Drinking coffee with Champions: Michaela Ruazol-Recera and Mon Alpas

The champs

As promised from my last post, where I mentioned “how often do you walk into a cafe and a champion offers to make you coffee”… well it happened to me twice and here, I was served by Champions – yes that’s the plural of champion – Michaela Ruazol-Recera, UAE Barista Champion and Mon Alpas, UAE Latte Art Champion. Scrolling through Instagram, I couldn’t believe when I saw on Goldbox Roastery (one of my faves) page that both champions would be at their roastery serving coffee. I promptly informed Naveed and off we went.

To be honest I was surprised that upon arriving around 1pm, that there wasn’t a queue – definitely if this was in London, Melbourne or New York, there would have been a long queue BUT I wasn’t complaining – more time to talk to the champions and enjoy my coffee. We even had a front row seat as Michaela explained the special process of her winning coffee, la Esperanza Mandela, stored in barrels for 30 hours – which was served – listen below;

Michaela in action

Fresh from competing at the World Barista Championship and the UAE Barista Championship, which she won again, Michaela seemed excited about trying to innovate the coffee industry and during the week I was there, it was also being served at her cafe, Typica in Jumeirah (yes, I went there a few days later to have it – let’s just say it tasted like vanilla ice cream). BUT we’re not finished yet.

Two creatures

Yes, that looks amazing but have you heard of “distilled milk”? Well, I recall Naveed mentioning it to me but I had never tasted it before – in short, it’s milk that is frozen and then in this case defrosted with 50% of the water removed making it a lot creamier and sweeter. This isn’t an easy feat as I have tried to froth cream before – yes, many years ago during my inexperienced wide eye years and no, it didn’t work. So, all I can say is “hat’s off” (English colloquialism for well done) to Mon Alpas for not only frothing the milk but pouring such wonderful latte art.

Mon in action

So, we had our coffee prep and brewed on the this wonderful Modbar by the UAE Barista champion and had our milk for our cortado prep and poured by the UAE National Latteeart champion – how often do you get to experience or say that ? Online Dubai.

The taste ???

Well, here’s my reaction – need I say more.

Excited me

Okay just a little – sublime in that usually when I’ve had any kind of macerated or anaberoic coffee, it’s been filtered and you can experience this unusual fruity caramel taste but in a milk based espresso coffee, it was Wow! sometimes words are not needed – just enjoy the experience.

And I’m not finished – I so enjoyed the experience that I asked for the cappuccino version – yes, it had more milk but also more coffee….. Yummy!

Pegasus

Needless to say It was great meeting Barbara Croce, owner of Gold Box too as she was in Dubai for a few days, so I got to talk coffee geek stuff too.

Feeling jealous ? Don’t be, because this coffee will be made available at Typica if not now, then very soon as Michaela can’t wait to INSPIRE others with her new creation.

Drinking Coffee with Champions: Mariam Erin

Mariam Erin and I

A few weeks back I decided to re-visit my favourite coffee spots in Dubai and Espresso Lab was of course on the list. This time however, I went to TEL.Roastery (i.e. their roastery) and when I got there, who greeted me with a smile, Mariam Erin – the current UAE Cup Brewers Cup Champion – she won the award for making the best filter coffee – I was lucky enough to watch her compete earlier in the year. So, imagine my delight when I entered and saw her and even more so, when she offered to make me coffee – how could I say no to that.

The champ in action

On the brew was a special – it’s always special at Espresso Lab – coffee from Panama – a Geisha of course. Her recipe was 16g using 240ml of water with a brewing time of approximately 2 minutes.

The smell was unbelievably fruity with citrus high notes, which made my eyes and tongue water and so was the taste.

Then she offered to make me a cortado – again I could’t resist using an Ethiopian Hambela bean. Again another fab experience.

I have to say that only is Mariam great at making coffee, but she makes it with ease in a cool and collected manner. I recall that when I watched her on her way to be crowned champion, she spoke very clearly and articulated her passion, drawing you into the experience of the coffee she selected whilst brewing the coffee. I have to add too that she’s a great artist – check her on instagram.

All in all, I could say was, Thank God, as how often do you walk into a cafe and a champion offers to make you not one but two cups of coffee – well it happened again, but to read about that, wait for the next post.

Thank You Butterworth & Son Coffee Roasters

You’ve probably heard me many times elaborate about how blessed I am. Blessed to be introduced to the coffee bean by its Creator and I can’t even count how many times I’ve had a wonderful coffee experiences, let alone the amount of times I’ve been given free coffee (there are many reasons for this). And the blessings continue.

So a few weeks ago, or is that months now, one of the baristi (plural for barista in Italian) from Butterworth & Son Coffee Roasters Lauren Small (aka I am the Anxious Barista on Instagram) reached out to me on Instagram and wanted to know if I would like to taste their coffees. Having researched them – yes I do this because I have been offered free coffee before BUT if I don’t think I’m going to have a pleasant experience, I decline – I politely accepted. However, as I had just moved to Dubai, I was concerned that it would cost a lot for them to send me about 1kg of coffee in terms of postage and registered delivery/courier charges but Lauren was insistent, so I succumbed. In any case, after one failed attempt, I decided it was far much easier to have Lauren send it to my brother in London who would then pass it onto our daughter, who would be visiting Dubai in mid-December and voila! just one day before she was due to leave, it arrived…. The things you do for coffee eh! Nevertheless, another blessing.

