For the Love of Coffee, Cigars, Wine, & Great Food!

Posts tagged “ethiopia

Highlights from the Jitterz Cafe LIVE Coffee Roasting

Earlier this month, Tampa had a MAJOR art showdown at the Tampa Etsy Craft Party – and Jitterz Cafe was there with some MAJOR dance, ahem, coffee moves! We featured a live coffee roasting demonstration, showcased coffees from Africa (specifically the Ethiopia Harrar and Ethiopia WP Jimma), and shared endless techniques and fun behind preparation and consumption. Here are the highlights from the show! Photo Credit: Sarah Fisher

 

Here are more pictures!

     

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What Constitutes Good Coffee?

Photo By Fashion Time Magazine

I recently attended a local art gallery opening. They had the usual hodge-podge of food: a few dips here and there, some healthy stuff to quiet the health freaks, and of course, COFFEE. I watched as everyone hovered around the coffee bar, one guy nervously spilling it all over the counter top. I approached the bar, poured a little coffee for myself, and waited for it to cool down. When I finally got the chance to drink some, the only thought in my mind was that it tasted like brewed cardboard water. Everyone else was seemingly enjoying it, constantly revisiting the coffee bar for a warm up.

I pretended to sip on so as not to “be rude,” and as my eyes wandered the room, I caught a glimpse of a woman in a gold party dress that was over-adorned with sequins and glitter – way too much for her petite frame. At that moment, I thought to myself: “Is this what coffee has become? Over-adorned with a mess of ‘stuff’ we think looks good, but actually tarnishes the beauty of what’s underneath?”

This brought me to a question, which has been toiled over for years: What constitutes good coffee? Is it good for only satisfying our morning jolt? Or is it only good for awakening us to break us from the afternoon’s robotic work patterns?

We yearn for good food, to be cultured, artistic, entertained, and to be “in the know…” But has our taste for good coffee fallen by the wayside? Why do we even drink it? To socialize with friends? To talk about how many espresso shots we had stuffed into one drink (that ended up giving us the JITTERZ for the next two days straight)?

Or is it only good by a coffee connoisseur’s suggestive dialogue? Terminology and recommendations forced upon us, and we – like human nature – rebel and do exactly what we want anyway, too afraid to try something new.

Photo By Gevon Servo

Coffee doesn’t have to be crammed with unnatural flavor for it to be enjoyed; and it doesn’t have to be sans milk and sugar or “under-brewed” either. But shouldn’t it have its own character and elegant flavor, not something we’ve forced it to be? Example – Ethiopia: Naturally sweet coffee, it can have honeyed tastes, chocolate undertones, and may even be loaded with berries. Sometimes I take it black, sometimes with a little sugar. Example – Café au lait: historically prepared with steamed milk, mostly tastes like toasted nuts, the coffee most likely from Brazil or Nicaragua, somewhere conducive of a great espresso blend.

We are feel good people and some brands of coffee know how to tap into that human element. SBUX… As people, we have always demanded better coffee, but without knowing the true element of “better coffee,” it was defined for us and excited us enough to buy fancy machines and syrups, host parties, collect art, all in good efforts to make it good just like SBUX taught us. Coffee can still induce good friendships, family, conversations, fun… The cup itself can truly be a lively experience that complements our relationships, conversations and friends, but it doesn’t have to be completely empty or over-adorned with postiche beauty.

And while Starbucks isn’t exactly the devil, we as consumers have managed to demand a beautifully wrapped package. Some “uber cool” coffee shops have answered the call and have assessed our aesthetic needs by dazzling us with tasty syrups and whipped cream. We’ve allowed ourselves to become drawn to the package without appreciating the beauty of the cup underneath all the wrapping…

BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL…


Sensual Mystery: Ethiopia Limu from BaristaOnDutY

This coffee is like Heaven in a cup…No, LITERALLY. It’s loaded with so many flavors – honey, butternut, jasmine, toasted macadamia. It’s a very floral and sweet coffee, but has such an unexpected collaboration of flavors and intriguing twists. This coffee has been around for quite some time and has always been raved about. I was so happy when I found out that BaristaOnDutY had sent some to me.

You may question what’s going on in the cup. Is it my taste buds or the coffee?? It’s so sweet and floral but very rustic and woodsy. The dry aroma made me chuckle a bit to myself – glad to smell something so pleasing: sweetened nuts, honey, and peach. The wet aroma released soft scents of banana, honey, jasmine and honeysuckle – an aroma that definitely brought me back to my childhood of picking honeysuckles and experiencing soft, elegant flavors against my tongue.

