Wednesday, January 07, 2009 - 09:48 PM - 4 years, 4 months ago - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs - Lukas' Kleine Kaffee-Welt
I love cupping coffee. I love the in-your-face tastes and aromas that this method of drinking (or analyzing) coffee gives you, the overwhelming sensations you get when slurping, and if you forget to spit, the overcaffeinated funkyness afterwards. The totally obvious difference from coffee to coffee or roast to roast, as well as the very subtle similarities. The pure pleasure every sip gives you. Yet at the same time, I have major difficulties in describing what I taste, what I smell and what I see. I find it very hard to exactly point out what is it I taste in a specific coffee, and how it develops during cooling. As a bonus, I still (after all the years) haven't really grasped what the term 'chocolate' means in a coffee. There are so many different tastes in chocolate that I find it hard to say 'this espresso was especially chocolaty'. It's more than possible that I just don't get it, but it can't be that important as my palate seems to be working well enough - in last years cuptasting I had 6 out of the 8 triples right. Not too bad considering the cup tasting competition was the only 'real' cupping I've had during that year! Let's see what this year brings for me. Especially with my shiney new totally awesome cupping spoon ...
For more information on how to cup and evaluate, read Hasbean Steve's article and/or Marc Prince's introduction to cupping. Also, Wolfredo has an excellent series of german articles about cupping, so if you speak german and interested in this they're a must read ("Cupping Grundlagen" and "Kaffee verkosten, Schritte und Termini".
The only thing that can teach me describe coffee better is, I believe (and you guessed), more cupping. So a few days before christmas, I roasted three batches of IACs Yirgacheffe with slightly different profiles to different roast degrees - just before second crack, to start of second crack and a few seconds before rolling second. It was the first time I actually made three roasts in a row with an eye on keeping them as similar as possible, to just different roast degrees. Turned out not as complicated as imagined - Using a good scale, a (hopefully quit exact) thermocouple and nearly-full gas cartidges, it worked quite well. The whole flat smelled funny for a few hours, though, as my batches are 450g and each produces a lot of smoke. A real roaster would make this so much easier (at least I hope) and reproducable ...
So, here are my totally unscientific tasting notes (I tried using the Cupping Database from greenbean, but I as of yet fail miserably in quantifying my notes so I just kept writing)! The three batches are labelled #1 (before second crack), #2 (beginning of second) and #3 (before rolling second). I had two cuppings - the first only about 5 hours after roasting, the second two days after roasting. I think I'll never cup so early after roast again, as it was really, really misleading - after the first I had #1 written of as a misroast, but it developed really well afterwards.
#1 lightest of all, before 2nd crack. 'cheap' muted acidity - citrus like, but more like old citrus juice the 'cheapness' goes away during cooling, body is quite light, a little sweetness shining through. Unbalanced unbalanced, unsatisfying becomes more juicy when cool
#2 medium roast, first pops of 2nd crack. slight sweetness, nice body, quite balanced seems very round acidity becomes sweeter and livelier as it cools, fruity-sweetness but the fruit is muted, but more intense when cooling quite boring inbetween #1 and #3, but nice for itself
#3 darkest of all 2nd crack before rolling. less acidity, muted fruit, body more dark fruit as it cools roundish body smokey berry-like flavours, more berry as it cools
#1 feels darker, more body, very nice acidity. livelier, deeper, darker. mouthfeel becomes lighter when cooling, the acidity is way more 'there' and less muted compared to first cupping after roast. lively, nice flowery aftertaste, acidity becomes more dominant over time, with hints of light wood sweet woody something with red berry aroma
#2 very similar to #1 when hot, less body, less pronounced acidity sets itself apart when cooling, little more pleaseant body, the berries begin to develop. the aftertaste is a lot more fruity less flowery, thicker mouthfeel than #1 and more body lingering around develops a thicker, sirupyer mouthfeel when cooling. very balanced, but I believe something inbetween #2 and #1, more on the #2 side, would be perfect for this bean sweet berry juice
#3 sirupy, dark ripe berries, heavy on the tongue sweet dark berry sirup, heavy body heavy on the tongue. hints of marmelade/jam in the aftertaste, long deep aftertaste slightly burned rubber develops, just a tiny bit. roasted wood at the same time, with dark overripe berries aroma on top, and body body body (did I mention that I love this roasted wood taste? Oh yes, there was this Yemen Mokka Matari thing last year ... ;))
#3 filtered clean clean clean cup, medium body hints of ripe berry mouthfeel juicy-clear and not as wild as when cupped
And at day 10 after roast, #3 turned out to be a really tasty espresso. Very lovely, very berry, very satisying. I was quite sad after all the coffee was used up (some of it had to go as christmas presents, so I ran out quickly!).
