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East Coast Coffee Chronicles

My 5 Final Coffees of 2016 + General Updates

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Before sharing my thoughts on the five final coffees that I tried for the first time this year I’d like to note I have yet to decide on a posting schedule for this blog. Being that my posts represent a chronicle or diary of my specialty coffee experiences my posting frequency will be heavily effected by both my feeling that I’ve had enough experiences to compile into a blog post and by my work schedule and family life.  Lastly, because the aromas and flavors that one perceives in a specialty coffee are based on more parameters that most others artisanal beverages. While I’ll be calling them reviews, my thoughts on each coffee are solely based on my experiences with brewing them with the parameters that I’ve come to prefer over time (1:12 brewing ratio using filtered tap water).

On to the reviews and updates…

Where I’ve been buying my coffees from: As noted  in my previous post the two sites that I’d be ordering from were Seattle Coffee Gear and Go Coffee Go. However, upon ordering and receiving Intelligentsia’s Celebration Blend from Seattle Coffee Gear and it having a roast date which was just over 2 weeks prior I decided to keep Go Coffee Go as my primary ordering website and start ordering any additional coffees directly from their roasters in order to ensure that I receive freshly roasted beans.

My Final 5 Coffees of 2016:

Personal photos coming soon…

Coffee #1: Intelligentsia Coffee’s Celebration Blend

dsc_1024Roaster’s Description: We built this year’s Celebration Blend with two vibrant East African coffees and one of this year’s best Latin American offerings. The result is reminiscent of a cup of hot cider – fresh crisp apple, along with red grapefruit, and sweet kiwi. More info.

My experiences with this coffee: As noted above I received this holiday blend with a roast date that was just over 2 weeks prior. Therefore, I was not able to fully experience the roaster’s intensions for this blend. Due to the characteristics listed in its cupping notes being ones that are typically derived from a coffee’s acidity I brewed this coffee with my Hario V60 ceramic cone. It’s aroma and flavor both had bright citric acidity and at times had distinct notes of grapefruit and apple. While I did a perceive moderate sweetness in the finish it came off more as honey followed by a hint of toastiness which reminded me of bread crust rather than sweet kiwi.  So while the beans weren’t as fresh as I would have liked I was still able to enjoy this blend and having had multiple memorable experiences with Intelligentsia coffees in the recent past I’m looking forward to trying their 2017 seasonal blends.

Coffee #2: Olympia Coffee’s Holiday Blend

dsc_1031Roaster’s Description: It’s hard to imagine a more versatile and table-pleasing holiday coffee than this smooth, round, and exhilarating blend. Aficionados will also find it worth seeking out for its complex expression of the classic Bourbon style. This blend consists of coffee from an heirloom Bourbon varietal grown in El Salvador and a Kenya composed entirely of the celebrated SL 34 and SL 28 varieties, which produce the finest Kenyan coffees. The El Salvador Bourbon was produced by Ricardo Ariz on his El Aguila farm from trees descended from the first Bourbon stock introduced into the region; the SL 34 and 28 were produced by Kenya’s Kagumoini Cooperative. The result is a smoothly exuberant Bourbon extravaganza. Happiest of Holidays from Olympia Coffee Roasting Co.! Cupping Notes: Flavors of melted chocolate, plum, and candied citrus.

My experiences with this coffee: After enjoying two single origin coffees from Olympia there was no question whether I’d try there Holiday Blend. Though its cupping notes definitely sweetened the deal. When fresher this blend’s aroma and flavor had welcoming a note of sweet cocoa (almost milk chocolate) and a hint of plum upfront which were following my a burst of citric acidity which at first was a bit sharp, but sweetened as the coffee cooled. Then as the beans edged closer to the 2 weeks post roasting mark the chocolate notes mellowed which caused the grapefruit acidity to play a bigger role in the aroma and initial taste. So while I prefer coffees with bold chocolate notes and less acidity during the Fall and Winter I was impressed by how balanced this blend remained from start to finish.

Coffee #3 Ritual Coffee’s Hacienda Carmona, Guatemala

dsc_1087Roaster’s Description: In Antigua, Guatemala octogenarian Maria Zelaya grows Bourbon and Typica trees on her 110 hectare Farm Hacienda Carmona at elevations between 1580 and 1890 meters above sea level. Maria is fiercely dedicated to producing quality coffee and has built a beautiful beneficio.  She processes the coffee and a traditional washed manner: depulping the skin of the coffee cherry off before subjecting it to a 24-Hour fermentation process to deteriorate any remaining sugar off of the seed, and finally, sun-drying the coffee on patios. This year’s election is incredibly sweet with flavors of mission fig, peach, and chocolate covered cherries. More info.

