Monday, December 7, 2009

New kids on the block

No it's not about NKOTB re-forming!

Since my last post 2 months ago (yeah I know, very slack) I know of 7 great coffee destinations that have opened in Melbourne.

Proud Mary
Stanley St (Cnr Oxford St)

I'm sure you all know about that 6 group Synesso by now.
There's plenty more to be excited by, the Clover, siphon bar, Giesen roaster, Anfobur grinders (Roburs with Anfim dosers) and pourover and french press too.
Serving some great single origins and pretty special tea.

It's become a popular hangout for anyone in coffee, i've bumped into people i've worked with or roast for each time i've been.
I'm glad I got to check it out on the first morning, it's been pretty busy since.

9 Yarra St
South Yarra

Opened in mid September and once they got their oven connected started trading 7 days and now offer a breakfast menu.

Part of the St Ali group doing some good things, started off with a cold drip brewer and siphon but not sure if they're still available.

Dead Man Espresso
35-37 Market St
South Melbourne

Housed in the spot that was to become the much hyped siphon bar, Canvas Town linked to St Ali and although you might recognise some ex St Ali faces that's as far as the relationship goes.

I've had some great pourovers here including the Aricha Lot 16 Angus is pouring for me in the pic.
When not in the mood for a filter coffee you can choose from either their own blend or the Seven Seeds blend.

Foxy Brown
31a South Crescent,

Located in a residential back street, Pat's created a great coffee focussed cafe.
They offer their house blend and a range of single origins which are all fair trade certified.
I wont get into the whole fair trade thing, i'll just say that it's good to see someone put so much effort into developing a blend with their roaster (Josh Bailey), it's almost like blends have gone out of fashion with the great single origins available lately, yet since starting to roast i've come to appreciate the art/skill in creating a blend - might need to go into it in a separate post.

Worth trying is the 'flight of coffees' if you're up for 3 shots back to back, a ristretto, espresso and piccolo latte of your choice of blend/origin.

Market Lane
Shop 13 Prahran Market
163 Commercial Road
(Entrance on Elizabeth Street)

The home of Melbourne Coffee Merchants located at Prahran Market - another must visit coffee destination!
Synesso, Roburs, Clover, pourover, a 5kg Probat roaster and a twin barrel sample roaster.
Many of the great coffees coming to Australia currently are due to Fleur Studd of MCM and this is where you can try many of them.
Currently you can choose from their seasonal espresso blend and a range of single origins.
Cuppings are help regularly and it was great to take part in one on the weekend, it generated great interest from the public that kept popping their heads into the room who were welcomed and left with a greater understanding of what specialty coffee is.

495 Collins St,
Melbourne CBD

Brought to you by Joseph of Cafenatics, Eclipse is a cafe i'm yet to check out.
I've heard great things about the coffee being served by the team that includes the current Victorian Latte Art champion, Wil Priestley with whom I used to work.

Sensory Lab

297 Little Collins Street,
Melbourne (David Jones)

If you haven't heard about the latest outlet of the St Ali group by now you dont read the paper, blogs or watch tv.
Again I haven't been yet but it will no doubt be added to any must visit list of coffee spots in Melbourne.

Apologies for both the lack of photos and lack of quality, bought a camera today so should be much improved next time - i'm sure every other Melbourne blogger has already covered most of these cafes anyway!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Auction Rooms - North Melbourne

103-107 Errol Street, North Melbourne

Espresso: La Marzocco FB70
Grinders: Roburs, Super Jolly & Ditting
Roaster: 15kg Vittoria with a new addition on the way
Other brewing options: Siphon, French Press (plunger)

The red Vittoria roaster in the background has been moved offsite to Small Batch

Having lived in the area for over 20 years I feel quite at home in Errol St, but wow, has North Melbourne changed in that time.
I used to live in West Melbourne, it was considered industrial when I was growing up, now you're lucky to find a warehouse that hasn't been converted into an apartment.
I used to get my bucket of hot chips after school at the take away shop that is now a 7-11 and Sam & Mary's had the best schnitzel rolls but that's now a noodle shop.
Back then the only reason to cross Queensberry St was to go the NAB, but not anymore.

