Thursday, December 13, 2007

Art and Science of Coffee

We have been fortunate to be highlighted again in a recent article on the Selective Echo.

We will soon be launching an online store, so keep your eyes peeled.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A New Look

We will be remodeling the caffe in three phases. Phase one consists of tearing down our existing roasting room and building a new roasting area in the back.

The new roasting area will be 16 feet in length and about 4'8" wide, with lots of glass. Two six by six foot windows and a glass front door inside a sleek stained-black wood frame will put a definite stamp on this upgrade, and make a great showcase for our new roaster.

I will post pictures as it progresses.

Framing should be up tomorrow. These guys are awesome.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thoughts on Coffee Education

I've been thinking about how to best get "Joe Consumer" to understand the difference between what we're offering in terms of coffee and what others are offering. A simple solution not yet easily executed due to time and space issues would be a cupping class or a coffee tasting. Barring that, it's getting them to take that first sip, be it Americano, press pot coffee, latte or cappuccino without a thought of adulterating it with any foreign bovine substances or sweeteners, whether natural or artificial.

You can educate only so far with stories, perfect coffee descriptions, and beautiful pictures; the palate is the key to a lasting impression.

If Joe only knew what he was missing.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Thoughts on Single Origin Espresso

There's been a lot of industry talk these past few years over Single Origin Espresso. And it's continued with James Hoffman taking the title with the use of two different SO's at the 2007 WBC in Japan. So is espresso being re-defined, or is this something akin to espresso that is merely extracted in the same fashion?

We can beat the nomenclature to death debating whether Single Origin refers to three El Salvadoran beans, El Salvadoran beans from the same region, or one single El Salvadoran bean, consisting of one cultivar, from one farm. Loosely defined, we could say you have a lot of X beans that come from one country of Origin-- El Salvador. These El Salvadoran beans have not been blended with anything, and you don't blend them with anything after receiving them. In other words, we can generally suppose it's self-evident in the description. Unnecessary rambling I'm sure.

Just because I blend a few beans together, roast them, grind them, stuff them in a portafilter, etc, the resulting brew may be espresso, it may be just horrid espresso, or it may not be espresso at all. I'm not of the camp that believes all espresso needs to have a bit of Robusta in it, but I believe there are certain elements an espresso must have. First, it needs to have complexity. There should either be a layering, a blending or a merging of different flavors. Second, there should be recognizable crema that blankets the tongue, gives body to the drink and from which you can gather a nice aroma before drinking -- if you so desire. Lastly, espresso should have persistence of flavor. There should be a pleasant lingering element that stays with you. And to me, whether this is lingering on the tongue, or lingering on your mind because the shot blew you away is ok in my book. It is these same elements that should exist for a bean to cross the Single Origin espresso threshold.

Single Origin espresso should still be about crafting a good espresso, with dynamic and complex flavors, good body, mouthfeel, crema, and a persistence of flavor. These are the things you should look for when examining beans and pulling shots. Ask youself, what is it missing? If the answer is "nothing" then you may have stumbled upon a great Single Origin espresso.

My two beans.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tasting Notes - Panama Carmen Estate

I have been enjoying this coffee for about six days now, and it still ranks as one of my favorite coffees. This particular lot is a from micro-lot picked from only 1800 meters and above. As the internal sugars in the bean increase with every hundred meters in elevation, this is a sweet and pristine cup.

Almost crystalline in clarity, distinct vanilla, peach, and a sweet cherry tone throughout. A nutty and smooth body lends to a pleasurable cup.

When I brew this particular coffee, I look to a finer grind and a steep time of about three minutes in the press pot. It's a remarkable tasting journey and a highly recommended coffee even first day out of the roaster. You'll be amazed.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Market Gap

Understanding the Market Gap is what comprises our capacity for long-term success and continued growth.

[This is a simple post about a very complex issue, but for those of you who understand marketing, innovation, differentiation--these sorts of issues-- will have no problem reading between the lines and filling in your own gaps.]

At the beginning of each project, we ask ourselves these questions:

1) Where is there a gap in the market?
2) How do we fill that gap, and furthermore, how do we differentiate within that gap?

