Thursday, February 28, 2008
Lois McMaster Bujold
Which I found here: NT's are weird
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Just a reminder that as part of the Perth Festival the first of the Kamstraveganzas is on at Tiger Tiger on Saturday.
March 1 at Tiger Tiger is the'Meet the Roaster' sessions where you can come along and chat with Kamran, Justin and Louise about everything related to coffee and roasting. Kamran has arranged home roasting demonstrations and coffee tastings so it will be a great opportunity to feed your inner coffee geek.
No RSVP is required - just turn up!
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Unfortunately the coffee up here has been dominated by the Coca-cola brands and Segafredo with only Epic and Pranzo as beacons of the potential of the strip. Other small roasters do have a presence but by and large they have struggled against the monolithic sales power of the large coffee producers.
One of the cafes I have walked past every morning for two years is West End Express. Formerly a client of Coffex I noticed that last week the drap grey signs had gone and been replaced with something much more interesting:
Yes, that sign says Crema Gourmet Coffee Roasters. Crema is in Kalamunda in a shop in the Central Mall using an old Probat and good quality beans.
I was keen to try the coffee and I have been wanting to get up to Kalamunda but have been stymied by circumstance at every attempt at a day trip.
The crew at West End seemed keen about the new roaster and Terry (a fellow 'Snob) and myself observed the process and were gratified to see the little details attended to, like clearing the doser before freshly grinding for the shots.
The shots were thinner than I prefer, and the crema a bit light, but it represented a fairly classic espresso shot and the initial hit in the mouth was very clean - and quite obviously fresh.
It had good brightness and a certain astringency on the palate and was generally pleasant. I think a tighter extraction would show more character from the blend but the freshness and cleanness of the shot easily puts West End among the better sources for coffee in Perth.
Note the deep consideration being given to the shot by Terry!
Who: West End Express
What: Coffee and hearty meals
Where: 1271 Hay St West Perth 6005
When: Tueaday, 26 February 2008
Coffee: Crema Gourmet Coffee
Accessibility: Good, but could use some more aisle space between the front door and the counter.
Monday, February 25, 2008
It lies south of the state and punishes us.
Its so-called ‘moderate to fresh E/NE winds’
Are in reality, a form of climatic torture.
The central and southern parts of the state,
Can expect flies and heat with little relief in the evenings
Whoever said the desert gets cold at night was wrong
For it never gets cold in February here.
Expect fine conditions for this region,
Fine that is if you like the heat and dust.
Fine is a poor word for the weather,
‘Clear’ might seem more accurate to most.
They reckon isolated showers or drizzle,
That’ll be the patchy stuff down south.
Near and east of Israelite Bay, clearing by noon.
Sucks to be them – humid AND hot.
‘High over the bight” how I loathe thee,
Where is our tropical low that brings relief?
Or those sweeping low pressure ridges,
Which bring us the rain?
Summer ends this week,
So we are told by calendars.
I bet that bloody high ignores,
The dictates of the Gregorian.
37, 37, 38 too hot,
The words evaporate.
Sticky keys and apathy
How the high makes you feel so slow.
Jnr Grendel Number One was born this morning 6 years ago. I'm very proud of him.
This is him asleep this morning on his birthday - the unflattering big graze and bruise on his face are testiment to his efforts at the party yesterday where he managed to smack face down into the limestone wall at the park.
Junior Grendel Number One has Autism - and while a lot of people don't really notice (he interacts with adults fairly well), as his Dad I do have a few sad moments where I see him really want to join in, but not quite understanding how.
He's loving school though - and his play times with Junior Grendel Number Two go for hours.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Next step is to take both of these to your nearest Cash Coveters store - you'll need to pay them to take it most likely.
Spend up big on a manual espresso machine like a Rancilio Silvia - or a semi-auto like the Sunbeam 6910. Buy a good conical burr grinder at the same time.
Ask on CoffeeSnobs where you can find a local roaster near you (if in WA you can ask right here on Cafe Grendel and we'll tell you!) Buy their coffee - make sure it is fresh.
Spend a week or so just learning about your machine. Go to Fiori, Epic or the WA Barista Academy and do a home Barista Course.
Enjoy the result.
Yes, it costs money to enjoy good coffee. It is an investment that will reward you all your life!
Friday, February 22, 2008
This means I should get some kind of national medal for rambling aimlessly.
I see how it works - nothing for the blogger in the far west of the country. . .
