I just had my first cup of coffee from Ritual Roasters, the Brazil Chapadao de Ferro. Absolutely delicious.
I thought it might be worth mentioning again that our tastings still occur every Sunday at 11, I haven’t been posting about them online as they’ve been fully reserved in advance through the store, but we still accept reservations via email (or by commenting on the blog) as long as the deposit is paid by the Friday morning prior to the tasting. This week we did a reprise of brewing one coffee several ways, taking the Kenya AA Nyanja from 49th Parallel and using it to demonstrate the correlation between flavour clarity and body. It was highlighted by the presence of my parents, visiting the cafe for the first time, and their first experience trying different ways of making coffee side by side. This week the theme is still up in the air, and it’s possible we’ll respond to the requests for another espresso-based tasting.
Now. The cappuccino is probably the most difficult espresso-based beverage to prepare well. Texturing the milk in such a way to maintain its froth throughout the experience of the drink while also negotiating a harmonious relationship between milk and espresso proves to be the ultimate challenge for many cafes. In Vancouver, the norm is for cafes to offer a capp more akin to a latte and then have an option for a traditional cappuccino, usually 5 – 6 ounces in volume. Even the trad capps often lack the silky texture that seems to have fallen by the wayside in lieu of better-deliniated latte art, making the whole effort moot on some level. On the other hand, it makes getting a really good cappuccino memorable and for me is one of the few solid indicators that a barista cares and knows what he or she is doing.
So with that in mind, Myriade will attempt to fulfill my perceived void of well-executed traditional cappuccinos. I think we’ve earned the trust of our clientele enough to change the construction and presentation of a cornerstone beverage, and in the vein of offering what we feel is the “best,” there’s no other option. These are the things we think about between the night and the day.
I’m distressed at the moment after reading a discussion on coffeed started by Scott about the flaws of Chemex brewing, and how they can be mitigated (the latter of which was altogether ignored). With the exception of Andy Schecter, who is perhaps my favourite person I’ve never met, the general theme of the postings shows why results based analysis is detrimental to the development of any product really, coffee being no exception. The argument “well it tastes good” isn’t an argument at all, yet functions in lieu of understanding why a method does or doesn’t work. The process, not the outcome, determines repeatability and functions to reveal WHY something happens. Doesn’t anyone want to know how to make something taste better? Isn’t anyone interested in consistency of results? I enjoy the company of the personal friends I’ve made in coffee, but for the most part I don’t like being associated with the vast majority of people in this industry. Specifically, the arrogance and smugness of Nick Cho who presumes to suggest a personal agenda within Scott’s critique of Chemex brewing is so fucked up it irritates me past the point of agitation. Today’s flag-bearers of specialty coffee in Canada and America are the people that have the biggest mouths; the de-facto ambassadors of specialty coffee to the public at large. Awesome.
Andy, on the other hand, can represent me and my peers to anyone who’ll listen as far as I’m concerned. Maybe he’ll teach us all how to make a Chemex.
So completely unsubstantiated speculation coming from sources of all types of repute suggest that Starbucks is purging the plan to incorporate more Clovers into their stores. I mean, really they got what they want already. They received a great deal of press about how they’re focussing solely on fresh brewed coffee and generated a decent buzz for a while. Effectively there’s no real need to go through with it, given that the machine will drive up their cost per cup during a recession where they’re already cutting back wherever they can. Perhaps they’ll buy the rights to the Chemex next.
Does a machine embraced and then rejected by Starbucks regain its cool factor? Or does the lover spurned that is specialty coffee maintain its cold shoulder, effectively putting the Clover in limbo? From iconic symbol to ironic accessory in a matter of months, such is the power of one of the most influential brands in the world.
My mother always used to say if I don’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. In kind, Scott always tells me that if I don’t have anything intelligent to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all.
I can feel the smart things coming back, and predict a return to semi-daily updates. And I don’t think my mom ever said that anyway, so the nice might be occasionally absent. I have to shake this Miss Congeniality tag somehow.
Updates on Cafe Myriade are many and varied. Separation anxiety abounds as Scott is en route elsewhere for a while, leaving me to calibrate the new Raomatics all by my lonesome. I’ve been terrorizing my new staff members by forcing them to re-learn to brew coffee a completely new way every shift, much to my increased satisfaction with the coffee.
The tastings are still in full effect, however unpromoted they are on the internet these days. Usually we’re booked so quickly that I don’t make it to the internet to recruit new attendees, so interested parties should present themselves in the cafe on Mondays or Tuesdays to reserve for the following Sunday.
Sorry for the layoff in posting. Sometimes I need to recalibrate. Coming soon: adventures in overcaffeination (a reprise). Thanks for sticking with me.