My experiences with this coffee: While many of the Guatemalan coffees that I’ve tried have had their cocoa and or chocolate notes upfront this coffee had them primarily in the finish. As a result each sip presented two experiences. The first being bright acidity with notes of citrus, fresh mission figs, and a bit of honey sweetness. This was then juxtaposed by the warming semi-sweet chocolate that I was looking for upon reading the cupping notes prior to ordering this coffee. In order to bring more balance to coffees of this sort in the future I will use water that is a bit cooler so that the acidity will not take away from the balance of the overall drinking experience.

dsc_1238Coffee #4: Pablo’s Coffee’s Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Worka Co-Op (Natural Process – Organically Grown)

Roaster’s Description: A classic fruit forward naturally processed Ethiopian with strawberry, raspberry and hints of blueberries, with a creamy body and excellent sweetness…We’ve been on the hunt for a nice naturally processed Ethiopian coffee for a while now and are thrilled with this coffee from the Work Co-Op from the district of Gedeb in the south of Ethiopia. The coffee is from a group of family farms which are part of the Co-Op, which is in turn part of the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union. This larger Co-op supports sustainable coffee production for its more than 45,000 members. More info.

My experiences with this coffee: Over time I’ve developed a love for naturally processed Ethiopian coffees. While many of them taste similar despite differences in origin (Yirgacheffe, Sidama, etc) and roaster, I’ve greatly enjoyed everyone that I’ve tried and this one was no exception. Bursting with blueberry and strawberry aromatics and flavors this coffee was a joy to drink. When ground a setting finer than I usually grind for pourovers, the berry notes took on some added sweetness and took on a jam-like intensity. With this being the second naturally processed Ethiopian coffee that I’ve tried from Pablo’s Coffee I can confidently recommend their naturally processed coffees to all those who enjoy fruit forward single origin coffees.

Coffee #5: Pablo’s Coffee’s Guatemala Huehuetenango La Encenedas

dsc_1235Roaster’s Description:

Rich velvety dark chocolate tones define this fine Guatemalan coffee, along with a slightly tart cherry and lime zest finish, which balance the cup and leave the palate wanting more. This coffee is grown by 11 family owned farms located within the municipality of San Pedro Necta in the department of Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Through the careful attention of Luis Pedro, whose family has over 100 years agricultural experience, the farmers have improved drying and processing protocols.  Their attention to detail really shines in the roaster, resulting in consistently chocolate tones, clean citrus acidities, with no under ripe artifacts or astringent flavors. Recommended Brew Method: French Press

My experiences with this coffee: Having become accustom to light to medium coffees I at first was taken aback when I saw that this coffee was roasted a bit darker. However, after reading the description on the bag the roaster’s intentions for this coffee made complete sense. As recommended I brewed this coffee in my French press and true to its cupping notes this coffee had a full body and was packed with cocoa and chocolate in both the aroma and taste; though I did not pick up on any distinct cherry or lime zest acidity. Of note, I would recommend drinking this coffee as fresh as possible as once the beans approached the 2-week post roasting mark I picked up some stale coffee notes in the finish.

Blending Coffees: Because I was the juggling 3 single origin coffees and had 2 more ordered from a roaster that I had yet to try I decided to blend 2 coffees at a time, brewing the blend in my French press. I first blended both Pablo’s coffees using 45g of Guatemala and 15g of Ethiopia. While enjoyable, I think doing an even split would work better. Next, I blended the remainder of my Ritual Coffee beans with some of the Ethiopian from Pablo’s using a ratio of roughly 2:1 Ritual to Pablo’s. This was blend was the winner, the peach and mission fig notes of the Ritual combined really well with the natural processed berry notes of the Pablo’s. So much so that once the coffee cooled down and the blend’s nuances became more apparent, I was taken aback by how complex and unique its flavors were.

First Coffees of 2017: Columbia El Horno and Ethiopia Kochere from ReAnimator Coffee Roasters (Philadelphia, PA).

A Fresh Start

After beginning my specialty coffee journey in New York City I created a blog called Barry’s NYC Coffee Journal. However, in September of this year (2016) I moved back to my home state of New Jersey and therefore could no longer chronicle my coffee experiences under an NYC moniker. While it may take me some time to begin posting consistently the following should give you a glimpse into where my specialty coffee journey stands.

Where I’ve been getting my coffee from: Since moving to NJ I have yet to visit any roasters. However, I’ve been ordering coffees online from Seattle Coffee Gear and Go Coffee Go…I was first drawn to order coffees from Seattle Coffee Gear after watching a number of their YouTube videos and have since become a regular customer as a result of my enjoyment of their well organized website and large selection of coffees. More recently I have been ordering most of my coffees from Go Coffee Go due to their focus on freshness. As noted on their homepage…”All coffee beans and espresso are fresh roasted to order and your coffee delivery is shipped the same day, direct from the roaster to you.”

Which coffees have I tried since moving to NJ?

