Sunday, January 28, 2007

This still makes me smile... and people are buying it all the time. No one has even flinched at the price. The only thing I've seen is someone who would love to buy it go for a cheaper coffee based on their budget. It's beautiful. So, I think this says it all. Professionals, keep asking, can it be done... well, it's being done. It's awesome.

Chris Baca asked about my last posting... wondering why we are switching... Well, we're not actually. The GB5 is coming and will be in the cities sometime within a couple weeks... Thanks Lee Walters! However, it will not be in Kopplin's. The GB5 is for Paradise. Roasting is a blast, but sometimes when working with new blends, we'd actually like to taste the espresso as it will be pulled in a cafe. So, now we'll know. Oh, and when it comes time to get serious about the USBC, I can actually get serious now... no more getting lost in the competition machine or struggling to steam on a machine I'm not used to. I'm stoked.

It also comes back to who supports you... I'm proud to have a La Marzocco back where I can use it. They support the USBC and the competitions. They back serious baristas and are good people. Sure, they're not the perfect machine, but they are a quality machine... Other companies are yet to step out and do the same.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bolivia Burns Bright...

Interesting... So, today we had a cup of our Bolivia COE returned to us with the complaint that it was too bright... brighter than normal. The customer (a regular) immediately started looking for a new coffee to pick... I wasn't really cool with this being that our 12 oz. Bolivia is selling for $5.75 a cup... yeah, no joke. Anyway, with a closer investigation, I realized that the Clover I used was set at 206... and the other was set at 201. The second cup from the other Clover yielded a much more balanced cup... anyway, I did turn the temperature down to 204 on the one and raised the other to 202. I just found it interesting that we had this incident. I expect more of these, but I love it... I never imagined the Clover would bring us such events.

In other news, Miguel created a new blend he's calling Mohka Java... a tribute to the origin of coffee. It's partially Sumatra Lake Tawar and then a couple a of our many Ethiopians... Anyway, I kind of expected it to be a good espresso... and I was right. It's bright and slightly earthy... with a tang. It's available on our third grinder right now.

Our second grinder is rocking Alterra's espresso right now... Scott gave us some of their leftovers from the MWRBC... I've never enjoyed a crema like this coffee has... and I know it's kinda old right now... It's stripes, it speckles, it dances on your tongue! It's so sweet! Yeah, I'm diggin' it! Thanks much Scott!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Goodbye Yan...

This sucks to say, but I need to say it. A friend of mine and great barista, Yan, took his own life Friday, January 19, 2007. Yan worked at Lava Java up until a couple weeks before his death. Actually, Yan had been around the shop for awhile. He worked as a barista back before I was hired. He was hired there sometime around when Billy left. Anyway, he never competed, never posted on forums, but he was a damn good barista. Yan was there making my drinks as I was discovering coffee and how great it could be. The first time I noticed my shots were really good vs. okay, they were pulled by him. He explained to me how they did look good and why... Yan left Lava Java right before I was hired, only to return shortly after I left. Kinda crazy how that worked. Yan was always a little spacey... but he was a very good kid. He was a wanderer and someone who was never afraid to go someplace new. He's part of the Lava Java family and always will be. We all will miss him.

It's sad, but this is the best picture of him I could find in my archives. This is in October 2004. Please note; Yan is the one on the left.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

MWRBC... The experience.

Well, the worst weekend of my life is over. Needless to say, I didn't perform my best for this years MWRBC. But that's not even what made the weekend so rough... It started out about an hour outside of the cities. A lovely white mini-van pulled up next to us on the road to let us know we had a flat tire... After pulling over and a few seconds of examination... yep, they were right. So, we spent an hour and a half getting that fixed. Six hours later we arrived in Kansas City. Our hotel was absolutely sweet. The Marriot President is a historic hotel that has a very grand entrance. I'm not going to lie... I was totally impressed.

Day two started out in the same direction as day one did. Half way to the venue, another white car pulled up next to us... to let us know we had a flat tire... again. In the same spot. So, while I went to the initial meetings at the competition, Andrew and Aaron took my car to get the tire fixed... and somewhere in there the power stearing got a leak... and stopped working. My perspective on this all wasn't too bad at the time. After all, the Altera kids were in town... they seem to make everything more fun. While they were out fixing my tire and exploring what my car is like without power stearing, I had my 10 MINUTES of practice time!!! This is where I made the initial mistake of thinking my signature drink cups were going to work out just fine. Next, Andrew, Aaron, and I all rolled out looking for a grocery store to buy things still needed. We drove a good 45 minutes looking for something, and barely found anything... finally we stumbled into a tiny local grocery store.

So, my round comes up... and I lost it. By lost it, I mean, I first left a puck in the third group head. Automaticly taking my clean work space points to an automatic 0. Then the timer got going and I forgot that I was on a 3 group GB5, not a 2 group Synesso. My milk was crap. And then the big duzzy came. My port sippers... as cool as they are, do not sit very balanced. One fell over while I was preheating them, spilling all the water it contiained onto my hand. Next, as I was brewing the first shot, one of the sippers fell over again... while the shot was still brewing. Finally, as I grabbed for my last portafilter to pull my last set of shots, I grabbed a portafilter with a puck in it... I got lost in the GB5. Not cool. Many other things went very wrong... including how I went a good 36 seconds over time. These though, are all things we can learn from... the rest just drained the life from me.

