Saturday, April 23, 2005

But before we go...

This will be the last post for a week or so, but let's take a moment to talk about the day.

The weather was supposed to be bad so Boyman and Manboy loaded the van with an intentional slowness, wanting to stay nestled in the warmth of the roaster. And they were rewarded with heavy winds blowing the E-Z up all over the place and souring our attitudes.

On the upside, the boys were saved from the constant barrage of "Are you open yet?" and "Can I just get a latte?" Instead, they grimaced against the cold and worked to get the flames going on the machines.

But once it started it was hard to separate this Saturday apart from any other except that it was ALL espresso drinks for most of the morning.

Things went surprisingly well for what we thought would be a terrible day. Even the customers were pretty nice despite Boyman's cranky tude. Oh, and if you can convince Manboy that you haven't ever had a shot of espresso before, there's precedence that he'll treat you. Of course it wouldn't hurt to be a cute blonde girl, but it might be worth the try.

The Ritual Coffee kids even showed up and ordered a round of drinks and tortured Manboy from their spot in line. They even brought down Stumptown's Steven Vick who got a shot in some plastic/stainless shotglass undoubtedly acquired at the SCAA. Showoffs.

Boyman poured milk under Vick's watchful eye and hopefully held his own.

And even though it was a weird day that certainly didn't run as smoothly as others, there was very few problems. "Golden Chum Bucket" award goes to Pilot for sending us to the city with two almost empty propane tanks, but really even that wasn't too traumatic.

Thanks y'all, we'll see you next week! Meanwhile, buy coffee.

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..."

Monday, April 18, 2005

waiting..and waiting...

...for those lazy bloggers to put down their beers and coffees in order to let the rest of the world know what the hell has been happening in Seattle.

"hey wasssup? Iss me, Tonxth. I been drinkin coffeeth all day and nathin tathes bettr than a nice cuppa beer or somfin. Has anybody seen my camera? Oh I donn feel so good... I juss work on my blog tomorrow affer my headache goes away. Anybuddy wanna risstretto? I got your ristresso right here! hehehe..."

In the mean time, we here at the BBCC have been busy making coffee and selling it to customers. This weekend marked another record for us at Hayes and at the Berkeley Saturday Market. This weeks belated "Golden Chum-Bucket Award" goes to the Hug's stalker who has been relentless in his phone assault. God Bless the Hug, cause who wants to deal with that?

But speaking of obnoxious, today in Hayes Valley, a guy that look like he came straight from a SCAA party with Tonx and asked for a 75-cent cuppa coffee after pestering some folks across the street with a fuzzy spider that looked like it had been constructed out of over-sized pipe cleaners.. When rebuffed by Boyman, mostly for his drunkenness, he was told to "individually cram this spider up" his a**.

Be sure to catch the other side of this hilarious encounter at bummin' Wow.

Meanwhile check out these links that will actually work:
Here, here and here.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


As it would seem

Since every other coffee blogger and their mother is up in Seattle right now, the BBCC would like to scoop them all on a local development. Not that they would be able to cover it anyway but we have to make ourselves feel good somehow.

Our good friends and soon-to-be fierce competitors at Ritual Coffee Roasters have finally got their machine installed, thanks largely to Ken from Stumptown. (Shoulda busted him with a hammer while we had the chance.) They are sporting a brand spankin' FB-70 complete with three groups and steamwands and everything!

Not that we don't love our modified Linea, but all that red...
The Mercedes

So his shortness, (Mr. I can do 20 pull-ups but need a chair to reach the bar) Jeremy was very excited to finally start pulling shots on his "just my size" bar. Eileen meanwhile was sipping shot and pulling her own and it was all smiles and them people started coming in and what a commotion!

Kiss it goodbye
Eyeball and Shorty J

This was an excellent opportunity to taste the Hairbender in a more appropriate context. And what a difference a machine makes. Or maybe it was the filter basket. Or the monster tamp that Jeremy lays down. Whatever. These shots were so damn fantastic. Just ask Eileen.


