‘Tis the season.

I’ve come across a couple of “Programs’ in the last couple of weeks that are philanthropic in nature.

Give a laptop, get a laptop, change the world.

XO LaptopWhen I was in Perth recently, I met Michael of “Grendel” fame, while at Tiger Tiger with Andrew Tang from Spring café (Subiaco).  I was introduced to Michael in the middle of an informal demonstration of what seemed to be a toy laptop.  Michael had been explaining to Andrew some of the features of the laptop:  How it could be dropped from a height of 2 metres without damage; how it could be charged with a rip cord generator, solar panels or even a car battery; how the laptop is used to teach children how to learn (not just teach them “Stuff”); how the screen can be viewed in direct sunlight; how easily and cheaply the keyboard could be replaced to suit language (the next model will have a touch screen keyboard so software will determine the keyboard layout – further reducing cost).  The list of features goes on…..

If this is a toy, it’s pretty impressive!  Then he told us why the laptop existed.  It’s NOT a toy (although it can be used to play games). It’s part of the One Laptop Per Child Program.  I won’t even try to explain it in detail, but I urge you to read about it and, if you’re in a position to participate in the program, give a laptop, get a laptop and change the world.  (The short version – You buy a laptop for a child in a developing part of the world – making a difference to their community, and you get a laptop for yourself/your child.)  The  previous links I’ve included are to the Australian program, but there are programs around the world.

Sospeso – The Coffee in Suspension.

One of my neighbours is part owner of a café on Burwood Rd in Hawthorn – Sospeso (opposite Swinburne Uni).  I’ve been meaning to get to it since it opened a couple of months ago, but only got around to it last week.  I knew that they were serving Fair Trade coffee, Free Range eggs etc. with an ethical approach.  However I was unaware of the significance of the name “Sospeso”.  It comes from a tradition in Naples where customers can order a “Suspended” coffee.  As a sign of your good fortune, you can order a café “Sospeso”.  You pay for 2 coffees and receive 1.  When someone not so fortunate comes along, they can ask the Barista if there are any “Sospeso” coffees available, and they receive the “Suspended” coffee.  It’s an honour system and, when I was at Sospeso last week, they had 21 “Sospeso” coffees available.  Café Sospeso are looking at how they can distribute these coffees, as the program is in its early days and they don’t have many less fortunate people walking through their door.

I’m delighted by the existence of these 2 programs and, given we’re in the season of giving, I thought it appropriate to post about them.

Perth……. Finally!

I recently spent a week in Perth, supporting a new Michel’s store opening at Morley Galleria.  After a busy work schedule, it was nice to get some time to myself. Having heard so much about the coffee in Perth, I made the most of the 5 hours I had on my last day before my flight back to Melbourne.

Andrew Tang (Spring Café in Subiaco) gave me a hit list, some I knew and some I didn’t.  First stop was Tiger Tiger for breakfast.

Tiger TigerTiger Tiger Cafe Bar

It’s in a lane off Murray St near King St.  The eclectic décor reminds me a little of the original Black Cat Café in Brunswick St Melbourne.  The staff are very casual and friendly – no pretentions here.  I ordered the field mushrooms with Brebirousse cheese served with chiabatta. Mmmmm funky cheese – Love it!  As for the coffee, they use Fiori Coffee through a BNZ (don’t see many of these around) and a Wega. I played it safe and ordered a latte and it was pleasant enough.  As I polished off my mushrooms & cheese, some guys sat down at the communal table with me and asked about my breakfast.  They had all wanted the mushrooms, Brebirousse cheese and chiabatta, but I was lucky and got the last one. The aroma must have been a real tease.

Andrew turned up and introduced me to Michael of Grendel blog fame.  We talked coffee for awhile and then Michael told us about the Give a Laptop, Get a Laptop program – check it out.  I’ll be posting about  2 different Give One, Get One programs soon.

Velvet

Velvet

 

Andrew and the funky wallpaper at Velvet

Andrew and the funky wallpaper at Velvet

Andrew and I then went to Velvet to meet up with Ben Bicknell. If you don’t know Velvet, it’s on King St just up from St Georges Tce.  It has great décor and a justifiably large following.

We discussed Barista Competition – particularly the weighting towards sensory and what the judges are looking for with regard to flavour descriptors.  Our coffees finally arrived (W.A. stands for Wait Awhile as well as Western Australia ;-)),  but to be fair,  they were busy, and I’d much rather receive a great coffee than a poor one.  Besides, after Copenhagen, everything seems speedy.  The espresso was great – a syrupy savoury offering courtesy of Five Senses and the obligatory Robur and Synesso combo, with the “Get out of jail free” Swift (as Andrew Tang put it) for when it gets really busy and hot for the Roburs.

