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On Tuesday the 26th in Cafe Frühling in Basel, the 13th Tuesday Night Throwdown Latte Art Competition was held. And we were there! It was an unforgettable experience! I swear, I have never seen so many coffee people in my whole life, let alone at one place! 
Anyway, let’s continue. As I said, there were many people – 42 of them participated (next time we’ll take part too!) and what surprised me most was that actually some of them had never poured lattes before. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that everyone has the opportunity to participate, but there were the best of the best baristi in Switzerland, so I didn’t really expect it. Everybody knew each other, talked, laughed, so it was not a competition in the real sense of the word, it was more like having fun with friends. 
About the pictures…well, we weren’t equipped properly and the photos are really crappy, but there was Maurice Greder from Hochprozentig GmbH who documented everything. You can check out some of the pictures on the official TNT blog here
Congratulations to Luzia Taschler 1st place and Alex Back – 2nd! Thank you once again for the amazing evening, we definitely look forward to the next TNT!

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Yesterday we made a little trip to the headquarters of Jura – a Swiss company developer and distributor of home appliances, famous for its full automatic espresso machines, headquartered in Niederbuchsiten, Solothurn, Switzerland. The reason behind our “inspection” was the “JURAworld of Coffee” visitor’s center opened in 2006. The home of coffee, as it’s called, is a wonderful (entrance free)  exhibition that takes you from the discovery of the coffee plant to its world domination. 
The corridor leading to the exposition is made to resemble a time passage beginning with some of Jura’s latest models of espresso machines to some of the first ones since the beginning of the company in 1931 by Leo Henzirohs. To make you “feel” the time changing there’s even a big round clock at the end of the hall running backwards.

Then we dived into the history of the legendary drink, starting from the legend for the Ethiopian shepherd Kaldi, then we moved to the Middle East with the curious European merchants.

 We stopped for a bit on Mauritius, after all, that’s where one of our authors is from 🙂

In the “Colonial shop”

And of course, because we couldn’t keep ourselves from buying something in the shop, we left with a bottle of Irish cream and some caramel scented sugar. Then we stopped for a while in the cafè to have a latte macchiato each. What I liked there was that with the type of drink you could choose the blend you want.

Today we’re going to take you to a special place in Zurich, where you can feel the rhythm of coffee. Yes, I’m talking about Henrici. This is a specialty coffee shop, a vegetarian restaurant and a live music club, which appears to be a pretty good combination, now let us tell you why.

Henrici opened for business in the summer of 2009, and since then has “educated” Swiss people in drinking good coffee. Of course, the beginning wasn’t easy – heavily influenced by the specialty coffee scene of San Francisco, the siblings Olivia and Tito Huber along with their team, had to clearly distinguish themselves from competition and show customers what happens when coffee is handled with care. Hard work, dedication and passion for coffee – these are just a few of the values each of Henrici’s team members embodies. And an interesting fact I stumbled upon is that it is the same Tito Huber that is one of the organizers of the TNT, the venue hosted the second edition of the competition in 2010. 

Every Tuesday night Henrici turns into a live music club, now famous for hosting great gigs. At first there were mainly local bands, but now artists from all over the world come to play. If you’re not that into nightlife then be sure to stop by Henrici for a lunch – I recommend the flammkuchen – mm, delish!  

When I visit Henrici I usually order a latte…almost every time. I can guarantee you, this is something you’ve never tasted before. As you can see from the photos, every single latte is a piece of art and this is usually enough to be sure of the quality, not to mention that it tastes like heaven! When the three of us went to Henrici,  Snehaa and Karla had lattes(cause I was talking about it all the way!) and they weren’t disappointed at all. I had a galao (Portuguese latte) – espresso and milk steamed together. It was delicious, nevertheless I can still see the latte coming next time. 

As for the coffee beans, Henrici works side to side with Rast Kaffee, uses their blends, but have created a special Henrici espresso blend (which I’m eager to try, when I’m not on my latte diet). There are also alternative brewing methods on offer as siphon or pour over, so if you’re feeling adventurous go ahead, in Henrici nothing can go wrong!