Really, these are some of the coolest people and they really don't take themselves seriously. And neither do we.

Except that pull-up thing.

Short jokes are all we got.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Blog bomb (sorry!)

"So did you go to coffee school or what?"- Whitney, student. An almost daily drinker of the drip after seeing the BBCC photo setup.

Ah, so as we said, this will be a monster post. If you are coffee nerd approved or are one of those people who just adore people's on-line slide shows then please read on. Otherwise, you've been warned.

We should start at the beginning which really reaches back a couple of weeks. See while Boyman was cavorting in the Northwest, he was reminded of a fella that works for Stumptown Roasters named Chris Tacy. Chris had been a resident of California until recently when the PDX crew made him an offer that he couldn't refuse.

Chris is also a prolific blogger and that's really where BBCC got to know the guy.

So you can imagine the giddy feelings when the man himself sent along word that he would be passing through our fair Bay City to celebrate his birthday. He promised coffee. He promised validation. We almost cried.

And there we were, halfway through a rather confusing argument with a would-be barista who was trying in vain to chide the BBCC for throwing away leftover steamed milk (which (to use the Faulknerian parenthetical) was not only laughable but frustrating as we were trying to make drinks and simultaneously defend our chum bucket to some waste-hater (who is hereby named last weeks' Golden Chum Bucket Winner!) who James finally trumped by saying, "It's like peeling a latte.") when Chris Tacy steps in to correct our mispronunciation of this years USBC's name. Chris not only cleared things up, but also saved us from having to carry on with the asinine. (Really, what are we going to do with 2 gallons of left over steamed milk? And since when is there a milk shortage!) Whew.

So, hands a trembling, we poured a macchiato for his companion Valerie and then a shot for Chris. He was very sweet and awestruck by our outdoor operation. Yes, there's weather and tourists and a Chicken truck with it's very own screaming Swiss salesman, but we pull shots and some of them even taste good.

But the Saturday at the Ferry building is no place for conversation so we excused ourselves and Chris went off to hang out in Yountville while we ate leftover chicken scraps with our fingers while driving across the bridge.

But the next morning, part-way through a rush of regulars at the kiosk, Chris and Valerie showed up again. They order their shots and then two seconds later Andrew Barnett from Ecco Caffè shows up and it’s right about then that Boyman really starts to sweat.

And while he was cursing the grinders for their fickleness, along comes the third wave of pressure in Keith Hamrick (who is starting up a new place called Northbound), our roaster buddy from Shasta. Now Chris and Andrew and their companions have that quiet pressure. Keith and his companion on the other hand looked like they needed coffee and weren't about to wait for no grinder to figure itself out.

What does a barista do when presented with so many coffee geeks all at once?

You sick them on one another.

After introductions the name dropping and cupping comparisons begun giving Boyman room enough to breathe. The shots eventually worked out. Chris tasted and when prodded, provided the politic answer, “Let me show you something.”

That something was really a something. It was a tamp style that he attributed to a particular fella in Australia(?) and what a difference. See that’s what’s so cool about the folks at Stumptown, they have this laboratory mentality and are really cool about sharing information. Information and coffee and Chris dropped off three pounds of beans for us to play around with. We’ll get to that in a minute.

To round out our little coffee summit, Eileen from Ritual Coffee (soontobe) Roasters and how surprising it was that all of San Francisco didn’t crumble to it’s foundations for all the coffee knowledge convening in one place.

(l-r) Eileen Hassi (Ritual), Boyman (BBCC), Keith Hamrick (Northbound), Andrew Barnett (Ecco Caffè), Chris Tacy (Stumptown), Valerie and Terry. The dogs name is a mystery. Chris’ injury came from fighting about the bill at French Laundry. I guess those French guys are pretty rough.

But let’s move on to the coffees!

