I’m Drinking the Sweetest Filter Coffee I ever had

I just got back from London and bought a few coffee bags from some London coffee roasters and first up on the filter was for Caravan Coffee Roasters. I selected a natural from Guatemala from their filter selection because I always find naturals more intriguing and especially more so from Central America, as naturals are quite rare from this part of the coffee growing world.

I brewed La Nueva Natural Guatemala on the Hario V60 as I have missed… yes, I had missed brewing coffee on a V60 for two weeks. Using a menu of

  • 15.3 g freshly ground coffee on my Wilfa Grinder
  • 94C on my fellow EKG kettle
  • First pour of 43ml
  • Wait for 40 seconds
  • Second pour all the way to 227ml of water

I decided to serve myself using a glass cup as opposed to a ceramic. I guess I thought I’d like to accentuate the sweetness of this cup as much as possible and yes I was comely taken aback.

My first sip just blew my taste buds away with the poignant sweetness, almost white sugar like, with hints of caramel. It was so sweet that I was just sitting down for a few seconds wandering if I had added something to the cup by mistake.

The bag mentions taste notes of brioche ( the classic sweet French bread, using lots of eggs and butter with sugar), flaked almonds and blueberry.

For me,

🔵 it was more like a sweeter berry (blueberries aren’t that sweet)

🔵 white sugar with hints of caramel 😋

On the second day, I served myself the coffee in a ceramic cup, and then the notes were more balanced, with cane type sugar and darker berries … perhaps blueberry 🫐

If you’re in the UK, I strongly encourage you to order this one of a kind sweet coffee (link above) as Caravan usually offer free delivery for orders over GBP20 and deliver very fast, based on when the UK was in the EU and I used to order to Vienna.

The Myth of Freshly Roasted Coffee Part 2: The Taste Test

Welcome to Part 2 of this myth busting series about Freshly Roasted Coffee… the real test, which relates to how does coffee roasted several months ago, taste. Even though coffee can still smell fantastic, does it taste good too? Have you always been told that after 3-4 weeks of a coffee being roasted it won’t taste nice? A side note – did you know that according to the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), 80% of our taste is reliant on our smell ? Well 🤔 here’s a video debunking that myth as I now prepare and taste a coffee roasted 4 months ago, an Ethiopian coffee roasted for Mokha 1450 – a cafe in Dubai, which I was gifted by its proprietor , Garfield.

My recipe was

15g of freshly ground coffee

225ml of 95C hot filtered water (I use 95C with a ceramic V60 because the ceramic will extract some of the heat – another tip from an expert)

Pour for 50g and then the remaining 175g

Timed pour around 3 minutes max

Have you encountered any other coffee myths that you would like to bust?

How I Taste Coffee in Public

Ever wondered how I taste coffee in public when I go to a cafe? Well, here’s your chance, a first video of it’s kind, filmed by my patient daughter.

This visit was actually monumental as it was the first time I was going to Coffee Pirates (Cafe and Roastery), located at Spitalgasse 17, 1090 since it opened in July 2012. My daughter actually went there and told me about it, and I was like “I’ve been there before, but 8 years ago…”.

On my second visit, I went for a Kenyan Coffee from the Nyeri region, prepared using a Hario V60, which tends to bring out the fruitier undertones of the coffee.

 

Coffee of the Week: Square Mile Kenya Muchagara

Looking through Square Mile Coffee‘s instagram feed, it suddenly dawned on me that because of all the pandemic fiasco, I haven’t ordered coffee from them for several months. In part, this was due to my desire to support local coffee roasters in Vienna but I was also worried that if I ordered coffee from London, it might take several days to 2 weeks before I get my coffee, as post offices were using the excuse of covid to delay delivery. How wrong I was, because I actually got my coffee faster than pre-lockdown days. So, naturally I was delighted when they arrived a few days after I placed my order.

Included with my usual 2 bags of espresso and one of filter, was a gift, a 30g of a Kenyan coffee from Muchagara in Kenya’s Kirinyaga county. The first thing I noticed was the smell – WOW!, wow! wow! – probably the best smelling coffee I’ve smelt all year. Aware that I only had 2 opportunities to make this coffee, I made sure that I really measured them well. First up, I tried it on the aeropress, using 14g, which was more like blackcurrant BUT I knew that for me, brewing it on the Hario V60 would be the real test.

