Showing posts from January, 2012

Jaibalito, Atitlan, Guatemala

On January 30th we took a boat across Lake Atitlan to the small town of Jaibalito for two reasons; we are intrepid explorers curious about people, culture, craft and the multi-dimensionally of all life; and we heard there was a roaster named Hans!  Hans owns a hotel/cafe/restaurant/green bean processing/roastery etc..., he seems to be a quiet man but also very industrious. There are many small farms within the Jaibalito valley, some on cliffs, others on gentle slops and some right in the village. Hans estimates that 10% of all the green beans in the area come to him: he only purchases coffee cherries that have not been chemically fertilized or sprayed (non-certified organic). Hans also grows his own coffee.  He kindly gave us a tour of his small roastery and green bean processing area. He doesn't process coffee as thoroughly as many other Finca's we have visited here, but still obtains a good result, as we know from roasting his beans and conducting our own espresso style

Guatemala Espresso Blend

Beans blended are: Finca Zorn, Fernando's roast, Azotea roast, San Pedro Chrisitiana's, Finca Oriflama roasted by GCL, and a FEDEPMA roast.  Cherry, liquor, sour, nuts, a flat dimension to the flavours, and not so sweet.  The blend proved to be flat but "nice" . The base note is our agreed upon consensus that is missing. We hope to find it, just for the fun of the investigation and pursuit of a perfectly balanced Guatemalan espresso!

Finca Zorn, Santa Cruz, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

2 x- chocolate like many Chiapas, Mexican coffees we have tasted, very base, not so acidic, few fruit flavours, cigarette-ash, sweet Hans roasted it. Posato Jabalito - Hotel/restaurant Upon trying Hans roasted Finca Zorn beans (from our friend Thilda’s garden in Santa Cruz la Laguna ) I became very hopeful, that we had found our possible base note for the perfectly balanced Guatemalan espresso blend. But as you will see in our next post, we tried the blend and it wasn't to meet our expectations or hopes! Since there is only 5 lbs of Finca Zorn produced each year and all have been roasted, it will be difficult for us to speculate, but I hope that with a lighter roasting of the beans this could be in fact the base note we are looking for - until next year!

Canton Pames, Carretera a Finca Tzantziapa, San Pedro La Laguna, Solola, on the shores of Atitlan Lake, Guatemala

Roasted last night some organic green beans at Balam ya that we picked up on a Finca tour of FEDEPMA (aka the title of this post). Not the best of size sorting, but curious how that would affect the roast. Not a single estate coffee, but a gathering from 26 different small farms.This morning after breakfast we had an espresso; beautiful tastes of quinine, bitter grapefruit, chocolate and ash. And then a cortado. Excellent mouthfeel. Very impressed to be able to make such a fresh and new kind of taste-flavour profile in coffee! The second day, after the roast, the quinine taste dropped significantly, just a faint hint which we agreed was a smoother coffee. Impressed by the quality, even though the beans were not well sorted nor so even looking. However, the range of flavours is narrow and recommend pretty good for blending with other coffees. Would be interesting to try out this coffee from different harvest periods. The tour was excellent and in depth. We found out that this 32

Finca Oriflama, San Marcos, Guatemala

We received a kind gift of green beans from Andrea and Ñuno. Their neighbor  has a coffee Finca, and they encouraged us to try the beans. Last night (Jan.21) we roasted  green beans from Finca Oriflama at Villas B'alam Ya. Lighting wasn't so good on the deck, but the weather was great! This morning Cynthia came for millet breakfast, coffee and a lovely talk about discrimination, kindness and mindfulness using coffee as the avenue in. We had our first espresso, it was really good! Chocolatety, bitter in a good way, extra-dry, grapefruit, sour cherry, nutty-earthy, tart and a tiny bit ashy. And with milk, as a cortado, it was excellent, fairly complex in flavours. One person commented later-on how good it was as a laxative... Currently we are experimenting with blending Finca Oriflama and 4-5 other excellent but slightly acidic Guatemalan coffees, and using an equal percentage of a PNG beautifully roasted by the Green Beanery in Toronto. We are striving to produce a wide ra