Note: I brewed these coffees via Hario V60 pour over and French press.

  •   Olympia Coffee Roasting Company – Ethiopia Banko Natural: Over time I’ve come to love natural processed Ethiopian coffees for their bold berry aromas and flavors and Banko did not disappoint.
  • Batdorf and Bronson Coffee Roasters – Whirling Dervish blend: With big dark cherry and chocolate notes this coffee was a treat to drink at all times of day and evening.
  • Klatch Coffee – El Salvador El Ruby Honey – Having not had that many honey processed coffees before trying this one, I was pleased to find that this coffee had a balanced flavor profile that I could enjoy daily .
  • Olympia Coffee Roasting Company –  Guatemala El Socorro Maracaturra- After reading this coffee’s cupping notes I was excited to try it. Though it’s stated “tropical fruit candy” notes weren’t as pronounced or nuanced as I had hoped, I still enjoyed the entire 12oz of beans and would recommend this coffee to those who enjoy coffees from Guatemala.
  • Onyx Coffee Lab – Kenya Nyeri Barichu – Having tried coffees from the Nyeri region of Kenya I quickly ordered this coffee in order to compare it the coffees that I had tried from its region and to try out one of the most recent additions to Go Coffee Go’s selection of roasters. I found the coffee to not be as fruit forward as other Kenyan coffees, but still enjoyed its balanced flavor profile.
  • Chromatic Coffee – Unicorn Pony blend – To me this coffee represents the best of what Ethiopian coffees have to offer and is a must try for all specialty coffee drinkers. By blending a dry and wet processed coffees from Sidamo, Ethiopia this coffee bursts with flavors of fresh berries, cherry, tangerine, and cocoa. An all around winner!

Which coffees will I be trying next? Having enjoyed a few holiday blends last year I ordered Intelligensia’s Celebration Blend and Olympia Coffee’s Holiday Blend and am looking forward to posting reviews of them in the coming week.

A long needed update

Without going into too much detail about why it’s been 2 months since my last coffee journal update I’ll just say that I’ve been busy with life and am committing now to start trying harder to post updates as often as possible….

January

Because I know I’d be going on vacation for the second half of the month I finished the beans I had leftover from December and then bought some from my local shop (Buunni Coffee) to hold me over until the 16th. I find their coffees to be consistently good, but not remarkable. While a bit one note their Sidama and Limu coffees are worth trying if you’re willing to make the trek up to Washington Heights or order their coffees online.

Cafelix 1For the second half of January my wife and I went to Israel for a “baby-moon” vacation and were glad to find a micro-roaster named Cafelix. Like many American roasters they offer a variety of single origin coffees along with a full menu of espresso based drinks…Coffee-wise Israel is like many European countries where most cafes focus on espresso based drinks. So while I generally am willing to go against my coffee standards if I really need a pick-me-up, it felt great to not have to do so on the days that I was able to make it to a Cafelix (they have 2 locations, one in Jerusalem and 1 in Tel Aviv).

February

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Once back from Israel it was time to get back to my goal of checking out as many NYC roasters as possible. So on Thursday February 4th I headed to Chelsea to check out two roasters that I had yet to visit. My first stop was Joe Coffee’s Pro Shop + HQ . Though I knew there would be a limited amount of seating due to this locations focus on classes and selling coffee equipment, I was at first taken a back by the lack of a homey café atmosphere. However, I was able to take a step back focus on the coffee and gain an appreciation for Joe Coffee’s dedication to specialty coffee education and the support of other roasters. As to be expected I ordered my usual pour-over and single origin espresso (replacement for my previous macchiato order)…For the pour-over I went with Joe’s M. Herrera (Honduras) which was a good, medium bodied, and somewhat bright tasting morning coffee, but lacked the complexity that I look for in a Central American coffee. On the other hand I ordered the guest single origin espresso of the day which was George Howell’s Borboya (Ethiopia). True to its cupping notes the espresso was full boded and full of bright acidity which added notes of grapefruit and ginger.  If I hadn’t already decided to go visit Café Grumpy I would have bought a bag of this coffee to take home. Instead I bought Joe’s Baroida Estate (Papua New Guinea) beans and though I was not blown away by the resulting coffee I was glad to have tried a coffee from a country that I had yet to try a coffee from.

