CNN Travel recently published a story about a unique (and surely controversial) coffee bar in Japan that is either too new or too elusive to have made Oliver Stand’s Tokyo list. Irukaya Coffee Shop (Google translated to Dolphin?) is a windowless, 4 seat, reservation only shop run by Hiroshi Kiyota.
- Please refrain from lingering on one order—order again within 1 hour.
- No groups larger than 2 people
- No pictures
- No Smoking
- No mobile phones
- No take-away
- No children
- Reservation only during open hours
- Rule breakers are asked to leave
The article details the writer, Nicholas Coldicott‘s visits to Irukaya, including Kitoya’s humble demeanor, the competition-worthy signature beverages on the menu and the extensive list of rare whiskeys that can only be ordered alongside coffee.
Finally, he poured the brew into two cups, alternating so each shared the top, middle and tail of the coffee. He tasted one cup, then served me the other. “Yubisaki,” he said. “Drink it as you would a whisky. It should take around 20 minutes … On paper, the rules look forbidding, but the longer you spend in Irukaya, the more they make sense. It’s not a place you go for a caffeine fix. It’s a sanctuary that happens to serve java. Most of the rules are in place to keep things tranquil. – CNN Travel
While this is sure to ruffle some feathers as being pretentious and off-putting, it sounds like an incredible experience. Where Penny University meets the Soup Nazi, wrapped in Japanese tranquility—sign me up.
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.
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’s: Macchina, 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
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
In the past we’ve seen robot ninjas making pourover coffee, but could a robot replace real baristas on a commercial scale? That’s the goal of a new startup called Briggo based in Austin, TX. The four co-founders, one being Patrick Pierce a barista from Caffé Medici who placed 2nd at the SCRBC in 2008, opened their first prototype this November inside the Flawn Academic Center on UT’s campus.
The robots behind a wall of flat panel monitors grind coffee to order, use a real tamper and stable 200° water temperature to make precise 2oz shots of espresso. The steam wand even emulates the angles that Patrick would use himself for lattes and cappuccinos. The grinders can also adjust automatically between shots as different variables change, staying dialed-in throughout the day. Sounds like the real deal.
Coffee can be ordered two ways, with a touch screen at the kiosk or with an app on your phone. It can also save your order for later visits. While you wait, one of the many monitors will display where your drink is in the queue and let you know once its finished. In many ways, it’s like a giant vending machine of the future, while also stripping every social aspect the coffee house is meant to engender—but is that bad?
I haven’t tasted the coffee, but since most airport, hospital, and university coffee comes from sketchy vending machines left over from the 80′s or an unenthusiastic employee pushing a button on a super-automatic espresso machine, why not make those situations better? If I can get decent coffee at an airport, I really don’t care who or what makes it.
The current version of the Briggo is reportedly using coffee from local Austin roaster Third Coast Coffee. And though it can’t pour latte art yet, an update is being engineered to enable that talent in a later version. If anyone in Austin wants to visit Briggo, I’d love to know how it tastes. Maybe one day it will host its own Thursday Night Throwdown.
I’ve been very clear about my opinion of the American k-cup trend, surprisingly Green Mountain Coffee’s PR guy still sent this my way. I’m not sure if Keurig machines are even sold in Italy, but they are using the allure of Italian coffee to sell their new “Barista Prima Coffeehouse” k-cups. As I leave this afternoon for Italy, excited to experience the coffee culture there first hand, I was truely disheartened to find this.
No one appreciates great coffee like Italian Barista Champion Francesco Sanapo. So after he won his second consecutive championship earlier this year, we asked him to try Barista Prima Coffeehouse® the first K-Cup® portion pack varieties inspired by the celebrated coffee houses of Europe. After savoring his first sip, he exclaimed, “Belissimo! (Beautiful!)” and fell in love with the deep, dark brews.
K-Cups are terrible for all the reasons discussed here, and for a coffee culture that is continually discussed regarding their relevancy in the emerging progressive coffee scene, it’s sad to see the Italian Barista Champion being used in this way.
The brand’s tagline, “Brew like a barista™” is insulting to Francesco’s accomplishments as well as every other barista who works passionately to serve great coffee every day.
Sometimes I dream about coffee and sometimes people make dreams come true. This morning I woke up and found this video of an adorable robot brewing a Hario woodneck—pausing for the bloom and all. If this doesn’t make everyone smile and forget about bat guano coffee, the world is lost.
Forget the new iPhone, where can I line up to get one of these?
What’s better than New England in Autumn? Coffee in New England in Autumn! This year’s MANE (Mid-Atlantic/Northeast) Coffee Conference in Rhode Island is the best way to enjoy both. What began years ago as a barista jam started by Gerra Harrigan of New Harvest Coffee and Troy Reynard of Cosmic Cup Coffee, has transformed into full a on coffee conference for baristas, roasters and coffee industry professionals. There will be speakers and forums and workshops oh my!
Kicking off the weekend with words of wisdom from Gwilym Davies himself, the weekend will progress into selected tracks for baristas, advanced baristas, roasters and owners/managers. Each track will offer specific skill building workshops from industry professionals with some intimate hands-on experience—who doesn’t love that? There will also be an opportunity for baristas to take a BGA Level 1 Certification test while they’re in Providence.
Gwilym Davies – 2009 World Barista Champion Jay Caragay – Spro Coffee Dan Streetman – Irving Farm Coffee Trevor Cortlett – MadCap Coffee Scott Guglielmino – La Marzocco Tommy Gallagher – Counter Culture Coffee
just to name a few…
Since I’ll be in the States in October, and I love foliage season, I’m be taking a weekend trip to Providence to take part in the fun and share some collective coffee wisdom from an often overlooked part of the country. The cost of registration is only $75, so if you’re in the industry and live along the Eastern seaboard, sign-up now and I’ll see you there!
Introducing the Swedish National Barista Team! These four snyggen individuals will be competing 2 weeks from now at the Nordic Barista Cup in Copenhagen. I’m proud to call Sweden my new home and be represented by such a talented team. Looking forward to seeing them all in their NBC shirts as well—I hear they’re pretty awesome this year.
From left to right: Anne Lunell of Koppi in Helsingborg, former Swedish champ, barista at Coffee Common in TEDinburgh and judge at the upcoming World AeroPress Championships in Milan. Alexander Ruas of Drop Coffee in Stockholm, reigning Swedish Barista Champion and teamed up with Anne at the Coffee Common. Also a heck of a photographer and proud father of two. Pernilla Gard of da Matteo in Gothenburg, part of last years winning team in the Nordic Barista Cup in Oslo, and with a very impressive performance in this years Swedish Barista Championships she secured a Bronze place. Per Nordby, former da Matteo roaster/barista/trainer/buyer/whatever and now a man on his own feet, travelling the world in pursuit of good good coffee, and working on an Errol Flynn mo (and it’s not even Movember).