In a greater sense it's about differentiation, but that in itself is nothing but a meaningless term-- as are many marketing principles. The key to the solution of solving this particular Market Gap was easy.

The market as a whole is comprised of two distinct tracks. The first track is comprised of the Chains--the Starbucks, Tully's, Caribou, Dunkin' Donuts, etc. of the world. The second track consists of Those Who Insist They Are Different (but really aren't) the "Indies". Most of the independents are a rehashing of the Starbucks menu--including sizing, blended frappa-crappa drinks and the like. The only difference is an insistence of better product but a result of greater inconsistency.

Where's the Gap? Quality.

What's our differentiation within the Gap? One cup at a time. And a relentless and continuous pursuit of Knowledge of Quality and its immediate implementation.

For our purposes, Quality can be defined as, "Sourcing quality ingredients, utilizing quality knowledge and training, and producing a quality product every time." This is a standard held by many top caffe, top restaurants, and other top businesses.
There are differences in each company's level of knowledge as to the answers to these questions:

* Within our industry, what is the standard of quality?

* Is our standard of quality higher, lower, or on par with the industry?

* What empirical proof do we have of our standard?

* Does the market dictate our standard or do we dictate our standard?

* Does our level of standard stay the same (i.e. repackaging old as new)?

* Does our level of standard lower in order to cater to the Lowest Common Denominator?

* Does our level of standard continuously change as our Knowledge of Quality changes?

It is this final question and a resulting answer of "yes" that leads us to the heart of our differentiation, and this does not only apply to us, but to every business that pushes itself to the forefront and quietly leads by an aggressive qualitative approach rather than an aggressive quantitative approach.

(in our case) Whether it's an espresso, or a cup of single origin siphon coffee, or a latte, or a hot tea, or an iced tea, or a bubble tea, or a chai, etc. it's all by the cup. No bulk drip coffee. Everything is by the cup.

Of course this approach puts us as a sliver within the Gap, but with deep penetration. But the main factor that gives us certainty of long term viability is a continuous search for knowledge and its immediate implementation. This is a concept which extends to our other pursuits as well and will be clear in our future endeavors.

Ask yourself these questions?

* How can we make our X better?
With our example, X can be (our espresso, our coffee roasting, our tea containers, our store layout, our internal marketing, our external marketing, our hot chocolate, our bubble tea, our gelato, etc.

* What can we learn from the best in the field (in terms of Quality)?
Know who the top players in your field are and study what they are doing. Pick their brain, speak their language, and break down their years of knowledge into months of hard work.

* What can we do to improve upon what they are doing?

* What is the best thing they do? Can we do it? Can we improve it?

* What is the second best thing they do?...

* What new thing can I learn today?

Whether you learn about proper heel placement and body-weight shifting during a tenkan kotegaeshi, the perfect sesame cold noodle, how to train your dog, the difference between coffee A at temperature X vs. temperature Y, the best day to water your flower garden, etc. The more you know, the more you are exposed to, the more you understand, the more your mind can relate things together that are seemingly unrelatable. Genius and inspiration often occur when we least expect it. It is when are minds are at rest that everything can come together. So while you're not thinking about much, there's sure to be a lot stirring around in that head of yours. But if there's nothing in the pot, all you'll end up with is a wet spoon.

Understand the Market Gap for YOUR particular industry, and how you answer that question will be the defining concept of your entire business. Do it right knowing that improvement by innovation and quality will always lead to long term success.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tasting Notes - Organic DP Ethiopian Sidamo *Special Selection* -- Tasting Notes

I played around with this coffee for a while and decided to try it at as a blend at three different roast levels. I'm getting blueberry and cherry skins right off the top with a bittersweet spice not throughout the cup. Chocolates here and there, but it's as if the spice notes morph into chocolate and the chocolate morphs into spice.

My current batch was roasted on the 26th of October, and is coming along very well in the cup.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Thousand Words

Les Roka, PR denizen and writer of pithy and poignant prose, and I often discuss the merits (or lack thereof) of the many ads in the local City Weekly dining section. As he clearly pointed out during one such conversation, "The quality of the business can be seen by the quality of the ad."

