Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Third Wave of Coffee

After speaking to Josh from Level Ground, we chatted about the Independent Coffee Culture in Canada.
He referred to this movement as the Third Wave:

The Third Wave of Coffee refers to a current movement to produce high-quality coffee, and consider coffee as an artisanal foodstuff, like wine, rather than a commodity, like wheat. This involves improvements at all stages of production, from improving coffee bean growing, harvesting, and processing, to stronger relationships between coffee growers and coffee traders and roasters, to higher quality and fresh roasting, at times called microroasting (by analogy with microbrew beer), to skilled brewing.
 In Toronto, I've been privy to the explosion of cafes that STRESS the importance of quality beans, fresh roasting and a well crafted shots of espresso. In early 2010, a bunch of Cafes decided to ban together and form a Disloyality Program. Essentially tempting drinkers to expand their comfort boxes and go to 6 other locations to obtain stamps in order to receive their free drink. This started to gain a lot of momentum with heavy favourites such as: Dark Horse (2) , Mercury Espresso, Sam James Espresso Bar, LIT (2), Blondie's, Manic and Crema (2). Great Program, but those within the independent scene thought itwas tooo exclusive.

Fast Forward to August 2010 and the city has come together for this lovely inception of an idea:

The Indie Coffee Passport. This card allows you to go to ANY of the 24 locations and order a drink for under $5... which in all honesty is MOST drinks - Latte's are around $3.75+. I've only encountered a drink of more than $5 at MANIC. The Reason behind it was that I order a Panama Esmeralda - CLOVER style drink. This process is hard to find, since Starbucks is the only one allowed to purchase the machines -_-.
In the ensuing posts, I will give a back-log of drinks, reviews and personal opinions of the Cafes I've visited in the past month. Amazing idea for the Price of 5 drinks I have 19 locations for "free". GREAT advertising.

Happy Espresso Adventures!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Intro to Coffee Cupping

On Tuesday afternoon, just after the lovely Rain session, my attendence at Ten Thousand Villages on the Danforth was well rewarded with an intimate 1.5 hour session on Coffee Cupping, the ethos of Level Ground and the Direct Fair Trade.

Josh Del Sol - Roastmaster and Quality Control Specialist

During the session, Josh was able to show how to prepare ground coffee at home, and asked us to compare the Tanzanian and the Peruivan blends. He Prepared the coffee using a FRENCH PRESS from BODUM. and Talked about the many factors that are included in the process of coffee making.
Now the session included 3 other older ladies, volunteers and staff but the audience was intent on listening to the process of the Plant -> Flower -> Cherry Fruit -> Bean -> Wash n Dry -> selection -> Roasting.

All in all, he gave a FACE to the farmers in Colombia and informed us of how the Co-Ops work and where Level Ground steps in the buy the containers from the co-ops and pays them fair prices, usually at a premium over the market value (which can sometimes be below the commodity price). Just goes to show you why some beans can still cost less <$15 but be ethical, and when some are $18-22 and may not be justified.

That is why we should question how the Beans are actually made, how they are acquired and whether I am supporting a Broker or the farmers directly.

Wish I had more photos that were part of Josh' slideshow showing the stories behind the farm land, farmers and the general facilities that they use to process the coffee bean. All of the location were so clean, that you would be shocked if you weren't expecting top notch cleaniness. Great job farmers of Colombia.

Direct Fair Trade Espresso

Roast: Medium-Dark
Origin: Tanzania/Bolivia/Peru
Blind Assessment: Dark chocolate and aromatic wood with a hint of brightness in the aroma. In the small cup light-bodied but delicately plush in mouthfeel, pungently sweet, with continued hints of aromatic wood, dark chocolate, and a complex but muted fruit. The chocolate in particular carries into a rich, rather dry finish. Flavor maintains nicely in three parts hot milk, the chocolate rounding and softening predictably while the aromatic wood notes retain some crisp authority.

CS verdict: VERY Chocolatey, with a smooth balance. Pulled correctly and rich Crema is formed.

more information click on the links below:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Welcome to the Journey

Click - Warming up the machine 30 minutes in advance of the store opening.

RRRRRRRip open a new bag of carefully roasted beans
Clink, clink, clink as the beans fall into the grinder
*whirl, chip, crunch* - grinding the beans into the handle
*STEM, STEM* as you get that machine to wake up.

hisss - hiss, the machines almost ready
snap, lock - the handle is in place
*PUSH* - now the semi-automatic machine creates that beautiful pressure that you are used to.

OUT ooozes the most beautiful double shot of espresso to brighten up your day.
Your smell sensory is hitting full capacity and can't contain itself - you want to yell.....
sip, gulp, smack of the lips.

Another morning greeted by your own espresso machine.