The taste of this coffee was like a playground experience: butternut, apricot, an explosion of honey, a short, dry finish, winey accents. It played with my emotions in good way. Further along in the cup, the soft jasmine aroma from before meets my tongue and excites me once again. About halfway through – SMACK! Toasted macadamia nut – well where the heck did this come from?? But I like it! A little later, more floral tastes arrive and lasts throughout the duration of the cup.

This was such a pleasurable experience – it’s easy to be taken by surprise with this coffee; however, don’t let it confuse you. Let the element of surprise share an all too intriguing melody with you. Experience this coffee any day at any time, and your mouth – and heart will smile.

Suggested Preparation: French Press, Coarse Grind

Get to know your BODY: @BaristaOnDutYBaristaOnDutY.com


My Trip to Ethiopia

Home roasting can be fun, and you can experience the joy of fresh roasted coffee every day! I will teach you the equipment you can use, information about various coffee regions, and yes…that aficionado terminology.

So this video is split in two (sorry, it’s 15 mins and I can’t have more than 10 mins on YouTube). Anyhoo, here is the second video – chaff & bagging your fresh roast.

When roasting, it is very important to have the proper equipment, store the coffee immediately, and let it rest to experience its best characteristics! In about 5 to 15 minutes, you will be done with a full bag of coffee – enjoy! Great coffee moments start at home!

HELPFUL TERMS

Green Coffee/Green Beans: The green or yellow colored coffee seed of the harvested fruit. The appearance of coffee prior to roasting.

Dry Processed: The unwashed or natural coffee, the original method of processing coffee. Fruit is picked from the tree, hand sorted for ripe, unripe, and defective beans, then laid to dry in the sun or on raised screens. Dry processed coffees generally have more body, less acidity, and more rustic flavors. Refer to my other post about the fruit of the tree.

First Crack: At this stage, coffee becomes acceptable to drink.  Occurs between 390 and 410 degrees F. Has a very loud cracking or popping sound. Rapid expansion of the coffee seed, water and CO2 fracture leading to the liberation of moisture from the coffee in the form of steam. Roast levels: City & City+

Second Crack: Faster, more shallow cracking. Occurs around 440 to 450 degrees F. Cellular matrix of bean begins to break down resulting in the emergence of oils to the surface of the bean. Roast Levels: Full City (on the verge of 2nd crack), Full City+, Vienna/Light French (and no, French Roast is NOT a flavor!)

Degassing: Also known as resting. Immediately after roast, coffee emits CO2 in large amounts and prevents water infusion or good extraction (ie, it hurts your brew, and it just won’t taste as good). Letting it rest for about 12 to 24 hours allows you to experience coffee’s best qualities and characteristics at its prime.

Click here for more info on the different roast levels!

Helpful Links & Roasting Tools

Sweet Marias


Top 5 Things You MUST Know About Coffee: Part One

FACT 1: Discovery

The Kaffa Region in Ethiopia (formerly Abyssinia – see map below) is the birthplace of coffee (genus caffea). Legend has it that an Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi discovered his goats dancing joyously after eating berries from a green shrub. He tested the cherries himself, then ran to the local monastery to share them with Monks who at first despised it. In its earliest existence (circa 6th century), it was used by Monks to stay awake during prayers, was used as a medicinal herb, and eventually made its way around the world to become the basis for the early coffee houses where stimulating intellectual conversations took place amongst incredible entertainment. Thousands of feet high into the tropical regions, the drink can be traced back to a coffee tree which produces red or purple cherries/berries (in some cases yellow or orange). The cherries usually produce two seeds (beans). A special type of seed/bean called a Peaberry occurs when the seed does not split, and only one bean per cherry is produced. Smaller and more round in comparison to the “normal” coffee bean, this bean has intense explosion of flavor and is highly sought after.

Birthplace of Coffee

Birthplace of Coffee

 

Coffee Tree, Cherries and Beans, Description

Coffee Tree, Cherries and Beans, Breakdown

 

FACT 2: Species and Use

There are several species of coffea; the two most well known species are caffea arabica (arabica) and caffea canephora (robusta). Here are a few quick facts:

Caffea Arabica

  • Trees usually produce cherries for as long as 60 years (in some cases up to 100!)
  • Require substantial amounts of water
  • Cultivated at 1300 to 1500 m altitude (susceptible to cold/freezing temperatures)
  • Nine months to ripen (Takes roughly 7 years to completely mature)
  • More desirable taste characteristices (about 1/2 the caffeine content as robusta)
 
Unroasted and Roasted Caffea Arabica Beans

Unroasted and Roasted Caffea Arabica Beans

Arabica Producing Countries: Ethiopia, Yemen, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Martinique, El Salvador, Guatemala, Hawaii, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Columbia, Peru, Bolivia, Guyana, Paraguay. 

