologize.

The primary outlet for this is for me to learn.  That being said, I hope all of you will don wings of education, and learn right along with me the art of coffee.