So, that was my christmas coffee cupping, and I'll try to do more in the future. Perhaps I'll even write about them, but don't hold me responsible if I'm not! Oh and by the way: Happy new year 2009!
Judging for the 2. Hannoversche Barista Battle
Sunday, December 21, 2008 - 12:45 PM - 4 years, 5 months ago - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs - Lukas' Kleine Kaffee-Welt
Edzard did it again: he organized what could be summarized as a barista jam, latte art throwdown and preparation for competition event. Together with the good people, the vegetarian food, a coffee cart outside and too much alcohol in the evening - what a nice day!
Quite a shame that I only get around writing about it half a year after the actual event took place. But better late than never, and since I get a surprising amount of friendly nags from people who actually read what I write I feel the urge to at least finish this post that sat in the pipeline for three months!
So, back to the event: The second (now hopefully annual) Hannovesche Barista Battle, taken place on August 31st at Edzards DerMuffinMann, Rehbockstr. 2 in Hannover. As I was fully aware that I'd not be as good as last year, and at the same time the others would've become better and better, I tried being smart for a change: to get on the judges panel instead of competing and making myself look like a complete idiot! Luckily, Edzard agreed, and I got to do my very first (though not 'SCAE official') judging. A very strange and good feeling: not being the one to be judged is a real relief. Takes the pressure off it. But at the same time arises responsibility: you want to be fair. To everyone. That cappu, is that 7 or 8 out of 10 points? And how to justify that decision if not by gut feeling? If the last was 7 then is this one 5 or 6? Not so easy as it turned out!
Judging also showed me that I often had a different opinion than the others, which initially confused me quite a lot. But since I could communicate my point more often than not, that confusion went away and I quickly grew more confident in my own tasting and judging. That was quite a day! Unfortunatly, I didn't take any camera with me and so far didn't catch any pics online. I'm sure the pictures captured the feeling from that day very well, and if they pop up I'll link them here. Edzard even promised some videos, let's see how that one turnes out!
Really look forward to the next episode of the Barista Battle, and I try to write about it rather sooner than about this one, but I don't make any promise here as the next year is already planned to be a dense one!
All the best, merry christmas and a happy new year to my few lovely readers!
Panama Hacienda La Esmeralda Especial Batch 5
Friday, September 05, 2008 - 09:58 AM - 4 years, 8 months ago - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs - Lukas' Kleine Kaffee-Welt
It took me that long to write up something on that special coffee. No apologies for that, as was quite busy (and still am) at the moment, and this sat long enough in the pipeline to be ready now.
So. What a name for a coffee. But it's good to be precise on this one - it allows poeple to identify the exact batch of coffee I'm talking about. That doesn't happen too often even in the special specialty coffee world, where direct trade models are being established, importers buy based on quality and building long-term relations with the farmers, roasters roast to perfection with each bean and blend having it's own roasting profile. So this is the batch I received from Walter's Kaffeespezialität, and I finally decided to write what I think about it after a friendly nag from a friend (I wrote this quite a while ago but only now managed to find the time to overlook and publish it).
The setting of this tasting was quite a thing for me. At Squaremilecoffee, roasted by Anette Moldvaer, together with a good friend that I've made through toomuchcoffee.com, side by side with a Cup of Excellence from Costa Rica, El Portillo if I remember correctly, and an unnamed Rwandan sample if memory servers me right.
It was a blind cupping, that means Anette arranged the coffees for us, three cups of each, without us knowing what was what. But to be frank, it was outright clear from the first sip which coffee was the Esmeralda, just because it was so different from what I was used to. (Now this is the point where I stopped writing some two months ago. Great.)
I could grasp why people are paying so much money for coffee from this farm. It's different. It's one of these showcase coffees that Steve talked about in the latest common grind podcast. But it's more than that: it is actually very, very, very, very, oh yes very enjoyable. The mouthfeel was more tee-y than any coffee I'd encountered before, light on body in a good way, the smell was very peachy as was the taste. Very sweet, too. Somehow, the taste reminded me of that lovely peach iced tea I used to drink ten years ago. Thouroughly enjoyable. It's a shame that I didn't make more notes back then, but I will have the chance to cup it again, as I still have around a hundred gram left that really need to be roasted soon. I just don't know yet how, as always!