Caffea Canephora (robusta)

  • Trees usually mature within three years
  • Can withstand and tolerate environmental conditions better than arabica
  • Used in espresso blends to achieve both crema (see pic) and the desired heightened pungency on the palate
  • Vast amount of caffeine content, less desired taste (much cheaper than arabica), generally used to make instant coffee
Unroasted and Roasted Canephora (Robusta) Beans

Unroasted and Roasted Canephora (Robusta) Beans

Crema

Crema

Robusta Producing Countries: Rwanda, Madagascar, Ivory coast, Uganda, Java, Bali, Sulawesi, Borneo, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sri Lanka, Angola, Vietnam, Timor.

Countries that Produce Both Arabica and Robusta: Brazil and India

Next Week’s Blog: The Top Five Things You Must Know About Coffee: Part Two

References:

Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed Our World – Mark Pendergrast

Coffee – A Guide to Buying, Brewing, AND Enjoying, 5th Edition – Kenneth Davids


What Constitutes Good Coffee??

I recently attended a local art gallery opening. They had the usual hodge podge of food: a few dips here and there, some healthy stuff to quiet the health freaks, and of course, coffee. I watched as everyone hovered around the coffee bar, one guy nervously spilling it all over the counter top. I approached the bar, poured a little coffee for myself, and waited for it to cool down. When I finally got the chance to drink some, the only thought in my mind was that it tasted like brewed cardboard water. Everyone else was seemingly enjoying it, constantly revisiting the coffee bar for a warm up. I pretended to sip on so as not to “be rude,” and as my eyes wandered the room, I caught a glimpse of a woman in a gold party dress that was over-adorned with sequins and glitter – way too much for her petite frame. At that moment, I thought to myself: “Is this what coffee has become? Over-adorned with a mess of ‘stuff’ we think looks good, but actually tarnishes the beauty of what’s underneath?”

This brought me to a question, which has been toiled over for years: What constitutes good coffee? Is it good for only satisfying our morning jolt? Or is it only good for awakening us to break us from the afternoon’s robotic work patterns?

We yearn for good food, to be cultured, artistic, entertained, and to be “in the know…” But has our taste for good coffee fallen by the wayside? Why do we even drink it? To socialize with friends? To talk about how many espresso shots we had stuffed into one drink (that ended up giving us the jitters for the next two days straight)?

Or is it only good by a coffee connoisseur’s suggestive dialogue? Terminology and recommendations forced upon us, and like human nature we rebel and do exactly what we want anyway, too afraid to try something new.

Coffee doesn’t have to be crammed with unnatural flavor for it to be enjoyed; and it doesn’t have to be sans milk and sugar or “under-brewed” either. But shouldn’t it have its own character and elegant flavor, not something we’ve forced it to be? Example – Ethiopia: Naturally sweet coffee, it can have honeyed tastes, chocolate undertones, and may even be loaded with berries. Sometimes I take it black, sometimes with a little sugar. Example – Café au lait: historically prepared with steamed milk, mostly tastes like toasted nuts, the coffee most likely from Brazil or Nicaragua, somewhere conducive of a great espresso blend. Genuinely good stuff.

We are feel good people and some brands of coffee know how to tap into that human element. SBUX… As people, we have always demanded better coffee, but without knowing the true element of “better coffee,” it was defined for us and excited us enough to buy fancy machines and syrups, host parties, collect art, all in good efforts to make it good just like SBUX taught us. Coffee can still induce good friendships, family, conversations, fun… The cup itself can truly be a lively experience that compliments our relationships, conversations and friends, but it doesn’t have to be completely empty or over-adorned with postiche beauty.

And while Starbucks isn’t exactly the devil, we as consumers have managed to demand a beautifully wrapped package. Starbucks has answered the call and has assessed our aesthetic needs by dazzling us with tasty syrups and whipped cream. We’ve allowed ourselves to become drawn to the package without appreciating the beauty of the cup underneath all the wrapping…

Black Is Beautiful…


Ethiopia’s Dictator Revokes Coffee Licenses of Major Exporters

Ethiopia’s dictator revokes coffee licenses of major exporters

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (APA) – Ethiopia’s dictatorial regime led by accused war criminal Meles Zenawi on Wednesday revoked the coffee export licenses for six major export companies and shut down another 88 coffee supplier unions with warehouses stocked with coffee.