Emanuele at Ristretto

Emanuele at Ristretto

 

Jesper at Ristretto

Jesper at Ristretto

 

 

 

Next we hit Emanuele’s Ristretto, home of Jesper who was 2nd at the 2009 Western Australian Barista Championships.  Yet another Synesso and Robur set-up, and the digital photo frame on top of the Synesso cycled some great  coffee themed photos.  Emanuele offered us more espresso and we obliged.  More double espresso, but surprisingly the first sip lacked body.  I swirled the cup and found that all of the syrupy sweetness had sunk to the bottom.  Mmmmm – great espresso!  Emanuele offers free coffee appreciation sessions on Friday afternoons, providing great coffee education for his customers.

 

 

Ben shot off and Andrew and I headed off to Zekka.  Zekka is at the rear of a men’s fashion store on King St, and opens onto a courtyard with an impressive mural. They use Campos coffee through a Robur and Linea combo.  My latte was good, but Andrew’s espresso had done a “Circuit” before arriving at the table so it was cooler than desired.

 

Zekka Mural

Zekka Mural

Zekka

Zekka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bad, The Good and The "What were you thinking?" - Barristers, Cats and Superheroes at Epic.

The Bad, The Good and The “What were you thinking?” – Barristers, Cats and Superheroes at Epic.

 

 

Too many Synessos is barely enough!

Too many Synessos is barely enough!

Next was Epic.  I finally made it to Corey’s place after all these years.  I’ve known Corey through Coffeegeek forums since 2003, and although it’s been great to hear about his successes, it was much more satisfying seeing the fruits of his labour.  It was their last day before Christmas, and all of the staff were in fancy dress.  The workload was hectic, so we placed our orders and sat down to watch the show.  Both 3 Group Synessos were working overtime, but the additional 2 group wasn’t being used to relieve the take away orders.  The 3 phase Roburs are rotated every 10 minutes to keep them cool, and the piles of wasted coffee are used to fill sandbags for flooded cities (they are planning to get timed grinders soon to reduce the wastage).  I was warned that Epic serve very short double ristrettos.  Yes it was short (about 20mls), but it was certainly good.  Very fresh, syrupy and savoury (again).

 

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Then Andrew took me to Spring.  It’s a very small café with a huge open window onto the street.  It’s the perfect place to sit on a lazy afternoon and watch the world go by.  They use 5 Senses through a Robur & Synesso combo (of course).  The latte art is outstanding, and the espresso was well made.

As with most small cafes, Spring is challenged with keeping up with demand during busy periods.  We discussed ways of maximising productivity in a tight space, something I see a lot of in my role at Michel’s.

I would have loved to have spent more time enjoying the great coffees at these cafes and had more of the food offerings.  It may not be cheap in Perth, but most of the food and coffee is great.

I was delighted by my morning tour, and I’m grateful for Andrew taking time out to show me around.

The thrill of competition & fun of a smackdown.

It was thrilling competing in the Victorian Barista Championships (held on Nov 8 & 9).  For pictorial action, you can check out Syd Low’s excellent photos of the Barista Championship and Latte Art Championship.  Jesse Hyde won the Barista Championship with a calm, consistent performance, and the standard of competition was excellent.  Erin Sampson won the Latte Art Championship with her excellent performance topped with a rosetta back to back with a tulip.

I’m now preparing for the Repechage at the Australian Barista Championships on the Gold Coast, Jan 30, 31 and Feb 1 2009.  I’ll be posting a more detailed story on my preparation for comp after the Nationals, outlining the fun, challenges and thrills of preparing and competing.  In the meantime, I have to run the Victorian leg of the Michel’s Barista competition this week, and a trip to Perth sometime in the next few weeks.  In Perth, I’m looking forward to finally checking out Epic, Velvet etc.

This weekend I was invited to Cafenatics at QV for a Latte Art Smackdown to help open Joe’s latest store.  Coffee sales were donated to Second Bite.  Joe has moved the Mistral from his Church Lane store to the new QV store, and he also has a cart with a 3 group FB80 out the front – serious firepower!  I was most amused by the vase on the table inside – the last purpose I would consider for a Robur Electronic!

