Saturday, December 30, 2006

Clover Cupping

So, it's taken me awhile to get this posted, but here are my notes from playing with our new Colombia micro-lot...

Taken December 15, 2006.

Colombia Tolima

Brewed on the Clover, 19 grams, 6 oz. serving size

35 second extraction time-
Smell: initially light, of mild fruits, raisin... then cocoa, light caramel, smokey, fruit
Taste: initial first sip hints of vanilla, tangy~ black tea, citrus, dried fruit, smokey dried raisins, finishes with smokey, tangy raisin, but clean, moist on the palate, not dry.

40 second extraction time-
Smell: initially of chocolate, cinamon, spice, then of dried fruit (kinda prunish)
Taste: initially of mild spicey, tangy plumb, (hint of grapefruit), then moves to be more black tea like, finish is still spicey-tangy (mostly tangy), flavors of darker black tea, stew fruits, mild-strong citrus, grapefruit mostly, kinda lime

45 second extraction time-
Smell: initially of cocoa, sundried raisin, then loses the cocoa, gains spice, still raisin.
Taste: Initially light, mild, tastes of dried fruit and chocolate. Then very stewey, almost chewable (savory), light smokey, dried fruit. Then begins to pick up black tea properties. Mild in both body and flavor, delicate, like a tea. Finishes slightly more bitter, but not in a negative manner. More smokey properties come out, ends as a cup of smoked, stewed fruits...

Andrew and I really enjoy this coffee... he even named it our pick of the season for the holidays. Anyway, it sparked my interest to find the different properties that the Clover was able to pull out. I think we ended up choosing a 38 second extraction time to use in the shop. Well, we will see what coffee I can play with next...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas?

I'm here at my parents house, located in Vancouver, WA, sending all of you reading this the warmest holiday wishes. It's been interesting this year because more than ever it feels less like Christmas. I think that much of those feelings, or lack there of, have been due to my transition, coffee business, and the intense lack of snow in Minneapolis. The cities minus snow equates to saddness this time of year... But what can you do?

I spent last week moving into my new house. The place was built in 1906 and is a masterpiece within itself. The first night I spent there, I slept on my two extremely old mattresses and my stuff sat in piles on the floor. Moving out of the dorms, I hadn't really thought too much about the fact that I had no furniture. That was remedied the next day at Ikea... The place is well located between my two job. Kopplins is just a 10 minute drive east and the roastery is a good 25 minutes northest from there. I really wouldn't want to be much closer to the roastery though... I mean, it's out there. A couple nights after I moved in we had to have a night to break the place in... actually, we broke the place in 3 nights in a row... but Friday was the intense night... It's good to be young.

Monday I started at Paradise. Roasting is a lot of fun. I'm not going to say everything I did was all that great, but the idea of doing something coffee intensive... all day... without having to explain to customers why we don't serve 20 oz. or raspberry syrup is kinda a nice relief. I think it will be a nice balance between serving coffee and seeing the expression on my customers face and walking away from that to breath in something different.

Many people have been wondering and asking about the Clovers. So far incredibly good! Almost every regular customer has commented on how much better the coffee is tasting. I have some notes from one of our new coffees I will post a little later. But, I have been playing more and I am finding some awesome things as I go. Honestly though, for the first week I was really fucking up the coffee. I was shrugging off the stirring thing and assuming the Clover was so good I couldn't possibly screw it up. Well, I was wrong. My coffee was tasting lame... and by lame I mean it lacked the clarity I could find in the cupping cup or french press. So, with some reading of coffeed I realized I was over-extracting the stuff. Thanks to Alistairs posting I found some remedies. Right now I have settled on his technique, which is to basically just push the coffee towards the stream of water and to gently saturate it. So far, that has helped massively.

Well, Clovers are in and running well, I am in my new house, I'm roasting at Paradise, and there's a competition coming up. Such craziness... There's much more going on, but for now I will leave it at that. Keep in mind, I am back in Portland, which means there is massive amounts of beer to be consumed, many coffee people to harass, and many friends to see! Peace out for now!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Clover Week

The Clovers have been up and running for a few days now. Beautiful machines... and we have two. Tuesday morning, this dude who looked way too little to be carrying such big boxes dropped off the shipment. What initially threw me off was the fact that he brought in three. When Andrew first mentioned we were buying a Clover, I was stoked... but he didn't tell me right away we bought two... I thought maybe he went totally overboard and bought three... But I was mistaken. Instead, the third Clover was for my other employer... Paradise Roasters. So, I now have access to two Clovers at my shop and another one at the roastery. Talk about spoiled.

