Fun With Foam

img_2016.jpgMy rather lame attempt at latte art. Do you know what it is?

I’ll put in some more practice time.

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Nobody Asked

coffee-people.jpgbut here’s how I take my coffee, and it’s not with splenda.

I take it with half and half, or with a shot of espresso, or over ice or as toddy coffee, sometimes with nutmeg (if I go to Peets).

Your relationship with coffee.

A Latte Today or $1 Million Tomorrow

latte-factore.gifI’ll take the latte today.

I don’t like it when the financial gurus gang up on my coffee budget. They call it the “latte factor.” I get the idea. If I save the money I spend on the small things, it will grow. But why do I always have to forgo my coffee?

Why is coffee seen as something that’s easily cut out?

Even if it was, I wouldn’t cut coffee out of my life. It’s a part of my life. It makes me happy. Nothing beats relaxing in a coffeehouse over a cup of coffee.

I prefer to cut my cable bill. So there.

Starbucks: Bring Back Calling

starbucks.jpgRemember the days when Starbucks’ Baristas used to “call” the drink order: “iced tall Americano” or “tall no-foam latte.”

That was part of what made Starbucks special.

Before Starbucks became the McDonald’s of coffee (funny, McDonald’s is going to start selling fancy coffee), I was one of those callers, cranking out the caffeine as a Starbucks barista in Las Vegas, when Starbucks only had a handful of stores there.

Customers loved it. They were mystified. It was entertaining.

Here are the basics in calling: always call size first, unless it’s iced. That way the person making the drinks could save time by grabbing the right cup. If it’s iced, the barista needs to know to grab a plastic cup. Then you would call by order of ingredient.

But now, they cheat and write on the cup.

That’s because Starbucks has had to train people quickly to keep up with store openings. When I trained, we learned for three weeks. We tasted coffees, smelled them, learned how to time espresso shots…It was an art.

Now that Howard Schultz is back as CEO, trying to fix the company’s tanking stock, that’s one thing I wish he’d change. Give the employees more training and make them call drinks. It would make Starbucks more special.

For now, Howard is cutting breakfast.

Barista Perry

Perry is a Barista in Greece. Check out his latte art.Wave Tulip

Isn’t it lovely!

Here is his flickr photo stream.

Siphon Coffee Machines

coffee-siphon.jpgphoto from javaholics

Siphons look really cool, don’t they? Read the history of “vacuum pots” (siphon machines). 

At Last, a $20,000 Cup of Coffee

SAN FRANCISCOWITH its brass-trimmed halogen heating elements, glass globes and bamboo paddles, the new contraption that is to begin making coffee this week at the Blue Bottle Café here looks like a machine from a Jules Verne novel, a 19th-century vision of the future.Called a siphon bar, it was imported from Japan at a total cost of more than $20,000. The cafe has the only halogen-powered model in the United States, and getting it here required years of elliptical discussions with its importer, Jay Egami of the Ueshima Coffee Company.

“If you just want equipment you’re not ready,” Mr. Egami said in an interview. But, he added, James Freeman, the owner of the cafe, is different: “He’s invested time. He’s invested interest. He is ready.”

Professionals have long been willing to pay prices in the five figures for the perfect espresso machine, but the siphon bar does not make espresso. It makes brewed coffee, as does another high-end coffee maker, the $11,000 Clover, which makes one cup at a time. Together, they signal the resurgence of brewing among the most obsessive coffee enthusiasts.

Could this be the age of brewed coffee? “We’re right there at the threshold,” said George Howell of Terroir Coffee, a retailer of roasted and green beans. “Coffee has never been a noble beverage because the means to perfectly produce it haven’t existed,” said Mr. Howell, who is also a founder of the Cup of Excellence, an annual competition that seeks to identify the best beans in each coffee-producing nation.

But, he said, with recent advances in coffee-making technology, “now you can get perfect extraction.”

Mr. Freeman is not trying to end the era of espresso. He still starts his days with a cappuccino, and his cafe serves drinks mostly from espresso machines, including a lovingly refurbished San Marco from the 1980s. But he’s excited by the possibilities of brewed coffee.

“Siphon coffee is very delicate,” he said. “It’s sweeter and juicier, and the flavors change as the temperature changes. Sometimes it has a texture so light it’s almost moussey.” read the rest at NYT

Barista Competition

latte-art-fire.jpgcoffee-fours.jpgLONG BEACH, Calif. USA (Dec. 18, 2007) – The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), the world’s largest coffee trade association in the world with members in more than 40 countries, presents six regional barista competitions this winter – starting February 8 and continuing through March 30. SCAA’s upcoming barista competitions are a prelude to the 2008 United States Barista Championship (USBC) occurring during the Association’s 20th Annual Conference & Exhibition, May 2-5 in Minneapolis.
The most skilled and accomplished baristas throughout the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Southwest, Mountain, Great Lakes and Western regions will demonstrate their coffee preparation and serving expertise to become their region’s best. As a result of winning their respective regional barista competition, each champion automatically qualifies for the semi-final round of the 2008 USBC. All regional-winning baristas also receive an expenses-paid trip to next year’s USBC. The winner of the USBC qualifies to compete at the World Barista Championship in Copenhagen, Denmark, June 19-22, 2008. Regional barista competition entrants must impress judges while preparing and serving 12 coffee beverages including four espressos, four cappuccinos and four original signature drinks of their own creation within a 15-minute timeframe. Competitors are judged on station cleanliness, taste, beverage presentation, technical skills and total impression. All entrants are critiqued by seven certified judges, including one head judge, two technical judges, and four sensory judges. All judges are certified by the SCAA and the USBC committee.  Specialty Coffee Association of America