We’ve been amassing quite a stockpile over the last week and had been waiting for the opportunity to taste, taste, taste.

The first cadidates come all the way from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. See we had tried the Doma espressos a couple of weeks ago with what we could steal from the kids at Victrola, but I guess they decided that we needed some of our own.

Using Chris’ rad new technique, and shooting for the temp and time specs that Terry from Doma emailed us, the BBCC popped out some of shots of the Doma. They have fancier machinery, but we thought we could match’em.

After employing the palate of long time BBC enthusiast Larry, to help in the tasting, we turned down the machine to 196 and shot some of Ruby’s Organic Espresso in about 24 seconds.

Doma Ruby's Organic Espresso vs. BBCC Hayes Valley
Doma's Ruby and the HVE

Doma Ruby's Organic
The shot

By the time we were pouring this coffee, it had aged some but you wouldn’t have been able to tell from the creama. Whether the creama bombs could be tied to the dosing or the degassing is uncertain. Larry had tried some of the batch we had brought down from Seattle on his own machine (Sylvia) and said that is had tasted quite different in his home, and the shot Boyman had had at Victrola had been sweet and fuity, while the shot at the kiosk was brighter and a little snappy.

Turning the machine back up to 202, and pouring out at 32sec, the Vito's Espresso made a strong showing with a robust COFFEE flavor.
Doma Vito's Espresso vs. BBCC Hayes Valley
Doma's Viot and the HVE

Doma Vito's Espresso shot
The shot

The shot was very mild with a smoooooth finish. Though we couldn't wish anything else on it, we were lamenting the fact that we hadn't gotten to it fresher.

Chris Tacy had brought us three different coffees from Stumptown and had suggested shooting them all. We started with their flagship espresso Hairbender.

You might be getting sick of this story, but months ago Manboy and Boyman had shared a moment over several shots of the Hairbender back at the roaster. But ever since we've totally failed at making the Hairbender taste like it should. Chris had spelled out their shot specs, but we didn't have the requisite double baskets. This being said, our expectaions were not oo high. We know the guys at Stumptown are very particular and though our experiments are fun and all, we relize that the kiosk is far from perfect lab conditions.

We set the PID to 202 and poured three shots in a row of the Hairbender, all at around 23 seconds. The first and the last were, what Larry coined, "minerally." At first the BBCC though Larry had been huffing some poly-urethane, but then we figured it out. Minerally, you know, like that taste you hated as a kid in mineral water. The second (just right) shot was a trip through the land of fruit and honey before rolling into some sweet pillow-y smoothness.

They also sent along a couple of single origins that we wanted to shoot.

The first was a Rwandan Karaba. Boyman had tried a couple of Rwandans in Seattle at Victrola, and there had been a surpeising sweetness to those samples. Chock it up to technical difficulties, but the BBCC had the hardest time getting this bag to do what those others had done.

Stumptown Rwanda Karaba

Stumptown Rwanda Karaba vs. BBCC Hayes Valley Espresso
The Karaba besides the HVE

Stumptown Rwanda Karaba Origin Shot
The shot

Two folks that helped with the later tastings, (Tadco and DGardner Heather) were a little weirded out by the Rwanda. They got each other going about how it smelled in the bag and in cup like BBQ. Ummm. Well that was what they said. The Rwanda will have to wait for better preparation.

The Nicaraguan Miraflor however was outstanding as a shot. We pulled it a little longer (32 sec) and dropped the temp a bit. The first shots went to the memory of the crust of fresh baked white bread while others were sweet like Brazil nuts. Very interesting.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters Nicaraguan Miraflor

Stumptown Nicaraguan Miraflor vs. BBCC Hayes Valley Espresso
Nic vs. the HVE

Stumptown Nicaraguan Miraflor Origin shot
The Shot

Onto the Gimme!
Back up to 204 and at around 26 seconds, the Leftist
Gimme! Lefist

