Tag Archives: Cup of Excellence 2010

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 !


Coffee News…. WBC, Cup of Excellence et pui…

OK ! So, I wish I was going to London…. WHY ? It’s WBC time or in full World Barista Championship time. This year promises to be bigger and better than ever…. as always. This time the WBC will be held in London from 23-25 June and it will held in conjunction with the ever popular Caffe Culture Event, which I had been going to since it’s inception in 2006. But, typical, just when I move away from Europe, I miss out on such a wonderful opportunity, but such is life. In any case, if you can and haven’t booked your flight yet or better still if you live in London, log onto the caffe culture site (www.caffeculture.com) and you can attend for free, yes ! for free. This year, they’ve got a special treat, the launch of the new La Marzocco espresso machine, the Strada – the first La Marzocco machine that would let the barista to have absolute and direct control of pressure at any point during extraction, Wow ! Also, there’s a whole load of guest speakers like David Schomer (if there was a phd in espresso, he would have one), Latte Art and Coffee Tasting competitions. Let’s not forget the Caffe culture event too, where there will also be specialist workshops, like how to run a cafe.

Also happening in the coffee world at the moment are the auctions for the Cup of Excellence (CoE). I blogged about the CoE a while back in 2009, but in short it is a process where the best coffees in a country are selected by both national and international cuppers to determine which is the best coffee. After which, the selected coffees are awarded the prestigious Cup of Excellence award and auctioned off through the internet. Today, they had the CoE for El Salvador and redcherry coffee roasters of Cape Town were hoping to get some, even though I was lucky to taste some just last week, brought back by redcherry coffee roaster, Audrey (more on that experience later).

All over in Melbourne, Australia, I have to let you know that Market Lane in Prahran Market, Commercial Road is up and running… well it’s been operational for about 6 months and from the reviews and pics (see market lane review ) I can’t wait to buy a ticket and see the place for myself. For more about Market Lane see http://www.marketlane.com.au/ for more and if you are in that part of the World, you’re very lucky… get down there and buy some coffee.

Still on new ventures, Square Mile Coffee Roasters have just opened up a new coffee shop in London, Penny University. The name might sound strange but it is based on London coffee history, where people visited coffee shops so often that they use to learn a lot about life, so for example each coffee shop was known for the professions that visited it, whereby if you went to a coffee shop frequented by physicians/doctors, you could learn a lot about medicine just by hanging out there for the day. The famous insurance company, Lloyds of London was created in a coffee shop frequented by insurers of course. OK ! so what’s penny university ? It’s actually one of the first modern coffee shops not to offer espresso based coffee – don’t scream ! They are of course offering top quality coffee using different methods like the HarioV60, Woodneck, etc. For more see square mile coffee, link on my blogroll, and if you are in London for the WBC or just in London, get down there for a different coffee experience.

As for me, I’ve joined twitter and I have been learning a lot about coffee and roasting, which is always very exciting for me. You can tweet me on atastyescape

Last but not least, as you know, I moved to Cape Town about 6 months ago to pursue my dream of running a coffee and cake shop and just this week I’ve finally signed a lease. You can follow check up on updates on my new blog related to the caffe on http://escapecaffe.wordpress.com

Ciao !


Coffee Roasters: Red Cherry Coffee Roasters, Cape Town

It’s not very often that you meet someone who can talk to you about a coffee bean for hours and just amaze you with their knowledge on stuff you didn’t even know about coffee – but lucky me, because I met Audrey, the coffee roasting genius and one half of Red Cherry Coffee Roasters. Audrey and her husband, John have set up an amazing coffee roasting facility, albeit part of their garage in Cape Town environs, located up in the hills at a place called Noordhoek. I was lucky enough to be tracked down by them and more so to be invited over to check their operation out. Audrey is really “mad about coffee” and I often describe her as “someone who can talk to you about a coffee bean for hours” and I’m not joking. She may be relatively new to roasting (a few years already) but she’s travelled to London to meet with Square Mile Coffee Roasters (James Hoffman & Anette Moldvaer) to get tips, constantly studies everything there is to know about a bean before she roasts and doesn’t compromise on quality. In summary, they’ve got a coffee roaster in their garage alongside highly prized green arabica beans, ready for the “roasting”. Once roasted, after a lot of research by Audrey, where farms, altitude, varietal (i.e. type of bean) and many more variables have been checked, the coffee is usually “rested” for several days as it goes through a rapid de-gassing process. In this way through cupping, this will ensure that the correct profile for that specific origin will be determined. For the cupping, done in their well equipped kitchen, the coffees are weighed, ground and placed into specialist coffee tasting cups to ascertain flavour profile and characteristics, which helps to decide which coffees would go well in blends or just sold off as single estate origin coffees.

