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.

From Coffee With Love in Cape Town 2009

You know that I have to start with my favourite, Origins Coffee Roasting on 28 Hudson Street (I have even memorised the address), in De Waterkant area, just off the centre of downtown Cape Town.

I’m lucky enough to visit, what I think is one of the most exciting cities in the World on a yearly basis since 2006. I always like to go back to my favourite places to see if they are still keeping up the standards, because occasionally I’ve been disappointed when I get excited by a cafe and then go back after about a year to find out that the original concept, usually devised by a passionate coffee freak, has lots its appeal because the owner has wandered off after making a bit of money and has taking a more “executive” life. Anyway, I’m glad to report that that hasn’t happened at Origins – it seems that they are just getting bigger. First they had a small cool shop, then they added a tea part at the back, then they bought upstairs and opened up a barista school and now, wait for it, they’ve opened up another shop on the roof. As you approach the shop, with the original entrance in front of you, look to the left and you will see a sign inviting you upstairs with 50% of your coffee. you climb these funky stairs to a roof terrace area, which now houses a trendy looking cutlery shop, a model firm and a courtyard with lots of Origins Coffee Roasting umbrelas, et voila….

So, I had to try it, as it was a nice day in Cape Town to sit outside and drink coffee, which I turned down at the the hotel, saving my appetite but of course for a milk based espresso drink. I ordered a flat white, which, now beginning to know a little more about coffee, was a bit hot – “wait a minute, isn’t coffee supposed to be hot ?” Yes ! I add, but not burning your lips hot, as you need to taste the coffee and too hot will not caress your lips. So the barista asked me, “did you like the coffee ?” and I had to be honest, having traveled 1000s of miles for this experience, “Well ! I said, I think the temperature on the espresso machine needs to be regulated”. He perfectly understood my complaint and offered to make me a new one for free, which as much better. I then rushed off downstairs, trying to track down, joint owner, Joel Singer, to say hi. I stumbled into one of the long time baristi there, Lindsay, and asked her for a double espresso.

But, as I waited I saw her pour these two cups of beautiful latte art cappuccinos or flat white (first pic above) and one below, just for you.

I also bought two bags of coffee (more on that later in another posts). I finally caught hold of Joel, who was doing a photo shoot on their revamped tea room, said hi and was on my way after 2 flat whites and a double espresso – tasting coffee can be quite exhaustingly pleasant.

For my next discovery, I tracked down, after reviewing my foodie magazines with features on Cape Town food, Shelleys Gourmet Coffee on 90 Kloof Street – if you are in a rush, take a cab. Shelley’s opened in late 2008, so it is quite new and has a lot of delicious bites to eat and from what I gather is beginning to get popular with the breakfast crowd, even offering an espresso French Toast, which I hope to try next time God willing. I also met with Shelley, who is very warm and welcoming and a real foodie freak like me. Anyway, I had a sandwich lunch there, gazed at the cakes….. delicious and had a double espresso before rushing back to the hotel to catch my cab to the airport.

You can read more about Shelleys on my foodie site, http://www.atastyblog.com/in about a weeks time God willing. Anyway, highly recommended for a bite to eat, cake and coffee.

I’m Drinking….the Best Espresso

Yes ! I’m drinking the best espresso that I have tasted if you think about what you want in a cup of espresso – aromatic before you grind, dark reddish brown as you extract, almost syrup like as it pours, glossing your tongue as your lips touch, soothing your stomach as it descends with a silky sweet and smooth finish and finally as a digestive to clear your stomach of any impurities. Have I lost you ? I haven’t even finished yet. At first, I tasted caramel, then dark chocolate and finally milk chocolate. Wow ! this was an espresso. It was like the coffee was having a conversation with my tongue. When slightly under-extracted the taste was vanilla like and when slightly over-extracted the taste was intensely dark chocolate – you know I wasn’t going to waste this coffee, no matter what the extraction.  Also, as soon as you finished the cup, within a minute you could feel the coffee working through your digestive system, which is good after a heavy meal in the evening.

