a sneaky photo post of BC Provincial Cycling race in Aldergrove this weekend. HI-res photos available.Read More
The 2015 World Latte Art Championship starts today, taking place on 16-18 June 2015 in Gothenburg, Sweden. A few things you need to know about Dave Regan and the journey to the championships. This is months if not years in the making, because we had the Irish Latte Art championships in conjunction with Irish Barista Championships (IBC) in February to determine the representatives for this competition and the World Barista Championships.
Now, Latte art is not like a barista competitions and it sets itself apart as the competitors can really be neck and neck with very different designs. Dave Regan has spent several years in coffee at numerous world-class cafes including 3fe, Prufrock, and now, Vice Coffee Inc. In the competition you're required to pour 3 designs that can be distinctly different. Dave chose to link the pours creatively with some continuity; the theme was the progression or life-cycle of a birds of paradise flower. If you have every seen this, it is a beautiful tropical flower, so when Dave described it my mind was blown. He started with the blossom and then finished with the full bloom.
There are a few technical planning tips that he shared when we sat down together. At IBC, he had built a special bucket to hold his milk jugs in an ice bath - because the colder your milk the better and smoother your milk foam. Secondly, he had borrowed three clever brewers. I know, you're thinking why does one need 3 brewers for a latte art competition? Well it was to pre-portion the milk in to the jugs for steaming as the regulations state you can't pour in to the vessel prior to the competition. One element of the latte art competition is the barista's ability to replicate the same pour over again - so it must match the image provided to judges. There is a free pour and a designer pour into 12-oz. latte cups.
Today was the first day of competition and we're so proud of all the hard work that it has taken to get here. GO DAVE! We are so excited to watch you compete.
Watch Dave at 3:22!
Highlights: we got in a great conversation with David Lebovitz whose recipe aided in my first successful batch of french macarons.
Trailblazers are those who champion change and create new ways of approaching things - In which case, I’d say last weekend was a great success.
Kas, who started the incredible ‘Waterloo Tea' six years ago, had the feat of hosting the first of its kind - a Tea Brewers Cup competition in conjunction with the UK Brewers Cup last week. Now, those of you who know coffee competitions know the intricate planning, judging rubric, and preparation that go into these competitions. It was exciting to see the community of tea and coffee come together to collaborate, innovate, learn, and have a ball doing it!
It is a delicate place, the point where coffee and tea intersect. I have to say our coffee friends are laughing at how deceivingly simple tea brewing seems and in contrast, tea people think we coffee-folk take it all a bit too seriously with extractions, refracting our brews ‘tds', fancy spice grinders, roast profiles, etc. Without getting into this discussion, I am ecstatic to see how speciality coffee and tea were showcased side-by-side.
Discussions surrounding quality and the pursuit of more information and education in tea got great thoughts brewing, literally and figuratively. There are lots of similarities that we can draw from both commodities, but also they are so different in the trade, culture, and history. It was an eye-opening weekend, with a talks & Q&A's from Cory Bush at Falcon Coffees and Angela Pryce, a master tea buyer & expert who has been working with tea for nearly 15 years.
How the competition works:
1) the Heats (compulsory stage): the closed portion of the competition where competitors were provided three mystery teas and had to brew them accordingly.
The goal: to bring out the colour/appearance, aroma, and taste that are associated with the particular tea. There are specific times, temperatures, and some other parameters that one alters to get a tasty cup
2) the Finals (open service): there was an open competition where competitors were to present two teas to the judges and a 15-minute presentation on the teas
All in all, we had a great discussion on where tea industry can grow in transparency and absolute quality. I think the take-away was although there are similar challenges in both commodities (coffee & tea), they are incredibly different and can’t be approached in the same way.
If you were there last weekend, or would like to add to the chats about this event do give a shout below! We want to hear from you.
Here's a wee time-lapse video I did - I'd love to see what your ritual is like. I'm making a 3-minute filter coffee on the clever brewer here, but find that more often than not I get an under-extracted cup. Geeks abroad, is that your experience?
