Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It happened again!

Only a day or so after bemoaning the all to soon passing of a great apricot flavour in a coffee I go out today with Alchemist (a fellow CoffeeSnob) to Elixir - and try a Yirga Cheffe that they had as a single origin and there it is again - more peach than apricot but still that sharp tangy stonefruit and utterly delicious flavour.

This time I know what the bean is however!

It is the Koke Coop Yirga Cheffe roasted by Five Senses who have coaxed out everything that is good in this bean. Jonny at Elixir poured a shot of this for me and then the power went out in the whole suburb - I thought I'd jinxed their machine but it was not I how shut down power to Nedlands today! The coffee is amazing and I know they only had a tiny amount left in their hopper so I would be surprised if there is any left but even so it was great experience trying this coffee roasted professionally and prepared by a master.

It is also a great relief to know this is not just a fluke occurrence but a quality that is cropping up in specific Ethiopian coffees - each time I have experienced this it has been distinct and enjoyable - not something I would use with milk as on tis own the character is too much fun.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Stovetop Espresso

I have never had much success with stovetop espresso although I own about 4 variations of the caffetiera - all of them in stainless steel.

A friend gave me a Bialetti for my birthday and I read up on the process of making stovetop at a number of different web sites. The advice had some common points, and and some conflicting ideas so I combined these and with a little trial and error got a great tasting espresso from my new allow friend.

I'm not saying that this is THE way to make a good stovetop - it is more a video about how I used it to make mine. All I can recommend is that if you own one and have been frustrated by it - persist, read and experiment.

Also buy a Bialetti 'cause they are cool!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Lowdown Highlights

Well, I may not be the best coffee blogger to discover Lowdown, nor will I be the one to take the best photos or write the most descriptive prose, but I know one thing - I am the first coffee blogger to discover this inner city treat.

I noticed it during the fit-out as I walked through the arcade to a meeting and peered several times through the shutters to watch what was going on. One of the first things that I noticed was the presence of a very unique item in a Perth cafe - a Fetco CBS 2021, a temperature calibrated coffee brewer. In a city full of espresso machines this thing appears to be unique.

Actually it seems as though some of the frenetic pace of perth coffee has altered of late and a number of cafes have expanded beyond espresso in their coffee offerings. This is great in my opinion as it allows other aspects of coffee to be explored and will actually contribute to improving espresso through a better understanding of coffee generally.

Back to Lowdown though:

Lowdown is a new addition in Cloisters Arcade and exemplifies the broader acceptance of 'other than espresso'. Offering a house blend from Fiori and a changing single origin, Lowdown is one of the first (if not actually the first) contemporary Perth cafe to offer brewed coffee which they are serving as long black coffees, as a chilled black brew and as the base for their iced coffee.

Owned by Sarah, Claire, Mark and Adam Lowes the cafe is a family business (can you tell that Mark and Adam are brothers? Mark is married to Sarah and Adam to Claire keeping the whole arrangement very neat indeed and providing plenty of help to manage the business.

I had already eaten breakfast but the food was very tempting and almost everything there is made by Sarah including some fantastic looking Hungarian offerings such as the Hungarian cherry cake.

My coffee tally hit four with two long blacks, a ristretto, a chilled long black to which I added an extra treat from another innovation they have introduced - half and half milk. That is, half milk and half cream in a chiller jug that you can pour yourself. They also make milk available in a similar jug and it was great being able to tweak the coffee by adding the milk/cream combination little my little as I drank the coffee to alter the experience.

The coffee from the Fetco was very clean and quite reminiscent of to body obtained from a clover. It was one of the best bodied filter coffees I have had for some time and it certainly highlighted to fruit driven PNG Kimel peaberries.

The ristretto was a delight and brought out the unique characteristics of their custom Fiori blend with caramel, berry and stonefruit apparent as it cooled.

Today was their very first day trading and already they had attracted lots of passing trade who were likewise intrigued by the Fetco. From its Edison reproduction light globes to its warm timber fittings, Lowdown is a very comforting addition to the arcade.

For those wanting a full experience of the new venue, Fiori have arranged two 1 hour coffee appreciation sessions at Lowdown where participants will be tasting three specialty coffees including the Monkey picked coffee. These are this Friday (9 April - with maybe one place remaining if you are lucky) and next Friday 16 April where there are several spots still available.

