Le Café

•December 5, 2007 • 5 Comments

Thanks to Luis Rodríguez for sending me this video.

I really enjoyed the animation. It was vaguely reminiscent of Les Triplettes De Belleville to me.

Maybe Chemically Imbalanced can do an English language version featuring puppets for us.


What’s That Flavor?

•December 4, 2007 • 10 Comments

So, I’ve been thinking about what factors most affect the taste of coffee.

Roasting? Varietal? Process? Terroir? Micro-climate?

For the sake of discussion we have to approach this is with the assumption that all involved in the process are doing what’s best for the coffee. It’s obvious that the roaster could turn up the gas and make any coffee unrecognizable charcoal. Or the mill could leave the coffee in the fermentation tank too long. “Natural” coffees could be left to mold. Sure Sure. This is why we need to run on the assumption that everyone is doing the best work possible. This is also not an indictment of any roasting style, growing region, or coffee process. What I’m interested in are people’s opinions of the level of influence of the above factors. Currently, based on my very limited cupping experience and little else, here is my opinion in order of most to least influence.


Look at coffees such as the much fabled Panama Esmeralda Especial Geisha or Aida Batlle’s Finca Kilimanjaro and its “Kenya” varietal.


I remember the first time I tasted the Idido Misty Valley. It still had the jasmine, Darjeeling, lemon character of a Yirgacheffe but tasted like it had on a BooBerry sweater. The Natural process was evident and powerful but it couldn’t hide that Yirg flavor.


Roasting is a skill and art. To preserve and accentuate those flavors naturally present in the coffee and not obliterate them is tremendously difficult. Much respect to those who can do it.

Then I feel it’s micro-climate followed by soil. I have little to back this up other than feeling. Jamie wrote an interesting piece about soil and micro-climate here.

Again, I am certainly not any where close to an authority on this. Which is why I hope that those out there with more to offer on the subject will chime in.

Klaus Thomsen Smokes (Tales of Scandinavia) 2

•October 3, 2007 • 2 Comments

Friday Sept. 14th Day 2

We arrive in Copenhagen at about 11am. As we make our way to the customs agent, I can feel that slightly tense uneasiness. Not because I have any reason to worry, mind you, just from the unknown. I pull out my passport and the agent just waves me through. He doesn’t even look at it. Much less stamp it. So much for worrying.

We are picked up from the airport by Björg Brend of the Nordic Barista Cup organization and Café Europa. She was gracious enough to let us stay with her for our weekend in CPH, prior to the NBC. She drives us to her apartment to drop off our luggage before she has to go to work. We walk in the door, drop our bags, pick up the house key and immediately walk back our and jump on a train to Malmö, Sweden.

Solde to go

Malmö is a very quaint town and is home to a surprisingly good coffee scene. We arrive at Solde Kaffebar to have a much needed espresso and meet up with some friends. As we chat with Jonas, one of the owners of Solde, Dan “The Swedish Blogger” Senqvist arrives followed shortly thereafter by Jens Brine of Impod/Portaflon.

We proceed to have a huge discussion on dosing methods, distribution, and tamping techniques. We also looked at some very lovely Impod tampers, including a mock-up for a possible future limited edition. Details to come.


Impod at Solde

We left Solde to start a mini café crawl, with a quick stop off for Falafel on the way. As we swallowed the last bite of garlicky falafel we head for Te + Kaffehuset. There we met Matteas who was kind enough to pull us a very nice SO espresso with El Salvador’s Finca La Fany Bourbon. The only way I can describe his shop is that it is sort of like an ice cream shop except instead of having 31 flavors it has coffees, espresso machines, and accessories. Maybe it was the linoleum and bad fluorescent lighting.

With that it was time to head back to CPH. It seems it is always raining in Sweden and today was no different. But, as soon as we crossed the bridge back into Denmark the sun was shining again.

Our plan was to be back at Björg’s house for dinner by 8pm and we were tracking to make it right on time. I bet you can guess where this is heading. Somewhere along the line we turned right instead of left. Or was that left instead of right? Anyway, after 2 hours of walking we finally went into a bodega to buy a phone card. Instead a nice, yet somewhat odd, man let us use his phone, bought us a phone card and even drove us to the bus stop. Once we were sorted we made it home without further issue.

We arrive in the living room to find Clover’s very own David Latourell sitting there, wine in hand. We all sat down and enjoyed a home cooked meal of boiled fish and asparagus risotto. We were exhausted but it was lovely.

Klaus Thomsen Smokes (Tales of Scandinavia)

•October 1, 2007 • 2 Comments

NBC07 024

Thursday Sept 13th Day 1.

We leave our house bright and early to take the MARTA to the airport. That’s about the only thing Atlanta’s train system is good for, trips to the airport. As we change trains at 5 points station we end up in the elevator with a man who, at 6:30AM, is already LOADED. He asks me is I’ve ever been to the Netherlands. When I say yes, he starts laughing as if we sat together in an Amsterdam “Coffee Shop” in some hazy past. “What happens in the Netherlands stays in the Netherlands”, he says.

We make it to the airport and go to check our luggage. We thought we would be clever and share a suitcase. Well, that put us overweight so we had to pay extra. Oh well, live and learn.

We had a five hour layover in Newark. At the very last second, when we find out we have to leave and go through security again anyway, we decided to make a mad dash for Grumpy Chelsea. We call and text all our New York friends as we sit on a bus to the city. Ed was working the bar and Mike White, Daniel Humphries, and Caroline all come by to see us. (Sorry John, we figured you were in the middle of meeting with New York’s Restaurant elite and the Food Network executives about your upcoming reality show). So, for 20 minutes we hugged, chatted, and drank espresso. Ed pulled us shots of 49th’s epic espresso as well and a SO shot of Worka. It was nice to be in New York again. Even for just a few minutes.

