Starting next week the attentions of the coffee world turn to the city of Seattle, home of the 2014 SCAA Event and the 2014 United States Barista Championship. But before those events get underway, the Speciality Coffee Association of America will host its 6th annual SCAA Symposium event. This event has been one of the premiere gatherings of coffee thinkers and committed leaders since it’s inception, functioning as a valubale exchange of intellectual and practical ideas about coffee. A small (and rapidly dwindling) selection of tickets are still available.
This year’s Symposium is all about the final touch point in coffee’s journey from raw cherry to delicious cup of wonder. To that end, the team at Symposium are presenting a learned panel of speakers from around the world who can speak to cafe and consumer issues, the science of how we understand taste, the history and future of the modern cafe space, and an in-depth look at the role milk plays in the daily lives of baristas and cafe owners around the world.
We’ve been attending and covering Symposium events since 2011, and this year, two representatives of Sprudge will be directly participating. Sprudge.com assistant editor Alex Bernson is one of this year’s featured speakers, and Sprudge co-founder Zachary Carlsen will be hosting a break-out “salon” session on the second day of the event.
To learn more about what attendees can expect, and what makes this event so special, we sat down with Peter Giuliano, Director of Symposium at the SCAA and a longtime friend of this publication. With Symposium just a week away, Mr. Giuliano still managed to be generous with his time, as we discussed the upcoming event, his vision of who Symposium is for, and the role this event now plays in the wake of Nordic Barista Cup’s indefinite hiatus.
Peter Giuliano, thanks for speaking with us today. We’re so excited for Symposium next week — give us a 500 foot overview of the range of topics and your vision for this event.
This year, the proposition for Symposium is to look at things that we haven’t really taken a focus on, or focused our energy on formally over the last decade. We’ve formally worked a lot on cupping, direct trade, working with farmers – we’ve looked at a lot of research focused on agriculture and trade.
This year’s Symposium is our look at the last part of the chain, which determines the value for the rest of it. None of the farming, importing, or trade stuff matters at all unless it matters to the person who puts it in their mouth. At the end of the day we’re not selling coffee, we’re selling an experience. We want to look at multi-faceted final experiences of speciality coffee — tasting it, the places that you taste it, and the way that a lot of our customers consume it, which is with milk.
At Symposium we’ll have an exploration of the coffee space, the history and the anthropology of it, as well as the current state of the art for the coffee space. From there we’ll talk about the sensory space, and not just the experimental stuff, but there’s a project underway with Texas A&M and Kansas State Universities to develop a new technique for evaluating coffee flavor, and it’s designed for use in developing high quality coffee varieties. If we’re developing new coffee varieties they need a technique that works for research purposes — cupping is great for a coffee buyer, but it does not perform well for research purposes. There’s this new thing called sensory spectrum tasting and we’re going to talk about that — the inventor of this system is named Gail Civille, and she’s kind of a rockstar in sensory sciences. She basically founded this technique that now all of food science uses to evaluate quality and flavor for research purposes, and right now World Coffee Reserach is applying this thing to coffee. She’ll be giving us the low down on how that works and why.
From there it’s a whole morning dedicated to milk science, dairy sustainability, the dairy chain, etc — we’ll have a bunch of different milks to taste, different milks from different farms, and then we’re revisiting the rust issue. Last year rust was such a dominant topic, so we wanted to circle back with one of our former speakers from last year. He made some predictions last year and we’re going to check back in with that, and see what the impacts have been and see what’s coming for the next couple of years.
Who are three speakers you’re most excited about?
Vida Asrina, because she is kind of completely out of left field. Here’s this woman who is using coffee spaces in Banda Aceh, a remote capital in Northern Sumatra that was destroyed by a tsunami 10 years ago. She recognized that coffee shops were the perfect node in the community to be used as innovation hubs for urban development. Which is amazing, right? It’s totally consistent with the history of coffee shops culturally. We all recognize that coffee shops are really important places for communities in North America and Europe, but we don’t think of them as being important in places like Banda Aceh — it’s remote, and one of the most muslim communities in the world where historically only men went to coffee shops. Part of Vida’s work is to make coffee shops into progressive spaces for urban development. That’s unusual and very cool.