That night we went out to the BGA party at the Roasterie. Of course, this is where the real fun begins. On the way in I happened to pass somewhat of a diamond in the rough. Apparently the Roasterie owns a Mistral. Apparently the Roasterie couldn't care less about their Mistral. Danny... clean the damn thing. Seriously! Anyway, I told the Altera kids about it and it was only a matter of moments before we found ourselves knocking the dust off. Steam wand tips were caked with milk, portafilters hadn't been scrubbed, it was a mess, but we found what coffee we could and grabbed the milk we had and set out to do what we do best... pour the coolest lattes we could given the circumstances. We had so little milk we even ended up cutting it with water... redefining the ghetto latte. We tried to find a bar after that, but with little success we all called it a night.

The next morning I woke up with more tension in my shoulders than I've ever experience before. I was hurting, and my guess is that the lack of power stearing had something to do with it. Pain man, pain. We bounced to the finals and had a blast watching the last performances. Alex McCrackin... you are an awesome barista and I was pulling for you all the way. Pete Licata, you are a competitor to the core and it was awesome to see someone with such experience rocking it like a pro. Robin Seitz, the new MWRBC, congrats. Well done for a first time competitor. I look forward to seeing you all at the USBC. Oh, and if anyone hasn't heard. Alex pulled off second, Peter third, and Robin, first. The big improvement from round one to finals was the judging. I'm sorry to say, but the first couple rounds of judges were a little shaky at times. I noticed a lot of little technical things that they weren't looking for. Anyway, judging in the finals was WBC certified (head) judge, Mr. Tracy Allen, Technical judge Dan Jansen, WBC certified Lani Peterson, WBC certified Mr. Jeff Babcock, Tech judge Mr. Berry Jarret, Mr. Spencer Turner, and the seventh was some other dude... whatev.

After the finals, the Altera kids took off to book it home before the storms set in. It's always good to see Scott and Co. though. There is talk of a pre-Great Lakes throw down to happen right before Coffee Fest Chicago. We'll see. As soon as we left the venue we took my car to have the power stearing line fixed... and then we found out I need to replace the motor soon as well. Mo' money, mo' money, mo' money... That night we had our first really decent meal since we'd been in town. That was nice, and we ended the day by crashing early.

Aaron and I woke up early today to take my car to another car place to have the pump replaced for the stearing... and apparently, it's not necessarily the pump. It's the belt and some other parts... All in all, it's just more money. At the end of the day, we got back and now I am tired. There will be more stories to tell. but it'll take some time, for now... enjoy some of the great pics.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

MWRBC Travel Day

Well, it's 9:49 central time. I'm waiting for Aaron Meza to get to my house... All the equipment is in my car, we just have to stop by the shop to pick up milk. Yes, kids, today we heading to Kansas City... Talk about cities I could have avoided my whole life... Apparently the drive is about as exciting as South Dakota... I can only imagine. Anyway, we're heading to the Midwest Barista Competition. This will be my second competition ever and I am pretty excited. It'll be the true test of my skills when I don't have people like Phuong and Brent looking over my shoulder... I'm hoping to come close to my score from the USBC last year, but it's a regional and scoring seems to drop a lot at this level.

I'm pretty excited just for the experience though. Scott Lucey and the Altera kids are competing out of region! This is sweet just cause this will be the first time any of them actually compete in a full out competition beyond latte art. Beyond them, I really didn't recognize too many names... but a few are heavy hitters... Like, Pete Lucata. Amanda Butler is competing, as is, David Herman from the Roasterie. I believe total there are 16 competitors. This is a huge improvement over last years nine...

Well, we've got some final packing to do and then we're off for 7 hours of fun! Sorta...

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Well, again, here I am sitting at the gate at PDX... It's been a great visit to Portland and the sourounding areas. It makes me miss home, but whatever... there is work to be done back at the shop!

I am bringing back new knowledge of the Synesso and it's history, as well as, new gaskets, new screens, and some tips on how to rock the thing! The plan is to play with our water level in the steam boiler... Which should apparently make our steaming more rock-steady. Oh, and the screens I have are special... Thanks Philip!

I am also bringing back more excitement and news of the coffee industry. Stumptown is growing so much... more than you'll know for awhile! If you're in the Portland area... cup the damn Kenyans! They are there on the weekends at the Annex for all to enjoy! Philip Search of Paradise Cafe... and the new Mutiny! Roasters gave me some new ideas for roasting. He's got some great ideas for grinders and improvements... It seems everyone in Portland is pushing for something new and bigger and everyone has a secret project. Kevin and Billy are working on the new store, Stumptown is opening in the Ace soon! So much goodness, it's hard not to be excited!

I am also bringing back over twelve pounds of coffee. Stumptown sends their hairbender with love... Also a couple sample bags of a couple of the Kenyan's, and a little bag of something amazing (from Panama). If that's not enough to make you wanna come visit Kopplin's, then let me add, I also have a bag of Mutiny's Dark Horse Blend. In the past, I have enjoyed this blend in milk, but it was still just another coffee to me... but with the rotation of an Indonesian, this coffee is blowing me away... I also have a small bag of their Ethiopia Idido Natural... A coffee (minus defects) that we share at Paradise Roasters... but with Philip's take on the roast profile!

I get back late tonight and open the shop tomorrow... It's going to be a fun shift! I also just shipped a box of beer out from my parents house... I will be happily enjoying Widmer's Drop Top, Fat Tire, and Deschutte's Brewery Obsidian Stout in the comfort of my 1906, Minneapolis, palace! La vita e' bella!