Monthly Archives: June 2009

Espresso French Toast

This is for those who want to have their espresso and eat it – it might sound strange, and I must confess it does, but I’ve thinking for a while, “there must be something I can eat, apart form coffee cake, that I can use espresso as a key ingredient”. So here it is, merging my passion for coffee and cooking together for what I call a “tasty” experiment, I wish to introduce Espresso French Toast. Before taking you on this journey of sensual pleasure, what exactly is French Toast, for those of you not into cooking and baking. In short, French Toast is actually the posh word for bread dipped in mixed egg and fried until well done. It is usually topped with something sweet like strawberry jam, maple syrup or honey. I’m also guessing it was devised in a French kitchen many years ago.

So, to work then. The good thing is that this is a really simple recipe if you know how to use a frying pan, extract good espresso and fry eggs of course. So you need;

Fresh arabica coffee

Good espresso machine

Frying pan

One egg

Two bowls

Fork to mix the eggs

3 slices of small brioche (measuring 7cm by 6cm)

Two spoons of caster sugar

Sliced strawberries, mascarpone and honey/maple syrup (optional)

An appetite, but of course.

Luckily, I’ve managed to capture the whole experiment visually to make it easy for you to follow. First up, break one large, preferably organic egg into a bowl, mix and set aside. Extract one double espresso into a shallow bowl and put two spoons of caster sugar inside and mix to dissolve. It is crucial that you extract good espresso – as you can see from the pic below, the crema is ever present, and after all this is a blog about coffee and there is no compromising when it comes to coffee. I used my Andronicas Signature Blend arabica coffee, which has nut and chocolate like qualities with a vanilla twist – this is important as you’ll see later.

Get your slices of brioche and place very quickly into the espresso mixture as you don’t want the slices drenched in coffee.

Quickly take it out and place straight away into the egg mixture, making sure it is nicely coated in egg.

Place into a hot frying pan with a knob of butter and fry each side for about 2 minutes each.

Take out and place on a plate, top with something sweet like honey or jam, or if you are flashy like me and love sweet fattening things, top with a dollop of mascarpone, slices of strawberries and maple syrup.

So what does it taste like then ? Well ! you’ll be pleased to know that the coffee elements have not been drenched out because of egg and butter. It actually had a vanilla and chocolate taste, almost like a dessert. Note that if you are going to drench your bread into coffee, the coffee should be good, displaying as much of the good qualities of a well extracted espresso as possible, so that the lovely taste is captured in the bread. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised, if not, let’s face it, I won’t be blogging about it.

Don’t tell too many people about this recipe as I would love to serve it in my trendy cafe, if I ever get the opportunity to open one up before I die.

Enjoy !


Impress Your Friends… Latte Art Twirl

I’m going to share a really “impress your friends” coffee recipe with you that should make your friends go “Wow ! you’re really good at this (insert your name here)”. OK ! first up, I’ve got to break it down to you… for purists, there’s a difference between LATTE ART and what some call LATTE ETCHING. Latte Art really means pouring your well frothed milk into your well extracted espresso and pouring it in a way that displays a design like a heart, flower or rosetta – you’ve seen many of these designs already on this blog – if you haven’t, scroll down, or check my “Art of Coffee” category or Flickr account. OK ! So what is etching then ? In summary, it means playing with the frothed milk by making designs with a tooth pick or tool. So to work then.

Assumptions, assumptions – I’m assuming that you know how to extract a good double espresso into a cappuccino cup and that you know how to froth milk properly – note on that, if you froth milk properly, it should be fairly quiet, so if you hear that loud frothing noise in a cafe, then prepare yourself for badly frothed milk with lots of air. So first up, after extracting espresso and well frothed milk, pour the milk into the espresso beneath the crema cloud, making sure that there is no sign of milk, saving the real frothy stuff. Now, spoon out the froth on top of the espresso cross ways.

Take a picture…. Now, get a tooth pick or wooden cake tester and place it right into the centre of the white cross

Now, I’m assuming you know how to draw, so quickly draw a circle outwards until you get to the edge of the cup and voila. You can even see on the stick the two tone colours, white and cappuccino brown.