Dr. Charles Spence, who is a professor from Oxford who studies multi-modal and crossmodal sensory experiences. The idea is that what you see and hear and touch affects what you taste and smell. It just does. We like to think of those sense as independent of each other, but they’re not, and there’s actually a science around how they’re not. If you’re looking at a color while tasting food, it changes how it tastes. Some people might dismiss that as a trick of the mind, but it doesn’t matter – perception is all that matters with coffee. It’s a flavor experience, so if the color of the cup or the music being played in the coffee shop affects the flavor of coffee, that matters. And Professor Spence is one of the leaders for studying that. He’s well-known for working with molecular gastronomy folks at restaurants like El Bulli, doing experiments with them on how audio can change how you eat, like listening to the ocean while eating fishy foods. Experimental modernist cuisine molecular gastronomy stuff. That’s one that I’m especially excited about.
Thom Huppertz is our milk expert. The milk thing is really interesting, and there’s a lot of enthusiasm about all that. I feel like a lot of coffee people, and especially baristas, know a little bit about milk, but not many of us know a lot about milk. So Thom Huppertz is coming in from the Netherlands, and he’s done a lot of work on the science of foaming, how fats get involved in foams, and why there’s a perceivable difference that homogenization has on the flavor and texture of milk. Thom Huppertz studies milk foams — that’s all this guy does — and he’s going to be talking about how milk foams work in the coffee context, and even some ways to optimize how we’re using milk with coffee.
This year’s Symposium also features what you’re calling “salons” — explain what that will look like.
An 18 minute lecture style works really well, but what we were missing last year was a little bit of guided interaction around the talks. Last year it was like you got to consume so much but you never got to talk about it. So we’re going to put a period at the end of Day 2, where all the speakers will go to their respective topic groups — all the dairy guys will be together, and the sensory science guys will be together, which can include people from the audience asking questions, maybe a little debate or something like that around these topics. There’s a little bit more involvement from the attendees as opposed to just being audience members. There’ll be 5 of these salons happening, and Symposium attendees can go visit over the course of the middle of Day 2.
In addition to the salons, which is a change from last year, the 2014 Symposium is noticeably less focused on coffee growing and agronomy. Talk to us about the intentionality behind that decision.
Last year was so much about agriculture, and you know, origin — and that’s been by the way historically true, we at Symposium pay a lot of attention to origin, as we should. That’s where things start. I do think that sometimes, I’ve definitely heard it from cafe owner type people, who say, “wait a second — we’re always talking about the issue the producer has, but the people on the other end of the chain are important too.” The sustainability of the retailer — that’s important too, and it’s part of who we are as well. And you know what I’ve found? Producers, people from origin countries, are really just as interested in learning about our end of the chain as we are in theirs. And also, to be good business people, if you’re going to be in the coffee business, you need to know about all aspects of the coffee business. So this will be the segment of the coffee business we’re exploring this year.
We know that sensory science stuff is happening right now, and that a better understanding of milk science is happening right now…I want Symposium to give attendees knowledge of what they’ll need to succeed in coffee in the next 5 years. Origin is part of that, but so is this end of the chain stuff. There’s this emerging thing about the coffee space being important, experimental coffee shops emerging, all this excitement about the Modbar and coffee experience design, and not just flavor. These things are just bubbling up right now — it’s really about shining a light on them.
Who is this event for?
It’s for the committed coffee professional. If coffee is your career — and you know that you’re a coffee person, you’ve invested your career in coffee — that’s who we design the Symposium for. It’s not really for somebody who’s coming to the event to kind of check it out because, y’know, they just opened a cafe. It’s probably not for them. It’s definitely for people who run coffee shops professionally, or taste coffee professionally, or run a coffee businesses professionally. It’s for people who’ve made a commitment — a financial commitment, a lifetime commitment — to coffee.
People come together at Symposium from all different disciplines: researchers, scientists, shop owners, roasters, so much more . It’s become a place where committed coffee leaders get to to interact with each other and decide what’s important.
