R.I.P. Coffee Common

Today’s formal announcement of the dissolving of Coffee Common made me want to resurrect this blog to post a few thoughts on the impact CC has had on me.

As nerdy / fanboy as this sounds, it was one of my dreams to be able to participate in an event like Coffee Common, and I was fortunate enough to have been selected as a barista for CC x TED 2012 in Long Beach. Through CC I was able to meet incredible baristas / coffee people from around the globe who all have and continue to inspire me. I was able to enjoy coffees from Roasters I may not have ever experienced, and had the pleasure of introducing others to these same coffees.

But the biggest thing Coffee Common taught me was the importance of Discovery & Wonder, and this came in the form of story telling. At CC, we were encouraged to make telling the stories of our coffees a priority. In our industry, we are privileged to work with coffees that are completely traceable, and with this traceability surfaces the honest, real-life stories of the human-beings behind each coffee. These stories are amazing and the incredible interactions I had reinvigorated how important they are in engaging not only customers, but us as coffee people.

Finally there was the sense of community. People were pretty floored when we told them that we were actually from different cafes and roasteries from around the world and would ‘normally’ be considered competitors but were all united in our passion and love for providing an amazing coffee experience. We have an incredible global community in coffee that is actually very tight knit. I strive to take this into my own community and develop the coffee scene closer.

Coffee Common was and will be one of the absolute highlights of my coffee career, and I thank the Coffee Common committee, fellow baristas, sponsors and roasters who sacrificed so much to make it happen. The friends I made, the experiences and interactions I had inspired me in so many ways.  And I guess you can see the impact a concept like Coffee Common has had. While Coffee Common has formally finished, you see so many CC like events and ideas spreading around the world, which I think shows a goal accomplished by CC.

Thanks Coffee Common for everything!



The double riz jiz

I’ve been on unintentional hiatus from this blog and Jeremy has simply stopped giving a care but I had a bit of a coffee centered week that got me a bit excited. Here’s a post that has been brewing (heh, clever) for a little while. It will address the love affair, or #JIMP over ristretto coffees and my reasons against this style of coffee that has a high prevalence in Brisbane.

1) it is a cop out for the Barista

I’m guilty of this often. pulling ristretto coffee is essentially idiot proof when you factor in the technology of coffee today. there is a large margin of
error in the extraction process and leads to lowered Barista attention to detail and ability.
From personal experience:
individual variables hold very little influence when you have such a high soluble ratio. Subtle changes in temperature setting result in insignificant difference in cup. subtle changes in grind result in insignificant changes in cup. Finally (believe it or not) the extraction rate is so slow that subtle changes in shot time, or length result in minimal variation.

in summary ristretto is a safe mode that diminishes necessary Barista involvement. (if you disagree and think that there is skill involved in pulling ristretto then maybe you should reexamine your Barista skill set)

2) injustice to specialty coffee and
estate coffee

Most new coffee shops will call themselves specialty (another issue for another time) therefore need to showcase their coffees. Being a Barista has taught me many things about coffee and one of my earliest lessons was the variety of nuances that are associated with terroir and origin. these nuances demand solid roasting and precise extraction that falls in the range of espresso normale rather than ristretto. So why pull ristretto and miss out on all the complexity?

sidebar: in Australia coffee drinkers love body. but implore that there is an inherent difference in body due
to the attribute of the coffee and false body due to extraction method

3) ristretto may be cool, but won’t help you in competition


Poll and Christmas

1) Our very first poll seems to have been a failure. We know that our blog is loved by many but reader participation has been atrocious. In an attempt to spice things up we put a “What is your favourite tag” poll which ALSO miserably failed.
What is your favourite tag? inconclusive

2) We had a Phil & Seb staff Christmas party yesterday and many people with awesome talents. Jeremy and I have no special talents so we decided to some palettetraining crap and pass it off as a “talent”. It is being uploaded right now. Enjoy

Where does the 18-22% rule come from?

Mr @OhYmerej, you asked for it, and now you got it.

First of all, every piece of information comes from this site because I neither possess the knowledge wizardry of this info nor the expensive, expensive technology needed to take part in the wizardry.

One day Jeremy wondered….”where does the 18-22% rule come from mike?”

The only thing that I knew at the time was that in regards to girls, the 18-22 rule not only rocks, it is also very, very legal (eat that statutory….). As to how it relates to coffee….I didn’t really know. So I took to my friend google and searched….

To summarize, the 18-22% extraction means the percentage of solubles that are extracted out of the beans. Extract too little and you get underdeveloped flavour (typically a sour or green taste). Extract too much and you get overextracted (or bitter) tasting coffee.

Who do these figure pertain to?

The average American coffee palate ~1960s taken by survey.

Brew strength is also important and can be measured by TDS, total dissolved solids which in the same study is determined to be 1.15-1.35%.

How much does all this matter? I dunno, I wish I could just experiment all day with all of those expensive equipments but unfortunately I’m not enough of a coffee celebrity to have that opportunity. All I know is that the coffee that is being served by me on the Slayer on Saturdays probably do not adhere to those rules. I still think that coffee does taste good outside those parameters and probably has something to do with the way that coffee technology has changed. (More about the Slayer/pressure profiling experience will be discussed in the upcoming week)