Barnett’s Photo dump

Between trips to Ethiopia and Brazil, Ecco Caffè’s roastmaster Andrew Barnett dropped into my lap the posting of some the 700+ photos he took while roaming around East Africa and the Lower West Side.

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Since I don’t really know the story behind many of these photos, I invite all of you to MadLib his flickr account. Perhaps that will inspire him to dictate his adventure when he returns from the Brazil CoE, where I’m sure he’ll take another couple hundred photos. If you’re feeling generous can sponser him a pro account, but as I am behind in the posting of my own photos, I’d be ok if you didn’t.

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Waiting for Grumpy

It’s early on a Thursday, and I’m supposed to be getting this roast started. I just wanted to throw out a little good-luck posting to our friends at Cafe Grumpy who (by this hour) should have opened the doors on their second space, this one located in Chelsea.

With their Synesso and TWO Clovers, it’s a Coffeegeek’s dream. For that matter it’s a roasters dream. It’s a great feeling knowing that the best shots of Ecco Reserve are being pulled in New York, thanks to the crack staff headed up by Mr. Humphries.

I’m very excited to take part in this, even from 3,000 miles away. As you know from your required blog reading of the last couple weeks, Andrew was able to do a cupping/tasting of a couple of different coffees, followed a couple of days later by Peter G from Counter Culture (Grumpy’s “drip” coffee provider) and the feedback was excellent. There seems to be a growing community of Barinjas out there (the loss of Chris from Gimme! makes me want to use sad emoticons) similar to what was going on in San Francisco just a year ago.

Congratualtions Grumpies!

Keep your eyes on the updates sure to be seen on the Grumpy Blog as well as Daniel’s.

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The next rage in espresso machines

Maybe Barnett can pick one up next week.

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The Shame

So last week, I waltzed into Ritual hoping to bump into some of those good time folks. Turns out most of them are already in Portland for the Northwest Regional Barista Championships (you know, for “ideas”) and those who wern’t were leaving that night.

While sipping one of the best Gibraltars I’ve had in a while, one of the old-skool Ritual employees came to me in distress. It turns out in the absence of owners, one must take it upon themselves to sneak through their belongings. What this employee was not expecting to discover was a lens into the sinister heart of that operation.

In horror:


It gets worse:

Jeremy! How could you! And when did you learn how to read?

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Olga Lara’s La Virginia

Last week, Ecco got in our one bag of the #3 La Virgnia from the Colombian First Harvest CoE. When I first tried the cupping samples of this coffee back in April, I was pleasantly surprised by the complexity. See, Colombian coffees to me has always been a thing of disappointment. Best when very hot, but any distinguishing characteristics quickly fade or turn as the cup cools, leaving something rather sour and insipid to contemplate. Dark roasted Colombians made sense, cause who’d actually want to taste the coffee.

Yes, I realize that’s a rather ignorant line of thinking, but until Andrew left the sample bags at my apartment shortly after my fall, I figured the best thing Colombian coffees had going for them was Juan Valdez, and and even he’s clearing out from that scene.

Those samples set my thinking on it’s head. These coffees are distinctly fruity, almost winey in flavor with a sweet and pleasurable finish. Complex but graspable. At that sample roast level, the flavor was surprising and distinct, so I was eager to get into this bag.

Finally, a couple of months later, it arrived.

The green smell out of the bag was intense and floral. I kept sticking my nose into the opening and taking big whiffs. Andrew roasted up a batch the next day and sent it out to a few of our friends.

I was so excited about getting my mouth around it, that I made a press of it just a couple of hours out of the roaster. Needless to say, the coffee wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped for.

Unwilling to be discouraged, I returned to this coffee the next day with Andrew at my side. With a little time to calm down, those latent flavor began to stick out. There was an immediate citrus this that resolved sweet, similar to my impression from the cupping sample.

