A History of Espresso From The Smithsonian

06.27

Smithsonian Magazine recently published a great article about the history of the espresso machine that’s definitely worth reading. While it doesn’t cover every minute detail, it mentions the key points that led to the creation of a commercial espresso industry and highlights the most important elements of quality espresso.

There is an art to the espresso as well. The talent of the barista is as important as the quality of the beans and the efficiency of the machine. Indeed, it is said that a good espresso depends on the four M’sMacchina, the espresso machine; Macinazione, the proper grinding of a beans –a uniform grind between fine and powdery– which is ideally done moments brewing the drink; Miscela, the coffee blend and the roast, and Mano is the skilled hand of the barista, because even with the finest beans and the most advanced equipment, the shot depends on the touch and style of the barista. When combined properly, these four Ms yield a drink that is at once bold and elegant, with a light, sweet foam crema floating over the coffee. A complex drink with a complex history. -Jimmy Stamp

Read the full article at SmithsonianMag.

[hat tip Rob Walker]

posted by on 06.27.2012, under Brew Methods, Coffee 101

Bialetti Blueprint

06.25

I’ve mentioned before how terrible I think the moka pot is for brewing coffee, but it still remains one of the most iconic symbols of home coffee brewing. It’s a lovely object, albeit one that I’d never recommend anyone use to actually make coffee.

This beautiful blueprint illustration of the Bialetti Moka Express captures its steely geometric form in a truly fantastic way. I continue seeing it show up around the web, but I can’t verify the original artist. If someone knows the illustrator, please share!

[via Frollein M.]

posted by on 06.25.2012, under Design, Misc.

DCILY on Flipboard on Android

06.25

Flipboard has been my favorite app to read content on the iPhone and iPad since discovering it last summer. In December, DCILY  became a part of Flipboard’s featured content listings—making it the only coffee blog in the collection. Flipboard was finally released for Android devices on Friday, making it available to a lot more smart phones.

So if you’d like a new way to keep up with DCILY as well as other great content, you can find and add DCILY in the “Living” section of the Flipboard directory.

Learn more about Flipboard and download free for your iOS or Android device.

posted by on 06.25.2012, under Misc., Products

C is for Coffee, N is for Nerds

06.21

There’s a new coffee book that’s been frolicking through the meadows of the internet and floating down the streams of social media called “A–Z Coffee.” This pocket guide for self-appointed coffee nerds is a collaboration between Norwegian illustrator Lars K. Huse and designer Harald Johnsen Vøyle.

Presented as an A-Z; an art-book, and conversational guide about coffee, specialty coffee and coffee culture, filling a gap in the market overflowing with purely informative, and at times frankly boring books. It has been formed over the past six months, pulling and combining resources as both an illustrator and a coffee professional. The book is aesthetically quite simple, classic contemporary, with subtlety in line and production.

This book is far from a complete overview of specialty coffee and explicitly states that it isn’t trying to be. The content of the book is a bit random in its effort to acknowledge each letter of the alphabet, but it’s a clever and entertaining read nonetheless.

I learned, I laughed, and I longed to see Pulp Fiction again. While reading through the book, I eagerly awaited to see how the letters “X” & “Z” would be fulfilled (Spoiler Alert!) and I must say, well done. Xyleborus Coffeivorus! PS: “Hoffmann” has two “n’s.”

Find out where to pick one up yourself at Kaffikaze.no

 

posted by on 06.21.2012, under Design, Misc.

SCAA Coffeehouse Sales Trends Report

06.21

I recently worked with the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) to design their latest report illustrating sales trends among coffeehouses. This tool is developed by SCAA to give helpful insight into industry trends among specialty coffee retailers.

If you’re a coffeehouse retailer, the SCAA Coffeehouse Sales Trends Report a useful benchmarking tool available to assess the state of the retail environment and industry. Developed in conjunction with the Cleveland Research Company and a participating group of specialty coffee retailers, this report observes sales and cost trends including an examination of the competitive landscape, a 12 month outlook and category and segment trends. The report also provides an insider’s view of consumer preferences broken down by category as well as big picture trends compared to other foodservice segments. There is truly no better means of understanding your business within the larger industry than through the SCAA Coffeehouse Sales Trends Report. -SCAA

The SCAA is currently looking for more coffee retailers to participate in future reports. If you’re interested, visit the SCAA for more information.

posted by on 06.21.2012, under Design, Misc.

Nau X Snow Peak: Fancy Camp Coffee

06.20

The fashionable, eco-conscious lifestyle company Nau, is no stranger to collaborations. Their latest project is a deluxe titanium coffee set designed with Snow Peak that’s sure to improve any campsite or picnic. The set includes a French press, double-walled mug, milk frother, a bag of Stumptown coffee, and a clever cutting board that encases a Japanese-made knife. It’s the brunch kit in a bag that you never knew you needed.

