Wednesday, July 26, 2006

   from Nick

Who DARES to "pair" great food and great coffee?

A little announcement from my buddy Jeff Jassmond from Stumptown Coffee's Annex that everyone needs to hear:
Stumptown is working with John Taboada from Navarre Restaurant to put together the first-ever coffee dinner in the US. We have been working for the past month to pair coffees with food to challenge ourselves and, hopefully, illuminate the ways in which flavors of any kind can be used to create new thoughts and emotions in the consumer. The tastings that we have been doing have been challenging, bringing out the best in John and Duane. For those who are unfamiliar with John's cooking it is a hard thing to describe. His creativity would be stifled if his ability to execute innovative techniques was not so sharp. His playfulness in the kitchen takes delicate and complex flavors and brings them to new levels with juxtaposition and balance. Quite simply, if anyone in town could makes us think about food and coffee together, it will be him.

The dinners will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, August 1st and 2nd, at 7pm at Navarre. Tuesday night is nearly sold out, but space remains for Wednesday. Price per person, for 5 or 6 courses, with wine accompaniments, is $65, $55 without the booze. While there is a lot of room for us to fail with this project, I have confidence that John and Duane, more so than any others out there, will be able to pull it off. Reservations can be made at, or call 503-232-3555. Navarre: 10 NE 28th Avenue.

Monday, July 24, 2006

   from Nick

Podcast #43 - *shrug*... what the hell.

From the Piazza della Repubblica, Florence (Firenze), Italy.
Special co-hosts: Mark Prince ( and Andrew Barnett (Ecco Caffe).

Recorded back in May, Nick and his traveling companions recap the excursion through Switzerland and Italy. A continuation of a CoffeeGeek Podcast (soon, hopefully, to be released at

One more time: thanks to our European-excursion podcast sponsors: DaVinci Gourmet and

1 hour 8 minutes and 5 seconds
MP3 format, 25 MB

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

   from Nick

Some changes to the podcast

A few small changes to the Portafilter Podcast...
  • Über-techno-geek podcasts have multiple file formats, and although I've always been a fan of Apple's AAC format, having two different formats has been a pain in the ass, so MP3 wins (for now). Starting with the next show, we'll be offering the MP3 format only.
  • Also, we're changing the XML feed for the podcast to: We'll maintain the old feeds for a little while, but it would behoove you to move over to the new URL.
  • We're ALSO changing the RSS sitefeed URL to: Point your RSS newsreader to the new URL please.
  • We will be reducing the length of the average podcast by about 30 seconds. You'll still be able to enjoy all of the banter, interviews, debates, and bullsh*t as usual, but now in a much more portable and reasonable size!

Hope these changes will help enhance your PF Podcast experience. Take care, and good day.

Monday, July 10, 2006

   from Nick

Podcast 47 - The Live Show

LIVE from McLean, Virginia, 6:00pm - 8:02pm EDT on Skypecast. Call-ins from around the globe.

2 hours 2 minute and 22 seconds

AAC format, 48.5 MB - MP3 format, 45.3 MB

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

It was fun! Thanks to all who called in! We'll try to do it again soon!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

   from AndyS

More about Esmeralda

One of the things that's funny about my participation on is that I'm still a part-time amateur in this full-time professional arena. Read the masthead: there's no getting around the fact that I'm surrounded here by legendary coffee directors, barista champions, podcast celebrities, coffee gurus, and even the occasional shave-ice visionary. The intimidation factor is lessened, of course, by the fact that most of the resident coffee legends never bother to post. :-)

Sometimes I regret that I haven't made any trips to origin, developed relationships with Ethiopian farmers, built schools in Panama, or even bid on any Cup of Excellence coffees. I simply plod along in my home workshop, regularly dismantling the work of good espresso machine designers while trying hard not to electrocute myself.

Occasionally something fun comes along, and this time its name was "Esmeralda." When Sweet Maria's offered a three-pack of exquisite Panamanian coffees, including the ultra-hyped Esmeralda, I laid down my hundred bucks faster than you can say "actively-heated grouphead." Just yesterday I roasted up a batch of Esmeralda on my funkay third-of-a-pound "sample roaster." It's shown in all its glory in the photo above. The roaster's in the middle, the control panel is on the right, and my custom-engineered cooling apparatus sits on the left. :-) No snickering, please!

