Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Chum Bucket, and Gimme! Coffee Pt. 1

Saturday went off much as any other. Hayes Valley had Oldman ringing a record day, while Berkeley had both the Hug and PurpleCup braving the rain and selling out of beans. The Ferry Plaza performance featured James on Machine and taking orders, Boyman on milk and anger, and Pilot pumping out cups and cups of drip to the amazement of all.

Since HV is off and going, there has been a marked difference in the attitude of "the line" on Saturdays. Whether that is because those in the know find HV easier to deal with or whether the new clientele are just a little rougher around the edges has yet to be determined. BBC would like to take this opportunity to send out a fair warning to all of you who want to come the Ferry Plaza for a fabulous cup of drip or a lovely latte: You will have to wait. And if you do, we will love you for it.

The fact that most businesses cater to the belief that everyone is in a rush makes the intentional slowness of the market seem an anachronism. Yet, markets all over the world are hugely successful. We just need to work on that dance routine so that people won't notice that they've had to wait in line for a half an hour only to stand for even more time amid the grumbles of their fellow uncaffienated marketeers while the chicken truck bathes them in the smell of rosemary cooked poultry flesh.

Child: "Mommy, look at the funny dancing man with his clarinet!"
Mother: "Yes dear. Those cheerful milk-stained glasses and coffee-covered Carharts make me want to stay here forever...and ever...and ever..."

Either that or Manboy just needs to come back.

And through the rather ingenious addition of a plastic bucket to our load list, (an idea that was originally proposed to our guffaws by Oddjob months back), we've cut our clean-up time in half! Plus there's no milk bog in the sink! Brilliant!

Also, our good friend and Yemen drinker Larry, recently ventured to New York City! to try the coffee and see those funny orange gates in Central Park. While he was there, he followed up on a couple of coffee recommendations of ours and even brought some home!


Gimme! Coffee from Ithaca, (Larry probably only went as far as Brooklyn) serves an excellent espresso by the name of Platinum Blonde that unfortunately didn't taste so excellent in the San Marco back at the roaster some months ago. Thus you can imagine our excitement when that tell-tale "white label on a silver bag" showed up in Hayes Valley. Finally the PID has purpose!


Their roast profile is similar to ours. The Hayes Valley Espresso is on the left and Gimme's Platinum Blonde on the right. Though the image is less than perfect, you can see the slight variation on color. That and the beans they use were significantly larger on the whole. Whole, get it? like whole beans! Ha, coffee humor, it cracks us up! Like roasting, cracks...too much.

Though J had thought that they were serving in Triple Baskets, otherwise known as a-whole-hell-of-a-lotta-coffee, their site prescribes a 21 gram basket, which is what we're using in Hayes. Coffee culture nomenclature. Issa problem.

OK, so we dumped that dirty decaf and got to work.

The first thing was to turn up the temp on the machine. See, when dealing with so many variables, (gram weight, shot times, shot volumes, machine temp, ambient temp, caffeine level of baristo) it's hard to recreate with any certainty the magical brew served back in NY.

We cranked it up to 240, which is really hot. So hot it fact that the group heads hiss out steam and little red men with pitchforks and spade tails peek out and blink at the daylight.

The first shots looked excellent. Jeremy from Ritual was on hand with a couple of buddies to try the shots. This is a guy who drinks the HV daily and is also intimate with Stumptown. His word? "Smooth."


And that pretty much summed it up. It's flavor would be hard to pick apart, and really quite futile. This is the point at which James starts up the "objectifying the subjective" reel of the BBCC tour.

Then again.


This time, the shot was shared with some random Australian fella who actually tasted ours (at 230 as well) and the Blonde back to back. He looked very pleased.

This second shot also poured in about 24sec as opposed to the previous 34sec @ 240 extraction.

Let's just say there was more shots pulled, but the photography became so shaky, we'll have to wait until tomorrow for the conclusion.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Happy First Month to the kiosk!

