company - education - coffee

Friday, April 27, 2007

Bellingham Barista Jam

photo courtesy of Gabe Rodriguez

The whole purpose of The Bellingham Barista Jam was to meet, talk and of course taste coffee. I am sure everyone had different highlights of this event, but like Edwin says, coffee is about the relationships of the people involved from grower to consumer. This statement was especially important and relevant on this occasion.

photo courtesy of Gabe Rodriguez

The event kicked off at about nine with us demoing the vac pot while others got their stations set up. Jaime ran the show, demonstrating the intricacies in technique of this wonderful method of brewing coffee. Kaminsky and Jaime continued to demo the vac pot for the next hour and a half while we watched and tasted. Unfortunately, the coffee we had arranged have sent to us from Simon Hsieh for the event did not arrive in time, so we were only able to brew the Ecco Reserve. Thanks to the generosity of Ecco Caffe and the vac pot alchemy of Jaime and Ben, we were able to show our peers a little of what we are about.

photo courtesy of Gabe Rodriguez

Zander and the clover were showing their stuff off across the way and I got to play around a little bit with what is probably the coolest coffee making machine out there. I also totally scored a clover t-shirt, which is amazing.

photo courtesy of Gabe Rodriguez

I got to pull my first shot on the Synesso. As Ben said, "It's not bad for your first shot ever on the Synesso." Bronwen only had to look at it before dumping it down the drain. Oh well, guess I am not quite WBC quality yet. After several tries, Bronwin showed us how it is done with the Ecco Reserve, chocolate and caramel.

photo courtesy of Gabe Rodriguez

One of my favorite things at the event was the Victrola tasting. Keith and Justin set up the first round with only Colombian coffee. There were about nine different Colombians mostly COE lots from the last auction and two that were not COE. It was set up as a blind tasting in which we had to decide which coffees were COE lots and what numbers they were as well as which were the two that were not COE coffees. We all picked out the number one COE and the defective coffee that had to be sent back. The second part of the tasting was all Victrola offerings. I have to say, I was surprised with the Lake Tawar I tasted. It was definitely the best Sumatra I have ever had, but then again I really don't like Sumatras. Many thanks to Keith, Justin and Victrola for setting up an awesome tasting.

photo courtesy of Gabe Rodriguez

Edwin gave an awesome presentation about just what it means to get his coffee to the roaster. He had a full slide show with pictures of coffee trees growing and being picked. He showed us photos of processing the coffee, all the machines involved and every step along the way and in between. He showed us photos of the port where the coffee is exported and photos of the coffee getting there. Most importantly though, he showed us photos of the people involved with making this all possible. Many of the people he showed us photos of are good friends or family. Along the way he narrated this slide show and connected us to those people through his words and pictures.

photo courtesy of Gabe Rodriguez

The guys from espresso parts had a table set up with an array of cool tampers, including the Barismo spec tamper at its trade show debut. As soon as someone would ask about it, they would explain it a little bit and then point across the way to our table.

photo courtesy of Gabe Rodriguez

Things continued with plenty of time for everyone to chat and taste and try out the different machines. Gabe was taking plenty of photos and really showing off his skill as a photographer. He seemed to be where ever something interesting was going on and didn't miss too much.

photo courtesy of Gabe Rodriguez

Kaminsky and I got to talk to Robert from Coffeed. We had an interesting Yirg conversation about all the difficulty in getting a good Yirg to this country unharmed. He had a few good stories to tell about how easily a great yirg can be ruined in transit. I am glad we got to talk, he has a lot of good stuff to say.
This event was all about coffee. Or rather, it was all about coffee and people. There were People from different places and many people from Belllingham all brought together by coffee, with the help of Edwin and Richard. It was great to meet so many awesome people. I really enjoyed myself on this trip and enjoyed seeing everyone do their thing. It was great to see how connected everyone in Bellingham is to one another and how accepting they are of us.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Barismo meet Barista Magazine

Our group was recently featured in the free pour (blog feature) section of the April/May 2007 anniversary issue of Barista Magazine. Aaron Blanco also has a piece about the trip to Guatemala courtesy of Edwin Martinez in that current issue of which I was lucky enough to be a Barista participant.