In the eternal department of new toys my newest addition: Bestest of cupping spoons ever invented (not that I'd know ...) Thank you Dr. Schwarz, it's a blessing and such a lovely tool!
Being an admin and doing things right:
Tuesday, August 19, 2008 - 03:38 PM - 4 years, 9 months ago - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs - Lukas' Kleine Kaffee-Welt
Square Mile Coffee
Saturday, August 16, 2008 - 02:51 PM - 4 years, 9 months ago - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs - Lukas' Kleine Kaffee-Welt
So I had the pleasure (and a pleasure it was!) to visit Anette, Stephen and James at Squaremilecoffee two times during my stay in England. They are located a little outside of central London towards Hackney, in a small road alongside car repair shops, car painting shops and a glazier's workshop if I remember correctly. It's basically in a garage. That's what surprised me the most: they are a small small shop, having one room at the moment plus upstairs, and all their stuff packed in that tiny (or so it seems, it's packed full of coffee stuff: roasters, bags of greens, tins (with valve) of roasted, a myriad of coffee brewing devices including their Synesso) garage! I'd have taken photos, but that would have kind of ruined the atmosphere for me if you know what I mean. Most of the time I sat there staring around, being impressed and unable to speak much. I wasn't able to attend the cupping on the first day since I had to catch my coach towards Bristol, but I left them the small bag of the Esmeralda for Anette to roast so that we could cup it the week after. About being challenged in established views: James made a little french press of their Muchoki Peaberry: grind really coarse (with their Ditting grinder), poured, steep time 4 minutes, afterwards spooning away of the top 1-2cm of foam/grounds/coffee (I first thought 'wtf?!', but proof was in the cup!), press, wait, pour into cups. Contrary, what I'm used to: grind way finer, but still coarser than for filtere (with my Major), wet the grounds and stir to get them all wet, wait a few seconds, pour the rest, steep time 3 minutes, press, pour into cups. Result: a completely different flavour profile in the cup. That french press he made was about the cleanest and cup I've had from a french press, nearly no sludge, no perceived body because of the fines, very nice mouthfeel, very aromatic (well thanks to the Muchoki). The roast was quite light, but in that french press it worked damn well. While trying to replicate this profile at home, I found that my Major just isn't up to the task of grinding coarse, consistently. I can get about half as coarse as James with the Ditting (quality of grinds are so hard to compare verbally!), and with his method it leads to a very nice cup, but it's still far away from the clean, overly aromatic cup I've had at their place. One day I'll get one of those Ditting or Mahlkönig bag grinders just for my morning french press pleasure!
Okay, I somehow hesitate to write about the Esmeralda. Why? It's a really, and I mean it, special coffee for me. I fear that trying too much to describe the taste and aroma might do no good to my memories of it. I'll let a few more days pass and decide later wether I'll describe it or not. A small regret that I left the rest of the roasted Esmeralda with Anette and took the rest of the greens with me - it should've been the other way round. No chance I can roast the rest anywhere near as good as Anette did with the first half, and I suppose the greens would have been more useful for her as they're to me right now. I realized that on the plane next morning. Gah.
2. Hannoversches Barista Battle
Saturday, August 16, 2008 - 02:42 PM - 4 years, 9 months ago - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs - Lukas' Kleine Kaffee-Welt
See you on August 31 in Hannover!
Coffee in London
Sunday, August 10, 2008 - 12:45 PM - 4 years, 9 months ago - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs - Lukas' Kleine Kaffee-Welt
Last week, I've been to England and visited London for two days. When I'd been there last year, I just hated that city. Now I know that this was mostly due to lack of planning and most definitly lack of good coffee. When I woke up at Toast's place we had a quick chat and a quick coffee. Believe me, waking up in a totally foreign city, being with a friend and having a good espresso is priceless. Equipped with a map and the address of places I'd liked to visit, my small journey started: on to flat white, where I had some really unexpected coffee. Dwayne (is that spelling correct?) pulled an incredibly rich, thick, dense, chocolaty fruit bomb short black (or double ristretto as I'd call it) from their new Squaremilecoffee blend. That shot was totally unusual for me, as when I watched him prepare it I just thought "oh my don't be so cruel and put so much coffee and aargh you're tamping way too hard"! But boy was I wrong. So that's the antipodean style of coffee then. Brilliant. I was so impressed that I came back later to try some of their milk drinks, and man, was I impressed. Again. Just about perfect. Never seen that kind of microfoam - at all - before. So well balanced. If you ever get there, the piccollo latte is about the perfectest balance of coffee and milk as it can get. We are so middle-age in germany! Okay enough praising of flat white. Went to Monmouth as well for a cup of filtered coffee, and it was quite nice - well filtered, good coffee, although just a tad bit overextracted for me. A gram more in the filter would have done wonders to the taste balance, but that's not to say it wasn't good. Better than most if not any other place where you get filtered I've been to yet. Next on the list (on day two) was Fernandez & Wells (thanks Cakeboy for the recommendation!). They have two locations in the same block that are funnily intertwined, one is a Café, the other I'd call a Bistro. Had a very nice chat to the three guys operating the Bistro and some delicious breakfast! At the Café, the shot I've had was very nice (they use the Monmouth espresso blend), but I've really never seen a barista working so incredibly messy on the grinder. They must waste about double the coffee they actually use! Very interesting style, but hey the coffee was good so I don't complain. Highly recommended, and just around the corner of flat white.