Using the remaining 16.5g (I got an additional 0.5g – yay!) with 250ml 95C hot water with my dear wife filming, Here’s my experience – to conclude…. ah that smell….

I picked up a bit of the cherry and some type of caramel sweetness and hints of citrus acidity.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CDg_DbRBU3e/

Coffee of the Week: Rwanda

 
This week’s coffee hails from Rwanda-Umusazi, a coffee of the red bourbon variety, grown at 1,900mroasted for Balthasar, my fave coffee shop in Vienna. It was actually recommended to me by one of the baristi, who used this coffee last ear for a competition. It features the 72 hour fermented coffee processing method again, which almost guarantees a delicious fruity experience. So, I’m using the Hario V60 for this video, but I’ve adjusted the recipe somewhat. Typically, I would use about 15g of freshly ground coffee with about 240ml of 95C boilng hot water, but I found that when I increased the amount of coffee to 16.5C for the Hario V60 filter brewing method , I had the wow factor – what a fruit bomb, with berries, grapefruit acidity and hints of caramel in the middle of my tongue – In fact I’m drinking it now as I write this, yummy.

To summarise; 16.5g freshly ground coffee 95C 245ml hot water Hario V60 Hario V60 filter wet with hot water Makes about 235ml delicious coffee Yummy!

 

check out the video below for more details.

Coffee of the Week Video

Coffee of the week 5 April video

Here’s my first video of my new series, coffee of the week, in which I share with you which of the coffees I had during my week that impressed me the most, whether as a filter brew or as an espresso.

My first video celebrating the impressive Kenyan coffee I got at Nightjar, Dubai. Here, I’m using Hario V60, based loosely on the James Hoffmann’s method;

  • 15g freshly grinded coffee
  • 245ml 95C water
  • Hario V60 with filter paper made wet with some hot water

See methodology in my video and let me know your Hario V60 method.

With this method, the coffee was really fruity with dark berries, citrus acidity and full bodied, with a long aftertaste round the middle of my tongue. 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_6134

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;

IMG_6139

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

  

The Best Coffee Shop in Vienna ?

A pretty bold statement to make, especially in a city that prides itself as containing a selection of the best coffee houses in Europe. Steeped in history, especially in coffee history, Vienna, Austria’s capital city has long been synonymous with coffee, BUT times have moved on. I may sound critical, but I must admit that when I first criticised the Viennese coffee culture way back in 2008, I got my letter published – WHY ? Because I felt and still feel that drinking coffee in the 21st Century should be about flavour, service and innovation and the editor of Conde Nast Traveller agreed. Moreover, having lived in Vienna for over 8 years until 2009, I never found any coffee shop, new or old serving properly brewed espresso. When I questioned them, they looked at me like what do you know – we are in Vienna and we know coffee – Well! No! you don’t if you don’t clean your group heads, extract 30ml of coffee in 10 seconds, etc. There were the odd exceptions like the Mocca Club (one of my first posts in 2007), but that shut down and the other was the local La Marzocco distributor (who confessed to me that Austria doesn’t know & appreciate espresso).

So, on hearing that Vienna would be hosting the World Barista Championships (WBC) in June 2012, I was nervous for the city – where would all the coffee tourists go to sample finely crafted espresso drinks and third wave style coffee.

Nevertheless, in late May 2012, I had to visit Vienna again and prior to my visit I contacted the Speciality Association of Europe (SCAE) for where to grab a really good coffee and they only had recommendation, Caffe Couture. Situated in the 9th District off Vienna, not far from the University and the Austrian MINT (where they make money), Caffe Couture, located on 9 Garnisongasse, can easily be missed, as there’s no signage annoucing its location. However, for coffee buffs like me, as I was walking by, I heard the sound of milk being frothed, looked into an auspicioulsy white decored shop and BANG, noticed a La Marzocco Strada (probably the most expensive espresso machine in the World and probably the most advanced) – OK! this must be it. Further along the left-hand side, I noticed more gadgetry, a brew bar, complete with an Uber boiler, Hario V60 station and an aeropress – I’ve arrived in a coffee shop in Vienna that’s taking coffee brewing to the 21st Century, Phew!.