Oh it seemed like just yesterday you came kicking and screaming into the world of high end furniture and clothing stores, but you made it baby, and just look at you know.

Celebrate the first month down at the kiosk with Manboy. Apparently even James is going to stop by!

But before you leave the comforts of that computer chair, check this out!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Berkeley, the final Frontier

Yes, we've been slacking a little bit. But really the weather has turned a little, well, a little like what you'd expect up in Seattle so, as you can imagine, people want to buy coffee.

And they did.

Boyman took a day off from the Ferry Plaza to venture over to the Berkeley side of things. With their meager set up of a drip bar and bean sales, both the Hug and PurpleCup took advantage of the public need for warm caffeinated beverages in a major way.


See, these ladies have all the charm in the world, so all those Berkeley folk, (who to their credit are less discouraged by a little weather) have a hard time resisting.

The Hug puts together a mean cup.

The secret ingredient, REVEALED!

The doctors say that after the surgery, they might even be ready for the Ferry Plaza. Doesn't that just warm your heart?

So we'll have more adventures of the BBCC in just a few moments so don't touch that URL!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Missing out

For those a little out of the espresso geek circles, there is a big event this weekend up in Geyserville at the Roshambo Winery. The First Western Regional Barista Championships, (i.e. a competition where espresso nerds get to show off their stuff) is being sponsored by Taylor Maid Farms and will feature baristas from all over California.

Alas, the BBCC will not be represented, well because, we had to work.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Red, White and Brown

Something to love about the city in which we work.

Let's just say that New Grinder Burrs will make all the difference.

Got a visit from the guy behind the wheel of the "other" coffee place in Hayes Valley. A shot was poured, there was talk about Mr. Espresso, and hand shakes were exchanged. Just wondering about their designation at best latte in SF...

Also Gabe from All City Coffee (Seattle) stopped by for a very doppianos. He came on the recommendation of Tobasco who works at Spasso over in Oakland (Formerly a Zoka employee?). He stopped by long enough to tell us about the Synesso machine their installing in their new shops. (grr.) Just when you think you got it all figured out and then those guys in the northwest have to out-geek us again. (grr.)

Happy belated VD!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Say Epoisse!

"It's so tough being beautiful. Anyone seen my dog? Oh, wait, there she is. Just lost her amid all this black. "

Last time we talked about the up and coming interest in the Sagan Piechota firm for a possible NYT story... more on that in a minute.

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market was another success despite a rapid change in weather which had possible ill effect on our clients. That means that the morning chill gave way to some serious sun, that means that everyone in town for the weekend decided to come down for the market in a big coat, only to be tricked into an endless line at the cart, which, due to the volume of customers, meant everyone got a free suntan with the purchase of their latte. One would think that when one is hot, a nice, refreshing cup of the New Orleans-Style Iced coffee would hit the spot.
But no, you, your mom, your mom's second cousin and her husband Milt all want a piping hot Non-fat mocha and want it now and I'm from New York, well actually the suburbs, and I don't have to wait in line at Dunkin' Donuts so what the hell is taking so long... It was a little busy. People were cranky.

Pilot stepped in for Manboy and our new regimen will mean that all the kiosk boys will eventually have a Saturday to themselves. Joy!

And speaking of the kiosk, Oldman had originally been slated for NYT exposure, (not his first we're sure) but is wasn't to be. Instead, shots were taken in the interior. Even so, Oldman took the cake of a record day in the Valley, charming the pants off one and all. So attention New Yorkers: If you don't want to wait in line, go to Hayes Valley.

In Berkeley, The Hug (who has somehow eluded mention at the Clown College) took charge along with Purple Cup.

