Friday, May 21, 2010
For another latte art throwdown!! I can't wait to see our new badasses in action. Hear's the news:
Grand Prize is alot of brewing methods. alot.
2nd place is a gift card to Anvil. A $50 gift card.
3rd place is a bottle of wine, to be opened immediately. Thanks 13 Celsius!
Our charity this time around is ArtReach. They help special needs children find their place in the art world, and we love em!!!
It's 10 bucks at the door and all proceeds go right into ArtReach's hands!
Something new: Ecky Prabanto will be judging an espresso tasting competition as per SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) Standards: so bring your best beans!!
Can't wait to see you all at Catalina Coffee, May 29th at 7pm!!
Sunday, May 2, 2010
I haven't jumped on this blog for a while- you may have been reading me over at the HoustonPress.com and it's subsequent food blog, Eating Our Words. I stopped writing on my "personal journeys" blog here because I was focusing my writing and thoughts towards the culinary scene and how coffee interacts with it. I recently stepped down as a HP food blogger because of a number of reasons: time, business, coffee, brain cells, you name it. I loved working with the Houston Press and forged some seriously exciting friendships due to it, and they left me with an open invitation to post there as well if I ever felt the need. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity that the Houston Press gave me, especially when doing the chef interviews. What a dynamic community these chefs live in. Anyways now is the time to move on, and there are some really exciting things I want to tell you about:
First off, I accepted a new blogging position with a really incredible website called SeriousEats.com - I will be writing coffee and cafe reviews for them on a national level and could not be more excited to start talking about coffee with friends nationwide. I mentioned my chef articles from Houston Press and they loved that idea as well, so I may be throwing a few in there as well sometimes! I was totally impressed with the websites founder- Ed Levine. He came to Houston and I had the chance to learn about how Serious Eats started and he is truly an inspiring soul. I hope that I can do my part and help his website grow and prosper in this region!
Another cool announcement is the impending guest shift I will be working at Anvil Bar & refuge (Windsor and Westheimer) beginning May 16th I will be there every Sunday brewing up tea and coffee based cocktails, as well as espresso and cappuccinos for the designated drivers of the day. I am really looking forward to being there on a weekly basis for a while and whipping up some fun at the same time.
On a personal level I have committed that 2010 will be the year I push my knowledge of the science behind coffee to a higher level. I am really interested in the way my industry is finally figuring out ways to emulate success: weighing shots, agtron, temperature, and air flow ratings for roasted coffee, the incredible extractMojo (TDS % reader), and pressure and temperature sensitive espresso machines have really given the industry an inspiring lift. Not too mention the national acceptance of hand brewing coffee for customers! the slow bar has caught on with everyone, which has been an incredible adventure.
The barista(s) here in Houston have really come full circle as well and this is an exciting twist I did not see coming. We have 10 times the number of passionate coffee brewers than this time last year and I can't be more proud of each and every one of them and their pursuit of quality.
So I hope you get a chance to grab a cool cocktail, or read my reviews on Seriouseats.com and I think it is about time for another latte art throwdown here in Houston!
Saturday, October 3, 2009
I am proud to announce that we will be adding a "slow menu" to Tuscany Coffee Greenway. The word "slow" is simply used here to encourage our customers to savor not just the remarkable attributes of each different coffee, but also to enjoy the processes that create these unique textures and flavors.
Actual brewing times will vary from about 45 seconds to around 6 minutes. There is something really exciting about trying a remarkable coffee on various brewing methods, and being able to detect what changes were made based on brewing practices. A french press will always reveal a fuller bodied coffee while a chemex may reveal sweeter tones, using the same coffee!
I am really excited because when someone commits to taking a break to relax and enjoy a great coffee experience, they are indirectly opening up to me and finally saying, "alright David, show me why you are so intrigued with all this stuff." I can't wait to serve all my customers a unique and engaging experience that I hope will encourage everyone to start brewing in different ways at home!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
---disclaimer--- After competition I will be offering both of these styles of espresso to my customers. Until then I will be focusing on SCAA sanctioned espresso so I can build the skill set needed to win my region in the upcoming barista competition!
SO! I really didn't want to make any non-charity related posts until after the Htown Throwdown but since this directly pertains to the products I am serving right now at my shop I wanted to make a blog post about SCAA, or the Specialty Coffee Association of America's SCRBC: South Central Regional Barista Competition.
This Competition will be held in December, or maybe January in Austin, TX. In entering this competition, I will be committing myself to preparing espresso in my cafe to SCAA guidelines, instead of the modern American cafe style of preparing espresso. I want to talk a little about the differences between each, and what is unique about each one.
