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Saquarema
Monday, March 10, 2014 - 03:27 PM - 1 month, 1 week ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
Saquarema
We have a tasty new naturally processed Brazil from the Minas Gerais region in the webshop and it is tasting great. Expect lots of brown sugar sweetness, a large syrupy caramel body and a few vanilla notes. This is balanced out nicely with some cranberries and a little cardamom to finish. The farm is located in the south of Minas Gerais close to the city of Carmo do Cachoeira, is owned by Louis Eduardo and is one of the oldest farms in the region. Saquarema has been in Louis’s family for four generations, covers 389 hectares with 128 of them designated to organic coffee production. This is a great example of a coffee for the region and we hope to continue getting delicious coffee like this in the future. Try some for yourself here!

23rd February 2014
Sunday, February 23, 2014 - 07:40 PM - 1 month, 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Welsh Champion 2009 Trevor Hyam's The Bean Vagrant
23rd February 2014
The recent view from above the espresso hopper; A sea of Brazil Daterra Special Reserve Organic, Santa Maria natural, and Suke Quto washed Guji. Recent seasonal changes saw this departure from the more usual washed-only nature of the components of the Naturelle blend. Gloria …returns! Suke Quto individually, at home, as a delicious, (even lighter) filter profile. Probably my favourite filter at home since… the last Ethiopian coffee: Worka Woreda OCR washed Yirgacheffe. (Possibly) the most geeky/obsessive thing in my extensive coffee cupboard? An ever-expanding box of grind samples. Samples of different coffees from different (craft) roasters through various grinders at various settings, to compare and assess grind profiles/distributions, shapes, and sizes, across different types of coffees, roast levels/styles, and brew methods. Press of a Brazil: Start. Final seconds before break.

A short post on a good week
Friday, February 21, 2014 - 08:56 AM - 1 month, 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Colin's Dublin Barista Blog
A short post on a good week
Last week this post appeared on Lovin Dublin which aside from being a really nice surprise was a great shot in the arm for all the staff at 3fe. We’ve been pushing each other really hard for the last 3 months or so and to come out on top of such a prestigious list was a […]

The Coffee formally known as Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza
Friday, February 14, 2014 - 02:31 PM - 2 months ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
We always try our hardest to make sure we represent the coffee we buy as best we can and always endeavour to make sure that the farmer or producers are credited for their hard work. However it has come to our attention that the coffee we have been selling as Ambiental Fortaleza is actually from Sitio Laranjal, it is owned and run by Alfredo Mengalis. The rest of the details of the coffee remain the same, it’s from the same area, grown at the same altitude and is actually dried and processed at Ambiental Fortaleza. FAF do a lot of work with their neighbour farms and many many farmers use the processing facilities at FAF, so we didn’t get it too far wrong but we wanted to make sure that the write praise went to the right person!

Learning Project: An update and the next topic
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 01:14 PM - 2 months ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
Learning Project: An update and the next topic
Today I closed submissions to the January topic and I’ve updated the blog post to show a full list of further reading links you lovely people submitted. Some people’s submitted links didn’t work, and I haven’t had the time to work out what they meant to submit. The voters have also chosen the next topic. In the next couple of weeks I will write and post: An introduction to coffee roasting This is going to be tricky, and I know that when I call for links to further reading that there isn’t a lot of stuff online. However, there is more than you think… I just want to make clear that what I will write will be designed as an introduction. It won’t be too superficial (I hope) but I will be leaving out some of the fuzzy stuff that is full of half baked opinions, pseudo science and conjecture. It’s actually quite an intimidating topic to write an introduction for… There’s some great reading to be had back in the acidity post – so I hope people enjoy getting stuck in!

