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Barista Creed or Barista Crud

He beat me to it. Kingseven’s blog talking about Mark Prince of Coffeegeek fame re recent post on one of his sites. People who know me, know that a lot of the time I don’t agree with what Mark has to say, not in a bad way and at least he has opinions but a lot of the time I find my self disagreeing. But like many people involved in coffee there opinions are focused on there interests, and the roaster tends to be not the most populated role in the industry in the blog world and the forum world, and I don’t know why this is so. I guess there are more Barista in the world. So I’m trying to ballance that up 🙂

Back to the post. Marks point is that a Barista should be able to make a passable shot of coffee from an average espresso machine, grinder and coffee. This is kind of Ok until you think about why would you want to do this. If you can get access to the best machine possible to you, in you professional or personal life then why wouldn’t you do this? If you can get a good grinder then surely you would want the best one available. And if you aim for mediocre or passable then that’s for me a little low. For the barista they have enough things to work against (time, employers, poor machines poor maintenance not being able to use their suppliers choice but the owners). So why should the Barista be judged on this and not being able to work with the best tools to show how good the coffee is. I’ a subscriber to Kingsevens point of view that every one involved in the production chain should be invisible and the coffee does the talking. No one is more important than the coffee. And life is too short for passable coffee, in fact passable everything. I want the best every time I can.

I must admit the big thing that bothers me about these kind of posts is that these people begin to think that the Barista is the only important person. Talks with more sensible people in the industry acknowledge the importance of everyone’s role, and as I’ve learned this year Barista competition isn’t funnily enough just about the Barista. I saw the face of farmer when Kingseven got through to the final six, and he was overjoyed. I saw the face of the importer who has worked hard to raise the quality of the UK’s coffee again so pleased. I also saw the face of the trainer coach and girlfriend (all the same person) who was in tears of joy. I also saw the face of the employer and espresso machine company who has invested time money effort and commitment to help him get there, drained tiered but pleased to have achieved so much.

And well myself it was a special moment that was worth the hours and hours and many kilo’s of coffee the joy that filled me when his name was announce was special. So when individuals say its all about the rock star barista then I get a little annoyed, yes he puts in the complete work and puts his life on hold, but so do all the other people and this is the synergy of them all coming together, otherwise we roll about in our own domains doing our own thing and no one learns.

Barista Creed: Best Machine, Best Grinder, Best Coffee

Gethumbwini and Honduras

We have been asked every week for over 5 months now when is the Kenya Gethumbwini returning. The fantastic Kenyan of last year, has been disappointing this. Kenya has been hit by droughts this year and this has affected all of the coffee crop, and some places hit more so than others. It would be easy to stock Gethumbwini, but it just isn’t good enough and we won’t stock anything on name alone. So we keep searching for a replacement, and we keep cupping samples hoping things will improve.

Today has been the cup of excellence for Honduras. Last year we missed out on Honduras as we never received samples, so not knowing what they were like meant we decided to leave that auction. This year we have received samples and cupped these coffees extensively. We decided to go for lot 26. Not because we are cheap 🙂 But we cupped 1-10 and enjoyed number one very much but the others were ok but not enough to excite me. We then went 11-20 and I didn’t find anything I really loved. Then 21 to 33 there were some real gems. Quite often in these auctions you look further down and you find great coffee. Number 26 was a wow coffee for me and we secured it. Keep your eyes peeled for it arriving, I can’t wait. In the cup its going to be a great espresso coffee (really great as I sit sipping a SO shot now). It reminds me of a great Sumatra blended with a quality Brazilian. This is Spicy, smooth with a fruit twist of summer fruits. You wait 🙂

World Cup

World Cup

So the world cup is upon us, and for those who know me my two passions in life are coffee and football. So I look for links into this so here is the mini Has Bean League.

My top 5 coffee teams

1. England

Produces some of the finest coffee roasters  And the place I drink the most coffee  Well I’m sorry but there my number one team

2 Costa Rica

Home of Paulo Wanchope and of Tarrazu “the coffee not the number 9). Great little team who I hope will do well in the competition. Come of the Tico’s

3 Brazil

Well this is for Gabriel at Fazenda Cachoeira more than anything. I’m hoping for a Brazil England Final so I can bet his plantation on England to win 

4 Australia

This ones for Andrew Ford owner of MountainTop. We know we are better than them at Rugby and Cricket but they know we are better than them at football.

5 Mexico

Haven’t produced a real kicking coffee or a kicking football team for a few years, but lets hope this year we will see both.

6 Ecuador

Producers of unique small lots, and off to a great start yesterday in the competition. Like their coffee one to watch.

7 Ivory Coast

I know as much about their team as I do their coffee. I’ve seen it I’ve sampled it, but no depth of knowledge. But I’ll be shouting them on in there quest against Argentina today.

