Sunday, April 30, 2006

   from trish

beach roasting (no kiddin)





On Friday afternoon the Alterra kids (Milwaukee,WI) descended on the ZOka headquarters. They were already cranked up on Vivace espresso when we made them do the afternoon production cupping with us. Bronwen showed up and it soon became a party. Then ChrisD, who is generally excellent at thinking up party themes, suggested we head down to the beach to roast coffee. "we have firewood" said Scott Lucey. "we need beer", said someone else.
We used a little ball roaster that Chris picked up in Brazil a few years ago. You fill it with a little green and crank crank crank it over an open fire until you see some chaff and smoke flying out of the closure. (sometimes you can hear the cracks) Dump it out onto cookie sheets and transfer the coffee back and forth until it's cool.
We ground the coffee with a Zassenhaus hand crank grinder...which I only had hanging around my wet bar for decoration, but it works like a charm...and made some french presses. Bronwen made a killer dark roast Sumatra and George (the green buyer for Alterra) turned out a mighty fine Huehue medium roast.
Soon we were serving all the stoners and riff raff that were hanging around on the beach. We roasted into the night and had a ball.... then the Aterra kids spent the night in my basement.
BBF YBFBI (bestbudsforeveryoubetterf'inbelieveit!)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

   from ThaRiddla

20 and counting, or, 1st post

20 days until Bern.

Man, that's hard to say.
As mentioned in the recent podcast, I have been in Denmark over the past week or so where I was checking out the Danish National Competition, training for the Worlds with a certain well -respected coffee consultant and barista trainer...and as a bonus (to me) visiting with friends and neighbors from here in Chicago that relocated to Denmark.

The Danish Championship was great to see. I, unfortunately, didn't see most of the WBC in Seattle due to working in our booth. I only saw some of the finals. It's interesting to be an observer for the first time at a competition outside my scope of reference. I learned a lot, especially that it is definitely not done the same as the US around the world, which really set the stage for my training. Another wonderful part of going to the Danish Championships was meeting and reuniting with people. I saw my friend and fellow competitor Sammy Piccolo, I got to see Klaus Thompsen (obviously) again, I also met the Dutch National Champion, Rose van Asten, who was great to talk to. Other people of note - The owners of Estate Coffee, Cafe Europa, John Sanders, the owner of Baresso Coffee, Troels Poulsen (always great to see), Sonja Grant and Njall Bjorgvinsson of Iceland, and many others that I'm sure to forget to mention.


Anyway, training was also eye opening. I have a lot of work to do, which is both intimidating and exciting. I'm really looking forward to May 19.


Yeah, 20 days.


I need to get to work.

Friday, April 28, 2006

   from bronwen

"Viva Vivace and raw milk is REALLY good"

I have to give a huge thanks to Mr. David Schomer for giving a 'lost' (maybe not lost, but in limbo) barista a chance. After working at Vivace for several months now, I'm extremely grateful to be able to continue a craft I truly do love and enjoy. I get the benefit of learning more about espresso and refining my technique while getting to see lots of my former Hines regulars. I have missed being behind the bar, so much so that last week I worked four 12hr shifts in a row. Yes, I am insane. But, I enjoy playing with coffee. I recall showing my extremely coffeestained hands to Trish Skeie when she dropped by for the Alley 24 Vivace grand opening and her comment was "Those hands should be the next Barista Magazine cover." I hadn't looked at them since I started my shift and they were barista stained - not just the finger, but the whole palm. I felt pretty proud of myself at that moment. Thanks for noticing the details of hard work, Trish - it made my day.