Grumpy2After a short walk I arrived at Café Grumpy’s Chelsea location and was quickly drawn in by its homey café atmosphere. Both baristas that I spoke with while  choosing which coffees to order (beans-to-go, pour-over, and single origin espresso) were welcoming and seemed genuinely interested in chatting about specialty coffee. For my pour-over and beans-to-go I went with their 2 Guatemalan coffees, La Bolsa (pour-over) and Los Santos (beans-to-go). Both of which I enjoyed, but when I went there again on February 22nd I once again ordered the La Bolsa. Of note, when talking to the baristas on the 22nd I remarked that its bright acidity reminded me of the blueberry notes that I’ve come to like in coffees from Sidama, Ethiopia and was told that the previous La Bolsa harvest that they received was grown at a lower elevation and in turn not as bright and complex tasting as the one I was enjoying. Grumpy1 I can’t be 100% certain, but I’m pretty sure that the single origin espresso that I enjoyed both times was their Gatuyaini Estate (Kenya). I liked it so much that I bought a bag of the beans to try at home. Brewed via pour over and French press it lacked the wow-factor of the espresso, but left me wondering how it would taste when roasted to a lesser degree. Lastly, as shown in the picture above the baristas at this Café Grumpy location utilize a new and innovative hands-free pour-over machine called Poursteady (click picture for more information) to not only brew consistent pour-overs, but to increase their overall efficiency. Meaning, orders are not held up by baristas having to focus their attention on brewing pour-overs in between espresso based drinks.

On February 18th I met up with a friend at Irving Farm‘s upper west side location. This was our first time meeting up for coffee after weeks of geeking out over which coffees we were enjoying at home etc.. Sadly I don’t remember which coffees I ordered for my pour over and shot of single origin espresso, but I do remember enjoying both of them. The highlights of this visit can described as “the good news and the bad news”, and in order to end off on positive note I’ll start with the bad news. As you’ve read in this and other posts on this blog I regularly buy beans to go when I go to a specialty coffee roaster’s café and prefer those beans to have bean roasted less than a week before I buy them. However, despite the large variety of coffees available for purchase at this Irving Farm location I was unable to find beans that met my roasted on date preference both times that I’ve been there. Now for the good news…After my first visit being on a Sunday morning when the line was out the door and my wife and I were lucky to find seats at a table, I was happy to be able to enjoy a quieter atmosphere this time around. Then after being unsure of what to order and opting for his usual Americano I convinced my friend to order a macchiato and he has been hooked on them ever since. To me an Americano is just diluted espresso and a specialty coffee roaster’s good quality espresso should be enjoyed in its full flavored form. In turn, when it comes to adding a “secondary liquid” (milk or water) to specialty coffee I’ve found that the macchiato strikes the perfect balance with its smooth yet bold espresso flavors.

February into March – Most recent coffee experiences

Before discussing my most recent specialty coffee experiences I’d like to first list my current Top 5 NYC specialty coffee roasters in terms of coffee quality, coffee consistency, and café atmosphere 1. Blue Bottle 2. Stumptown 3. Intelligensia 4. Café Grumpy 5. Gorilla Coffee, honorable mention: Café Vita / Madman Espresso.

BB1Ever since I first visited Blue Bottle’s Williamsburg location I’ve never had anything less than a great cup of coffee from Blue Bottle Coffee Company. In the past couple of weeks I’ve paid the extra subway fare to get off the F train on my way to and from work twice to grab my ‘usual’ coffee order at their Dean St. location (1 block from the Bergen Street stop). Both times I ordered a pour-over of their El Salvador Aida Battle Tanzania (Natural). True to its cupping notes (posted on the cafe’s menu, couldn’t find them online) this coffee had a refreshing and bright acidity with notes of strawberry preserves and lemon. In turn, while I can’t see it as an everyday drinker, I can recommend it as a coffee that can be enjoyed throughout the year and at any hour of the day. Lastly, having had yet another wow experience with a non-African coffee I am quite optimistic about my potential for having similar experiences as long as I keep seeking them out.

Current Coffee: Yankee Prepper Coffee’s Tanzania Peaberry “Mt. Kilimanjaro”

Coffee Journal Update: Brewing up a new coffee blog

12314569_787708254707_831876219419196319_oAs in my previous coffee journal updates I’ll go in chronological order of coffee experiences in this first official ‘Barry’s NYC Coffee Journal’ update…After going to a doctor’s appointment in Midtown I decided to check out Blue Bottle’s Rockefeller Center location. Thankfully though I had some difficulty finding it I had a great experience starting from the moment that I walked in. As with my love for seeing others enjoying craft beer it was exciting to see tourists and young professionals ordering good quality coffee and buying beans to take home. Another aspect of this cafe that impressed me was that  it’s set up as if 2 cafes are operating in one location. One serving only coffee and the other serving coffee and food. So after browsing their selection of single origin coffees I picked their ‘Ethiopia Sidama Hunkute’ and a Costa Rican coffee whose cupping notes peeked my interest and then decided to order my usual pour-over and macchiato from the counter serving both coffee and food. To my delight both baristas were open to geeking out with me, helping me finalize my decision for which single origin coffees to purchase, and chat about the aromas I picked up from the ‘Ethiopia Sidama Hunkute’ (ESH) pour-over (lemongrass and black tea) that I had ordered. As seen in the picture that I took with my cell phone when I got home I ended up swapping the Costa Rican beans out with the barista recommended ‘Honduras Santa Elena Mayor Victor Ventura’ (HSEMVV). Upon brewing them at home I was surprised that the ESH wasn’t as berry forward as the other Sidama coffees that I’ve tried, but enjoyed it nonetheless…At first the HSEMVV didn’t impress me as much as i thought it would because I hadn’t tried a coffee with a combination of brown sugar and nutty sweetness in the aroma and upfront taste. However, once it cooled down a bit some mild acidity surfaced and made my drinking experience quite enjoyable. One last thing that I’d like to note here is that while a touch pricey I enjoy being able to buy 8oz bags of beans at Blue Bottle cafes so that I can buy 2 single origin coffees at once to enjoy over the following week or so (instead of buying one 12 or 16oz bag).

