Wednesday, April 20, 2005

And then there was a lot to read (but not from us)

Ok, so apologies to Tonx for leaving his shamefully drunken photo as the lead post for the past week. Why haven't we changes it? Well that's because all those lazy bloggers that we were complaining about finally shook off their hangovers and sat down at their keyboards again.

Some good ones:
Tonx took our complaints to heart and set about working on several posts for the new and improved Victrola site.

Ms. Elkins at bccy

Chris from Stumptown has had several posts about SCAA related activities at his God Shot blog. Mind you that these are a little more for the insiders, but y'all might find it interesting. I think after that last series of posts, we should create a drinking game where one has to imbibe of the drink that he mentions in order until either passing out or throwing up.

Then the guys at Gimme! had so much fun they're perpetually Touching Down in Seattle.

Then JimmyO in Saskatoon! also has a pretty awesome collection of notes and articles on his espressolab.

All these are interesting, but please read Tom's account on SweetMaria's site as found by Cabby.

Ok, and then there was coffee drinking.

Our friend Larry, who has probably done more in the way of far and wide proselytizing for the BBCC than any of the actual employees. Last weeks mission sent him to Vancouver BC. Yes while all those Canadians were away from the nest Larry swept into town with little informational booklets and 15-minute videos for everyone. He also brought some contraband back.

The first was from a roaster called JJ Bean. They have a few stores around Vancouver. We had not really heard too much about them before, and Ambassador Larry tells us they knew very little about us so there. The espresso that Larry returned with goes by the name Nero Forte.

JJ Bean Nero Forte

JJ Bean Nero Forte vs. BBCC Hayes Valley Espresso

The beans were more motley in color than ours, if that means anything. Their packaging was quite nice and provided several minutes of good reading. The best part was their ten commandments for good coffee and they seemed ripped right from the BBCC gospel.
(ed. note: why must we always speak about coffee in religious terms?)

And then there was the actual shot:
JJ Bean Nero Forte Shot

Boyman and Manboy took some samples at the end of their shift. There was some cleaning and tweaking but slowly things came together. At a longer extraction time, (29 sec) Manboy thought that the front end made more sense. At faster times the flavor had been unbalanced and a little citrusy, actually a lot citrusy. A bite of lime after a shot of top shelf tequila. But that citrus calmed down and transformed into a sweeter, fruitier flavor. And what was that African we smelled during the grinding? Sidamo? Harrar?

We unfortunately ran through the bag pretty quickly. Otherwise cooler temps might have been the way to go.

The next item of Larry's smuggling operation was from what he called the "local organic market." It's unclear whether there is a dedicated shop but it would appear that you can get this coffee all over Canada. With a name like Ethical Bean, you'd think the Berkeley would try and pass another resolution to make everyone in town serve just this coffee. Maybe they haven't heard of it?

Ethical Bean

Ethical Bean Espresso vs. BBCC Hayes Valley

According to their site, the espresso, which is 100% Fair Trade blend tastes like "A multi-dimensional, full-bodied velvet slipper for your tongue. A stand-up straight shot. Marries beautifully with milk."

Ethical Shot

Well, perhaps that's true in Canada, but the first aroma we got was of Black licorice. And after several attempts we realized that this coffee NEEDED to be pulled longer in order to get any of that sweetness out. The roast tasted quite dark although the bean appearance wasn't telling the creama was weak and blonde. Anybody have any ideas?

thanks for listening.

Oh, and those kooky kids at Ritual Coffee Roasters are getting close so everyone should bum rush the cafe now so that they can say "I knew them when..."


Blogger chris said...

from your description of the Ethical Bean coffee (beans and taste) i would suggest decreasing your brew temp and, if you're using a triple basket i'd ditch it for a double in this case. you need a lighter dose and lower temp.

8:41 PM  
Blogger gabriel said...

yo. you guys rock. I had a macchiatto at Hayes and it was fantastic.
I am the head barista for Pacific Bay Coffee and I wanted to give you mad props.

seriously folks, these clowns got talent.

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Two things:

1-It was with disappointment that I read the Ethical
Bean espresso didn’t perform particularly well during
its debut at the BBCC.
As a passionate espresso aficionado much like
yourselves, who more to the point, played a role in the
blending and roasting of the special contents in the
EB bag, I too always hope for great things in the cup.
To taste something less is always a let down. If our
blend didn’t deliver, for that I am sorry. We
continue to be a work in progress, as do our blends.
As I’m sure you know, the ebb and flow nature of green
coffee creates unique challenges for a roaster and
ensures that the only constant is change.
If you would consider auditioning another bag of our
espresso at some point in the future, taking another
snap shot of where we are in the continuum, we’d be
thrilled to ship you a sample. Please let us know.

2-You allude to the brewing commandments on the JJ
Bean bag as being close, almost “too” close, to
something that you had written yourselves. As the
original author of those points you see on the bag
(they have since been tweaked, not necessarily to my
liking but whatever, the core remains the same) it
burns me a little bit that you would suggest as much.
They were written about 7 years ago.
BBCC seems to have
sprouted around about 3 years ago. It’s a small thing
but I’m sure you wouldn’t take kindly to the
suggestion that something you’ve written looks
suspiciously like it was ripped from someone else.

Love the blog and look forward to reading more. I
also look forward to making your acquaintance. From
the pictures on your blog we know many of the same

Kindest regards,


9:25 AM  
Anonymous Boyman said...

Aaron, or to anybody that knows how to get ahold of Aaron...

I'm a little worried that the review of the Ethical Bean might have rubbed you the wrong way. As you know from the blog, we sample espresso from all over and by no means consider ourselves the arbiter of what good coffee should taste like.

With the EB, we really had nothing to go on as far as shot times and temps so we were operating blindly with an unfamiliar blend. Sometimes we can make it work, sometimes not. If you have any pointers as to what you think the shots should look or taste like we'd appreciate the feedback.

Also the in regards to the JJ Bean comment, reading back, perhaps our use of the word "ripped" was a little strong. If anything it was trying to demonstrate that we share a love of freshness and good humor in the preparation of coffee. There was honestly no intention of impugning JJ Beans literature, especially since, as you pointed out, they are a much older company.

Sorry to disappoint

10:44 AM  
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3:40 AM  

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