With the announcement of no Nordic Barista Cup in 2014, does that change the context for your event this year? Does that amp up the meaning of Symposium?
Well look — we’re very proud of what Symposium has come to symbolize in coffee. We were the first event to do this kind of stuff, to take leadership and science and this sort of committed coffee profesional idea seriously, and build an event around it. And it is so cool that the sentiment for that sort of thing… to watch the parallel expressions of these concepts emerge over the years. I’ve been an admirer of what NBC has done over the past few years, and the leaders at the NBC have always been involved in Symposium (as audience members). There’s a lot of kinship.
I know that this year we’ll see a ton of activity from Europe — James Hoffmann, for example, has been a core member of the Symposium community for many years — but in terms of NBC making the decision they made, it’s not going to impact our event at all. We knew as of last year our event was going to be full and we would be turning away people because of space. What that means is the coffee industry globally is ready for this kind of approach. Call it “coffee enlightenment” or “coffee intellectualism” or whatever, but I think that’s really cool. What international involvement does is it brings an incredible energy to this event, and Symposium 2014 has extensive international involvement not only from the speaker side but the participant side as well. People from Latin America, Asia, Europe…. everyone comes to this thing. And that’s great, because that’s how we think of it: a global summit for coffee leaders.]]>
The World Coffee In Good Spirits Championship will take place in Melbourne, Australia in May. The competition, in its sixth year, combines the worlds of cocktails and coffee by having competitors craft three beverages on stage for a panel of judges: an Irish Coffee, a cold cocktail, and a warm cocktail. Twenty-five countries will be represented on the world stage in Melbourne, and we’ll be there to cover the event live as it happens at the 2014 Melbourne International Coffee Expo.
Last week in Milan, national champions joined forces to learn, live, and share at Dalla Corte’s annual DC Campus summit, co-hosted by Mahlkonig and Urnex Brands.
Wildly creative coffee cocktails abound at DC Campus, and today we’re sharing three of our favorites by champions from Slovakia, Italy, and Greece. Note: Due to sponsorship, each cocktail contains 10ml of Grand Marnier. This ingredient can be omitted/substituted at home.
Slovakia Champion Martin Hudak, who placed sixth in last year’s World competition, is surely a top competitor to watch in 2014. This cocktail is refreshing and complicated – just like Mr. Hudak.
Shake with Ice
top with Guinness.
The five-time Italian Coffee In Good Spirits Champion Francesco Corona won the DC Campus in-house CIGS competition with this ginger delight. Served in an ornate jar, this cocktail is ready to please.
Ingredients (except ginger beer) are chilled in a shaker, then poured over ice. Topped with ginger beer.
Served with a metal straw for sipping.
According to Mr. Koustoumpardis, this drink is best if enjoyed by the beach or pool…in Greece.
Shake with ice.
Served with a blade of lemon grass dipped in honey.
Click here for more coverage from DC Campus, sponsored by Dalla Corte and Urnex.]]>
Paris, like a lot of other cities around the world, has a love affair with Scandinavia. Maybe it’s the functional, yet attractive nature of Scandinavian design, or maybe it’s because the French secretly want to be eating dark rye bread for breakfast. But whatever it is, there’s a scattering of Scandinavian-focused places around Paris, meaning that when you’re craving a shopping extravaganza for modern Danish furniture finished off by a hearty Swedish cinnamon bun, it can be yours.
While visitors might scoff at the idea of doing anything non-French while in the capital — ”But you’re in Pareeee… why would you want to do Scandinavian stuff?” — sometimes you simply need a break. And when you do, there’s one place to go: l’Institut Suedois, for a proper Swedish fika.
l’Institut Suedois is actually the only Swedish cultural center that the Swedish government maintains outside of Sweden, which means it gets a lot of love. Expositions, concerts, even Swedish courses – it can all be had here. But what the Swedish Institute has come to be known for, even among tourists, is its cafe, importing a little taste of Sweden into the heart of the Marais.
Housed in a building that was constructed in the 1500s, the Swedish Institute has its own beautiful, protected, cobblestone courtyard–the old architecture a stunning backdrop to cafe tables set out on warm weather days. It’s here that the Café Suèdois does its magic, offering up a daily lunch menu, full of open-faced sandwiches, as well as an assortment of traditional Swedish baked goods. Which of course makes this the ideal setting for fika.