Actually the interwebs is a strange and wonderful country - I did a post some time ago after I'd had a CT scan and I posted up this image of what they found inside my skull:
As wierd as it seems, that image gets more hits than anything else on my blog. If you do a google 'image' search for CT scan - that baby comes up at number 5.
The beans in my head have, in their own way, acheived interweb greatness.
Sadly they ain't sharing it with me!
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I know Hamo at least will appreciate the artwork and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he doesn't have a sudden pressing need to attend something (anything) in Bondi.
Really stunning work that makes me just itch for the beach.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Yup, the drive wheel attached to the paddle that keeps the beans moving fell off the bottom of the bread maker and only 20 minutes of continuous and excruciating manual stirring with a wooden spoon saved the precious beans.
As it is the roast is not as consistent as I would like. Worse still is that by the end of the roast the heat gun was making a terrible grinding noise so I suspect it may be dying as well.
This all sparked further thoughts about where to go with the roasting. I’ve been thinking of making a second setup for the bench so that I had a backup – and increased capacity. My coffee is now a staple consumable in the office so I have to keep the supply up or face disappointed colleagues.
I’ve been thinking about visiting a stainless steel fabricator about building me a drum with holes in – but I lack so much of the technical knowledge to take the design in my head to something practical on paper and then to reality.
The other alternative is to go with a sample roaster – the problem with that is the cost of purchasing one. They seem to start at around $5000 – way too much for your hobbyist to carry as a sole cost.
In discussion with the usual suspects this morning we toyed with the idea of jointly buying a 1 or 2 kilo sample roaster. The problem is that we live all over so any one of our homes is too far for a meeting on a regular basis.
I guess this is why in the old days clubs were formed and premises leased to host club activities – but that model is simply not practical in this age of high rents.
I’d love to see something like that happen but I suspect I’ll shortly be building another bread maker/heat gun beast – they are cheap and effective. I lust after the old style sample roasters such as the Jabez Burns or Gothot/Probat models where you had a battery of between 3 to 5 sample roasters side by side.
There are some more modern variants of these including this one from Brazil:
A little single sample roaster like this one can handle between 60-500 grams, and while I would like more volume it is a very neat piece of kit. At US $1000 they are reasonably priced – although it would cost probably that much again to ship it to Australia.
Maybe they can just drop one in with a shipment of beans?
Sigh. Back to the drawing board!
The Sunbeam has its quirks, but overall I reckon it is a great consumer espresso machine.
I love my old Faema, but I think the Sunbeam has the advantage at several levels.
The first is the speed at which you can make repeated coffees. The Faema had a minimum of two minutes between each coffee and the process often took 5-6 minutes from pouring the shot to steaming the milk.
The Sunbeam seems ready to go immediately after making a shot and the twin thermoblock means that the the steam is immediately available.
Steam pressure is not as good as on the Faema - but it is nice and dry and it is steady. Changes in steam pressure was one of the annoying things on the Faema although the change was usually predictable. The Sunbeam just seems to keep pushing out the steam - not fast, but well enough to strech the milk quite nicely.
As for the shot itself - I'm still tweaking my grind, but most shots are coming through with lovely syrupy slowness. The body in\s not wuite where I would like it yet but I'll see how I go.
Monday, February 18, 2008
It just goes to show that statistics aren't always useful.
This alcohol-based ramble was brought to you by Taylor's Shiraz (2004).
The ad immediately to the right of the story column was for a Toshiba HD-DVD player. Read the story. Looked at the ad. Decided the VCR gets another reprieve!
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Mrs Grendel's already formidable photography skills took a big boost:
I got back to some terrain generation:
And the Junior Grendels played:
I particularly liked the hapless knight clutched in the robot's claw, a nice touch from my four-year-old.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
See it? The big shiny thing in the middle? Now the Presso is fine, but I can't seem to find its steam wand - whereas on the Sunbeam it is not hard to find at all.
Mrs Grendel was soon making noises about 'maybe' a new coffee machine not being such a bad idea after all - so for that alone, Chris, thanks mate!
Now the Sunbeam has long fascinated me - every appliance company has felt the need to produce a domestic espresso machine, but no one seems to be spending the effort that Sunbeam are.
The EM 6910 is really a piece of work and I know they are still working on refinements. I am hoping to get my hands on a test machine at some point to evaluate how far they have moved from this first iteration of the machine, but even this is a great step up from its predecessor.