I’ve been a huge fan of Nau since their early days as a company—before they were almost a casualty of the economic crash in 2008. In fact, all of my outerwear comes from their collection. So if the integrity and quality of their collaborations are as solid as their own products, this is most likely an equally good investment.

With summer upon us, you will hopefully get to spend some quality time outdoors. Here in Sweden, there are 5 weeks of mandatory holiday were most of the country runs off to a cabin, boat or archipelago—but coffee is still a daily necessity.

My preferred coffee companion while traveling may be an AeroPress, but in some cases a French press may be more practical—and it’s still an appreciated brew method. My only complaint is that it comes with a milk frother instead of a hand grinder—a much more practical and necessary tool for great coffee.

Nau x Snow Peak Café Luxe Kit ($125)

posted by on 06.20.2012, under Design, Products

Recap: World of Coffee 2012 in Vienna

06.19

For three days last week, while the world’s best baristas were competing, some of the world’s best coffee equipment and sourcing companies had also gathered to showcase what they have to offer. The World of Coffee event, organized by the SCAE, took place in the shimmering Messe Wien convention center in downtown Vienna.

These events can quickly lead to sensory overload, from all the free coffee, conversations and shiny things to touch. So these are only highlights that captured my attention.

La Marzocco got my vote for the best designed booth. From the use of Jon Contino’s black and white illustrations to the wood paneled GS3 centerpiece. I was surrounded by visual awesome while waiting for Michael Phillips and other high caliber baristas to pull shots of rotating espresso on the candy colored Strada.

If you wanted to get a feel for the equipment yourself, you could pull your own shots at the Strada station or wait in line for a glimpse of the hybrid Linea—the Strinea?

If you weren’t in the mood for espresso, Marco built an epic brew bar staffed by an international roster of baristas brewing a rotating selection of the world’s finest coffee. The cross shaped Marco bar was outfitted with Über boilers, Über hoses, and Vario-W grinders, as well as ample space for brewing demos and experimentation with guests.

There was a second brew bar at Marco’s main booth nearby, where you could hang out with Koppi’s Anne & Charles who were working alongside Charles Babinski to brew even more delicious filter coffee and serve it with a smile.

If espresso or filter coffee weren’t what you were looking for, Nordic Approach (Tim Wendelboe & Morten Wennersgaard’s coffee sourcing company) were hosting very popular cuppings every few hours throughout the week.

Both the Ethiopian and Kenyan cuppings were too full to get a spoon, but I showed up for a Honduras and Guatemala cupping that had several delights on the table.

Several pour over companies had a presence at the event as well. For the first time, I encountered more Kalita waves than Hario V60s being used at various booths. Kalita also had a stand of their own, showcasing their lovely selection of brewing kettles and glassware that continue to grow as a popular alternative to Hario.

Hario was also present with the new products they showed off in Portland, including their new timer/scale, smaller and electric Buono kettles, syphon concept and double walled glassware. Even with all the new competition, I think Hario make some of the best looking glass products you can buy—all brewing preferences aside.

Swedish-based Espresso Gear was also showing off a variety of Tiamo gear which is one of the newer brands to appear in the growing pour over scene. Tiamo is priced at the lower end of the cost spectrum, but offers several unique designs—as well as some questionably blatant knock-offs of their competitors products.

After an overload of pour over cones and pouring kettles, I wandered back to the espresso side of the showroom to get a better look at the French-made Unic espresso machines and learn about their new Viper pressure profiling system on the Stella di Caffé.

The machine offers a unique design, more akin to an 80′s arcade than the sexy lines of a La Marzocco or the grown-up aesthetic of a Nouva Simonelli. A touchpad interface and glowing light bar, combined with manual hot-rod levers add to its MechWarrior vibe.

The pressure profiling system is computer programmable (with a manual option), making the profiles consistent and repeatable. It also has a unique hydraulic assist in the grouphead, making it surprisingly easy to lock in the portafilter.

I’d be interested to hear feedback from any baristas with more experience who have worked with the Viper System. While I’m not a huge fan of the machines overall look, I was definitely impressed by some of its details and features.

I was also pleased to meet Julie Smith-Clementi, one of the owners of notNuetral—who makes specialty coffee’s iconic ceramic cups that were developed in partnership with Intelligentsia. Their booth had a spread of various cup sizes and graphic samples, including these from NYC’s Doughnut Plant (a personal favorite).

Julie also gave me an exclusive peek at a prototype of their next product in development—a thinner, more refined version of their popular Lino espresso and cappuccino cups. I look forward to sharing the final product once they’re complete.

