Tag Archives: Brazil

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 !


A Complex Espresso & A Refreshing Coffee

That’s the way I’d like to describe the coffees I got from Espresso Lab, Cape Town, when I visited a few weeks ago. Of course I drank them a while back, but these are just my notes on my experience. Actually, Espresso Lab describe their espresso blend as “a complex blend bringing out blackcurrant licorice and chocolate flavours with a snappy finish”, so I’m just agreeing with them. There’s no doubt it had a complex taste and I really got to taste the chocolate flavours with a snappy finish, but I can’t vouch for the blackcurrant one.

In any case, the espresso blend consists of arabic beans from Brazil, Costa Rica and Ethiopia, so it really is a blend, mixing three different regions. Yes ! Costa Rica is not in South America, but in Central America. For me, it still confirms that I really enjoy an espresso blend when it has Brazilian arabica beans added, so I was pleased with the espresso, when I got it right. And on that last note, I want to go back to the word “complex”. Using all the techniques of making espresso including timing the pour, this coffee rarely followed the rules. Yes ! out of a 250g bag, which equates to about 16 cups of coffee for me (I only drink double espressos and that happens twice a day and I am assuming 15g of coffee per double cup – complex isn’t it ?), and after adjusting for the 30ml of espresso in 25-28 seconds, I only got about 7 good espressos. Of course everytime the pour wasn’t consistent with the rules, I adjusted the settings, then it will work in the morning and not in the afternoon and vice versa, hmmmm ! I guess better luck next time and perhaps a bigger bag of 500g to do lots of tweaking until I get a pour right every other time. So enough of the rambling and on to the other coffee.

Sometimes it is said “after struggle comes ease” and so it was with their Rwandan blend. Initially, I bought this to satisfy my daily thirst for “real” coffee when I was in Cape Town, extracting it for French Press in the mornings and evenings, however, without proper scales to measure the exact dosage, I just thought “OK ! not bad”, however, on return to Vienna, I got the scales out and made it in my lovely Bodum Colombia and Wow ! what a difference. Who said tools don’t work ? It definitely did on this occasion because it was such a lovely brew and the one word that instantly came to mind was… “REFRESHING”. On tastes, I got the red berries and fruity flavours, which I think really make French press coffee wonderful for the palate.

Au revoir.


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.