What's Your ritual?
Share with us, post a video or send it to me and I'll post it below!
Don't forget to check out this month's series on international women in Food!
ONE LAST THING:
my wish list is this pineapple macaron box & these cute heart cookies that'll be coming in my breakfast in bed from cake cafe!
[SHORT, Quick Lovin' ]
Service: fab smiles & take-away
Likelihood to return: 4/5
Food/Coffee: Food 4/5, Coffee 4/5.
Chillness: 4 chill chairs!
Highlights: one of the few places in the city where you will find Roasted Brown coffee & fresh baked bread in-house
 Food & Travel Summer edition
Great visuals and inspiring recipes. I have been reading it all summer and thumb through it occasionally for more inspiration. I don't buy a lot of magazines but this has been a game changer for me. You'll see some of the recipes here.
 My Berlin Kitchen (Weiss)
I picked this up at the Food Bloggers Conference in London. It's a story of how Luisa, blogger the Wednesday Chef, leaves her life in New York to forge a new life in Berlin. It's a personal chronical interspersed with a collection of recipes. Touted the "new Julie & Julia".
 The Virtues of the Table (Baggini)
Catherine Cleary lead a panel discussion with Catherine Fulvio & Julian Baggini during the Dublin Literary Festival, where I learned of the book. Julian is a philosopher focused on food. It challenges our understanding of labels on food. Do ethical labels even mean anything?
In the book he talks about the ‘holy trinity’ of of food right now S/O/L - the idea of seasonal, organic, and local. The meaning behind the terms and why we all strive to eat this way. We touched on the idea of food commodities and supply chains, and how they loosely resemble old-times slavery.
Is local definitely better? Is it more sustainable, less impact on the earth? Does it necessarily taste better? Trust me, we can’t grow coffee here in Ireland, not well. But the book is has poignant descriptors of food, almost every other sentence is a quote, it’s a book of quotes.
 The Coffee Paradox (Daviron & Ponte)
is an in-depth and well-researched analysis of coffee from farm to consumer. If you are looking for a book to engage you in a critical analysis of that brown stuff that 2.25 billion cups are filled with each day (as per 1999). It will give you an understanding of global value chains that you never wanted, but also will explain the inequalities in the coffee industry and challenge you to question what it is you are consuming. Also, touches on the ever-elusive quality topic. I will be sharing a few things I have understood through my reading and expert ‘coffee-drinking’, while working in speciality coffee.
 Swindled - a book on the history of food adulteration (Wilson)
It talks about history of food fraud and labelling, including roasting fake beans for coffee and manufacturing fake tea with elder and sloe leaves. The book traces fraud back to the rapid urbanisation of Britain, creating distance between food producers and consumers. Essentially, what we know as lengthening the supply chain.
"Adulteration thrives when trade operates in large and impersonal chains. In a rural setting, swindling is a risky business. If you are the village milkman, the chain between you and your customers is very short: you know them all by name because they are your neighbours. If you start watering down your milk, the chances are the word will soon get out and you will be ostracised"
One of Dublin’s foodie darlings, Brother Hubbard has taken the plunge like many other north-side businesses. They have come to join us on the South side. Isn't it somewhat true that northies stay on the north and likewise for southies. I frequent the north for a few reasons, different ethnic cultural food offerings, and different cafes and customer experience. Trust me, it is different.
Well, the long awaited little Sister Sadie of Brother Hubbard has arrived as of a couple weeks ago, and know what?- We are overjoyed. Not only do we now have Boojum burritos at our doorstep, among other quality establishments such as Busen Burger, Etto & Ely wine bar, we have one of our favourite brunch spots.
As of right now, they have the same menu but limited brunch items, including salad bar and tasty sambos but now, closer. I have to admit that in two years there have been a handful of times that a Brother Hubbard brunch would have hit the spot really well, but the trek all the way across the river was just not going to happen. So south-siders, and hopefully our Northie friends who want to come visit us ;) join me in welcoming another fab food stop who also have a coffee-centric mantra.
