Barista Round Table

13 10 2009

Barista Round Table

Visions Espresso‘s Coffee Enhancement Lounge will be hosting the first of many Barista Round Tables. Bringing baristas and coffee geeks alike together to discuss coffee, methods, tools, machines, etc. and to build a stronger coffee community.

Mark your calendars, the first Barista Round Table will be held on October 28. PDF flyer is here:

Barista Round Table, pdf Oct.





Stumptown Producers Panel

12 10 2009
Aleco and famers/exporters from Costa Rica, Kenya, and Colombia sitting across from baristas, shop owners, and consumers. Can the supply chain be any shorter than this?

Aleco and famers/exporters from Colombia, Kenya, and Costa Rica sitting across from baristas, shop owners, and consumers. Can the supply chain be any shorter than this?

Over the weekend, Stumptown Coffee Roasters hosted the Producers Panel, a presentation and discussion on the state of the coffee industry on the producers side. For those who have not had the opportunity to visit origin, this was a fantastic way to meet those responsible for their dedication and hard work on the other end of the supply chain. The panel took place at Seattle University, which was followed by a tasting of the coffee represented by the panelists at Stumptown’s nearby cafe & roastery. Coffees were enjoyed on the espresso machine (as single origin espressos), chemex, and pourover.

Even if you have been in the industry for some time (but haven’t visited origin yet), this has to be a sobering experience. In his own words, Ngatia, a coffee farmer from Karatina, Nyeri in Kenya, passionately spoke of how Stumptown and a small handful of other progressive coffee roasters are purchasing their coffees through the “second window” in Kenya’s coffee exchange. This enables him and his coop to receive up to twice as much for their above par quality coffees. Through their collaboration with Stumptown, Ngatia’s coop was able to increase their production by about 40% in the past couple years and is on track to almost double their current level in the coming year.

The farmers were very grateful for such progressive roasters to work with them via the direct trade model, and just as so for this opportunity to visit Portland and Seattle and meet those who enjoy their work. In fact, for most of them, this was their first trip outside of their respective countries.

This event has become an annual tradition at Stumptown. Hopefully, this will also be commonplace at other roasters as well.





What Can Be Better? Bikes and Coffee!

12 10 2009
Mojo Bicycle Cafe in SF

Mojo Bicycle Cafe in SF

Mojo Bicycle Cafe is a bike shop and coffee bar! Featuring a La Marzocco Linea pulling De La Paz‘ espresso. Also brewing Ritual on drip. They carry Felt, Swobo, Jamis, Rock Lobster, and Kona bikes. They pull a mean shot, especially for a place that’s not 100% specialized in coffee.

Bikes and coffee go very well together. We need more of these kind of shops people!





What’s Next?

8 10 2009

It’s been almost 3 years since Stumptown has opened their beautiful roasting facility and cafes in Seattle. No matter which roaster you work for or which coffee you prefer, it’s undeniable that Stumptown has had a profound influence over Seattle’s coffee scene. Without getting into who’s coffee is better and whatnot, it’s fair to say that everybody has been upping their game for sure. To that, more power to them all.

Stumptown Seattle's Mistral.

Stumptown Seattle's Mistral.

This brings up an interesting question – with the proliferation of 3rd wave coffee, what’s next? 4th wave? What are the parameters of this next stage of evolution?

With the way things are brewing (bada bing!), direct trade and ultra attentive sourcing will result in brewing methods that highlight such extensive work. These may include single origin espresso and single origin coffees by the cup via various methods e.g. pourover, chemex, press pot, etc. Equipment-wise, this means new coffee brewers and espresso machines that enable greater control over soft preinfusion and pressure profiling. Though there has not been an entire industry consensus on merits or standards of soft preinfusion and pressure profiling (whether on a Mechanical Paddle La Marzocco, Synesso, or Slayer), things are trickling in.

Advanced soft preinfusion (soft preinfusion with pressure manipulation) in its various forms have shown what’s possible to date. It doesn’t necessarily work on all coffees and, in the end, it’s still in the tongue of the beholder. In words, it’s hella debatable! The results have been impressive for us – espressos tend to be much more softer and rounded, without sacrificing its core delicacies e.g. brightness, acidity, etc. Hopefully, as more advanced soft preinfusion machines (Mechanical Paddle La Marzoccos and Slayer) find their way onto coffee bars, a better consensus can result.

However, advanced soft preinfusion is but only an incremental step towards total control a.k.a. true pressure profiling (that is, infinitely variable pressure from zero to your desired maximum brew pressure throughout the extraction process). Whatever the technology (or the lack thereof) that will get an espresso machine there, more power to it. After all, it’s all about what’s in the cup that truly matters. Well, it’s also about reproducibility as well. It’s rather difficult to use either advanced soft preinfusion or pressure profiling to make every espresso shot in a busy cafe. It’s just not practical!

To date, no production machine has been able to truly enable true pressure profiling. To that end, La Marzocco is working on a brand new, true pressure profile machine. A prototype was shown at this year’s SCAA on a down low basis and there’s field tests/feedback going on to get maximum input and feedback from those that will ultimately use it. All we can say is, watch out for it in 2010!





Can Somebody Put an Espresso Machine on a Bike?

1 10 2009

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IT’S COFFEE FEST THIS WEEKEND!

22 09 2009

We’ve been busy prepping for our booth at Coffee Fest this weekend. Come visit us at booths 324, 326, 225, and 227. We will be featuring La Marzocco, Mazzer, Jet Steam and Malykke products.

Also, guest baristas will be pulling shots for visitors with featured espressos from specialty roasters across the country.





GIZMODO Reports on La Marzocco (and Coffee)

27 08 2009

Usually known for their reporting and humor on all things tech and gadgets, Gizmodo‘s Matt Buchanan wrote a comprehensive primer on coffee and basic brewing methods. Unlike most mainstream media, however, he actually sought knowledge and advice from those in the know – Ken Nye of Ninth Street Espresso and David Latourell of Intelligentsia. Matt also interviewed Jacob Ellul-Blake, La Marzocco s.r.l.‘s R&D, on what it takes for an espresso machine to brew a good espresso shot (other than a good barista, that is).

Also featured in the article is a picture of Ninth Street Espresso’s custom Linea Paddle.

Ninth Street Espresso's Linea Paddle with individual coffee boilers, 3 PID controllers, preheated inlet water line, and barista lights.

Ninth Street Espresso's Linea Paddle with individual coffee boilers, 3 PID controllers, preheated inlet water line, and barista lights.





Seattle Espresso: A 25 Year Retrospective, 1978-2003

20 08 2009
"Seattle Espresso", a presentation by Kent Bakke in 2003

"Seattle Espresso", a presentation by Kent Bakke in 2003

Still settling in in the old Franke building and going through old files… and guess what we’ve found?! An old presentation by Kent Bakke on “Seattle Espresso: A 25 Year Retrospective, 1978-2003″. It was probably used for Kent’s presentation at SCAA 2003. Quite an interesting, if not hilarious, read, especially if you enjoy disco and CHiPs. Enjoy!

Flashback to 1978









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