How is it working at Vivace? It's actually good. I do enjoy playing with coffee and I do get to do that. I'm extremely grateful to Jodi Jaecks and Don Jones for their training expertise (and Jodi's extreme patience and making me work harder toward being a better barista). I get to mix it up a bit by picking up shifts at the different locales - the clientele and vibe of each keep things interesting. What I do miss - single origin coffees and different coffee preparation methods to keep my coffee-palate happy. I have to say that the espresso is decent. Not the most interesting blend in the world, but it is solid. But, damn, do miss a good drip/French press of a single origin. I want to be able to taste a Harrar other than in an espresso blend. MY TONGUE IS SO BORED RIGHT NOW (with coffee anyway)...it's times like these that I really wish Papa Sanders would hurry up and get something going again (are you reading this Sanders?? Get your ish together - the whole coffee world is waiting for you to wow them once more). Hopefully, sooner rather than later, Hines will have a home. Until then, I'll just continue to try and do the best I can with the espresso I have to work with.

Part II - Raw milk...IS REALLY GOOD. My chef friends, Matt and Nick opened up their new restaurant, Sitka and Spruce. Matt and Nick do AMAZING things with food, especially with locally grown and produced ingredients. They butchered a pig and served it up during a Sunday supper - I got a sneak peak at the head. I had clams and pork belly this evening for dinner (Chris Tacy, you would have LOVED the dish)... but I digress. The same week they butchered the pig, they also picked up some YUMMY raw milk that Matt generously shared with me. I made some TASTY macchiatos and this evening, some rich hot chocolate. So, the lesson to take away here my fellow baristas is to experiment with raw milk... you will be rewarded in a very tasty way.

It is now 3am in the morning and I must go to bed. More to report soon enough.

Ciao,
b

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

   from Nick

Podcast 36... The "Bullsh*t" Show



Jay & Nick in Timonium, MD again.

Discussion topics:
- Mid Atlantic Roasters' Group, June 2-4 in Blacksburg, VA.
- USBC recap part deux.
- What is Peter Giuliano Thinking About Today?
- Third Wave in the news and on the blogs...
- and we close the show out with a phone call to Howard Schultz from Starbucks Corporation. Yes, really.

2 hours, 10 minutes and 36 seconds

AAC format, 52.2 MB, MP3 format, 48.4 MB

See the sidebar to the right for more information and how to subscribe or download.
   from Nick

#34... Aida

2006 SCAA Charlotte Series -

Live from "Fox and Hound," Charlotte, NC, site of the 2006 SCAA Conference Roasters' Guild Party, hosted by Roast Magazine.

An intimate chat (while surrounded by The New Kids On The Block) with Aida Batlle, coffee producer from El Salvador: Finca Kilimanjaro (Cup of Excellence El Salvador 2003 Presidential Award/#1 Winner), Mauritania, and Los Alpes. Also, Peter Giuliano, Director of Coffee, Counter Culture Coffee, Durham, NC, and Geoff Watts, Director of Coffee, Intelligentsia Coffee, Chicago, IL. Happy 4-20, everyone!

Pick your link below and right-click and select Save As (on PC) or Control-Click and select "Download Linked File" in MacOS to save it to your hard drive... OR click the "podcast" icon above for the RSS podcast feed (AAC format).

(as always) TWO DIFFERENT FILES, but the same show... your choice (the AAC version sounds better and includes "bookmarking" for iTunes and iPods: if you stop midway, you can come back to where you left off) both: 48 minutes and 53 seconds, (approximately) 48 kbps VBR bitrate , 44.1 kHz sample rate.
MP3 format, 17.9 MB,
AAC format, 19.1 MB

Click here to go to the Portafilter Podcast on iTunes Music Store.
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-- AAC XML feed -:- MP3 XML feed --

Questions? Comments? Hate mail? Email us at podcast@portafilter.net, and we might read your email during the next show.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

   from Nick

Jay Caragay Mind Dump

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

   from Nick

Podcast #33 - The Barista Bash

2006 SCAA Charlotte Series -

Live from The Buckhead Saloon, Charlotte, NC. Guest co-host, Ken Olsen, Barista Magazine. Too many guests to mention, but highlights include The Intelligentsia Barista Team, Mike Ferguson (SCAA), Ken Nye (Ninth St. Espresso, NYC), Terry Z (Espresso Parts), Don Harrell (Monin), some dude from Siberia, Shanna Germain (Roast Magazine), Julie Beals (Fresh Cup Magazine), Ryan Dennhardt (Baristas' Daily Grind, Kearney, NE), and a few more. Just a few. And nobody's drunk. No, really.