OK ! who made this, or should I say, who roasted this ? INTELLIGENTSIA !!!! – Did I misspell ? No ! I didn’t, but with coffee tasting this good, they can call themselves what they want, pertaining to intelligence. OK ! so who are Intelligentsia ? Quite simply, they are one of the most famous coffee roasters in the World, located originally in Chicago since the mid-1990s, but with shops in Los Angeles and New York now. I heard about them through sifting through lots of coffee blogs and so when my parents went to America, I ordered a couple of bags from Intelligentsia, their famous Black Cat Classic Espresso blend and of course their House Blend, which was recommended for milk based drinks. Their service was so efficient that the bags were delivered within 3 days after being roasted and I didn’t pay the super-duper postage price either. You can imagine the excitement when my parents returned from the States – like a boy excited to see a bag of sweets and tons of presents. I was even more excited when I saw that the good guys and gals at Intelligentsia had doubled my portion of the Black Cat Classic Espresso for free, thanks Intelligentsia.

As you open up the bag, the aroma just hits you…. Yes ! we are in the land of coffee and my nose is loving it…

I was so enthralled by this espresso that I told as many people that I know who are into espresso about it and invited a couple round to taste it – trying my best to share the pleasure. In any case, they too were impressed with the espresso. This coffee was no doubt excellent as an espresso, but for milk based drinks (my usual for the morning before 12 of course) it was nice too, teasing out more of the toffee/caramel tastes too.

So if anyone is heading off to the States, please do yourself a favour and order coffee from Intelligentsia and they are not paying me to say that. 

Now ! how about the House Blend ? Love the logo with the espresso cup with wings and the exciting red packaging

Nice too, with chocolate overtones and a real winner with milk, bringing out a toffee whirl on your tongue. As an espresso, it wasn’t as glorious as the Black Cat but with two tastes of milk chocolate and toffee, inspiring me to pour this.

I also experimented, making a triple espresso cappuccino – over-extracting one portion (slightly dark) on top of slightly under-extracted double portion and pouring milk over it, et voila, see below.

OK ! I better stop, but please visit Intelligentsia on www.intelligentsiacoffee.com (it’s also on my blogroll). They sell tea too, and lots of equipment and have lots of other interesting stuff on their website – they have a half day coffee school too. One of the main reasons they have such great coffee is that they promote the “Direct Trade” concept, where they deal directly with coffee farmers and form a good relationship with them, ensuring that they get the best coffee, whilst not exploiting them. So hands up to them and I’m so glad that God gave me this special moment to sample such great coffee….. Intelligent – sia.

I’m Drinking Square Mile Coffees

Yes ! It’s finally here, after several months of waiting, Square Mile Coffee Roasters have now started roasting specials coffees for sale. OK ! a brief history as to why I’m excited by this particular coffee roasters – the 2007 and 2008 World Barista Champions, James Hoffmann and Stephen Morrissey respectively together with another lady – I think her name is Anette – teamed up and because of their love of coffee, I guess, decided to take this to the next level and opened up a coffee roaster in London. They do mail order all over the World, which suits me fine, because with the current currency crisis, it is now about the same price for me to order coffee from London, including postage and packaging as it is for me to buy my current 1.2 kg monthly consumption of coffee in Vienna. On coffee sizes, Square Mile sell a minimum of 350g sizes and on my first order, I was able to order my monthly supply in 3 bags, which took a very impressive 3 days to arrive.

They also roast twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays, so try and place an order about one week before you want to drink it, so that when it arrives, it has “de-gassed” for a recommended one week before you start extracting it. For more about Square Mile Coffee Roasters, please visit their website on http://shop.squaremilecoffee.com/ or just click on my blogroll to the left.

