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A very quick survey for baristas around the world
Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 11:16 AM - 1 day, 2 hours ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
A very quick survey for baristas around the world
I’ve been thinking about collecting a little data for a while. A recent chat with BK, of Fritz Coffee in Seoul, has prompted me to get around to posting the question. This isn’t really a survey about earnings specifically, as Sprudge has already been pretty thorough here . If you work in a cafe I’d love it if you could answer 4 very quick questions, and perhaps share with other baristas at other shops around the world. Loading…

A new home for The Learning Project
Monday, March 30, 2015 - 11:00 AM - 2 days, 2 hours ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
A new home for The Learning Project
Last year one of my goals was to use the blog as a platform for learning, and this resulted in what I called “The Learning Project “. For a few reasons it never really got past the first subject (Acidity ), and has languished, unloved, since then. The principle was simple: I wrote an introduction to a topic, people submitted interesting links relating to the topic and that was turned into a larger resource. In return for submitting a link you got to vote on what the next topic was. The failure of the project to continue, as was pointed out to me a few times, was sad and something of a wasted opportunity. Now there is a new home for The Learning Project – a home where I think it can be more useful, and reach a wider audience: The Barista Guild of Europe. Regardless of whether or not you are in Europe, there is going to be an opportunity to learn and contribute to others’ learning. The internet has made the world very small, and we should absolutely take advantage of that. If you want to participate, actively or passively, then I suggest you follow BGE on twitter , sign up to the newsletter , and check out the website for this and more in the future. I’m very happy to see the project live on, and I look forward to participating myself in the near future.

My favourite question
Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - 10:00 AM - 2 weeks, 1 day ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
My favourite question
When behind a bar, at a certain time of day, there is a question that I really love to ask. The timing may vary but between 8am and noon I like to ask a simple question: “Have you had coffee yet today?” If the answer is “No” then I realise that my priority, above all is, is going to be quickly and efficiently getting this person what they asked for. No unnecessary questions, no additional choices, no upsell. Get to work and get this person coffee right now, and be sympathetic for their need for caffeine. Especially if it a grumpy, uncaffeinated and impatient “No.” from the customer too. I think we sometimes lie to ourselves about how much we care about coffee when it comes to our first cup of the day. (I must credit Tracy Ging and the SCAA Symposium for really driving this home to me.) If I look at my own habits, for the first cup quality is actually lower down on the list, below convenience. I am not alone in this, even amongst other industry professionals – let alone habitual consumers. I’ve seen swathes of coffee people choose to skip the line at a brew bar to grab their first cup from a giant urn of very average hotel coffee. Most people, at the start of the day, just need coffee. We don’t have to like this fact, but we do have to accept it. However, once we’ve had a coffee – then the world changes a little. The chemical need is alleviated, and I think this change is an important one for baristas. If I ask someone if they’ve had coffee yet, and they say “Yes” – this is very useful information. They’re not necessarily looking for caffeine – to alleviate their withdrawal – but, more likely, they are looking for a tasty cup of coffee. I can ask if they’re in the mood to try something different, I can suggest a different coffee or perhaps a different drink. As a barista I have a little more space and time for the conversation. Even better is when they tell you what they’ve had today – the more information you can gather about someone the more easily you can delight them. Everyone needs something a little different in terms of service and experience, so any opportunity to understand them a little more should be taken. This is, to me, the very root of great service – and I hope this one little question is useful to those of you reading this.

Moka Pot Brew Guide
Friday, March 13, 2015 - 03:50 PM - 2 weeks, 4 days ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
Our next brew guide comes from the much malined and under appreachaited moka pot. When viewed as its own unique brewing method, it can give you tasty and delicious coffee and is a brewing treat. Because each pot is very different from each other I’ve shied away from weights and volumes, and simply given… Continue Reading
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A small post on some big work at El Limon
Monday, March 02, 2015 - 09:13 AM - 1 month ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
So this is a small post about the huge work Beto is undertaking at the farm El Limon in Palencia located to the east of Guatemala city. Beto is one of the most amazing producers we buy from as he really reacts to feedback from us. A conversation a couple of years ago about his… Continue Reading