Expect a short writeup about my visit to Squaremilecoffee and the tasting of the Esmeralda, me being challenged in my established views of brewing coffee again (don't you just love that!) and that mysterical pressure profiling device that didn't work quite as well under 232 bars of pressure but James said that 132 bars was just about perfect. Oh and a sighting of the GS/3 in a small café at Hackney road which at that time to me was like an oasis!
Saturday, July 26, 2008 - 04:17 PM - 4 years, 10 months ago - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs - Lukas' Kleine Kaffee-Welt
I can't help but just lean back and enjoy this coffee. Every single cup.
More description would ruine the experience. Love!
Kenya Gethumbwini Peaberry
Monday, July 21, 2008 - 01:21 PM - 4 years, 10 months ago - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs - Lukas' Kleine Kaffee-Welt
I'm sorry to pollute you with my tasting notes, I feel the urgent need to get some more training on developing my taste descriptions and what's the best place for it if not here?
The Gethumbwini was on my wish-list for the most part of the last year, but I never really got around ordering and roasting it. That moment finally came last week and I'm now sipping a cup of nicely brewed Gethumbwini Peaberry, roasted three days ago on my lovely stovetop roaster, possibly a tad bit too dark but still before the first pops of second crack.
This coffee tastes in many ways as I expected it to, which is a nice suprise and means I can start to really trust in my own senses and sensuary memory (I've had the non-peaberry over a year ago and still remember clearly how it tasted to me back then).
Brewed in a Melitta porcelain filter (I really need to rinse the paper filter for longer beforehand), this cup is so bold and so clean at the same time. It has a very blackcurrantlike zing to it and high, pleasantly high acidity. That berry taste is a bit like the Fortaleza which has that notes more in the aroma, whereas the Gethumbwini has it in-your-face in the cup and in the nose. The aroma of the fortaleza I'd describe as more wildberry like, whereas the Gethumbwini is really more blackcurrant than anything else. The body is as bold as you can get through a paper filter, very distinct and not overwhelming at the same time.
Through altering the roast profile I could possibly bring out the blackcurrant a bit smoother and mute the acidity just a little little bit, but I fear that's out of my possibilities with the stovetop thing and reserved for times having a proper roaster. Curious how this will taste in the vacpot!
Update: sipping through my second cup, of which I thought I wrecked up the brewing. But holy cow this is liquid blackcurrant juice, or wait, more like blackcurrent fruit tea. wow.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - 05:45 PM - 4 years, 10 months ago - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs - Lukas' Kleine Kaffee-Welt
A while ago, I wrote about the freshness of coffee. The last two days, friends were coming to taste some of Walter's coffees I told them so much about - the Fortaleza and a blend of Rwanda Nyamagabe and the Guatemala El Bosque (guess where the idea originated from). The coffees were roasted on July 3rd (the blend) and July 7th (the Fortaleza), that makes them 8 and 12 days "old". I won't go into the tasting details today (other than we all got the berry berry berry aroma of the Fortaleza (which I still can't really believe) and a very interesting ... mix of the fruity plus liqourice plus great mouthfeel from the blend), but there's one thing both of my friends said:
"So this is how fresh coffee tastes!"
Both were stunned (at least that's what I interpret into their facial expression). One of them a home barista, one a professional.
Hell yes, this is how fresh coffee tastes and I have to admit that my writings of April last year don't take into account just how crazily good fresh great coffee tastes.