With soo much to see at these events, it’s impossible to capture it all while also trying to watch as much of the barista competitions as possible. Overall, this was another great show that’s a bit more intimate and manageable than others I’ve been to in the past. But with so many great people gathered in one place, it’s impossible to not enjoy yourself.

posted by on 06.19.2012, under Misc., Products

Mark Your Calendar: Nordic Roaster Forum 2012

06.18

If you’re a roaster or aspiring roaster, one of the best roaster events in Europe will be taking place in Stockholm this October. The Nordic Roaster Forum is an intimate educational experience to further the knowledge and skill of specialty coffee roasters.

I attended last year to help with the event and the cuppings, lectures and parties were all fantastic experiences. You can watch the videos from last year forum on Vimeo

Nordic Roaster Forum is a 2-day seminar where 65 roasters will gather to learn about varietals, processing, sourcing, trading and roasting. The program is a mix of lectures, cuppings, dialogue and social networking. Farmers from producing countries will speak about the coffee and the trade from their perspective. Roasters will reflect and talk about their approach. We will cup the coffees processed by these farmers and roasted by the roasters.

For more information and registration, visit Nordic Barista Cup.

posted by on 06.18.2012, under Misc., Recommended Roasters

2012 World Brewers Cup Champion – Matt Perger!

06.18

On the far side of the Vienna convention center, the World Brewer’s Cup took place for its second year. This younger brother of the World Barista Championship, showcases a barista’s ability to brew great filter coffee consistently.

This year, Matt Perger from ST.ALi in Melbourne took home the title. If his name sounds familiar, the 21 year old Australian placed third in last year’s World Barista Championship, proving his versatility as a barista and making him the first person to place so high in both competitions.

Matt brewed his coffee, a washed Panama Geisha from Finca Santa Teresa, using a Hario v60. The presentation was built around the importance of grind uniformity and the damage that “fines” have on the extraction of coffee. The coffee was brewed to an extraction ratio of 23% (usually overextracted and bitter), while explaining how its possible to do this once the fines are removed.

Matt also discussed the importance of water and the huge impact it has on extracting the proper flavors from coffee. He created his own blend after experimenting with 6 different waters to reach his desired ratio of 110ppm.

As someone who prefers to drink and prepare filter coffee—I really appreciated watching this event, which has a more informal and intimate atmosphere. The finals contained many great presentations, using a broad range of brew methods. There’s a lot of potential in this competition and I look forward to watching it grow.

Congratulations to Matt Perger, your 2012 World Brewer’s Cup Champion!

++
World Brewer’s Cup Champion: Matt Perger, Australia
2nd: Andy Sprenger, USA
3rd: Cristos Loukakis, Greece
4th: Anthony Benda, Canada
5th: James Bailey, UK
6th: Robert Gruber, Austria

Watch all the final presentations on WCE’s Livestream

posted by on 06.18.2012, under Misc.

2012 World Barista Champion – Raul Rodas!

06.17

This week, 54 of the world’s best baristas shared their talent, knowledge and passion for coffee as they competed to be named the best in the world. After 3 rounds of inspiring presentations, an overflowing stadium in Vienna watched as Raul Rodas from Guatemala was crowned the 13th World Barista Champion.

Raul is now the second champion from a coffee producing country to have won the title, following last year’s winner Alejandro Mendez from El Salvador. The second place winner, Fabrizio Ramirez of Mexico, reinforced the message that coffee growing countries are able to produce world class baristas as well as the beans themselves.

As Alejandro announced the top two competitors, he switched to their native Spanish to share the proud moment with everyone in their home countries. Both competitors embraced as the stadium erupted in applause. After being handed a trophy and Guatemalan flag, we all stood in honor of Raul while his national anthem rang overhead.

Raul competed with a natural processed coffee from Guatemala and presented one of the most complex signature drinks in the competition, which involved having the judges taste 2 different drinks and then swapping them to fulfill rule requirements. (Visit Sprudge for the details of Raul’s signature drink)

It was incredible to experience the energy of the competition first hand and watch the best in the industry present their love of coffee at the highest levels. By the end of the finals, it was hard to guess who would win. But having had the pleasure of watching Raul work at two Coffee Common events, I’m excited and confident that he will represent coffee as well as anyone could over the next year and beyond.

Congratulations to Raul Rodas, the new World Barista Champion!

++
World Barista Champion: Raul Rodas, Guatemala
2nd: Fabrizio Sención Ramírez, Mexico
3rd: Colin Harmon, Ireland
4th: Miki Suzuki, Japan
5th: Stefanos Domatiotis, Greece
6th: Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, United Kingdom

Watch all the final presentations on the WCE Livestream

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posted by on 06.17.2012, under Misc.