Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gabriel Chocolate, Margaret River

Any foodie travelling south from Perth to Margaret River is likely to have stopped at a variety of places seeking elusive amazing new tastynoms. My recent trip south included several discoveries worth a mention.

The first, and in many ways the most significant is Gabriel Chocolate. All we knew of it was a mark on a map, a splash page we found online and that they had chocolate. When entering the building I glanced through a glass panel and saw sacks. Of cocoa beans. Unroasted.

No one, to the best of my knowledge, roasts cocoa beans in Western Australia. Except me, just once for LOLs.

Gabriel roasts the cocoa, hand sorts, grinds, conchs, tempers and pours. That is, they actually make chocolate, not just blend courveture or enrobe things to make truffles.

Better yet they use single origin cocoa beans of great quality that have characteristic flavours.

It has been open just a matter of weeks and quite obviously they are still just working up the premises which is still requiring finishing touches, but the chocolate...

Yeah, there were maybe a few particles larger than 20 microns that I noticed, and their sample trays had obvious tempering fails but regardless of any minor teething flaws, Western Australia now has a genuine chocolate producer using high quality ingredients and rare bean stocks.

Beside me right now is slightly less than 85g of a bar of Chuao (missing only the little I took for a tiny taste! I could resist no longer), from a remote microclimate region in Venezuala where the beans fetch up to four times market price for their uniform quality. Only 20 tonnes are produced annually and Gabriel in Margaret River managed to acquire one tonne, remarkable for a new company competing for a bean that has been the battleground of Valrhona and Amedei.

This is bean to bar chocolate, superbly prepared and a new chocolate experience. If you are going to Margaret River I think you really need to add a visit to this tiny producer of amazing things.

As a bonus, if you drive out of Gabriel's driveway and into the driveway immediately opposite you will drive into our next discovery - Windows Estate.

Gabriel are located on the corner of Caves Road and Quininup Road in Margaret River and can be contacted on:

Email: heaven@gabrielchocolate.com.au
Phone: 08 9756 6689
Web: http://www.gabrielchocolate.com.au/

Monday, October 17, 2011

This is how I make coffee in my office

I have a number of coffee making items in my coffee cupboard. My favourite is the Bodum pourover but the Clever Coffee Dripper runs a close second when I just need a small serve.

Sunday, March 06, 2011


Coffee education is important.

Education generally is right up there on my list of priorities and science educations probably highest of all, but coffee follows pretty high on my personal list.

People teaching me about coffee is something I enjoy, and I like to pass on the information - via this blog or other forums.

Last night at Lowdown was enjoyment and education rolled into one. Mark and Adam Lowes hosted the event presented by Kamran and Louise of Fiori Coffee. It was a great opportunity to learn more, and in one of Perth's best small cafes.

Lowdown have been innovative since their beginning and continue to bring a passion to coffee that is welcome in the CBD.

Lowdown, and Fiori Coffee are exemplars of why events like EatDrinkPerth will grow from year to year, quality, commitment and the willingness to share their love of all good things.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Random Coffee Googlings

I play with numbers quite a bit and this morning as a warm-up exercise for some serious number play I did a comparison of various search terms including the word coffee.

The world loves coffee far more than it hates coffee.

But we already knew that.

Click to embiggen!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Original Recipe

For Coca Cola - or so it is alleged. I have my doubts.

Good luck funding the coca extract though! Unless you live in Boliva...

  • Fluid extract of coca 3 drams
  • Citric acid 3oz
  • Caffeine 1oz
  • Sugar 30 (quantity not known)
  • Water 2.5 gal
  • Lime juice 2 pints 1 qrt
  • Vanilla 1oz
  • Caramel 1.5oz or more to colour
  • Merchandise 7X flavour (use 2oz of flavour to 5 gals syrup):
  • Alcohol 8oz
  • Orange oil 20 drops
  • Lemon oil 30 drops
  • Nutmeg oil 10 drops
  • Coriander oil 5 drops
  • Neroli oil 10 drops
  • Cinnamon oil 10 drops

Seriously Coffee

There are some mornings when you've had enough of nuance and just want the caffeine equivalent of a headbutt.

Now you could go down the patch of using robusta in the blend to boost the caffeiene level, but for those who do not like the burnt-rubber aftertaste of the lesser robustas that dominate the market then you have to find an arabica (or arabicas) with some Oooomph.

I got mine!

Visiting the happy sacks of green beans at Fiori Coffee last week I was shown a bag full of Mysore Nuggets - but peaberry nuggets and told that if I blended these with a certain Balinese bean then it would be a robust, unsubtle but enjoyable brew...

= Brief pause while I make coffee =

...and yes, it is unsubtle, but tasty to the last drop.

As a brief aside, when blogging I am never sure whether to include a moment of interruption like the above or not. As I was writing this post, a colleague came by and asked if I wanted to share in a Clever Coffee Dripper of coffee with her. We discussed the merits of the dripper as a highly functional piece of coffee equipment, we ground the blend I mention above, and made a dripper each to take back to our desks.

Coffee is enormously a social thing wherever it is made, even if that interraction is brief, The one thing (and perhaps the only thing) that Nestle have got right over the years is their understanding that the marketing of coffee should highlight the social aspect of the drink. Unfortunately their idea of marketing is rather saccerine and about on a part with the powedered beverage they sell. Fitting really.

Back to the good stuff...

This blend has an up front bitterness that screams caffeine, but an underlying sweetness that allows the coffee to flow over your tongue and retrieve your senses from their initial resistance to that first taste.