There are maybe three or four places in Dublin that I would say take both their food and coffee very seriously. These guys have worked very hard to be a real mainstay for serious food & coffee friends. Here's the full Brother Hubbard menu.
[SHORT, Quick Lovin' ]
Service: quick sit down or take-away
Likelihood to return: we're neighbours, of course we'll be back
Food/Coffee: Food 4/5, Coffee 4/5.
Chillness: 4 chill chairs!
1. 3fe Brother Hubbard blend in a nice flattie (as Niall calls it) - i.e.) flat white, it's nutty, 2. Rosted Aubergine with pom & parsley 3. Slow Roasted Pulled pork sandwich
I have always wanted to write about coffee and yet never done it. Why, you say? - because the coffee crowd is sometimes cray. You put an idea out there, and it gets immediate acclaim or well, the opposite is a very quick exile of doom. Love it or hate it, it is what it is. Coffee drinkers are a passionate crowd, and speciality coffee an even more serious subset of this. I have learned and loved speciality coffee for a long time now. So it was only natural to choose coffee as the topic of a recent paper. We had been talking about political economy and supply chains in food commodities, and coffee has been long traded as a agricultural commodity. I will be sharing a few things I have understood through my reading and expert ‘coffee-drinking’, while working in speciality coffee.
thanks for your time. and thanks for being nice. to the ladies of coffee ;)
[On the topic of Quality]
What is quality to you? is it a tasty coffee, a well roasted and extracted coffee, a replicable and consistent coffee that is always getting better; and if it is all those things, how do you measure quality? I mean there is the basic scientific sense of it, like how in manufacturing of food and other things we instil quality control/assurance programs to ensure we can identify defects that deviate from the defined ‘quality’ attribute is and aim to eliminate situations of lesser quality.
In the Coffee Paradox book by Daviron & Ponte, they suggest that there are three classes or distinctions of quality; being material, symbolic, and in-person service. Anyone who works in speciality coffee will agree with the evidence of all three in a successful quality coffee brand.
Material quality, independent of the buyer or seller, speaks for the physical product. We can measure this with technical and scientific equipment, sensory evaluations, etc.
Symbolic quality is more what I know as a 'perceived quality’ associated with the product brand. This is derived from reputation, for example, what the brand or trademark stands for. In retail sale, all the sustainability & fairtradingtrade or geographic claims. How many people at supermarkets will give priority to a ‘fair-trade’ label or say "oh that’s blue mountainy coffee or Kona coffee, must be good." ;) It has been observed that UK consumers are willing to pay more for a fair-trade product. But, that can be a very deceptive. One must consider what these trademarks or brands hold as a meaning, for more insight on this I suggest you see Hasbean owner Steve's blurb on direct trade & fair-trade (here, and here).
In-person service quality is by far the most personal and involved; and is the basis of what speciality coffee seeks to highlight over others. This involves buyers, sellers, producers; and because it is an interaction between the consumer and the seller, it cannot happen independent of that relationship. This relationship is based on a service; it's the preparation of the drink at the cafe, or talking through the types of retail coffees. What I think speciality coffee alone depends on. Ultimately highlighting what everyone up the supply chain has done thus far. (farmers/processors, green buyers, roasters, etc.)
Producing countries are most concerned with material quality according to Daviron & Ponte because coffee is just a product grown to be exported; with the exception of from Brazil and Ethiopia, where there exists a coffee consuming culture. I found this breakdown to be quite helpful in showing what we know as ‘quality’
 genetic type of coffee (arabica, robusta)  cultivar (bourbon, typica, caturra)  agro-climatic conditions (terroir, soil, altitude, rainfall)  harvesting procedures(sun or shade growing, mulching, irrigation?!)  primary processing (wet or dry)  export preparation  handling during transport (because we all like non-manky coffee)
There is a significant difference in processes and labour applied to speciality, whole bean retail, or instant coffee. Some argue that an informed customer with a better understanding of quality attributes will drive the roasters on all levels to provide a better product. It's my hope that consumers would have the discernment from among the homogenous mass-marketed coffee, to recognise more than just brand-associated/symbolic quality.
