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Monthly Archives: February 2014

There was coffee cupping in Bear Brothers and Cow last night, it’s the second time we went to cup some coffee there (ahh, I want so badly to be “we” again…Karla, Snehaa, I know you’re reading this, I miss you and can’t wait for you to be back!), you can read about it here.It was the second time I went for cupping there, even though the guys, Kai Keong and Benny, organize cupping sessions quite often. This time though the reason was the coffee lover and friend Ales, who came on a visit to Zurich and brought some coffee samples from Czech roasteries. These samples are from the best what these roasteries had to offer at that time, so there’s no special selection for or purpose of the cupping, but it was interesting, fun and besides it’s always good to meet fellow coffee enthusiasts. On the photos you can see Ales measuring the beans before the grinding.

 

These were the coffee beans:

– Kenya Gaturiri AA by Doubleshot
– Colombia Carlos Imbachi – Caturra by Doubleshot
– Costa Rica La Lia – Catuai  by La Boheme Café
– Costa Rica Don Mayo – Caturra, Catuai  by La Boheme Café
– Kenya Karogoto AA – SL 28, SL 34 by La Boheme Café
– Ethiopia Sidamo by Rebelbean
– Indonesia Sumatra Lintong Raja Batak by Orginal Coffee
– India – Plantation AA by Coffee Melena

We started with a blind tasting, I think everybody could pick out the Sumatra –  very earthy and chocolaty – compared to the others it really stood out. Sumatras usually make better espresso, than filter coffee. The American coffees were fruity, a bit like compote with the aftertaste of honey. The ones from Kenya and Ethiopia were very fragrant and intense and you could easily taste the difference. The session was a good exercise, trying to taste the difference between the beans grown on different continents and trying to store them in your memory. Also there were one or two coffees that were natural, but still for me is a bit tricky to identify even that.

As a whole I’m pleasantly surprised by Czech coffee roasters, it seems the coffee culture in Czech Republic is thriving. Ales says that it really is developing quite fast and that only before a couple of years there hadn’t been almost anything on the Czech coffee scene. This makes me wonder when Bulgarian coffee culture will reach this level. I cannot say that specialty coffee haven’t yet reached the country, actually before a month or two the first ever specialty coffee bar in Sofia opened – Coffee Religion. And I’m sure there will be more
coming soon, so we’ll see.

Anyway, thank you Kai Keong and Benny for organizing this, and Ales, thank you for bringing the coffee from Czech Republic, it was very nice of you to give us a sneak peak of the Czech coffee culture. I hope we end up cupping coffee together again somewhere. It will be the third time, right?

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Yesterday I had a practice session at Stoll…actually since I bought the aeropress last week I haven’t stopped brewing. First, to get the hang of it, cause you know, it kind of matters which side of the aeropress points to the ceiling (and I obviously have a talent for embarrassing myself), then to develop a recipe for the competition. The good thing is my place gained the permanent smell of coffee, which I love, the not so good thing is that with all the new additions to my coffee laboratory my wallet got a bit…vacant. Oh, well, I don’t regret anything! I only miss a refractometer, but I can’t afford it and I’m not sure I need it at this stage. Especially if you can use someone else’s…But I find it a bit confusing and at times I feel lost, because when I brew something and when I measure it and the dissolved solids percentage turns out to be something different than what I’ve expected. I don’t know what should I expect, I can’t find the connection between the taste and the dissolved solids. Or it’s better to say I can’t taste the connection, because there obviously is one. Funny thing…I also doubt in myself, maybe I don’t do something right.


I totally got in love with my aeropress, I should give her (yes, it’s a “she”) a name, but I will leave this to Snehaa and Karla, when it comes to names there are the best! This brewing method is surely becoming my favorite, because the quantity is small and you have a perfect control over the brew. It’s ideal for experimenting. For now I’m using paper filters, but I would like to see the difference with the metal one…maybe next month. I’m also very pleasantly surprised how different coffee can taste in an aeropress. I think it makes it more fruity, crisp and fresh, but these are my observations.


