Archive for February, 2009

Chemex

Controversy is brewing (hehe) over at coffeed as to the merit (or lack thereof) of the Chemex, a manual drip brewer enjoyed by many coffee lovers the world over. The discussion was sparked by Scott Rao, author of the Professional Barista’s Handbook, an in depth look at a lot of the science and ideas behind current coffee practices. His post of coffeed is entitled “Chemex: why you should hate it”. Harsh right?

Well, some good points were made and decent rebuttals were also written by bright lights in the industry like Counter Culture Coffee’s Peter Giuliano. As a daily drinker of Chemex coffee that I make at home, I was a little taken aback by the apparent discrediting of one of my favorite preparation methods. I think however, I can see through some of the politics in the posts and see that this is another discussion on taste. Some people are looking for a big bodied flavourful cup of coffee. Others enjoy a cup that is more subtle and aromatic, but lacks the body of say, a french press.

Klaus Thomsen writes:

…I’d have to say (and I am not trying to stir things up here guys and gals!) that I often found that Americans tend to be more focused on body in filter coffee whereas I find that Northern Europeans tend to focus more on the aromas. I don’t drink my Chemex coffee because I want body – quite the opposite. I like the clarity of the cup as a contrast to my usual french press…

I am inclined to agree. Maybe I just happen to get it right when I brew.

Do you guys like Chemex/pourover coffee?

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Reintroductions

Well, it’s been well over a year since I’ve posted anything in this blog. I still sign posts around the internet with this address… so I thought maybe I should get around to making a post.

As some of you may know, I no longer am working in the coffee industry on a regular basis. My last stint as a barista was this past summer in Calgary where I almost exclusively steamed milk at Phil & Sebastian Coffee at the Calgary Farmers Market. Good times were had at P&S. The staff there have such dedication and passion for coffee. I wouldn’t hesitate to say there are very few places like it in North America, if not the entire world.

Anyways.

I am finishing up my Bachelor of Science degree at the University of British Columbia. I have approximately 2 months left to finish off a few courses and my thesis. Most of my time these days is spent deforming rocks and trying to measure the permeability of the faults I create by deforming them. Yes, it is actually exciting, and yes, now I know all kinds of things about percolation networks and fluid flow through interconnected porosity. How does that have anything to do with coffee? Well, indirectly, percolation theory can help explain the distribution of water through a puck of coffee loaded in your portafilter. I’ve yet to really explore that side of the science of coffee, but it will definitely be something to consider.

Possibly the most interesting development in the past year is that I am now a homebrewer. My roommate Dave and old Pearson friend Alex are partners in this venture and we have proven ourselves to be competent brewmasters. Our best batch so far has been a variant on local microbrewer Storm’s Hurricane IPA. It was a superb example of a west coast IPA, with lots of hops (dry hopped too!), but a pleasant balance that seems to be missing in a lot of commercial examples. Tonight involved the bottling of our newest beer, Paul’s Porter. Named for hockey great Paul Coffey, it’s a strong coffee porter. Once it has been fully bottle conditioned, we are expecting a 6.5% robust porter with a backdrop of  coffee (we used a 6 cup mokha pot of local roaster Ethical Bean’s Ethiopia coffee that Dave happened to have on hand). It’s tasting decent already, and that’s warm and without any carbonation. Looks like a porter too, the beer is black and opaque.

My current coffee situation involves me buying retail coffee for the first time in probably 5 years. My regular roasters are 49th Parallel and Intelligentsia. 49th has proven to be a consistent, excellent roaster. My regular bean from them is their Caffe Artigiano Yergacheffe since the Kerrisdale Artigiano is less than a minute walk from my apartment. It’s always fresh and is a very balanced, quality Yerg best made in my Chemex. When I’m looking for a treat though, I head down to Elysian Coffee at Ash and Broadway where they usually have some tasty offerings from 49th, like today’s Clover of Beloya. For those of you that have not experienced the latest issue of this wonderfully crisp, berry-laden natural Ethiopian coffee, I recommend you visit the folks at Elysian (or 49th in Kits for that matter). The people watching from the bar there is great too.


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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