Anyway, we eventually got around to a Latte Art Smackdown of sorts.  We were a bit light on for talent though – 2008 World Latte Art Champion, Con Haralambopoulos; 2008 Australian Barista Champion (and 2nd at the 2008 WBC) David Makin; and 2nd Place, 2009 Victorian Latte Art Championship, David Seng.  Anyhow, here are some photos of the action (there are more at my flickr.)

Yuk & Yum – The ups & downs of Palate Training & Sensory Analysis.

What a fascinating weekend.  I took part in the Palate Training & Sensory Analysis of Coffee course at the William Angliss Coffee Academy in Melbourne.  Jill Adams & Lindsay Corby have put together the course, and it has proved popular amongst participants.  As I haven’t had much cupping experience, I saw the value of developing my palate and learning some sensory analysis skills to better understand coffee.

Lindsay in action.

Lindsay in action.

Lots of green bottles, ready for us to pour....

Lots of green bottles, ready for us to pour….

On day 1 we analysed brackets of compounds.  The first bracket consisted of soda water; cold tea; cold coffee; orange juice; white wine; vegie juice; and milk.

This gave us an idea of how different Tastes present themselves in beverages.   We then moved onto acids; acids in different dilutions; and combinations of different acids.  Then we went through sugars, bitter compounds, various aromas and then various combinations of all of the preceding, followed by coffees with various added compounds in isolation and various combinations.  Are you following?

Lindsay prepares solutions in coffees.

Lindsay prepares solutions in coffees.

Pouring solutions.

Pouring solutions.

Ready for action.

Ready for action.

Luca thinks it's just a little bitter!

Luca thinks it’s a little bitter!

Solutions for coffee.

Solutions for coffee.

Various compounds in coffee.

Various compounds in coffee.

It was overwhelming for my palate, particularly some of the bitter compounds (I never knew how bitter Caffeine is……. YUK!).  But I certainly feel that I’m better equipped to efficiently isolate the main tastes, and therefor more effectively discern “Balance”.

Intense discussion.

Intense discussion.

On day 2, we used our newly enhanced skills to cup coffees.  We started with 5 Aceh coffees.

Some of the Aceh samples.

Some of the Aceh samples.

Jill Adams told us about a program in Aceh (Indonesia) where they’re evaluating various Varietals and processing methods to ascertain the best options for the future.  They are still rebuilding after the devastation of the Tsunami a few years ago.  Each of the 5 coffees was processed in one of 2 ways – Full Washed or Wet Hulled – making for 10 coffees in all.

Pouring the Aceh samples.

Pouring the Aceh samples.

Aceh samples.

Aceh samples.

Then we moved on to 1 coffee roasted 5 ways.  Andy Freeman (Coffeesnobs), talked a little about the different roast profiles used to roast one of his favourite coffees – Malawi Mzuzu Khanga Gesha AA.  Each roast had the same start temp, turn temp, 1st crack temp and dump & cool temp.  However, the ramping from turn was different so he had roasts lasting from 16 to 30 minutes (including cooling).  The varied results were noticeable.

Malawi samples.

Malawi samples.

Sniffing samples.

Sniffing samples.

After lunch, we cupped 17 different coffees.  They included a Cup of Excellence Guatemalan; a couple of blends; 2 different Harrars (one was FTO); a Mountain Water Decaf; a Yirgachefe roasted 2 ways (1 roasted on a sample roaster, the other on 20kg roaster); and a couple of coffees that contained defects.  After that it was time for a beer or glass of bubbly.

Peekaboo!

Peekaboo!

Ann checks Luca's dosing.

Anne checks Luca’s dosing.

Luca demonstrates the correct tamping method..... NOT!

Luca demonstrates the correct tamping method….. NOT!

Luca, Hazel, Anne and Ed.

Luca, Hazel, Anne and Ed.

My palate was worn out after all of that, but I can thoroughly recommend the course.  I discussed the course with fellow participant Luca Costanzo (who’s already posted a comprehensive blog on this too!), and we agreed that we think the course would also benefit from a bracket that contained a “Neutral” coffee that was then “Flavoured” with various flavours (eg. strawberry, peanut, melon, apple etc.) in isolation and/or combination.  Perhaps that could be part of “Return of – Palate Training & Sensory Analysis of Coffee”.

Cheers!

Cheers!

Palate Training & Sensory Analysis

Jill Adams has scheduled another Palate Training & Sensory Analysis workshop on Ocotber 4th & 5th.