Life Update: this is what I've been doing recently, with my life. Hi guys,
S found this the other day, i.e. yesterday and sent this to me laughing that 'I had been caught in the act of making bad aeropress.' Although I don't make that much coffee, I love being part of the great community dedicated to excellence in specialty coffee; where people do want to do better all the time, and try new and progressive things. I love this three minute movie because it makes the event look like soo much fun.
Basically you have 8 minutes to brew an aeropress, however you choose (inverted, not inverted, any method & time). Three judges blind taste the cups & 1, 2, 3... point to the one they think is the tastiest, most balanced, well-extracted coffee.
Thanks Lorcan for setting it up, but all the sponsors, judges, and competitors for the great craic! Good Luck at World's, Mashbeard ;)
Beautiful space: by Roasted Brown Cafe
Hello there, friends & readers. Haven't said much lately, but this week I visited the CATEX food catering expo here in Dublin. Aside from being one of the largest food and catering exhibitions; showcasing catering equipment, food paraphernalia, suppliers and other food safety geekery; the best part about it was that one the events hosted within the expansive food show was the Irish Barista Championships (#IBC).
My experience in Dublin has been shaped mostly around coffee and food- Just the way I like it. Within three weeks of my arrival, I was lucky enough to be offered a job at 3FE. I have been learning and experiencing the specialty coffee industry… and hopefully somehow adding to it. It has been an invaluable experience getting to know new friends and foraging for adventures. It's really weird, some days I have to pinch myself to be reminded that this reality is true, and that I have the privilege to work in the 'thick of it' - experience coffee legacies in the making! I know, I love to be dramatic. But honestly, I do feel like I have a great opportunity to see the day to day goings-on of one of the (in my humble opinion) leading coffee shops in Europe.
Just a quick blog, and celebration of victories - Congratulations to Colin, Bruno, Vinicius and all the competitors. Enjoy.
RT with #HtH or #LMSF & Comment throughout the series for a chance to WIN a brand new copy of your choice of John Gilchrist’s Cheap Eats: Calgary or My Favourite Restaurants. Unlimited entries.
Now, the second last Hometown Hero I've chosen to highlight is a friend, so if this sounds somewhat biased. It probably is.
What food culture does a town have without a coffee culture? Some may say, lots, but I disagree. I am a coffee lover, and since Phil & Sebastian have pushed coffee culure to a new level in Calgary, I feel it fitting to tell you about the new Canadian Barista Champion!
For those who aren't in the coffee industry, this is kind of a big deal - like the Honens for piano, World Cup for soccer, Olympics for athletes, the barista championship is for coffee. This is the industry event that allows for baristas to show their creativity, technicality, and understanding of coffee - the product, process, and customer experience. This year, two of P&S' own baristas made it to the Nationals - and brought home first and second, which is amazing representation on a national level for our city.
Barista competitions are, in short, a gathering of talented baristas. They have 15 minutes to present three drinks to a panel of four sensory judges, while describing what they are doing throughout the presentation and telling their story. There are another set of judges that watch their every move, tamp, pull, and shot! Talk about pressure! Baristas who succeed are generally engaging, knowledgable, practiced, and all-roud great story tellers. [three drinks: espresso, cappuccino, and signature drink]
Jeremy, he is a passionate guy! He is most enthusiastic about almost anything he is excited about, his passion is palpable and visceral. Every Thursday, he and Jeff (coffee roaster, Phil & Sebastian) lead a coffee tasting at the Marda Loop location talking through topics such as coffee bean origins, processing, roasting, brewing, etc. Whether you want to enjoy better coffee, understand the process, or meet other inquisitive coffee minds, it is open to anyone. Jeremy is encouraging to talk to about coffee because no matter your level of coffee knowledge or enjoyment, you can learn something, or find the conversation exciting, informative and helpful.