Fika is essentially the Swedish word for “coffee break,” functioning both as a verb – “do you want to fika?” – and a noun – “it’s time for fika.” The Swedes after all are some of the biggest consumers of coffee in the world; and the rituals of consuming those many cups do much to tie Swedish culture together.
More often than not, fika comes with a baked good, and while there is a long list of tasty things that you can eat with your cup of dark drip coffee, kanelbullar, fluffy Swedish cinnamon rolls, are the most iconic. If you have even an inkling of love for Swedish culture, you’ll have a hard time choosing what to pair with your coffee at the Café Suèdois, because beyond the sweet, fluffy and cinnamony kanelbulle, there’s always another Swedish classic on hand: kladdkaka, a dense chocolate cake best served with whipped cream.
Certainly Swedish coffee culture has changed over the ages, but enter into any cafe in Sweden, and you can be sure that there will always be strong filter coffee on hand. You drink it with a kanelbulle, you drink it with an open-faced sandwich, you drink it on its own. It’s the fuel of Swedish fika. Café Suèdois has decided to served Cafés Richard for their filter coffee, a more mass-market French roastery, instead of choosing to highlight exciting Swedish coffee brands like Drop Coffee or Koppi. Though perhaps that’s all part of capturing the fika magic–it’s a mainstream practice that’s as much about the experience (and the cake!) than the coffee.
For me, sitting at a Parisian cafe overlooking the activity on the sidewalk — fashionable women walking by, scooters dodging cars in traffic, and little dogs everywhere — has a certain romance. But sometimes I want to feel quaint and cozy, and a bit of fika time at the Institute is perfect for that. If the sun is out, I ride my bike into the Marais and wander the streets, eventually slipping into the peaceful courtyard, filled with a blend of people speaking French and Swedish. For me, it’s a taste of comfort, a moment to pause and indulge in some of my favorite baked goods. For others, it’s just a hidden place in the Marais that offers the chance to relax in a beautiful setting. You come to read a book, write a letter, sit in the sunshine. And above all, get just a little dose of the country up North.
Anna Brones (@annabrones) is a Sprudge contributor based in Paris. Read more Anna Brones on Sprudge.]]>
The Nuova Simonelli Mythos One Clima Pro grinder and Victoria Arduino 388 Black Eagle espresso machine launched at HOST last October in Milan. After a busy launch event at the London Coffee Festival, these cutting edge coffee machines are finally starting to land in the US, starting Tuesday, April 22nd with an event at the Counter Culture Coffee New York Training Center featuring four-time Irish Barista Champion Colin Harmon.
Mr Harmon has been working with the new Mythos One Clima Pro grinders at his shop 3FE in Dublin during the machine’s development. He will be on-hand in New York to make coffee on the Clima Pro and Black Eagle and discuss his experience with the gear.
The Mythos One Clima Pro grinder uses a combination of aluminum heat-sink, active heating element, and multi-stage fan exhausting to keep the grinder within a tight operating temperature window. Much to-do has been made about the insufficiencies of current espresso grinder technology, and the Clima Pro is Nuova Simonelli’s attempt to address some of these problems and bring more consistency and less waste to espresso preparation.
The Black Eagle, also developed by Nuova Simonelli but launched under their Victoria Arduino brand, is their repacking of their World Barista Competition standard Aurelia II T3 technology into a low-profile chrome body, with the addition of gravimetric technology to control extraction based on shot weight. The machine was developed in partnership between James Hoffmann and Nuova Simonelli, who administers the historic Victoria Arduino brand. James Hoffmann will be formally introducing Black Eagle to the US market in Seattle, Washington on April 25th at Roy Street Coffee & Tea in Seattle.
Mr. Harmon and the Clima Pro will be touring the US, landing next at the new Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Co Regional Training and Community Coffee Center in Kansas City’s historic River Market on April 23rd at 6:00pm, and in Oakland at Blue Bottle Coffee’s Webster Stretet cafe and roastery from 7:00pm-9:00pm on April 29th. The New York event will run 3:00pm to 6:00pm April 22nd at the Counter Culture Training Center in Soho.