I know that the guys at Epic are fans of this machine and that Emanuele of Ristretto does a bit of work demonstrating them for Sunbeam - and Chris is a master of the use of these.
I'm going to spend a bit of time testing its limits but the fact that it can deliver a nice tight thick ristretto earns it big points.
And here are the champions who brought this to our door!
Friday, February 15, 2008
The last week has been a shocker - really hot, and lately fairly humid, but much cooler.
Humid doesn't worry me so much from a roasting perspective - I can always get a good roast - sometimes even a great one going on a humid day. When the weather is scorching however, the roast seems to pick up all the extra heat and go exothermic, generating its own heat until so somehow manage to drag it back from the brink - it then never cools very well at all - after all if the air temp is 39 degrees, then that is where the coffee can come down to.
This weekend looks promising however with mornings predicted to be sub-20 degrees, a real change from the last few days.
Of course over in my old stomping ground of Mackay, any beans would be swimming about now - they got close to Perth's entire annual rainfall on a single morning.
Hope the local coffee snobs got their beans (and their families) above the water.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
I've just been watching the events in Canberra and anyone who thinks saying sorry is wrong should watch and listen very carefully - the response from the Aboriginal people who are there is enough.
Its been a long time since I have had chills up my spine from the words coming from a politician, but I got it from my Prime Minister today.
Warm feelings from Canberra? - treasure these brief moments, they are all too rare!
Sunday, February 10, 2008
I've decided that when I pull out the roaster I'll choose a bag of beans and roast all the beans in that bag - at most this means four batches as I can roast enough in each batch to dispose of 2.5 kilos of beans in four runs.
Today it was a veracruz organic coffee from Mexico:
I don't really need to make these labels, but I do like to mark what coffee it is and when it was roasted so the labels might as well look good at the same time.
Veracruz is named for the state in which it is grown rather than from any single plantation.
Veracruz is a coastal Mexican state in the East central part of the Gulf of Mexico with long beaches and high mountain ranges with good tropical rainfall - perfect country for growing coffee.
I've taken a Google Earth snaphot of a mountain plantation - there were a few!
Saturday, February 09, 2008
I was peckish this afternoon and made myself a quick snack of sweet potato chips.
This was the easiest snack food and they were terrific - OK, not all of them were, but the third batch were pretty fine indeed.
I had to play to get the oil to the right temperature but once it was there they went along well.
I probably should have taken some photos, but they didn't last long enough.
Very easy, very enjoyable and I knew exactly what went into them.
To make them yourself get a good fresh sweet potato, wash and dry it (drying is important to stop oil splattering), slice it thinly - you can use a broad bladed grater or a vegetable peeler to get nice regular slices.
Heat up some good frying oil - canola, sunflower and other light oils seem to work the best.
Scatter a good handful of slices across the oil and whip them out as soon as they get a nice toasty colour.
Drain and season with some salt and ground pepper.
It takes a little work but the result is much nicer than chips from the supermarket.
(For the record I and Mrs Grendel consider 'Pringles' and their ilk to be an abomination and the creators of the same shall be condemned to an everlasting hell of peeling potatoes while standing hip deep in a vat of boiling chilli seed oil while listening to Mariah Carey)
Being a packrat is great - you can always find that whosiwidget to fix the whatsitzimmer or that old copy of your high school yearbook.
I've even got copies of my father's high school year book - and copies of my grandfather's Royal Geographic Society magazines from the 1930's.
Some things keep pretty well for a long period of time, others actually gain value, but most things just seem to slowly decay or get eaten by something - the slow biodegradation of history at work locally.
Mrs Grendel's packrat tendencies carry over to scrapbooking and from time to time she gets a scrapping 'thing' that is 'just too good to use on a layout'. It gets put aside, a valued scrapping treasure that she likes to admire and imagine a creative use for.
On occasion an opportunity to use the 'thing' on a layout presents itself and it gets brought out and placed for all time upon a page.
Except when it crumbles and falls right off.
Are scrapping things supposed to do that?
Coffee beans aren't quite so bad - although you do have to protect them from insects and the elements. Green coffee 'keeps' for up to three years in ideal conditions, although 3yr old green beans would be well past their optimum and would likely have lost a lot of their character. I try to use mine within 6 months of purchase but from time to time I do find some I've missed.
At the moment I have about 40 kilos of beans - way more than I need. It is a lot like stamp collecting, I seem to want to have at least a small amount of various types in stock just in case I feel like roasting them at some undetermined point in the future.