12370913_789979592927_3681836704681235579_oThe next two coffees that I alternated between each involve their own rather unique new specialty coffee experiences or stories if you will…For those of you who follow my homebrewing blog I recently brewed a brown ale and then split it so I could add cold brewed coffee to one half. As you can see in the picture to the left I purchased two coffees from Porto Rico Importing Company (Columbian Supreme and their Iced Coffee Blend), cold brewed a portion of them using my usual 1 cup coarsely ground coffee to 3 cups water rartio, and then added some of the Columbian Supreme cold brew to one half of my brown ale. Luckily I had more than enough beans leftover to brew via my Hario V60 pour-over cone and the french press that I keep in my office at work.

12357202_789979587937_2320731638654649962_oThe next coffee that I enjoyed brewing at home involved the following experience. After yet another dental appointment at the NYU clinic I headed straight to Madman Espresso (14th Street between 1st and 2nd avenues) for a dose of “my usual”. Thankfully the pour-over coffee of the day was a single origin from Caffe Vita called Columbia Esperanza and not a blend (not that blends aren’t also good). As i sipped on it I looked up the cupping notes on my phone and was able to pick up the honey and pineapple notes that I had just read about…This time I decided to order a second pour-over instead of a macchiato and before leaving I bought a pound of  Columbia Esperanza beans to go. I should not that the barista scooped the beans from his large bag into a smaller one that he had saved for this type of occasion. Upon asking for the beans he informed me that a free espresso shot comes with the purchase of beans to go. So for the first time I gave straight espresso a try and to my surprise I was able to enjoy it without a chaser of club soda or needing to add milk. In turn, I’ll definitely be ordering straight espresso again to truly taste the difference between the coffees that NYC roasters use for their espresso drinks.

12402225_791978576947_8391607727935882148_oAs you may have seen in my previous blog post (‘Public Service Announcement / Where I stand‘); I visited Gorilla Coffee‘s Bergen Street location on Monday, December 28th. Upon my arrival I was pleased to see that the cafe wasn’t too busy. As I usually do, I first browsed their “beans to go” (yes I know coffee is technically a fruit) selection and chose Asobagri, a Guatemalan single origin coffee whose cupping notes are baker’s chocolate, plum, and mango. I then walked up to the counter and asked the barista for a pour-over recommendation. She recommended and I then ordered their SAN JOAQUIN, EL SALVADOR which had a great floral spice note to it that I really enjoyed. In addition, to the pour-over I ordered their single origin espresso of the day (La Esperanza, El Salvador) in a macchiato, which I wasn’t too impressed by, but I’d still like to taste the coffee itself at some point…Having enjoyed the Asobagri over the days since purchasing it I’m quite certain that I’ll be buying more Gorilla single origin coffees in the near future…As a side note to me this Guatemalan coffee initially presents with a punch of honey in the aroma and taste that is typical of coffees that I’ve tasted from Guatemala and Colombia, but as it cools a big dose of delicious baker’s chocolate and fruity acidity dominate the aroma and flavor and make for a perfect cold weather drinking experience.

So why’d I decide to start a completely separate blog devoted to sharing my NYC specialty coffee experiences? Two conversations that took place this past Monday guided me towards starting a coffee blog instead of continuing to post ‘coffee journal updates’ on my homebrewing blog. First, when chatting with the baristas at Gorilla Coffee I told them that I have been trying my best to visit as many of NYC’s coffee roasters as possible and they were both quite curious about which ones I had been to and which ones I enjoyed the most. Then once I got to work I was had a great discussion with a fellow coffee geek friend of mine via Facebook and he asked me why I hadn’t started a coffee blog yet. So after looking over the updates that I had already posted on thebrewedpalate.com I decided to take the time to register a new WordPress blog called Barry’s NYC Coffee Journal. I hope you enjoy this first official journal update…I’m looking forward to continuing to share more of my NYC specialty coffee experiences with you in the near future.