It is just what I needed to kick my brain into motion and I like it.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Sweet Coffee

I roasted this weekend, finishing the last of my Ethiopian Limmu, and the Ugandan Bugisu from Mt Elgon. A colleague at work loves acidic coffee so I roasted a special batch of the Bugisu just for her. I took it to first crack and then a touch more until there was an even colour to most of the beans - but still very light.

We made a pour-over this morning and I had expectations of something quite tart given the colour of the beans.

But it was sweet, smooth and silky.

As it cooled I found the balance between acid and sweet more obvious but even so the sugar was more dominant than the sour and it had a very warm spicy thing happening somewhere towards the back of the palate.

Later, while sitting in a meeting the aftertaste was still with me - burnt fig, quite distinct and as clear as if Maggie Beer herself had been char-grilling the figs.

It was not at all what I expected, but very welcome.

Ugandan coffee has been improving in recent years and we are seeing more of it - the result of better shipping than anything else in many cases but the volcanic slopes on which the coffee grows support a range of cash and food crops and are intensively farmed.

This Google Earth generatred view from the Butiriku crater towards Mt Elgon (in the distant background) shows that even on the steep slopes of the crater, cultivation covers the sides with a patchwork of produce. The floor of the crater is at 1400 metres and rises to 1800 metres (in the centre-right of the photo).

This is certainly good coffee altitude and the area all around Mt Elgon supports a large number of villages and coffee is the main cash crop for most people in the region so it is great to see an improvement in quality and quantity from so many small producers.

And it was a fascinating coffee!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Stovetop clarity

A while ago I posted a video of making stovetop espresso. With all my earlier stovetops the end product had been muddy and burnt but with the little Bialetti that Kam from Fiori gave me I have had much more success.

I have been in the habit of lifting the Bialetti from the flame almost as soon as the coffee starts to flow up the spout - I know that the result of this is a little less coffee, but I find that first fraction of the brew to be sweeter and substantially more mellow than if I maintain the heat and allow all of the water to boil through.

There is also substantially less sediment - to the point where the coffee is almost completely clear. I don't know just why this is - if I leave it a litle longer it certainly has a lot more sediment and I wonder if that last rush of water and steam is at a higher pressure and thus carries a little more sediment through with it.

I know that from a flavour persective some people prefer the full measure and body of the more muddy brew, but I have come to prefer the early lift and the clean taste - here below is my video again so that you can see the result of the method I am using. I'd love to hear any views on why it is that the first fraction has almost no sediment.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sundays are for Lab Work

I do love to play. Today, following an inspiring evening on Wednesday with the guys at European Foods at Bar 399, I decided to play with signature drinks and coffee cocktails.

Like most good science the afternoon was a series of failed combinations each of which led me towards two successes.

The cocktail success was achieved using Ethiopian Limu that I roasted myself using bean from Fiori. It was roasted only just to second crack so it is very bright and lemony. An espresso shot of this was paired with Stones Green Ginger Wine (reserve) and a dash of tabasco sauce for extra kick. Lots of fun. About 30ml of espresso to the same of green ginger wine. Stir in the tabasco and then take the whole lot into your mouth. DO NOT SWALLOW! Hold it till the heat builds then let it trickle down your throat.

The second success was born of what seemed like total failure. I was using truffle butter as the 'trick' but had trouble pairing it with other flavours. In the end what worked was warming a minute amount of truffle butter in about a tablespoon of Bannister Downs milk, pouring a shot of espresso into this and then a teaspoon of maple syrup.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I don't like coffee

As much as I like people.

That realization has been with me for some time now. I do like coffee, a lot. But the real reason I have maintained an interest in coffee, and a connection with those in the business of providing it, is that I like the human contact, the kaleidoscope of a fluid industry, the characters from the roasting floor through to the cafe and the vide of people engaged in small but much valued daily interactions.

From time to time I have felt weary about maintaining a blog just about coffee. It is neither my primary interest nor my source of income. I have blogged as an outlet, because my work cannot be blogged in any detail and because coffee was something accessible yet diverse.

I have not learned anywhere near as much as I would like to about coffee, and I know just enough to understand how what I know represents such a very small part of the whole, but the learning is fun, and the people for the most part, warm, generous and open.

There are some great coffee stories in Perth, just start talking to Kamran and Louise at Fiori, or John and Catherine at European Foods, or Dean at Five Senses, Pete at Pranzo, Garrett at Pony Expresso, Emanuele at Ristretto, Jonny and Justin at Elixir, Jackson at Zekka, Clare at Tiger Tiger - the list is almost endless and I could quite literally fill several pages with just the names interesting people I have come to value over the last four years. People with diverse values, views and opinions but all of whom are worth knowing and who enrich the lives of those around them each day.

I've often wondered if this blog needs to have a sunset clause, and end date, a best-before, use-by or termination clause. But I don't think it needs that. I do have to ease off in the frequency of posting (and already have), but I still enjoy the outlet, the contact and the capacity to share information, plus this has become a handy way to keep in touch and to stretch my mind on some coffee issues.

Work has cranked up and we shall see what the remainder of 2010 delivers in our cups, both real and metaphoric. I may not blog as often, but I do hope they will be quality posts!

Tomorrow is an important day for Australia, so arm yourselves with an early coffee and please, please vote for someone who will put the Nation's interests above their own personal convictions, no matter how similar they may be to your own.

Probably that rules out most the major parties, still, I hear the Australian Sex Party has a few candidates running this year. At least their primary policy is rooted in practicality.

Sorry, could not resist that...