keskiviikko 30. syyskuuta 2009


Last night, after some 12 hours at roastery, I went home and hit the sack. Guess what, the only thing I was thinking and dreaming about was coffee. Espresso, beans and especially this time - packages. Maybe I had packed a few too many bag... Should I start to get worried?

maanantai 28. syyskuuta 2009

Some serious stuff

I drank today one of the best espressos in my life. Although I'm only 17 (18 in a week) I have drank quite a few espressos. This one was definetely in top 5.

As you might have guessed, it was at La Torrefazione. Double ristretto in a espresso demi-tasse made from Kaffa's espresso 3.1 and brew by Roman Kolpaksti, Finland's second best barista (Barista of the Year 2009 2nd place). What can I say. Just pure beauty. Amazing crema, superb viscosity and mouth feeling, so sweet but also acid. Some great nutty notes like almond and roasted hazelnuts. Pure awesomness. Thank you Roman. You made my day. (I hoping that he would take me as his co-barista (or whatsoever) for the next competition...)

I'll continue my CoffeeRail-post next time, propably in a few days. Geez, that was a good coffee...

sunnuntai 27. syyskuuta 2009

CoffeeRail - Coffeeholic's trip to Europe - Part One

About a year ago we decided with my girlfriend that we're going to go on a InterRail next summer. I guess nealry everyone is familiar with the InterRail-phenomenon. If not, you better check it out! We started planning our trip in the spring and we ended up taking a completely different route than we had planned for. Despite a few ill-fortuned encounters and trains-late-from-schedule (Especially in Italy...) the trip was great. Out route was Helsinki-London-Paris-Nice-Venice-Innsbruck,AU-Regensbourg,GE-Prague-Berlin-Malmö,SWE-Stockholm-Helsinki and it took about three and half weeks to get back home.

But let's get to the business not, this isn't a travel blog... I had searched for some good cafes on our way. Thank God I did that, otherwise not too many proper espresso would have been consumed. Here are the best ones we came across.

(In London I followed a guide from that seems to be deleted now... I'll try to find it)

First espresso I had was at The Providores (109 Marylebone Highstr), a restarant that's been run by Peter Gordon, a Kiwi-chef. This espresso opened my eyes. It was the first proper coffee made from freshly roasted beans I had tasted. Taste was just amazing, something I had never tasted before. Great coloured crema. The thick nectar under the crema was high in acid, fresh but not too green. Mellow sweetness emerged when the acidity had passed. Great shot that made me realise the potential of fresh coffee.
The Shot that changed my life.

Cappucino wasn't bad either. The microfoam could have been confused to whipped cream, but taste was a bit bitter and not-so-sweet. My guess would be unwashed milk pitcher.
Next stop was Scooterworks (132 Lower Marsh, Waterloo Tube), also mentioned in the guide.
They have this really cool and old Faema piston machine (photo on the web page). Some people recon that you can pull better shots with these ones. I was a bit dissappointed with this one as some new employee made my espresso. Good crema, fruity and quite acid. Quite long but not watery. Alright but couldn't compete with Providores. However the place itself was great so I think it's worth a visit. Combine with a visit to Tate Modern.

torstai 24. syyskuuta 2009

Cupping session at La Torrefazione

The cupping today at La Torre was great. The place is just what Helsinki has been waiting for - trendy and stylish but still cosy. Fresh colours, nice seats and the best part, (hopefully) suberb coffee. Today's special coffee was something rather rare and expensive and very tasty - Hacienda Esmeralda from Panama. That particular coffee has been chosen as the best coffee in the world several times. The price per kilo is quite ridiculous, about 300€. This Panaman coffee was roasted by Stumptown Roasters, Portland, Oregon, US. Great taste, sweet and balanced. Somehow I can't remember any specific notes as nothing came through very distinctively. Although it was a cupping session, we drank the whole cup and then also from the table next to us... Hey, you don't very often get a chance to taste something quite like that!

I make most of my coffee at home using Aeropress. Great invention but as everything in this business, challenging to use. One might thought that it wouldn't be that hard to use something as simple as that. Not at all. The first cuppa of Aero I drank was at Johan & Nyström. So smooth and balanced, something I haven't been able to achieve at home, yet. I tried to check some info on the Internet but everybody gives different tips... So, as usually, one must experiment.