The last few weeks I've realised that I don't need to do this. I can easily get interesting green beans these days and I no longer have to wait till they come up on auction at coffeesnobs if I really want them.
So I have been doing a lot of roasting coffee and giving it away to clear out the stocks - and to push people into drinking better coffee too!
My office now serves freshly roasted coffee daily and I am arranging a buy-in program for them so they can keep this up once my stocks are exhausted. They've all decided they like to good stuff now.
The big problem is what to do with all the small amounts of beans - 100 grams here, 150 grams there. . . A could do a shotgun blend with all of them but I wouldn't know what to do with it then.
Even packrats have to unpack sometimes so I have placed a moratorium on buying more green coffee beans until I can roast up my current 40 kilos or so - unless its a really nice and rare bean, like a Kona, or a JMB, or maybe another Yemeni coffee. . .
Oh yeah, that's how I ended up with so many beans in the first place!
Oddly, remembering back 8 years or so, I won a coffee pack from Braziliano that had 5 kilos of beans, a stovetop espresso maker, some demitasses and other bits and pieces.
I SAVED the coffee beans.
I put them in the cupboard and I SAVED them for 'something' in the future.
I think I may have eventually given them away 2 or 3 years later. I'm sure I didn't drink them - I sure hope I didn't.
Roasted beans are something I never have a packrat issue with anymore - I roast, I use and I roast again. Much better.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Already he is showing signs of great things to come.
The teacher has placed dots on the floor and told all the children that these dots mark where you go to sit down for story time.
When story time arrived and the kids all headed to their dots, Junior Grendel Number Two duly arrived - with a chair, which he placed right over his floor dot. I can't imagine how the teacher explained the concept of sitting on the floor to him.
He's always been a big fan of comfort.
I finally had the chance to carry it out this afternoon.
Its cold shots.
I know that both temperature and pressure are important in espresso extraction and I wanted to see the result when temperature was radically lowered.
The Presso is ideal for this - with most powered espresso machines shutting of the heating system is a challenge, but with the Presso all you have to do is use cool water instead of hot. I used water at 20 degrees C which for me is Coffee Experiment Standard Temperature and Pressure (CESTP) because 20 degrees is easier than zero degrees!
Ok enough, ground the coffee, tamped it down, pre-infused for 30 seconds then pulled the shot.
It ran faster than normal - I'd bet on the grounds not swelling as much. The colour was a few shades lighter than normal, indicating under-extraction and the crema was present but light tan in colour.
I was using Monsoon Malabar beans, possibly not the best for this experiment as they have some 'different' characteristics of their own, however, I'll get on with the story.
Bitterness was the first sense, then a real savoury hit before more bitterness. It was like the flavour and mouthfeel were inverted from a hot shot of the same bean. After a few minutes I could taste some of the more subtle elements - a fruitiness like a tart mandarin, with no sweetness.
Interesting experience and although it was not exactly 'unpleasant' it was really pleasant either - interesting really is a good way to catagorise it.
I reckon I'll stick to cold process coffee for cold coffee from now on!
Although - I wonder if I used ice water and pre-infused for longer. . .
Thursday, February 07, 2008
Except for the crucifix on the walls, and a few other odds and ends, the chaplain's office aboard Des Moines was pure Navy. This extended even to the standard Navy steel gray desk.
"I see by your face you have a terrible burden, Captain, laddie," observed a mildly ruddy-faced Chaplain Dwyer from behind that desk.
"I need a drink," McNair announced.
Without a word the chaplain stood up and went to a storage alcove built into his office. McNair's eyes followed, and then wandered over the signs adorning the cabinet doors in the alcove. He read:
Continuing to peruse the signs, he read further:
Sacramental Grappa, Cognac and Armagnac
"What, no sacramental rum?"
Seriously, Dwyer answered, "The ship's physician is holding that for me, Captain, laddie. It's 'medicinal rum' for now but will become holy as soon as I make some room for it and bless it.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
This happened to me - and I was about to start regretting it when I happened upon Cape Kitchen in a little arcade in Busselton.
It had a huge range of all the locally produced goodies from the places we had visited - and the ones we had missed. While it is never the same as actually going to the producer's sale point, it was great being able to grab a few things I had really wanted to try.
I reckon though the photos will speak of the range:
They also had coffee - three roasters, Biobean, Yahava and Five Senses. I did try a Biobean espresso, but sadly the beans seemed a little stale so I can't really comment on what the Biobean coffee is like.
