Saturday, June 28, 2003
report: day 1 of nyc scaa membership event
such an incredible day! yes, today was the day a wonderful bunch of people from everywhere: montreal, california, philadelphia, long island, connecticut all got together and shared their love of coffee in support of the scaa's new consumer membership category!
we just owe an incredible debt of thanks to david dallis, jim munson, and steve schulman of dallis coffee, as well as ken nye of the coffeeshop higher grounds and jeff and guy of kudo beans.
we also have to thank chipper harris of coffekids for the buttons and t-shirts, as well as wholelattelove for its gift coffee.
we got seriously started by 10:30am, when david dallis gave us an excellent tour of his entire operation. all attendees were fascinated by the commercial roasting process. david is just such an excellent speaker, and quite willing to get into the technical depths the more machine-minded folks wanted to hear.
david's eyes danced with joy when owen egan, of montreal, produced his fluke therometer and thermocouple to measure machine temperatures.
steve schulman fired up the diedrich drum roaster and showed everyone how to roast. he did two batches of african coffees, including a yrgacheffe.
we sampled these and an earlier kona in the french press, before moving on to the stone cupping table and actually getting down to the slurp and spit ourselves. david demonstrated the use of the agtron to look at roast levels, but also talked about how to use your senses to judge a correct roast.
there was a short discussion on the merits of the two batches of african coffees we cupped, which was better and why.
after that, we pulled shots on the faema e61 legend (flash required). well, actually, i couldn't keep my hands of the thing!
i was pulling shots all day whenever i could get near the machine. after years of pulling shots on my rancilio silvia, i had to stop every now and again to break old habits.
but i have to say that the faema is a delight to work with. i've never pulled shots so good, and the machine just makes good coffee seem effortless.
it truly makes you wonder why most coffeeshop shots are so bad -- i can't imagine that with a good fresh coffee and a decent grind you couldn't pull consistent perfection from such a machine.
all you need is a little attention to detail and a pure heart. then the coffee is beautiful!
throughout the entire event there was so much laughter, you could just feel the joy in the air. i felt supercharged not from the coffee, but from the camaraderie that is a natural part of the coffee community.
everyone is endlessly positive, idealistic, so willing to share. and you see that in triplicate with the people at dallis coffee. after 3 hours at dallis, we piled into the van and went down to see nyc's best barista, the coffee artist ken nye. perfect latte art drifts effortlessly from his wrist.
sadly, he was having a water line problem and could pull only a few drinks. but his rosetta latte art shone in each one. after about 30 minutes of everyone quizzing ken on latte art technique, we hopped back into the van and had lunch at kudo.
charter scaa consumer member david westebbe, of boston, was much taken by the tiny bodum timers that fit on the stem of the kudo press pot, so you never let the coffee sit too long. press pots after all are the kudo specialty.
wendy jensen of the scaa, who had come from california (you go, surf babe!), talked to the consumer members about the association. i'm pleased to say that everyone who came was a member -- delia konzett had actually joined in advance!
long-time alt.coffee member and scaa charter member richard freilich talked with wendy about the kind of educational opportunities he hoped the scaa could provide consumers.
maddy page, from philadelphia, was just a joy to meet! what a laugh she has. . .and we also had a dallis customer, a local, mark, who came down just to try shots. steve bookman, another new yorker, is my hero, since he came to my previous event last weekend and made it today as well.
the final great moment: watching everyone try to teach wendy from california how to hail a cab in the east village. hilarious!
owen, maddy, richard, steve bookman, steve schulman, and myself are all meeting for the second day of this incredible event at 10am at the fancy food show tomorrow. there we intend to descend en masse on all the espresso and coffee exhibitors, as well as taste chocolate!
stayed tuned for day 2!
Friday, June 27, 2003
vietnam, indonesia sign coffee agreement
long-time readers know that i follow the developments in the world-price depression known as the coffee crisis with some care.
and today's no exception, even as i finalize all the details of tomorrow's awesome scaa nyc consumer member coffee event weekend at dallis.
recently vietnam, whose entry into the coffee market with its huge supply of low-quality beans has helped precipitate the problem, announced it was getting out of the robusta business.
to put some teeth in this, that country has apparently signed an agreement with indonesia, also a large robusta producer. this agreement seems to pledge that both countries will cut their robusta exports by 50%, according to the financial times.
further, the article suggests, the agreement could allow the two countries to act in the coffee market much in same way that opec does to set world oil prices.
also, today's washington post sees a nice article that suggests the u.s.a. may shortly rejoin the i.c.o.. and it quotes my pal ted lingle!
long-time readers know that getting the u.s.a. back with the i.c.o. has been one of my pet projects for a while. . .