The often cited phrase, "a picture is worth a thousand words" gives us a good indication that much can be learned by looking at various ads and asking ourselves some questions. In my opinion, the key factors when looking at an ad are the Design and the Offer.

The aspect of Design covers several issues and asks several questions:
Is there Is there a good use of white space? Is it distinctive? Is a location easily identified? Is there a clear target? Is the logo professional? just to name a few.

On the aspect of the Offer we can ask:
Is there a clear offer? Does the offer raise or lower the value of the product? Does the offer speak of desparation--increase short term sales? Does the offer speak to position and brand--increase long term sales? Is there a clear target?


Clear Headline:
The headline can be actual text, or it can be a picture, but this should define and differentiate this particular business from all other businesses.

Correct Use of Fonts:
At most, two fonts. One for the headline, and all other text being one font. Multiple fonts, multiple sizes too confusing on the paper. Shows a business with no focus, this will carry through their entire operation.

Is the ad balanced? Left/right? Text vs. Visuals? Whitespace vs. ...

Physical location of the store/restaurant/shop should be clearly indicated.


Does the ad target a specific niche? Does it have a clear message? Is there evident positioning going on?

Professional Logo:

Is the logo a clear indication of the business? Does it work in black and white? Does it work in color? Does it work large? Does it work small? Is it too busy? Is it "good artwork" but not a good logo?


Is there a clear offer? The offer could be something easily tangible such as a coupon (usually BAD choice) or the offer could be an experience, such as "excellence" or "Authentic Mexican", etc.

Does the offer raise or lower the value of the product?

Coupons, BOGO, and the like (with the exception of NEW offerings during opening) Always devalue the product.

Is the offer desparate?

Often Coupons, BOGO, and the like show panic or loss of business. The business, not understanding the dynamics of long term sustainability, choose to reap short term windfalls in place of establishing a long term customer base.

Does the establish position and promote the brand?

An offer of "traditional Japanese fare" will establish a position and build the brand.
An offer of "2 for 1 Dinner Entree" will also establish a position and build (negatively) a brand.


Who does the offer target? An offer in terms of "a good deal" is clearly a different audience that an offer that appeals to quality, authentic XX, ambiance, etc.
Those who coupon shop are a different category, their only loyalty is to their very tight wallets and if a business promotes itself via coupon, BOGO, and the like, then this is who they are appealing to. The notion that customers through the door equals long term dollars is an illusion that will be the downfall of many a poor business owner.

Ads don't always translate to immediate sales. Sometimes an ad exists to establish position and build brand on a long term basis, and while a quick fix is sometimes tempting, it can often leave the business owner with an empty business, and emptier pockets. So if you take the time to study the ads in your local weekly paper, ask yourself the above questions and check out a few of the businesses; soon you will understand that a while a picture is worth a thousand words, an ad speaks volumes.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Doing the Mambo

I've been offering the Mountain Mambo both in the caffe and for sale for the past few weeks now. I am looking to soon upgrade my roaster so I can offer our espresso to a larger audience of coffee lovers and espresso fanatics.

The journey for the Mambo was a difficult one taking no less than thirty-three variations of beans, ratios, roast levels, etc. The biggest hurdle for me was sourcing. Since we are small, buying pallet loads of coffee isn't feasible at this time, so finding great components that I can source on a consistent basis that produce the flavor characteristics I was looking for was a lengthy task. The good thing is that all of this trial and error has sharpened my blending and roasting skills and allowed me to see the potential and the growth I have yet to reach.

The Mambo is always a never-ending work in progress as I seek to understand each bean better and how the flavors complement each other. I have done my best to create an espresso that works well both as espresso and in milk, but I want something you can have any time of the day and be comfortable with it. I am most appreciative of the reception the Mambo has received thus far, but there's still a lot of work to be done.

As I sit here sipping a cup of Guatemala Finca San Jose I remind myself to continue learning from those who inspire me and hope that I can inspire others.

To good coffee!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Observations on Failure and Success

After watching most of the BBC version and the first two shows of the US version of Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares," it is easy to see why so many in the foodservice business, be it a restaurant or a coffee shop, fail. Not including location and lack of capital, which are often two of the primary business killers, I want to look at those things that are overlooked but often prove to be the death nail.