Gimme! Leftist vs. BBCC Hayes Valley Espresso
Leftist (on the left) and the HVE

Gimme! Leftist Shot
The shot

Larry had had this one in New York when he was there, but this is the first the BBCC has had because they apparently are always sold out. (or so Larry says.) Gimme!'s discriptions are creepy right on so if you don't want your tasters tainted, then wait to read the bag until after you've had your shot. This is the darkest of the coffees we tasted, and the smell of the beans... lets say smokey doesn't quite cut it. The smells, the flavors reminded Boyman of the shot he had recenly at D'arte in Seattle. Woodsmoke and carmelized-nuts. Rich and chocolate-y and not in that for-lack-of-a-better-adjective chocolate but the actual deep, sweet and brown. New Orleans iced without the milk. BBCC did one with a robusta a while ago, and really, that's the closest we got. This is one people should try, if only for the experience of a well-done darker espresso.

The BBCC has been in contact with Kevin back in New York about the Gimme! setup and we've been trading stories about coffee machines. You know, shop talk. Gimme! has about the coolest thing in the world right now and if the BBC were any where Ithica you know we'd steal that trailer in a heartbeat. But in other acts of sweetness, their Mexican coffee known to us as the Medium Malinal was something else. BBC had played with shots of our Chiapas some time ago, but the sweetness and fruit in those shots was nothing compared to the Malinal. Think strawberries and cream, think ripe cherry milkshake, think PEZ. So good, so sweet, you could have a hard time calling this coffee.

Gimme! Medium Malinal

Gimme! Medium Malinal vs. BBCC Hayes Valley Espresso
The Malinal and the HVE

Gimme! Medium Malinal Origin Shot
The shot

Sunday, April 10, 2005

What happened?

Sorry guys. We broke the blog. Hopefully it's fixed. Sorry.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Slacker style

Sorry team, the BBCC has been hard at work on a monster post about coffee. We'll be back after these messages from our sponsors.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Name our pigeons!

Let's start of this entry with a little contest. See across the street from the kiosk is a rather new apartment structure. Someone decided that the pigeons that inhabit the area were not welcome on this particular building, and so they installed a plastic owl to act as a deterrent to any avian domestic intentions.

The owl, much to someone's dissatisfaction, didn't work.

The Pigeon on the Owl

In fact, this fellow and his lady live in the hole to the upper left, so the owl's head serves as a nice step up into their bird bungalow.

Here's the contest part. We need to name our little love birds. There is a he and a she and then there is the plastic owl. Best names, appropriate to the situation, will get a free pound of coffee from Boyman.

For those of you who don't have the pleasure of the kiosk in the mornings, the pigeons are just an example of the natural beauty that awaits us every day. There are some wonderful things on the alley, and they're just waiting for your visit.

Par example:
tazi card
Tazi Designs is up and running in the 333 Linden space within throwing distance from the kiosk. Tazi, of course, is the one responsible for our beautiful mosaic tables. This weekend will be an official opening of sorts for Tazi's space, and to celebrate he is offering some of his wares at a reduced rate. It's called a sale. If you're at all impressed with his stuff, as we are, then run on down the alley to see what he has to offer. The sale will run throughout the weekend and there will be wine and music and tea and Tazi so you really don't want to miss it.

Other good things on the alley include the new portafilter block that was designed by none other than Tadco himself.

Portafilter block
Portafilter block

See, we here at the BBCC have decided to take the little split-spout that usually divides a shot of espresso into two streams off the bottom of our portafilters. We first utilized this routine on the Astoria because it allowed us to fit the cups directly under the pour spout. While this is good, tamping and cleanliness have become issues. We figured that a support would help level the tamp, as well as give us better positioning so to avoid injury. Other styles have been done in plastic, but how many have you seen in walnut?

We'll keep you posted on this one.

The BBCC has been promised a duel visit this weekend from a couple of West Coast Coffee Celebrities, so we'll keep you posted on that too.

For Celeste