As a bonus, the NYC Clima Pro event is scheduled to end just in time for you to hop the L train to the G train and make it to Greenpoint for famed Norwegian roaster Tim Wendelboe‘s talk at BÚÐIN starting at 6:30pm. More details and ticket purchases for that event can be found here.]]>
While in Milan for DC Campus last week, it was our distinct pleasure and privilege to sit briefly with Bruno Dalla Corte, patriarch of the Dalla Corte brand and a lifelong Italian espresso machine technician. He started his life in coffee in 1947, when at the age of seventeen he was hired as a technician by La Cimbali. He and a team of four were directly responsible for advancements in water circulation found in the Faema E-61, a machine that’s still used in many cafes today.
In Milan, where Dalla Corte is based, there are over 6,000 espresso machines in bars, restaurants, and cafes. His son, Paulo, joined forces with Bruno in 1970, and for decades the two sold over 500 La Spaziale machines a year with their company, COSMO. Together, the two founded Dalla Corte in 2001.
Bruno Dalla Corte is a busy man at 85, and our interview time with him was brief. We’re particularly fond of the portraiture you see accompanying this feature, shot by Sprudge co-founder Zachary Carlsen in Milan.
What’s your favorite cafe in Milan?
My house! I have a DC Mini, and Paulo brings me different kinds of coffee. I’m lucky to have the chance to taste the quality coffees from around the world.
How many coffees do you drink a day?
Not so much anymore. When I was a technician, I’d drink maybe twenty coffees a day. Now, I drink around five.
You’ve been working in coffee for sixty-seven years. How’s it been?
I’ve always wanted to do something good for the industry – for the barista. It’s brought me great satisfaction, but not much money.
Click here for more coverage from DC Campus, sponsored by Dalla Corte and Urnex.]]>
Situated amongst gastro pubs, hipster dives, craft beer bars, and a coffee shop or two sits Transit Bicycle Company in Dallas’s finally-cool-again Lower Greenville neighborhood. On Saturday, April 12th it was home to the first Dallas pop-up for Austin’s Houndstooth Coffee, officially marking the shop’s introduction to the North Texas coffee scene. It’s the first step in Houndstooth owner Sean Henry’s master plan for northern expansion, and it portends good things to come for coffee in Dallas.
Transit is a beautiful full-service bike lifestyle shop that recently relocated into the Lower Greenville neighborhood from their original Uptown location. They’ve hosted pop-ups in the past (including those from Commonwealth Coffee co-founder Jason Farrar, before he packed up his Astoria lever espresso machine and headed out west), making them an ideal location for Houndstooth and Dallas to begin their courtship. But the two are not strangers: Tweed Coffee, the moniker for Houndstooth’s in-house roasting arm, has been based out of East Dallas since its inception last year, though the pop-up marks the first time Houndstooth proper has come to town. “We’re excited to host folks for coffee here in Dallas,” Henry stated. “I’ve been thinking and working on Dallas for so long now that I’m very ready for it to finally materialize. Slow is good, but it is certainly hard to be patient while all the pieces come together.”
Set up in an elevated DJ booth surrounded on all sides by bikes, frames, and components, Henry and Jonathan Aldrich, the 2013 South Central Brewers Cup winner and Tweed Head Roaster, presented a simple yet diverse menu to locals. For espressos and cappuccinos, the guys were equipped with a La Marzocco GS/3 and a Nuova Simonelli Mythos grinder filled with Tweed’s YirgZ. A fresh crop Kochere imported through Keffa Coffee, the YirgZ was harvested in November and December of 2013 on into early 2014 and is Tweed’s newest offering.
For brewed coffee, Henry and Aldrich came armed with two Clevers, a Bonavita variable temperature kettle, and a Baratza Vario grinder, also filled with the YirgZ. Aldrich said that getting the chance to work behind the espresso machine again “was awesome. I love roasting but there’s something infinitely appealing about making coffee for people. I don’t get a chance to get behind the bar often, but when I do I never turn it down.”
