Thursday, March 30, 2006

Espresso Viking

So, I have been trying to put this together for months now. It has finally happened. The dates are in. June 6th through the 8th, I am going to be in Oslo, Norway to train. As if that isn't cool enough, my trainer will be Tim Wendelboe. For those of you who don't know, although if you're reading this you probably do, Tim is the 2004 World Barista Champion, not to mention placing second in 2001 AND 2002. He was the manager of the famed Stockfleth's and also handled roasting and blending espresso for their coffee bars. On top of that, he is a contributor to Barista Magazine. Needless to say, it is an honor for me to be able to spend three days looking at all aspects of espresso with someone of Tim's stature. But wait, as if that wasn't enough, the training is being hosted by Solberg & Hansen. They are the largest suppliers of specialty coffee and tea in Norway. This is an amazing opportunity. It will be Tim, me and Kevin (impresario of Gimme! Coffee) taking apart coffee for three solid days. I am so excited I can hardly handle it.

Before that happens though, on April 7th through the 10th, it's off to the SCAA
18th Annual Conference and USBC in Charlotte, N.C. with the upstate Gimme crew.

Wow! Looks like May is going to be lame.

14 links. Beat that Mike!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Naked News

After using "naked" "chopped" and or "crotchless" portafilters for the last year or so, we've recently made a move towards returning to the original double spout style. Initiated by Chris's endless passion for improving shot quality, we've gone retro for almost a full week now in an attempt to isolate some funky feelings we've been having about our shots. Though spurred by Chris's desire to make himself work harder for the elusive perfect shot, the experiment has proved beneficial to others here at Gimme Coffee in Brooklyn as well. The very first thing I noticed when Chris pulled me a shot last week was the noticeable drop in temperature on my tongue. Since our boiler had been tweaked fairly recently by the technical savant Tomas, it can be safely assumed that the Mirage had been operating at the correct temperature. But the few degrees drop that the extra inch and a half of metal under the spout induced post extraction struck me as particularly pleasurable. I suddenly realized that the shots we had been pulling before did indeed seem to be a bit too hot. The flavors were somewhat less muffled by my brains reaction to heat, and more subtle flavors of the beans reemerged, all the while maintaining our desired water temperature. On the other hand Chris's theory that he would have to work harder for each shot has been proved correct. From a purely physical standpoint it is much harder to pull consistent shots with the unforgiving double spout judging your every tamp, twist, and pull. Shots sometime stream lazily from one side while reluctantly dripping from the other, or pour furiously from both ends in unforgiving torrents, filling the demitasse preemptively in well under 30 seconds. These changes occur easily in the course of just a few shots forcing me to struggle to maintain focus and consistency while dosing, distributing, and tamping. As an effort to raise the level of consistency, this is definitely the way to go. Yes you may have to discard a few more shots during your shift, but the level of consciousness induced for every single shot you pull will definitely increase. Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 20, 2006


This was brought to my attention thanks to Jim Seven's blog. If you are interested in competing, you should check it out.

Troels Poulsen 2005 WBC Finals

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Fair Prices for Farmers: Simple Idea, Complex Reality - New York Times

Fair Prices for Farmers: Simple Idea, Complex Reality - New York Times

This article from the Times's caught my eye today, not just because it's about coffee and most coffee articles catch my eye, but because it underscores a point that we have long believed in. That Fair Trade is in principle a great idea, but the reality is that it's not enough. Paying farmers Fair Trade wages is a bit like expecting Barista's in NYC to subsist on minimum wage. It's unrealistic. If I remember correctly the current Fair Trade wage paid to the farmer amounts to approximately $1.29 a pound (non-certified organic). That's less than minimum wage and no where near a living wage. While it is of course fantastic that the whole Fair Trade issue brings attention to the overall problem, it unfortunately seems to spin the perception that the farmers are receiving a "fair" and decent wage for the products they produce. It seems the more logical solution would be to reward the farmers who produce the highest quality beans with wages that actually enable them to profit and thrive, thereby also ensuring the continued production of their high quality beans in the future. Why reward fiscally and environmentally responsible farmers with wages that don't meet their costs? Eventually these farms will fail and we'll be left with ones that produce lesser quality beans in an attempt to increase profit margins based on minimum wages. Case in point, check out the Cup of Excellence web site. Fair Trade pays $1.29? HA! Cafe Artigiano in Vancouver paid a whopping $49.75 a pound for some "excellent" Brazilian! And of course, our own Gimme! Coffee was among those submitting the high bid on the Bolivian, paying a price roughly ten times the "fair" value.
Fair Trade is great. But it's the bare minimum.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

