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.

The Myth of Freshly Roasted Coffee Part 2: The Taste Test

Welcome to Part 2 of this myth busting series about Freshly Roasted Coffee… the real test, which relates to how does coffee roasted several months ago, taste. Even though coffee can still smell fantastic, does it taste good too? Have you always been told that after 3-4 weeks of a coffee being roasted it won’t taste nice? A side note – did you know that according to the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), 80% of our taste is reliant on our smell ? Well 🤔 here’s a video debunking that myth as I now prepare and taste a coffee roasted 4 months ago, an Ethiopian coffee roasted for Mokha 1450 – a cafe in Dubai, which I was gifted by its proprietor , Garfield.

My recipe was

15g of freshly ground coffee

225ml of 95C hot filtered water (I use 95C with a ceramic V60 because the ceramic will extract some of the heat – another tip from an expert)

Pour for 50g and then the remaining 175g

Timed pour around 3 minutes max

Have you encountered any other coffee myths that you would like to bust?

The Myth of Freshly Roasted Coffee: Part 1 – the Smell Test

Have you always been told that after coffee has been roasted, it is only good for about 3-4 weeks and that it will being to smell rancid and the you might as well throw it away or serve it to your guests who don’t really care about good coffee ?

Yes, we know that coffee is roasted from fresh berries and that like all fresh things they won’t last long BUT once roasted is there something we might have missed… some chemical or perhaps biological process that we are not privy too that may just about bust that myth.

To be honest this test that you will now see on this video was just something I came across with three coffees this year. Prior to my experience which I share here with a friend and fellow coffee geek, Naveed (see his blog https://theneedforcoffee.com …) I must confess I would usually not drink coffee after it has been roasted 4 weeks prior to my consumption – I hasten to add that I don’t usually buy coffee in bulk but in small batches as and when I need to drink it – which as you know if at least three times a day. However, of late, I have tended to have a lot of coffee in my house (as if that was ever a bad thing) and on this occasion, I got a bit crazy buying too much that I could drink within a reasonable “roast date” time so I found myself trying to drink lots of coffee before my self imposed 4 week Roast date.

However, as I share with you on this video, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that for three coffees, not only was the smell pleasant for my nostrils but as you will find out in Part 2, pleasant to drink too. Okay, I have to do a song and dance (my wife’s expression) here, because one of them is my filter roast – the drink of the escapist – featuring Uganda and Burundi, which I have to confess I didn’t like upon its delivery – roasted 2 days before. I then decided to leave it and try and brew it a few weeks later…

Have you had the same experience before ?

What do you think may explain this wonderful phenomenon ?

Please feel free to share your experiences ?

Changing the World with Coffee

Changing our world one cup of coffee at a time…

I don’t know about you but coffee inspires me. Following my recent stint as a director of a think tank where I was responsible for generating ideas to impact our world, leading a research agenda and launching an infectious diseases index, I’ve been thinking about creating a space ( with coffee of course) where I can empower people to be confident to share their ideas to impact our world.

We can use the concept of the @unitednations sustainable development goals @the.sdgs along themes of health, AI and sustainability to highlight challenges where we invite innovative design thinking principles to solve them. To encourage people to generate and share their ideas, we would need sponsors to fund these ideas, perhaps through a hackaton where the need are selected to be funded. Let me know your thoughts and if you live in Dubai perhaps we can meet too. Alternatively I can launch a weekly or monthly zoom style brainstorming session.

So are you ready to change the world one cup of great coffee at a time?
.

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.

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?

 

Launching my coffee career

I just wanted to let you know that in the spirit of following my passion I’ve decided to take the step to launch my coffee career.

I’ll be offering services as a coffeepreneur ( I love this word) and will offer;

  • Advice on how to set up a quality focused coffee business
  • Advice on coffee shop operation including a competency based Human Resources management plan.
  • Advice on how to find your niche based on your personality and goals
  • Participating in events to speak about the coffee chain and economics ( I studied economics, have an MBA and want to help coffee farmers get access to more fair markets)

It’s March 2020 and my burning desire for many years has been to work one way or another with coffee.