8 Italy

Ok Not a coffee producer but producer of fine espresso machines. Like their machines there flashy, big powerful, but useless without the coffee, close but no cigar for these guys I think.

My not so good teams.

1 French

For crimes against coffee, some of the worst coffee I have ever drunk is French, lovely people but no real quality coffee culture. Thiery Henry is the one shining light in this team.

2. Argentina

So close to being a coffee producing country but instead produced lots of Corned Beef. And don’t get me started on the hand of god from Maradona I’m a bitter man  Not as good as in recent competitions quarter final falls I think.

3 . Switzerland

I want to like these guys but Nescafe, nuff said

4 Germany

The hosts, and go into this tournament not fancied by many. Defensively kind of weak, but are the dark horses to watch. Why not in the not so good teams, we Italia 90 they knocked England out. But we do have to thank them for the 66 final where we beat them in extra time for England’s only ever world cup win. They are only in my bad league by the skin of their teeth, but we work closely with some German guys and it’s just not worth the phone calls afterwards.

So enjoy the competition.

Another afternoon in Hot Hot London

Another day another cupping down in London. I was at our friends Mercanta, cupping the cup of excellence lots for Nicaragua and Honduras, Great table and some sure fire Has Bean lots there. Great quality (as you would expect), but really unusual cups. We haven’t stocked Honduras for a long time due to a mixture of serious concerns about quality and our import partners and the UK in general not being a big fan of Honduras coffee. But the quality is there and there was serious interest in these lots here (and more interest than ever from me).For Nicaragua COE, we are a BIG supporter of. I look at Nicaragua with a huge emotional attachment, as it’s the first origin visit last year, and what a wonderful time it was. I view Nicaragua as my first step in to learning my trade, and is a beautiful country with fantastic coffee and wonderful people. Different to other cup of excellence countries this coffee tends (and this is a mass generalisation) to be best in the filter/ french press. The table today proved me wrong, and I found some good coffees that would be great in espresso. But as expect I also found some great filter drinks and expect to see us to participate for sure.

But my world as a coffee fanatic and a coffee buyer clashed today. On my way to the cupping I’m sitting on a train with my laptop thinking what do I do. Spare time is not something I have often, but time on a train gives me this nice problem and I have to think what to do, so I started to watch a DVD a importer has leant me. The DVD is by the world barista champion 2003 (I think) Paul Basset. I met Paul in Bern Switzerland a few weeks ago and my thought was I didn’t really like him. He made an off the cuff remark at me that I just didn’t like and got my back up a little (most unlike me but it did). But I watched his DVD as I’m 1st a coffee enthusiast, 2nd I’m a coffee professional. I’ve quite enjoyed it, and he makes some good points (there are some moments where I don’t agree but that’s fine). But anyhow back on track I walk in the cupping room and who is there, but Mr Basset. So trying hard to fight the coffee enthusiast saying I’m a fan to the coffee professional who was slightly offended by an off the cuff remark at Bern. So I cup with him listen, take in, go for a Beer afterwards and find he’s a good guy passionate about his coffee, keen on his football and a guy I have lots in common. So what’s learned? First impressions are not always with good foundation, and don’t judge a book by his DVD 

Had a great chat with James Hoffmann and Anette, about coffee stuff, and I leave the chat with them thinking they are complete geeks about coffee and James is scientist that makes me look like an amateur. Two true professionals that inspire any one around them to do the best they can with coffee. James also tried to tell me he cant cup, yes right!!

New Beans and finally Canario

Its been a while since we have had some new beans. When your happy with the range, and nothings coming along in cuppings then why change. I’ve had the “pleasure” of cupping new crop decaf’s and we see the tolima and the Sumatra return of which I’m pleased. More interestingly is the Daterra peaberry, which is fairly unique. This is a great espresso with an unusual twist.But by far my favourite is the Brazilian Fazenda Cachoeira Canario, from our good friend Gabriel. I’ll go out on a limb here and say this is one of the finest examples of single origin coffee I’ve tasted in a very long while. It took me back to a time when I first tried the original Cachoeira (see the cupping notes for more), a true wow moment. If you’re into your coffee (which I guess you are if you’re reading this) then this is a coffee you must simply try.

Only eight bags produced this year. 1 was given to the UK Barista Champion as a gift from the farmer and importer for using the coffee in his winning blend. I used another bag in the development of that blend. So that leaves six bags in the world, of which Has Bean has been able to secure three. You won’t find this anywhere else in the UK (maybe even Europe for a while).

See the cupping notes at the link below

Click Here

Expect to see a Cachoeira blend shortly which will contain three beans from the same farm with very different profiles that is espresso heaven. God I love coffee