Last weekend I had the pleasure of joining Food Studio for their latest happening in Oslo—the field dinner. I was invited to help brew coffee for dinner guests one evening and be a guest myself the following night. Although coffee is what brought me to the table, it was served as part of a larger dining experience that the coffee industry strives to be a part of as often as possible—treated with the respect of fine wines and served following artful plates of King’s goose, pumpkin gnocchi and hyper local produce.
Food Studio organizes events that share the story of good, honest food and the people who believe in it. Meals are developed and prepared by well known chefs, or passionate individuals you’ve yet to hear about, using ingredients as fresh, wholesome and responsible as possible—sourced from the field we ate in and a few kilometers beyond.
Dinner was prepared all three nights by Magne Ilsaas, a graphic designer by day who spent three months at culinary school in Paris. The entire meal was cooked in the field just steps away and all five courses were paired with a delightful selection of organic or biodynamic wines by a sommelier from Moestue.
After desert, a coffee from Michiti in West Ethiopia (provided by Tim Wendelboe) was prepared using a traditional Nordic method of brewing called kokekaffe. The process is simple and works great for unique and enjoyable coffee outdoors.
We used a ratio of 65 grams of coffee to 1000g of water, ground fairly coarse. After taking the water off boil, the coffee was poured into the kettle and lightly stirred to fully saturate all of the grounds. After letting steep for 5 minutes, the coffee is ready to serve. Finally, the coffee can be poured carefully from the kettle into cups, but to add a bit of clarity, we filtered the brew through a fine metal strainer and served from a Chemex.
As each course was served throughout the night, a story about the food was shared with the table and the coffee was no exception. It was a pleasure to serve and an equally enjoyable experience to dine alongside new friends and experience real food prepared exceptionally well. Most of all, it was an honor to end the meal with an example of just how spectacular coffee can be, when it’s appreciated as it should be.
What began as a project to collaborate with great roasters and baristas to share delicious coffee at TED, unexpectedly transformed into a message and energy that transcended its initial purpose—it was a reaction to confusion. In the year and a half spent developing, organizing and running Coffee Common events in LA, NYC, Edinburgh and London—I learned an incredible amount. But most important were the people involved in making the experiences so fantastic and the knowledge they all shared so generously.
Working with Brent, Kyle, Peter, Sean, Stephen and Tim, meant being surrounded by an unmatched passion for coffee and their desire to share it with people. That energy is what drove our events forward and its what makes it so hard to see it come to an end. Coffee will continue to be at the heart of our work and our hearts will remain dedicated to sharing exceptional coffee. There will no doubt be other great things in the future and I look forward to sharing them with you when that time comes.
Thank you to everyone involved for making it what it was.
Since the early days of brew method videos, there’s been an impressive evolution in the quality of the videos being produced. From the academic, to the clever to the action packed—tutorial videos have become a way for coffee companies to educate consumers, market themselves and have a bit of fun in the process.
The latest addition to the brewtorial archive comes from Cartel Coffee Lab in Arizona. Using the same “Stranger Than Fiction” notations as their earlier video, their latest—also produced by Ah Dios—gives the mid-century modern Chemex a southwestern flair.
NPR ran a nice piece yesterday featuring Peter Giuliano (who recently departed from Counter Culture) and Allie Caran, who opened Artifact Coffee in Baltimore this summer, that highlights specialty coffee’s focus on coffee quality and its diverse flavors.
Increasingly, specialty roasters are working directly with coffee growers around the world to produce coffees as varied in taste as wines. And how are roasters teaching their clientele to appreciate the subtle characteristics of brews? By bringing an age-old tasting ritual once limited to coffee insiders to the coffee-sipping masses.
The writer, Allison Aubrey, visited a cupping at Artifact to learn about tasting the flavor nuances in coffee and some of the characteristics that help them develop.
Last night, 200 of the coffee industries finest gathered together in Copenhagen, Denmark to welcome the next 3 days of inspiring speakers, cuppings, Nordic barista team competitions and enough delicious coffee to satisfy all our discerning palates.
I am on-site with my colleague Tim Styles from Workshop Coffee to capture all the action. We will be uploading videos of the speakers at the end of each day, blogging and tweeting the highlights on behalf of the Nordic Barista Cup for those who can’t be here.
I’m a fervent believer that Seinfeld is and will be the greatest television show of all time. Every situation in life relates back to one of the 180 magnificent episodes—even if most could now be prevented with a simple text message. There is something so realistic, yet hilarious about those conversations about nothing that took place over a cup of coffee.
On July 19th, Seinfeld will be back on screen having coffee with his comedian friends. Only this time he’ll be driving around in a selection of shiny classic cars with a GoPro camera mounted on the dash to capture the hilarity or Larry David-esque awkwardness.
The show, called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, will include appearances by Larry David, Ricky Gervais, Ed O’neill and Michael Richards (Kramer!) to name a few. Let’s just hope their candid conversations are just as memorable as the scripted ones.
Mark Youd is an artist based in Caerphilly, near Cardiff, South Wales. Before Mark gets to work on his paintings, he starts the day with coffee, which inspired this creative series of photography called “Caffeine Planets.” I asked Mark to describe the process:
It’s a simple, fun project based on the patterns that develop in the crema on my morning coffee…I use Nespresso from a Krups Pixie machine topped up with hot water, by varying the angle of the mug when the coffee is being pumped and/or the speed the hot water is poured, I can influence the pattern that is created in the crema. I take a photo (with nothing more special than an iPhone) very soon after pouring. I then crop the images in photoshop and apply very basic contrast and colour filters (and a healthy dose of imagination) to them while I drink the coffee. -Mark Youd
This fascinating video from “The Coffee Brewing Institute,” circa 1961, takes a look at the simple joy of brewing coffee. Over the years, research and experimentation has made much of this information out of date (like their insistence on using fully boiling water), however there are some gems of wisdom that are still just as relevant today.
How, then, do we make the perfect cup of coffee to our taste? Success lies in a single word: Care. Three simple ingredients go into the brewing process: water, coffee, time. Care will produce a perfect result every time.
Brew yourself a fresh cup, take a break and enjoy this trip down coffee lane.
The Juggler is a new milk delivery system for coffee bars from Sydney, Australia based company Six Simple Machines. The system employs sensor activated taps that are connected to 10 liter milk bladders stored in refrigerators below.
The system is designed to minimize bottle waste and the time spent taking milk cartons in and out of the fridge. The sensors allow for proper hands-free milk dosing that minimize milk waste from over-pouring and frees up a barista to pull their shots and engage with customers, while an integrated pitcher rinser streamlines the whole routine.
There are many details that baristas and shop managers must keep in order to maintain drink consistency and prevent slowdowns during a rush (or in high volume shops—throughout the day). Efficiency improves the workflow of a barista and ideally it will help them produce more consistent drinks all day long.
The delivery of milk is an overlooked part of the bar workflow and this is an interesting exploration in how to improve it. One of the more time consuming efforts during Coffee Common events I worked at, have been keeping baristas stocked with milk—a system like this would definitely free up time for other things.
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.