An admission of failure
Wednesday, February 05, 2014 - 04:03 PM - 2 months, 1 week ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
An admission of failure
Maybe I set the bar too high in my own mind, maybe I wasn’t sufficiently clear and maybe (the most likely explanation) it just wasn’t that good of an idea to start with. The idea behind the collaborative learning project was that if you gave a little you got something more in return. The first post on acidity has had 10k+ views, excluding the several thousand who subscribe to the RSS feed. I had hoped that even 1 in 100 page views might yield a submitted link, but for all the views and the thousand of people who read the post I’ve received (to date) 29 viable links on the subject of acidity. (Less than 1 per 400 views) Let me be clear: I’m not really blaming anyone else but me for this, and I’m not really moaning about it either. This isn’t an “oh poor me!” blog post, I promise you. My predictions of how this would go were based more on my own hopes, rather than evidence or historical precedents. I’m not yet sure if I am going to continue with the project, or certainly continue it in its current form. I will definitely update the existing blog post with the links submitted on acidity so far, but as for starting a new topic – I don’t think so. Failure is fine, it should be accepted, and sometimes it is ok to let things go and to move on to other projects. There are a few other ideas in the pipeline, so hopefully they’ll come to fruition soon!

Win stuff
Saturday, January 25, 2014 - 03:39 PM - 2 months, 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
A promo for our blog/customers – Steve is in El Salvador floating between different wifi connections but the goal is to post the below some point on sunday along with our weekly video blog where Steve will also mention the post cats, coffee and prizes some of you may have noticed last weekend a few […]

