Sunday, July 29, 2007

   from AndyS

La Esmeralda

Thanks to the excellent folks at Cafe Grumpy, a bunch of us had the good fortune to meet two people behind the scrumptious Hacienda Esmeralda. Rachel and Daniel Peterson, whose grandfather bought the original farm, gave a brief presentation at the Grumpy's Chelsea store, followed by a little old-fashioned coffee slurping.

The exact origin of the Geisha variety that produces the world's most highly-regarded coffee is lost to history. We do know it was collected from wild plants somewhere in the Geisha area of Ethiopia in December 1964. Botanist types will be interested to note that the Geisha's obvious varietal characteristics would surely not portend greatness: sparse foliage, low yield, and resistance to coffee rust (a fungus disease). Why would a plant with those tendencies produce a great-tasting coffee????

But meticulous tasting of microlots by Daniel revealed that the small area of his family's coffee farm planted in Geisha produced extraordinary results. Careful lot tracking and processing ensure that the inherent quality is preserved. And the Petersons are not simply resting on their Geisha laurels. They have a full-blown testing program in progress with many related varieties being grown up and tasted. Perhaps the next superstar cultivar will soon emerge there.

Meanwhile, we happily slurped and spooned our way through some Clovered Esmeralda, marveling at its shimmering kaleidescope of exotic fruit. Thanks again, Cafe Grumpy!
   from AndyS

NY Ristrettos [edited]

I recently did a little tour of New York coffee shops:

Gimme Coffee in Ithaca
Cafe Grumpy in Chelsea
Ninth Street Espresso (on 9th St!)
Joe the Art of Coffee on Waverly

It struck me that there seems to be a convergence among these diverse shops. To my taste buds at least, they all prefer small, thick ristrettos that are pretty similar in style: a tangy beginning, a mellow or fruity middle, and a sweet, syrupy finish.

Of course there were differences in texture and flavor. Gimme was the thickest and the smokiest of the bunch. And the ristretto that Felice (who always cracks up when I point the camera at him) pulled for me at Grumpy was fruitiest and, at the end, extraordinarily sweet.

But still, it appears that ordering an "espresso" at these third wave shops gets you a very small, ristretto-ish drink. Unless it's an experimental single origin shot, it will be very short, made from a Brazil-heavy blend, and won't be too bright or too fruity.

It is remarkable how, in the last two or three years, the quality that these shops make available to the public has risen spectacularly. But, as a change of pace, does anyone offer a lighter, less restricted beverage, more along the lines of a "traditional double?" Apparently customers aren't asking for it, or else the shops would meet the demand.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

   from Nick

ZacharyZachary's Big Announcement

Monday, July 16, 2007

   from Nick

Podcast #72 - Secret Working Title

Brought to you by DaVinci Gourmet and

From Artifact Coffee, Baltimore, MD. Special guests, writer and author Michaele Weissman talks about her book project about specialty coffee, and chef Spike Gjerde of Artifact Coffee and Woodberry Kitchen talks about his exploration into food and coffee... and of course, some random jibber-jabber without which the podcast wouldn't be the podcast.

1 hour 56 minutes and 23 seconds - MP3 format, 53.3 MB

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

Friday, July 13, 2007

   from Nick

Some more from zacharyzachary

Dangerous Visit to Cafe Grumpy. Part one of two. (hint: there will never be a part two)

A Fond Farewell to Cafe Collage

Cupping at the DC Counter Culture Coffee Training Center, starring Jay Caragay, Pete Licata, Mark Inman, Peter Giuliano, Aaron Ultimo, and... the incomparable Katie Carguilo

Sunday, July 01, 2007

   from Nick

zacharyzachary World Barista Championship Fund Raising Blog Drive

For those who have been enjoying the zacharyzachary YouTube videos, you have an opportunity to participate!

Zachary and Katie, the forces behind and in front of the camera, are raising funds to attend, videotape, and keep the world up-to-date on the goings on at the 2007 World Barista Championship in Tokyo, Japan, July 31-August 2, 2007.

You can help them by keeping Zachary and Katie in your prayers.

You can also help them through your generous financial contribution.

Every little bit helps, and to quote a line from the Best Picture Academy Award winning feature film, Coming To America, "Now we're glad to have the kind of money that jingles, but we'd rather have the kind that folds."

Okay... so Eddie Murphy didn't win an Oscar... whatever. Clicky-clicky and send in your donation (link to