So Happy it's Sad

Either she's really psyched about leaving us in a couple weeks, or she's on a sugar high from the dozen donuts I brought them from the new Dunkin Donuts up the road. Either way I'm glad she's laughing now. She probably won't think it's so funny when I start charging her that $3 for her occasional weekend lattes. We had a good run K-diggs, but now it's time to pay the piper. From the early days on Cayuga Street when you ran over all groggy with headphones in your ears to grunt your order to Marc, through now when you run over to Lorimer Street to grunt your order before your shift starts. You will be missed. Posted by Picasa

A Break in the Action...

Gotta love the camera phone pics. There must be a better way to keep the lens clean. Rubbing alcohol and a q-tip? Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Yup, Tarrytown.

So Tuesday, I took a little trip to Tarrytown, NY. For those of you playing along, Tarrytown is about 45 minutes north of New York City. Straight up the Hudson river. Why? Coffee Labs Roasters, Inc. of course. Mike Love, owner/roaster, was kind enough to let me come up and play. You see, lately I have been wanting to challenge myself. I never want to stop learning. I feel It is one thing to go into your own shop, step behind your bar and make great drinks. You are smack dab in the middle of your comfort zone. It is another thing entirely, to step into a completely foreign environment, with foreign equipment and espresso you have never worked with and still make solid drinks. So, I began looking for opportunities to do just that. Coffee Labs was perfect. Mike is super into fostering the barista community. He is trying organize a full-scale Northeast Barista Jam and even talking to the James Beard Foundation about creating categories to recognize the roaster and barista as the culinary artists they are. Coffee Labs' head barista is Sterling Muth. Man, I wish I had found my passion as early as he has. He is talented and eager to learn anything and everything. Awesome. Not to mention, at CoffeeFest D.C., he won the Stirling Signature Beverage Open. Taking home the award for Most Creative Beverage. Good Job. Mike and his crew are doing great work up there and it was a pleasure hang out for a few hours. So, if you find yourself causing trouble in Tarrytown, be sure and swing by. Oh, and they are the reason we were able to try out Grindz. Great people.

Performance Peter!

Action shot!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Grindz is the Shiz

Today Chris and I were lucky enough to experiment with the new product from Urnex called Grindz. They're little pellets that you feed through your grinders to clean the blades. Why it took so long for them to create these is beyond me. The difference in the before and after shots fed through our Robur is the difference between night and day. After one application the shots tasted much cleaner and some of the more subtle characteristics that we've been missing reappeared. I highly endorse the use of these...

Bonus: They're Kosher!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006



This is a site for all things Brooklyn...they picked up the Daily News article and posted the stuff about us. Included were some shots on flickr posted by our friend Dave Beery. Nice shots Dave.

New York Daily News - Home - Something's brewing

New York Daily News - Home - Something's brewing

The Daily News did two full pages on coffee in this last Sundays issue. We were mentioned among others, as the place to go for no nonsense high quality drinks. It's too bad the photographer was never able to make it, but here's another nice one from Dave B...

An Obsessive's Guide to Coffee | Food & Wine

An Obsessive's Guide to Coffee | Food & Wine

(and Gimme!)

Australian guy to us: "This

Australian guy to us: "This is the best soy cap i've ever had in America, ever." Nice.

Monday, March 13, 2006

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