Not only did I receive coffee from them, they selected a very diverse group of coffee spanning the coffee world, two Africans, one central American and one South American – that sounded strange as I wrote that. Now, off to the coffees.

Colombia Washed

From reading the taste profile, I knew that this would be good for espresso and it was. I even invited a friend over to share the experience and well what did it taste like….

Chocolate but of course, especially when brewing it as my daily cappuccino. After a few days, you would be pleased to know that it never disappointed and always tasted like chocolate. Now how’s that for consistency and a good way to start the day.

Guatemala Honey Process

This one, I must confess was a bit tricky as I brewed it both as an espresso and as a filter (aeropress and HarioV60). I started off brewing this as an espresso and picked up hints of apricot but the Colombia (above) was so good as an espresso based coffee, that I moved over to brewing this solely as a filter, either on an aeropress or Hario V60, where I picked up hints of winey dried fruits.

Kenya Peaberry Washed

Now, it’s getting exciting. If you know me, you would know that I usually get excited about Kenyan coffees but I should probably add that Lauren, I presume, didn’t know that I love Kenyan coffees. Typically, Kenyan coffees when roasted right and of course brewed right tend to have traditional taste profiles of dark berries and this one obviously had that.

However what stood out for me when brewed this on a Hario V60 was the hints of lime and mint. Now you may be wondering, why Lime and Mint? but before you judge, it was not overpowering at all. It was like after you had the first sip, then there was this delicate flower taste of lime and mint afterwards. As the coffee got older and the days went by, the mint dominated and the lime diminished but nevertheless it was a truly pleasant experience all the way to the last bag… sigh.

Rwanda Natural

I think I’ve saved the best for last. The experience with this coffee was further enhanced by my desire to start using my Chemex, which was given to me by my former colleagues as a leaving present way back in November 2019. I know, why did it take this long to use it ? but that’s another conversation. Prior to using the Chemex for the first time, I asked Lauren for their recipes (yes, each coffee shop has a recipe for how they brew their coffee per method, well serious coffee shops do). In this way, I wanted to ensure that I was brewing not just this coffee but the others too, using their recipe. In fact after this disclosure I have now amended how I brew Hario V60 to 20g with 300ml water.

Okay, so back to the Rwanda and the Chemex, now that could be a good movie title

Using their recipe of 300ml to 20g of coffee and my new Hario scales (thanks to my wife), I really enjoyed the process.

slow mo coffee drip

And how about the taste? Okay I may not have picked up strawberries and cream but Plum, medium citrus acidity and hints of buttery caramel were predominant. It was such a pleasant experience that I mainly brewed this coffee on the Chemex, despite its average brewing time of 5-6 minutes. On the Hario V60 and aeropress it was still nice but not as delicious as on the Chemex. In fact Lauren had recommended trying this as an espresso but I couldn’t take the risk of wasting 40-60 grammes of this delectable coffee during the espresso adjustment process, so I just stuck to the safer process of filter brew.

I just checked their website prior to writing this piece and sadly for you they don’t have this coffee anymore. Don’t worry, I empathise with you too as I had my last brew of this coffee early last month.

Just before I finish, kindly note that this is not paid sponsorship and I don’t get any money for bragging about my wonderful tastebud experience.

I’m not sure about the background of Butterworth and Son, who are based in St Edmunds, UK but I know that they do good tea too and from my experience, good coffee as well. I definitely recommend them and you have to love their artwork on there bags too.

To check them out and order coffee and teas, check them out here https://butterworthandson.co.uk

How to Use an Aeropress: The Video

WELCOME TO MY NEW HOW TO USE SERIES, WHERE I SHOW YOU QUICKLY HOW TO USE MY FAVOURITE COFFEE TOOLS.

The Aeropress  – Very popular with many coffee connoisseurs BUT how do you actually use it and what is it?

In short, it’s a filter brew process, popular amongst Specialty coffee enthusiasts and was invented by Alan Adler, A Stanford University Professor in 2005. Initially it was ignored as a coffee tool when it came out, as it claimed to make espresso BUT after working with some coffee experts, it rebranded and dropped the word “espresso” and is now very popular, so much so, that they now have…. wait for it…. World Aeropress Championships annually.

I use it every other day and depending on the coffee, sometimes more because it works best with certain coffees, usually low-medium acidity for me. It’s easy to travel with and I always take with me when I travel. There are many ways of making coffee with an aeropress, which costs about US$30, but here I’m using the inverted method. I usually use;

  • 14-15g of freshly ground coffee
  • 210-220ml of about 95C hot water
  • Brewing time of 3-4 minutes
  • two filters made wet

Watch the video using my instagram link for my rantings on this easy to use coffee tool. https://www.instagram.com/p/CB3eiibhdON/

 

Drinking Very Fresh Coffee

 

I had the pleasure of visiting coffee expert extraordinaire Johanna Wechlesberger of Vienna School of Coffee last Wednesday (1 July 2020) and she gave me a Honduran 90 hour anaerobic fermented coffee, which she was roasting right in front of me on the Ikawa (wish list) to try out. As I was rushing back home, Jo gave me 15 grammes. So, just after 3 hours I cupped (tasted) the coffee using a French Press as recommended by Jo – who am I to argue.