So, it’s that time of the day, when I feel like sharing, so for today I’ll tell you how I ended one of the longest relationships in my life. It was a few years back when Starbucks decided to open up a few stores in my peaceful country – Bulgaria. It soon became very popular, which was even more reinforced by the growing western influence (TV series, films etc.), no matter what, it was and still is quite expensive for the average Bulgarian.

Our romance started when I was still in high school, I was passing by Starbucks to get a latte or I stayed a bit more to read a book or study. And then one day this particular store I was visiting so often, had become my office. I was very loyal to Starbucks – I was not only drinking their coffee, I was reading books and  articles on the topic, genuinely interested in the company’s history and present, constantly fascinated and inspired by the chairman Howard Schultz. I read the book “Onward” he had co-written with Joanne Gordon about his return as a CEO and the building up of the company. I have to say, it’s a very captivating, inspiring and even touching at times story to find out what’s behind that green logo. Howard Schultz is a genius who manages to motivate and influence a great number of people to work not for  him but with  him and to make Starbucks “not a coffee company that serves people, but a people company that serves coffee”. At this point my relationship with Starbucks couldn’t get any more serious.

Years passed by, I started studying in Switzerland and the real coffeedrinker in me was just born. I bought a coffee press and I “planted” the coffee-passion bean in my roommates, who are now contributors for this blog. Even though I was visiting Starbucks less than before, my devotion was even bigger, because at that time it was not only the company’s philosophy I was professing, but I was also treasuring some very precious Starbucks-related memories I was unable to eradicate. But as we all know, people grow. One year later, I find myself with a lot more knowledge of the coffee industry and the coffee plant than before and I’m continuing to learn and explore the world of specialty coffee.

Once again in Amsterdam, we’re going to Trakteren Koffie, where the coffee is delicious and the experience unforgettable! The address is Jan Pieter Heijestraat 119A. Again specialty coffee shop but what will make you come again and again is the “special treatment” you receive from the friendly guys behind the counter – Erik and Edward.

The grinning man there? This is Edward (I’m so sorry for the unfocused picture!). It’s incredibly easy to talk to him, actually the atmosphere of the place is so warm and inviting, that you can easily spend there…some time 😀 

They sell freshly roasted coffee from all over the world, but if you’re not so much of a coffee person you can try their loose leaf teas or perhaps a fresh juice. Me? I was enjoying my latte with the milk etched like an olifant (Dutch for elephant). What I really enjoyed from Trakteren was the fact that I could feel the love for good coffee and the attention to details, that these guys had. It was obvious this was their passion!

We’re again in Paris, this time for the wonderful Kooka Boora or for short – KB shop. This cafè is our number one favourite in the city, so listen closely – it’s located on 62 rue des Martyrs, you’ll recognise it from the bright blue chairs of the few tables outside and this is if the weather is merciful. It seems like it doesn’t attract much attention, but believe me, it was packed and not only with tourists, but also locals who were mostly working on their laptops (apparently, the wifi is good too). 

 The interior of the cafè reminds me somehow of a warehouse or a workshop, but neat and cozy. The atmosphere is lively and happy, the baristi are even more happy and I guess we were the happiest! I got to talk to one of the baristi – Tim – too bad we don’t have a picture of him here, and he pulled to shots of espresso for me to taste – one was single origin the other was a blend. Ahh, it’s a little hard to recall now, next time I’ll take more detailed notes! Anyway, he told me that they don’t roast the coffee anymore, but work side to side with La Brûlerie du Belleville – a relatively new coffee roaster in Paris. You can quench your thirst with a freshly squeezed juice or in case you’re feeling hungry there                                                                      are fresh sandwiches and pastry all made on site.

                                                     
                         


                          

 We had two cappuccinos and a latte all for 11€. They were sweet and creamy and delicious without unpleasant aftertaste. Oh, and the machine is La Marzocco FB/80. And yes, we also had some quality time together, discussing the purpose of life, hahah 🙂