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London Coffee Scene: 2012 – A Preview

I just got back from a quick trip to London yesterday and I’m still impressed with what’s happening in London. Very inspriational indeed and from a personal perspective I think if I am going to continue on this new career change, I need to move from sunny (at the moment) and beautiful Cape Town to my first cherished city, London – I know – is he mad ? Yep! I am, because I’m mad and passionate about serving the best coffee in a city that appreciates it and I’m mad and committed to serving people the best. Life is all about sacrifices and believe me, I’ve been through a few in Cape Town, trying to talk up coffee, so pray for me (if you believe) and wish me the best (if you believe and want the best in life).

I promise a longer blog on the London coffee scene, but excitement got the better of me and I just had to write this, but in a nutshell,

Prufrock Coffee, St Ali, Tapped and Packed (26) Speakeasy Espresso Bar, Coffeesmiths Collective, Taylor St Baristas (Canary Wharf – wow!), Taylor St Baristas (Exchange Tower), The Tolleys (owners of Taylor St Baristas – great family), Notes Music (Trafalgar Sq.), Jim Hoffmann, Ozone Coffee Roasters, Sensory Lab, Kaffeine, Tapped and Packed (114), Korean Barista, Thai Dinner, Taylor St Baristas (Liverpool Street).

Ciao!

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The Two Minute Scoop

The 2 Minute Scoop by Lameen
The 2 Minute Scoop a photo by Lameen on Flickr.

What does that mean ? In short, how I make coffee using the French Press/Plunger/bodum Method. After all, it is Bastille Day (French Independence Day) So, I’ll try and keep this to a two-minute read.

1. Get your beans ready, weigh them, 20g and place in your grinder (Yes ! you should freshly grind before each cup for maximum enjoyment)
2. Boil your water and as soon as it is boiled, measure out 260ml.
3. Grind your beans on a coarse setting. If using a Solis Maestro (comme moi) or good quality shop bought one (don’t expect to pay anything less than $100/£70)
4. As soon as your coffee is ground, place into your French Press pot. For my Bodum Columbia, it doesn’t need to be warmed up, as it is double walled, but if you have a glass one place boiling water inside for a minute and rinse it out before placing the ground beans inside.
5. Pour 260ml of the boiling water into the French Press.
6. DON’T TOUCH IT, DON’T STIR IT, JUST LEAVE IT, BUT POUR IN A CIRCULAR MOTION. See the bloom below.

7. Put your timer on for 2 minutes.
8. At the end of 2 minutes, SCOOP the froth or the “French Press Crema” off – Hence the 2 minute scoop”.
9. Place the French Press top on and plunge.
10. Pour out a little and pour into your cup to enjoy.
Ciao, deux minute !


Serra do Bone @ home

Serra do bone @ home by Lameen
Serra do bone @ home a photo by Lameen on Flickr.

Serra do bone @ home… why ? It’s our number one coffee at Escape Caffe, but always wanting to test parametres, I decided to take some spare beans home to use on my Isomac espresso machine and lets say, not as expensive conical grinder at home. After all, it was at home that I honed my barista skills, studying the bean and writing about different coffees and roaster profiles. At Escape Caffe, we have a La Marzocco 3 group Linea with a built in PID set at 93.6C and we use the becoming popular Anfim Super Camiano grinders – machines way superior to what I have at home, BUT nevertheless I’m thrown back to what Mark Prince (Coffeegeek extraordinaire for those who don’t know) said about preparing espresso “if you follow the rules, you can make a really good espresso at home using a great home grinder and semi-pro espresso machine” (not exact quote but along those lines). In any case, if you follow the rules, you can make better espresso based drinks at home than the vast majority of cafes in the World. I’m not going to get dragged down into the detail of the rules, but in summary they are (i) fairly freshly roasted arabica coffee beans, i.e. within 10-20 days (ii) a decent burr grinder, costing at least US$250 (iii) a semi-pro espresso machine with E61 group head, with lots of brass and heavy metal – this will cost around US$600 (iv) ability to tamp at around 30 pounds of pressure and (v) a very good idea of how to be a home barista, so that you know for example what grind to use so that you get about 25ml of espresso in 25 seconds when you extract coffee, etc, etc.

OK ! so how was Serra do Bone at home ? Pretty nice but with different taste profiles. First up, a bit about the bean – it’s an organic arabica coffee bean, winner of the Cup of Excellence in Brazil, used by Intelligentsia as their organic espresso, displaying taste profiles such as candied apple, cocoa, raspberry, cherry with a medium body and soft acidity. Secondly, don’t be misled by all the taste notes as you are unlikely to taste everything in one cup, because different brewing techniques, as well as temperature and moisture affect the eventual taste of the coffee, but that’s another blog. So in summary, was I disappointed ? NO ! because I stuck to the hard and fast rules. So, at the caffe, we kind of pick up the cherry cocoa elements and when mixed with milk, you get a chocolate berry taste with a hint of caramel, but at home I got a sweeter cocoa caramel taste, which is still very yummy. One reason for the slight difference could be environment, a hihger brewing temperature as my Isomac doesn’t have a PID, as well as the obvious, my Isomac is no La Marzocco, BUT if we follow the “rules” the main taste parameters remain the same. I would love to run a home barista course one of these days, so that people don’t get scared by the prospect of investing in a decent espresso machine and good grinder.