Lack of Preparation Before Opening: This is the time to do serious homework. You need to do everything including flow in the kitchen, color and size of plates, where will you source your products--have you tested all of these products... How will you price? Why will you price? What is on the menu? Is everyone trained?, Who is your target? Is the menu developed to attract that target? What type of external marketing will you do? What type of internal marketing will you do? And hundreds of other things.

Too Complex: Menus with too many selections. If your customers take fifteen minutes just to read the menu, they will probably get bored or confused.

No Leadership: Poor management and/or lack of leadership. This is 100% fault of the ownership.

Lack of Detail: This goes in conjunction with Lack of Preparation. Once you have opened, it's understanding those little details that make the difference. Is all the food going out at the same time? Is it all hot? Is there crema on your Americano? Are you testing your shots daily? Do you put latte art on all latte? Are your plates clean, etc. Details.

These problems are both universal and easy to remedy, but you have to have the will to do it. Success is not a byproduct of passion and the fact that you love something doesn't mean you will be good at it. Understanding the reasons for business failure is one way to assure your competitive edge and move beyond mere survival.

Do you have what it takes?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Concept of "Firing Customers"

In "Lessons in Excellence from Charlie Trotter,(pp195-196)" Paul Clarke writes,

"After you pick your customers by carefully targeting a relatively homogeneous market, it's time to narrow the market further. More than likely, some customers aren't right for your business, particularly if your is an enterprise that attempts to offer customers truly distinctive products or services. So get rid of customers who aren't right. This contemporary and somewhat unconventional business practice is known as "firing customers."

"If you want to make your business better sometimes, it's not always a question of trying to make every customer happy," explains Trotter. "Maybe it's better to fire certain segments of your customer base to make what you do even better for your best customers."

Why would any business want to get rid of paying customers? For one thing, your product, company, or service is defined not only by its features, uses, and benefits, but also by its customers or users. Also, in service businesses, certain customers--for example, smokers or young children--could alienate your best customers. Most important, the objective of firing is not simply to get rid of certain customers, but to fine-tune the product or the marketing message for your target market."

It is important for each of us to designate our position in the market and craft our entire business philosophy from product quality to quality of service to reflect that. This is something that we have been doing since day one, and while this is foreign to many in our industry --trust me, I've seen their ideas of "marketing"-- it is an important lesson that we can learn from one of the greats in the service industry.

This idea of "firing customers" is more evolved in European, and to some degree, Asian countries. The faulty logic that too many in our industry have is that a "customer" is anyone with a couple of bucks who walks through the door and orders a drink. Those who understand market positioning, and dominating that position will tell you that in order to define your market, you have to create a culture of excellence where the customer seeks your expertise, rather than questions it.

If the industry is to evolve, you should not be afraid to "fire" customers from time to time...BUT to do so without understanding and defining your place in the market will be perilous.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Wizardry of Great Coffee

Correct Roast.
Correct Grind.
Correct Temperature.
Complete Saturation.
Correct Brew Time.

These are elements that must all come together to produce a cup that will mesmerize your tastebuds. If any of these aspects is off you will end up with something amiss in your cup.

Lately, I have been experimenting with vacuum (siphon) coffee brewing and concentrating on the perfection of this brewing method. What looks like a crazy experiment put on by "Mr. Wizard" is one of the best methods for brewing coffee.

After the water approaches boiling in the bottom chamber it begins to create water vapor, which having nowhere else to go, seeks to expand within the confined space and pushes the liquid into the top chamber. The liquid cools slightly while in the top chamber and the continual expansion and condensation of the gas in the lower chamber creates a slightly fluctuating pressure which results in a turbulence in the top chamber. This turbulence, although it looks like boiling water, is not, and I suspect it is one of the primary reasons you can use a short steep/brew time, yet still extract amazing flavors in the cup.

A good butane burner with an adjustable flame will allow you to precisely control the brewing temperature, so rather than a declining temperature, you can maintain a flat line temperature--much like that done in the Synesso Cyncra and Lamarzocco GB5 espresso machines. The theory being that a flat line temperature can more easily extract consistent flavors every time and the ability to adjust the temperature by raising or lowering the flame allows to you find the 'sweet spot' for your particular coffee at hand.