Villas B'alam Ya, Km. 4 Carr. Sta. Catarina Palopó, Panajachel - Sololá

Galiano Coffee Lab (GCL) Blend: 1/3 Azotea Coffee Estate roasted by GCL, 1/3 Yeman and 1/3 Galapagos roasted by Kafeum Roaster in Konstanz, Germany. One of our best coffees yet....a cortado giving wonderful complexity, a Chateau d'Yquem of coffee, with mild acidity, enjoyable sour with hints of cherry, grapefruit, macadamia, some faint floral notes, peppery, many mild light to bitter chocolate aromas, wine, cigarette ash-faintly smokey, a bit of a phenol taste, good mouthfeel, a delicate sweetness, and a lingering exquisite aftertaste over all range of flavours; we never experienced a coffee like this before! 

Villas B'alam Ya, Km. 4 Carr. Sta. Catarina Palopó, Panajachel - Sololá, Gautemala

We are staying at a delightfully elegant Villa near the town of Panajachel. It's not rated, but definitely falls into a five star quality hotel for comfort, beauty, service, vistas and everything else one really needs for rest, contemplation and quiet. We are very fortunate, the owner is very kind and generous and has loaned to us her Rancillo espresso machine and grinder to use and experiment with.  As well I brought our Gene Cafe roaster in my carry-on luggage.  Yesterday we roasted some green beans, kindly provided by Ricardo, the owner from Azotea Coffee Estate. The beans were a little varied in size, and  from the first pick of the season, not the premium time we were told. The roasting went fairly well for the first roast since arriving and the beans turned out to give a lovely chocolatly taste accompanied by lots of grapefruit finish, not too acidic and gentle fruit notes. Today we made a blend of 60% Azotea, 30% PNG from Green Beanery Roasters in Toronto and 10% Ethio

Azotea Coffee Estate, Calle del Cementerio Final Jocotenango, Sacatepequez, Guatemala

Ricardo Pokorny, the owner of the finca and 4th generation of coffee growers and roasters, gave us an in-depth tour of his estate starting with the history of coffee to viewing all the machinery and walking the deck to see the sun-drying green beans. He was very generous with his knowledge and time, unlike some of our experiences in Europe where the cafe owners don't even want to tell you which part of the world the beans they are using are from just in case you are doing some kind of espionage for a coffee house or something! In general it has been refreshing to be in Guatemala and to see and meet so many smily friendly people. If you ever have the opportunity to tour an estate, then I highly recommend going to the Azotea Coffee Estate. ... At the Azotea cafe we were treated to an excellently prepared espresso and cortado by Miguel Angel. Miguel seems eager and well practised when it comes to making and serving coffee. He is keen to learn more and more about coffee and is al

Finca Filadelfia, 150 metros norte de iglesia de San Felipe de Jesús, La Antigua, Guatemala

We went on our first group tour of a Finca (coffee plantation) today. Many thanks to Laurel's (owner of Panza Verde and Villas B'alam Ya) generosity and planning to organize this for us!  We prefer to go impromptu to finca's, roasters, cafe's etc... because then we may find our own way into someone’s craft and profession! Going with a group can mean a multitude of things i.e. waiting for the whole group to be ready to move onto the next piece of the tour, and if the majority of the group are newbies then you will be certain they will control the questions and movement of the tour. But, to our surprise the group interest and tour was quite good. Our guide "Jose Jesus" had a routine that was well practiced but not too slick and rigid, so  he was open to our questions.  We learnt how to pick ripe coffee berries by turning and pulling the bean as to leave the stem on the branch for future blossoms to take hold. How beans are then weighed, sorted by float