Good luck and I hope to get a video of this up soon on my Vimeo account, God willing. Check this space.


I’m Still Drinking Andronicas Coffees

I’m pleased to report that when it comes to customer service, america does not have the monopoly, judging by my second experience of buying coffee from Andronicas. My first experience was when I visited their coffee shop in the World famous department store, Harrods in London. I ordered a double espresso macchiato, which I wasn’t charged for and then they even gave my son a free mini hot chocolate. OK ! now for my second experience. Not to be defeated in my quest to try more of their coffees, I decided to persevere when reading through their website they state that coffees will be delivered anywhere, but of course on trying to order, it was not recognizing my Vienna address, so I wrote once and then again and again until they said “sure we can send coffee to you in Austria”. I think due to the financial crisis, where the exchange rate has moved in favour of buying stuff from England, lots of companies are more than willing to sell stuff to continental Europe and I for one, am doing that with a passion – I’ve been ordering my coffee from abroad since January this year. So, enough of the economics (my main subject at University I hasten to add) and marketing, how about the customer service and the coffee.

Well, I ordered about 750 grammes of coffee, comprising of their 1849 Espresso Blend, Brazilian Bourbon and of course Yemeni Mocha (which I loved, see previous post). I didn’t know that Andronicas only sell coffee in batches of 500g a time, but when I ordered it so happened that one of the main guys, James was visiting Vienna and decided to bring my order with him, saving me postage expenses. On top of what I ordered, he added an extra 1 kilo of coffee, notably their Signature Blend and doubles of what I ordered for FREE. Wow ! I even felt guilty and wanted to pay for the extra bags, but my request was turned down. Now ! that’s what I call customer service. Well, it paid off, because as soon as this first batch finished, I of course ordered more, with one colleague even placing an order, so during these hard items, never forget the customer even more – my one lesson for getting through the financial crisis for retail outfits.  

Gee ! I almost forgot about the coffee itself. So, first up was the 1849 Espresso blend, which I thought had a chocolate and nutty taste. Again, I find these type of coffees are best served as espresso milk based drink, so the type of coffee that you need to start your day off with.

Second up, it just got better, the Brazilian Yellow Bourbon, which apparently is a Cup of Excellence coffee. I’ve always thought that espresso with some sort of Brazilian arabica thrown in does it for me. I recall that my best espresso to date was from Intelligentsia’s Black Cat Espresso blend, which constituted some Brazilian arabica. So for this coffee, roasted darkish, whereby the oils begin to seep out of the bean and cover the bean, I detected a sweetish espresso – ideal for after dinner and Yes ! I do drink espresso after dinner and it doesn’t keep me awake – yipee !

And finally, the Signature Blend. Very versatile as both an espresso, full of crema and an espresso based milk drink, with dark chocolate tones, vanilla and hazelnut aroma and hazelnut/intense milk chocolate taste – the kind of cappuccino that brings a smile to your face before jumping into the rat race in the morning.

 

I also liked it after dinner with it’s full crema qualiities. For one shot, the crema was so inviting that I had to take it through the sugar test, in which it socred very highly, taking 12 seconds for white sugar to drop below the crema cloud and about 6 seconds for dark brown sugar to drop through.

I already told you about the Yemeni Mocha, which I had to blog about separately because it tasted so good. For my next order, I ordered 1 kg of Signature blend for espresso drinks and 1kg of Yemeni Mocha for French Press, so I’ll still be drinking Andronicas coffees for a while yet and guess what, the customer service was still great.