 

Owned by former Austria barista champion and current coffee tasting champion, Georg Branny, Caffe Couture is probably, for me, the best coffee shop in  Vienna. His attention to detail, pure focus on espresso brewing techniques, as well as his quest to offer Cup of Excellence Coffee, brewed on a proper brew station, Georg is so sure of himself and his quality that he doesn’t have  a listed price for coffee – Yes! you read that right – there’s no published price for espresso coffee of any kind, so you can walk in there, order a cappuccino, and walk out without paying, but trust me, as soon as you taste what you have, you’ll turn right around and dig into your pockets – because the coffee you have just sipped is unlike any cup of coffee you’ll taste in Vienna, complete with exquisite latte art – his partner is also a latte art champion.

I was so excited, that I had an espresso macchiato and a V60 Cup of Excellence coffee – Finca La Picona from the Honduras/Nicaraguan border, prepared on the brew bar using the V60, served in a classy Bodum double-walled clear glass cup.

The next day, I took my mum for a cappuccino. With regards to taste profile, the coffee has been carefully selected to highlight cocoa notes when mixed with milk and hints of berries/cocoa when drank as a pure espresso. Georg, a pleasant and unassuming character with a friendly and warm smile, is trying to get the Viennese into the third wave culture of coffee by sourcing Cup of Excellence coffees from his bespoke coffee roaster, with the hope that more and more people will begin to order them, so I wish him luck and I’m very happy that Vienna has a place like this to treasure.

Needless to say, I was very happy to learn that the WBC after party was held at Caffe Couture – where else? and that Caffe Couture have just started coffee classes – now all the good stuff happens, just when I leave….

So, when in Wien (German spelling for Vienna), please, please visit Caffe Couture, if you like your espresso drinks to be prepared well.

 

My New Toy: The Hario V60

From the title, it sounds like I bought some sort of fast car or psychedelic machine, but as this is a blog about coffee, the Hario V60 is a piece of art but relates to coffee. It’s developed by a Japanese company and is a different form of coffee brewing. I’ve actually seen many similar devices before but did not really know what it was for, but after skimming through many websites, of which square mile coffee roasters (London), was one, there’s been a lot of buzz about the Hario version, with a cool name, the V60. In summary, it’s a simple brew method, but the Hario V60 design, won a Good Design award and actually does makes the coffee taste different. It’s more apt for precious coffees, which will enable you to taste the more fruity and subtle cocoa elements in well roasted coffee. So, you can imagine my delight when I walked into espresso lab in Cape Town and saw a batch of them now available. I thought about it for a week and then I was sold, and bought some Ethiopian Guji Sidamo to accompany my first experience. So, here’s a detailed account of how to brew. You need (i) scales to weigh the coffee (ii) your V60 (iii) unbleached filter paper (iv) a warm glass or carafe to let the coffee to filter into (v) a good grinder (vi) a kettle to boil the water and (vii) great coffee.

1. Whilst your water is boiling, weigh about 22g of arabica beans and pour into your grinder. Once the water is boiled, grind your beans on a setting above a moka grind setting – so not was fine as espresso and not as coarse as French Press; Pour into the filter paper, which should already be inside the V60

2. Measure out your hot water to about 280ml and pour in a circular motion onto the ground coffee – you should see a bloom

3. It should take about 2 – 3 minutes to brew through, by which time you should have about 280ml freshly brewed coffee

4. At the end, the V60 should look like this after the brewing process is complete

The above is just a guideline, but play around with the method if you get one. Enjoy the experience – the coffee should be light and easier to drink than a French Press. For the Ethiopian Guji I got berry and cocoa lingering tastes. I’ve just bought the organic Brazilian Sao Pedro. I’v been captivated by this method of brewing coffee and have to apologize to my lovely Bodum Columbia French Press, which hasn’t been used in about 2 weeks.

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