--American Cafe Espresso--
I have been serving espressos up to this point dosed (or weighed) at 21.5 grams of coffee, ground in a way to create a 1.5 - 1.75oz shot or "triple" as it is referred to in coffee slang. Brewing temperatures can change dramatically with each different espresso between 196 to 205 degrees fahrenheit. They are served with custom, larger than average "18 gram" ridgeless brewing baskets and most of the time are used with a cut or "naked" portafilter that is easily cleaned by rinsing under a hot water spout through and through and then dried with a clean cloth thoroughly. I have always loved these big, smooth, almost syrupy in texture monster shots. They create rich tones of red and dark brown with a viscosity similar to motor oil. Flavors are robust and pop, and extractions tend to develop longer in the group head before dripping into a shotglass to create an espresso. This means that shots develop longer, and take a liking to a lighter roasted coffee geared towards profiling the elements of each bean individually in any given espresso blend. I don't split cafe espressos up, so a triple will go into a cappuccino the same as a triple would be served for a latte or espresso. So to sum it up, cafe espresso is bigger, bolder, and thicker.
Now to the competition shots, and how it pertains to my cafe: During competition I am required to follow SCAA guidelines for what a competitive espresso is. I am not here to say which is better or give reasons why one is superior to the other, just to state facts and how these two "espressos" can be so very different.
--SCAA Espresso Guidelines--
An espresso is a one ounce beverage (25 - 35 ml)
An espresso is prepared with various grams of coffee (depending on the coffee and the grind)
The espresso will be brewed at a temperature between 195 and 205 degrees fahrenheit.
Extraction time is recommended to be between 20 and 30 seconds.
Extraction times must be within a 3 second variance of each other.
So, instead of 21.5 grams of espresso, due to limitations of the basket size (16 grams) the maximum amount of espresso grinds I can stuff into a portafilter is somewhere around 18 grams, give or take a gram. This drastic reduction in soluble coffee grinds affects my extraction times. Because my extraction times are affected, my grind size must become finer to handle the brewing pressure accordingly. This means that I have created an entirely new and different product for my customer than they may usually be accustomed to.
Roast profiles must change because the total number of dissolved solubles decreases by the amount of grinds you are reducing for your espresso.
Espresso is now created 2 at a time, instead of 1 at a time, and look and consistency has changed.
These aren't good or bad things, they are just changes that need to be taken account of and understood. There is still a lot of flavor to be experienced at the lower, traditional competitive dosing measures of espresso. I believe that espresso blends alter because roast profiles must be tweaked to create the proper brewing apparatus in these competitive shots of espresso.
I have gotten some awesome results out of an SCAA shot and believe I can make it even better. It creates a whole new concept of coffee that I am trying to fully understand and appreciate for what it is (and win, of course!) and hope that my customers are willing to go on this journey with me as I perfect competition style espressos for my cafe!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Charity Event Details:
Coffee Kids helps children of farmers go to school rather than work on the family farm.
This event will help raise money to Coffee Kids by donating all cash raised from the function to Coffeekids.org! Even Coffeegroundz has committed a portion of the sales from the night to go towards Coffee Kids.
Sponsors of the event will be listed as generous donors to Coffee Kids as well as be displayed at the event in levels of donation. Door prizes and competitor prizes will also be donated by charitable companies.
Every ticket sold will have a name written on the back. After the event we will compose an email to Coffee Kids displaying all names of ticket donors!
If you know of any companies who would love to make a charitable donation, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Latte art is my opportunity to express how I feel about my profession. While it does take a certain set of standards to achieve latte art, it isn't impossible to serve a quality latte without the art. A great espresso is key, proper milk texturing is also vital. Other than that, the art that goes on top is my way of explaining the possibilities of coffee without saying a word. My own seal of approval for my customers. It is me saying thank you for giving me the opportunity to express quality and value in my product. Thank you for being open-minded and willing to try a new take on your daily routine. Thank you for entrusting your day (as this is usually what can make or break even my best days!) with my hands and tools. It is the most exciting thing to see my customers taking pictures, showing their friends, leaving their lids behind, and wishing they could keep the art and still drink their cup! I hope that latte art can be your gateway to new experiences in this wonderful realm of coffee. There are so many fantastic brewing methods and wonderfully unique coffee origins to try! While latte art may not be the end all be all of quality, it certainly gives me the chance to show my customers a new world to behold.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Coffee started for me at Shakespeare's Coffee Bar in South Houston. I was 16 years old, and the coffee bar instantly became a fixture in my day to day life. I always wanted to work because i was having such a great time connecting with my customers. I loved the idea of being a part of each of their days. That is where it all started. Getting to know all my customers and having awesome conversations. After working at a smoothie/coffee/internet cafe, 2 donut shops, and a few coffee tours later, I became obsessed with what coffee could become! I am really excited about the new ways coffee is being prepared, and always try to learn more about my craft. I have been really inspired by my customers enthusiasm to take the custom coffee experience one step further with me. I have a long ways to go before i am any coffee "guru", if there is such a thing, but i have decided that vertically integrating my coffee geekdom is the next step for me. I want to learn how coffee is grown and processed, meet the farmers, learn the importing processes, roast my own coffee, and learn more ways to prepare something exciting for my customers! I appreciate all the positive thoughts that have been around me since I started my coffee expedition 9 years ago, and hope to share the next experiences with you guys through my little blog here!