I’m Drinking A Special Coffee…. Yemeni Mocha

Before I delve into the details of my current coffee experience, I thought that I’d give a very brief background on the coffee called Mocha. In short, the name Mocha comes from the old Yemeni port called al-Muka and was given to one of the first types of arabica coffees because it had…. mocca qualities. OK this isn’t a typo – by “mocca” I mean, chocolate like qualities. Tasting and drinking this type of coffee, provided that of course, it is made properly, should remind you of chocolate and it is no surprise that in most cafes, a mocca is typically a chocolate infused milk-based espresso drink made with additional cocoa powder or in more fancy places with chocolate syrup like Monin or Torani. Anyway back to history – mocca coffee originated from the Sidamo region in Ethiopia but it has come to represent the type of coffee grown in Yemen – the first place to grow coffee outside coffee’s home in Ethiopia. Most experts still reckon that the best mocca type coffee still comes from Yemen but similar tasting coffee can naturally be found in Ethiopia. Sadly for lovers of Yemeni coffee, coffee is being grown at a lesser scale in Yemen, meaning that what comes from Yemen is not only getting smaller in quantity but of course higher in price. The main reason for this concerns money of course and politics and so I will not proceed as this is not a blog for politics but from a coffee point of view it is very sad.

Anyway back to that scarcity thing. So, as you can imagine, when I was scanning Andronica’s World of Coffee website to buy some coffee to try, I was delightedly excited to see Yemeni Mocha on the list. I thought, if Andronicas have been supplying top quality coffee for the World famous Harrods of London then they ought to have this very special coffee. So, being a bit cautious and mindful of my pocket, I ordered 500g, to be roasted between medium (in order to bring out both a rich taste) and dark (bringing out the mocha or should I say chocolate tones). I also knew that for this special coffee, the brew of choice would have to be filter as I find this method tends to favour really rich coffees, witness El Portillo and Costa Rica Don Mayo (see previous posts this year). A further step, to make sure that I absolutely got the measurements spot on I wanted to follow the experts; so first up, I recall an e-mail I received from Anette of Square Mile Coffee (London) in which she advised me to use about 12 grammes of freshly ground coffee per 250ml/grammes of just of the boil hot water  and secondly, wait for it, weigh the water as opposed to measuring it. You may not know this, unless you are a top chef, but weighing your liquids is more accurate, so I did that at home on my electronic scales. However, I was even more lucky, because I didn’t have to through the agony of memorizing where and when to stop pouring water nor weighing freshly ground coffee, during the absence of scales at the office because my Solis Maestro Coffee grinder grinds exactly 12 grammes of coffee if you put it on setting “2” and my treasured Bodum Columbia French Press, takes exactly 250ml of hot water if you fill it almost to the top with the massive crema/foam sitting on top. Luck me eh ?  

Oh ! look at that filter coffee crema – dark, mysterious and bubbly, waiting to be drunk by moi.

Well ! I’m more than glad to report that it was more than worth it. Wow ! what a taste. Even before the bag was opened you are already promised what would be a great taste because the aroma is just wonderful – what every coffee should smell like – chocolate and nutty with a smell that goes up through your nostrils and begins to wet your appetite. The taste is like bitter sweet chocolate rolling over your tongue with “real” coffee and the taste lasts in your mouth for at least an hour undisturbed. My colleagues at work got so used it, that they would come rushing to my room as soon as it began to brew. One colleague called it the best coffee she had tasted and even after she had shared it with half a cup of hot milk – the taste was so powerful, piercing through the milk. Another colleague was so impressed that she got me to order 500g for her, which she plans to hide in her house away from her kids as she doesn’t think they’ll appreciate it, mistaking it for shelf stuff. When I gave her the bill, I said “it’s a bit expensive”, but she said “it’s worth it”. 

OK ! how do I end this ? Well ! I can tell you that I’ve ordered another 500g from Andronicas – check out their web shop on my blog roll and if you visit London, go to Harrods, 4th floor and buy some bags. My main contact at Andronicas is so kind to me that he has given me a discount on both occasions when I bought this online to be delivered in Vienna, making this coffee experience one of my best buying experiences of the year. As you know, I love variety and I’m always in the hunt for new coffees, rarely drinking the same coffee for more than 2/3 weeks in a row, but for this I’ve made an exception and will be drinking Yemeni Mocha for what will be almost 2 months in a row, at least in the afternoon after lunch, but due to the scarcity and the good guys at Andronicas, it’s worth it…. a very special coffee indeed.