Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Texas Barista Jam, Nov. 11

San Antonio, TX.

Be there, or be square.

Texas Barista Jam 2006
Schedule of Events

Time Event
7–8a Registration, networking, coffee and pastries

8a Introductions and Announcements

8:30a Group Cupping: “How Roast Affects Flavor”

9a Ideas Exchange: “Sustainability in Coffee”
Angel Mena, Ruta Maya Riverwalk Coffeehouse, San
Antonio, TX

9:45a Equipment Demo: Clover 1S
David Latourell, Coffee Equipment Co., Seattle, Wa

Skills Workshop: “Espresso 101 and 201"
Mike McKim, Cuvee Coffee Roasting Co., Spring, TX

Skills Workshop: “Milk Stuff 101 and 201”
Jason Haeger, Mangia Bevanda Coffeehouse, Lubbock, TX

11a Coffee Break

11:15a Ideas Exchange: “Seed to Cup: The Story of Finca
Vista Hermosa”
Edwin Martinez, Finca Vista Hermosa, Huehuetenango,

12p Lunch On Your Own

1p Free Time On Machines

1:30p Group Cupping: “Geography As Flavor”

Skills Workshop: “How To Brew Anything”
Aaron Blanco, The Brown Coffee Co., San Antonio, TX

Skills Workshop: “Fixing What Goes Wrong”
Mike McKim, Cuvee Coffee Roasting Co., Spring, TX

3:05p Espresso Break

3:05p Free Time ON Machines

4:45p Wrap Up; Door Prizes; Clean Up

5p Good-Byes

Registration/check-in: $25 at door–cash, check, visa, mastercard. (Coffee provided by the brown coffee company. Pastries
provided by cappuccino paradise.)
Introductions/announcements: Aaron Blanco. Sponsor thank you’s; layout agenda; each participant introduce themselves
Cupping #1: ‘How Roast Affects Flavor’ Aaron Blanco facilitates. Two coffees (six total) cupped side by side at city, full city,
viennese roast to see how roasting changes a coffee’s cup characteristics. (Coffees on Clover provided by The Brown Coffee Co.)
Ideas Exchange #1: ‘Sustainability in Coffee’ Angel Mena. Key points on social and environmental agendas that help coffee
growers such as organics, fair trade, shade grown, etc. 35 min’s with 10 min’s Q & A.
Equipment Demo: Clover 1S David Latourell. 15 (or so) minutes on the Clover, its attributes and parameters for brewing coffee.
(Coffees on Clover provided by The Brown Coffee Co., Counter Culture Coffee Co., Cuvee Coffee Roasting Co., Ruta Maya)
Note: All Workshops will be run twice at approximately 30 min’s each with 5+ min’s for Q & A. Participants will be split into two groups with each group participating in one or the other session first, then switching to the other workshop.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Friday, October 06, 2006

So, I've been a bit delinquent in keeping this thing updated

A few things to report.

I have been informed today that I have acquired yet ANOTHER nickname.

"The coffee Don".. apparently I should take on a Brooklyn accent and wear a large tacky ring. Maybe I should keep a collection of these. "Waterboy of coffee" "The coffee Don"

I wonder what's next.

In other news, I've had the great pleasure of tasting a few different coffees lately. A HUGE thank-you goes out to Jaime Van Schyndel for setting me up with all of this, and another HUGE thank-you to Andrew at Ecco, and to the folks at Terroir for setting me up with an extra bag of coffee that was not in the initial order.

I want to comment on a couple of these coffees.

First, I had the pleasure of sampling (a full pound and a half!) of Ecco Reserve.

My first impressions were that I had to be missing something. It's a very light coffee, in that it doesn't hit you hard like most espressos I've tried do. The body isn't the kicker in this one. What really stood out to me is how delicate and sophisticated this espresso really is. The flavors are subtle, and the mouthfeel is extremely soft, and very delicate. Even with these characteristics, the espresso comes through in milk (6oz. capp) The chocolate is very subtle, but definitely present. There is a slight nuttiness (almond, I'd say), with a caramel sweetness hidden beneath.

The mouthfeel is extremely smooth.. and extremely "light". I know this is the wrong descriptor category, but it "goes down easy". The aftertaste as just as balanced and delicate as the initial flavor. This was a bit unexpected, but it really attests to the quality of this coffee. Most definitely worth trying at least once.