Pick your link below and right-click and select Save As (on PC) or Control-Click and select "Download Linked File" in MacOS to save it to your hard drive... OR click the "podcast" icon above for the RSS podcast feed (AAC format).

(as always) TWO DIFFERENT FILES, but the same show... your choice (the AAC version sounds better and includes "bookmarking" for iTunes and iPods: if you stop midway, you can come back to where you left off) both: 1 hour, 39 minutes and 40 seconds, (approximately) 48 kbps VBR bitrate , 44.1 kHz sample rate.
MP3 format, 35.8 MB,
AAC format, 38.9 MB

Click here to go to the Portafilter Podcast on iTunes Music Store.
MAC OS users, click HERE (for a one-click to subscribe in iTunes)

-- AAC XML feed -:- MP3 XML feed --

Questions? Comments? Hate mail? Email us at podcast@portafilter.net, and we might read your email during the next show.

Monday, April 17, 2006

   from Peter G

SCAA love, and my Intellectual Highlight

It's taken me a few days to gather my thoughts after SCAA 2006. Not to get all mushy or anything, but I must say I am overwhelmed with gratitude after Charlotte.

It was such a thrill to have everyone in our backyard last week. I could not possibly summarize highlights, although I was stoked and inspired hourly by nearly everyone. Thanks to those who made it by the Counter Culture party, I had a great time, and you guys barely made any mess! It is always a thrill to experience a little bonhomie with my coffee friends, and it was especially gratifying to have it happen in North Carolina! I'm all verklempt!

For me, the intellectual highlight was a class given by David Roche, of the Coffee Quality Institute, Geoff Watts, you know him, and Peter Baker, a scientist who has done a tremendous amount of work on coffee biology, including genetic research of our favorite plant.

The rub came when Mr. Baker described a particular experiment, which pitted the Bourbon variety against a very closely related coffee variety, Caturra. Caturra is a dwarf version of Bourbon which appeared spontaneously in a field of Bourbon which was planted in Brazil. Because it has more branches per foot than Bourbon does, it is much more productive. In fact, Mr. Baker revealed a genetic analysis of the two plants that shows that the plants are genetically identical with the exception of a single gene, which regulates branch spacing and overall height. However, most cuppers find Bourbon varieties to produce better quality coffee than Caturra. Why?

Well, here's how the experiment went. They gathered coffee from Caturra and Bourbon plants from a single farm, harvested on the same day, processed the same way, roasted the same way etc. etc. Indeed, they found that the Bourbon consistently outcupped the Caturra. So, there must be a connection between the branch-spacing gene and quality, right? Then, they repeated the experiment. This time, though, they removed enough of the Caturra's flowers so it produced the same amount of total fruit as the Bourbon. This time, there was no statistical difference in the cup quality from the two plants.

This experiment strongly suggests what is intuitive to many: that high productivity and high quality are mutually exclusive, and that you can increase quality by reducing output. Of course, this is probably one of the reasons that shaded coffees, high altitude coffees, stressed coffees, and small producer coffees tend to be of higher quality. Eureka!

However, this presents a huge economic problem for coffee. Farmers who want to increase quality, and theoretically garner a quality premium, must keep their productivity in check. This, of course, runs contrary to the normal farmer mentality, which thinks of increased productivity as increased profit. This is especially true of coffee farmers who are at the rugged edge of survival as it is: can you imagine intentionally reducing your total crop yield in hopes of creating higher quality? This is doubly true when most farmers are not guaranteed a quality premium even if they achieve high quality. Plus, coffee quality can be ruined at the mill. It's a big big gamble.

This also presents a built in challenge for those of us who like to enter into long term relationships with coffee growers. Let me tell you, it's a tough conversation to have with a coffee producer, broaching the idea of limiting production to increase quality. Most farmers strongly believe that their quality is due to thier soil, their altitude, or the tender loving care they give to the plants. They really think they can increase quality and productivity at the same time.