Boyman arrived in Hayes Valley this morning to find the garage door replaced with a wall of plywood! Turns out that while the garage was being hosed out for the imminent photo shoot, the electronic sensor for the door got wet and shorted out. Mr. Sagan, wanting to prevent the children of the night from moving into the garage, quickly erected the wall out of materials from the shop. While that undoubtedly took a forever to construct, a few deft blows with a hammer brought the whole thing down in easily manageable pieces. No wonder the guy has his own firm!

People lined up early but it wasn't long before the photographers showed up to get everything in place. James even showed up with his dog Ivy, just in time to help. With products placed and polygal dropped, it was time to look our best.

The nerves started to set in. James was busy dissolving dog-treats in his sweaty palms. Boyman meanwhile bit his nails. Ivy stared, licking her chops at the promise of sweat-salty treats. We tried to remedy the nerves with coffee. You can guess how that worked out. More Dissolving. More Biting. More Staring. Ahh!

From the kiosk...

It really wasn't that big-a-deal. They had to ask James to stop sticking his butt out so much. (That kind of behavior might work for 7x7 but not here!) A few customers even got shoo-ed out of the way with their drinks, giggling at our awkwardness. Fun!

happy models
Of the kiosk.

Then it was over and things returned to normal. People flowed in and drinks went out at a fairly brisk pace.

Coffee was drunk. Beans were purchased.

Life, it moves on.

Coming soon! Oldman exclusive! Stay tuned!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Chocolate and Kudos

There has been a lot of discussion in the last couple of weeks about our chocolate. Though we have traditionally created our hot chocolates and mochas with a Ghirardelli powder, our friends at Sketch Ice Cream inspired a change in our menu for the Linden Alley kiosk. Following their example, we have started using a 65% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate from E. Guittard known as Sur del Lago. This chocolate is from Western Venezuela, South (Sur) of (del) Lake (Lago) Maracaibo.
From the Guittard site:
Sur del Lago's criollo and trinitario hybrid heritage, with dominant criollo genes, creates a complex chocolate. The criollo ancestry produces a delicate chocolate of a lighter color than other chocolates -- a radiant, rich red in the case of Sur del Lago. There are deep red fruity notes, sometimes described as berry or cherry-like. With a natural acidity, Sur del Lago marries beautifully with all sweet flavors, such as caramel and fully ripe fruits. However, this elegant chocolate shows off exquisitely in the simplest of desserts, such as a classic chocolate cake or chocolate ice cream.

chocolateSee, we get the bars, break them up, and then grind them up into a flaky mass. This is then scooped into the steaming pitcher, milk is added and then onto the steam wand. The heat dissolves the chocolate and we then can pour it with a shot for a mocha or on its own for a hot chocolate.

Cool on Manboy this week for making a shot for none other than Duane Sorenson, whom y'all know from here. Via electronic communique, he offered a compliment to coffee and barista so we're puffing our chests in pride.

In other prideful news, the architecture firm that houses the BBCC kiosk is known as Sagan Piechota Architecture, and they are getting the NYT treatment this weekend of their offices on Linden. Oldman will be there to represent for us so look for the article and his smiling mug sometime soon!

Speaking fo photojournalism, one the way to work the other morning, Boyman stumbled across one of those scenes of strange city beauty. Enjoy.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Coffee talk

You know that you're doing the community a service when several folks congregated at the kiosk all at once to have several different conversations about coffee. One group was talking about the growth of specialty coffee in Australia whilst the other spake of their constant frustration with getting quality espresso in the city. Hmm. Where have we heard that one?

There was a fella today that had come by previously, marked mostly because of his penchant for wearing funny hats. Stylish, but funny. And when asked his name, Kieran it was, he made the friendly but unfortunate mention that he is a.k.a. Ki-Ki. Yes, like Key-Key or that way you'd talk about your studded thong after having your wisdom teeth pulled. And the only other Ki-Ki to ever reach the consciousness of the BBCC, as you well know, is she who sang with Elton, the beloved Kiki Dee. Luckily, he escaped before Boyman could break into song.