Fernando´s Kaffee, 7a Avenida Norte #43 D, Antigua, Guatemala

This morning we walked the beautifully colored walled streets of Antigua from the hotel-restaurant Panza Verde to Fernando's Kaffee for an espresso.  Fernando roasts his own coffee as well as chocolate. He has a piston espresso machine made in Italy that seems to pull-off (pardon the pun) some very nice shots, full of chocolate tasting flavours and hints of sour and sweet. The milk he uses is of good quality and makes a difference in final taste. I highly rate his espresso's and other types of coffees! And he is an excellent chocolate producer as well! It is refreshing to be able to order a cortado and have the Barista actually understand what you are asking for!!! On a second visit, Fernando had time to give us a detailed tour of his facilities where we saw his roaster that is gas fired with a convection fan and chocolate making equipment ,got to sample some chocolate while in production. Fernando is actually able to roast evenly to a medium roast in just 6 minutes using

CaffeCouture, Garnisongasse 18, Wien (Vienna), Austria

On our first day in Vienna we went to a cafe/restaurant called Madiani. We had a good espresso and met with the owner whom suggested that we visit CafeCouture because he could see we really love to explore coffee. CafeCouture is located in the University area of Vienna. Unfortunately it was closed for the first 10 days that we spent in Vienna because we were here over the Christmas holidays, which is exactly when the University is closed. It was worth the wait! We had an excellent coffees on both days; actually world class coffees. The barista/owner Georg mentioned he competed in the Czech National Barista Championship, and also competed at the World Barista Championship two times.  The atmosphere of the cafe is very clean, crisp and has a minimalist feel. Georg made perfect hot thickened milk, via the La Marzocco machine’s steam wand (a new model being tested by George for La Marzocco) to add to an excellent espresso that comes from a blend of five beans; Brasilia, Nicaragua, Gu

TGB cafe, Ahmedabad, India

Exclusively elusive, this tucked-away cafe is worth the search. Behind the cake cabinet sparkles the well cared-for espresso machine, from which all manner of drinks are prepared- one menu item involved espresso, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and Peanut Butter! Despite such exotic options I ordered a cappuccino. It was delightful. Although not complex in flavour, its taste (and cup) was clean and enjoyable and prepared with care. Just like in Italy, yet only ten minutes from Mahatma Ghandi's ashram- TGB, Thank God it's ...?

Testa Rossa Caffe, Mahlerstrabe 4, Wien (Vienna)

Conveniently located to most museums and the downtown area; this cozy little cafe on a side street is in the heart of Vienna. Luckily for us, the espresso was good and the barista and owner of the cafe, "Michael", were open to making a coffee for us that was designed by us. We enjoyed the well balanced and flavourful cortados (1:1 espresso ‘cut’ with warm steamed micro-foam milk) that was prepared with care.  A complete difference and refreshing experience to the general Viennese cafe scene. To speak more about this particular idea: in many cases, when we enter  a cafe, restaurant, or any place of business, and ask for a style of coffee, whether it be a cortado, machiato, cappucino, etc., generally no matter what we order, we are going to be served what the server (barista?) deems to be served, and not particularly what we have asked for. Get our drift: “you get what I serve you!” I suppose many people are happy to order from a menu and not ask how it is being made, or a

Max + Muh, Deggendorf, Germany

This was our third time to Max+Muh. Again Sabrina was the sole staff person, being barista, baker and sales woman! Sabrina makes, from scratch, high quality baked goods, quality sandwiches as well as she is the head barista of the cafe. Her croissants were delicious; light and buttery, a very good accompaniment to a decent espresso macchiato. Although one suggestion is to go deeper into the quality of espresso making., However, although it seems to us that the beans are fairly well roasted,  perhaps they are not of high quality,  because there is little range of flavours, not very alive in the taste - just good! Would be great to have more flavourful coffee, as the talent and equipment is there to pull some great shots. Over all, a friendly enjoyable place for coffee and excellent fresh baked goods.