Please Share this news with anyone that wants to get into the #coffeebusiness and talk coffee (for a fee as advised by my wife 😊). We only have one life and I encourage you to #liveafulfillinglife

Follow me on Instagram for daily tips.

Am I a Coffee Expert?

I can’t believe it’s already the last day on January already and that I haven’t blogged in 2020. In any case, I haven’t been wasting my time as, I’ve been learning a lot about how to monetise my passion, COFFEE following my current undertaking of a course by the famous Jay Shetty’s “Passion to Paycheck”. One of the first questions asked was “what would you love to learn for 500 hours?” – that didn’t take much time for me to answer – more about coffee – roasting, growing, and helping coffee farmers to make a better living from it. The second exercise was on taking a personality test, which concluded that I was a Guide – in summary someone that loves learning and wants to enlighten others. Well, I have always wanted to talk and teach people about coffee, making sure that they make it properly and learn a lot about the beautiful bean – hence my blog since 2007.

However, the lesson that got me thinking was embedded in the concept of the 10,000 hour rule, which I think Bill Gates talks about a lot. In summary, the rule says that to be considered a professional or expert in anything, you need to invest at least 10,000 hours in it.

This inspired me to calculate roughly how many hours I have invested in coffee and hence, the picture above, which I shared on Instagram yesterday.

So, am I a coffee expert?

If we use passion and dedication thus far, then many would say YES. In fact, I was thinking about the variable of PASSION. Can we measure it in hours or with some kind of formula ? A task for any mathematician or formulae loving person reading this.

I ask, because whilst I might be able to say I invested 2-3 hours per post on this blog, sometimes it takes hours before I start typing – like today. I’ve been thinking about this post since morning and that’s why if you were watching me as I type, you would notice that I’m not even taking a break, my writing is just flowing, because I’ve already spent time thinking and conceptualising this post – does that sound heavy ? Grab a coffee and relax.

 

So, you may ask what else do I know about coffee ? Perhaps I should have added this above, so here goes.

I spend at least 30 minutes a day making cappuccino in the morning, coffee on a V60 after lunch and coffee on an aeropress after dinner. I have been doing this for several years, but let’s say at least 7. What does that add up to?

30 minutes a day for 345 days a year (I’ve omitted about 20 days for when I travel even though my aero press always comes with me) + 7 years = 72,450 minutes, which in hours is 1,208 approx

Add that to when I only used to spend about 15 minutes making cappuccino between 2006 and 2010 (5 years) and we get

another 432 hours.

So, I guess my grand total so far would be……. 7,670 HOURS.

3,000 to go ????

So am I coffee expert?

I think I can handle myself and I plan on launching my coffee consulting business very soon. My wife has been encouraging me and as they say behind every coffee man (or is it great man, but I don’t want to go there…) is a woman. So watch the space and follow me on instagram for tips.

BEFORE, I go, I encourage you to try this exercise for anything that you are passionate about, as it is essential that you invest in your passion before you quit your job or want to start something on the side before giving it 100% of your time.

 

I was at the SDG Coffee Symposium on 6 June 2019

 

Organised by the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) on 6 June to discuss the challenges of the coffee value chain during historically low coffee prices. I was invited by Gerardo Patacconi, Director of Operations. I know some of my readers are wondering is there such an organisation, yes there is and….

The ICO is the main intergovernmental organization for coffee, bringing together exporting and importing Governments to tackle the challenges facing the world coffee sector through international cooperation. Its Member Governments represent 98% of world coffee production and 67% of world consumption.

The ICO sounds like the kind of place that for me, as a development economist who loves coffee would like to work in and yes I confess that it is one of the places I would love to work in, especially located in my fave coffee capital in the World, London. Anyway I digress.

More on the jargon – the SDG stands for “sustainable development goals” and are sometimes known as the Global Goals. In any case they were initiated through the United Nation (UN) and are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

So, this Symposium was organised together with the European Coffee Federation and hosted by the European Commission (EC) bringing together coffee sector stakeholders (buyers, farmers, academia, civil society, partners) and is part of ICOs sector wide consultation that will lead hopefully to a roadmap with concrete actions to address the coffee price crisis and volatility, which has resulted in affecting coffee farmers livelihoods and which will eventually, if left unchecked, affect the sustainability of the coffee industry.