At the end of the day, of course, the answer is in our wallets. As we continue to get clarity on the cause and effect of quality coffee, great coffees will begin to fetch the kinds of premiums they deserve. The only solution to this conundrum is to pay up for great coffees. We all have a long way to go here.

Peter G

Sunday, April 16, 2006

   from Nick

Podcast 32 - More Show Floor With The Hardcore

2006 SCAA Charlotte Series -

Nick surfs the show floor again, this time with Tonx, Kyle Glanville, and Alistair Durie. Some interesting conversations with a Burundian dude, Arthur from Rwanda, Terry Davis from Ambex, Kimberly Easson from Transfair USA, Ken Davids and Matthew from Coffeereview.com, Dr. Joseph Johns from Josuma Coffee Company, Zander Nosler from Coffee Equipment Company (Clover), and dueling Andrew Barnetts.

Pick your link below and right-click and select Save As (on PC) or Control-Click and select "Download Linked File" in MacOS to save it to your hard drive... OR click the "podcast" icon above for the RSS podcast feed (AAC format).

(as always) TWO DIFFERENT FILES, but the same show... your choice (the AAC version sounds better and includes "bookmarking" for iTunes and iPods: if you stop midway, you can come back to where you left off) both: 1 hour, 41 minutes and 38 seconds, (approximately) 48 kbps VBR bitrate , 44.1 kHz sample rate.
MP3 format, 37.0 MB,
AAC format, 39.6 MB

Click here to go to the Portafilter Podcast on iTunes Music Store.
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Questions? Comments? Hate mail? Email us at podcast@portafilter.net, and we might read your email during the next show.

Friday, April 14, 2006

   from trish

haven't officially met Amber yet....

Back home from the SCAA and all of Zoka is trying to decompress. Good times by all,(but perhaps licking the wounds that the USBC so expertly inflicted on us).
Here is where I gush like a stupid groupie...I'm silly like that about baristas
Right on to Matt Riddle who is professionalism and craftmanship personified! So excited for you! Congratulations!
Billy! You are a solid favorite. You're one of the best we've ever had...I've always said so!
Amber, I'm Trish. I have seen you all over the place and I know many of your Intelly clan, but I don't think we've ever officially met. I have not seen your presentation either, and am bummed that it might be another year until I have a chance. Must say that I've always admired your fashion sense. You're lovely.
Ellie, you're a smarty and a pretty and I'm happy to know you. Thanks for fighting for the BGA too!
Jon Lewis, proof that creativity can win big at the USBC. We love you because we know you honor the coffee and the craft like no one else can!
Steve Fritzen! A new one in the final....niiiice! Well done, man!
Ryan, I give you a lot of credit. You knew you wouldn't make a ton of friends by protesting your semi-score. Perhaps no one will contest again, and I'll venture to say it could be because of you that they won't have to. Thanks for that.

On the subject of meeting people at conference: didn't get a chance to meet Amber this time, but I did get to meet Andy S from pf.net! It was a pleasure! I met Don Holly of Green mountain for the first time. Yay, but then I said a swear word within the first 2 minutes of our meeting and now he probably thinks I'm a lowlife. Don, I'm really not so horrid. I'll hope you'll forget me so I can meet you again at retreat. I got to hang out a little more with Jeremy from Ritual. We had met before, but it's just not like this time. That RG party was..how do the kids say?...RAD!
Kyle and Tonx, (aka the two stray cats) met a lot of cool people...if you get my drift. We know they will land someplace where they can continue their quest for excellence.
Aziz from Siberia met a whole bunch of new friends. He has been trying to come to an SCAA event for a couple of years and wasn't able to secure a visa until Charlotte.
I could mention a lot more here, but I have a lot of work to catch up on.

