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brewing coffee news travel

Making An Espresso At Home During The Corona Crisis

To all my fellow coffee fanatics who crave a good espresso but cry every day because the coffee places are mostly closed: you owe it to yourself to get a Cafflano Kompresso! The only way to make anything that comes close to an espresso at home, easily.

cafflano kompresso blow up view of components
Cafflano Kompresso

It’s durable, cheap and portable. Will save your travels, hotels, and vacation rental too! Works on a train boat or train.

Only hot water needed to make an espresso anywhere

Cafflano Kompresso

You can grind your own beans (for best results) or start out with ground coffee from the supermarket. I’d choose a medium roast wherever possible, not a dark, French or Italian roast, as these are likely to turn out too bitter and “ashy”, IMHO.

Then move up to a pound of gourmet coffee from your favorite show around the corner, ask them to grind it for “espresso”. This way, you can still support your local shops even though they can’t make you your coffee and you create a nice relationship with them for when all this is over and you can get a real espresso again!

And eventually get your own grinder. If you do, get a burr grinder, always! The best entry-level grinder out there is the Baratza Encore, for approx $130 or so. One step up and only different in the number of different grind-size settings it has, it the Baratza Virtuoso.

Baratza was bought by powerhouse and specialty coffee shop darling grinder manufacturer Mahlkรถnig (German for “King Grinder”, BTW!). It’s the only thing they do, build grinders. They are superb in quality and stability, the latter meaning they grind still very well when the burrs start to get dull.

Now, if you’ve read trhis far that means you are serious about coffee, just like myself. I like that.

If you’re thinking of getting the Kompresso, you may also be interested in the Cafflano Klassic. It’s the filter coffee equivalent of the Kompresso. Having the two means you will never NEVER EVER having to go without superb coffee that you make yourself. Anywhere, everywhere, all the time. (The Klassic comes with a grinder built-in so you can even grind the beans just before you brew the coffee.

cafflano Klassic
Cafflano Klassic with built-in grinder for on the road. source: Cafflano

You’re welcome!

And because the proof is in the pudding:

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A post shared by CAFFLANOยฎ COFFEE MAKERS! ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท โ™ป๏ธ (@cafflano.official) on

Categories
brewing coffee news training

Barista ethics, principles and practice

After working as a barista in various places since our return to the Netherlands in July 2019, I’ve learned that the coffee business is vastly better here than on Sint Maarten. The beans, the machines and the skills of the baristas working there are much better than there.

But what’s surprised me the most is that most places stopped after buying better quality beans or investing in a good machine.

Many places shamelessly use the same beans for espresso as well as “gewone koffie”, the historical Dutch name for normal coffee meaning filter coffee that our parents and grandparents used to make.

Some establishments use at least a different grinder when making “koffie”. But they opt using the same espresso machine because it’s there, so the “koffie” is most often approximated by a lungo.

A few use both a different bean as well as a separate grinder. A conscious decision. But I fail to understand why you don’t simply make “koffie” using a filter method?! After all, if it is about the money, and I think it is, then the math of making a liter of coffee from 57-63g of ground coffee is always better than turning 17-19g of the same coffee into 50ml of espresso or 90-100ml of “koffie”. Right?

And if you decide to use different beans for espresso and “koffie”, because of flavor I assume, then how come you don’t use different beans for cappuccino? After all, roughly 70% of coffee drinks sold in the Netherlands are “white coffees” aka milk-based coffees such as flat white, cappuccino, latte macchiato and large lattes.

I’m often disappointed by what I find in espresso bars during my Temper shifts. Large 3 group machines supplied by a caterer and left to more and more careless baristas who’s level of care and quality goes down by the month when management is not present, training is no longer provided and customers don’t know better.

Granted, many people working as barista are students either during the studies or directly after, earning money for leisure time, travel plans or settling down. They learn on the job while doing it and some of them are truly gifted and highly skilled by intuition. Nothing wrong with that. But as soon as they leave, and there’s always a better laying barista position coming next month – turnover is a bitch – knowledge is drained and whoever is left in charge has to pick up the slack. But pay is low, pressure is high and people don’t seem to care or know.

I’ve been searching for a better place to make excellent coffee now for 2 months and every place that I’ve talked to is stuck to bean contracts, doesn’t want to invest anything further and can’t train the people with SCA courses.

Well you can’t have it both ways! You want cheap high quality coffee fast, but you only pick two at any time. Not three. Skilled baristas cost more, care for the equipment, as well as customers. They know how to tweak the machine on a daily or even hourly basis to result in the best quality coffee.

Nothing makes a barista more happy than a great clean machine, new grinder or a kilo of fantastic beans to try out. Reward staff with perks, not salary. The effect is the same, if they truly love their jobs. Hire a legendary barista or roaster to give a workshop and spark their interest again, relight that fire (no, don’t go there!) and give the team a new boost of energy.