Now there's Auction Rooms down the hill - and it's fast becoming one of my favourite cafes (I also recommend the food at Fandango a few doors up).

The coffee has improved greatly in the last few months and the food menu has been simplified since opening over a year ago, yet still covers a wide range.
As with most specialty coffee cafes and micro roasteries they offer a single origin or guest blend aswell as their regular house blend, other brewing styles and also sell beans to take home.
Auction Rooms has a 3 burner siphon bar and last I heard were preparing over 20 a day on a weekend, not bad for a country that only drinks espresso.

Alot has already been said of the fit-out, food and coffee so I wont go into detail and let the professional bloggers do that:
Melbourne Gastronome
Ryan on Coffee

Auction Rooms - great coffee, excellent service, good food and beer on tap!

I disagree with rating or reviewing coffee as too much damage can be caused by a blog post or tweet, a repuation shouldn't be ruined by just one bad experience.
So if I do post about a cafe chances are i've been there dozens of times, they dont just do espresso and on the whole the coffee is great...and yes, at each of the cafes i'll recommend (including Auction Rooms) I have had an average coffee, but having been behind the counter for over 4 years I know that 100's of things affect each coffee and sometimes it happens.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Coffee Storage

The way coffee is stored can make a huge impact on your coffee - but this isn't a paper versus valve bag battle.

Working for a coffee roaster I was able to see many good but also many bad practices when it came to storing roasted coffee in cafes.

I sometimes get calls from accounts having difficulty with their coffee and it is usually due to poor storage.
Most commonly it was left near heat sources that killed the coffee before its time such as in direct sunlight or on a shelf above a toaster/grill.

Another problem is that in summer cafes can get quite hot, especially here in Australia, therefore most cafes are air conditioned, however cafe owners do not realise how hot their cafes can get overnight when the air conditioning is not on.
An espresso machine is like a giant heater and once you add fridge motors it doesn't take long for a cafe to heat up, especially when it's still quite hot late into the night.

At The Maling Room, Andrew used to have his air conditioner on 24 hours a day and even had a second unit installed to cope with the extreme heat Melbourne is having to deal with each summer.
Andrew soon had enough of his crazy electricity bills so looked into other options - wine fridges for coffee, a world first?

A temperature and humidity controlled environment
Good enough for wine, why not coffee?

After hearing of the great results Andrew was getting during the summer of 07/08, Nolan Hirte (ex Liar Liar) paid us a visit and soon after also bought himself a pair of the same wine fridges.

But the correct storage of roasted coffee is not the only issue.
More roasters are considering the impact of proper green bean storage, both from origin and also at their roastery - where I currently work we store our green beans in a basement to keep them in a stable environment.

Vacuum packing and flushing green at origin is becoming more common, some roasters are even air freighting green from origin but what happens to the beans between ports on a ship?
Where on the ship is the container located, is it on the outer side in full sun for the journey or packed further down, surrounded by other containers?

What the wine and fresh produce industries have been using for years are climate and humidity controlled shipping containers, why cant we use these for coffee?
Maybe it's already being done, please let me know if so.

Thinking about this topic it's made me realise how far we as an industry still have to go to provide the best possible coffee for our customers.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The new black? A cafe/roastery in Melbourne

It seems all i've done since returning to Melbourne is visit cafes, some of them so often it's almost embarassing.

Apart from appreciating how good some of the coffee has bean, it dawned on me just how many cafe/roasteries have popped up in the last few years.

But don't expect a great coffee at all of them, the coffee offerings range from CoE to a budget blend.

In no particular order and not a complete list either:

St Ali 5kg & 15kg Renegade
Seven Seeds 5kg Renegade & 22kg Probat
Auction Rooms Vittoria Bologna
Atomica 12kg Probat
Brunswick East Project 10kg Has Garanti
Social Roasting Company 12kg Probat
Dukes 15kg Joper
Coffee Hit
Icoco 12kg Probat
Growers Espresso
Toby's Estate
Beans & Bagels
Caffe Romeo
Di Bella
Coffee Max

And with another 5 (that I know of) to open or add a roaster to their cafe shortly, it's an exciting time for fresh coffee in Melbourne - but how many is too many?