I'm not sure if I should say this aloud, but I don't have a grinder at home - yet. Some purists might be a bit upset: "A coffee enthusiast who doesn't own a grinder?!" Benjamin offered my one. Good deal but I'm not sure if I need professional level grinder at home... Even affordable one.

Square Mile Roastery's web shop is fascinating. They have so many interesting coffees there. I discussed about that with Benjamin and he had an explanation. Located in London, one of the best coffee-cities in world, they have everything at hand. Knowledge, good markets for fresh coffee and especially Mercanta, a coffee-hunter company. Kaffa also orders their coffee from there. James and Anette, owners of SMR, can just hop into their van ( I guess they have one ) and take a trip to Mercanta and buy of some interesting coffee. The advantage in being Londoner is that they can buy only one sack where as Kaffa has to order many of them. No wonder they have all that stuff. Those lucky bastards...


Last few drops of Juice were consumed today... I did some shopping to recover from that grief. SMR had Mauritan Cascara from El Salvador. What, you ask. Dried skins of the coffee cherries that you brew like tea. Thay say that it contains lots and lots of caffeine because coffee uses it as insect repellent. Most of it is stored in the cherry. Looking forward to get to taste it.

tiistai 22. syyskuuta 2009

Sleeping Problems

I wonder, how many people have sleeping troubles because of thinking, not drinking, coffee. Actually, when I go to bed all there's on my mind is coffee. Coffee that, espresso this, roasting, smell of coffee etc. Maybe not the best way to get some sleep, thinking about coffee. Even thinking about coffee works as a stimulant for me. I actually find it difficult to fall asleep if I've been involved to coffee that day (there aren't many days when I am not...). Even now I should go and hit the sack but here I am, writing a post about coffee, trying to clear my mind.

James Hoffman's blog Jimseven is a great read. He has a bit more technical approach to espresso and coffee overall. His videocasts, such as this one about crema, are great. That particular one gave me something to think, again. Something to drink while sipping my next espresso tomorrow.

Talking about learning, I've been reading David Schomer's Espresso Coffee - Professional Techniques. Even though I only read the first 50 or so pages I've learned heaps. I hadn'd understood that brewing temperature of water affects the espresso so much. Reading these things make me understand that I know nothing about coffee yet. And as Ulrika told me when I first went to her barista course: "You are a learner, I'm a bit more experienced one." She made me undestand, luckily in the beginning of my barista career that it takes time to learn things. In my eagerness I had thought: "Well yeah, it can't be that hard to make a good shot". Now, the old and used phrase: more you learn, less you know. Hopefully, in 20 years, I know a bit more.

This is the best photo of David Schomer I found. Nice moustache man.

Juice is nearly used! What a pity I didn't order two bags... Ulrika said me today that I'm bit of an exception bacause I like such coffee. Apparently not many people like those juice and fruity coffees I love. I'll try to recall the taste of the wonderful Juice espresso, maybe that'll help me to zone out...

perjantai 18. syyskuuta 2009

Potential coffee phenomenon?

I have kind of a problem. My lovely girfriend doesn't drink coffee. I mean, nearly not at all. Conflict of interests, eh?

Our biggest everyday problem is wheter or not I have time to pop in to my favourite coffee shop for a decent espresso. It doesn't ease the situation that I don't really want to drink coffee anywhere else (at least not yet...) because most cafes in Helsinki serve something more like petrol than espresso. There is also a geographical issue. Kaffecentralen, the coffee shop in Helsinki, is located in Punavuori which is a stone's throw away the centre of the town. This "KC-issue" might be the biggest clash in our relationship.

The team behind La Torre. Roman in the middle, Kaffa's Svante 2nd from left, Benjamin rightmost. (Click to enlarge)

Luckily, there's a new café opening in Aleksanterinkatu, right in the centre of the city. La Torrefazione will ease my life, a lot. Kaffa's guys are in, so is Roman (who came second in Vuoden Barista -competiton), so there will be great coffee and also someone who knows how to get the full potential out of the beans. Something I've been waiting for.