Wednesday night Zander and Co. showed up at the shop to setup the machines themselves. They were already in town to install another Clover at some other place... We had a great time and got things running fairly smoothly. Somewhere in the shipping our drip tray disappeared for one of the machines... Which, if you've seen my bar, you'll know I'm slightly OCD when it comes to cleanliness, balance, and such... so, a machine minus drip tray will drive me nuts. Zander made a call though, and we had a box full of Clover shirts and a drip tray by 10AM the next day... I was impressed.

Thursday they installed the machine at the roastery... which wasn't easy. Apparently, the machine doesn't like the cold weather Minneapolis/St. Paul has to offer... but hell! Who does? I guess something within the machine froze because it was left in a car for a bit... Then there was an issue where the machine kept dosing too much coffee... So, a six ounce cup setting was putting out some 8 ounces. Four hours after replacing parts and troubleshooting over the phone, someone suggested double checking the size of the cup... and apparently that was the problem... Not the machine. There's a deeper lesson to be learned in that somewhere... That night all the Kopplin's employees and the Clover crew met at the shop and our crew was taught how to rock the Clover. The highlight for me though, was drinking Red Hook ESB and Hobgoblin Ale out of a french press with Andrew Milstead, one of our baristas... By the way, Andrew is a very cool kid who I am super glad we have at our shop. He started out at a local Dunn Bros. with Kopplin and through family ended up spending his summer in Seattle working for a Zoka wholesale account in Kirkland. He was actually trained by Nathan at Zoka who Phuong trained... welcome to the coffee world people...

My Friday was spent training our newest barista, Katherine. Katherine is the first person I am training from scratch. Everyone else up to this point has just been fine tuning what they already know how to do. Thus far, Katherine is doing an excellent job. She's picky about her tamp and it's a great thing. She's already very level and very solid. She was struggling with consistency, but lately it appears she's mastered that. Now, she just needs to speed up and she'll be great with shots. I also worked with Meghan... When Andrew Kopplin opened the shop, he was the only employee with help from his friends and family... Then he hired a second person, Meghan and until I started at Kopplin's she was the only other barista, so she has the most experience at the shop. Her shots are great, she's cool and confident behind the bar, and now she's beginning to pour some beautiful latte art. Hollow leaves are forming, and oddly enough, the one pour she's struggling with is the heart... She has this natural tendency to move back and pour a rosetta... it's rad. So, our baristas are rockin' it!

Yesterday, after being out till 3AM at a party... bad idea... I opened the shop and we featured free coffee samples all day long. The samples are 6 oz. and are free in a ceramic cup... Cups which Andrew bought at a used restaurant supply store... Anyway, the idea was we had somewhere around 20 coffees available. Andrew sent out a press release and personally invited coffee professionals from all over the area. It was the first Saturday I was consistently busy making coffee all morning. If I wasn't preparing a cup on the Clover, I was pulling double espressos or making cappuccinos. It was a ton of fun! I met some of the folks from Cafe Imports. Really cool people and I look forward to cupping the COEs with them soon. The crew from Peace Coffee dropped by as well... Oh, and of course, Miguel and Aaron were there from Paradise. Miguel brought in some awesome coffees that were just jaw-dropping. Of course there was some Esmerelda... I'm still taken back by that coffee every time. We also tried some mouth-watering brazils and damn good Ethiopias.

My week capped off last night chillin' with Aaron and Andrew Kopplin and celebrating with some sparking wine and cognac. Aaron is a very knowledgeable source on spirits and fine liquors... lately he's been helping me learn about bourbon and build my collection. Great week over-all! Things are moving quickly! Last class in school is tomorrow! Then I drop of the deposit to my place and pick up the keys. I'll be moving stuff throughout the week and then I start roasting next week. Oh, and then I get to reset... I fly home to Portland Dec. 19... I'll be taking a break from the shop, school, responsibility... all to just sit in Lava Java and drink hairbender! Mmmm...