One of those about to install a roaster is my workplace, The Maling Room.
It's long overdue but it's about to arrive, might even have caught a flight with the Slayer...

I hope to take a more in depth look at some of the cafes mentioned soon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

London - Mercanta

Off we went to Mercanta for a tour of their headquarters and a cupping session, not sure what to expect we were greeted by Stephen Hurst and Guy Bosley and shown to the cupping lab where they had prepared a coffee or two for us to cup.

We sampled some very interesting coffees including a Sidikalang Natural, a few standouts, some of which are about to land in Melbourne.

Tha facilities at Mercanta are excellent, there's a purpose built training room home to the London School of Coffee, several sample roasters and a custom built cupping table with an identical one at origin in Guatemala.

Special thanks not only to the team at Mercanta but also to Fleur of Melboune Coffee Merchants for arranging the tour.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

London - Square Mile Coffee Roasters

Nearing the end of our trip we managed to squeeze in a visit to Square Mile Coffee Roasters and spent a few hours with James Hoffmann, tasting and talking coffee.

If it hasn't become clear by now, most of the better cafes in London use Square Mile coffee, a new cafe about to open that i'm expecting to be one of the best will also use Square Mile.
Said cafe is The Espresso Room (Great Ormond St) and will open any day now by Ben Townsend, trainer at the London School of Coffee.
And to continue the apparent antipodeon pre-requisite of London cafes, he worked/trained with Andrew Lew here in Melbourne at his previous cafe, Maltitude and now owns The Maling Room.

That's my sis Annie, who's responsible for all the photos on the blog - except this one

Back to Square Mile, it's a compact space, one that James admits they have outgrown.
It's not what you'd call flashy, it's a roastery under a train line and it's all about the coffee - sourcing the best beans and precise roasting.
There are plenty of toys - the Über Boiler, Gwilym's WBC prize lever machine, an ebay sourced Linea that James was testing for a friend and assorted coffee equipment sharing shelf space with many trophies.

Square Mile take fresh coffee seriously, air-freighting some of their greens and offering seasonal espresso, as mentioned earlier, we were there during the change-over period and got to try the last of the Spring Espresso and the first of the Summer Espresso that some of you in Melbourne got to try.
They also offer several excellent single estate coffees, all available in the online shop.

From afar it may seem that Square Mile has a massive following, atleast it feels that way online. but in London most cafes would never have heard of them or care about barista competitions, that's if they even knew comps existed.

Both James and Stephen Morrissey admitted that winning the WBC didn't help grow the business locally, as Stephen put it
"We can't walk into a cafe and say; We're the best 2 baristas in the world, that's why you should use our coffee" .

James said had they said that cafe owners would most likely have replied with
"So, you won a competition making coffee in another country....why again should I use your coffee?"

James was having an even busier week than usual, moving house, his bike had suffered a puncture and he'd just started his video blog so we're grateful he made the time to meet with us, 3 people he'd never met that contacted him via email, he made us feel very welcome, made us coffee, gave us coffee to take home and wasn't rushing us so he could continue with his day - James, thanks for everything!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

London - Columbia Road Flower Market

We'd arranged to go to the market whilst chatting to Gwilym in Cologne and were looking forward to it as he told us he lets customers jump behind the machine, it frees him up to have a break or visit the little boys room.
After several beers I volunteered to pull some shots for him not knowing if he'd hold me to it, next day he mentioned it again so I guess that answered that.

Line on the left for great coffee,
on the right for tasty sausage, bacon and egg rolls

James Hoffmann has just posted his latest video blog and it's about the Columbia Road cart.
What you see in the video is what you get, Gwilym will happily chat to anyone that wants to chat to him, he'll let customers wait if he's in a conversation but that's what the sunday flower market is about, there's no stress, no rush, no need to be anywhere and even though it was fairly busy it was really fun and doesn't feel like work - and ended up being one of the highlights on my trip.

It's also a great way to meet those in the London coffee industry, several baristas, cafe owners and even roasters come for their sunday coffee - and some are just too impatient and visit another Square Mile account around the corner (hi James).

You'll notice on the menu a 'normal coffee' that was created for those that asked for a normal coffee, not knowing what a flat white, cappuccino, long black/americano etc was.
It's a long black with either hot or cold milk - I guess it's the closest thing to what they make at home, coffee with milk.

