Monthly Archives: November 2013

It appears that Amsterdam has a very lively coffee scene and something I was delighted to find out is that there are more and more specialty coffee bars emerging in the city. You may not know what specialty coffee is, so I thought this might be useful: “Speciality coffee is defined as a crafted quality coffee-based beverage, which is judged by the consumer to have a unique quality, a distinct taste and personality different from, and superior to, the common coffee beverages offered” – definition from SCAE. In other words, specialty coffee bars buy raw selected coffee and roast it themselves. And this is how we get to one of the specialty coffee bars of Amsterdam –

Coffee Bru

at Beukenplein 14 – not too far away from the center, but enough not to be in the way of the tourists. A very welcoming, happy and friendly atmosphere, and a cozy environment (with a lot of wood!). Somehow I just felt like I was on an exotic island…I think it’s because everything is in tiki style, makes you feel at ease and happy and just to chill. The baristi were very friendly, but busy at that time, so I didn’t bother them much.

There were some delicious looking brownies and other sweet pastry on the counter.

The machine is La Marzocco and for 2,30€ you can have an espresso, the one I tried was from their house blend, it was with a very thick crema, light-bodied, spicy with a hint of sharpness. 
I really hope to have the opportunity to visit Amsterdam again soon and I don’t think I’ll remove Coffee Bru from my list. I still have to try the latte!

I’m already excited, because The Swiss Coffee Championships for 2014 are announced! The competition will take place in St.Gallen from 7th to 9th February. The participants will compete in four categories –  Barista, Latte Art , Brewers Cup and Cup Tasting. To register for the Championships the tax is 100chf, for member of the SCAE – 50chf. The winner is taking part in the World Coffee Championships for 2014 in Rimini, Italy or in Melbourne, Australia.

You can see the official announcement here, on the site of the SCAE Switzerland, the promotional video is there as well.

Today we take you to an award-winning specialty coffee bar, that I’m sure you’re going to remember.This is Coutume Cafè on 47 Rue de Babylone, Paris. The concept is just genius – when we entered there was a moment of confusion, but we soon became familiar with the place and discovered with surprise, that we were actually in a chemistry lab with chairs and tables, and most importantly – coffee.

The beans are being roasted every week on sight in the back of the cafè and even the labels on the packages are made as if they are chemical elements, cool right? A wide range of high quality coffee beans is offered and alternative brewing methods are being introduced such as the syphon.

The espresso was with thick crema and a very intense aroma and flavour, the cappuccinos were amazing as well. When we have the opportunity we will definitely visit Coutume Cafè again! I think you should consider having a coffee there too even if you’re not so much of a coffee drinker, because it’s an interesting and different experience.
Coffee drinking spread through Europe during the first half of the 17th century – this was a time of a great social, cultural and intellectual change, progressive ideas were born – the age of Enlightenment in France and later the rise of libertarian Risorgimento movement in Italy. There was a growing need for people to express their opinion and coffee houses gladly took this opportunity to flourish. 
In Europe as in Turkey the coffee houses attracted diverse clientèle – professional, political, commercial, they were also the type of place where artists and writers working in isolation could make contact with each other and the world. The owner or the head waiter of the coffee house played very important roles among their customers – of social arbiter, matchmaker, diplomat and a message-taker. Moreover, the communication and information services like newspaper and telephone didn’t exist at that time, that’s why the coffee houses were something like surfing the web or going on Facebook today. Everybody wanted to know what’s happening in town, latest news, latest gossip. As George Mikes says in Coffee Houses of Europe: “Not everyone knows your private address, but everyone knew which coffee house you went to”.
Banks M., The World Encyclopedia of coffee;
Wechselberger J., The Ultimate Coffee Book for Beginners and Professionals;

Something that we discuss a lot, a lot at the moment is how to froth milk properly. Yes, you’re probably going to say it’s not a big deal, you just put the nozzle into the milk and get the steam on, but it’s more than that. Frothing the milk is not an easy thing especially when it comes to free pouring – the hardest form of coffee art. You have to pull perfect shots and to froth milk perfectly every time, only then you can start (trying) to make patterns on the coffee.

 I’m left with the impression that it’s written a lot for the pouring, but about the actual frothing of the milk there is almost nothing…or if I find something it will be very contradictory, so in the end you just end up more confused. The truth is that there’s no step by step manual how to steam milk, because there is no one way to do it right and, how I found out later, there are different kinds of milk foam – solid and dense foam for latte macchiato or cappuccino and a more liquid and creamy for cafè latte.

At the moment, we have assess to a semi-automated coffee machine Rancilio Epoca and a Rancilio MD40 grinder, so you can guess what’s happening. Yes, we practice whenever we can and by far I think we’ve learned quite a lot, we just have to master it. At least we know what the steamed milk should be like. Before we used to let the milk “chirp” for too long (that’s when the end of the steam wand is near the surface of the milk), therefore the foam was not so finely-pored and we couldn’t etch the milk on the surface of the coffee. Now we let the milk chirp for not too long and then we place the tip of the steam wand a little deeper in the milk to create the “whirlpool”. It’s really hard to explain what to do and especially when to do it, since it’s the quantity of milk that determines the amount of time needed to froth it. At the end the milk has to be glossy and creamy and it should taste sweet.

We started practicing in creating some basic coffee art such as the dot and the heart and who knows, we might get even further than expected, no matter that sometimes our “masterpieces” are far from the desired result. You need a crazy imagination to figure our designs out. Soon I’ll publish some photos from our better attempts, till then – happy frothing!

And here we go with the first Coffee Trip post. I present you Maison Goût, a lovely cupcake cafè  in the heart of Lucerne, Switzerland. It’s located on Morgartenstrasse 7 – a five minute walk from the main train station.

I think it’s really sweet with these cushions and little tables outside.There’s also a bell  hanged on the door, which when it rings adds to the atmosphere of the place. Inside the design is kept simple, almost everything is white. There are also other home items being sold in the cafè like coffee tins and mugs. 

The espresso is 4,50chf, smooth and balanced with a very rich crema, the used beans are Amici. As a matter of fact, that’s one of our favourite places when it comes to espresso. There is also a variety of  freshly baked cupcakes. A regular size for 4,50chf  and a mini for 2,50chf. We enjoyed three Red Velvet mini cupcakes, mmm delicious! If you are more of a tea person there’s a wonderful selection of  Dammann Frères Premium Teas each for 4,80chf, it’s a French themed cafè after all. 

We definitely had a good time in Maison Goût and we’re sure to visit it again. If you ever find yourself in Lucerne make sure to pay a visit to this wonderful cupcake cafè.