Archive for October, 2006

Recent cups

I’m such a slacker. I haven’t posted in 12 days…

A number of pretty awesome coffees have passed through my hands in the past couple of weeks.

The most notable of all of them was the Novo Coffee Hache Ethiopia Sidamo from down in Denver, Colorado. There has been enough hype about this coffee on the net, viewable on several blogs and forums. It’s a brilliant coffee, but for myself, did not live up to the praise it had received. Namedropping had occurred frequently with the Esmeralda Special being the coffee that the Hache apparently topped. Not in my mind, but the Hache has the distinction of being one of the first coffees I have had that tasted as it smelled after grinding. Lots of figs, chocolate and body in the Hache, contrary to initial reports of blueberry jam.

It should be known too that I have been on an Ethiopian binge as of late, with my home supply consisting of both of Intelligentsia’s Yergacheffe and Harrar. The Yerg (roasted in Chicago on Monday) pressed this morning had a really tea-like subtlety reminiscent of a darjeeling… I was thoroughly impressed. I’ve found with coffee that exhibits these tea-like characteristics, the body gets dropped, but this one kept a strong body and a wonderful velvety mouthfeel.

The Harrar tends to be a bit fruitier and wilder but is an exciting cup nonetheless.

At Elysian last night, a pound of Stumptown’s Hairbender made a guest appearance and drinks were passed around to a group of staff and others (like myself). First were the espresso rounds… The shots were beautiful in appearance, very rich, thick and flecked crema in the heavy ACF cups. I can’t quite say I was a huge fan, but the lingering grapefruit finish was most impressive.

In milk (5 oz cap), the drinks were phenomenal. There was not a touch of bitterness anywhere. Very rich, very well balanced were the main characteristic to the cup. It helped that Matti was on fire with his pours.

Other than that, not much to report here in Vancouver.

This is what happens when I don’t do my research

Alright, I give up… I have been told! In all seriousness though, thanks for enlightening me (Robert, and anonymous, and the wonderful folks at JagaSilk). It all goes to show that I should probably do a bit of reading instead of making sweeping and generalized comments about a language I know virtually nothing about as well as a product I know only vaguely. I promise to do my homework next time!

Matcha

I did a matcha training session the other day at the cafe. It was interesting for sure, with techniques and tastings being the focus. The most important bit of the session I think was seeing and tasting three different grades of matcha, from a medium to very high grade matcha. There’s quite a bit of difference, though I wasn’t surprised at that.

Ceremonial matcha is tough. I let down the trainer at the session, but it was late and I had been up all day. We’ll see how it goes in store.

It’s definitely an eyeopener to be introduced to the actual process of another beverage and its presentation.

Update! In the comments I have been told that maccha is the correct spelling. I am going to counter with the argument that I’m pretty sure matcha/maccha is in fact normally written in kanji characters over in its native Japan, and I’m pretty sure there are just semi-arbitrary systems in place by English speakers to correlate kanji and their pronunciation over to roman characters. So there. 😉

Single Origin, Estate and Micro Lot

I’ve been thinking about this for a bit and I’m pretty sure it’s come up in arguments before.

What scale do you have to work at until the coffee we drink is so homogeneous, so uniform that it becomes one dimensional without anything too impressive. Is there a balancing point due to blending at stages in the coffee process where a coffee becomes complex and exciting enough?

How does one define an estate or a single origin coffee? My understanding is that origin is a country (Colombia) or maybe a region name (Oaxaca) tagged onto some beans. An estate is dealing with most CoE and “Best Of” coffees. A micro lot is similar to an estate, but often from a smaller output farm. But are these micro lot farms producing coffee with sufficient diversity to make them interesting? I have had my share of small lot coffees, and I can assure you that some are incredible… but there are some others that aren’t too impressive. There’s nothing to them but some subtle nuance. That in itself is intriguing but I don’t know if that is what I want from a coffee.

You run into the same sort of problem on the other end of the spectrum as well, where too much blending and vague origins result in a bland homogeneous coffee as well.

It is an interesting problem.


On tap

49th Parallel El Salvador La Montaña
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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