The siphon brewer does its best highlighting the complex, flavorful and bright coffees, and it tends to bring transparency to the deeper flavors. It's like cupping on steroids because once you understand your brew temperature you are given the gift of a multi-dimensional cup that sings with complexity, yet displays an undeniable clarity in each progressive sip.

I will be seeking out several siphon shops in Japan during our visit this December, such as Hanafusa, the first siphon shop in Kyoto.

But until then, I will continue to conjour up some magical brews.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Dog Whisperer?

This past Saturday, a boy stopped in to get some water for his dog. I happily filled the dish for him and asked if he was driving. He said he was "out" and they needed to stop. I thought well of someone taking care of their dog while out walking, but nothing more of it after that.

About a half-hour later, Tim, from the record shop next door, said, "Do you know who the dog outside belongs to?" Apparently they had stopped to eat upstairs.
"Uh... a boy..Why?"
"He's not letting people past!"

I went outside to assess the situation. Nice looking lab mix hooked to the far end of the patio growling and barking at anyone approaching. He seemed more scared and confused then anything, but I had a line of customers to attend to, so I said, "I'll be back." And went in to take care of our customers.

After going back out, the dog looked and quietly growled but did not bark. I walked right up to him and stopped, letting him approach me. He continued to growl slightly and I stepped forward and pointed at him, "Quiet! Down!" He took a step backward and after a moment of hesitation, flopped down. I immediately patted his head and scratched his ears. At this time someone was walking by, and although he now felt safe with me, he still had on his mind "stranger!" and he jumped up and barked at the passerby. I grabbed his mouth and sternly looked at him and he calmed down. Right then, about seven or eight people came out through the doorway and he quietly lay there absorbing it all. Once he understood it was a safe environment, he was content. About an hour later, the girlfriend of the owner came downstairs and I told her of the incident. "He's such a big teddy bear," she said.
He was, he just needed someone to reassure him for a moment.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I Have Two Pea...

...Berry coffee.

I have FIVE new coffee offerings, two of which are unique peaberries.

First on the list is a Nicaragua Matagalpa, which is both of the Pacamara cultivar, and a peaberry. Sweet and smokey, like from a good barbecue. Spicy notes with pulped fruits tobacco, and a hint of pepper at the finish. This is worth two or three cups just for the hell of it.

Second is an extremely rare Sumatra Blue Batak peaberry. This Sumatran hails from the Lake Toba region, where the indiginous Batak people work the coffee. Unlike the heavy and earthy tones one is familiar with in a Sumatran, this coffee has a bright, slightly winey sweetness that carries through the cup. A raw sugar and cinnamon note surround this sweetness that ends with a lingering spice note. An unusual and remarkable Sumatran.

I'll key you in on the next three coffees after the weekend.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

An Bean-O-Riffic Extravaganza

I'm awaiting a shipment of five new coffees this week. I'm particularly looking forward to a Sumatran "Batak" peaberry. So stay tuned and I'll be posting some new offerings on our caffe website as well.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Salt Lake City's Cosmopolitan Best

An article, "caffe d'bolla - consistent proof that what's in the cup really counts" by Les Roka on his professional blog, The Selective Echo, states it ever so clearly, "[caffe d'bolla] has become the city’s indisputable center for specialty coffee and tea and often the city’s only source for farm-specific coffee varieties of exceptional quality."

As I sit here, roasting a new batch of Mountain Mambo espresso, I flex my fingers in anticipation at what the future holds. Stay tuned, we're only going to get better.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Cart Before the Horse

Another coffee shop has succumbed to the Reaper, now while it is a wholly unfortunate thing, it was easily foreseeable once their primary marketing scheme was revealed. The death was easily predictable once coupons and BOGO were used as their method(s) of promotion.