Kirby, Gwilym and I

For anyone visiting London, Gwilym's cart at the Columbia Road Flower Market is a must,
great coffee, great atmosphere, great people!

Please dont walk off if you've ordered, you're not making life any easier for Lou and if your coffee's not stolen it will be given away!

If you're lookng for another place to try in the area visit Taste of Bitter Love, unfortunately time got the better of us but it was recommended several times.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

London - other cafes we visited

Climpson & Sons
67 Broadway Market
E8 4PH

We'd been walking for a while and it was getting late on Saturday afternoon.
We spotted the market stalls packing up, the coffee stall was all but gone but they gave us directions to their shop a few steps up the road.

By this stage I think we'd had enough coffee and were rather looking forward to a beer at one of the local pubs.
It was great walking along the stalls, felt like the art market in Fizroy.

Climpsons roast their own and are doing a good job, didn't try any food but it looked great.

Fernadez & Wells
73 Beak Street
Soho, London

I skipped coffee altogether here as I just couldn't handle any more caffeine, just as well as they use 33 grams for every coffee....ouch!
Best case 30 shots per kg, that has to cost more than it's worth!?
After seeing the Synesso and twin Roburs, Annie my sister had a piccolo and said it was ok.

Fernandez & Wells use Monmouth whom we also paid a visit to.
27 Monmouth Street
Covent Garden
London WC2H 9EU

Beans on display as you enter to buy, tiny booths up the back and other brewing options with your choice of origin.

We had an espresso, flat white and filter coffee.
None really stood out but that doesn't mean it's not worth a try.

Taylor St Baristas
1A New Street,
London, EC2M 4TP

Very easy to find near Liverpool St station with 2 other locations.
They use Union Coffee

London - cafes worth trying

Tina we salute you
47 King Henry's Walk
N1 4NH

I never thought there was a typical style associated with Melbourne cafes but this one felt like a Melbourne cafe, quiet back street, good coffee and a relaxing vibe.

This is where we met Leigh, the barista from Melbourne - nice guy that got out the macbook to look up googlemaps to give us directions to other cafes on our list.
He's also a bit of a cafe whore, working at Dose and another cafe.

Tina we salute you is another of the growing list of cafes using Square Mile.

The cafe that is known for starting the antipodeon cafe surge is
Flat White
17 Berwick St
Soho, London

Probably one of the busier cafes of the good ones, good milk, good coffee in a central location with sister cafe, Milk Bar nearby.

Even more random than in the previous post where we met Ryan, when we lined up to order at Flat White, Erin Sampson was in the queue right in front of us.
Didn't try the espresso at Flat White but went back for a freshly squeezed OJ a few days later, good value at £1.50 ($3 AUD), you'll pay £2.50 ($5 AUD) for a coffee.

Again, this is becoming predictable, they use Square Mile

Saturday, July 11, 2009

London - Dose Espresso

We arrived in London with a list of must visit cafes but no map and when our first appointment didn't eventuate we didn't know where we were in London or in which direction to go.
We eventually made it to:

69 Long Lane

First impression was how small this place was, seats about 10 inside and a couple outside with the kitchen, FB80 and register taking up the rest of the expensive London real estate.
We soon found out how much the rent is in a small sized cafe in somewhere like Soho, $2-3k a week!

I was lucky enough to try both the last of the Spring and first of the Summer Espresso blend from Square Mile at Dose.

I dont like to judge or review cafes, there's too much emphasis on ratings in Australia, especially in Melbourne and a single coffee can hurt a business.
Knowing how many variables there are in the coffee making process i'm not prepared to hurt someone's livelihood for the sake of a few dollars (or pounds).

Not that James at Dose has anything to worry about, we visited him 3 times during our short stay, we had our first and last coffees in London at Dose and all 20 or so of them were great, the food was excellent and surprisignly cheap for London and if you're homesick you're bound to run into an Aussie along the way...Ryan, or if you're a Kiwi, so is James.

Without making claims about which cafe is the best, Dose is definitely one of them and a must visit cafe in London.

Another thing about London cafes in general, they all promote each other freely.
Without a map on the first day we were given directions and tips where to go for good coffees, there's a real community feel about the industry.
They all know each other and encourage each other and are currently planning the Ultimate Barista Fighting League, a regular smackdown/barista jam - the London coffee scene feels like Melbourne used to be before politics/profits got in the way.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Copenhagen = The Coffee Collective = Coffee Utopia

We fell in love with the city and the coffee and didn't want to leave.

Unfortunatley we only had a few days here but managed to visit The Coffee Collective 3 times within 24 hours.

For some reason I expected it to be much bigger than it is but the coffee was as good if not better than expected.

When we arrived in the morning we were shocked to see the footpath had disappeared overnight, we couldn't get in for our coffee!
We could see Klaus sitting inside an empty cafe and were stuck with other customers trying to figure out how to get in, soon enough the roadworks crew built us a bridge.

Over the 2 days we worked our way through the entire coffee menu, they might even offer Siphon soon as Kirby gave them her two.
The Shakerato's were refreshing on a hot summer's day.

Here Klaus is aeropressing it up for us - new crop Panama La Esmeralda!

Casper roasting two days after he lost his World Cup Tasting title but as he pointed out, he's still the fastest!

There's plenty more to Copenhagen and the best way to fit in is to hire a bike or use the city's free bikes in summer.

We made it to Estate Coffee for more great coffee including clover where you could choose from several singles on offer.
For espresso they offered 2 blends (black & white) and 1 single origin.

On the last day we made it to Risteriet for one last coffee.
They had an excellent range of coffee machinery and accessories but after such great coffee's at TCC and Estate they couldn't match it.

We've had it pretty tough finding good coffee in Europe but Copenhagen lived up to, and exceeded all expectations, i'm sure those of you that attended the 2008 WBC agree.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

SCAE Cologne - away from the comp

It almost felt like the competition got in the way of everything else there was to do in Cologne.
I attended several workshops at the show including profile roasting techniques, got to cup the soon to be auctioned Guatemala CoE lot with Ben Bicknell and Scottie Callaghan, Annie my sister got to cup with Ben Kaminsky the US cupping champion and we all got competition tips from the last two world champions, Gwilym Davies and Stephen Morrissey.

Whenever I wasn't in a workshop or watching the aussies compete I was checking out the show floor.

My favourite would have to be the the Marco Über Boiler, such a well thought out piece of equipment.
The shared their stand with Mahlkonig, whom we owe many thanks to.
Sven was kind enough to lend Kirby a grinder for the comp even though he'd never met us.
It was all organised through Greg at Appliance Maintenance Company, the Australian distributor.
And to prove what a nice guy Sven was he agreed to let Erin and Fiefy use the grinder after Kirby asked him.

The show was actually rather small and somewhat disappointing.
There were only a few espresso machine manufacturers in attendance, several roasters and lots of local businesses but nothing new or interesting.
I was lucky enough to play with the Giesen roaster in a workshop and that was about as hands on as the show got.

The best night out in Cologne was on the friday, Sven gave me an invite to a party at Natuzzi Cafe.
The cafe is part of the Natuzzi leather furniture store next door and had atleast 6 of Kees' machines on display.
It's where we first met Stephen and Gwilym and over several beers we discussed many things about coffee, in my slightly tipsy state I offered to work Gwilym's cart on sunday!

It also showed us what it takes to be a world champ when some random guy approched Stephen and asked if he could show him how he makes coffee, we all looked at each other and wondered what he meant, I think he thought he would see what made him the best.
It was a rather awkward situation, Stephen trying to please the crowd using coffee that he knew nothing about and the manager dosing the shots for him (dirty basket, no tamp etc).
Eventually it turned into a mini latte art smackdown with Kirby.

The best part of Cologne was what we did away from the comp, we made some new friends, learnt alot, had alot of beer and found out Stephen's plays the piano quite well.

Friday, July 3, 2009

SCAE Cologne - competition part 2

Saturday had finally arrived and Kirby Berlin was relaxed and well prepared for the Coffee in Good Spirits comp, whereas I felt more nervous than when I competed at the Australian comp and I wasn't even competing.

Kirby was doing very well but had a few hiccups, her siphon took longer to brew than expected though not a major issue but the espresso shots for her designer beverage only poured from one side, even though her tamp was level, grind was right etc etc.
This meant Kirby had to pull another shot and subsequently finish over time.
She finished in 11th (out of 24) with a score of 19.5 (21 minus the time penalty) and would've been very close to making the finals without the time penalty.
The feedback from the judges Kirby received was great with head judge Paul telling her it was the best tasting designer beverage of the day (will post the recipe if Kirby lets me).

The experience gained by both Kirby and I is immeasurable and i'm sure it will help us for future competitions, if I decide to compete again.

Also competiting for Australia was Ben Bicknell in the cup tasting championship, in a very tough field he finished 21st.
Rob Forsyth and Fiefy were last minute entrants into the Cezve/Ibrik Championship finishing in 9th position - by entering Australia became eligible for the SCAE World Coffee Championships Best nation, we finished 5th.

Congrats to all competitors, it was great being part of it, hope to see you in London!

SCAE Cologne - competition part 1

So we've finally arrived in Cologne, the excuse for our European trip.

It was a very busy 5 days in Cologne that included lots of Kölsch (the local beer), almost as many sausages, learnt alot, met many great people in the industry and somewhere in all that there was a competition.

One of the first cafe's we went to was Espresso Perfetto, they had a great range of supplies and equipment including many vintage machines and grinders that they unfortunately refused to sell.

On our first day we arranged to meet up with Fiefy the 2009 South Australian barista champion the Thailand latte art competitor - she only found out 2 weeks before she would be competiting!
We spent the day shopping for supplies for Kirby and Fiefy and ended up at a cafe we'd been to earlier where the barista was proud of the rosetta he poured for us, thinking we'd never seen such a thing.
We brought with us several types of milk and as their doser was full we ground off some of our coffee on the deli grinder in the supermarket next door.
Kirby made us many coffees and ended up giving the cafe's staff and owner some latte art training, it was priceless seeing their faces when she showed them how to pour double rosettas, tulips and a swan after they'd earlier explained to us how to pour a rosetta.

The first Australian competitor to hit the stage was Erin Sampson, at times she looked very nervous on stage but it didn't get to her and she did very well.
Placing 3rd in the world with visual scores of 256 just behind the winner, Peter Hernou of Belgium who scored of 257.
Some might wonder why Erin didn't finish higher than 3rd, especially with such high visual scores, unfortunately her taste score was 14.5 points behind and that's the reason for not placing higher.

I'm sure they'll be discussions about the winners sig drink design, I liked it and thought it was unique but i've never been a fan of etching.

My favourite competitor was 4th placed compeitor Kenji Kushihama of Japan, his quad rosetta under competition pressure was great as was his double with hearts.
I had the chance to tell him that when we bumped into him in Copenhagen a few days later.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Italy - finally a great coffee?

So after 2 weeks of miserable coffee in France and Spain we couldn't wait for that first good coffee in Italy.

We stopped at a few roadhouses and I was tempted to indulge but decided to wait until we reached Florence for that first coffee, expectations were high but I was sure i'd satisfy my cravings.

Mary Diamond of La Marzocco gave us a list of cafes using their machinery close to our hotel and off we set.
Our first stop was at Bar Chiaro Scuro were they had their house blend and then about 7 domestic grinders each with a different origin.
I watched some shots and saw they were all a bit faster than i'm used to.
I ordered my ristretto (at the bar, much cheaper) to be on the safe side as I still hadn't gotten over the French 60ml+ shots.

The coffee wasn't great but it ended up being the best of the day, the domestic grinders were a bit of a surprise, they were similar to an Isomac Granmacinino, the entry level grinder I recommend for a domestic situation - maybe i'm spoilt with my Robur and Ditting at home.

So far the highlight of the trip was visiting the La Marzocco headquarters.

That's me with my sunburnt head playing with the "Single Origin" prototype due out in late 2010 or early 2011.
It features 4 boilers, one for each group and one for the steam aswell as programmable pressure profiling.

I could've spent all day there just poking my head around, must thank Mary for the good coffee she made us (the best we had in Italy in fact) and the goodies bag she gave us.
And I was lucky enough to buy a teflon coated group handle/portafilter.
If anyone else goes spend some time reading the guestbook, we missed Gwilym Davies by about a week.