If you are interested in a B-Mag subscription drop a line to Sarah @ and yes, they do international customers also.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

So you want a Barismo Spec Tamper?

photo courtesy of Gabe Rodriguez

We got some emails inquiring about our tamper and the guys at Espresso Parts are delivering a version of it. Our current version features a sand-blasted handle (for better grip) and a subtle c-flat base along with the polished brass ring. Weighing in over 2 lbs, this stainless steel tamper is a beautiful and an efficient piece of equipment.

If you have any interest, please email the Espresso Parts guys and ask for it by name. We saw the first version of it at the Bellingham jam and we are excited to get some feedback about it.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Reminder: Cupping Event This Saturday At 6pm

For those of you still who missed the first post, there is still room, but not much. We are holding a cupping event at Simons Coffee Shop this Saturday evening (the 21st), and there are a few spots still open. The event will be at 6pm (some of you heard 7pm, but it's 6). Coffee's from top roasters around the country including Ecco Caffe, Paradise Coffee Roasters, Counter Culture Coffee, Atomic Cafe and some special guests in a traditional cupping led by the Barismo crew. There will be an introduction to coffee tasting (cupping) at the event and a vac pot demo, so no prior experience is at all necessary. RSVP at and if you haven't received a confirmation email, then please write us again for confirmation.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Of sites and feeds to trips and such

Simply put, there are a lot of coffee sites and few of them update regularly. It's hard keeping track and you can easily say I hardly participate in the forums much anymore. At this point, there's a lot of work to be done rather than the 'joy' of debate in forums.

Get on a feed reader people. If you aren't already, it makes life so much easier to track all these blogs. Get updates delivered when they update rather then going to each site and checking for updates.

I'm headed out to Bellingham Friday. Kaminsky is already in Seattle now while Silas, Judson and I leave tomorrow. It's highly likely to prove more difficult than we wanted. Getting the butane burner to Seattle proved not possible for Kaminsky.

Hopefully, I will have better luck with it or we have to find something as an alternative quick. Ben C. is staying behind for varied reasons, polishing some new stuff and working on an experiment and using the saved cash for a new special toy.

Speaking of things that wowed me. I had a really bad shot the other day that tasted like salty baguette. I kid you not, it was a medium-light roast Brazil blend (from one farm) that tasted bready at 8.5bars but when upped over 9.5bars, it was salty and bready. I would laugh but it was straight up disgusting.

Honestly though, that was one of a dozen shots lately that have underwhelmed me with blah. It's not that there is no good coffee but a myriad of reasons has left me with some pretty average to blah espresso lately. I don't even do espresso when I go out simply because coffee is work right now and I need to unwind with out being too critical of what is being offered.

Speaking of which, I find it odd how people take our blog and attach it to a roaster or to a shop as if we were following some grand scheme someone else laid out. More or less, we float from thing to thing in search of a great cup. We borrow, question, research, critique, and generally are completely disloyal to following any one roaster's ideals. We got burned by that before and won't do it again. That's a narrow path I'd rather not travel. There is no plan, no standard, no rules and strangely I am content with that. 'I know this is not how you thought it would be, no whips, no chains just tasting, tasting, tasting...'(CYHSY reference sorry;-)

Which reminds me that as a site like this grows, you have a few options as to direction. We are still mulling ours. Then again, I am happy with where it is and the content that we put up however not as frequent these days due to travel.

Speaking of which, looking forward to:
The next B-Mag;-)
Spending time with Eddie, Gabe, Richard, the Scott family and maybe meeting some new friends or putting a face to some people in the business.
Writing about the whole experience for print, probably Kaminsky and/or Silas will get Barismo duty for details on this B-Ham Jam puppy.
My B-Spec tamper with a touch up addition and new finish possible logo'd.
Bringing vac pots in tow and looking to spring some Simon style coffee on these guys on the west coast.