In summary, coffee prices are very low at the moment, whereby you can buy a pound (.453kg) bag of coffee greens for about US$1 at the world commodity price. Price varies with quality and with type (robusta/arabica), but a few years back it was double that (in 2010 it was three times this around US$3 per pound), which means that coffee farmers have seen a 50% drop in their income depending on other factors. Initially, you may be thinking like I did, hold on; “my specialty coffee roaster sells a kilo for about US$30 but only pays US$1 or up to US$3, so the roaster is king”. In fact, in a recent Financial Times article it was calculated that for each US$3 (UKGBP2.50) for a cappuccino, the roaster got 10p and the roaster 1p – yikes.

 

This seems very unfair and unsustainable, but there are other factors and as I mentioned on my linkedIn article on “coffee and economics”;

Perhaps the big players should consider diverting some of the profits to;

  • coffee research into new varieties to address climate change
  • investment for the local communities such as centralised washing stations and hence clean water, like Stumptown did – see “A Film about Coffee”
  • investment in transport access,
  • promotion of the crop in the local communities especially with the youth, which are running away from coffee farming. Use social media,etc.
  • educating the communities in life skills, even entrepreneurial skills.

On point (i) and (ii), Starbucks highlighted that they work with 450,000 coffee farmers and have supported research to create 400 varietals of which 5 have been released on farm trials.

On the point (v) and in general, I really believe, that the more you give the more you will get back. It runs through some of the points I have raised under my #honestmanagement series, if you show respect to your employees (and in this case we can say coffee farmers), you will foster loyalty and they will go the extra mile to grow the best coffee.  Whoever in the coffee chain has the most and in any industry they will know who they are, should really think about how the coffee industry can be sustainable for future generations – after all there is no doubt that the demand for coffee is constantly growing, so there will always be a market for it.

In summary, for coffee lovers we want everyone to get a fair deal for the best of our planet. We know that low coffee prices “never” translate to lower prices for our daily cappuccinos or flat whites, pour overs, etc, but at least those at the source, the farmers should benefit somehow, if not we will all loose out.

In short it was a very interring symposium for me, looking at the other side – away from my traditional view (cafes and quality) to the upstream side, where it all starts from the farm. That’s my take for now, but I’m working on this as a side project, so I’m welcome to any more ideas.

Sources

FT Article

http://www.ico.org

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/coffee-economics-lameen-abdul-malik/?published=t

A New Way to Taste Coffee: The Video

Yep! That’s it. It may seem a bit strange but a few months back I stumbled across this methodology. I was rushing out for work after my daily cappuccino and as I ran after the bus, I puffed up in exhaustion and I noticed, wow – that was a nice smell – it was like hot chocolate with caramel with some hints of black berries – so I puffed up again to delight my nose with those lovely aromas again – I love good smells. When I got home, I actually checked the taste profile on the coffee bag and none of the smells that I picked up as a I huffed and puffed earlier resembled the roasters profile. So, I thought, have I stumbled onto something new ? For this post, I used an espresso blend coffee from my fave Viennese cafe, Balthasar and brewed another cappuccino – the culprit below (taste profile was milk chocolate and red berries)

I must confess this time I picked up similar smells resembling the taste profile but with caramel on top too.

Actually, I’m not that full of myself (another English colloquial term for arrogant) to think this is new, because I’m sure that some other coffee connoisseurs have picked up on this before.

Strictly speaking it may not be another way to “taste” coffee, but rather another way to appreciate coffee through your nose, as after all, your nose is part of the tasting process before you actually taste the coffee with your mouth. It could also be another breakfast (if you cannot handle coffee at night) trick to impress your friends with like “I’m picking up some other taste profiles when I taste this coffee” and then you puff up through your nose and share what smells and aromas you’re picking up.

I encourage you to try out this method with other types of coffee like espresso and pour-over and delight your nose. Sniff and puff up away and enjoy.

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