An Introduction to Acidity
Monday, January 20, 2014 - 03:45 PM - 2 months, 3 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - WBC 2007 World Champion James Hoffmann's jimseven
An Introduction to Acidity
This is the first topic in the learning project series of posts. Please click through at the end to share a link for further reading on the topic. Acidity is an important part of coffee, and weaves its way through the entire supply chain of the industry from variety to picking, from process to roasting and from brewing to tasting. I want to start with the basics, cover some of the tasting aspect and then look at acids specific to coffee. We tend to define acids as having a pH lower than 7, or as having a sour taste, but these aren’t particularly scientific. In fact there are three different scientific definitions of an acid: The Arrhenius definition, the Brønsted-Lowry definition and the Lewis definition. I think the Arrhenius definition is going to serve us best here which is: An Arrhenius acid is a substance that dissociates in water to form hydrogen ions (H+) that is, an acid increases the concentration of H+ ions in an aqueous solution. The important part to note here is the presence of H+ ions, as we’ll discuss this later. It should be noted that his definition specifies an aqueous solution, so you could argue that pure hydrochloric acid, or pure sulphuric acid wouldn’t count as acid but this would be nitpicking. The measurement of the level of acidity is done through measuring the number of these H+ ions, and is usually communicated through the pH scale. While there is some disagreement on exactly what pH stands for but the Carlsberg Foundation (tied to the Carlsberg Labratory where Søren Peder Lauritz Sørensen did the work to first introduce the scale) claims it stands for “power of hydrogen”. It is important to remember that the pH scale is logarithmic. This means that each whole value below 7 is ten times more acidic. Thus a pH of 4 is 10 times more acidic than a pH of 5, and 100 times more acidic than a pH of 6. Tasting Acidity Acidity is often described as being one of the 5 tastes, which is deeply unfair to other tastes such as pungency, astringency, piquancy or metallic tastes. (Much like saying we only have five senses ignores senses like balance or the sensation radiant heat). It is a critical part of the foods we taste, though it doesn’t have the same functionality as sweetness (the suggestion that something is good to eat) or bitterness (the warning that a food may be bitter). We have a very good idea of how taste receptors, in our mouths, detect sourness. That doesn’t mean it is particularly simple though. What happens is that a hydrogen ion (H+) enters the cell and essentially triggers an electrical response that fires the nerve that sends the signal to the brain that we are tasting something acidic. Types of Acid in Food There are a variety of different acids in food that influence our perception and enjoyment of it. Adding acids to foods (either more traditionally by using an acidic liquid like a juice, or in the more modern way of using them in powdered forms as food additives) is likely as old as cooking and the ideas of recipes. They also play a crucial role in preservation as well as providing some anti-oxidative properties. Here are some of the key acids in food: Acetic acid – We are most familiar with this acid as vinegar (though only acetic acid produced through fermentation can be called vinegar). This is an acid that can be extremely unpleasant (it is awful when present in coffee through defective processing), but we do like to add it to fried potatoes a lot. Citric acid – This is the acid found in citrus fruit, and if you give most people plain water with citric acid added to it they will describe as tasting of lemons. This is an incredibly popular food additive – it is the acid used in sour sweets/candy – and it is no longer efficient to extract it from citrus fruit. Instead it is now often produced by fermenting a carbohydrate (like molasses) using a mould called Aspergillus niger. Fumaric acid – This one doesn’t really occur in common foodstuffs (unless you enjoy eating lichen and Iceland moss), but it is used extensively as a food additive and acidity regulator. It is often used in soft drinks and can also be added as a coagulent in things like stovetop pudding mixes. Lactic acid – Most of us are as familiar with the pain of lactic acid build up in muscles, as we are with the taste of it in sour milk products like yoghurt or cottage cheese, or with the sourness it brings to sourdough bread. Outside of food it also is used in things like detergents and as an active ingredient in mosquito lures. Malic acid – This is the acid found in fruit like apples and pears, though for a more explicit experience of malic acid then the delicious tartness of rhubard is an excellent example. It was first isolated from apples, and as such takes its name from the latin malum. Despite being a little more expensive than citric acid, it is used in many similar products such as sodas (particularly diet ones) and also in the sourest of sour candies. Phosphoric acid – This isn’t really a naturally occurring acid, but we consume huge amounts of the stuff, mostly in one particular form: cola. This particular type of acidity is often described as being relatively harsh compared to other acids, but it seems to provide excellent balance in cola drinks specifically. Tartaric acid – This occurs naturally in many fruits like bananas, grapes and tamarinds. I confess I am probably most familiar with it as the primary acidity found in wine (along with citric, malic, ascorbic and many others). Most of these acids can be bought easily in powdered form, and simple (low concentration!) solutions can be made for tasting. The tasting, and blind identification, of acids has become a staple part of coffee tasting tests for a variety of certifications. Acids in Coffee There are a great deal of different acids in green coffee, byproducts of a cycle of chemical reactions called the Calvin Cycle. Some of these survive the roasting process intact, but many don’t. The longer and darker that a coffee is roasted the lower the perceived acidity tends to be when that coffee is brewed and tasted. This seems pretty simple – but when you dive into the chemistry a little bit you will see that it isn’t quite as simple as that. A variety of the acids we’ve already mentioned (citric, acetic, lactic, malic and phosphoric) have been identified in brewed coffee, but two others have as well (at higher concentrations than those already mentioned). They are: Quinic Acid – While it usually is in crystalline form, quinic acids melts at around 160C and coffee that is being roasted will comfortably exceed these temperatures. It is considered to add a positive acidity to the cup, and give coffees a “clean finish”. Chlorogenic Acids (CGAs) - Chlorogenic acids (a group of acids, rather than just one) contain no chlorine. The name comes from the Greek χλωρός (light green) and -γένος (a suffix meaning “giving rise to”), because of the green colour produced when chlorogenic acids are oxidised. These acids play an important role in the generation of flavours during the roasting process. CGAs degrade quite dramatically during the roasting process, with around 50% of them gone by the time a medium roast is reached. As CGAs break down the byproducts are both caffeic acid and quinic acid. This is designed as only a brief introduction, but we all want to go deeper… Now it is your turn! Submit a link to further reading on acidity, and vote for whichever topic you would to see focused on next. The link can be about acidity in coffee specifically, or about acidity in general. It can be examples of tastings to try, or more about how we taste and how acidity interacts with other tastes and flavours. Anything and everything!