PS: For those in Montreal, watch CTV News tonight between 6:00 and 6:30 to see what we look like under bright lights without makeup. Well, Chris was wearing makeup.
Congratulations to Nick Griffith, Devin Pedde, and Ryan Wilbur who came first through third respectively this past weekend at the Western Regional Barista Championship for the US. Intelligentsia (besides from being one of my more common blogging subjects of late) is the dominant force in North American specialty coffee. Aside from being one of the best roasters, they have the most resources and the farthest reach of any other one company, and as such I would argue that their competitors should be sweeping competitions like this. Considering that competitions are still in their infancy, parity or a lack thereof shouldn’t be a concern until there’s general satisfaction that the championship serves it’s main purpose; first and foremost to promote specialty coffee and secondarily to discern who the best barista is. That said, I’ll always still root for the underdogs and cinderella stories. Probably comes from being a Vancouver Canucks fan.
Speaking of competitions, I suppose it’s time to start thinking about this year’s Canadian comp. Geographic transplants make the regionals that much more interesting this year. I’m also interested in doing an out-of-region run somewhere if they’ll let me, after all I haven’t been to Alberta since I was nine.
Finally, it’s -25 degrees in Montreal today. My lips almost froze together during my five minute walk, and I’m working the bar in a zip-up. This isn’t right, somebody send me a care package and teach me how to wear a scarf.
Mark Prince is appalled that Ken Davids scored espresso pods highly on his review site. Which begs the question, to me, how do we standardize tasting? I’ve never tried using a pod and have never sought out to try espresso made from a pod. I’ll say that unless Mark was there and tried the same pod under the same conditions that Davids did, it seems rather asinine to imply someone else’s subjective sensory appreciation is deteriorating. People don’t appreciate the same visual aesthetic, don’t wear the same style of clothes, and enjoy different books, but everyone must enjoy the same type of coffee?
In a similar vein, Mark also commented that he didn’t like a roast of Intelly’s Black Cat a couple weeks ago. I sampled some stamped as the same roast date and it was the most enjoyable I remember Black Cat being in a couple years. I suppose this means my taste buds are detiorating. It’s dangerous to present subjective preferences on a platform as big as coffeegeek.com, especially to those unequipped to make their own personal judgments.
I suppose this could also be considered post one of two, or just to be continued.
Also, thanks to Matt and Swe for the visit at Myriade yesterday. One of the best things about the cafe so far is receiving baristas from visiting cafes and cities to compare craft. Having a discussion comparing experiences with brewing and experiencing different coffees is often surprisingly insightful. Looking forward to serving you guys tomorrow.
How much does Scott Rao love his new refractometer? Let me count the ways: 22g, 24g, 26g…
Watching Scott experiment with brewing coffee is the closest I’ve been to science since- well probably ever. Over decent food and terrible service at Le Local, we briefly discussed the definition of being a barista. I’ve always considered good baristaism to be a matter of maintaining intangible cues in tandem with physical tasks, while I imagine to others it’s purely the act of dose/distribute/tamp/extract. It’s curious to me how our industry can function without consensus on anything, really. Imagine going to a bar and ordering a shot of whiskey and being served a triple, and then being told “that’s the way it should be done.” I suppose in that sense, maybe I agree.
Also, can I just say how facetiously angry we at Cafe Myriade are at George from Crema for ripping off our french press motif for his awesome new t-shirt concept. Shame on you, dear friend.
I’m being coy with my posts at the moment because I’m uncharacteristically overediting a rather large post that may perhaps land me in trouble. In keeping with my love of confrontation and controversy, I look forward to publishing it. Questions of the day: how much do we trust the people in charge of the limited mainstream media our industry has? How are we being represented to others, and how well are we being represented to? It severely bothers me that I appear to be in the minority affected by questions like those. More on that soon, for better or worse.
Sorry for a few days without updates, it’s been busy and I’ve had limited access to my computer the last couple days. We were lucky enough to be featured in a nice review by Maeve Haldane of the Montreal Gazette, and suddenly we were exposed and introduced to many new friends. The tasting today was a huge success and by tomorrow I’ll have news on another coffee tasting for next Sunday. We tasted 49th Parallel’s El Salvador Miralvalle brewed six different ways.
I honestly have nothing interesting to write tonight, I’m tired and my brain is functioning at half speed. Tonight’s a night for a movie and maybe a glass of wine, tomorrow’s a better day for coffee discussion. So until then, my final note of the weekend is one of congratulations to a barista I’ve never met; Alex Pond is the 2009 winner of the Northwest Regional Barista Championship, the first of the regionals to determine who will represent the US in Atlanta this Spring. Congratulations, though I’ve never met you I imagine it feels the same to have all the hard work and practice pay off. Good night!