Monthly Archives: April 2009

I’m Drinking…… Stumptown Coffees

 

This is like part two of my previous post, because taking advantage of my parents trip to the USA I also ordered some coffees from another famous coffee roaster, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, originally of Portland, Oregon. Stumptown have 4 coffee shops in Portland itself and another 2 in Seattle. As a bit of a coffee nerd, I had naturally heard of Stumptown through scanning many coffee websites. However, I had never ever tasted any coffee roasted by them, until about several months ago (see my post of 23 July 2008 if you are serious) when I was given the privilege of tasting some Kenyan peaberry arabica coffee beans from them – Wow ! it was really special. So based on that experience I had to try their coffees again. I also like the way their coffees are packaged, nice brown bags with these really cute card inserts describing on one side where the coffee comes from and on the other side the types of tastes your tongue should encounter, if brewed properly but of course. 

First up is one of their most popular coffees, the Hair Bender – interesting name. For some unknown reason it was difficult for me to get a consistent grind, so it was a bit of a …. wait for it… hair bender…. trying to get the right grind, meaning that as a bit of a perfectionist, I wasted more than I would have liked trying to get my 25 second espresso. In any case, when it did it come out, and I gave it a good stir, it displayed this S sign….. kinda wierd, but I guess the coffee knows who roasted it, S for Stumptown… hmmm !

 

Say S for Stumptown

Say S for Stumptown

I must admit, I preferred the Hair Bender with milk based espresso drinks as I detected that milk chocolate caramel taste in my mouth.

However, for me, the Costa Rica Don Mayo, was really special. Oh ! look at those beans waiting for the grind… the excitement beckons.

I describe Don Mayo as a bright and sweetish brew – one of those really special coffees. You don’t really need sugar with this coffee, it really is that sweet and poignant that it just hits you with a sweet sharp taste as it glosses your tongue.

I shared the coffee with one of my colleagues, who is beginning to really appreciate coffee and she instantly mused “Wow ! this is one of the best coffees I’ve ever tasted”. I loved it as a French Press coffee and you can tell its freshness by the display of what I call “French Press Crema” sitting on top, nice and foamy.

For the last bag, I have to thank the roaster, Shari, who when I was ordering, thought it very amusing that I was taking advantage of my parents being in the States that I was ordering coffee. We had a good chuckle and then she mentioned that they had a really clean tasting Kenyan arabica coffee. I couldn’t really afford to buy anymore, but when I got the package I saw that Shari had kindly included a free 250g bag of Kenyan Ngunguru. The description on the bag was interesting “strawberry, rhubarb, watermelon and cacao”. Now I wasn’t sure about the first three, but when I brewed it for French Press, I was able to detect watermelon on the outside edges of my tongue… hmmm ! interesting. I failed however to get the others. In short, the coffee is what I call an afternoon coffee, earthy and bold and good after a heavy lunch. I also got with a bit of some experimenting and blended the Costa Rica Don Mayo and the Ngunguru and I found it quite pleasant – the contrast between the bold and earthy Ngunguru and the sweet, clean and high acidic Don Mayo. I shared it this time with a Costa Rican colleague, who was very thankful, especially after the lovely aroma had glossed his nose, inviting his secretary to comment “why don’t you share coffee with me?” I quietly walked out.

Anyway, I definitely recommend buying coffee from Stumptown and if you are lucky enough to live in the USA, you can order online, freshly roasted to order.


I’m Drinking….the Best Espresso

Yes ! I’m drinking the best espresso that I have tasted if you think about what you want in a cup of espresso – aromatic before you grind, dark reddish brown as you extract, almost syrup like as it pours, glossing your tongue as your lips touch, soothing your stomach as it descends with a silky sweet and smooth finish and finally as a digestive to clear your stomach of any impurities. Have I lost you ? I haven’t even finished yet. At first, I tasted caramel, then dark chocolate and finally milk chocolate. Wow ! this was an espresso. It was like the coffee was having a conversation with my tongue. When slightly under-extracted the taste was vanilla like and when slightly over-extracted the taste was intensely dark chocolate – you know I wasn’t going to waste this coffee, no matter what the extraction.  Also, as soon as you finished the cup, within a minute you could feel the coffee working through your digestive system, which is good after a heavy meal in the evening.

