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BBC world service download

Found this really interesting mp3 download from the BBC world service about coffee production.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/documentary_archive/6609141.stm

Not so sure about the validity of some of the figures it throws out, and it’s uses some very simplistic calculations for its arguments but the point I guess is the same. I do like the chance for Starbucks to stand up for them selves. As I’ve said in the past there are green buyers that do a far worse job of looking after farmers than them.  They’re not blameless but get used as easy target by the press as they are so visible and people can easily relate to them.

The program has a really quite balanced approach to the whole argument rarely seen, but I shed no tears for the chain owners pleading poverty towards the end, kind of like saying I cant afford that Ivory back scratcher, I must be poor.

SCAA show round up. (long post)

Ok the blogging never really happened while I was away for a number of reasons. The main one being I didn’t give myself enough time to do anything there. It was very crammed with lots of things to do. I’m back in old blighty now and trying o gather my thoughts I’ll try and break it down into small pieces.

Day 1 (well kind of day 0 Thursday).

I arrive into Los Angeles airport (I’m sorry I know it sounds all big time but that’s what happened and it isn’t as big time as you may think). The time there 17:00 hrs, the time at home 1 am Friday morning. I’ve been awake for 20 hours and arrive in a place on my own not knowing where I’m going. There was a time a few years ago where I would have been petrified to travel alone with such ill preparation. Two weeks ago I was not going anywhere, now I’m here.

I flew into LA because long beach airport is small regional and was going to cost around £200 more in flights and four hours because of the connections longer, so I used some of that money saved to hire a car and drive down. Lon beach is around 45 mins in the car so I thought not to bad. As a treat to myself I decided to hire a Convertible, the sun the warmth just leant themselves to it. The one I’d order (a really cheap thing) had been given out by mistake so I end up with a Ford Mustang huge V6 soft top beast. I join the Freeway (honestly still not big time billy at all), and panic. I’ve since found out that the people of California talk about two things, the sun and the traffic. Prime evidence of this was one of the mornings where I couldn’t sleep (I’ll tell you more latter) I was watching a TV program that was all about the traffic 100% traffic. And at 4:30 am there were Jams. I’ve since found out a lot of this is to do with the west coast being 8 hours behind the east, a lot of the commodity buyers aligned to New York, have to start earlier.

So any way back on track, the traffic was back to back and hour fifteen to do a 30 min journey most of the time. An automatic stop start skid on the wrong side of the road journey, it was great.

I arrive at my Motel (the best way I can describe it was like the one in the TV program “my name is earl”, but moved into the middle of the red light district of long beach. Because of the lateness of booking the trip this was one of the last places available and I can truly see why. But it was cleanish, and it had a bed I could lie in and it had running water most of the time.

I turn on my phone to see messages from two of my friends already here, so a quick change and down to the nicer part of town for a welcome drink. In the bar of the Westin I meet Stephen and the clover guys and my new best friend, Klaus Thomsen, soon join us. I really like Klaus, it would be so easy to be turn into an egomaniac after winning the WBC but he’s just a really nice welcoming guy, he hardly knows me, but I felt so comfortable in his company. Any how I beg some Dollars from Stephen as my credit card company think someone’s running across the west coast with my credit card details, they are right its me but they put a block on it any way. I’m in a foreign country with no money, again great plans.

Real Day 1

My big day, I cant tell you too much as that would be unprofessional to share the contents of a meeting, but this is my first board meeting as a member of the board of directors for the alliance for coffee excellence (the cup of excellence owners). I’m suited and booted (I’m told there is even some photographic evidence of me in a shirt and tie somewhere), my feet end up hurting from 11 hours in a pair of shoes and I have battle scares in the form of blisters. One thing I can share is I’ve been charged with Andreas from Norway to head the Membership committee, and find way to gain more members. So if you have any ideas share away.

I rush out of the meting at 7pm knowing I am 20 blocks away from my hotel and a bus to catch at 8pm to the intelligentsia party, one of the highlights of the trip I’m looking forward too. I make it just about and it’s a fantastic event really put together well. Instead of me telling you I’ll show you some pictuires at the link below, fun times.
CLICK ME

One thing I must add is how much I loved the 49th Parallel guys, Barrett you rock even though we turned up in the same England shirt and Linsey was lovely so knowledgeable and interesting to talk to.