As it turns out the Aeropress Championship will be held in the lovely Café Fruhling in Basel on the 22nd of March. All together there will be 27 participants, from which 9 will continue to semi-finals and 3 to finals. Everything will be tasted blindly, the judges won’t know who’s the brewer of the coffee they are tasting and also they won’t be measuring the TDS. They’ll just have to point to the cup they like most. Or should I say extraction they like most? Because the beans are going to be the same, so the judges are going to look for the perfect extraction. The finalist will go to the World Aeropress Championship in Rimini in July. As for me, I don’t have any expectations from the competition, it would be fun to brew coffee along with all these coffee people, I really look forward to it!

You might know already that I’m interested in coffee extraction methods and I find fascinating the way how the same coffee can taste differently after a slight change in the brewing. All the flavors in the cup depend (till some point) on these variables. Be it grind, dosage, water, everything matters and I want to find out what affects what and how. I also would like to find out how roasting affects the taste of the coffee, I mean, on my own, but that’s too far-fetched for now.

After my first visit to Stoll Kaffee (you can read about it here), which wasn’t too long ago, my speed of learning doubled…no, tripled! That’s only because of Shem Leupin’s friendliness and my…lack of restraint? Let’s say thirst of knowledge, sounds better. And I know I can’t bake enough cookies to say thank you, but Shem, your kindness is deeply appreciated!

Now to the point – today I went to Stoll, Shem was practicing with aeropress – brewing, tasting, measuring, than he gave me to try and BAM! I’m going to take part in the Swiss Aeropress Championship next month! I didn’t see this coming either. I was planning to go to Basel to watch, but to take part…that’s crazy! I have to admit, I wasn’t that hard to persuade, but again it’s a bit crazy. There’s one month to go. I still have to register and all, I mean, it was this morning that I took the decision. It’s going to be fun! 

It’s not a secret from anyone that this is my favorite café in Zurich, however I’ll be as objective as I can in reviewing the place and you are more than welcome to go and check it out for yourself! If you’re visiting Zurich you cannot miss it, not because of its size (as the name suggests), but because of the location – Limmatquai 118 – right in the heart of  the city overlooking the Limmat river. 
Grande is actually quite limited in space and believe it or not if this had to change then it wouldn’t be Grande anymore. Sounds silly, but it’s true. The place has the charm of an Italian espresso bar – small, welcoming and at the same time very busy. This though doesn’t seem to affect the so valuable for me connection guest – barista. Grande offers a blend of craftsmanship and hospitality that, unfortunately, is not easy to find elsewhere. 
If you want to see some latte art being poured right in front of your eyes be sure to take a seat at the bar. Milo is among the best latte artists in Switzerland, he took second place on the Swiss Latte Art Championship this year. His colleague Fabio is also a coffee passionated guy and took part in the Swiss Brewer’s Cup Championship. He is learning really fast, so considering that one of the best is his teacher, the next latte art competition will be quite interesting. 
Milo
Pic from last year with Snehaa and Karla
Fabio

The espresso at the moment is a semi washed Sumatra, Mandheling, grown at around 1350m elevation. It’s thick bodied with pleasant earthy aromas and has sweetness of brown sugar. (When I learn to recognize more flavors I’ll definitely come back and add more details!). The coffee is freshly roasted with love from Henauer Kaffee, at least that’s what it says on the packages you can buy for home use. You can have a cappuccino, caffé latte, cortado with a soya milk option.
And if you can’t find me…I’m most likely there 🙂

I cannot believe how lucky I am to study here in Switzerland, let alone to be working in the gastronomy and be – even though with one foot – in the coffee industry. Having a blog is the perfect excuse to get everywhere and ask everything. It was just a few months back when it all started, but when I go through some of the first posts in the blog there are so many things that have changed. I keep learning and discovering more about coffee and it seems that the more I learn, the less I know. It’s not less of course, but this knowledge is overwhelming! And all these discoveries and skills I would like to acquire need dedication, perseverance and time. I would like to develop a coffee tasting palate, which seems quite the daunting task, but tasting is a lot like studying. It is such an elusive thing, how do you know that you’re tasting the right thing? I personally feel very dumb when I have to describe the taste of a particular coffee. It takes a lot of concentration to recognize all the flavors in a cup and then you have to know what exactly you’re tasting, to name it. That’s the reason I’m on a quest to taste as much as I can, so I can train my senses with the help of more knowledgeable people than me. 
Everything is happening really fast thanks to all these amazing people I’m encountering and some of them even befriending. It’s incredible how friendly and helpful everybody is, thank you! At this moment I really cannot imagine leaving Switzerland, which is why I’m a bit worried by the recent political events in the country, but first I’ll finish my studies and learn as much as I can and then think about that.
As I said the coffee industry in Switzerland is at a very young stage, it’s small so everybody knows each other and you can easily count the places where you can have a good coffee, let alone the roasteries. The problem is that the market is quite limited, it looks like the average consumer is still unaware of how diverse coffee can be and the number of people buying their beans out of the supermarket is still very small. This is slowly but surely changing and it will be interesting to see it in the upcoming years.
That’s for now, I’ll keep you posted about my progress and also there are some interesting posts coming up soon! Have a nice weekend!
This post full of photos is another evidence that coffee people are extremely cool. No, actually these are just some nice pictures I’m eager to share with you. Enjoy! 