He thinks outside the box and always brings the experiences of a great meal meal back to coffee. For example, in food it is often the balance of flavours in a dish that make for a great tasting meal. This can be applied to coffee, in that acidity and sweetness can be balanced. While training for the barista championships, each barista challenges their own thoughts about coffee, its production, and the conventional way that it is being served. The preparation pushes them to be better.
In our discussions, I asked Jeremy if he thought participating in a barista competition is essential to a barista's growth and experience. 'There are things you take for granted as a barista, like in the daily routines that can always be improved upon. It is a very valuable experience for any barista to train/prepare for the competition. Then again, I know baristas that haven't competed and are great. But training pushes your boundaries and causes you to scrutinize each part of your routine. Down to the very movements of serving the espresso - is it smooth or awkward, have you well though-out your actions' As a barista, it is important to be an engaging communicator that is able to tell a story about the coffee.
Talk me through developing a signature drink (sig drink)
There are two ways one can develop a signature drink, both require lots of trial and error. The first way is to have your full theme developed and create your sig drink on that theme, others develop the signature drink first and make it fit their presentation. The theme can surround the flavour profile of a bean, and develop a sig drink based on the taste of their bean. You think about the types of flavours that you want to bring out, and then incorporate that into the concept of your creative idea.
Sometimes it can be inspired by something you have experienced and applied to coffee. For example, Jeremy spoke about a drink he tried in Berlin that was foam and vaourized into a liquid. I thought how awesome would it be if you could make into a coffee drink.
Things to consider in the sig drink are; How does it taste, and whether the technique or concept tie it into the theme.
Depending on the cafe in which you work, you have base knowledge from the training that has been imparted on all staff. Jeremy spoke about the commodity exchange in Ethiopia and this was something he knew before the competition, but through research he came across so much more valuble experience that can be shared with staff and customers. It's not all fun, though. Many times during the stress of developing the concept, you feel discouraged and feel like you might have to abandon the idea. But then the final product comes together and voila you have sig drink that accentuates the taste of your coffee in a creative and simple idea that the judges will love.
People are understanding a better cup of coffee and gaining an appreciation for specialty coffee in recent years. We talked about where coffee may be in the next five years, either in Calgary or on the internatonial level. There are many facets that we can gauge it [the industry] by, there can be more diverse types of cafes - currentlly we have to sell a high volume of coffee, and interact with customers behind the machine. But the customer experiences can become more interactive; either at table-side or even molecular gastronomy-styled coffee drinks at the table. Just a different tasting experience.
Thanks for the engaging conversations, great laughs and of course, raising the bar for food and coffee culture in Calgary.
Best of Luck at Worlds! (World Barista Championships)
What is your background in studies?
Science, Biomedical Major, Population Health - discovery process and chemistry of brewing
What's your most fave thing to make at home?
I don't know what my favourite thing to make is but I like roasting things, like Roast chicken. I think it is nice to share a meal, and a roast chicken is a meal you have to share.
Coffee at home: Aeropress.
Fave place to eat & place to get coffee in Calgary?
Place to eat: … How many places can I name? I can't name one.
Anju is one of mine right now. Their wings are really yummy, the food is well made, you go and share food and it's relaxing and not pretentious.
Coffee: Ben Puts house, I mean… don't put that.
What do you think is your most valuable tool?
….silence…. my mouth. In coffee, I think your palate is important for honing in on what you taste, dialing in the coffee, etc. Also, being able to convey what you learn about coffee, and tasting what you are serving.
My aeropress, because it's my brewing method.
One thing that i have noticed about the recent Calgary food scene is that it is seriously exploding. Surely this hasn't happened overnight, but it is thriving, increasingly more and more invigorating to see.
It is full of
Innovative & new-
expanding the horizon-
pushing the envelope-
thinking out of the box-
I am inspired by the new risks being taken.
As a transition to my new home in Dublin, I have decided to pay a symbolic homage to my hometown, Calgary- mourning it by highlighting a few people in our food, coffee, and restaurant scene. As I complete of each biography in this piece, I am so encouraged to have encountered these people in our city. In most cases, we sat down for a conversation over coffee and these are the stories.