Public Service Announcement / Where I stand

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 Public Service Announcement

Please be patient while I set up this new blog. Also, being that this blog is an offshoot of my homebrewing blog aka The Brewed Palate, I will only be posting here when I have to content to post. For example, if you look at my first post I haven’t posted a journal entry in a little over a month and I therefore will be typing up an update ASAP. Over time I plan on putting together some tools that will help those looking to experience NYC’s growing specialty coffee culture find the best cafes to have a memorable NYC coffee experience. So be patient and please comment below with suggestions for future posts.

Where I stand

Which coffee roasters have I tried coffees from since I began my journey this past summer and which ones are on my would I like to visit in the coming weeks and months?

Coffee roasters whose cafes I’ve visited so far:

1. Cafe Buunni (Washington Heights, Manhattan)
2. La Colombe (SOHO, Manhattan)
3. Intelligensia (Chelsea, Manhattan)
4. Blue Bottle (Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Rockafeller Center, Manhattan)
5. Porto Rico Importing Company (West Village, Manhattan)
6. Stumptown (West Village, Manhattan)
7. Elixr (Philadelphia, PA)
8. Irving Farm (Upper West Side, Manhattan)
9. Caffe Vita / Madman Espresso (Lower East Side, Manhattan)
10. Gorilla (Park Slope, Brooklyn)

 

To try list:

 
  • Grumpy – 199 Diamond Street Brooklyn, NY 11222 (roastery) / 193 Meserole Avenue | Brooklyn, NY 11222 (café)
  • Caffe Vita’s actual café – 124 Ludlow Street, New York, NY 10002
  • Joe Coffee  – 131 west 21st street New York, NY 10011
  • Irving Farm – to buy beans  – 224 W 79th St, New York, NY 10024
  • Plowshares Coffee 2730 Broadway (btwn 104th/105th) New York, NY 10025
  • Oslo Coffee – 328 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
  • Brooklyn Roasting Company – 50 West 23rd St. (between 5th and 6th Avenues) New York, NY 10010 OR 25 Jay Street Brooklyn, NY 11201 (Roastery)
  • City of Saints – 299 Meserole St, Brooklyn NY 11206 (Roastery) / 79 E 10th St @ 4th Ave., New York NY 10003 (café)
  • Stone Street Coffee – available at Fairway Market
  • Crop to Cup Importers – 541A 3rd Ave Brooklyn, NY 11215

My NYC Coffee Adventure So far

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10/16/15 – The start of a new passion

Over this past Summer I began moving away from major chain coffee shop coffees (cough..cough Starbucks aka “Charbucks” to some coffee geeks) and started visiting local specialty coffee roasters; the first of which is located right in my neighborhood. Buunni Coffee is a relatively small roaster of Etheopean and other African coffees, each of which is sold at various roast levels. Their Washington Heights cafe is always busy and the staff are just as passionate about brewing high quality coffee as their customers are about drinking it. After trying the majority of their coffees I was inspired to venture out of Washington Heights and try coffees from as many different roasters as possible and boy have I had a great start to my coffee adventure.

I should note that I’ve always loved the flavor of coffee and never been one to add more than a touch of skim milk and 1 tsp of sugar or packet of Splenda to my cup. But it took until 2015 for me to take hold of the opportunity to utilize my palate, which I’ve spent years developing, to begin to fully experience the wide range of flavors that specialty coffees have to offer. Below is a “list” of the coffees that I’ve tried as of the above date (bolded coffees are the ones I liked the most, italicized coffee are ones that I wouldn’t recommend).

Buunni 

213 Pinehurst Avenue (at 187th Street), New York, NY 10033

Harrar, Sidama, Addis Abba, Limu

La Colombe Torrefaction 

Visited their Soho location 270 Lafayette Street New York, NY 10012

Ethiopia Ardi (Sidama), Phocea, Corsica

Intelligensia:

La Perla De Oaxaca, Mexico, Tikur Anbessa Etheopia (my favorite of all the coffees that I’ve tried so far).

Porto Rico Importing Company 

I usually go to their Bleacker Street location 201 BLEECKER ST.
NEW YORK, N.Y. 10012

Tanzanian Peaberry, India Monsoon Malabar (an acquired taste)

Blue Bottle

Visited their main NYC location location in Willaimsburg location. 160 Berry St.
Brooklyn, NY 11249

Kenya Muranga Gatubu (close in flavor profile to the Tikur Anbessa Etheopia), Bella Donovan, Three Africans.