In addition, John, a trained barista and chief taster, pulls different types of shots on their very advanced ExpoBar Espresso Machine (where you can adjust the temperature easily per shot) to try and test at different temperatures, which coffees have brighter notes and which ones have lower tones. For example, higher notes generally bring out chocolate, caramel and nutty tastes, which go well with milk based espresso drinks or just as pure espresso.

I was lucky enough to join them at one of these sessions, where I learned the following:

The sharp taste you get when you slurp coffee is usually the mark of high acidity in a coffee, typical of African coffees, usually roasted by Red Cherry to preserve the bright fruity tones.

African coffees are usually quite complex, whilst Indonesian coffees tend to display more earthy tones – OK ! what’s that ? By earthy we mean spices that grow in the earth like vanilla, cardamon and cocoa.

Central American coffees are lovely when roasted lighter as you get brighter notes like mandarin, peaces and apricots, but when roasted a bit darker, you get higher notes like chocolate, caramel and toffee.

Kenyan coffees have dark fruit characteristics like blackberries and Tanzanian coffees can display citrus hints like lemon, dark fruits, dark chocolate and honey. Wow ! all this in a cup of coffee – better believe, BUT, only if it is properly roasted by an artisan roaster.

Light roasted coffees are usually best extracted at a temperature of around 92-94 C, where the emphasis would be on tasting the “brighter notes” of the coffee. However, these type of lighter roasted coffees can be intense and may be better enjoyed without milk. You see, I need a home machine like the ExpoBar – anyone feeling generous ?

Medium roasted coffees are usually best extracted at a temperature of around 94-95 C, where the emphasis would be to get the chocolate and nutty tastes like almonds, hazelnut, coupled with toffee and honey like tastes – probably best for milk based espressos.

Good coffee should still taste nice even when drank at lower temperatures, but more so when extracted using a French Press or Plunger.

There were some other lessons, but I was overwhelmed by the information and was probably cutting them in conversation as I tongue couldn’t stop as I fired away with questions out of pure excitement and delight at this incredible coffee experience.

I’ve already been to seen them thrice, making sure that I save myself for some exquisite coffee before I go. Even my wife, who doesn’t drink coffee (OK ! perhaps 8 times a year) has always asked for a cup whenever she goes.

My favourite is a flat white, because Red Cherry are really into perfecting the ultimate milk-based espresso blend, which I think they are close to as the current rumoured number one cafe in South Africa, is supposed to be Double Shot of Plettenberg Bay and they buy coffee from Red Cherry.

Red Cherry Flattie

Red Cherry Flattie

Furthermore and hot of the press, Audrey has been selected to be an international juror at the prestigious “cup of excellence” in El Salvador, where she will mingle with the World’s top roasters and tasters to determine the cup of excellence winners for 2010 – need I say more ?

OK ! So, how do you get this coffee ? Well ! at the moment, you can contact them by visiting their website, www.redcherrycoffeeroasters.com, selecting a coffee or some coffees you would like to try and give them a call for a good old chat about coffee but watch your phone bill and place an order – they’ll ship within South Africa. They plan on launching a webshop very soon and are working on selling their coffee through some retail outlets, so watch this space for that memorable day.

Just wanted to let you know that Red Cherry provided some inputs to the editing of this blog as it was easy for me to misunderstand some of the finer elements of the complicated and wonderful world of coffee.