onsdag 18 juni 2008

Breaking the waves

A great day is reaching its end... Got a late invitation last week to a (too) late cupping of the Guatemala Cup of Excellence line-up at the local roastery Arvid Nordqvist (more on them later int the post). So I started the day with a walk in the morning sun down to their facility (located only a kilometer from my apartment actually). Once there I got a chance to flirt some with their lovely cute receptionists. Nice!

The cupping took place at their "academy". A huge room that used to be a computer-office, but has been transformed into a lecture hall for all things conserning coffee. On the counter by the first wall on the left there were several espresso setups with at least three Compak-grinders and one Mahlkoning as well as a few two group espresso-machines (Expobar, Astoria, La Marzocco and Faema). Also featured in the machine park was a Ascaso dual-boiler domestic machine with grinder and a ECM Giotto. Lots of drip-brewers and siphons as well... Well, this post is not about their academy even though it is a very nice place.

The cupping of an already auctioned collection of coffees might seem like a dull thing, but it was actually marvellous. Three tables were setup with 2 sample cups of each coffee at each table. The first two were in order of placement in the competition and the third was blind. It was actually kind of nice to see that I could stand up against professional cuppers when it came to recognize the samples blind. So what is my opinion on the El injerto and the others then...

As I am an espresso guy I always have a preference for coffees that I believe will work well under pressure. The Injerto had a bit too much of a blackcurrant-like flavour reminicent of a good Kenyan SL28 actually. Not really my cup of tea. La Bendicion were a favorite of many attendents but didn't make me totally happy either. The Finca De Dios was very interesting with its strong flavour of Peanut and can surely make a great SO-SPRO. My favorites were the following (in no order) El Socorro Y Anexos, San Sebastian, Granja El Tempixque, El Porvenir, Accso, El Faro and Chichupac. Must say that it was the most consistent line-up I've seen yet when it comes to quality eventhough many different variaties were present. I also noticed that there were none or almost none washed coffee included. I like sun-dried coffees so that is a good thing I.M.H.O.

After the cupping session I got into a discussion about their small drum-roast and got invited on a tour through the Arvid Nordqvist roasting facility. The company is the forth biggest roaster in Sweden roasting approximately 8 000 000 kilograms of coffee each year. (For Swedish readers, check this site for great coffee information in general). It is the other side of the spectra from my place and we got into a lot of interesting discussions about everything from the soil in Brazil compared to Costa Rica, to the industrialization of the third world, difficulties with organic certifications, and the prizing on coffee on the exchange market, and lots and lots of more. Interesting day to say the least. On a side note; I got to see a shipment of hang-dried coffee from brazil that just gotten in that looks very interesting...

Afterwards my head was banging from the information overload and I'm still trying to sort out all the impressions I've got during the visit. I suggest everyone of you to make a visit to one old-school roaster as you'll realize that our "third wave" is just riding on knowledge of those before us. To sum it up; It is nice to stand on the shoulders of giants!

Took a friend with me to the espresso bar afterwards and made us a set of espressi - a nice organic bourbon that was like a shot of butter fudge. Wonderful!

(Disclaimer: I am kind of tired and waiting for the Sweden - Russia game, so I guess this post were full of errors I haven't corrected before posting)

onsdag 11 juni 2008

Cerro del Cielo (CoE)

A great week so far, Sweden won against Greece and I got something marvellous in the grinder...

Got a more than decent gift from a friend today... Knowing influencial people is a gift in itself but this one is even more awarding: One kilogram of the sundried Caturra that won the Nicaraguan CoE this year. The Cerro del Cielo farm has produced a coffee that is nothing but amazing. I am a big fan of sundried coffees as I have a weak spot for extra sweet stuff... And this is probably one of the greatest I've gotten the chance to try. Complex, yet very well balanced. I even tried making a few espressi using it and the complexity, sweetness and balance was still there without a trace of bitterness. All creds to Mauricio Esteban Vilchez Urbina for bringing such a wonderful crop into the world. The Cup of Excellence means alot to our industry and I would like to thank all the people involved as it brings focus on the farmers to all of us and in the end even our guests. I am more than grateful. Such a fine caturra. Such a marvellous coffee.

tisdag 10 juni 2008

Of great importance!

As every other profession, the life of a barista is made easier by owning a nice set of tools. I am kind of a modest fellow. My most valued tools are my Ergo-Packer-set from Espresso Vivace and probably the most important one: my beloved and old (here pictured) Le Nez du Cafe set. While browsing the regular forums you'll see a great amount of discussions about tampers, machines and stuff, but not that much about learning to understand the aromas in coffee. This is THE tool to raise the bars with if you're into the baristi game seriously.

Kind of a short post today, still nice weather here in Stockholm and the Sweden vs. Greece game will start in a few hours.

Heja Sverige!

fredag 6 juni 2008

A little bit of quite for me...

Slowing down at the bar now as summer has hit Stockholm. Marvellous days, marvellous gals... I hang out a lot down the docks outside my apartment and just chill. Slow days are here to stay! While everyone seems to go on about the "hacienda esmeralda" auction (interesting point about their total income here), well I don't care that much right now. In a few years Geisha will be grown everywhere in Panama at least. Could rant about the future, but as summer is here I'll go outside instead and just enjoy the summer. Cheers.

(Pictures of a home-made naked portafilter extraction, a stale coffee, but still such a show to watch...)