Categories
coffee news

Running out of beans

After having finished the amazing reserves of coffee beans I’ve had brought to me by visitors, the sad time arrives when they run out… This happened last week so now I am resorting once again to supermarket coffee from St Maarten.

Which coffee do you drink?” is a question I get asked regularly. Well, I don’t make it a secret but bean selection on St Maarten is pretty poor and limited. I’ve tried all the coffees, both ground and whole bean, and my favorites are the house brands from either SuperU or Carrefour. Value/price is super. They both have the same supplier that packages the coffee in custom packages for both, but the coffee is identical as far as I have been able to test and taste.

They come in different “flavors”: Peru, Colombia, Brasil, Ethiopia and Mexico. The Peru and Ethiopia match the best with my tastes. Bold, strong smells and flavors, full bodied strong coffee with enough balance and sweetness not to make it too bitter. They are blends from 100% Arabica beans. Both of them.

Normal recipes call for 30 gr of coffee for 500 ml of water (at 92-96 Celsius) but since this is an espresso grind and not a filter grind (much finer than would should be used), I either use colder water than prescribed (82-86 C) or I reduce the amount of coffee by 10% (3 grams here).

My favorite brew methods are Aeropress in the morning (it makes a more bitter espresso-style cup) and Hario V60 in the afternoon (smoother, milder, less bitter oils)

Categories
coffee roasting

Sourcing Great Coffee Beans for Sint Maarten

Getting good coffee on this island is a challenge. That’s funny because we live right in the middle of the some of the world’s best coffee countries. So you’d expect a larger selection. Sadly, the opposite is true.

While every coffee selling business here seems to focus on making coffee from cups (Nespresso, Lavazza, Illy) and the local population mostly used to and stuck with cheap, large scale, commercially produced filter coffee such as Santa Domingo ground coffee, very few places have whole coffee beans to begin with.

When I started to make an inventory of the equipment needed to create a Specialty Coffee shop on St Maarten, I immediately noticed the lack of good grinders & espresso machines, long delivery times, uncertain product availability and total lack of good single-origin coffee beans. Malongo, a large French roaster with a presence on the French side of this island (Saint Martin) was the exception. Sadly, their stock was low, the beans old (almost a year after packaging date, no roast date mentioned anywhere!) and the selection limited to four countries: Brasil, Colombia, Rwanda, Ethiopia. And they had just survived hurricane Irma as well but I have no idea how good or bad their stock survived that storm.

So I am doing what everybody here does: if you can’t get it here and people won’t get it for you, you find and buy it yourself in the US, send it to Miami, FL, and have it shipped here by one of the several shipping companies that visit the island at least twice week. Here’s the list of roasters that I’ve contacted and who’ve replied to me they’d be interested in selling us beans at wholesale:

I’m very excited to make a choice from these wonderful companies, their coffee descriptions online give me a lot of confidence that they are indeed “Third Wave Roasters” and take quality seriously. I still have an order coming in from Malongo that will last a while, but their orders take 2 months to fulfill and that’s simply too long. I contacted Smit & Dorlas in Curaรงao but they don’t have single origin coffees, only blends – but can ship these in 2 weeks -, and blends are not what I want to serve in the Double Dutch Cafe for black coffees, if at all possible.

I will blog about the progress that I’m making in getting serious coffee to St Maarten and having people take coffee more seriously on this island. ๐Ÿ™‚

Categories
coffee news

Hand Grinder

I was surprised with a package from the Netherlands that someone forwarded for me. It contained the hand grinder I had ordered a while ago but was delivered after friends had already flown back to Sint Maarten.

Now I can take my Hario V60 or Aeropress anywhere and also grind whole beans on demand. This comes in handy because I’m always scouting for a cool great new pound of coffee beans and the lack of a portable grinder limited what I could source.

Im really happy with this product of a Kickstarter campaign. It’s solid, accurate, easy to use and clean and for a good price.

For the Market Cafe in Simpson Bay I’m still looking for an espresso bean to use and this way I can try a few samples without taking apart my commercial grinders for it!

Categories
brewing coffee

Getting Started with Specialty Coffee

If you are serious about coffee and want to learn and experiment more, I’ve put together a list of items on Amazon that will help you getting started.

You basically have a choice to make about which brewing method to start with:

  • Aeropress
  • Chemex
  • Hario V60

If you prefer an espresso-style (stronger) cup of coffee, then choose Aeropress. If you prefer a more smooth, rich bodied cup of coffee.

Next, you will need to get a coffee bean grinder,a scale to measure the grinds with a precision of 0.1 grams, a water kettle with precise control of the water temperature and ideally also a thermometer to check the water temperature. But if you choose one of the kettles I’ve listed, they have a built-in thermometer so you can forgo that.

If you’re the only person drinking coffee at home (I sympathize with you) then you might want to get a great hand grinder and skip the more expensive Baratza grinder for now. You always get them later and then use the hand grinder for your travel needs!

hand grinder