The pop-up was the first of many Henry is planning for Dallas in order to build excitement around the eventual opening of the brick-and-mortar Houndstooth in the Knox-Henderson neighborhood. “We are still scheduling pop-ups at retail spots and restaurants within a half mile of our store. We want to get the word out and meet people,” Henry told me. “After the Henderson shop opens, we just hope guests show up and enjoy our new space. We’ll see what happens from there.” Construction on Houndstooth’s permanent Dallas shop will be underway soon, and Henry is hopeful the shop will be open by late summer.
During its four short hours of existence, the pop-up offered Dallas residents a glimpse at what will surely be among the most anticipated shops to here this year. The arrival of nationally-esteemed Houndstooth shows that the thriving North Texas coffee scene may soon be approaching equal footing with cities like Austin and Houston, part of the wider boom in top quality coffee happening right now across the Lone Star State.
Zac Cadwalader is the creator of Dallas Coffee Collective, and a Sprudge.com contributor based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.
Photos by Cara Michelle Smith (@caramsmith) for Sprudge.com.]]>
For centuries, the demitasse has held dominion over espresso as its assumed vessel of choice. But who says that espresso can’t be served in whatever you want it to be served in? Daring cafes around the world are ditching the demitasse in favor of drinkware traditionally found in the bar cabinet. And who says you have to stop there? Cut-glass tumblers and flutes of fine sparkling waters for everyone!
Just please stay focused on, you know, making actually tasty espresso, and giving engaging, approachable service to your guests. What could be worse than pairing artfully curated glassware with lousy espresso and service frontage? Quelle horreur!
Here are a few of our favorite demitasse alternatives. What are some of yours?
The wide rim and short stem of these classic champagne glasses make for a stunning presentation. Plus, the early 20th century glassware will fit right in with those Edison bulbs. The whole thing is very Edisanal, when you think about it. This vessel also allows for the espresso to cool before being enjoyed–because you know, that’s a thing. $92.99 / case of 36.
The lowball is a sturdy glass that will take your cortados to the next level. Plus if you tipple, it’ll be nice to have this glassware on hand for a post-shift bourbon. $42.99 / case of 36.
Used in cafes like Sterling in Portland, Oregon, the Glencairn glass is marvelous, and can be conducive to a more deliberate sort of espresso drinking experience. Turn heads, stop traffic, go nuts, and take a page from the Sterling service playbook while you’re at it — customer interactions here (and at Sterling’s sister cafe, Coffeehouse Northwest) are consistently top-notch. $23 / set of four.
When you want a little more girth than the coupe can provide, the Manhattan glass is ready and willing. The curves on this baby are crowd-pleasers. It’s available at places like The Boston Shaker for $6.50 / a piece.]]>
Earlier this month, I received an exclusive invitation via promoted tweet to an exclusive tasting of the all-new Nespresso VertuΦline pod coffee maker, as well as Nespresso’s new line of pod coffees, the Grand Crus Coffee Range. It was to be, according to press materials, a “revolution of coffee.” My editors urged me to attend.
It wasn’t hard to find the exclusive tasting, as it was staged within an enormous golden dome (modeled to look like one of their coffee pods) in the middle of San Francisco’s Union Square. The four security guards standing by the door didn’t bother to look at my exclusive RSVP, but they did stop an old man from carrying in his skateboard. Once inside the stately pleasure dome I found caverns measureless to man, a couple hundred people waiting in line for their pod coffee, and staff decked out in suits and Nespresso-branded cocktail dresses.
What Nespresso means by “revolution of coffee” is pretty literal/a hilarious pun: the VertuΦline machine literally spins the little coffee pods with New CENTRIFUSION™ TECHNOLOGY (for coffee brewing). I didn’t get an answer out of any of the baristas working the machines about exactly what the advantages are of spinning the coffee. Even the hyperbolic brochure doesn’t offer any argument for why your coffee needs CENTRIFUSION™, only that the VertuΦline does indeed have it.