SSSSS Last chance
Saturday, February 28, 2015 - 09:57 AM - 1 month ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
ver the past few months I’ve had many many emails about my Super Secret Stash subscription, most about how amazing the coffee was but also a fair chunk from people who were sad that they’d missed the boat and wanted to join. Now I never like to make people sad or upset so I put on… Continue Reading

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 09:16 AM - 1 month ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
What’s a Shakespeare quote got to do with coffee? Well to be honest nothing much really but it involves the word March and that’s the key. Every week throughout March I’m going to be releasing a new blend! I can tell you now that 1 will be an old favourite and the other 3 are… Continue Reading

Make Or Steal
Monday, February 23, 2015 - 01:00 PM - 1 month ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Make Or Steal
Over the years I’ve worked with a lot of people who’ve opened cafes. One of the key ideas I’ve brought up early on is that for a new cafe, every single one of your customers currently buys their coffee from someone else. If you subscribe to Kevin Kelly’s 1000 true fans idea 1 , then you need to find around 1,000 people to become your regular customers. They won’t come everyday necessarily, but if you’ve got a 1,000 loyal customers then I think your coffee business will be fine. An important thing to think about is this: Changing where you buy coffee is changing the very routine of your life. It might affect your route to work, which public transport stop you get off at, or even what time you wake up in the morning. People are generally slow to change their lives. Owners of new cafes often get frustrated that in the first weeks of opening people come and say the drink they just had was, perhaps, the best coffee of their lives. Then you don’t see them for another week. Why haven’t they immediately made the switch, given that this is the best coffee they’ve ever tasted!? As I said, it takes time to change someone’s life. This isn’t really what I want to write about now, but something related. What I want to talk about is what I see as a change in the dynamics of the coffee market in London, that raises a new question for me. Over the last seven or so years the market in London has changed dramatically. There has been a huge boom in the number of cafes trying to compete on the quality of their coffee. What has changed more recently is that the rate of new cafes opening has outstripped the growth in consumers for higher quality coffee. The market is becoming more competitive and cafes are beginning to actively engage in doing their best to capture and retain as many existing quality focused consumers. However, this means every new opening increases the competitive pressure on the market and the challenge of being successful is harder for each new cafe than for the last. I’m not saying for a minute that it was ever easy, but I do think that the attitude was a little different in the past than in the marketplace now. All this does presume a fixed pool of consumers to draw from. Which, while technically true, is the wrong way to look at it. I think more effort needs to be made on creating more customers who would value better coffee. Looking back, perhaps through rose tinted glasses, it seemed like there was a coherent movement in London to market the idea of better coffee. Not to market individual businesses, though that’s always going to be important, but to collectively promote and celebrate all that is good in delicious coffee – right through the value chain. Be it community events, coherent messages in the media, things like the Disloyalty Card – all of these contributed to the idea that better coffee was a good thing for everyone. I don’t see that coherent drive now, and I believe it is needed now more than ever. Creating our customers, and not just stealing them from competitors, is vital for our industry’s longevity. I think many of the coffee roasting companies I respect are good at this. Taking the business of supply from another quality focused roaster does little to develop a marketplace, but working with new businesses to help them do more definitely does. I think this is worth considering in marketing strategy regardless of where in the coffee supply chain you lie. This isn’t written as criticism of the way coffee businesses are marketing now. I want to highlight that there can be another message, or approach that could be more valuable to both businesses and the industry in reaching these new customers and a wider market. It is something I will be thinking more about, and trying to incorporate into the work that I do. I know I’ve linked here several times before… ↩︎ I know I’ve linked here several times before…