There’s also this creamy sweet thing going on which is new and weird and exciting. Andrew, with that amazing tasting thing that he does, says “Honey. Tupelo honey. “

Yeah, I get that for sure. But not being a honey man myself, that distinction is a little obscure. And to get a little further into left field, what really jumped out was this sweet white wine thing. In the description on the website, this translates to that Muscat dessert wine reference. Now not everyone is lucky enough to have a vine of said grape growing on the back deck of their parents home, but our little Muscat vine yields a bunch of little yellowish berries that begin to shine golden as they ripen. If you can beat the birds to the fruit, you’ll get a flavor that is simultaneously warm, sweet and rich. Kinda like honey, only not as syrupy.

This will not be everybody’s coffee. It isn’t organic, and that it is one of the most expensive coffees on our list. However, in a scaled down press or even as a pour-over drip, the flavors just pop. Similar to our Bolivia, this will be a flavor geeks coffee.
It might be difficult to let your prejudices about Colombian coffees go, but believe me, it’s worth it.

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First year of First Cup

July 2, 2006 marked a full rotation of the Earth around the Sun since I started taking pictures of my daily coffee ritual. When I began this project, I didn’t know how long it would last, or the intended purpose. I guess even now I don’t know those things. Anyway it’s been fun and interesting. Occasionally stressful.

First Cup July 26, 2005

First Cup July 26, 2005

 

I’m very happy with the fact that I never missed a day despite all sorts of obstacles, from dead batteries to broken bones, to just plain forgetfulness. I’ve made a lot of acquaintances and a few friends along the way. I’ve had the opportunity to try coffees from around the world. They haven’t always been good, but I think I have a better understanding with my palate, if only for having an assistant to my memory.

 

First Cup September 24, 2005

First Cup September 24, 2005

 

It’s been surprisingly difficult to keep a monotonous subject interesting. That is of course assuming that anyone else would find pictures of coffee interesting. Little props that indicate location or season have helped. When I was losing inspiration, there were always flowers that looked especially brilliant next to my little ceramic cups. Where would the amateur photographer be without flowers?

First Cup November 17, 2005

First Cup November 17, 2005

 

My limited photography experience has been expanded. I’ve learned a lot about macro photography and how to keep your lens out of your latte. I’ve successfully mastered the skill of manually adjusting shutter speeds in low light settings (which cafes are notorious for). Oh and I learned that pictures generally look better if they don’t include a lens cap or shoulder strap in the frame.

First Cup December 30, 2005

First Cup December 30, 2005

Though I’m religious about keeping up with the photos, I’ve been terrible at keeping up with the posting. My various blogs along the way have also suffered due to my photo updating logjams. At this writing I’m almost a week behind into my second set. Old habits, see?

First Cup June 30, 2006

First Cup June 30, 2006

 

Thank you friends for keeping up on my daily dosing of coffee. I’ll be doing more of the same until I lose my taste for it, or when I run out of flowers to use as props.

Big ups to Flickr for creating such a spectacular set of tools for photo sharing and cataloging.

First Cup July 2, 2006

First Cup July 2, 2006

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Geisha

Sad news today with the loss of a furry friend very dear to the hearts of Doobie and her family. Little Geisha, who has been a source of great happiness in the Emerson household, with her petite meow and coy wag of just the tip of her tail, left us sometime early this morning.

It was just a few short years ago that Doobie and her mom first saw her, small and thin and up for adoption. It was hard to believe that a cat that looked no bigger than a kitten, had already given birth to a litter. When we picked her up from her foster home, she was so much smaller than all the other cats. Quiet and sleek and low to the ground. At some point in her first days at the Emerson home, we thought she had got out. We searched the neighborhood and felt terrible that this little creature had somehow escaped. And then, silently, she immerged from a closet, fresh from a long nap. That was her way. She had a knack for getting herself into impossible places. Whether high up above the front door sleeping on a perch of inches, or jumping to the safety to the top of the bookshelf, Geisha's grace and agility set her apart.

She also loved her people. She could curl up anywhere, folding herself into a tight little ball of hair on the footstool or on her cushion on the couch. She could nestle on your lap or sleep on your chest, he little body always warm and never imposing. She would greet Doobie when she ran by the house with a stretch and a yawn and a soft purr. She was a companion and dear pet. This beautiful little cat will be greatly missed.

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