La Torre is planned to open any time soon, first cupping session will be next week. I'm really looking forward to that. Their visual image is great and I think they have the potential to become Helsinki's next (or first?) coffee phenomenon. ( I'm hoping they'd need an eager part-time employee...... )

Juiciest coffee ever.

(Square Mile's stall at Whitstreet Market, London. This is from last summer's Interrail trip, that's why those clothes...)
I was quite lucky the other day. Surfing around the Internet, I checked the Square Mile Roastery's website in case something new stuff. Indeed there was. A new, one-off espresso blend called Juice drawed my attention. SQM's folks didn't yet know what it was going to be but something special deffinately. They promised that Juice was going to be - hence the name - juicy and high in acidity with some notes of apricots, citrus and orange. Just the kind of an espresso I love. Only 60 bags for sale and some world's best coffee used (60% Beloya from Ethiopia, 20%+20% two different Kenyan), it wasn't a hard decision.

I got to test it while I was over to Kaffa's roastery in Vantaa. First we tried it on French Press. As an espresso blend, Juice was quite dark roast so it wasn't ideal for cafetiere. Anyway, we got to taste some great notes, including - believe me or not - strawberry jam. Light-to-medium bodied and acid but sweet, not bad as French.

They had
two of these amazing, brand new Mazzer Robur on-demand grinders. I fell in love immediately. I could share a bed with one of those... (don't worry Erika, just kidding). Anyway, I got to try my barista skills (I'm just a beginner) using their three-group LaMarzocco Linea. As I'm just a novice, quite a lot of Juice was wasted while configuring the grinder. At last I got it right (although I think Juice ins't the hardest espresso I've used) and managed to pull a few good or even great shots, maybe the best ones I ever have.

The taste was just amazing. So sweet, acid on a good way but also quite complex. First sensation made the think that is this warmed orange juice or espresso. When the oranges had vanished came a mellow, sweet and very pleasant after taste. I couldn't help smiling. I could have cried. It was actually so good. Kaffa's guys, Benjamin and Svante, were not so excited about Juice...

This morning it tried it on Aeropress. I've got it for a couple of weeks now. I still haven't found my style of using it and haven't yet succeeded in brewing as smooth cuppa as Kiril at Johan & Nystörm where I had my first Aeropress-cup. However, my aeropressed Juice was amazing. Just like the French we made at Kaffa but smoother and better. Nearly mixed it with my orange juice =b.

As you might notice, I am more or less excited about this particular espresso. I want to thank James and Anette at Square Mile for roasting this treat. Thank you. ( Please make similar, ASAP... =b )

torstai 17. syyskuuta 2009

Coffee Crusader

As corny as it might sound, I have a mission.

That mission is to improve the quality of coffee that we Finns drink. It is said that we drink the most coffee in the world, some 9-10kgs of coffee per year per inhabitant. That is quite a lot of coffee. Most of that coffee is lightly roasted, filtered coffee.

I'm not saying that filter coffee is a bad way to drink one's daily caffeine intake. No, I'm just trying to make people to understand that why drink bad coffee when you could
drink - instead of mass produced coffee thats "best before" -date is a year from roasting - good, freshly roasted coffee that has been picked, sorted, produced and roasted with love.

Yes, it maybe a bit more expensive and yes, it is easy to pick the familiar coffee package from the supermarket when you're doing your weekly shopping and not be bothered to find a proper coffee merchant. But the thing is, if we are to drink 4,5dl of coffee a day, why to drink the same old petrol every day? After tasting freshly roasted, properly brewed coffee for the first time, there was no way back to the old for me. Fresh coffee is same as fresh anything - one can really taste it.

For me, drinking coffee is kind of an expedition. I take the first sip, analyse the coffee, try to find new sensations and notes. After analysing - if there is any coffee left and if the coffee is good - I just drink it and think about it and enjoy it. Enjoying my cuppa makes me think and wonder that coffee - where is it from, what does the estate look like, the journey from bean into my cup. Even in the middle of busy day, a great shot of espresso can make my mind wonder away from my everyday life to a paradise-like coffee plantation. My mission is to produce such experiences to other people. For the start, being a barista and serving only exceptional coffee is best way to be a travel agent for coffee drinkers, I think.