Sunday, April 29, 2007

Road Trip!

Devin and I are road trippin' to California. Updates will be dropped soon. SCAA is going to be a blast.

Thus far we've seen all the places of the country that suck... Nebraska, New Mexico, etc. Today we're chillin in Phoenix. Many pictures will be online...

Till then, stay caffeinated...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Weekend Escaping (Chicago Pt. 2)

My friend, Devin Pedde, and I just got back from an awesome two day escape back to the city of Chicago. It was a much needed time for both of us. Things are getting crazy in all directions. Life's stressful, SCAA is just around the corner. We both just needed some time to really get away. So, we packed up my jeep and busted down to the Windy City for a couple days of exploration and experience.

Upon arrival in Chicago, we headed to the roasting works for a cupping with Marcus Boni, Sarah Kluth, and Doug Zell. The cupping was practically a necessary after leaving Minneapolis around 7AM. Of course, no trip to Chicago is complete without a stop in Milwaukee to visit Alterra, and the people's hero... Scott Lucey. Anyway, the cupping involved some of the Direct Trade offerings and a couple other coffees in the Intelli line-up. Standing out most on the table was either the Papua New Guinea or the Peru. Both were solid coffees with few flaws. The New Guinea tasted much like mango or passion fruit to me and was very enjoyable. The Peru had a very veggie like aroma with a medium chocolate-like body and flavor.

From the cupping, Doug and Sarah bounced with us over to a bar called The Matchbox. Which is, literally, a bar. There's room for no more and no less. The best part about being in Chicago is the availability of New Belgian's Fat Tire. I probably should have realized how great of a beer this is before I moved to the 'Tireless' state of Minnesota. We BS'd the night away until Doug had to bounce home to put his daughter to bed.

Being exhausted, we trekked our way over to master barista, Mike Philips apartment, where we ended up crashing that night. Initially, we had every plan on making to The Map Room... but with our lack of energy, and the fact that Mike had to open the Broadway store the next morning, we thought it best to just stay in. However, that did not keep us from enjoying a little rum. For months now, Miguel has been sharing with me how excellent this 'Ron Zacapa Centario' rum is... So, you should have seen the look on my face when Mike pulled out a bottle. Miguel was right... the stuff does not disappoint.

Devin and I had made arrangements to meet up with Mr. Boni the next day to explore the Chicago stores. However, we were up way before we needed to be, so we took to the streets of the city. I miss big, busy cities. It was lovely finding a new breakfast spot around every corner. Almost everyone of them had an Intelligentsia logo somewhere. Eventually we caught up with Marcus and on to Broadway we went!

The weather was perfect the entire time we were in Chicago. With so much sunshine and the bustle of the city, Chicago was ten times more appealing than any past visit has been. We made our way into the Broadway store, which was rockin' very steady. We ran into Matt Riddle, who was passing through on his way out and about the city with his bike. I like Matt... he's all-champion with no ego. Mike Philips, who just made the change to working in a retail store, is yet to be bar certified. So, he kindly took our orders and made sure we received a couple nice cups of cat.

Watching Marcus as we visited each store was cool. It's a Saturday, the guys showing us around, and more often than not, the moment he's in the store he's asking the employees how they are, helping out, collecting loose dishes, and just making sure every customer is being taken care of. He's thorough. Even as we were on our way out of the Broadway store, he stopped for a few minutes to talk to a customer who was sitting outside the store. He was was making sure she was enjoying her drink and informing her that next week the out door furniture would be out for her to enjoy.

Our last stop was the Millenium Park store. I've seen the Broadway store a few times, but the Millenium Park store is so different... and beautiful. It's very polished and sheik. The lighting and sign-age is awesome. We had a few drinks there and tried some of the coffees we had on the cupping table, pulled from the Clover. The Kenya from the day before was no longer muted like it had been. It was shining citrus and sweet melon. Lovely! We wrapped up our visit and Marcus dropped us off back by the Jeep.

It was a lovely couple days escaping Minneapolis and life. It was nice to be around more passionate coffee professionals. Now, it's back to getting things together. Billy Wilson flies into town tomorrow. It'll be good to see him. SCAA is less than two weeks away and I am stoked to see everyone there!

Oh, and be on the lookout for a new Twin Cities publication... The Twin Cities Imbiber. The cover was shot at Kopplin's and my latte art is on the cover. Jeff Halvorson, the guy putting it together is a very knowledgeable beer resource and is a passionate imbiber himself. I think the publication is going to be sweet and really help specialty coffee in the cities...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Final COE Colombian Cupping

So, I wandered back to Cafe Imports to cup the final 13 Colombians. My scores this time were much closer. However, there were two coffees that jumped out in a major way. One of them was Diogenes Muchicon Perdomo's coffee from the farm San Antonio. It's a 23 bag lot and jury scored this coffee to the number 3 place. The coffee tastes of ginger bread and pleasant spice. It's got excellent body... and honestly, kinda reminds me of Christmas.

My highest score for the day actually co-insided with the jury's score. I gave the #1 Colombian the highest score of a 90.5 that day. It was a very well rounded flavor, semi-fruity, and excellent sweetness. The coffee also has a delicious dry aroma.

Well, I have to run for now. Gotta get to the cafe to help close. Andrew Kopplin lands today sometime from Norway. Apparently, he visited many great shops and has a bunch of coffee that is coming with him. I'm stoked for it all. Later kids~

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Maddness. COE Maddness.

Well, after 4 hours and 30 coffees, there's no lie... I'm tired. This years Colombian COE's bring in some craziness. We cupped the coffees blind in two 15 coffee rounds. Ends up round one held mostly coffees from the back end of the jury's selection, while round two held the majority of the top 10. It was an awesome learning experience for me, as I have never cupped that many coffees at once, let alone all from the same country of origin.

Some of the stand outs to me were the first and second place finishers. Both being very nice. I actually scored the second place over the first place by two points, but don't get me wrong, Isaias Cantillo Osa's farm, La Esperanza produced a very fine coffee and I will be very interested in seeing how much it sells for. The second place finisher came from El Cedro, a farm owned by Leonte Collazos Rajas'. I found the aroma to being more pleasing in this coffee than Esperanza. Ironically, though, these coffees were the last two in our line-up, so my senses were numbing a bit.

One of the other notable coffees was actually the 30th placed finisher. What I liked about it most was the aroma. It smelled of fresh mozzarella, or a similar soft cheese. It was something I had never experienced before. I enjoyed that part of it.

The first round of 15 was harder to score. So many of the characteristics of them found to be common in the field. Lot's of acidity found all day long. Enough that I could have just had a few bowls of tomato soup and had the same kind of sensation after.

Monday, Cafe Imports will be cupping the top 10 scorers from today to determine which they are most interested in buying. I'm hoping to get enough roasting done early enough to join them once more. I should have more of an in-depth recap of the top 10.

Colombian COE's

I heading to Cafe Imports this morning to cup all the COE Colombians... I'm stoked. More later...