I missed the last workshop, and from all accounts it was excellent.  So this time I’m booking in.

If you’re interested in attending, contact Jill Adams at the William Anglisss Coffee Academy (Melbourne) on (03) 9606 2401 or jilla@angliss.vic.edu.au

More cupping at Brother Baba Budan

Wow, 2 posts in 1 day!  I can’t help myself after my visit to BBB today.

I dropped in at First Pour and caught up with Luca Costanzo.  I was going to go onto Andrew Kelly’s (relatively) new cafe The Auction Rooms in Errol St North Melbourne.  But Luca was going to Brother Baba Budan for the Saturday Cupping, and he was armed with some George Howell (Terroir) coffees.  Hmmm, The Auction Rooms can wait.

Emanuele Muratore from Perth was at BBB (amongst a few others), and Mark at BBB prepared 8 coffees for us to cup:  BC espresso blend; an El Salvador natural and an El Salvador wet; Terroirs’s Costa Rican “La Minita Estate” and Kenyan “Mamuto”; a Sumatran Kuda Mas; and an Indian (not sure??).

Well I’ll cut to the chase!  The Kenyan Mamuto was STELLAR!  No wonder it scored a 97 at Coffee Review.  I can’t say that my description of the flavours I experienced was the same as those of the Coffee Review, but it was certainly sweetly powerful, with a smooth balanced finish.  But I got blackcurrant aroma with stewed apricot in the cup.  A very tasty coffee!

If you didn’t know already, Mark has regular cuppings at BBB on Saturdays, so check it out.

Sightseeing & Cafes in Copenhagen.

 

 

Copenhagen

Copenhagen

 

 

 

I’ve finally finished uploading our Copenhagen photos onto Flickr.  I’ve still got to load photos from the rest of our trip, but I’ll post on Copenhagen in the meantime.

Apart from the WBC, we spent most of our time wandering the wonderful sights of Copenhagen.  It’s a great city to get around, with incredibly regular bus & train services throughout the day.  We purchased a 3 day Copenhagen Card, so we had unlimited transport and access to all of the most popular sites.  Our favourites were Rosenborg Castle; The Round Tower; the impressive Gefion Fountain; the original foundations of Absalom’s Fortress underneath Christiansborg Palace; the stunning Baroque Vor Frelsers Kirke; and just walking around the city centre.  Copenhagen’s architecture is beautiful.  There are no high rise buildings, and all of the buildings compliment one another, both in structural design and colour.  Even the ultra modern Opera House seems to fit in.

Because it was mid Summer, the days were long.  We had bright sunlight from 5am until 8pm, and the sun didn’t set until after 10pm – great for sightseeing and photography.  We were staying in the city on Vesterbrogade, so we were close to the WBC venue and just about everything in the city.  Most importantly, we were close to Estate Coffee.  The coffee was great.  Excellent espresso with lovely fruit flavours and balanced acidity.  Lattes were impressive too, and all coffees are served with a piece of Valhrona chocolate.  The Baristas are impressive to watch – Incredibly consistent, and highly skilled.  The food was great too (my mouth waters at the thought of their salmon roll – YUM!).  We also visited The Coffee Collective, but that was a bus ride out to the North of the city.  The coffee is great there too, as the espresso was so beautifully sweet and balanced.  Klaus introduced me to the Shakerato (espresso, sugar syrup and ice, shaken in a cocktail shaker), for which I’m eternally grateful – Summer coffees will never be the same!  Klaus, Casper & Linus were wonderful hosts, with so many Baristas visiting their cafe.  I can’t believe they fitted so many people in and still managed to roast, brew and socialise.  I also spent time at Risteriet with David Makin.  Risteriet have a FB80, and generously allowed David to do some preparation for the WBC.  They also have a great range of espresso machines, and all the kit you need to make great espresso at home.  The staff are great, and so is the coffee!

The coffee in Copenhagen really is great, and different from the coffee I’m used to drinking in Melbourne.  Melbourne coffee is typically more “Chocolate”, with a bold, gutsy presence.  In Copenhagen, it was more “Fruit”, with more “Caramel” than “Chocolate”, and a refined sweetness that I think is more appealing to a wider audience.  I still love my Melbourne coffee, but I’d love to see the “Scandinavian” style more readily available here.  I would also love to taste the same Copenhagen coffees through a HX machine.  All of the above cafes use a La Marzocco GB5/FB80, and I’d love to see how the flavours develop in HX extraction.

I’ll post on London soon.