Any reputable marketer will tell you, and all the market research bears this out, that coupons/discount marketing is not only the worst form of marketing, but it does more harm than good.
In terms of marketing we want to:
1) Establish a niche or 'position'
2) Increase our customer base
3) Increase awareness of the #1
4) Increase long term revenue

Here are the obvious problems with discount marketing.
1) Establishes your business as a 'discount' business-- one not capable of having products worthy of the full price.
2) Increases number of people wanting something "FREE" does not increase PAYING customer base. In fact, it decreases paying customer base because it erodes their confidence in your product.
3) Discount marketing does reaffirm to everyone that the particular business is failing or has positioned themselves with the mindset of failure.
4) The decrease in paying customers and the increase in non-paying/discount customers leads to an easily predictable decrease in revenue.

But then WHY do so many local/small businesses have such a poor understanding of marketing? Most people want an easy fix, they want to be the Day Trader or the lottery winner. This is business folly. So before you put the gimmick before the quality of your product, Beware! A picture paints a thousand words, eh?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Too Acidic

I completed testing an espresso roast I did a few days back and it has come out too acidic. An obvious bit of improper temp/ under roasting on one of my primary beans. While this sucks ass, I'm glad to have caught the problem and was able to roast again this morning. It's a learning experience, but something I hope I will not repeat.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Seattle caffe crawl -- July 07

Yiching and I went to Seattle this past weekend to relax and have fun for our six year anniversary. We managed to hit the following places:

For coffee we hit:
Victrola (on Pike):

Victrola's espresso was nicely pulled on a three group Synesso.

The shot seemed to be pulled ristretto, had a twinge of sharp, but well-balanced acidity in the beginning, and some kind of fruit note in the finish.

The latte definitely possessed the cleanest art on the trip. It was smooth, and the espresso carried through well. Not certain it would work if you wanted too large a drink, but I guess that's also good. I also ordered a traditional five ounce cappa.

This picture was taken a few minutes after because I got caught up chatting with the barista. My question would be: In a place of Victrola's caliber, why have an 8 0z cappuccino/latte AND a traditional 5 oz. cappa? A cappuccino is a cappuccino, 5-6 oz. There is no need to distinguish and make one for the masses. Step up boys! Victrola rocks, but lay down the law!

I spent some time talking with Keith, their roaster, and he gave me a tour of the Diedrich. Keith knows his craft pretty well. Kudos to Keith. In a nutshell, Victrola was probably the best overall combination of drinks and ambiance. I will definitely return.

Our second stop was a late night visit to Caffe Vivace at Alley 24, by the REI. As always consistent art

I had ordered a caramel latte because Vivace's espresso tends to blend well with the caramel, and it did this time too. However, the latte that Yiching got on this trip was definitely off.

It had ashy notes and a bland finish possibly due to coffee oils. I think the portafilter had not yet been cleaned following the last rush. So this time, Vivace did not have a stellar performance.

Saturday was a longer haul. We hit Lighthouse, Seven, and Zoka thanks to good usage of the Metro trip planner and a decent bus system. Except for the damn long wait to catch a connection from Seven to Zoka, it went off without any problems.
Here's my report.

Lighthouse was our first stop of the day. Lighthouse is located in more of a residential area and perfectly fits in to the surroundings.

I had a cappuccino and an almond pastry.

The cappuccino was served traditionally, monk's cap and all, and this is the way I prefer my cappuccino. Sweet thick foam blending perfectly into a nice base of milk and espresso. Balanced. Tasty.
Yiching had a small latte, which was nicely presented in a tumbler, and a chocolate pastry.

The latte was 'comfortable'. It was pleasant, didn't grab your attention with unnecessary flavors. A latte you can have morning or late night. For this trip, Lighthouse had the most balanced, best tasting drinks. But the vibe at Victrola nudges them slightly ahead in the overall picture.

Seven Coffee Roasters is an interesting little shop hidden out around the corner from Pete's Eggnest on 78th N and Greenwood.

This shop is minimalist to the core, and the owner, Sean Lee has done a fantastic job sticking to the core essentials. A Lamarzocco Linea, a couple of Rio Grinders, and a handmade rack for by the cup filtered coffee are all that adorn the front of his cement topped counters.

My wife ordered a small latte,

and I had a (pourover) cup of the Guatemala.