Brazil 2014: Part 2
Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 12:26 PM - 1 month, 1 week ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
Brazil 2014: Part 2
The other exporter I wanted to catch up with was Bourbon Coffee in Pocos de Caldas, a group I’ve known from back in my Mercanta days. With the owners also in Japan at the SCAJ show, hosting and ensuring I had plenty of coffees to cup was Thiago Trovo. The beautiful Bourbon cupping lab is set up over two rooms, one for visitors like me and one for the in-house cuppings. Being allowed to pop back and forth between them was great, as cupping lower grades and commodity market lots is something I don’t get to do much. When you work in specialty it’s really useful, vital even, to not lose sight of how good the coffees you get to work with really are. And there is nothing like cupping some lower grade coffee to remind you how lucky you are to have the privilige to work with the top few percent of coffees grown in the world. Thiago in the Bourbon cupping lab The Bourbon Innovation packaging, which our Recreio lot will be shipped in Bourbon HQ Really enjoying the water guns! FAZENDA RECREIO While I was in Belo Horizonte I met Diogo Dias Teixeira de Macedo, the son of the owners of Recreio farm in São Sebastião da Grama. His mother Maria and her husband Homero are from a long line of coffee producers in the Grama Valley, Marias grandmother Mathilde having inherited a large farm from her grandmother. As per tradition, farms get divided up between children, and Dona Mathilde had 11 of them. Neighbouring farms such as Rainha, Santa Alina and Cachoeira da Grama have also been parceled out between the family. Now in its 5th generation of care, Recreio has proven to be one of the most successful farms in the area, with numerous awards in the Cup of Excellence. Diogo is an agricultural engineer and runs most of the production, while his brother is in charge of their own brand of roasted coffee, named after their great grandmother. In honour of great grandma Mathilde Maria and Diogo Dona Mathilde Recreio is an impressive farm, with about 45 full time staff and another 100 people who work during harvest. On the farm there is a school, a church and a clinic, as well as a computer lab and a football field for the use of the employees. As well as caring for the needs of the employees, the owners care greatly about the environment. Preserving the natural flora and fauna and protecting local water sources is a large part of the the family’s mission. The Recreio school house Post harvest farm maintenance underway Harvest at Recreio is done by hand, and throughout the journey to the wet mill, onto the patios and to the dry mill, all the coffees are tracked and managed with great attention to detail. Quality is at the forefront at all times, which led Diogo to build a cupping lab in his grandfather’s old garage. This way, the family is able to sample roast and taste all their lots and experiments themselves, constantly learning and improving on what they do. We’re really pleased to have chosen a great lot from Recreio this year, and it will be going into our Red Brick espresso this week! Cupping setup at Recreio Loving the oldschool kettles! Patios cleaned and ready for next year New drying beds under construction The mill structure Fazenda Recreio Some very tail end of the harvest naturals still drying Diogo screening a sample While the wetmills were quiet after harvest, the drymills were in full swing so I got the chance to head to the Bourbon mill and see it all in operation. Colour sorters Gravity beds separating the beans by density A lot of heavy lifting goes on in coffee The Bourbon mill, bright and yellow! LARANJAL One of the coffees I cupped a lot of was from Fazenda Laranjal. Even if the farm was done with harvest, we swung by for a visit. Laranjal is such a beautiful spot, with ivy growing everywhere and friendly dogs running around, it really felt like a bit of an oasis. While I didn’t pick up any lots from them this year, I’m looking forward to revisiting next year and hopefully finding some tasty treats for our customers! Breathing in the fresh air The greenest farm I’ve been to in a while The little wetmill, covered in ivy Sweet little dog at Laranjal View of the patios and buildings of Laranjal Going for a walk with the farm dog New plantings. In a few years they’ll start to flower and bear fruit. Thanks for looking after me, Thiago! Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll enjoy the coffees we’ll release over the next few months! Anette

2015 Aeropress Championship of England
Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 10:08 AM - 1 month, 1 week ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
2015 Aeropress Championship of England
We’re very pleased to host the 2015 English Aeropress Championships on March 7, along with Workshop Coffee. 27 competitors have already secured all the available spots, and will battle it out for the crown. The winner of the English heat will go on to represent at the World Aeropress Championships in Seattle. With support from our lovely sponsors The Kernel Brewery and TKC Sales, and food from Miss P’s Barbecue, it’s going to be a good time and we hope to see a full house of spectators cheering on the competitors! The competition will take place here at our roastery at 8 Pritchards road, E2 9AP. Entry to watch, cheer and drink lots of coffee is free, doors will open at 4pm and the competition should kick off at 5pm. See you then!

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