The decision was made after the government accused a number of exporters and coffee suppliers of hoarding.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development also revoked the international coffee standard certification for the six companies.

“These companies cause big economic damage to the country which has resulted in the decline of the country’s coffee earnings this year,” said the ministry.

The major exporters of Ethiopian coffee affected by the decision are Mulege, S. Sara, Legesse Sherefa and Kemal Abdela.

The dispute between the government and the coffee exporters started when Ethiopia introduced last year a new electronic commodity exchange.

The Ethiopian Commodity Exchange was set up to replace a murky auction system that was often abused by market players.

Some exporters have been reluctant to sell their beans through the country\’s new electronic commodity exchange which began trading in December, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told parliament last week where he urged the exporters to immediately start selling their stocks. The ministry accused the exporters and coffee suppliers union of creating the coffee shortage in the local market, resulting in price increase in the country in the past few weeks.

Coffee accounted for about 60 percent of Ethiopia’s foreign exchange revenue in the 2007/2008 season when Ethiopia earned more than $525 million from exporting 170,888 tones of Arabica coffee.

Ethiopia, the birth place of coffee, is Africa\’s biggest coffee producer.

Some 15 million smallholder farmers grow coffee in Ethiopia, mostly in the misty forested highlands of its western and southwestern regions.

COFFEE-TRADE SWITCH IN ETHIOPIA DISAPPOINTS IMPORTERS

U.S. coffee importers and roasters are worried that a new auction system in Ethiopia makes it almost impossible for them to buy coffee from the particular farmers whose beans they want.

Seattle Times business reporter

U.S. coffee importers and roasters are worried that a new auction system in Ethiopia makes it almost impossible for them to buy coffee from the particular farmers whose beans they want.

The system, overseen by the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, mixes coffee beans from different growers before selling them for export.

That’s a big deal to specialty roasters who prefer beans from certain growers and processors, and sometimes have worked with them to improve quality.

During a visit to the Ethiopian exchange in February, one Seattle coffee importer became concerned about how the new system would work.

“We spent a whole day going through the phases of grief — anger, denial and acceptance — just trying to get our arms around what’s going on,” said Craig Holt, owner of Atlas Coffee Importers.

The new auction system and its implications are poorly understood, Holt and others said.

What they know for sure is that they’re unable to order many of the coffees they want.

Some have had trouble getting any coffee from Ethiopia, although it is not clear whether the new auction system is to blame.

Royal Coffee, an importer based in Oakland, Calif., has not received shipments from Ethiopia that ordinarily would have arrived by now.

“There seems to be a wrench in the gears,” president Robert Fulmer wrote on the company’s blog. “To say there is confusion and chaos in Ethiopia is an understatement.”

Last week, Ethiopia closed the warehouses of six of its largest exporters, accusing them of hoarding coffee and contributing to a shortage of foreign currency.

Bloomberg reported on Thursday that the government plans to start exporting beans itself.

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The changes haven’t affected Starbucks, a spokeswoman said. The company buys coffee through the exchange and from cooperative unions and estates, which are allowed to sell directly.

The U.S. imports 12 to 15 million pounds of Ethiopian coffee annually, less than 5 percent of that nation’s total coffee exports. Japan is the largest importer of Ethiopian coffee, taking about 66 million pounds a year, according to the Specialty Coffee Association of America.

Ethiopia’s new exchange estimates that specialty coffee, which is high-end coffee for which consumers pay a premium, represents about 3.7 percent of its coffee exports. Specialty coffee includes coffee bought by importers and roasters who have relationships with certain coffee growers.

The exchange said in a December paper on specialty coffee that it can hone its contract specifications to reflect geographic criteria and other refinements. For further traceability, “the direct channel by which growers can directly export coffee can be used,” the paper said.

Victrola Coffee Roasters in Seattle is among those counting on it.

Coffee buyer and head roaster Perry Hook is excited about a shipment of 2008 Ethiopia Natural Yirgacheffe Beloya beans that he just bought from the importer Ninety Plus Coffee.

He doesn’t have much hope of getting anything so specialized from this year’s crop.

“We’ll still buy Ethiopian coffee, because they have some of the best coffee in the world,” Hook said. “It’s the specialty ones that can be tied back to specific producing areas and handled in specific ways that we’re not going to get [this year]. We’re just going to hope something happens down the road and that in 2010 we can get these kinds of coffee again.”

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com