I thought that I’d let all those of you who want to know that the 2008 World Barista Championships (WBC), held in Copenhagen (Denmark) from 19-22 June 2008, was won by Stephen Morrissey of Ireland, who incidentally gave me my first latte art class at the Caffe Culture 2008 event in London, show off ! I know, but just to let you know too that the 2007 WBC Champ, James Hoffmann, also gave me some espresso lessons at the Caffe Culture event in 2007. This does not mean that I am now an espresso expert but it’s good to try and learn from the best.
In any case, you may wish to know that Stephen and James have now joined together to form a company, Square Mile Roasters, see, http://www.squaremilecoffee.com/ website still to be completely developed I should add, but in any case, it promises to be a fruitful relationship when it is launched and should increase London’s coffee standing – can’t wait to visit their shop when it is up and running God willing.
For more about the WBC, sponsored by La Marzocco and Compak Coffee Grinders amongst many other, see http://www.worldbaristachampionship.com/
I’ve been promising to visit a traditional Viennese Coffee House so that I can report about it on my blog for a while and if you live in Europe, you will know that the European Football Championships (soccer to North Americans) are being hosted by Austria together with Switzerland and I thought that if any of my readers where in Vienna, they could visit some traditional Viennese coffee houses. To help you, I chose a very authentic cafe, famous for cakes, the Cafe Demel. It is near the Hofburg Palace, situated on Kohlmarkt, which now resembles Saks Fifth Avenue (New York) or New Bond Street (London, UK), next to shops like Armani, Chanel, Louis Vitton and Tiffanys. Cafe Demel is famous because it was often visited by royalty and in keeping with tradition, even today, whenever dignitaries visit Vienna, a lot of them get taken to Demel to have a coffee or at least to buy a famous Viennese cake. For example, when the former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan visited, Cafe Demel made a cake that looked just like him, at least from shoulder up.As you enter the shop, there’s a display of souvenir cakes on your left and on the right and in front of you, an impressive display of very traditional Viennese cakes and pastries. As you make your way to the back, the traditional atrium has been converted into an open display area, separating you from pastry chefs decorating cakes – you are allowed to take pictures as long as he flash is off. I made my way upstairs as the lunchtime crowd had already taken up all the best seats downstairs. The interior looks like it hasn’t been touched since the turn of the last century, but that adds to the character. The regular customers I spotted in there were all into the typical Viennese tradition of ordering a coffee and reading a newspaper. as you know, if you have been through my website under “did you know”, you will know that cafes in Vienna were the first ones to introduce newspapers on sticks.Anyway Cafe Demel is now a must-stop on the Vienna tourist trail, so I was not surprised to hear lots of American and British accents. I am also happy to report that the waitresses spoke English and more importantly, where very polite, contrary to the infamous Viennese reputation of unpleasant waitresses. I had a very traditional Viennese coffee, called an Einspanner, which s basically like an Austrian version of an espresso topped with lots of thickly whipped cream. To accompany my very Viennese Coffee House experience, I ordered another traditional Viennese dessert, a cherry and apple strudel. All in all it was a good experience, something to be done at least once if and when you visit Vienna and I must confess, this is my first visit to a traditional Viennese coffee shop since I moved to Vienna almost 6 years ago.
In the process of trying to experiment, I logged onto La Marzocco’s website and was pleased to see that they now have an online shop, where you can order lots of stuff including what I was looking for, a bottomless La Marzocco porta-filter holder (more of that to follow in my next post God willing). In any case, I was happy to learn that they now have a dealer in Vienna, Austria – where I live, and so got in touch with the dealer. In the meantime, I managed to exchange a few e-mails with La Marzocco, informing them about my website naturally, and I am pleased to say that they were impressed with my website and encouraged me to keep up the good work – OK ! now I’m feeling a bit water eyed (i.e. tearful) because, for a company like La Marzocco – makers of probably the best espresso coffee machine in the World, who of course know a lot about coffee -to say something like that, I was really touched. In any case, I am pleased to report that I managed to get my La Marzocco bottomless porta-filter and it fitted perfectly into my Isomac Venus, in fact it fitted much better than the original, so naturally I am very pleased.
The Austrian dealer tried to encourage me to get the one and only La Marzocco machine made for the home – the GS3 (the rest are for professional or commercial purposes only), but when I gasped at his special price for me only of €2,500 (a cool equivalent of about $3,500) – Now on this occasion, I am happy to say that the price of this machine is cheaper than in the US, which I just saw was retailing for about $7,000. It’s worth a coffee fanatic coming over to Austria and buying the machine and taking it back home and still saving money. In any case for more about this machine read the very extensive review on Home Barista http://www.home-barista.com/pros-perspective-gs3.html.
Anyway I digress somewhat.
Visit www.lamarzocco.com for more about La Marzocco.