Monthly Archives: April 2014



Okay, so here is something new. I’m starting to feel confident in my palate and I’m starting to write reviews notes  about coffee, which will eventually become proper reviews sometime. I am inspired by Mauricio’s coffee blog Clever&Pour , you definitely have to check it out.  This way I can keep track on my favorite beans and also promote various Swiss coffee roasters. Here we go with the first one:



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“I guess it’s a lot like a home baker with a crappy 70’s electric oven full of hot spots and quirks trying to make a great loaf. ” – did you find yourself in this definition?


Brew bars are becoming an integral part of speciality coffee shops.  It’s a great way to experience the variety and quality from farm to farm, roaster and brew method.  I don’t think there should be a battle between espresso and filter; they can provide us with two exceptional ways of experiencing coffee.  I often note how shocked customers are at the polemic between the two beverages.

This post is less about the worth of a brew bar and more about the functioning of one.

We have been working with brewed coffee at a commercial and professional level for around two years now, but mostly in the new shop (open now for 8 months) with a dedicated brew bar.  Like many, I got into coffee originally through espresso and then discovered the possibilities of filters later.

We have used and explored just about every method available.  Through this I have realised…

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Special announcement!

On the 30th of October 2014 the 3rd Cup Tasting Championship of Basel will take place!

The rules are as in every cup tasting competition – every participant will have to find the one different cup of coffee from a set of three, only by tasting. There will be many sets for each of the competitors to guess from and all this has to be done also for time, so the fastest of the participants, who has the most different cups guessed – wins.

The cool thing is that not only coffee drinkers can take part, but everyone who is interested in tasting – be it wine tasting, bier tasting, tasting in general. You just like good food? You’re more than welcome to join in this amazing sensory experience that coffee brings. Oh, did I mention that you don’t have to be Swiss to participate? How could I miss that! It would be awesome if more people take part. Germany, France, I’m looking at you at the moment, this time there’s no excuse!

The 3rd Cup Tasting Championships of Basel will be held in unternehmen mitte Kaffeehaus in Basel (obviously) on the 30th of October 2014. It’s Sunday and the tasting will start around 11AM. You can book your “starting” place on the announcement post in Die Kaffeemacher here for the small fee of 25CHF. Yes, there’s a lot of time till the end of October, but you know what? People already started registering (I heard something about 6 booked places already), so hurry up, the places are limited!

The coffee-passionated and incredibly talented Kate Gilmore writes about the fascinating world of coffee and how intimidating it really is. Excellent piece of writing and my exact feelings towards coffee!

Sure Thirsty

I can’t emphasize enough how intimidating coffee is. I risk redundancy by mentioning this again partially for the selfish reason that it helps to gives me a little calming perspective when I sigh the mantra with determination in coffee situations that feel out of my league, “I will never know everything about coffee.” This is a magically complex product with more history than some countries are old, endless potential for refinement and development, and hosts ever-more-talented professionals who also started their careers from scratch. Knowing that frees me up quite a bit to feel excited about my slowly developing role in that. I also reemphasize that coffee is intimidating in hopes that it serves as a humbling reminder to those coffee-jerks who tend to make you feel small for not knowing everything, and who never noticed the approachable culture of coffee comradery that has taken shape in our industry.


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I’m playing around with the aeropress a lot and I’m trying to understand the brewing process better.


The issue is this:Coffee mess

When I’m making an aeropress usually my brewing temperature is quite low – around 87°C, at the championship was also this low, otherwise I tend to extract too much and the brew gets harsh and bitter. And I wonder why is that, when the recommended brewing temperature is above 90°C. In a recent conversation on the Room 409 Facebook page with Roger Wittwer, a Swiss coffee roaster, he pointed out at how many combinations there can be in a brew, which can lead to results, which are quite similar in taste and still not the same. The brew can be bitter, but that doesn’t automatically mean it’s over-extracted. It can be bitter and underdeveloped. I still have trouble identifying these differences.

Anyway, my theory when brewing with the aeropress is that I’m not getting an even extraction, because I don’t sift the coffee after I grind it. And more or less that’s why I’m using such a low temperature – the fines end up being over-extracted (or perfectly extracted) but the coarser grinds – under-extracted. Which somehow balances the percentage of the dissolved solubles and surprisingly sometimes tastes deceivingly delicious. This is not good if you want to reach some level of consistency though, because it’s again depending on a lot of factors and the damn coffee fines are just making the picture even more difficult to visualize. I’m open for discussion and will be happy to hear/read more opinions on the topic!

I started sifting, because my grinder is really good at making a lot of fines (it’s still the Porlex Mini) and everything else I kept the same. My observations are that:

  •  The pressing is easier and lasts shorter than before
  • The brew is quick, clean and very boring – underextracted

Now I have two some options:

  • Go up with the temperature
  • Make the brewing time longer
  • Make the grind finer (and sift again)

Now come and tell me coffee brewing is boring 😀


I bet this sounds like a threat for most people, like chemex is a sort of a bomb or a gun, or I don’t know.

Today I was having something like a coffee training at work. Well, “training” is a very strong word to begin with, but I don’t know how to call it. I just brought some Moplaco beans and coffee brewing gear today and showed the colleagues how I brew “my” coffee. And I found out that when it comes to introducing specialty coffee to people I have some major difficulties with it. To be honest, I myself started understanding specialty coffee…definitely not from the beginning of my coffee passion. Let’s face it, there are many definitions for it and all of them are kind of blurry. I mean, talking about quality is just not enough. Today I had the chance to show and speak to some people about it, but I was just mumbling some unrelated sentences about quality of the bean, roasting and brewing. Very, very disappointing. The surroundings were not really helpful as well, but this experience made me think about the whole specialty coffee issue.

The role of a barista would be to “spread the love” for specialty coffee, to educate and maybe ignite some interest about the beverage in his/hers customers. I have never worked as a barista (yet), but from my humble experience in the Food & Beverage department providing customer service, I can say that every customer is different and has different needs. The job of the barista would be to assess this needs the best way possible. Some customers are more open for conversation than others, some are more curious than others, some just want to have a  coffee. Today at work, after I brewed my coffee and gave my colleagues to try, when I tried to speak to these people about it, I think I felt more of what is it like to be a barista. On one hand I had this opportunity to get more people into liking specialty coffee, on the other I kept thinking it’s a lost cause and I should better get together with some like-minded people, who at least are not going to throw strange glances at me when I’m slurping loudly. But seriously, many people are so ignorant, it’s just irritating. Why bother…more coffee for me.

I’m happy to say though, not everyone is like that. A friend of mine back in Bulgaria is trying some specialty coffee, in a recent Skype conversation she was telling me about it and when she came to the brewing method she said “uhmm…I don’t really remember, it was something like xerox”. Yeah, I laughed…but still, there’s a first for everything.