 10/19/15 – Sunday in Philly – My First Macchiato

coffee elixr

Yesterday my wife and I took a day trip to Philadelphia to meet up with some of my fellow Brew Tubers club members. Since I knew we’d be arriving there before we’d be ready to drink any beer, I took the opportunity to do a Google search for local coffee roasters and found three that I’d try to visit. Though we only made it to two of them, I enjoyed my experience at both of them

As shown in the above picture we first went to Elixr Coffee Roasters (207 S. Sydenham St Philadelphia, PA 19102) and I ordered a pour over of their single origin Konga (Etheopia, Yirgacheffe) and a double shot of Bee Keeper, their house espresso. The Konga was bright and fruity with low to moderate acidity and had a light body. While I’ve found many Ethiopian coffees to be quite blueberry and blackberry forward in terms of their fruit flavor character, this one’s fruitiness came off as more semi-ripe melon, apricot, and strawberry, which as times was akin to a diluted fruit punch. With its low to moderate acidity this coffee didn’t have the acidic pop that I’m become used to in the finish of other fruit forward coffees. Therefore, I’m looking forward to brewing it in a french press in order to give it the body that I think it needs to make it more enjoyable on chilly Autumn mornings.

While enjoying my mug of pour over I slowly sipped my Bee Keeper espresso. I must admit that I’m quite new to drinking straight espresso and was therefore glad to be given a small glass of club soda to cleanse my palate between sips. Though it was on the bitter side for me, I enjoyed Bee Keeper’s rich body and flavor profile of cocoa, caramel, and black tea…To better explain my final thoughts I’ll give some background. This past Friday I went to the Starbucks in my neighborhood to pick up some of their Via instant coffee and ended up ordering my first ever straight dopio espresso. Without putting any milk or sugar in it I walked out of the shop and upon taking my first sip I was taken aback by the bitterness of the espresso. In order to save this first experience I went back inside, stirred in some milk and sugar, and was subsequently quite surprised at the transformation of my experience. In other words, I loved the resulting flavors and made sure to sip my small afternoon pick-me-up as slowly as possible…So while I enjoyed pushing myself to drink the Bee Keeper espresso straight, I’m hoping to try it again sometime as a macchiato.

coffee macAfter eating lunch, meeting up with some of my fellow Brew Tubers for a couple pints, and walking around the Penn Square area, my wife and I decided to grab a warm drink at La Colombe Torrefaction’s Dilworth Plaza café (1414 South Penn Square Philadelphia, PA 19102). After looking over the menu I decided to try their workshop series macchiato. Sadly I did not ask which of their workshop series coffees they were using for the macchiato. However, after admiring the star design made by the barista I took my first sip I was blown after by the fruity acidity of the espresso and knew I’d enjoy sipping it while my wife enjoyed her hot chocolate. We enjoyed our drinks so much that we both ordered a second round. As I finished my second macchiato I remarked to my wife that the acidity was beginning to overwhelm and dry out my palate. Therefore, in the future I’ll probably sample both espressos on the menu to switch up the flavor profiles and or drink some water in between “rounds”.

10/24/15 – Changing of the Roasters

Before I discuss specific coffees I’d like to discuss my current routine for trying out new coffees (blend and single origin) at home… A) Currently I am the sole caffeinated coffee drinker at home, and therefore despite  my 20oz travel mug which I use 5-6 days a week for my coffee, it’s been taking me a bit longer than in the past to finish off a pound of beans.  B) Due to my tendency to go all out when exploring a hobby that relates to my creative nature I’ve recently started buying two coffees at a time so I can alternate as I so desire. While this may prove to be at times a losing battle in terms of coffee freshness, I plan on continuing doing so as long as time and finances allow. C) Lastly I should note that I store my beans in Vacu Vin Coffee Saver tinted air tight containers that I store in a kitchen cabinet in order to maintain freshness as best as I can.

Elixr KenyaOn to the title of this journal entry… After 10 days (minus 2 where I didn’t drink them) of alternating between Three Africans and Bella Donovan, two of  Blue Bottle’s year round blends I brewed my first pour over cup of Elixr’s Kenya Kiambu this morning. While sipping from my travel mug during my morning commute via subway (NYC), I was surprised to not pick up on any particular fruit flavors beyond the general moderate to high acidity and balanced sweetness that African coffees are known for. However, once I got to work and was sitting in my office eating breakfast, I removed the lid of my travel mug and was surprised to pick up a prominent mandarin orange flavor. Next, while Elixr’s cupping notes describe this coffee’s underlying sweetness as cocoa nib and clove, I perceived it as bakers chocolate with a touch of added sweetness and some earthy undertones. In terms of body, despite the coffee’s acidity creaping up towards the high end of medium and my brewing it via my Hario V60 pourover cone, this coffee’s body was definitely medium and smooth…I’ll have to drink more of it and brew it via French press to form my final opinion on it, but from this first cup/mug I can definitely give Elixr’s Kenya Kiambu a thumbs up.

For those who are interested click here to check a discussion about people’s go to coffee regions on the ‘coffee’ subreddit.