Thoughts on coffee, things are busy, the barismo blog is trimmed up for those not on feed readers who click through and can see it. A bit cleaner, like the way I like my coffee.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cupping coffee and the stinky bean

Stinkers: Stinker beans are generally caused as a result of over-fermentation, and due to improper cleaning of fermentation tanks and washing channels. Beans adhering to the pulper vats, if not cleaned meticulously, become stinkers. Stinker beans, when crushed or cut, emanate a very unpleasant odor. They taint the liquor, producing an unpleasant taste in the cup, and give a flavor described as 'over-fermented', 'unclean' or even 'foul'. One or two stinker beans can contaminate and spoil a whole batch of coffee. See also 'Discoloured', under 'Defects – Appearance / Coloration', above. -

There are times when coffee is fun and there are times when it is a lot of work. Cupping through slight roast variances from one single coffee roasted several times that when charted out look almost identical is definitely work.

I ran across this one thing that was just disgusting. A stinky bean (or two). Out of a dozen roasts and multiple bags, this showed up in two cups only.

Dry aroma, Skunk. Wet aroma like body odor. Taste was like 'someone brewed the coffee with toenail clippings.' Completely disgusting and foul. Out of six cups, two had this and I suspect it was because they were ground one after another.

I have never really cupped this before and yet this was so distinct in those two cups alone that it led me to realize why it is so essential to cup 3-6 cups of every coffee evaluated on a table.


Monday, April 09, 2007

The B-Ham Jam

Bellingham, WA: The Barista Jam
Event's from 9 AM to 3 PM, though if anyone wants to volunteer they are welcome - they'll be starting setup at 8 AM and need to be out by 5 PM. Ten bucks gets you in, and you get to keep five of those bucks if you present BGA or Roaster's Guild membership at the door.

Any questions can be forwarded to

Confirmed exhibitions from La Marzocco, Synesso, Nuova Simonelli, and Espressoparts - Possible Clover. Coffees (including but not limited to) 49th Parallel, Hines, Victrola, and Ecco - chances are good that some Victrola peeps will be running our extra-fancy cupping plaza (you'll understand when you see it). A possible showing of Black Gold and afterparty.

FROM I-5 SOUTH: take the Lakeway exit (number 253). At the stopsign at the end of the offramp, take a right. You'll run into Lakeway Drive - take a right onto Lakeway.

FROM I-5 NORTH: take the Lakeway exit (number 253). Take a right onto Lakeway Drive.

ONCE YOU'RE ON LAKEWAY DRIVE: travel a few blocks; at a big intersection, Lakeway will turn into Holly Street. Keep going on Holly down the hill - this will take you into downtown Bellingham. Take a left onto Railroad (you'll see a Starbucks on that corner). Once you're on Railroad, the Depot Market Square is just two blocks away on the left. It's a big gray building. Feel free to use the covered parking lot; it's free!

Boston barista contingent of Silas, Judson, Kaminsky, and Jaime(me) will be attending this great event this weekend. Any west coast peeps out there must come and join us. Rumor is that Simon in Taiwan will have coffees shipped to this event as well as some of us Barismo guys enlisted to run vac pots at the cupping station. We will see. Should be interesting.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Informal Tea Cupping

If you happen to be around Simon's in Cambridge MA Saturday Apr. 7th after 5pm, drop by and say Hi and taste some teas. Silas and I will be tasting a few teas with friends. Short notice cause it's informal like that!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Minor (roaster) upgrade

What? You think I am going to leave my toys un-moded?! ;-)

After some discussions with Simon, it was felt that this is the best thing I can do right now to improve the consistency of my roasts. Onto the next level...

UPDATE (4/9/07):

Did a whole bunch of roasts this weekend. This mod has turn out to be a pivotal point of my roasting experiment. I now truly have control over the profile and roasts are so consistent that the curves are practically on top of each other. Getting the profile is also much easier than before. The fun begins....

- Ben C.