Tastes – easy on the stomach, hints of lemon acidity, molasses and caramel came through. Watch the video for the oral experience.

Here’s the video below, with a link from my Instagram page (as WordPress sadly is not allowing me to load videos)

Coffee of the Week: Rwanda

 
This week’s coffee hails from Rwanda-Umusazi, a coffee of the red bourbon variety, grown at 1,900mroasted for Balthasar, my fave coffee shop in Vienna. It was actually recommended to me by one of the baristi, who used this coffee last ear for a competition. It features the 72 hour fermented coffee processing method again, which almost guarantees a delicious fruity experience. So, I’m using the Hario V60 for this video, but I’ve adjusted the recipe somewhat. Typically, I would use about 15g of freshly ground coffee with about 240ml of 95C boilng hot water, but I found that when I increased the amount of coffee to 16.5C for the Hario V60 filter brewing method , I had the wow factor – what a fruit bomb, with berries, grapefruit acidity and hints of caramel in the middle of my tongue – In fact I’m drinking it now as I write this, yummy.

To summarise; 16.5g freshly ground coffee 95C 245ml hot water Hario V60 Hario V60 filter wet with hot water Makes about 235ml delicious coffee Yummy!

 

check out the video below for more details.

Why coffee tastes better with latte art

It’s one of those questions purist ponder on. Why? Because taste is king. If anything gets in the way of diluting that taste experience then get rid of it. However I think we should employ a middle ground. If something gets in the way of taste let’s try and understand it and make it better. So here are the steps to great #latteart milk based drinks;

  1. Make great #espresso,
  2. Froth great microfoam (the frothed milk with tiny bubbles you cannot really see)
  3. A good latte artist ( I didn’t say a good barista for obvious reasons).

Easy? Well, a Purist may have another opinion. Does the bitter crema on top of great espresso affect the first taste?

Sometimes you can have a great cappuccino, latte or flat white with bad looking latte art (I confess). A middle ground would be to mix the espresso beforehand or what my previous barista used to do, pour a little bit of milk, stir it with the crema and continue pouring your latte art.

Before signing off, you should know that in marketing people fall in love with what they see first, so sight, smell and taste could influence your taste experience.

Do you love latte art in your coffee?

 

Coffee of the Week Video: Caravan Roastery Espresso

Caravan Coffee

So, this weeks coffee of the week comes from Caravan Roastery in  London. Before I delve into my experience and the video, a short history about them. In short Caravan have been around for many years, and I remember when I heard about their venture into London and how excited I was, but sadly I was already running my cafe in Cape Town. Nevertheless, I dreamt about visiting their cafe cum roastery in Exmouth Street, so much so that I often used to peruse their menu for ideas. In fact, I even have a confession or two. I amended my menu card to resemble theirs and furthermore, I added a new item to my menu, something back then I had never seen before, avocado toast with chilli flakes – very popular now of course.

In any case, I finally visited them a few years back, but it wasn’t until last year that I re-discovered their coffees once more based on their strategy to focus a lot more on coffee – they still have 5 restaurants with delicious looking menus. I must say that they have a great online coffee shop and they constantly have great deals. Usually, if I order, I get my coffees within the week and even better than that, they don’t ship just freshly roasted coffee. Does that sound strange ? Well, it doesn’t because when you order coffee, you want to start brewing it straight away and almost all but 2 roasteries (Caravan are one of them) always send you coffees that are too fresh to brew. Plus I love the little postcard containing info on the coffee.

So, last week, I finally received a huge , yes huge at 1kg of Daily – their espresso blend, which has a nice aroma. Watch the full video below for more.

Until then visit https://www.caravancoffeeroasters.co.uk to order coffee online – a great choice during tis lockdown pandemic.

Coffee of the Week: Honduras Coffee

 

The coffee of the week celebrates once again, Vienna based Roaster extraordinaire, Johanna Wechlesberger roastery, Die Roesterin – this time it’s a Honduran Coffee, macerated (another word for fermentation) for 72 Hours.

I know that sounds strange. In fact I had to search what kind of process this was. In summary, the coffee undergoes a 72 hour fermentation process, before it is aired naturally for about 40 days, before it’s green for roasting. You can imagine that such a method will defiantly lead to some kind of different taste profile and it did.

Here, I’m using an AEROPRESS, with the following;

  • 14.5g freshly grinded coffee
  • 93C brewing temperature
  • 212.5 ml of hot water

See methodology in my video and let me know how you brew your coffee using an aeropress.

With this method, the coffee was amazing – like a party in my tongue, tropical fruits and medium acidity came to play, with a long aftertaste around the middle of my tongue.

You can order this delicious coffee, if it is still available from https://dieroesterin.at

 

Enjoy!

%d bloggers like this: