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...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Hario Siphon

The team at Coffee Shrine supply a range of coffee making equipment for the home and office, and recently started stocking Hario siphons. I have never had the opportunity to play with a siphon and so I jumped at the chance to borrow one when they offered. I read up on technique in a number of places, including the recent instructable at Five Senses Coffee. Feeling well armed with knowledge and blissful lack of experience I put together the siphon and the Hario hand grinder and started to make coffee.

Actually, it took a few more tries before I got something that approximated what was described to me as a good quality cup of siphon coffee.

The final attempt though was something awesome. I was using an Ethiopian Limu that I had lightly roasted two days before and it was full of stone fruit and had an almost tea-like tannic quality. It was very refreshing and quite different even to the pour-over I had made with the same beans.

The Hario kit is a beautiful set of equipment. I love glasswear, and particularly laboratory glasswear. At teacher's college we had to learn to make our own pipets and other basic glass tools, but always I luster after the rows of beakers, conical flasks, retort stands and bulb flasks that stood in rows in the lab prep room.

The Hario gear took me right back into that world and I spent a blissful weekend trying slight alterations to the various recipes I had.

I was also very surprised by the hand grinder. My experience with manual grinders has not been good but I found that the ceramic burr Hario had grinder was effective and consistent and that the process of grinding enough coffee did not take too long. It actually added to the experience overall.

A big thanks to the guys at Coffee Shrine for letting me borrow their kit, it was great fun to play with.

The pictures below will hopefully tell the story better than my words can!