Because of weather and personal commitments, I often get away from home roasting and buy coffee from some of the well-known mail order places. This is good, because I get to taste stuff that's prepared more skillfully than my own. But I love the process of roasting so much that it's always very satisfying to be able to return to it. Boy, these beans are dense. I'm pretty sure the picture on the left was taken right in the middle of first crack. It's a rockin' and a rollin'.

About eleven minutes after the start, it's all over. The beans are laid out in the cooling collander, and they sure are beautiful. I'm hoping bigtime that I did them justice. If not, I have only two more chances to get it right. But even if not perfect, I'm confident the character of these famous beans will show through.

Today, with great expectation, I brewed the first cup. After measuring 15 grams of beans, I milled them carefully in a Versa M3 grinder. The dry fragrance was enchanting, like floating through a sea of jasmine blossoms.

The photo on the left shows the resulting brew prepared in my "poor man's Clover." Hey, at least I have the cup! The Esmeralda was surprisingly savory, like meaty, tomatoey soup broth. Then there was sweetness, and a fruity-floral note above it all. This was a really nice cup. You could kind of dig into it and it kept coming back to you.

I'm just finishing it now, and the fruit has receded to leave a malty richness, and underneath that, earthiness. A wonderful cup of coffee, and great fun to experience. Thanks to all that made it possible.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

   from Nick

More than just a year.

Congrats, Steve Ford, on your 365 First Cups.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

   from Nick


Update to my post from June 6:

Old and busted:

New hotness:

Saturday, July 01, 2006

   from Nick


People often think I'm weird when I get excited about stuff like when I had a cup of coffee from mold-tainted (green) coffee. Every coffee experience, both good and bad, is an educational opportunity. It's a little bittersweet, though, when the cost of tuition ends up being a half of my one bag of Intelly Panama Esmeralda Especial... (...well, one of my bags... a little shout-out to fans of David Sedaris.)

It's not so much that I learned something I didn't know... it's more a poignant reminder of a basic principle.

I've brewed the coffee from this 8 ounce bag three times so far. I guess I should mention that I'm not at home. We're on a little family vacation, staying at my sister-in-law's house in San Antonio, Texas, many miles away from the tools of my trade that I've become so used to having around, especially our Mahlkonig Guatemala grinder and our digital scale (with 0.1 gram resolution). Mary and David have a Bodum Antigua grinder that we gave them as a Christmas present, and in lieu of a digital scale: a lowly tablespoon.

So three times: twice here at Mary and David's (once on a Chemex once in a french press), and once at my friend Loris' shop here in San Antonio, called "Cafeggio" (in a french press). At Cafeggio, we ground the coffee on a Bunn G2 grinder.

The Esmeralda was EFFING BOOM-DIGGITY AWESOME once. It was an "HJ-BJ Combo" (inside joke) in the mouth of jasmine, orangey-citrus, and something I can only call "The Taste of Clean." It was only so-so the other two times. So guess which was which?



So on Monday, I'm going to Cafeggio to do some latte art training, and before I come back to our home-away-from-home, I'm grinding the last of the Esmeralda on their G2 and bringing it back to brew for my wife Suzy and our hosts, cuz I ain't gonna let them think that what they've been calling "That Really Expensive Coffee" is as mediocre as what they've had.

I've never experienced the result of "uneven grind" in brewed coffee quite so succinctly. The Bodum Antigua created a VERY muddled cup. It's like putting an ill-fitting muumuu on Gisele Bündchen: you could JUST make out the beauty that's there... but only because I've known it before... and it's shrouded in this cloud of... okay I'll say it... murkiness. Clearly, the overly-fine particles created the muddy overextracted-part that simply drowned out the delicate flavors.

So let this be a lesson to you, both in coffee, and in life: if you KNOW that the hottest supermodel ever to grace the bedroom of Leonardo DiCaprio is coming to see YOU, have the appropriate apparel ready for her to wear... or you'll miss-out on what could be the most intensely erotic experiences of your life, and you might never know it.