Now to the coffee. I’m not going to go into too much detail but I will just give you a taster of my experience and in a move away from tradition, use some wonderful shots of the stuff to reflect my tasting experience. My first experience was actually at Flat White in December 2008 during my last visit to London, as Square Mile now supply the coffee for Flat White. I bought a 350g bag for me to take back to Vienna, which I think contained some Central American coffee (secret blend, which Square Mile were not disclosing when I asked naturally). Why Central America ? Well ! from my experience I find Central American coffees really blend with well poured milk based espresso drinks.

Still with blends, Square Mile naturally have their Winter Espresso blend, but not wanting to hide anything and I must confess, this is the first time I have seen a roaster disclose the composition of their blends, they show you right on the packet what’s in their blend.

 

Winter Espresso Blend
Winter Espresso Blend

Naturally, it’s nice, clean, sweet, dark and rich espresso, with complex tones for me, and during the last big snowfall, I was inspired to rush out and take this pic, naturally called Winter Espresso “Blue” – the blue is for the wonderful blue sky that reflected on the snow white of the cup and the snow.

Now, a coffee that features rather little in the Winter Espresso blend is the Muchoki Peaberry from Kenya, which had a tart cherry taste for me when brewed as an espresso. So, I’m going to go out on a limb here and recommend this coffee for filter or Cafetiere style coffee as the strength can be minimised by having a longer contact with water. In any case, to show off the lovely dark colours of this coffee, I took this pic in my new Bodum cup.

Now, off to the other part of the World, Central America, which by going through the coffees on sale at Square Mile, is their favourite pat of the World to get coffee. I’ll start with a mouthful, which I love saying to myself, El Molino de Santa Rita El Salvador. A “nutty” taste for a cappuccino. Still in Central America, we move to Costa Rica, for some the best coffee resides here with high acidity, a clean taste and with complex flavours. I tried two from Square Mile, the first, La Rosa, which unusually has low acidity and one I favoured for cafetiere style coffee after lunch at work.

However, in following with a family tradition, one which my daughter seems to have picked up when eating her favourite food, I’ve saved the best for last and it is…. El Portillo Cup of Excellence – wow !

I haven’t been this excited about a type of coffee for for a while. So, in order to get a really good feel for this coffee, I cleaned out my grinder, studied the beans, which look lovely close up.

 

El Portillo Beans
El Portillo Beans

Got out my La Marzocco Bottomless filter not to miss a moment

 

El Portillo Naked
El Portillo Naked

OK! I’m beginning to sound a little bit OTT here, but life is short and sometimes you’ve just got to be bothered and committed to going all out. I extracted it into my espresso love cup, newly bought for me by my darling wife, just to capture the love of this very special bean.

El Portillo Espresso Love
El Portillo Espresso Love

I liked it so much that as someone that tries to share lovely experiences, took it to work and shared it with colleagues. What was amazing, was that one of my colleagues, who doesn’t really drink speciality coffee, but tastes wine, described the coffee almost to a “T” as described by Square Mile on the package, toffee, caramel, heavy mouth feel and complex. It’s really versatile as a coffee and I mixed it with another Square Mile coffee, Los Luchadores Espresso Pacamara– El Salvador, which made a nice cappuccino and inspired me to pour this little flower.

El Portillo Cappuccino
El Portillo Cappuccino

For me, no doubt it is really special brewed in a cafetiere, which is what I’m doing with it now, after every lunch time. I noticed that it smells like toffee and tastes like caramel and the aroma just permeates my room so much so that any of my colleagues coming into the room notices the lovely aroma. I’ve just checked on Square Mile’s website, but this lovely bean is no more…. all good things must come to an end boo hoo, but I trust that the guys will find a suitable replacement. Buying coffee from Square Mile is highly recommended by moi.

Have a Date With….

Cappuccino Date

This picture is for those who want to celebrate their love….. of C_FF_E

OK ! get ready for tomorrow – flowers, all things red, perfume, etc – but of course, don’t forget the coffee.  Enjoy the picture.

From Coffee With Love no less, xxx.

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