Uk barista competition judges training
Friday, January 17, 2014 - 10:49 AM - 2 months, 4 weeks ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - James and Anette's Square Mile Weblog
Uk barista competition judges training
At the end of last year Steve Leighton got himself nominated as National Co-ordinator for the UKBC. This happened fairly late on in the year, Steve is an amazing person and a very close friend of mine and Square Mile’s and we wanted to help him and make his newfound role a little easier. So I offered to give him a hand to organise the competition in any way I could, with John competing again my options were limited in the ways that I could help. Steve and I had a chat and decided that the best way for me to help was to put my position as Chair of the Rules and Regulations Sub Committee for World Coffee Events to good use and run the judges training course for the new judges and the calibration for the older judges along with Sonja Bjork Grant. Once this is done I will step back and let Denise the Events co-ordinator for UKBC choose the groups and put together the schedule for the judges and return to helping John practise. This year Steve used his charm to convince Sonja Bjork Grant to come out and help with the judges workshop, for those who don’t know Sonja she has been around barista competitions since they first started in 2000 at Monte Carlo. Sonja has seen these competitions continued growth and was there for the beginning of World Coffee Events, which now runs all 7 competitions for it’s parent companies. Sonja’s enthusiasm and passion for the competitions is amazing and the fact that she is still actively involved in them after 14 years is inspiring. If you haven’t seen her Tamper Tantrum talk you can watch her talk about barista competitions here , she has great stories to tell about how it use to be and if your lucky enough you might get to meet her at the finals of the UKBC in April as she will be head judging there as World Coffee Events representative. It’s been quite a few years since I have personally judged and when I did the training course years ago it was only a one day course, I remember leaving feeling like I wanted to do more and would have been happy to spend a couple of days learning what to do. Judging is an important role and when the barista puts so many hours into practising the least judges can do is spend some time making sure they are comfortable and ready to judge. The first day was purely training for new judges, we expect the people that attend to have an understanding of the rules and an ability to taste – it is a training for the competition and not a coffee training course after all. In the morning Sonja did a quick introduction of WCE and what it means to be a judge. We then moved on to dissecting the sensory score sheets and how to use them correctly. We broke them down into each section and the categories in their sections. This included simple things like what to write in the introduction and coffee information section and how to best organise the sheet effectively so you can get all the baristas information down without running out of room. Then on to the more detailed explanations like how to apply the correct protocol when evaluating the drinks. These things are all in the rules documents but sometimes it really helps to talk through things so people have a full understanding. Judges are taught that they must make all their comments relative to the corresponding rule, so every section of the score sheet was followed up with the corresponding excerpt from the rules. For example in the cappuccino evaluation it starts with the visuals of the coffee, followed up by the consistency and persistence of the foam and then goes on to the flavour. This is a very important part as the score weighing for this is very high, any score given is then multiplied by 4. Cappuccino flavour section 14.3.3 The cappuccino is a hot beverage that should be served at a temperature that is immediately consumable. Sensory judges will drink from a spot on the cup different from the area that was disturbed during foam evaluation. The texture of the foam, temperature of the beverage, and the taste of the coffee and milk will be included in the flavour evaluation. After the initial sip, the sensory judges will revisit the cappuccino for at least one additional sip from an undisturbed location on the rim of the cup. The cappuccino should have a harmonious balance of the sweetness of the milk and its espresso base. Judges will listen to any flavour descriptions and explanations given by the competitor and compare those with the beverage served. There should be a correlation between the coffee beans used in the espresso, the coffee’s taste profile, and how those flavour profiles are highlighted by the addition of milk. If no flavour descriptors are given, judges will score based solely on the balance. After we finished going through the sensory score sheet we moved on to the technical aspects of the competition. Ken Cooper who has been a technical judge for WBC talked through the ins and outs of the technical score sheet – highlighting points like cleanliness and wastage – baristas can lose points for things like having to much steamed milk left over. With 34 bodies in the room we had to divide everyone into groups and send them to one of four stations. The first station was an entire mock routine by our friend Geunha Park who is the Korean Barista Champion who very kindly agreed to come do run through after run through for us and the judges. This was a great chance for the judges to see how it feels to watch, drink and take notes on a real routine and then discuss their