Sooooo....who did YOU meet?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

   from Nick

Podcast 35

Back home in DC/Baltimore

2006 SCAA Charlotte Series Finale - Jay and Nick look back on the weekend's debauchery. Also, they discuss USBC controversies, Intelligentsia Intimidation, and all sorts of SCAA talk. Yes, this one is out-of-sequence, but you'll sorta understand why.

Pick your link below and right-click and select Save As (on PC) or Control-Click and select "Download Linked File" in MacOS to save it to your hard drive... OR click the "podcast" icon above for the RSS podcast feed (AAC format).

(as always) TWO DIFFERENT FILES, but the same show... your choice (the AAC version sounds better and includes "bookmarking" for iTunes and iPods: if you stop midway, you can come back to where you left off) both: 1 hour, 26 minutes and 16 seconds, (approximately) 48 kbps VBR bitrate , 44.1 kHz sample rate.
MP3 format, 31.2 MB,
AAC format, 34.3 MB

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Questions? Comments? Hate mail? Email us at podcast@portafilter.net, and we might read your email during the next show.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

   from Nick

Charlotte SCAA Reflections

The first of what I hope will be a few blog-entries from our pf.net team on the 2006 SCAA C&E from the weekend.

My favorite memories:
- Spending quality-time with some of my murky team
- Spending quality-time with our Intelly friends, including dinner on Monday, celebrating Matt's championship
- Spending quality-time with our Zoka friends, including getting Mr. B on Podcast 29
- Counter Culture Booth. Word.
- Spending q-t with some of the great souls in our community, notably Alistair, Tonx, Kyle G., Andrew B., Aida Battle (interview on podcast #34 coming soon), Ric Rinehart, Mike Ebert, Geoff Watts, Doug Zell, Michelle Campbell, Mark Prince, Ken Olson, and many more.
- Seeing our entire (minus one) pf.net blogging crew: Bronwen, Ellie, Trish, PeterG, Alistair, and Andy Schecter.
- I got to high-five Ted Lingle
- USBC, USBC, USBC

A few more stream of consciousness thoughts:
- This USBC was the best ever on pretty much every level. From the judges certifications, to the A/V, to, most importantly, the highest level of competition ever (did everyone notice that NOBODY went over 17 mins for a DQ? That's AMAZING!!!)
- It's an honor and a privilege to have the role that I do in our community. Lots of love and shout-outs our way this weekend, and folks took time out to acknowledge the podcast and the site. Thanks right back at y'all, and know that we wouldn't do any of this shit if you folks weren't totally worth it.
- Matt Riddle rocked it out. A little misconception I'd like to clear up though: Matt is the graphic designer and 'web guy' for Intelligentsia right now, but he WAS a full-time barista, and was, as you'll hear Ellie mention on the upcoming podcast #33, part of the original Intelligentsia Training Team. Some folks/bloggers make it sound like Matt was never a full-time barista.

As far as upcoming podcasts, we'll release these a bit slower (about one every 3-5 days?) after the initial onslaught. A quick teaser:
Podcast 32: 'More Show Floor With The Hardcore' - On Sunday afternoon - more walking the floor, but this time with Tonx, Kyle Glanville, and Alistair. Some VERY interesting stuff, especially chats with Ken Davids from CoffeeReview.com, Kim Easson from Transfair, Dr. Joseph Johns from Josuma Coffee Company, Terry Davis from Ambex, and many, many more. Listen VERY carefully to this one... there are some very subtle moments that are, frankly, pretty revealing.
Podcast 33: 'Barista Bash Party' - Sunday night - A virtual orgy of coffee people, live from the Buckhead Saloon for the 'Barista Bash' hosted by Monin, ESI, and Caffe, d'Amore.
Podcast 34: 'Aida' - Monday night - From the Fox and Hound, for the Roasters Guild party, hosted by Roast Magazine... an amazing chat with Aida Battle, coffee producer from El Salvador, notably Finca Kilimanjaro, #1 winner of the 2003 El Salvador Cup of Excellence. Also on the mic, Peter Giuliano and Geoff Watts. This is a special one for sure, and a great way to close out the barrage of podcasts from the Charlotte SCAA.

