company - education - coffee

Sunday, December 07, 2008


For a moment, there was some but anyway, it's been a long week and here are some notes.

The Rudiments Espresso pops with red ripe cherry but when you pull it right after a dark roast, it kinda tastes a bit like said dark roast. Rudiments is our straight shot/small milk light roast espresso blend (88.5% Morenihna Formosa + 11.5% Ichimara Peaberry). Clean them groups!

Poker Face Espresso (20% Kiandu + 80% Cardenas) opens up no earlier than day 5 but we may shift it's roast degree a little. It is a distinct mix and when you nail it, you get something someone was calling a 'purple (fruity) note' on the palate as a goopy thick textured shot.

Linnaean St. Espresso (10% Ichimara Peaberry + 25% Las Lajas Miel + 65% Morenihna Formosa) is pretty much my baby though I am very happy to have any of these blends in serious shops. It takes so much effort to get a good stage and get past the equipment and into training and service of quality espresso. You don't know how much it is appreciated to go into a shop and get a good shot of something you may have literally spent weeks creating. The alternative would be the frustration of seeing someone completely butcher something you know is good.

Taking director cues for a video shoot is harder than you would think. That's a post for another day though.

The last few days have been spent training and trying to get my head around serious issues in the cafes. Part of that has been re-touring many of the cafes in the area. Most of which I won't elaborate in detail on because while latte art is definitely peaking these days, the espresso runs the gamut from meh to drinkable. Few stinkers but mostly milk shots and strangely not all that unique from shop to shop with the exception of the notably bad ones. Several shops have improved a lot recently. I can't point to any reason in particular, some new equipment at one shop and better training at others, another finally showing it's roaster's single origin offerings. All positive signs even though on a swing through town, said roaster whose bags are now front and center had 'written off Boston' because 'it was stuck in the 80's'.

Nobody said it's gonna be easy.

It seems like new shops have triggered others to react but it remains to be seen who will actually set the bar beyond house light and house dark with some retail SO coffees in the Cambridge area I frequent. For some, that means a planned remodel and getting competitive, for others, new equipment and a new focus. That means taking a little risk and making the investment. Sadly, this has made it much clearer that there were shops that had really declined in comparison to the advances at the others. Seeing 3 month old retail roasts on the shelf at one shop in Harvard Sq. and visiting another which seemed to have lost the ability either to train it's staff or enforce said training. Both experiences did nothing for me to feel they were moving in the right direction. Further proof that sitting around on your hands waiting for some kind of magic or relying on brand image is not the way to go. Hard work, training, and keeping that equipment in tune goes a long way.