When I had a coffee shop

So how much do you love your #coffee dream? 🤔 Here’s a quick 🎥 #video, where I share my thoughts and daily routine when I had a cafe 11 years ago in Cape Town, South Africa.

In summary, when you have a dream, go for it as you might learn a few things about your life and aspirations and even lose weight – well I stood up for about 5-6 hours a day serving customers and chatting too. Plus, and I hesitate to add, I’m not a biologist BUT I think the excitement of running your cafe or chasing your dream might have a positive impact on your physical, mental and spiritual health too.

Before I go and perhaps I’m getting a bit philosophical here, I sincerely believe that when you chase your dreams, not forgetting the stress of getting customers, the enjoyment will out last the pain points. In fact 4 years after I sold my cafe I was still on a high of chasing my dreams. I’m not sure why BUT perhaps a study needs to be done. As I quest for another coffee dream, this euphoria feeling I must say is addictive but in a good way.

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.

I was at The Espresso Lab, Dubai

A piccolo or cortado

The experience was even more exhilarating as I had my #dailycortado using #kenyancoffee

In honour of International coffee day on 1 October 2020, I decided to treat myself at one of Dubai’s iconic specialty coffee shops, The Espresso Lab, located at Dubai Design District. In fact this was my second visit, as I had visited them at the previous location in 2016, read here.

As you enter, you are greeted with a brew bar, featuring a Synesso espresso machine and many filter brew options ranging from cold drip, Hario V60, khalifa wave, etc and more, see pic below.

Brew bar at espresso lab

What was unusual for me, was the number of staff present. Let me explain; following the pandemic , I’ve noticed that most food and beverage establishments have cut down considerably on staff. I’ve always been in two minds about this because I always believe that this compromises on service delivery. Can you really provide the same level of quality customer experience ( I prefer this to service) with less people? Well, I don’t think so.

So, back to espresso lab. For me, with this amount of staff, it gave the impression that they were very focused on the customer and that each staff had clear guidelines on their job, so well done espresso lab.

Now, to the coffee. I love that they don’t serve espresso to go and don’t offer sugar, yay!

Coffee menu

I knew I was craving espresso based coffee as I had to leave my espresso machine in Vienna until it is air freighted. On offer were 3 single origins; India, Yemen and Kenya. Now, if you know a bit about coffee origins and taste profiles, you’ll know that these choices are very unusual, especially for espresso. In case you are wondering, it’s very rare to brew Kenyan coffee on an espresso machine mainly because of the typical profile of bold, berry and citrus flavours. Although very uncommon at the moment, I must say since I’ve moved to Dubai, I’ve had close contact with Yemeni coffee, so, I decided to try the Kenya coffee. Check out the latte art pour by barista Wael below.

Pouring my cortado

And wow! I wasn’t disappointed, as this was for me, one of the best milk based espresso drinks of 2020, a true treat, praise God. Well done to the barista Wael, who I quizzed endlessly before I placed my order. I salute his patience.

After that delightful experience, I knew I needed something sweet, so here comes the mini double layer carrot cake, topped with rose petals, another delicious treat. To compliment this experience I had a short black, americano with less water and discovered a book, “the monk of mokha“, which a friend mentioned to me a few years back, that I would like to buy and read.

Cute Carrot cake

Their menu is different and I plan to visit their newly opened roastery with another coffee nerd soon in order to learn more.

Coffee galore

So, when in Dubai, I highly recommend a visit to espresso lab, located in building 7, Dubai Design District.

How I Taste Coffee in Public

Ever wondered how I taste coffee in public when I go to a cafe? Well, here’s your chance, a first video of it’s kind, filmed by my patient daughter.

This visit was actually monumental as it was the first time I was going to Coffee Pirates (Cafe and Roastery), located at Spitalgasse 17, 1090 since it opened in July 2012. My daughter actually went there and told me about it, and I was like “I’ve been there before, but 8 years ago…”.

On my second visit, I went for a Kenyan Coffee from the Nyeri region, prepared using a Hario V60, which tends to bring out the fruitier undertones of the coffee.

 

Coffee and Philosophy: Podcast Interview

A few weeks back, Nick Baskett of bar talks contacted me to say that he really enjoyed my blog (yay!) and that he would love to do an interview with me. I found it very easy to talk with Nick and we really hit it off. After a couple of conversations, we decided that we needed to capture our chats about life and coffee for his bar talks podcast/ website.

We decided to name it Coffee and Philosophy as Nick is really into philosophy and I’m into coffee and life too. We had a really great chat and in fact the interview didn’t feel like an interview but like a great chat with a friend about life, coffee and more. So much so that we had to limit our time artificially because we know people get bored after about 30 minutes listening or watching an interview.

The full podcast is about 50 minutes and you can listen here  whilst driving or commuting. Alternatively, here’s a summary of the highlights of my first ever podcast with Nick Baskett where we talk about my life story and how to find your purpose chasing your dreams and using ancient philosophies like stoicism and more.

Coffee of the Week: Balthasar’s Honduras Los Ceibos

This week’s coffee hails from Honduras – Los Ceibos – Microlot, a coffee of the red bourbon variety, grown at 1,380 m, naturally processed with a taste profile of strawberry, rhubarb and caramel, roasted for Balthasar, in Vienna. So, I’m using the aeropress, with 15.5g of freshly ground coffee and about 210ml of 95C hot water. I’m using the inverted method and filming from a sky view so that you can see the process from the top.

On the taste, I picked up the caramel and as it cooled down, a bit of berry taste.   check out the video below for more details. https://www.instagram.com/p/CDCTEGXBiHf/

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/

 

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.

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.

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