The second coffee I want to talk about is Terroir's Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Addis Ketema. I know Jaime has posted about this over at, and I know Chris Owens has given a brief opinion at ShotZombies.blogspot and I guess now it's my turn.

Cupped, this coffee tasted remarkably similar to Darjeeling tea, with just a touch of unsweetened lemon, and a subtley sweet aftertaste.

This coffee is intended to be enjoyed as a Single Origin Espresso, and considering as such, I did exactly that.

After talking to Jaime for a couple of minutes on the phone, he suggested I try it at a very small (volumetrically) dose.. but a very normal weight. This is some DENSE coffee. 16 grams left some extremely generous head-space. I could not use my index finger to distribute the grounds, as they only came up maybe 2/3-3/4 in the filterbasket BEFORE tamping. Jaime suggested I start with a 16 gram dose to pull ~1.25 oz. in about 28 seconds. I tried this, and I found that I liked it.. quite a bit. The flavors were intense, the sweetness was heightened, and the tea was.. diminished? Something wasn't right. The dominant flavor characteristic in the cupping was that of black Darjeeling tea. Why were my espresso experiences so drastically different? I tried again.. temperature surfing higher, lower, but still.. while the unique individual flavors were heightened, the basic element was drastically diminished.

Change of plan. I tried dosing by volume, as I normally do, just to full, and leveled, with no volumetric updosing. I temp-surfed for temperature stability, but not an increase or decrease in the standard temperature for my Gaggia(yes, I know.. I REALLY need an upgrade on my home setup). This shot.. my God. This was heaven in a demitasse. The tea was back.. in full force, but smoother, stronger, sweeter, and the lemon flavor was exactly as balanced as during the cupping, with the body and mouthfeel being much MUCH smoother than I would have anticipated for such a bright coffee and an aftertaste that highlights the sweetness of the tea flavor.. LONG after it's gone. A sip of water about a minute after consuming, and the sweetness in the back of the throat is quite obvious. Beautiful.

Try it again, but this time temp surf a little higher. The flavors are heightened, especially the sweetness.. but again, the tea is diminished. The individual flavors absolutley POP, but the identity (as I knew it from cupping) seemed to be hidden, or rather, too quiet to be tasted through all of the shouting.

With so many different ways to enjoy this as an espresso, and with so many different flavors of great intensity, and pleasure, this is one I'll have to try again.. and possibly again after that.

This is absolutely the best single origin espresso I have ever tried. Period. The flavor is so clean, I can actually taste the "quality" Jaime talks so much about. There is a HUGE difference between this, and a lesser quality coffee. By lesser, I don't mean commercial grade.. I mean specialty grade, high-end coffees. If you've never understood the idea of an absolute definition of quality, try this coffee. It will all become clear.

Moving on, the shop has begun using my coffee. Pretty cool, I guess. I can't help but feel like it's not that huge of a deal, but still... I guess I should be proud.

I plug it to customers whenever I can. I know that it's the freshest offering we have, and usually, it's the better of the two coffees available. I prefer to highlight origin characteristics, while our coffee supplier seems to usually highlight the roast a bit more than I would prefer. Everything tastes like chocolate, it seems. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but to my mind, that's not the pinnacle of what coffee can be. That's also not to say that the origin characteristics are hidden by the roast.. this is not the case. It's just a factor I personally don't care to draw attention to at all. It's about the coffee, not the roast.

Move further along, I'm really REALLY excited about the Barista Jam coming up in January.

To be held at The Coffee Vein in Tucson, AZ. I'll be attending with Larry Jones under the Rocket Coffee Roasters name. Larry's giving me a ride down, and a place to stay while I'm in AZ. What's so exciting about this jam is that I'll be able to meet a lot of people in person who I've had lots of contact with online. Mike "call me Trevino" Trevino, Chris Tingom of, Steve Kessler (a new face in the online coffee world, and more specifically, the AZ coffee world), and last but not least, Larry Jones. (sorry if I left you out.. Psyd)

There is to be a Latte art contest, and a signature drink contest. I'm going to be in the Latte art contest for sure.. the signature drink contest I'm not so sure about. Unless I can figure something out soon, I doubt I'll enter. In any case, GB/5's, Mazzers, a 2group Synesso, and a Lorenzato(sp) (Rancilio, from what I hear) to play on, as well as multiple other various brew methods. Let's not forget the coffee.. Rocket Coffee all around. Very exciting.

I'll try to update this thing more often.