One thing the photos wont tell you about is myself and Gary McGann from Espresso Warehouse in Glasgow missing the last bus home and being saved by Steve Ford from Ecco café and his friend who drove us the hour long journey back to long beach, British on tour can not be trusted.

Day 2 or is it three or something I don’t know

I’m very laggy, more so than ever before, 8 hours is a lot to deal with I haven’t eaten as I don’t know when I should eat, my watch has stopped so I have no idea what time it is any way. I’m sleeping around 2 hours and then my body is saying get up.

I arrive at the hall 9am, with the intention of watching some US barista competition action, again something I’ve really looked forward too. Now some of this could be down to the lack of sleep food etc, but I hated the competition. It was very far away from the competitors there wasn’t a good view to be had of all of the stations and there was no atmosphere at all. I tried a number of times on the day and it just didn’t feel like the kind of place you could settle, as I say maybe it was just me.

I went to one of the educational sessions before the show floor opened called New wave, Third wave what wave (or something like that). Held by Sarah Allen of Barista Magazine, Chris Deferio of Carriage House Café, Kyle Larson of Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Matthew Riddle of Intelligentisia Coffee and the moma of third wave Trish R. Skeie of Zoka Coffee. I was astounded at the negativity held towards them at the start and how well and articulated these guys came out of it at the end. It was a great season.

The show floor is exactly what I expected, I don’t like trade shows I hated the SCAE last year. I slightly less hated this one as there were friends I could go bum some great coffee from, 49th coming through with some awesome COE coffee and a great E Café Ethiopian, but a number of good coffee around.

One of the reasons for me going to the show was to meet Joe Behmor who has made a new roaster called the Behmor 1600, there are a few threads around in net land ikf you search the term “Behmor 1600”. I must admit (and I told Joe this) that I never thought this product would see the light of day, but through Joe’s perseverance, and being very stubborn (his words not mine) he’s got it to a place where it is nearly ready for market. Don’t expect to see it in Europe until November but once we get our sample and can make it do the same as it did on Saturday then we hope to be able to work together. I think me and joe hit it off, and I really like his style, but I am very eager to get my hands on a 220-240v to see how it works here. It claims little to no smoke while roasting and I saw no smoke it claims to do roasts coffee in a profile time that’s acceptable. I saw him to half a pound in around 12 mins not including cooling and was told a pound is just a little longer (it has setting for ¼ of a pound ½ a lb and 1 lb). I have a sample from it to cup as soon as I get back to work tomorrow, and will let you know how it goes.

Some Photos below

CLICK ME

After the show I had the chance to go party again, but I couldn’t I just wanted to sleep so that’s what I did, as flying back Sunday morning is not good when over tired particularly as back to the roaster straight away.

So it was a rushed trip with a lot crammed in and without any R & R either, which is never a good mix. But I got to meet some great people who have been inspirations to me for so long and some new ones who will be fresh inspiration. I got to achieve one of the greatest things in my working life being nominated onto the ACE board, and I got to go to one of the best party’s I’ve ever been too, every where I looked was a new friend or an old friend, stunning and special times.

On my way

Today I blog from Manchester Airport, on my way to the SCAA show in Long Beach California. I’ve been a little cagey about specifically why I’m going, and a certain project I’ve had on the go for a while, but today I can tell you all why.

You all know from previous blog postings, I love the cup of excellence program. The cup of excellence program is managed and owned by the Alliance for Coffee Excellence. This is an organisation made up of volunteer directors and a paid executive that make all the decisions regarding the program and have steered it to its present day success in highlighting the very best coffees from member countries.

Recently there was an opportunity to be nominated to this board of directors, and for what ever reason I decided it would be a good thing to do. The nominating system is quite different to any other board I’ve seen before but basically there is a steering committee that decide from the nominations who will serve on the board. I unfortunately wasn’t one of the ones selected but never one to lie down, I was put into the voting by a write in collecting some support from current members, and have successfully been elected to the board of directors.