Thursday, June 26, 2003
regional coffee culture part v
people often ask me to describe what bccy is about.
this puzzles me, because to my mind, bccy is obviously about relationships: about how we develop them with others and ourselves through baking at home, making coffee for our families at home, sharing chocolate, and doing yoga.
yoga of course underlies the relationship gig: it helps us cultivate ourselves and learn better how to carry our love to others.
thus i talk about making coffee in my home, how you can make better coffee as an affordable luxury for your family and yourself in your home, how to delight yourself with better chocolate, all that.
but these things connect us to the outside world as well. thus i often discuss the coffee crisis and coffeekids. and regional coffee cultures as well.
we know what coffee means to us but what does it mean to other people, to their daily lives? we love coffee in a certain way; how do they love coffee, the most social and intellectual beverage?
and of course from that we discover that coffee loving is a beautiful thing that connects us with others in a number of profound ways.
but these ways can also be humorous, as in this article on canadian coffee culture that contrasts the yuppie taste for starbucks with the more-homegrown preference for the local canadian chain tim hortons.
i liked this article, because my experience of canadian coffee culture is only with places in vancouver, like caffe artigiano, and with people like mark prince. i had no real idea of the divide between espresso vs. drip culture in canada. it all seemed like excellence in deruta to me.
or this encouraging article that explains how the british are slowly beginning to move from their centuries-old preference for tea. could you imagine british life without tea? a new british life with a coffee culture?
it's true -- the financial times quotes a new report: "the british, once regarded as a nation of tea drinkers, are having a passionate affair with coffee."
once regarded as a nation of tea drinkers! as if it's a fait accompli! the british coffee shop market is expected grow at a compound annual rate of 5.1% thru 2005.
but speaking of chocolate, i have to say i've now had the chance to really enjoy the bruco from fabio lenci. it's a marvelous chocolate, although i found a little teeny grit in the chewing, as if i could crunch the sugar just a tad. . .
but the flavors! the coffee is heavenly; i particularly enjoyed with vanilla-rum with coffee after lunch. definitely recommended.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
i stand corrected!
long-time readers know i usually refer to myself and fellow bccy habitueés as coffee lovers.
don schoenholdt of gillies has informed me that this phrase deeply offends his delicate professional nose. the true term, i am told, is coffeaphile.
don also objects to the french version of this, cofféaphiliste. he thinks it's just plain lame-o.
this puts us more in line with our pal clay gordon at chocophile; however, what then do we call us yoginis? yogaphiles?
the term panophile i suppose might cover bread; but what about pizza? pizzafiliste?
as for those of us who have the privilege of living in the chicest borough, brooklyn, and lovin' every moment of it, we prefer the term brooklynista to the coarser brooklynite.
brooklynista is just more euphonious, don't you all agree?
transit question for scaa membership event
spoke to the amazing jim munson of dallis just now. they are open to renting a van for a time.
the question: do we need it most to get people from manhattan to dallis in the morning, or to get people from dallis to the east village in the afternoon?
i know some of you are driving in, and some are coming by train. i don't know if you are all staying in manhattan, or what?
please email me, or leave a comment here asap to tell me the best use of this van! we need to rent it by tomorrow or the next day.
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
another scaa coffee event reminder
here's an update for the weekend's scaa membership coffee event:
please meet at dallis coffee, 100-30 atlantic avenue in queens, at 10am on sat., june 28. the nearest subway appears to be the 104th st. stop on the J. steve schulman requests everyone to bring your homeroast!
at dallis we will decide what's the best time for everyone to meet on sunday the 29th at the javits center on 11th ave. for the fancy food show.
and then of course on mon., the 30th, we all meet at the colombian coffee federation on e. 57th st. at 6pm for the scaa cocktail party.
i sent out private emails to the 15-16 people who reserved spaces. if you didn't get your email, email me pronto for complete details!
at this moment, i believe the new york times and the new york sun may be covering this event; perhaps even a jersey paper, the bergen county record. . . and scaa membership person, wendy jensen, is coming too!
i can't wait to meet you all! and for you long-suffering bread, chocolate, and yoga fans, when this event is over, i promise the blog will go back to a more normal balance of topics.
thanks for your patience! it's another form of yoga. . .
Monday, June 23, 2003
scaa paper on integrity and freshness
recently there was a huge hullabaloo on alt.coffee having to do with the scaa's stand on coffee freshness.
it was there alleged that the scaa had no information or position on freshness. this untruth pained my heart deeply.
thus, i am finally pleased to be able to offer this short document (adobe acrobat required) briefly outlining the scaa's official position on coffee quality, integrity and freshness.
enjoy. . .
Sunday, June 22, 2003
excellent, most excellent
today we all gathered together for the most awesome coffee party. we had so much coffee, it was amazing.
not only did i have 4 kinds of gillies wonderful espresso, but todd and gary of whole latte love brought their java joe and cult espresso malabar gold.
steve bookman, that awesome altie, surprised us all with some of his amazing aged java homeroast; and neighbor alan rothstein brought allegro.
it was an incredible experience as so many strangers met and became friends over a cup of amber. this is the power of coffee!
the reporter wanted to focus on grinding coffee for the silvia. she was discovering herself how important fresh coffee freshly ground was to a good shot.
for a perfect espresso, the coffee must be ground just before the pull. so if you make coffee at home, you must grind at home.
i hope we brought the benefits of grinding fresh home to her and also carried our love and passion for specialty coffee to her. certainly by the end i think we had finally charmed even the photographer, chester!