In April I had the pleasure of touring some of Baltimore’s finest coffee establishments, including the city’s newest addition, LaMill—a transplant from LA. This sparkling new shop opened last November by the water’s edge at the Four Seasons in Harbor East.
As I approached, there were plenty of suits passing by as well as an Audi R8 parked out front—environmental features you rarely find in the neighborhoods of most independent coffee shops, but a good sign of the specialty coffee market’s growth.
The open space greets you with a standard bar layout, a pour over stand up front, alongside a custom painted La Marzocco Strada and several Mazzer Robur grinders. I ordered an espresso and a syphon of Guatemala at the bar to share with my companions and was handed a number for my table.
The coffee was delivered to my table by the barista along with a heavy cloth napkin, which added a simple but incredibly valuable detail to the experience. The espresso itself had an earthy Italian profile and was roasted a bit dark for my preference, but the Guatemala from the syphon was sweet, clean and quite enjoyable.
While I was admiring the space, Kris Fulton (manager) came out with a plate of the shop’s other specialty—fresh cut beignets from Michael Mina. Kris admitted to recognizing me and wanted to be sure we didn’t leave without trying them.
The plate was decorated with an assortment of sauces including a meyer lemon curd, Valrhona chocolate and a luscious butterscotch made with Macallan whiskey. They were the perfect compliment to our coffee and may have even outshone it.
Kris was fantastic as he spoke with us about LaMill and the business relationships that brought them to Baltimore to help develop this Four Seasons location. He also talked about their Saturday morning coffee clinics that teach customers about coffee brewing and appreciation in a comfortable atmosphere—pastries included.
The space is connected with two other restaurants (Wit & Wisdom and Pabu) in the sprawling rear lobby of the hotel which blend together nicely while maintaining their individual character. LaMill is clean-lined and modern, while providing a warm atmosphere through it’s unique lighting and dark wood textures.
If you’re visiting Baltimore, you don’t have to be staying in the Four Seasons to stop by this beautiful shop for a treat. There’s outdoor seating in the summer and it’s a great starting point to walk along the harbor and take in one of the city’s nicer views. LaMill is a welcome addition to the Baltimore coffee scene, which currently includes staples Spro and Woodberry Kitchen—and soon to be joined by Artifact Coffee.
Last December, Albanian artist Saimir Strati set a world record with his mosaic made from 308 lbs of coffee beans. But last week, Russian artist Arkady Kim set a new record with his mural, “Awakening” using 397 lbs of coffee.
Kim’s mural, which spans 30 square meters in Moscow’s Gorky Central Park, took 12 days to piece together with the help of 5 assistants. Over one million beans were used to create the dramatic portrait of a woman’s face indulging in coffee’s powerful aroma.
While I’m not terribly interested in the image itself, the patience and vision required to turn various shades of roasted coffee beans into a mural this large is impressive. The mural was on display until yesterday, before the work of art was donated to a Russian freeze-dried coffee company. Hopefully they won’t be turning it into their product.
Introducing Coffee Crazy, the brand new EP from Helsinki-based musician Fanu. The new 5-track album is inspired by the musician’s love of coffee and the creative fuel it provides to so many artists of every talent. DCILY is excited to be the first to share this album with Fanu listeners, new and old. So grab a fresh cup and dive into the beats.
Perky Percolator Jam – kicks off the jam with playful vibes, rolling breaks, and a double bass line, making you feel as perky as if you had just gulped down good sips of that percolator brew.
Above Waters – describes the ethereal vibe you have while on a coffee high, making you feel like you’re floating above the sea.
Bad Coffee – got its name from a bad coffee experience Fanu had at St. Petersburgtrain station. Fanu had to put the horror into some kind of form to get it out of his system, and this is the result.
Espresso Deluxe – a sweet combination of rich yet smooth elements that lets you savor the subtlety and intricacy you might find in a classy cup of good-quality coffee.
Mocca Overdose – another case of putting bad experiences into musical form. Fanu downed two percolators worth of mocca + a few cups of filter coffee in a few hours (true story!), and the result was very heavy and brooding that seemed to last a little too long – just like this track. Enjoy with caution!
Fanu is originally from the north of Finland where much of the year it’s dark, cold and the people drink more coffee than anywhere else in the world. Now based in Helsinki, Fanu has continued his musical explorations stemming from his love for breakbeat and electronic music that began as a teenager, while being inspired by The Future Sound of London, DJ Shadow, Source Direct, Photek and Amon Tobin.
This album integrates coarse ground layers beneath the smooth flowing beats of a double bass that capture the joy in a great cup of coffee as well as the dark brooding moods that make you need one. I truly hope the EP finds further definition in a full length.
Download the full Coffee Crazy EP on NoiseTrade. If you enjoy it, be sure to tip!
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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