One thing I've observed of all these people, is how honestly sincere and genuine they all are to give their time and share with you. - share their skill, appreciation, passion, and time with you. The second thing I have observed is how truly humble each of these individuals is; even after they have received glowing recognition for their work.
I am so stoked to be sharing their stories with you. I hope that you will be inspired as I have been, and that it would be instrumental and meaningful to encourage you to experience more in the city where you live.
We will release one biography every two days until we have completed the series.
RT with #HtH or #LMSF & Comment throughout the series for a chance to WIN a brand new copy of your choice of John Gilchrist's Cheap Eats: Calgary or My Favourite Restaurants. Unlimited entries.
Can't wait to hear from all of you #YYC & beyond!
One of Dublin's Fine Food & Wine Market, Fallon & Byrne put on a 'meet the producers' evening. Being new to the city, I felt that it was great exposure to some of the local food.
Still searching for more Food and Coffee adventures! Send them my way. Also drop me a line and tell me how you’re all doing!
STAY TUNED for: HOMETOWN HEROES - a highlight of influential people in Calgary.
Every time I have the opportunity to spend some time in Vancouver, I drag S to every caffe in what he must think is hells half acre. During the obligatory trip to Granville island, I have tried to visit Origins Coffee Roasters to see what they're all about. Alas, they are always closed on weekends, so the best I can do is a photo. (but if you are looking to TRY their coffee...)
There's a cafe called Innocent Coffee. It's located in a quaint cottage-styled stand-alone building. The owners, a brother-sister pair, busied themselves preparing all the drinks and bites. I snapped a few quick photos on my phone.
I spoke briefly with the owner, she mentioned that she had worked with Origins, which is where her experience and love for coffee originates.
Pastries and bites are prepared by her brother, who was at Wicked cafe previously, building on some definite skills in creating yummy treats.
The interior is minimalist. The walls are washed white and the upper floor (AKA the Upper Room) is a studio art gallery and they feature different works on a month-to-month basis. Homey downstairs contrasts the Upper Room, bare walls accented by the conversation pieces; it's more welcoming to thoughts and introspection than socializing, partly due to its openness and simplicity. There is limited space for comfy chilling on the main level, but it is a great concept! I am loving the artisan feel to this place.
They prepare all espresso drinks on the La marrzocco, brewed coffees are done on a pseudo Pourover bar. I had an espresso macchiato and a lavender shortbread. The shot wasbold, slightly bitter/astringent. But, if i remember correctly, S had a better one. (This always happens!)
Service: Love coffee, Love art. Hustling and bustling between the two owners, they are busy!
Likelihood to return: I would return to chill.
Food/Coffee: Food 4/5 Coffee 3.5/5
Chillness: 4 chill chairs out of 5, there is a space for each of your moods. great place to enjoy your caffeine
My good friends in Edmonton are blessed with a wonderful bakery that makes delicate French desserts and pastries. I had the fortune of receiving some this past week, and boy are they ever a treat.Read More
So, it's been months since I went to this event but I would like to talk about it briefly because it great fun! I don't know if you've been to a barista jam before, but this was the first one that I finally made it out to; been meaning to go for years.
It was all the greatest things put together! Friends, cool Coffee, and great cause! I love the idea of doing something to bring encouragement for people to support a cause. It's like this; make an event of something you usually would love doing but to make it even better, add LIFE! - talk about value added. (Add Life, as in do it for a cause)- namely, Coffee Kids and The Mustard Seed.
This barjam was purely a pouring contest. We learned a bit about the latte art 'throw-down' and just kinda hung out and enjoyed some good eats.
Throwing down: is when you pour some awesome art.
This evening, saw a lot of the coffee community out from all the different cafes in the area. Even had some out of towners, like transcend coffee, Edmonton.
Upcoming: Prairies Regional Barista Championsip, August 7, 2010