Espresso, music and other bits of pop culture.
At the merch table
- Is this a CD you’re selling?
- It’s a 7 inch.
- Do you need a record player to play it?
- I don’t have one.
- Me neither.
The Star Wars The Clone Wars episode The Lawless included this mural as background for the fight between Darth Maul and Darth Sidious.
I wonder how many people noticed the similarity with Picasso’s Guernica.
"It is unfortunate that you’re trying to deceive me."
"There is no mercy."
Response: Brewers Cup
This is a response to the blog post that can be found here.
Disclaimer: I’m not a coffee professional, not even an amateur, just a fanatic consumer that reads all coffee tweets and blogs possible.
When the discussion about disappointment with the Brewers Cup started, my first thought was that it is a competition to find the best brewer, not a forum for roasters to use as marketing or get acknowledgement from Q-graders.
Now I understand that there is another source of frustration: the feeling that the effort put into preparation by brewers and roasters is wasted if they don’t get a chance to present in the final round.
I have to disagree. The effort put into learning and improving your craft is never wasted. You wouldn’t have worked so hard if it wasn’t for the competition and that alone is a value provided by the Brewers Cup. All that roaster and brewer learned during the preparation can (and will) be used in their daily work and this is already helping advance the industry.
There is also no need to feel guilty. The roaster knew about the risk when he agreed to work with the brewer and if he doesn’t think it’s a good investment next time, that is fine too.
Regarding the several pounds of coffee left unseen and untasted, why not use them in a special event in the cafe or roastery? That would be a great marketing opportunity to showcase roaster, brewer and cafe, and get actual customers (that probably don’t even know about the Brewers Cup) excited!
What would you do if you bought Tully’s?
I can’t imagine someone would buy a failed company unless they had a plan to make it better. But is it even possible to make something good out of Tully’s? What would you do?
Considering that “corporate is evil”, my plan would be to break it down in several independent companies: I would offer a partnership to local entrepreneurs to take over each individual store.
The terms of the agreement would be:
- They would need to get rid of every corporate material and create an individual personality for the location - including name. They could keep the furniture or replace it at their own cost.
- They would be free to chose high quality specialty coffee roasters to use in each location and handle orders directly.*
- Each barista would need to go through the BGA trainings and get a certification (I would pay for it; this would be part of my investment). Each store would need to make a time schedule showing when each of their baristas would go through all certification levels.
- Each store would made an investment plan to replace the coffee making equipment if needed.
- Revenue and profit sharing to be agreed individually.
Some times I suspect I’m a non-taster, so I wanted to take the Sensory Skills Test to know for sure.
The official test consists in identifying salt, sweet and sour solutions in different combinations and concentrations. I created a simplified version for amateur beginners.
First I decided two use only two concentrations instead of three to make it easier and second I decided to use bitter instead of salt because I think it is more realistic to find bitter flavors in coffee. Although a completely balanced espresso should have equal parts of salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami, the 2013 US Barista Championship Sensory Score Sheet only asks for a harmonious balance of sweet / acidic / bitter.
An internet search indicated that quinine is a reference for bitter taste, so I used tonic water for the bitter solution. Unfortunately the tonic water I used contains also citric acid and saccharine, so it was not perfect but good enough for my test because it still has a very distinct flavor.
The base for the taste samples were:
- sweet solution: 100 g of water saturated with sugar
- acidic solution: 30 g of lime juice in 70 g of water
- bitter solution: tonic water left in a open container for a couple of hours to de-gas
The taste samples were:
- A (high acidity): 20 g of the acidic solution + 10 g of water
- a (low acidity): 10 g of the acidic solution + 20 g of water
- S (high sweetness): 20 g of the sweet solution + 10 g of water
- s (low sweetness): 10 g of the sweet solution + 20 g of water
- B (high bitterness): 20 g of the bitter solution + 10 g of water
- b (low bitterness): 10 g of the bitter solution + 20 g of water
Part 1: by blindly tasting the samples two by two according to the type, I was able to tell which was the strongest and which was the weakest.
Part 2: taking the 6 samples in random order, I first separated in groups of two according to the type and then repeated part 1. At first I confused the bitter and sweet samples, but after a second sip I was able to identify them all correctly.
Part 3: There are 24 possible combinations of the 6 samples but I decided to use only six: A+B, A+S, B+S, a+b, a+s, b+s. I dumped the left overs (2 g + 2 g each) in new cups.
To my own surprise, I was able to identify them all!
In the future there will be electrical power plants powered by humans.
It is easy to convert treadmills to generate electricity instead of consuming it and create a schedule to have them operated 24 hours a day.
People will go there in shifts:
- voluntarily because it is healthy and good for the planet;
- in exchange for the gym fees;
- as a job for a salary;
- forced by a fascist government.
Espresso as Spiritual Experience
This TM needs to be updated after the legalization of marijuana but the fact is that caffeine, besides being able to help you land a job, get a date, and win a race, can open the Doors of Perception.
Drugs have been traditionally used by some cultures to achieve an expanded state of mind and allow the individual to become one with the Creator and the Universe.
I’ve seen hipster disciples dutifully worshiping barista priests across the coffee bar altar.
Some times I have an out of body experience. I leave the coffee shop happy and floating on the taste notes. I’m not myself anymore, but someone in communion with other espresso appreciators.
Response: 192 Espressos – The Best of Seattle Coffee 2012
Every time I see a Best Coffee list I think about that scene in the movie Elf. Best in what? Although I’m not sure if taste can be an objective measure of quality, I love the fact that MAS introduced a systematic methodology to quantify the best - or favorite - espressos and coffee places.
So much so that I’ve been using his coffee rating system since 2011 and entered all 121 espressos I had in 2012 in a spreadsheet. I also couldn’t care less about the hours, WIFI signal and seating. I do care about interior design and service, but that doesn’t influence the rating:
- what I expect from specialty coffee in 2012
- pleasant surprise
- God shot (didn’t happen this year)
For the places I visited more than 5 times in Seattle, here is the ranking.
MAS didn’t visit Empire and I didn’t visit Trabant in 2012, but we seem to have come to the same conclusion that Kuma is doing an excellent job with their roasting and accounts.
The other 49 espressos distributed over 37 Seattle places don’t give enough data for a differentiated ranking. However, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel and try 41 espressos in 28 coffee shops in Edmonton, Vancouver, Tacoma, Olympia, Ridgefield, Portland, Ashland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego.
Of course every Seattleite wants to see his town in the first place, but this result is easy to explain: in other cities I only went for those places I new would be really good (according to recommendations from Sprudge, teh coffee, espresso.map and Twitter), while locally I was still exploring all possible coffee shops in the hope of finding a hidden gem. I intend to change this in 2013. The good news is that today it is possible to find specialty coffee in more and more locations around the country and the world.
I didn’t realize I had tried 47 different roasters until I ran the statistics! For those with more than 5 espressos, here is the ranking.
Thank you MAS for the inspiration!