Since the bus took up about an hour or so of our trip we decide to bight the bullet and take a cab back. $75 later we are back at the airport only to find our flight to CPH has been delayed 5 HOURS! Since we can’t afford the time or money to go back to the city we wait. And wait. And wait. Finally, we board our plane. Not having slept more than two hours the night before we are exhausted. I can’t sleep on planes so I stay that way.

El Salvador COE cupping

•June 25, 2007 • 1 Comment

So, we in Atlanta have a special opportunity to cup some amazing coffees. We are getting the 23 samples from the 2007 El Salvador Cup of Excellence auction. That’s 23 of the best coffees El Salvador has to offer this year. And we want you to taste them!

So we are putting together a weekend cupping event.

Saturday June 30th at 3pm

Counter Culture Coffee Atlanta Training Center
King Plow Arts Center
887 West Marietta St NW Suite M210
Atlanta, GA 30318

If you have never had a chance to cup one country’s coffee side-by-side this is a tremendous opportunity and a lot of fun.

Looking back on CoffeeFest

•June 19, 2007 • 5 Comments

(Photo credit to Dan Griffin)

Today another blogger called me out for not posting. So, here I am. This may be long since I have to recap weeks of no-posting.

I know that it has been over for a while, and has been covered here, here, here, and extensively here, but I decided I throw my recap on the pile.

After weeks of preparation….. Well, I won’t bore you with preparation except to say that the weekend’s events wouldn’t have even gotten off the ground without David LaMont.

Thank you David

Thursday was load in. Brian and I drove the Penske down in the morning to find little in the way of line. We filled out some paperwork and a few minutes later a man with a fork lift arrived. Aside from Brian and I having to lift 350lbs worth of cabinet it went off without a hitch. We were unloaded, from start to finish, in less than an hour.

Friday was the opening day of the show. With a few last minute tweeks we were ready to go. My role for the day was to be barista. I got to rock the GS3. Which is always fun. We had Counter Culture’s Toscano and 5 Country blends in the hoppers. The 5 country seemed to spark a lot of interest. One noted blogger, that I was glad I finally got to meet, who is know for his CNN style coverage and occasional missing video footage, referred to it as herbacious.

Friday night was the Octane party. Which was a huge success! Octane gave out free french press, espresso, macchiatos and capps. Even with all the free stuff, they stayed open for regular business too. It must have been strange for all the non-coffee people, who just wanted their latte, see me, M’Lissa, Phillip Search, Chris Deferio, Dan Griffin, and Matt Milletto all crowded behind the machine making drinks.

Saturday was more CoffeeFest action but, what everyone really cares about is the Counter Culture party at our ATL training center. Did I mention that this would not have been the event it was without David LaMont? Man, that place was packed. EVERYONE came out. But, how could you not? I mean we had BBQ, beer, peanuts, Krispy Kreme, Moon Pies and coffee. Who would miss that? Of course, after a few beers Heather Perry called for a latte art throw-down. I try my best to avoid such things so I hung back. But, most every other barista in the room jumped in. It was the usual format, one shot, one pour, 5 dollar buy in and winner takes the pot. Before she knew what happened M’Lissa’s dad had bought her in. I was happy to stand on a chair and wait to cheer her on. Next thing I know Brett, one of the principles of Counter Culture, says, “Why aren’t you in this? Get in there.” When the boss buys you in, you go. He even had to pay an extra dollar late entry fee. M’Lissa’s pour came and of course she did excellently. Then my turn came. It was pretty much all a blur. I don’t even really remember the process. All I remember is finishing, setting down my drink, turning and walking away. Time for the winners:

In 5th Aaron Ultimo, 4th Katie Carguilo, I placed 3rd, 2nd Chris Deferio, and 1st Danger Dan Griffin. I’m ok with bronze.

I think that’s all I can write tonight. I’m not even going to proofread. To be continued….

Out of Order

•May 14, 2007 • 1 Comment

I know, I’ve been back from Long Beach for a week now and no post about the show. Well, all I can say is that it’s coming. Promise.

In the mean time you can read M’Lissa’s show report over at Octane Coffee Bar‘s new blog. Which she put together and runs. Check it out: Coffee Revelation

It does seem that I’ve been traveling a lot lately. A few of those trips were to headquarters in Durham, NC.

Recently, one of my favorite blogs, Chemically Imbalanced, recently reported on an anomaly. Quality coffee in a mall! In Greenville S.C.!!
So, since our travels to Durham take us through Greenville, S.C. we decided to pay Coffee and Crema a visit. We park in the parking lot, make our way along the shining marble floors, past the Easter Bunny stand, but can’t seem to find it. It isn’t in food court. It isn’t a kiosk. Finally we ask information and they point us to the entrance of the Belk department store. There it is. A small counter tucked away in the lower entrance.

As we approach we notice retail bags of Terroir. Terroir? in S.C.? Come to find out, they are pulling straight shots of Terroir’s Yirgacheffe Northern Italian Roast. Straight shots of Yirg?! In a mall?! In South Carolina?!?!?!

Now that’s awesome. They were very nice and the owner, Shannon, is a great guy. We ended up chatting for about two hours.

If you find yourself in Greenville it is a must stop.

I’m not sure I count as a “competition level” barista but Coffee and Crema deserves a place on espressomap.