So what does this mean? Well it means I’ll be attending a few board meetings per year, and generally offering support advice and my experience as a micro roaster. The current board didn’t really have the European micro roaster base covered (in fact there wasn’t one European roaster). Its really exiting for me as I’ve wanted a project I could sink my teeth into and the cup of excellence is something that is very dear and close to my heart.

I’ve never really been one for clubs, and I’ve certainly never been voted onto anything before so it gives me real pride that my peers in the industry have thought I could do a good job for them.

I know some of that coffee industry read this blog, and for these friends who offered their support, I can not thank you enough. For my customers and non-industry friends ( I wonder what the difference is) it will mean little apart from we will at the heart of promoting the best coffees from around the world and making sure that they get to the customers table.

One of my goals for the board is to be a mouth piece for the little guy, from someone at home, brewing coffee to other roasters across Europe. So please feel free to mail me with comments, suggestions and anything else you can think of regarding the program.

My tour is brief and I’m not sure how much time I will have with my computer (so far every waking minute is allocated to something). So blogs may not happen as often as I’d like, but I’m armed with my camera and will have a long flight back to collect my thoughts so hopefully I’ll have some postings of my tour whistle stop tour of the SCAA show.

Its a Boy !!!!

OK sorry for the lack of updates here (seem to be saying that a lot). There has been a lot going on this week, busy roasting week, some other stuff going on in the background of which I’ll tell you more at a later date, and this.

We would like to announce the birth of a boy to the Has Bean family. Blessed with three daughters (Amy, Betsy and Bertha) we now have a boy. Yet to be named its birth weight is over half a ton, and over 7 ft tall!

OK ok Amy, Betsy and Bertha are my roasters and we finally placed the order for a 25kg probat roaster this week. The final decision came down to having support for maintenance for the machine in the UK. For so long with the 2kg and the 5 kg a and the 15kg I have had to do any works to keep it going. With the smaller roaster its easy the mid one a little more but still do able, the larger roaster I’ve found it’s a bit too much and I could do with someone to call on for the harder work. The thought of maintaining a 25kg didn’t fill me with excitement. Also Probat the name comes with a great deal of history, and when I’ve used them in the past been impressed with the quality and the “feel”.

So now we have to wait for it to be built, which takes around 6 to 8 weeks and delivery from Germany (which I hope is quicker). Of course we will be saying something here, as I’m very exited about it all.

Probat L25

In other news I’m going to the SCAA conference in Long Beach USA. It’s a chance to see what’s new in the industry, and also catch up with some friends out there. Also a chance to go and see the US barista championships, of which I’m very exited about. As always blogs and photos while I’m there, now where did I leave those sunglasses.

Flowers from El Bosque ?

Keeping going our special friendship with the Brothers of El Bosque they have sent me some photos of this years crop being sorted at their mill in Guatamala. They also sent some pictures of the plants in flower which are stunning photos, some of the best I’ve seen. The flowers on them are massive and its from the same area where the other photo with me in was taken just a few months earlier.

Take a look at http://www.flickr.com/photos/hasbean/

Kind of made me wonder how Mother Nature knows what to do and when, and how beautifully she does it all. Sorry I’m going all bleary eyed thinking of the good times spent there in January this year, and how much the farm and the brothers impressed me.

Any way hope you enjoy the pictures.

Ohhhh my, have I been wrong all this time?

You know when you think you know an answer. An answer that you thought you have been very sure of for a long time, and find out it may not be true. Well 9 guys (of whom I hold in great respect) from homebarista.com have done some work on freezing fresh coffee and if this extends shelf life, and it appears that it may have some beneficial results.

It’s a great article at Home Barista but I do worry a little (trying to claw back some credibility). I think its got to be frozen well (i.e. no air in a good freezer) and there must be no condensation on the beans during defrosting. I also believe that buying fresh coffee is the only way to guarantee ultimate freshness, and freezing isn’t for everyone.

But what I do like is having my long standing beliefs challenged and this article is something that really did that, well done guys.