Tag Archives: chemex

The London Coffee Diary 2: Curators Coffee II

 Not too far from Mother’s Milk, and actually the street before, is Margaret Street, where you’ll find Curators Coffee Gallery on 51 Margaret Street, London W1W 8SG. For a history of Curators Coffee, see my post here. In summary, Curators Coffee is the brainchild of Catherine, former head barista at Kaffeine. Curators Coffee Gallery is the second location, right in the heart of London’s shopping universe.

BUT, before I tell you about this spot, let’s look at the word, CURATOR.

It’s linked to curate or curated, which for those who don’t sleep with a Dictionary under their pillow or I guess these days, have the Dictionary app on their mobile phone, means:

Someone who looks after something special like in a museum or a piece of art or who selects something special for a medium, like a website.

So perhaps, we can say that at Curators Coffee, they have paid particular attention to selecting their coffees and an how to present them, whilst looking after you or your taste buds.

The Entrance

The décor

It’s quite easy to walk by this spot, primarily because the decor is quite sombre – there are no bright lights announcing that you’ve arrived at this top coffee spot in the West End, nor is the entrance dominated by a lively crowd and loud music, accompanied by happy customers chatting at the top of their voice. The mood has been dictated, perhaps by the name, a gallery – well, here we have a gallery of coffee – and downstairs the wall is now littered with art. In addition, they’ve gone for low level lighting, a blue black mood and even though the ceiling is white, the shop floor only really lightens up on sunny days, where the Sun can easily peep through the ceiling window. But, don’t be fooled, where the decor can be sombre, but soothing, easy for you to escape, the coffee and attention to detail will awaken your coffee senses.

Equipment and Coffee

First up, for espresso drink lovers,  there’s a burgundy enclaved La Marzocco Strada, with corresponding Mahl Konig coffee grinders.

The Espresso Stuff

The Espresso Stuff

For coffee purists, the filter brew centre is dominated by copper designed Hario kettles, accompanied by a coffee menu sheet, where you can choose your coffee and style of preparation – chemex, hario V60 and aeropress.

The Brew Bar

The Brew Bar

The backdrop is dominated by coffees on offer and brew equipment to purchase. Curators tend to favour Nude Espresso Coffee Roasters (London based) as their in-house espresso blend but this is complimented, at least for the filter brew, with coffee from different English coffee roasters.

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Food and other Drinks

By curated, they have selected, tried and also offer coffee inspired cocktails – a strawberry one during the summer, which regularly sells out – trust me.


 On the food, there are sandwiches and salads, using exotic recipes, where the generous plates, reminiscent of Otto Lenghi cookbooks, are topped with colourful leaves, pomegranates, cranberries, various nuts, pulses and vegetables like sweet potato. Let’s not forget one of my faves, delectable cakes – I’m usually spoilt for choice on the sweet stuff as my tastebuds are lit up with excitement – banana and nut bread, carrot cake, brownies, pastries – ok, I’m getting carried away.

So why go..

Well for a start, the staff are friendly, know what they’re doing as one of the barista is a contestant for the latte art championships;

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Go girl!!!

I love coming here because I’m guaranteed well “curated” coffee and accompanying tasty delights in a relaxing atmosphere, where I can “escape”. I also use it as my primary meeting point to catch up with friends because the mood is so relaxed, especially downstairs, where you can easily spend hours just chatting.
 The staff aren’t going to hassle you to order every five minutes, but they don’t have to – once you pass by the till and see all that colourful food and smell the coffee, you’ll be heading downstairs, waiting for your order to be delivered to you.
So go get curated….

Brew Bar

  


Best Coffee Moments of 2014

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I just wanted to share with you some of my top coffee moments of 2014 (yeah, I know we are already approaching the mid half of the second month) but this site is about sharing the love.

First up, was my first Chemex experience, which my palate witnessed at Curators Coffee new shop on Margaret Street, just off Regent’s Street, Oxford Circus, London. As I had a bit of time to burn (i.e. I wasn’t in a rush) I decided to try a non-espresso based coffee and have my coffee expertly “curated”, selecting their top coffee to be brewed on the chemex. I wasn’t really expecting anything out of the ordinary as I’ve only really had a few exhilarating experiences when having filter brews outside my home or office. But wow! the flavours of the Kenyan coffee were at one point refreshing then, fruity with a balanced acidity pic at the top of this post. OK, I know the coffee plays a really important part but I think on this time, the brew process was able to extract some really precious delicate flavours, making this one of my key coffee moments of twenty 14.

 

OK, let’s move to where the coffee was the “star”. Fresh after making coffee for Tom Cruise and team on the set of Mission Impossible 5 in Vienna, Jo Wechlesberger (Vienna School of Coffee) asked me to help her lift a very heavy La Marzocco Strada 2 group into her shop. A few bloodshot marks later, she invited me to taste a very exquisite coffee she had just roasted.

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After a very delectable palate experience, I was like “wow!” that was great – wild berries and a fruit bomb in your mouth – what s that ? An Ethiopian Sidamo, scoring over 90 and known as Nekisse N2, mixed heirloom varieties and naturally dried in the sun. Jo’s taste profile was wild strawberries, peaches, passionfruit, rhubarb, creamy with a long lasting clean finish. But it gets better – I was actually on the verge of buying what undoubtedly would be my most expensive coffee at 100 Euros a kilogram – yep, that’s right, instead Jo gave me a 150g bag for free, for helping her and another gentleman lift the espresso machine inside her shop. I was more than ecstatic, even declining the offer, preferring to pay to support the artisan coffee trade, but Jo insisted and I could see my wife in the background, winking just take the gift, so I did. Of course I enjoyed every little bit of this coffee, sharing it on one occasion with a colleague who loves wine and has been schooled how to taste – naturally he was very excited.

