SCAA Seattle, Day Two

SCAA Seattle, Day Two

A year ago I noted the Colombia Coffee Federation was planning an agressive international rollout of Juan Valdez-branded specialty cafes. This morning [early this morning!] the Juan Valdez at 5th and Pike in Seattle held its grand opening. It’s the third such coffee house now in the United States, and the first in the Mermaid’s backyard. The coffee? Quite good. Okay, so the cappuccino was prepared in what I’ve come to think of as the Italian style… the milk textured and stiff, though still sweey and not dry. The premise of the cafes: demonstrate to the coffee-drinker-on-the-street that there’s more to Colombian coffee than something that’s “Mountain Grown”… that there are, in fact, a great variety of coffee growing regions and resulting coffee flavors. At least as many regions, perhaps, as there are uniformed folks behind the counter in the shop. The neat part of the plan: the hundreds of thousands of Colombian growers who are members of the Federation are, in fact, now shareholders in these new coffee shops. There are no middlemen… so there should be a significantly greater share of profits that find their way back to the growers. The idea is bold. It’s risky. And it just might...

More SCAA Stuff!

Owen is posting his photos from the SCAA on his spanking-new blog. Definitely worth a look; he’s a far, far better shutterbug than I. And the poutine? It’s a Canuck...
SCAA Seattle, Day One

SCAA Seattle, Day One

While day one at SCAA in Seattle offered a number of notable moments, not the least of which was an affirming and thoughtful and thoroughly enjoyable keynote by Jane Goodall — yes, that Jane Goodall — in my mind it was an after-hours event at Hines Public Market coffee house that really capped the day. Hines’ baristi — and more than a few talented counter folks from espresso bars from ’round the country and around the world — kept this five-group La Marzocco humming all night long. The result: tazzo after tazzo of fabulous coffee… like this lovely espresso macchiato. In Hines’ La Marzocco Lounge, a gleaming chrome mini-museum of vintage espresso machines — like this pristine La Marzocco paddle-group — fired the imagination, and more than a little gear-envy. [By the way, that’s Green Mountain’s Don Holly gesticulating in the...

Hello from Seattle…

Newsflash: It’s not raining in Seattle! At the moment, anyway. Me and 10,000 of my closest personal friends are have converged in this, the city of my birth, for the Specialty Coffee Association of America Conference and Expo… and the place is *thick* with coffee folks. I ran into Kenneth Davids [of Coffee Review] and Danny O’Neil [of The Roasterie] just walkin’ from where the bus dropped me off [3 blocks from my hotel… and all uphill.] More tomorrow, after I’ve shaken off 16 hours and 3 time zones worth of travel. Now, I wonder where might I find a cup of...
Review: The Zojirushi Fresh Brew

Review: The Zojirushi Fresh Brew

I’ve spent the last week getting to know the Zojirushi Fresh Brew… and for the most part, I’m quite pleased. It has some foibles [which I’ll get to in a moment] but on the whole it’s a very capable coffee brewer. More, it’s one of the very few home models I know that can brew 8 cups of just-roasted coffee at a proper 2 tablespoons per cup ratio without fuss, and — this is important! — maintain proper brewing temperatures throughout the entire brew cycle. The details… Zoji has been making vacuum pots and the like for nearly 100 years, and they’ve been making an assortment of rice-cookers, tea brewers and hot water dispensers for decades. While this is, I believe, their first home coffee brewer, they’ve got more than a little experience in kitchen electrics. They’ve put that experience to good use. If you’ve ever brewed up a thermos full of coffee using a big Melitta filter cone then this setup will look pretty familiar. For all intents and purposes, the Fresh Brew simply adds an automated hot water delivery system to the mix… with a few improvements. Improvement number one: not only does this system brew into an all-stainless thermal carafe [no hot plate here, thankyouverymuch] but it also insulates the brew basket. What good is it, after all, to heat up all that water if it’s just going to get cold while you’re brewing? This is huge! This is important! This is… well, I’m excited about it, okay? Improvement number two: the Fresh Brew features an accurate gauge of water volume. When it reads that you’ve...

Tasting: Organic Galapagos

Rating: [rating:3.5/5] The most intriguing coffee I’ve tasted this week is courtesy of Bernie Digman, roaster/owner of Milagro Coffee y Espresso in Las Cruces, NM. The coffee… an organic bean from the Galapagos Islands. Yes, those Galapagos Islands… the archipelago in the middle of the Pacific, 600 miles from anywhere, made famous by Mr. Darwin and a curious collection of creatures found nowhere else on earth. Fittingly enough, the flavor profile of this coffee does much to kindle one’s thoughts on the origin of species… or at least the origins of this particular cup. The story is told thusly: in 1869 enterprising French colonists planted Bourbon coffee trees on the island of San Cristobal — the easternmost of the archipelago — and that it’s these same ancient coffee trees that are still producing today. It sounds lovely, and quaint and entirely unlikely, except that I’ve recently heard from an American grower of heirloom coffee that they, too, have coffee trees that are still producing after more than 100 years. So, how’s it taste? This is a delightfully fragrant coffee… its aromas are all sweetness and caramel. In the cup it’s mildly bright with bits of lemony citrus acidity. Its flavors are fairly lush and layered and offer notes of tobacco and leather. All in all nicely balanced, perhaps a little soft and slightly puckish [read, tart] in its finish. Frankly, it cups more like an African coffee than anything else — certainly it’s not much like a Central or South American bean. It reminds me of quite recent beans from Rwanda, or 2-3 years’ distant crops from Uganda. Recommended....
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