After Florence we headed to Rome and again we were bitterly disappointed with under extracted shots in most places.
Yes we did go to a few touristy places but we also followed the locals and did some research but it was the same everywhere.

One place I had high hopes for due to online recommendations from a credible forum was Tazza D'Oro near the Pantheon.

I was surprised to see they also offered Jamaica Blue Mountain and at only 1€80 thought it was worth shot even though I think it's over-rated.
Their house blend was only 80cents so I had a shot of each.
The house blend poured very slow and then after 15ml started gushing, the JBM had quite a fast pour.
Couldn't finish the house blend, dark, dirty, ashy.
The JBM was sour, in Melbourne i'd have left it but when in Rome...

Something most places in Italy had in common:

The coffee was preground in the doser, they never grind on demand.
Under-extracted shots, I can live with 20secs but most were under 15secs.
It was rare to spot a clean steam wand, unless it was on the side they dont use.
The machines run too hot especially considering how dark roasted the coffee is, if I hadn't been careful I would've burnt my tongue on several occasions.
I was surprised to see Mazzer Roburs in alot of cafes, restaurants and even roadhouses.

Overall the coffee I experienced in Italy was a great disappointment, I guess my expectations were high due to many people telling me how good the coffee was going to be but I now wonder if those same people have ever drunk espresso in Italy.
Or if they just assumed so or have this romantic notion that the home of espresso can actually make a good coffee.
I hope we were just unlucky and couldn't find a decent shot but we tried hard and obviously failed.

Watch the live stream of the comps

Cologne is 8 hours behind AEST and comps start at 10am each day I believe.
Latte art - Friday
Coffee in Good Spirits - Saturday
Cup Tasting - Sunday

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Paris coffee part 2

After reading BeanScene magazine I had to visit Alto Cafe, a coffee cart located outside Galleries La Fayette (department store) that has an Australian link, the barista's were trained by Jeremy Hulsdunk from Perth.
It was on my last morning in Paris that I visited and i'd only had one shot of cofee since my last coffee at the Maling Room in Melbourne.
I'll be honest and say the coffee was average, about as good as that from an average cafe in Melbourne but in comparision to what Paris has to offer it's probably one of the best.

They did everything well, purge, wipe, grind on demand, tamp, timed shots (although a but quick at 22 sec), measured shots, fresh milk, good equipment but the coffee used could probably be improved.

If you're in need a a caffeine hit go for it, it's alot better than anything else and you'll have an aussie connection.

I've now left France and probably wont have a coffee until I reach Italy in a week.
I didn't witness the so called arrogance of the french at all and apart from one bus driver that got up on the wrong side of the bed the French were very friendly, helpful and accommodating people.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Coffee in Paris

I've been here a few days now and so far Paris coffee has lived up to its reputation, all style and no substance.

The mojority of people i've seen are drinking short blacks, though they aren't so short - it's as if they feel that they're getting ripped off if the demitasse isn't full to the brim.

Above Christina is explaining the coffee of the day is a Yirgacheffe to a customer

After some research I found the supposed best coffee in Paris at Soluna Cafe and at first glance this place seemed like heaven.
A wall of single origins to buy as you enter, a shop roaster on the bench, FB80, passionate about coffee and even some coffee from an Australian roaster - things were looking up.
Ordered an espresso and all the signs were good, great looking shot but it just kept going and going and we were served 60ml shots, i'll admit i've tasted worse shots but it was a big letdown.

We were tempted to go back and ask for a shorter shot another day as it was a great place to hang around but there were more important things to try.

An espresso of a different kind

My sister had been looking forward to trying Canard a la presse at La Tour d'Argent.

It's a 2 part meal and we were served duck #1078603, one of the dishes is prepared using the silver press on the left where all parts of the duck are pressed and you could say extracted to form part of the sauce for a dish.

Hoping to try another espresso before we leave.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Europe here we come!

I'm planning to blog about my upcoming trip to Europe including updates from SCAE in late June.

In future I also hope to blog about the great cafes we have in Melbourne without scoring or critiquing them as it's something I don't agree with completely - however to be blogged about means the coffee experience over several visits must've been great.