Blueorange gastro OG, Margaretenstraße 9, Vienna

We found Blueorange in the downtown of Vienna. A slightly modern facility with Cimbali grinder and espresso machine. The Barista seemed open and interested in what we were hoping to drink, but unfortunately split our shot between two cups and ran it for over 40 seconds. Such a long shot can invariably produce nothing short of a watery shot and bitter grey flavours. So, up to the bar for a second try, this time the barista, again very open and friendly, made an espresso into one cup only and for only 20 seconds. Unfortunately the milk was the leftover milk in the container from a previous latte and was over-whipped. The Barista allowed for me to try and bring the milk back together, which is a seemingly impossible task at this point, but nonetheless we gave it a go and had a much better Espresso macchiato. Flavour notes are a little orange, sweetness and a touch of chocolate. 

Alt Wien Kaffee, Schleifmuhlgasse 23, Wien (Vienna), Austria

Finally we found a roaster, cafe and Barista (Oliver) who actually has knowledge and a passion for  coffee! Oliver expressed succinctly our findings while being in Vienna; he mentioned something like the following... the traditional coffee houses in Vienna don't know what coffee is, they serve over roasted burnt coffee with milk that isn't prepared properly... The espresso bar at Alt Wien Kaffee has 6 grinders, some of them are Luigi Mazzers and they use a Faema espresso machine. We tried three single estate espresso's; a Brasilia, a Hawaiian Kona by the name of Captain Cook and an Ethiopia Sidamo. All were very nicely roasted, good even brown, not very oily and fresh smelling. The Hawaiian was very good, fruity, a little weight and body and (with floral notes)perfumey. The Brasilia was delicious; missing the licorice taste we know and love, but was a medium to full body coffee, with a creamy rich sensation. The Ethiopian Sudamo was good, but not great. Possibly becaus

Jheel's Ginger Coffee Bar and Bakery, Udaipur

One of only 3 espresso machines in Udaipur is purring happily at Jheel's. The attention to detail by the Barista was appreciated in that he was willing to go beyond the menu and prepare coffee to our taste. Set upon the lake famously filmed in James Bond's Octopussy, the real drawcard for foreign tourists to meet at Jheel's is the opportunity to sit upon the edge of Lake Pichola and drink espresso- shaken or stirred- but definately delicious.

Café Sacher Wien, Philharmonikerstrasse 4 , Austria

We tried another Viennese Cafe experience, this time there was a line-up outside the door, but luckily, we noticed that there is another section to the cafe that allows smoking just next door, without the line-up... Cozy, small and lovely cloth wall paper which made such a nice decor and experience... we ordered the classic  Original Sacher-Torte  as well as an espresso machiatto. The torte was sweet, sugary and nicely presented, leaving me to want less and less because of the belly upset from it. The espresso was powdery, grey, burnt and un-appealing for such hype about the cafe. Again, another unpleasant coffee tasting experience — too bad because it is soo simple to purchase high quality roasted beans and make an excellent espresso, which is what we did at home earlier .. :) 

SCHLOSSCAFÉ, Parkhotel Schönbrunn, Hietzinger Hauptstr, Wien(Vienna), Austria

Spacious, clean, new-ish... yet hollow of any substance in the espresso department. When we entered the Hotel there was a beautiful smell of fresh blueberries and then we went into the Cafe and smelt the common scent of ground coffee beans. Unfortunately the espresso macchiato that was served to us was powdery, dry, flat, slightly burnt and only made better when we added whipped cream to it. This was a good cup! When you have good quality beans, grinder and espresso machine, then there is not much that needs to be done to make a good to excellent cup of coffee: except attention by the barista!We have learn’t: to be able to drink a bad coffee, add a dollop of cream. And the antidote for a bad cup is to drink a good one! Hopefully more cafes will take up the study and craft of espresso based drinks using international standards rather then ritualistic coffee brewing methods that have been handed down through the generations without question or inquiry into whether or not these traditio