Great shop though - I know there are a few of these dotted about the South West, and even some in Perth who specialize in South West produce.
This one can be found at: Shop 33/35 Fig Tree Lane, Busselton.
Nice sourdough bases, great quality toppings, beautifully cooked - and still not up with Cena Pizzeria. I reckon If Cena enter the state competition this year their passion and quality local produce should see them at the top of the comp.
So here it is again - Cena Pizzeria in Busselton! I just wish they delivered to Butler.
This place is outstanding and would certainly rank in the top five of Western Australian Pizzerias - I'd even reckon maybe the very top.
The menu is among the most amazing I have ever seen with local produce featuring extensively and I think this is the key to amazing pizzas hidden in a most unassuming exterior in downtown Busselton. Steve and his partner have a vision and even if the shop front seems a little older, the vision is clear once you see the menu.
We didn't get to Cena until the second last day of our visit down South - odd considering that it was one of the places I knew I wanted to visit to try how their coffee was going - they use Fiori. I had a list of venues that serve Fiori, Five Senses, Yallingup Coffee Co., BioBean, and Yahava and I wanted to get an overall impression of the coffee scene down south. Cena was on the list and I had heard mention that their Pizza's weren't bad either.
Oh boy. Here's a sneak look at the menu:
Some of the highlights among the ingredients include locally produced Wagyu beef, kalamata olives, freshly caught local squid, venison, spiced duck, and wild mushrooms. Serious stuff - and seriously well put together as any of these ingredients used poorly could really ruin a pizza. It is good to see a restaurant owner making links with local producers - the slow food crew will love this place if they ever find it.
I had to surrender a piece to Mrs Grendel and let me just say that parting Grendel with a piece of pizza takes some effort. The junior grendels were mightily impressed with the dough stretching done in the traditional manner by tossing it into the air.
The ingredients lavished upon the bases were incredibly fresh and I witnessed the lean venison for the 'Bambi' pizza being sliced into delectable chunks but I could not convince Mrs Grendel to try this one. Instead we had a mushroom and bacon pizza that left us wanting much more - so we went back again that evening for dinner and tried the works.
Totally flabbergasting Pizza - now how to convince them to open up here in the far North - otherwise I reckon that they'd be cold by the time they get delivered to Cafe Grendel.
Oh - good coffee too!
Who: Cena Pizzeria
What: Incredible Pizza and great coffee
Where: 59 Queen St, Busselton
When: Saturday, 19 January 2008
Coffee: Fiori Coffee
Accessibility: Excellent - even down to the height of the counter.
Monday, February 04, 2008
I know the WA Barista Championships is coming up soon and some food events in March - but until then here it is:
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Friday, February 01, 2008
So, the first week of Autumn in 2008 should probably be designated 'Coffee Appreciation Week'. In celebration of coffee Fiori Coffee have organised two events - one on March 1 at Tiger Tiger in Perth and the second on March 8 at Urbanistar in Northbridge.
The first event is two 'Meet the Roaster' sessions where you can come along and chat with Kamran, Justin and Louise about everything related to coffee and roasting. Kamran has arranged home roasting demonstrations and coffee tastings so it will be a great opportunity to feed your inner coffee geek.
No RSVP is required - just turn up!
Where: Tiger Tiger Coffee Bar Shop 4/329 Murray Street, Perth (Murray Mews)
When: Anytime between 2pm and 4 pm, March 1st.
Who: Fiori Coffee
Contact: Clare at Tiger Tiger on 9322 8055
The second event is a true coffee appreciation session which will be run by Kamran and hosted by Urbanistar in Northbridge. I want to go along to this one if only for the irony because I first met Leigh, the owner of Urbanistar at at coffee appreciation day at Fiori Coffee 18 months ago.
This session is awesome and reveals some of the myriad of coffee mysteries and the senses involved in appreciating great coffee. The session will involve tasting coffees from many places around the world.
Having attended one of these sessions by Kamran myself, I can highly recommend the experience.
This will be a great afternoon to attend and bookings will be essential.
Where: Urbanistar, Arcade 189, Shop 7, 189 William Street, Northbridge
When: 2pm March 8th.
Who: Fiori Coffee
Contact: Kamran or Louise on 0412223614
If you have ever wanted to expand your knowledge of coffee then attending one (and preferably both) of these sessions would be a great starting point.