Thanks again for all of the love shared in Charlotte, and keep on sending us emails at podcast@portafilter.net.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

   from Nick

Podcast 31: CCC and Volcafe Party

2006 SCAA Charlotte Series - Good times at Counter Culture Coffee's Charlotte training center. Dropping names: Prince, Trindle, Zell, Giuliano, Chapdelaine, Watts, Sorenson, Hamilton, Inman, and Hailu Gebra Hiwot.
1 hour 38 minutes and 2 seconds

MP3 Version Podcast #31, AAC Version Podcast #31

(We're doing a bunch of shorter podcasts from Charlotte SCAA 2006, so these posts on pf.net will be truncated to save time)
   from Nick

Podcast #30 : "Have you met Amber?"

2006 SCAA Charlotte Series - Nick walks the SCAA Show Floor with special co-host, Amber Sather, barista trainer at Intelligentsia and a USBC competitor. Way too many guests to list them out here, but highlights: Funky pump on a Synesso, Amber meets an old friend-of-a-friend, Nick meets Nick, Ethiopian coffee is good, Ward Barbee from Fresh Cup Magazine on the SCAA, and much, much more.

1 hour 24 minutes and 00 seconds
MP3 Version Podcast #30, AAC Version Podcast #30

(We're doing a bunch of shorter podcasts from Charlotte SCAA 2006, so these posts on pf.net will be truncated to save time)
   from Nick

#29: Dinner with Zoka (2006 SCAA Series #1)

2006 SCAA Charlotte Series - No hanky-panky... it's all just dinner. Chit-chat, reminiscing, and love. Special guests: Jennifer Prince, Trish Skeie, Chris Davidson, and Jeff Babcock, all of Zoka Coffee, Seattle, wA, also: Sandy Hon, Bronwen Serna, and Gee Barger.

33 minutes and 02 seconds
MP3 Version Podcast #29, AAC Version Podcast #29

(We're doing a bunch of shorter podcasts from Charlotte SCAA 2006, so these posts on pf.net will be truncated to save time)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

   from trish

call it like you see it

I recently returned from my first real coffee jury experience: Crop of Gold, or Cosecha De Oro, of Costa Rica fame. While many of you may be aware of the Cup of Excellence structure, this one is a little different. The Costa Ricans got all upity and full of theselves (I'm being sarcastic here), and said, "hey we can do this ourselves" and made up their own competition. It remains one of the only home-grown coffee competitions/auctions of it kind for this reason....which I think is pretty cool. I only hope they can keep it going and don't cave into the pressure from the man.
In another original move, they featured an "Official Roastmaster" to sample roast all the coffees. That honor/chore went to Paul Thornton of CBI. Couldn't think of anyone better. The roasts were on point everyday!

Well, the coffees were really amazing and surprising, with new micro mills and adventurous processing making the scene. The majority of the coffees were truly stellar and as elegant as we know Costa Rica coffee can be. Some of the judges from Europe had a good time with the new American descriptors for the not-so-stellar coffees, though.
Here are some examples from our discussions:

- "this coffee is like a comfortable easy chair: makes me want to take a nap"
- " nobody home"
- "This is a party crasher....snuck in the backdoor when the bouncer wasn't looking"
- "this coffee promised to pick me up at the airport. I waited and waited and it never showed....had to call a cab"

Okay, maybe you had to be there, but we laughed and laughed at ourselves.
Interestingly, when a coffee was great, we were able to use accepted and standard terms to describe it.
Keep and eye on the SCACR site for word on the auction.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

   from Nick

Update...

For our international visitors, I should explain a little about our legal system here...

...in the United States, we have a little tradition....
   from Nick
Until further notice, the Portafilter Podcast is offline.

I was served with a subpoena yesterday from the 3rd District Court of Appeals of Washington DC, regarding slanderous comments made on a recent episode. On advice of our attorneys, I can't discuss the details of this matter, but it was necessary to pull the plug on the podcasts until this gets worked out.

I'll try to update everyone when it is appropriate.