Monthly Archives: October 2008

Coffee News….

Coffee News 

I’ve decided to add another category to my blog, aptly called “Coffee News”.

OK, so what is new from my travels and observations that may be of interest to you. Starting from closer to home, Vienna – you will be sad to know that the favourite coffee shop, Mocca Club, is sort of no more. Well ! they still exist but the previous owner, Jo, has left, along with her SCAE expertise and tender coffee touch that the quality of coffee production has, let’s say, not kept up with my expectations.

Now for some good news and for this, we are off to London. For those of us in London, there are two exciting things. Flat White have opened another coffee shop in Soho called Milk Bar – Cameron, the owner, preferred to avoid the coffee chain thing and decided to give it another name, which still sounds cool. Anyway, you can find Milk Bar, equipped with a black customized La Marzocco FB-70 espresso machine, on 3 Bateman Street. I haven’t been there yet and I must confess, I walked past it when I was looking for it and just went right back to the original Flat White, but God willing, I hope to check it out next time I’m in London.

You will also be glad to know that 2008 and 2007 World Barista Champions, Stephen Morrissey and James Hoffmann respectively, have finally opened their coffee company, Square Mile Coffee Roasters. At the moment they are focusing on selling coffee on line and there are no plans for a coffee shop yet. You can visit them in the heart of London but you will have to make an appointment first – a bit serious, but these guys are really serious about coffee. Just visit their website on http://shop.squaremilecoffee.com/  and you will see what I mean. I wish I could order coffee, but this is restricted to the boundaries of the UK for the moment. In any case, during my last visit to Flat White, they were testing out one of the square miles special blends.

My final piece is just to update you on the coffee scene in Dubai. There’s now a Dean & DeLuca coffee shop. for those of us who do not know about Dean & DeLuca, they are a famous New York coffee shop, which I have been informed featured in a popular US sitcom for many years. Anyway, click on http://www.deandeluca.com/ for more info. They are located at Old Town Commercial market in Burj Dubai, near the tallest building in the World.

Also new in Dubai is the famous Canadian coffee franchise, Cafe Supreme, located in the same area as Dean&DeLuca in Dubai – how’s that for a bit of competition. I haven’t been to either of these but they seem to offer a different perspective to the coffee scene in Dubai.


Bean 2 Close

Just sharing my latest favourite pic, using my new Nikon D-60   Bean 2 Close 


I’m Drinking El Salvador Pacamara

About a month ago, on my way back from holiday, I stopped over in London and naturally went over to my favourite bean bazaar or specialist coffee roaster – HR Higgins, Duke Street, London and stocked up on more coffee.

I was lucky enough to be offered one of their new beans, El Salvador Pacamara. Trusting the salesman on this occasion, I took two 250g bags, as they do two types of roasts, medium dark, which I usually find goes well with milk-based espresso drinks and very dark roasted, which is lovely for espresso (shhh ! don’t share the secret).

Pacamara Bags 

On return to Vienna, I was pleasantly surprised by the versatility of the 2 roasts. Sure enough, my predictions matched my expectation in that the medium-to-dark version was lovely as a cappuccino and the very dark version was nice as an espresso, but more importantly for my coffee grinder, I didn’t really have to fiddle about with the grind switch for both types of coffee. Am I making sense ? If not, I’m going to have to get a little bit tekky (technical) here. In short, I’ve discovered that you cannot use the same grind setting for a medium dark roast and a very dark roast coffee to get the ideal espresso shot (i.e 23-27 seconds depending on what book you read). The secret is…… well ! perhaps not a secret for pros, is that you need a finer setting for very dark roasts. So for example, if you usually grind your coffee on say dial 7 for a medium dark coffee, with dial 1 being the finest (like powder and usually for Turkish style coffee) and dial 10 or above being like clumps (usually for French Press), then when you come to grind a dark roast coffee, you need to use a shorter dial, like 6 or 5 to get the same grind. For me, on my previous coffee grinder, it was easy, but my new coffee grinder is a bit of a pain as there are no dial settings – you just turn the knob, after wasting about 30 grammes of coffee until you get the right grind, but I’ll save more of that headache for another post God willing.

Extracting Pacamara

Anyway back to El Salvador Pacamara. For espresso, I found it light and sweetish. I could taste the sweetness at the tip of my tongue – perhaps my palate is getting more sophisticated to all the speciality roasted Arabica coffee I keep throwing down my mouth 3 times a day. Excuse the pic below – I was still playing with my new digital SLR camera and the flash was a bit too bright. The richness of the colour can be seen in the pic above during extraction.

Pacamara Doppio 

Naturally, I kept the medium-to-dark roasted coffee for my morning fixes of cappuccinos and the sweetish taste contrasted well with the smooth silky sweetish frothed milk that accompanied it. Excuse my latte art, still trying to get there….

Pacamara Latte 

In summary, I thought that the bean was well rounded and very versatile, easily adaptable for both types of espresso drinks (with and without milk). The taste is not over powering and “bold” and reminds me of the typical Central American coffee (just in case you were wondering where El Salvador is, it is in Central America). It is not as acidic as the champions of Central America – Costa Rica and Guatemala, but still worth a buy and I’m sure your non-coffee mad friends will find it pleasant to drink too. So get out there and try some coffee from El Salvador.


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