11/9/15 – Changing of the Roasters – Stumptown

Stump2After finishing two great African coffees from Elixr Coffee Roasters it was time to return to my NYC coffee adventures and check out another local roaster’s café. Though they’re not based in NYC, I was excited to check out Stumptown Coffee Roaster’s West 8th Street location. On Thursday, 11/5 I took the A train to West 4th St. and walked a few blocks to the café. Having been to their smaller Ace Hotel location, I was quite impressed by the size and décor of this location. Converted into a café from a bookshop,  the wood laden walls and furniture made it immediately clear that a lot of effort was put into creating a homey atmosphere for coffee lovers.

Stump3After choosing two coffees to try at home I made my way up the line of customers and ordered a pour over of their newest Ethiopian coffee (Ethiopia Kochere) and a macchiato. After a brief conversation, the barista who was taking my order gave me a card which I can bring back to get hole punched and eventually get a free 12oz bag of coffee and said the macchiato was on the house. As if my experience couldn’t get any better, the barista who brewed my chemex pour over did not take any short cuts. She used a timer to time the brewing process, a scale to weigh the beans and water, a hot plate to keep the water at the ideal temperature, and a glass stir stick to stir the coffee grounds during their initial bloom. As a budding coffee geek, her attention to detail only enhanced my experience and  gave me a new level of respect for Stumptown.

Stump1The two coffees that I purchased to brew at home were Ethiopia Mordecofe and Guatemala Bella Vista. So far I’ve brewed them both with my Hario V60 pour over cone. Both of them were true to their cupping notes and packed a bunch with great body and flavors. I’m definitely excited to try more Guatemalan coffees in the coming months, but I’ll definitely make sure to always have an Ethiopian or Kenyan available to brew at home. In other words, I’ve come to prefer the flavor profile of coffees from those countries and want to keep exploring how various factors effect the differences in each coffee’s character (body, aroma, taste).

 11/27/15 – Madman visits Irving Farm only to return to Stumptown

Madman 1Since my last Coffee Journal entry I’ve had some palate please coffee experiences and as I sip my Friday morning coffee (emergency Starbucks Via – Italian Roast in my office at work) I’m writing this entry…On 11/12 (and again on 11/23) I had a dentist appointment on the lower east side of Manhattan and upon a friend’s recommendation checked out Madman Espresso (319 E 14th St, New York, NY 10003). Madman serves coffees from Caffe Vita both as pour over and espresso. When I first went there on the 12th I enjoyed a pour over of their Theo blend, which was quite straight forward tasting with hints of chocolate and an herbaceous quality woven into an otherwise generic darker roast coffee character. What saved my first visit was the macchiato that I got along with the Theo pour over. The espresso flavors were rich, chocolaty, and finished with a hint of fruity acidity and were blended quite well with just the right amount of steamed milk. Also, the barista was quite welcoming and open to chatting about specialty coffee and the rotation of single origin and blend coffees that come through this Madman location. Before leaving to head to work I ordered a second macchiato to go because I wanted to continue savoring my experience for just a bit longer…When I went back for my second visit I was happy to be told that the pour over coffee of the day was single origin Kenya AA and I quickly ordered it. Being that I’ve slowly become familiar with Kenyan coffees I was pleased to taste and smell notes of berries, candied citrus, and toffee. Before leaving I ordered a macchiato to go and for some reason it didn’t taste the same as the first two that I had in that it was nuttier and not as bold tasting. Next I go there I’ll have to ask if they also rotate which coffees they use for their espresso-based drinks.

     IrvingFarmOn Sunday, 11/15 I went with my wife to check out yet another NY coffee roaster named Irving Farm Coffee Roasters. The upper west side location that we visit was quite busy which took away from my preferred quiet coffee drinking atmosphere, but I was able to grab seats and then get online to order my usual pourover and macchiato. For my pour over I chose  El Molino, El Salvodor, which although it wasn’t as bold as some of the Ethiopian coffees that I’ve had, lived up to its cupping notes with flavors of dried Apricot and molasses along with a hint of almond in the finish. The macchiato was good, but not exceptional in that it didn’t have any flavors that made it unique…I’d like to visit either Irving Farm again at a time when this or one of their other locations isn’t as busy in order to get the full/quiet coffee shop experience I’ve come to enjoy.

12184231_785673382607_3052784769053745245_oLastly on Thursday 11/19 I once again went to Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ West 8th Street location to buy some beans and have my usual pour over and macchiato…Instead of going for an African coffee I decided to try Marvin Robles, Costa Rica , a barista’s recommendation. True to its cupping notes it had a great aftertaste of rainier cherries. Since Stumptown always has a large variety of single origin coffees in stock I’ll definitely be continuing my efforts to venture out of my African coffee comfort zone and try coffees from Latin American countries such as Costa Rica and Guatemala.

Current coffees: Stumptown Ethiopia Duromina and my friend Merlin’s whisky barrel-aged coffee.

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