I was allowed the exclusive chance, along with anyone else who wandered in, to try the DIAVOLITTΦ espresso and a HAZELINΦ coffee. Apparently the difference between a coffee and an espresso made using the VertuΦline is A.) the size of the pod and B.) how long you let it run. Here are my impressions of both.
This was billed as the “strong” espresso. The tasting notes read as follows: “A high intensity espresso for coffee aficionados. Energized by highly roasted Robusta and Brazilian Arabica coffee beans, with an aroma that hints at oak wood and leather, balance is achieved with a creamy texture.”
It had a thick head, almost like a tiny little Guinness or something. The shot yielded around 2 ounces of fluid, and took 35 seconds to “pull”. I got notes of carbon. Old socks. Notes of spinning/revolution. Oak usually translates into notes of vanilla, but here it’s more like chewing on bark. Aspirin comes from bark. It’s kind of like chewing on aspirin. Bitter. About the consistency/mouthfeel of brewed coffee, once you break through the thick wall of crema.
Nespresso says that HazelinΦ is “A blend of slightly roasted Brazilian and Central American Arabicas infused with a hazelnut flavor which creates a smooth, balanced coffee that is sweet to the taste with a distinct, nutty aroma. Adding milk gives a praline note to the original hazelnut flavor.”
Again, you’ve got a thick frothy head of “crema” on this brewed coffee, which is apparently the point? It took about 90 seconds to extract. Disturbingly, I get no hazelnut. I do get hints of horrifying indifference, and more carbon. This coffee tastes like the font Comic Sans: cheerful, yet banal.
Nespresso says that the VertuΦline not only spins the coffee, but it also reads its bar code. This enables it to brew with custom secret parameters for each kind of coffee. There are 13 coffees in all. Besides HAZELINΦ, for brewed coffee you’ve also got STORMIΦ, ODACIΦ, MELOZIΦ, ELVAZIΦ, VANIZIΦ, DECAFFEINATΦ (that’s Italian for decaf I think?). In addition to the DIAVOLITTΦ espresso, there is ALTISSIΦ, VOLTESSΦ, and DECAFFEINATO INTENSΦ. HALF CAFFEINATΦ comes in both sizes.
For what it’s worth, the literally revolutionary new machine’s attendant coffee pods use beans from the Nespresso AAA Ecolaboration Sustainable Quality Program. This program purchases beans above market rates, and is working in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance, whose president, Tensie Whelan, serves on the Nespresso Sustainability Advisory Board (alongside George Clooney).
I’m sorry that I didn’t try more coffees. After two, I knew this feature would necessarily need to be more experiential, because there’s no need to go on for thousands of words about something you don’t like. The Nespresso Pleasure Dome is a real thing that’s happening right now (we first ran into this cΦffee brand experience at SXSW of course), and similar events to this one are currently underway in Philadelphia, Miami, and Phoenix.
For he on honey-dew hath fed, and drunk the milk of Paradise.
Leif Haven (@LeifHaven) is a Sprudge.com staff writer based in Φakland, California. Read more Leif Haven on Sprudge.]]>
Corretto, a new Italian-styled cafe, restaurant and bar in Seattle celebrated its grand opening last week, and Sprudge photo contributor Vickie Miao was on hand to capture the scene and check out a few of the new coffee & booze cocktails from Slate Coffee‘s Brandon Paul Weaver. A caffè corretto is a traditional Italian combination of espresso “corrected” with spirits, usually grappa (a grape-based brandy), some other form of brandy, or Sambuca. Corretto’s bar program is focused on Italian spirits, and Mr. Weaver has put together a list of cocktails playing liberally with the corretto tradition.
Eater Seattle, Capitol Hill Seattle, and Seattle Met offer additional background on this new “neighborhood Italian” project from restaurateur Travis Rosenthal (Tango, Rumba) and chef Laura Licona (formerly of La Spiga). We talked to Mr. Weaver to learn more about the coffee side of things, the drinks they’re offering and what drew him to the Corretto project.
Tell us about how you approached the coffee & booze offerings at Corretto.
We wanted to start with a fairly simple and straightforward menu–4 correttos–that all fit a different kind of person coming in. A couple of them have cream, and are super accessible–but it started with one, called the Il Futurismo, that’s just Braulio amaro, espresso, and Bob’s Bitters. Basically built like a Manhattan, but instead of rye whiskey, vermouth and bitters, its espresso, amaro and bitters, at similar ratios.