So Serra do Bone at home last week got me to practice my latte art skills, as well as sample a very tasty coffee, and get a good pic of my cappuccino, YUM !

Before I go, apologises for the long delay in blogging – I promise to be more frequent in 2011 – also this is officially my 100th post, yipee !


Hello ! I’m back on wordpress

OK ! I thought about skipping to another blog platform, BUT I’m back on wordpress because I think it’s the best, so watch this space for the resuscitation of posts from FROMCOFFEEWITHLOVE.COM


Oh Dear ! What a Gap

A Gap in the blogosphere that is. I’m so sorry for this extra long gap of not blogging but I have a good reason. Setting up my own cafe in downtown Cape Town and you’ll be glad to know if you don’t already that I’ve done so, thank God. It’s called Escape Caffe, located at Manhattan Place, 130 Bree Street, Cape Town.

 

I’ve set up a blog for it, http://escapecaffe.wordpress.com/ and also a twitter feed, so if you want to know what’s happening on a daily basis, check me out on twitter @escapecaffe. I’ll endeavour to keep this site updated with coffee findings not shared on the main escape caffe website – a task I hope to keep up with.

Take care and I promise something very soon.


South African National Barista Championships, And the Winner is..

Wow ! what a weekend. I’m really loving being here in Cape Town. Just last week, some new friends of mine invited me to the South African National Barista Championships, which incidentally were taking place in Cape Town from 26-28 March at the luxurious Table Bay Hotel on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. I’ve never been to one before and sadly I’ll be missing the World Barista Championships (WBC) this year, which will be taking place in London – typical eh ! just when I leave Europe, they finally have it on my doorstep. So how was the South African version ? It seemed a bit low key to me on the promo side, although I found out there were some important “coffee” VIPS in the room, but nevertheless the baristas and their fans/families were very committed, cheering the competitors all the ways, with loud screams of support everytime they extracted an espresso or poured some latte art. In summary, each barista has to make 4 espressos, 4 cappuccinos and 4 signature drinks for the 4 tasting judges and they are tested by another 2 judges for preparation, checking many things such as wastage in coffee preparation. I also managed to get a free 1kg bag of freshly roasted coffee from one of the speciality roasters attending the event.

This years winner was Ishan Natalie, who also won the competition last year. Ishan works for Woolworths – which should not be confused with the same name shops in UK or USA. Woolworths is an upmarket supermarket store so committed to coffee that they purchased La Marzocco GB5s for their standard espresso machines. They’re supposed to have a really good coffee roaster called Tribeca, which supplies them with coffee, sourced primarily from Africa but also from Brazil and other places. So here are some pics of the event; First up, the winner pouring some latte art

And second the winning drink, a signature coffee drink made primarily with espresso, cream and whipped eggs – almost like an eggnog latte without the alcohol – cups were pretty cool and the presentation tops, especially as Ishan didn’t compromise on effects by mixing some concoction to create a smoking ice glass placed underneath the winning signature drinks.

So, Ishan will be representing South Africa at the WBC in London, scheduled to take place in the latter half of June 2010. I think it may be held during the Caffe Culture event, but I’ll try and keep you posted.


Bean There: Olympia Bakery & Cafe, Kalk Bay

Last weekend on our “discover Cape Town” trip, we decided to check out the coastal fishing village of Kalk Bay. I had two main intentions, eating fish and chips at Kalkies and checking out the infamous (at least on this side of the World) the Olympia Bakery & Cafe. So after my fish and chips, it was down to the main road in Kalk Bay to look for this cafe, which was quite easy to find and almost a strong stone throw away from the fishing port. Olympia is very popular with the locals are supposed to be famous for breakfast and apparently on Saturday mornings, it can be near impossible to get a seat inside if you are a late bird. Lucky for us, we popped in during the late afternoon, where the mood was lively and very down to earth. True to form, I ordered a double espresso – what else in the afternoon ?

Being a bit of a sweet tooth, I noticed that most of the pastries and cakes were gone – good for Olympia as they got to sell their stuff, but spotting the no-serious-cafe-in cape town-cannot stock pasties de nata phenomenon, I went for one Pasties de Nata to accompany my order of a double espresso. I must admit the pasties was more cake than pasties & custard, but fine for me.

My daughter was with me and so not to be left out, we ordered a hot chocolate too, which she took away, enjoyed and spilt in the car, hmmm. The coffee at Olympia is supplied by Origin Coffee Roasting, based in de Waterkant, which you can find more about on my blog roll and if you do visit Cape Town and rent a car, (you will need to for this trip), then I recommend the 30 minute drive from the centre of Cape Town to this village, which apparently is very busy during the high tourist season between mid-December and mid-January, because of its quaint appeal and warm beaches, not to mention Seal watching, fish restaurants and of course Olympia Bakery.