Milo Kamil doing his magic
Daniel Sanchez in front of the judges
Nina Rimpl’s beautiful setting
Felix Hohlmann
Katinka, Fabio and Milo
Katinka, me and Nina

Raymond Place preparing his coffee
Henauer team
Michal Otte

Daniel Fischer
Fabio Kaiser

Day 2

The day began with me almost missing the train, but thank God I was there on time! First there were the Latte Art finals –  every competitor has to present the judges photos of his/her designs and in 8 minutes to pour them – two identical espressi macchiato and two pairs of identical lattes. André Gabriel won the first place with 493.5 points. He was the only one using double shots of espresso, which earned him more points for contrast and in spite of that he finished on time! Now he’s going to the World Latte Art Championship in Melbourne, Australia! Milo Kamil is second with 467.5 points. Last year – third, this year – second, what about next year? We’ll see, I hope he’ll compete again. And Philippe Gobat from Neuchâtel on third place with 414 points! Congratulations! 
Then the Barista finals – we saw some fantastic shows, all competitors did amazing! Four espressi, four cappuccini and four signature drinks, which again should be espresso based. Nina Rimpl is the new Barista Champion of Switzerland with 604 points! She also got the gold for best espresso and best signature drink, which by the way is damn interesting – with elderflower and pomegranate. On second place is Michel Aeschbacher with 595.5 points and the medal for best cappuccino, and Janine Landolt third with 573 points! Nina will be representing Switzerland at the World Barista Championship in Rimini, Italy this year in June. I’ll be there and I will definitely support her!
I’m impressed by the baristas’ creativity, you really cannot imagine all the ideas they come up with for their signature drinks. At first I thought signature drinks were unnecessary for the competition, but now that I have seen what is it all about, I think there are some very interesting combinations and it’s a shame that they seem to be neglected. What happens with all those recipes after the competition? Not much I guess…that’s why  I’m on a quest now, I’m trying to collect and maybe publish them.
Nina Rimpl right before her winning performance

Day 3

Brewers Cup finals! Benjamin Hohlmann is the new Brewer Champion with 85.42 points tightly followed with 81.90 points by his brother Felix Hohlmann! So cool, right? Third place went to last year’s  Swiss Brewer Champion – Raymond Place with 78.51 points! These guys know their coffee very very well. And I’m amazed at how good they are at discerning all the aromas and flavors in the cup. Actually, most of the competitors at the Championships were with some mad skills in tasting. Hopefully, I’ll learn to do that too.
Felix Hohlmann and his fancy apron
And last but not least was the Cup Tasting Competition on which Mathias Bühler got the gold followed by     Gonzalo Rosales de los Reyes second and Benjamin Hohlmann third place. Actually, Benjamin Hohlmann took part in every discipline of the Championships except Latte Art. He’s a real coffee geek, you should have seen his performances! Next time I go to Basel I’ll definitely have a chat with him.

Benjamin Hohlmann, Brewers Cup Finals
The whole weekend was crazy! I enjoyed every minute of it even though it was totally exhausting. I’ve had the chance have a chat with many incredible people all sharing the same passion for coffee. It’s funny though, because there were some individuals, who in my head are still with a celebrity status, and seeing them up close was very exciting, let alone having conversations with them. It was amazing. And not only that, but I was a part from all this, I wasn’t just a visitor. And for one thing I’m sure – I’ll also be competing one day.