Also, there was some concern as to Manboy's productivity, but we here at the BBCC realize that it is tough being beautiful, both at the market, and in Hayes Valley. Damn, must be those glasses.

To sleep!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

All work and no play

The good news: Consistent number of folks coming to the kiosk

The bad news: solo shifts of 12 hours of a consistent number of folks coming to the kiosk!

Other than that, it goes and the kiosk officially turned two-weeks-old today. Awesome.

The kinks of supplying the cart with an adequate amount of coffee are being worked out. This weekend saw the retail debut of The Hayes Valley Espresso for the shopping public. Waiting for feedback from the local geeks.

Some of whom have stopped by:

-Andrew from Ecco Caffe made two appearances over the weekend, one at the Market on Saturday and another today at the kiosk. Andrew produces some of the most interesting espresso in Northern California. The Centro Espresso kiosk, located in Sawyer's Newsstand in Santa Rosa, serves Ecco and remains one of the best venues for quality drinks. Though it has been a couple of years since traveling to the roasting site, Andrew's set up is enviable. More on this when BBC can attack with our camera!

-Richard Reynolds, local coffee writer and critic also took down his first dose of the HV espresso. Richard has written, and is often the subject of, many articles about coffee and the local cafe scene. We got to joke about coffee and bad service and hyped up places in Seattle. You know, shop talk. Here's a little more about the man and his machine.

Another reason for an attractive rubber stamp: A16, (no, not the winning call in a game of BINGA) has decided to start serving Blue Bottle Coffee. They will have one blend for the french presses and another for espresso. Tomorrow, we will be serving their press blend as a drip at the kiosk, so stop by.

"We're chic": proof positive that Boyman has been spending too much time in Hayes Valley.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Fight Club

The kiosk has turned into a nexus of wheelings and dealings as folks with all sorts of plans and ideas roll through, some seeking advice, some seeking refuge, most seeking coffee. It is all about business cards in the big city and damnit, we don't have any.

But from those that do, exciting news.

The first thing is tables. Our neighbor down the street, Tazi Designs (who opened up in the notorious 333 Linden space, go ahead, google it), has on spec lent us some very nice tables and chairs.

table models

tazi card

tazi table

They are beautiful, but we need people to test-drive them for us, some come get a latte and hang awhile. Comments welcome.

Also, one set of those latter legs belongs to a very caffeinated coffee aficionado, who will shortly be opening a cafe over in the Mission. Now we here at the BBCC would love to hate these guys, but we're so stoked to have better coffee available to all that we withheld the rat poison from their Gibraltars. Nothing wrong with a little competition.

Hope we are not spilling the beans by saying this soon to be opened place in the Mission will eventually be roasting their own, until then, they will proudly be serving Stumptown out of Portland, which will undoubtedly make Manboy defect. More on this with the OK of the owners.

Being on the alley has offered us East Bay dwellers a little glimpse of the hard, if not utterly bizarre underbelly of city life. For instance, as Boyman worked hard on his public relations skills the other day, a car came ripping around the corner and headed down the street. Now this shouldn't be all that weird except that you must remember that we are on an alley, so I guess he wanted to get to the end real fast. This dead-end fact was not lost on the next guy who came running down the alley after the guy in the car. No weird to pass up, the denizens of the alley moved in closer to see and sure enough, Speedracer and Runningman were totally going at it (and not in the 333 Linden kind of way). It was hard to tell who was wailing on who, but before anyone could get to the second 1 on their cellular phones, it was all over. They were both leaving the alley as they came, but not before giving each other "respect-knuckles." All we could figure is that we had witnessed some game, or perhaps a case of mistaken identity.

"Oh, hey, sorry for wailing on you dude. I thought you were somebody else"
"That's cool bro, I'll catch you on the flipside."
(knock knuckles)

It's what's going on. Really.

And in other scenes of masochism, Oldman and Boyman got together to work on next year's SCAA award winner.

ow! ow! ow!

Better recognize.