All funds raised will be donated to Be Kids Australia. The cost to attend is $15 and bookings are essential. These can be made by emailing Louise at info@fioricoffee.com.

Lowdown on Urbanspoon

Who: Lowdown
What: Great Coffee - with the added brewer bonus and very nice food on offer
Where: Shop 16A Cloisters Arcade, 865 Hay Street Perth (access also via St Georges Terrace)
Hours: From 7 am to 5pm (yay - coffee after meetings that finish at 4pm!).
Contact: Website, Email or (08) 9226 3041
When: 7 April 2010
Accessibility: Excellent - no issues with floor levels and counters and lighting and noise levels were acceptable.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Elixir, Coffee Specialists - Claremont

Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spanish exlorer born in 1474, led the first Spanish foray into Florida in search of gold, slaves and the reputed 'Fountain of Youth'. He found swamps and alligators and no magic vitality-restoring elixir.

The fortunate sandgropers who inhabit this state don't need an imaginary fountain of youth for our elixir. We HAVE Elixir - or to be more accurate Elixir Coffee Specialists in Claremont.

Now not just anyone can credibly call themselves 'coffee specialists' in Perth these days. Or rather they can, but they risk rolled eyes and snarky comments on coffeesnobs if they are not the real McCoy.

This is a scenario not even remotely possible for Elixir in Claremont. If there was ever a team I would trust to make great coffee it is that headed up by Jonny Nease and Justin Kenny.

Their coffee is sublime and Jonny manages to find the right notes of the blend as well as the single origins with apparent unerring ease - it is obvious however that behind the effortless-seeming approach there has been a lot of work and for the first time in a long time I have had to resist the urge to lick the last drips from the eggshell blue Croatian coffee cups.

The cafe is a pleasure to visit, the coffee amazing and the food superb.

Elixir is a great addition to the growing lineup of great cafes in Perth and have pushed this style of coffee further out from the CBD.

The team have acquired a 6Kg Giesen roaster - a heavy metal presence in the rear of the store that is not yet in production, but soon will be. They do not appear to be in a rush to roast and intend to let that stage happen when it is ready. In the meantime they are making their Five Senses roasted beans sing delightfully.

Blue is the new white - when it comes to espresso!

Justin Kenny

Jonny works the Hydra magic

What a product - there is so much dimension to that flat white that it is like a bas relief

Who: Elixir, Coffee Specialists
What: Top notch coffee and a small but superb selection of food
Where: 45a/145 Stirling Hwy, Nedlands WA 6009 (entrance off Robinson St -beside Chelsea Pizza)
Hours: From 7.30am.
Contact: Website, Email , Twitter or (08) 9389 9333
When: 6 April 2010
Accessibility: Excellent - I will also check back with Elixir and ask about their toilet facilities as I did not check those for accessibility.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Yes but what do you call it?

Scientists in Brazil have created a hybrid cross of Theobroma cacao and Coffea arabica. The result is a plant that produces large pods that contain beans that are not quite cocoa beans and not quite coffee beans but have the characteristics of each. Essentially coffee with a high oil content it is unlikely that these seeds could ever be used in the preperation of espresso style drinks but there is potential for them to be used in much the same way that cocoa is used - conched to extract the 'butter' and then the remaining powder used to create a beverage.

The new hybrid has been given a scientific designation Theobiba cachuatl (latin for 'drink of the gods' and then the Aztec name for cocoa 'cachautl')but has not yet been given a common name - probably a marketing decision as the sales options for the new product are explored.

Unfortunately as a hybrid the plant seeds are sterile and it can only be propogated by repeating the steps of cross fertilisation between coffee and cocoa plants. On the positive side the plant is remarkably resistant to common coffee pests as it releases small amounts of hydrogen sulphide as the bean pods ripen. While this does slightly taint the beans the 'rotten egg' odour is said to dissapate over time and be barely noticeable in the processed product.

Each tree can produce up to 150 pods a season yealding nearly 500kg of fruit per tree. Experiments are also underway to genetically engineer vanilla bean orchid (Vanilla planifolia)to grow as an epiphyte on the trunk of the coffee/cocoa hybrid (really needs a name guys!) and reduce the effect of the hydrogn sulphide and impart a mellow vanilla note to the bean pods.

We await the advances of science!