We’ve also got drinks like the Crema & Crema, which is Disaronno, Dimmi (a grape-style distillate, not grappa exactly but similar), heavy cream, and Angostura bitters on top, and a drink we call Liquid Biscotti, made with Faretti Biscotti liqueur, grappa, and cream. The idea there is to take Italian ingredients and make something fairly sweet and tasty. The cream on top is cold, and the espresso on the bottom is warm, so you get temperature play in there.
For the last one, the Divine Comedy, we got batshit crazy–it’s Giffard Banane banana liqueur, espresso, and grappa shaken over ice. It’s kinda like–there’s probably some Italian grandfather rolling over in his grave with a cold banana corretto, but that’s where we can see where we’re going with this whole idea. Super accessible, traditional, and then wacky.
What about the coffee offerings?
I’m interested in having two different styles–maybe a straightforward Bolivian espresso and a wild Ethiopian. Two clearly different espresso we can use for different purposes, and a decaf as well. For daytime service we’re batching Chemexes into an airpot. The coffees we’re opening with are Finca Los Pinos, a Colombian from the Huila region–juicy and nice and acidic–and then Carmo Di Minas from Brazil, super rich & heavy, low acidity.
Tell us more about your your role in the project.
I am training the bartenders, will be directing the coffee program, and also eventually bartending. The training is happening through Slate–I got involved more heavily because it seemed in line with the things I want to do with Matte & Gloss. Philosophically this is where I want to go–how can these industries learn and benefit from each other?
So can someone come in and order a classic corretto?
A classic corretto is definitely available. We have 15 different grappas right now, and stuff’s still coming in from places like Nonino. We also have a huge selection of amaros too, upwards of 20 at the moment. We want to do intentional pairings.
But in Italy, the corretto does not really have a classy reputation. You guys are sort of inverting that, right?
Grappa is the byproduct of wine-making. Espresso started out being the beverage of the everyman, too, and it’s sort of like pushing that idea–instead of these crazy steam-infused 8oz quick espressos [like in early Italian espresso], we are at a point now where we can actually make it taste good and explore variety. We’re trying to put correttos in that same light. Grappa is no longer just the shit people make from byproducts. It’s not a thing about class anymore–people are making grappas taste pretty good.
Fast. Well-dressed. Polite. These are the baristas of Milano, working at the espresso bar in classic destination cafes across the city like Caffe Aperol, Caffe Milano, and Caffe Martini. Sprudge co-founder Zachary Carlsen convinced 5 of them to sit for photo portraits and brief interviews while in Milan for the 2014 DC Campus event. This feature is a followup of sorts to Mr. Carlsen’s gonzo Milanese cafe crawl feature from 2013.
Pino works bar at the busy and ornate Caffe Aperol. He’s half barman, half magician, pulling shots faster than the eye can see while pouring beer for the next order. Pino wears a smart black tie with a crisp white shirt.
Francesco pulls shots at Caffe Milano. He’s one of the youngest baristas we met on our tour. He’s quick, hospitable, and dreams of one day living and working bar in California.
We found Gioncarlo at Caffe al Borromeo, tucked away from the busy main streets. His shot was the sweetest of the bunch, and as a barman he was warm and welcoming. His attire is decidedly dressed down for Milan, handsome in a blue number worn casually unbuttoned. Giancarlo don’t give a damn.
Salvatore is a busy man. In the warm April afternoon, Caffe Martini is bustling with tourists hungry for gelato and thirsty for an Aperol spritz. Salvatore hand-washes dishes between pulling shots behind Martini’s ornate marble bar.
At Caffè Sforzesco, Silvio works behind the bar in a tidy bow tie to match his apron. The oversized bouquet of flowers on the bar stunts his already slight frame, and the bar is lined with spent glasses of negronis. In spite of these obstacles, Silvio is confident, competent, and ready to serve.
Sprudge coverage from DC Campus is made possible by Dalla Corte and Urnex.]]>