thoughts afterwards with Sonja. The next station was the espresso station where judges were pulled shots and tasted and talked about the different coffee they were served. The third was similar but a cappuccino station where they could assess latte art, use the correct protocol to assess the coffee and then discuss what they tasted and start trying to assign scores to the drinks based on the things they had been taught earlier. The fourth station was the technical station, this is where Ken had made piles of ground coffee and made the judges eye ball it to figure out how much waste it was, they also did this with pitchers of milk and trying to guess how much milk waste was left – this is a very important part of being a technical judge. The baristas can be deducted points based on their wastage and the technical judge has to assign a point number to a weight of waste, and they don’t have the option of weighing it on stage so you will find a lot of tech judges will go home and start weighing things so they can have a good idea of the weight of things. After everybody had completed one station each we had a quick Q and A session and then called it a day, by this point everyone was well caffeinated and ready for dinner. Monday was Certification day Sonja and I set 3 stations. The first was a written test with 60 questions of varying difficulty, some were easy, some sounded easy but in actual fact where trick questions and others were quite difficult. There were lots of important questions that related to the rules directly so it’s important for people to do well on these questions. The next station was the mock routine by Geun ha, judges were assessed on their ability to apply correct protocol and make rules based comments as well as their ability to apply the correct scores to coffees. Judges are shown a list of competencies that they must be able to do with some of them being critical- meaning that if they can not achieve these then they will not pass the test. Things that are included in that list are things like using the correct protocol, following barista instructions and applying rules correctly and many more. The third testing station for the day was a triangulation, 5 different triangles where placed on a table and judges were given a set time to identify the odd cup out. Judges were required to achieve a pass mark of 70% or higher in order for them to be able to qualify to be a UKBC judge. I feel its especially important these days for the judge to be a highly skilled individual, baristas are getting better and better and the team of judges must also live up to this. The third day was a day for judges that certified last year to come back and calibrate with the group- once a judge passes they are certified for two years in the UK and then they have to re sit the tests. On this day we set up three stations again, two for pulling shots and tasting coffees and one mock routine but instead of Sonja and I leading the groups we let the judges discuss and bounce ideas off each other. Although its hard for them to taste that much coffee its a great chance for the new team of judges to bond and learn off each other and really start to become one coherent group that is in agreement with each other. I had totally underestimated how important this aspect was until I started talking to some of the judges and listen to their conversations with each other. During this day the groups of judges also practised full run throughs right from walking on stage and introducing them selves to the baristas, to the calibration time in the room after the routine where they talk through their scores and comments with the head judge. This year the UK is also going to be implementing shadow judges that the WBC has been using for a couple of years. There are two shadow judges, one is an information shadow judge – their job is to stand out of the way and record everything the barista says, this doesn’t mean that the sensory judge can stop recording information, but it does mean that they can fully concentrate on the actual sensory aspect of judging and applying scores correctly. The second shadow judge is a protocol judge – they are there to make sure that the judges are applying the correct protocol for each course and following barista instructions to the letter- if a judge fails to do this it will be noted and the judge will be reminded in the judges room of what they have done incorrectly. Shadow judging has been very successful in other national bodies and the WBC, and is a great way for new judges to get involved if they are nervous about actually judging. I think the shadow judges will improve judging standards hugely and create a great amount of support for the judges. It looks like its fun sitting up there drinking amazing coffee but its a high stress environment where you are trying to do the right thing, take it all in and judge the barista as fairly as possible. I’m really excited about the calibre of judges this year and are excited to watch them grow and become amazing judges- hopefully some of them will even go on to judge in the World competitions.

Inside Llewyn Davis – Greenwich Village Blend
Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 10:49 AM - 3 months ago   - 1. TMC Members' Coffee Blogs  - Steve Leighton's HasBean Weblog
We were recently contacted to see if any of our wholesale customers wanted to help spread the word about the release of the Coen Brothers’ highly anticipated new film, Inside Llewyn Davis (in cinemas on 24th January). The film documents a week in the life of an aspiring musician within 60’s greenwich village and StudioCanal […]

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