 

I don’t have a picture for this next experience but having a cold brew coffee served in a tall wine glass was another wow experience courtesy of Otto from Balthasar Coffee, Vienna. To emphasise the point, Otto gave  me a trial in a typical porcelan cup and most of it in a tall wine glass – again another fruit bomb but with a delicate cocoa and long lasting finish, proving that how you serve it is very important.

 

 


Introducing the Chemex Brewing Method – It Takes All Kinds by Samantha Joyce

Chemex

Some background

The Chemex coffee maker was invented in 1941 and the iconic design remains unchanged today. Made of borosilicate laboratory grade glass, it is a sturdy heatproof vessel. Some coffee makers have plastic or metal parts that react with coffee oils and acids, but this is not the case with glass. For more than 70 years, generations have in turn embraced and ignored this simple coffee-brewing contraption. My Grandma had one, my Mom did not–and now I have one. The Chemex is in vogue again as pour over coffee gains popularity worldwide.

Deceptively Simple

To brew coffee with a Chemex, all you need is the Chemex itself, a Chemex filter, ground coffee and 200F (93C) water. But is it really that simple? This depends on your coffee personality: Are you a Coffee Professor or a Coffee Artist?

The Coffee Professor (more like Lameen)

At heart the coffee professor desires repeatable results like with any scientific experiment. To this end, the professor begins by washing the Chemex with a coffee machine cleaning powder solution and rinses and dries it thoroughly to remove any previous coffee residue. Next, fresh filtered water is placed in a variable temperature gooseneck electric kettle set to 200F (93C). It only takes a few minutes to get to the right temperature and then the kettle shuts off on its own. With the equipment prepped and ready, the professor is ready to brew.

The professor takes a Chemex brand paper filter and inserts it with the triple layer resting against the pour spout channel. The gooseneck kettle is used to wet the paper filter as it rests in place. The filter is then removed, the hot water is discarded and the filter is reverently put back into its place. This serves to pre-heat the glass carafe as well as rinse the paper filter to get rid of any “bland” smells.

Although the Chemex is an affordable brewer (for coffee geeks), the professor will use a burr grinder that costs a lot more than the Chemex. This coffee grinder is calibrated to produce particles that are considered in the ‘fine drip’ coffee range. A kitchen scale is used to measure out 36g of good quality coffee beans, which are then freshly ground prior to the brewing process (remember, coffee begins to loose its optimal taste after a few seconds of grinding). The freshly ground coffee is then placed in the filter. The Chemex, filter and coffee are then placed on the scale and the tare on the scale is set to zero.

With the precise control of the gooseneck kettle, just enough water is dribbled over the ground coffee to moisten it. This allows the coffee to “bloom,” a chemical process where carbon dioxide is released. The fresher the coffee, the more it blooms. After a specific amount of time (30 seconds to 1 minute depending on coffee ideology) the professor moves from pre-infusion to a methodical wetting of the grounds. In a concentric motion, water pours evenly into the Chemex until it is near the top. This cycle is repeated until the scale records 25-30 US fluid ounces (730-800 grammes) of water. From coffee bloom to completion should take no more than 5 minutes. If the coffee drained faster, the grind was too coarse and if the coffee drained too slowly, the grind was too fine. In this manner the professor fine-tunes the Chemex brewing method.

The Coffee Artist (Samantha – the writer)

The coffee artist knows inherently what it takes to make a good cup of coffee through trial and error or through muscle memory over time. My mom called this type of estimation, “eyeballing it.” I fall squarely into this camp. I do not have the perfect coffee brewing equipment; I make do with what I have in the kitchen.

My kettle is heavy and hard to pour – It was a wedding gift. I boil the water and then pour it into a glass measuring cup that has an okay pour spout. I pre-wet the filter (barely) and then swirl and unceremoniously dump the hot water from the carafe. That is my nod to the pre-warm, pre-rinse, residue removal phase. I have a standard coffee scoop and I use 5 or 6 of those. My coffee is delicious and locally roasted with the roast date printed on the bag and since I do not yet own a burr grinder I buy it pre-ground.

The coffee smells so delicious in the Chemex that I cannot wait for it to bloom. I pause for maybe 10 seconds to admire the pretty brownie cake-like surface and then continue to pour until it fills the Chemex to the top. As it drains out, I add more hot water until the level of coffee in the carafe reaches the bottom of the wooden collar. Then I compost the filter and spent grounds. While I enjoy the brew process, my desire is to fill a mug with delicious freshly brewed coffee as soon as possible. If I took a few shortcuts along the way, is mine better/worse/different than the coffee professor’s exacting methods?

Vive La Difference!

I think there is room for many coffee brewing styles in this world. When I go to a pour over bar I appreciate that they brew with accuracy and the goal is to attain an enjoyable and repeatable cup of coffee. Now that you know about the Chemex method of coffee brewing, you are welcome in either camp, just don’t forget to bring fresh coffee.

This article, with very slight editing by moi (Lameen) was produced by Samatha Joyce, a writer for seattle coffee gear – http://www.seattlecoffeegear.com/