OK ! who made this, or should I say, who roasted this ? INTELLIGENTSIA !!!! – Did I misspell ? No ! I didn’t, but with coffee tasting this good, they can call themselves what they want, pertaining to intelligence. OK ! so who are Intelligentsia ? Quite simply, they are one of the most famous coffee roasters in the World, located originally in Chicago since the mid-1990s, but with shops in Los Angeles and New York now. I heard about them through sifting through lots of coffee blogs and so when my parents went to America, I ordered a couple of bags from Intelligentsia, their famous Black Cat Classic Espresso blend and of course their House Blend, which was recommended for milk based drinks. Their service was so efficient that the bags were delivered within 3 days after being roasted and I didn’t pay the super-duper postage price either. You can imagine the excitement when my parents returned from the States – like a boy excited to see a bag of sweets and tons of presents. I was even more excited when I saw that the good guys and gals at Intelligentsia had doubled my portion of the Black Cat Classic Espresso for free, thanks Intelligentsia.

As you open up the bag, the aroma just hits you…. Yes ! we are in the land of coffee and my nose is loving it…

I was so enthralled by this espresso that I told as many people that I know who are into espresso about it and invited a couple round to taste it – trying my best to share the pleasure. In any case, they too were impressed with the espresso. This coffee was no doubt excellent as an espresso, but for milk based drinks (my usual for the morning before 12 of course) it was nice too, teasing out more of the toffee/caramel tastes too.

So if anyone is heading off to the States, please do yourself a favour and order coffee from Intelligentsia and they are not paying me to say that. 

Now ! how about the House Blend ? Love the logo with the espresso cup with wings and the exciting red packaging

Nice too, with chocolate overtones and a real winner with milk, bringing out a toffee whirl on your tongue. As an espresso, it wasn’t as glorious as the Black Cat but with two tastes of milk chocolate and toffee, inspiring me to pour this.

I also experimented, making a triple espresso cappuccino – over-extracting one portion (slightly dark) on top of slightly under-extracted double portion and pouring milk over it, et voila, see below.

OK ! I better stop, but please visit Intelligentsia on www.intelligentsiacoffee.com (it’s also on my blogroll). They sell tea too, and lots of equipment and have lots of other interesting stuff on their website – they have a half day coffee school too. One of the main reasons they have such great coffee is that they promote the “Direct Trade” concept, where they deal directly with coffee farmers and form a good relationship with them, ensuring that they get the best coffee, whilst not exploiting them. So hands up to them and I’m so glad that God gave me this special moment to sample such great coffee….. Intelligent – sia.


I’m Drinking….

Flat White and Finca Kilimanjaro coffees, roasted by Square Mile Coffee Roasters of London. This is like part 2 of my previous post as on my visit to Flat White, Soho in London, I picked up these two bags to take home with me. I had already tried the Flat White version when I was in London in December 2008, but I was really drawn to the Finca Kilimanjaro, as I had read about this on Square Mile’s website and was really intrigued about how a Kenyan peaberry tree, planted in El Salvador, would taste- it’s called a Bourbon and Kenyan Varietal and Square Mile seem to pack their really special coffees in these nice white bags. I thought “that’s really original, taking a coffee plant from one country and planting it in another to get a really good mix of soils, air, etc… for a coffee”. Apparently, the lady who thought this up, Aida Batle, is famous for this and is one of the World’s renowned coffee growers, so who am I to question her logic.

So, what does it taste like ? Fruity, spicy, earthy, sweetish and with a “real” coffee aroma is what comes to mind, or should I say to my tongue. I didn’t try this as an espresso, as I just didn’t think these type of characteristics together with the Kenyan mix would work as an espresso, so it was the French Press or Cafetiere for me, where I definitely had no regrets – a truly beautiful cup indeed. I also give it my “very versatile” coffee award in that although it was roasted on 9 March 2009, three weeks afterwards it was still tasting nice and not bland. This coffee is offered for a limited period only, so log onto Square Mile’s website (their website is on my blog roll) and buy a 350g bag quick.

For the Flat White coffee blend, I still think this works better with properly frothed milk with its chocolate undertones and of course every morning was like a throw back to Flat White in London. With all this inspiration from my triple ristretto day in London, I tried out some of my latte art skills, extracting a double ristretto for my morning cup – still wanting with the latte art, but I thought looked nice in my “love” cappuccino cup, so I sign off with this pic to wish you “from coffee with love”,

Ciao !