Archive for January, 2006


I can’t wait to test out my new toys. I acquired a pair of the Bodum Pavina demitasses from Alistair yesterday. They will be used both at home and at the shop when I’m toying around, just because they are so sexy. I cannot wait to pull a shot into them, though Alistair has said that they tend to keep the espresso way too hot.

Another toy I would love to have is one of those beautiful 12 oz Alessi frothing pitchers. Chris, from Espro, let me try his out, and once I got a feel for the thicker walls I was pouring more defined art. This was my second attempt with the pitcher.

Now I’ve got to check out these barista training DVDs… after I read more about electric flux and Gaussian surfaces…



I have set up the Mazzer Major grinder over at Wicked in recent days. It will be used for espresso and cappuccino orders so that these particular drinks are ensured of their quality. The Swift is still there, to be used for everything else. It makes sense.

With the Swift, the espresso was not bad, but, it was not “exceptional”. I found the body to almost always be on the thin side when working with Black Cat. All the flavour was there, but the body wasn’t for some reason or another. I think it may have something to do with the distribution pattern of the Swift. When a naked portafilter was used in conjunction with the Swift, it was noticeably pickier with what you did to the portafilter after the Swift was done it’s thing. If you tapped, even slightly, just once, significant channeling would occur. So, I stopped tapping. The espresso improved. But, it was still lacking in body, so I’m not sure what’s up.

But now we can pull some serious triple ristrettos on the GB5 at a level that should be comparable to the best shots in the city. It’s an exciting possibility!

Still debating about Seattle. It’s more just a figuring out of logistics and where I’m going to stay (ie. Hostelling International vs. Green Tortoise) and for how long. I’m thinking maybe 2 or 3 nights, since the train has an odd schedule made more for Seattle to Vancouver trips instead of the opposite trip (evening departure from Vancouver… I hate that… it was the same with the Victoria Clipper).

Palate Deficiencies

I had a chat today with Aaron DeLazzer, a former Vancouver barista trainer and industry consultant. I bumped into him randomly at the Elysian Room (well, okay, that’s not so random). We quickly introduced ourselves and talked a bit, ranging from what I was doing in Vancouver to the state of the coffee industry.

One thing that was blatant is my palate is still not used to the variety of roast levels and flavor profiles out there. Courtesy of Elysian, I was able to have a sample Clover cup of each of their current offerings and a few sample roasts. These were (and I apologize for the lack of estate names for some) the Panama Carmen Estate, an El Salvador and a Kenyan. There may have even been another. Aaron stated his favorite of all of them was the El Salvador. I can see why this would be appealing. The cup was good, slightly sweet, but quite subtle, which I interpreted as being more muted. I see this as a negative aspect really. Now, I’ll remind my readers who may not be into coffee, that I consider comparing Elysian coffees (or any other good 3rd wave shop’s) to be similar to debating the differences between Audi, BMW and Acura. Some are more appealing to others, for a variety of reasons. It’s all about personal taste. See, I liked the other two coffees a lot more. The Panama Carmen (I guessed what it was without being told!), was excellent, with a positive subtlety about it, a sort of toying acidity near the finish. The Kenyan was crazy. It was huge fruit and acidity, though Aaron said that it was possible that it could have been bordering on sour… or as it was more eloquently put, “a grapefruit” profile was very, very prominent.

So why am I typing all this?

I guess it’s to show that I wouldn’t have identified anything negative about any of the three coffees. Aaron was just pointing out improvements that could be made to the roast level to bring out the coffee further, but I wouldn’t have picked up on it. I guess this is my lack of cupping in the development stages of coffee, and some of these were sample roasts. This is something I’ll need to do, sometime.

But then again, why shouldn’t coffee be a big citrus bomb? It wasn’t at all a negative quality to my taste… I thought it was impressive.

in other news though, I have acquired the obscure, electronic sophomore album of Sufjan Stevens, “Enjoy Your Rabbit”. It’s totally different than anything else of his. Zulu did warn me of it! But even better, is I bought Camper shoes today at Gravity Pope. This company designs my favorite shoes, but they were always out of my price range, until today when I found them on sale. Yay! They are awesome, and so comfortable.

I may be making a trip down to Seattle in under a month for a few days. Any Seattlites in the coffee industry who are interested, I will probably be visiting your shop. Victrola is on my list for sure…


Well, I did get to try the Clover today after all.

Matt, a barista and enthusiastic member of the Elysian staff, let me know that Alistair was going to be stopping by to install the Clover and I should stick around for the festivities. I did.

My first impression of the Clover was that it was larger than I expected. It is also really slick. It’s design, though primarily black, is reminiscent of Apple and their tight tolerances. Well, I didn’t get that close of a look for too long. Alistair played around with the settings and split 10 ozs between four of us. We definitely had a Nicaragua and a Sidamo, and I think there may have been a Salvador in among the myriad of cups poured. I must say, the coffee is excellent. When I think about how it’s being brewed, with this “Vacuum Press” technology alluded to in the Coffee Equipment Company’s literature, I realize how incredible this all is. And then I think of further possibilities with the Clover. You can program brew time, brew temp and volume easily, and I’m guessing there may be even more controls, but I’m not aware of them.

In the first hour, we tried the Sidamo at 3 different brew temps and times, resulting in strikingly different cups. There were recognizable as the same coffee, but the profile was shifted in all three cases. The possibilities there are infinite with a good supply of single origins. The Clover really is worth all the hype and gossip on the big coffee sites. It will change the face of brewed coffee, at least in the third wave shops of North America. Zander and his team of engineers at CoEqCo have put out a serious product.

However, Alistair semi-jokingkly mentioned that the waste reduction theory will not come true. The idea behind this theory is that with drip coffee, a lot of coffee is (often) wasted if you run out of time on a pot, having not sold it all. All of you coffee people out there know this issue. It sucks, and it costs money. So, spend money on a Clover, and you never have to brew drip. You can do away with your American Metalware, your Fetco or your Bunn. But the problem is this: you have the Clover. You are going to be playing with brew parameters 24 hours of the day (no sleep for you either, since you’ll be drinking copious amounts of it too). So yeah, it might sink your business…

Anyways. I’m sure I’ll have more on the Clover soon. I’m just too coffeed to come up with more. Big thanks to Alistair and the crew for putting up with me!

Not yet

So I showed up at Elysian to pick up a Clover coffee… only to be disappointed with it not being here… oh, the anticipation!

50th post

To celebrate my 50th post on this blog, I am posting a couple of images of some art pulled today at Wicked:

This is a cappuccino made for myself to get me out of my sleep at 8:00 AM. The art’s not great, but it was one of the best cappuccinos I have made for myself…

This is a hot chocolate. I love when art can be th…

This is a hot chocolate. I love when art can be this good (and trust me, I still have a lot of improving to do) on a hot chocolate…

In other news, congratulations to the Piccolos on a healthy baby boy!

On tap

49th Parallel El Salvador La MontaƱa
Excellent coffee for everyday drinking. Well expressed acidity and classic El Salvador profile.

Bulleit Bourbon
By far the best bourbon available in BC for the price. $35 for a bottle gets you the highest rye content bourbon on the market. Lots of spice and typical bourbon corn sweetness. Excellent on its own, but also makes a mean Old Fashioned. Better than Knob Creek in my books and pretty close to Woodford Reserve.

The Phonograph

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