The Guatemala was nice and crisp, vanilla, and hint of caramel nuttiness. The latte was smooth, tasty, lacked a little definition through the cup. I also had an espresso (not pictured--lost). The espresso was good, crisp, clean, and possessed a nice flavor, but seemed to lack complexity and depth. I have made this same and many similar profiles in my own roasting journey, and it's all part of the learning curve. Sean definitely will get it down pat, he seems to be a perfectionist at heart, so it can only get better with each successive batch. Seven Coffee Roasters is a definite up and comer and worth checking out.

Zoka was our final caffe for the day. I really need another visit as I was highly tweaking on caffeine by the time we reached Zoka, but nonetheless, here is my report.

Zoka is BIG.

I ordered a Clover brewed CoE coffee.

I was ready for the Clover experience! And I was sorely disappointed. Perhaps it wasn't dialed in right, but outside of it having having good body and a hint of honeyness to it, it did not present and noticeable or outstanding flavor nuances. I preferred the flavors from Seven's Guatemala. Clover? Is it fantastic? The jury is still out, but definitely a "so-so" on that cup. And as it was getting to be the hotter part of the afternoon, Yiching ordered an iced latte.

Iced latte was nice. Hard to say.
I would like to give Zoka another crack when I am less heavily caffeinated. Great looking spot. Barista seem to do everything right. Too many laptops.

Another new place I wanted to check out was Seattle Espresso Works, which we managed to hit on our last day this trip. Seattle Espresso Works is a good concept where they utilize several different local roasteries, and can brew the espresso side by side on a three group Synesso, and you can taste the difference between the various espresso.
The long and short of it-- great concept, they don't come anywhere close to pulling it off. While the Sengware ceramic cups were nice looking,

the espresso on the latte was sharp, probably underextracted and/or at the wrong brew temperature, cappuccino was drinkable, but that's the best compliment I can give it. Glad I didn't try the straight espresso.
So for our Seattle Caffe crawl July '07, based on overall experience, reputation, and meeting or exceeding that reputation, I would say it was Victrola by a hair, followed by Lighthouse, Seven, Zoka and Vivace, and finally, in a very distant sixth place, Espresso Works.

I'll be tackling the restaurant reviews this weekend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mountain Mambo Espresso

I am proud to announce caffe d'bolla has a new espresso blend.

Mountain Mambo espresso is a 100% arabica blend of three different beans. It begins with a light Meyer lemon followed by a smooth nut and spice middle with a muted fruit and nut finish. To ensure quality we proudly offer whole bean only.

Recommended brewing parameters are ~9 BAR @ 199 degrees and a 27 second extraction. Crema should be thick, dark golden brown. 1.5 ounce double will highlight the deeper fruit and nut tones. a 2 ounce double will produce a brighter cup.

Currently any online orders are roasted on Sundays and shipped Monday or Tuesday to ensure freshness. This espresso is not ready to use until four days after roasting.
Please contact me at [caffedbolla AT] if you wish to place an order.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Uninitiated Customer

New customers are great. But not all new customers are created equal. Some have had the unfortunate problem of frequenting the typical chain store or the "I serve shit in a cup and call it coffee" independant store. I am glad that most new customers do not fall into this category, but here is a hypothetical, but somewhat illustrative morning. While word has spread that we are 'all about the coffee' some people still need to be educated, and for the most part, it's awesome having the opportunity to do so.

New Customer:....."Uh... I'd like a coffee."
AikiBarista:......"We don't do drip coffee, but I can make you an excellent Americano."

Customer:........"Americano, no room."

New Customer: "Can I have a Grande blended Mocha?"
AikiBarista: "I can make you a really good iced mocha, we don't do blended drinks."

Customer:........"Small mocha. Can you make one of those flowers on the top?"

New Customer: "Sixteen ounce cappuccino."
AikiBarista: "We do traditional cappuccino, six ounces...."


New Customer: "Can I have a 24 ounce caramel macchiatto?"
Aikibarista: "?????"

Customer........"Macchiatto..... and how about a shot of espresso as well."

The frequency of people asking for drip or blended drinks or twenty ounce hot anything (only 12 and 16 here) has almost reached a point of zero. I'm happy that we are doing our part to educate the coffee community. One cup at a time baby, one cup at a time.