The Costa Rican arrives, more Intelligentsia delights & Hooooorah – er, I mean Harrar!

Good news, the rather lovely Costa Rican that Scott from Happy Donkey (www.happydonkey.co.uk) kindlyCopyright CakeBoy 2008 allowed us to sample in February has now been added to his intentory. We have tried a bag or two of this medium roast coffee from the new stock and it remains every bit as lovely as the original sample. From our tasting log, “Lovely smooth sweet coffee with a good thick body. Nice honeycomb, frutiness with honey tones. Another very nice Costa Rican indeed”. And that says it all really, well worth trying. Good on Scott too, he is one of very few commercial bean suppliers that cares more about quality than bottom line. He selects his coffees very carefully and turns most around within a month – a week is not unusual for his top end blends. It would be nice to see other commercial suppliers emulating the gourmet market by keeping things high quality and as fresh as possible.

Talking of the gourmet market, roasting demi-god Steve over at Has Bean (www.hasbean.co.uk) has just put this year’s Ethiopian Harrar crop up on his site. I’ve heard from a couple of people that this year some of the beans are particulary good, though beware not all Harrars are equal, so make sure you buy from a source you know and trust. Steve describes this one as “Intense, with a complex taste of fruit, wine and chocolate”. We Harrar fans all know that if the crop is good and the preparation is right it can be the biggest blueberry bomb you can imagine. If you haven’t tried it, now is the time!

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Kid ‘O’ & the Valentine’s Day Bolivian boys …….

A recent visit from a Canadian relative yielded a couple of bags of Intelligentsia’s finest (www.intelligentsiacoffee.com); the inimitable “Kid O’s Organic Espresso” and the somewhat long in title, but rather delightful, “Los Delirios Organic Nicaragua Direct Trade”. The beans were sourced from Manic Coffee in Toronto (www.maniccoffee.com), the owner of which, Matt Lee, is also the Canadian distributor of Intelligentsia. Both bags had been roasted a couple of weeks before arriving with us.

“Kid O” is one of the best known espresso blends in the world of speciality coffee. It is nothing short of a legend, and something that all gourmet aficionados strive to try at least once in their coffee lives, unless of course they live in North America, where their local quality independant cafe may well be serving it every day). As a typically dark roasted North American blend, it might not suit all European palates save for perhaps those of the old school Italian roast persuasion. It has a bit of a reputation for being a demanding blend to extract perfectly, but this is not something that should concern any self respecting hardcore enthusiast with reasonable equipment. Continue reading

Some new coffee to try …….

It has been a couple of weeks, life has been rather hectic, and it’s nice to finally be blogging again.

Around Christmas, we were lucky enough to be given a couple of samples by Scott White at Happy Donkey (www.happydonkey.co.uk). He is considering both as potential new additions to his ever improving and rather impressive inventory of top quality commercial coffees.

The first was described by Scott, in his own inimitable way, as “quite odd in a nice way” and “good in a different way”. It was marked only as ‘Guatemalan Maragogype’ and Scott had no further information. Continue reading

It’s just not cricket ……

I don’t know the details of or pretend to understand the complexivity of the issues in the recent cricket test between Australia and India. The alleged incident itself is not what leaves me feeling uneasy, but the way those involved in the aftermath have behaved, and in particular the position of the ICC.

Following the shambles some time ago involving Pakistan and Darryl Hare, we seem to be witnessing a second occurrence of the ICC capitulating in the face of pressure. It mayHowzat? or may not be that India are right in their position, but it bothers me that cricketing nations appear to be willing these days to threaten a withdrawl or boycott rather than to appeal any sanction through the correct channels.

Now whether this is beacuse the ICC determinations have been perceived to be so incompetent that those affected feel there is no option other than to resort to mutiny or simply that the ICC is known to have a soft underbelly is not clear to me. I do think, however, that the ICC needs to address the issue and might do well to begin by asking itself whether it is making enormous errors in judgement or has simply lost all authority over the game of gentlemen. Sad times.

New roaster and 48p espresso machine; exciting times!

Some of you are already aware that last summer we were lucky enough to obtain a brand new Pinhalense gas sample/batch roaster. It has two barrels, each capable of roasting a nominal maximum of 500g. This is a very exciting development in our home roasting journey as it represents the first time we have had either a gas roasting capability or a proper piece of commercial roasting kit. Yes it’s overkill, but it will last a lifetime and if it brings anything like the increase in quality and/or ease of use that the commercial espresso kit yielded, it will be worth it a million times over. It was not cheap, but it was certainly not a great deal more expensive than some home roasters that can be expected to last around five years.

To date, the roaster has been sat idle awaiting some electrical and venting work to its final location. We hope to have that completed shortly thanks to some help. Continue reading

Setanta Shambles

A couple of people have asked after the grumpy old man in me over Christmas, well he is back.

I turned over the channel to Setanta Sports an hour or so ago and it had gone. Not literally, but I was being invited by the on-screen message to take out a subscription. All well and good, but I already have one.

After calling Setanta and selecting the ‘existing customer’ option complete with its five minute minumum wait, I redialled selecting the almost instantly answered ‘new customer’ option.

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What year is it?

Gosh, Christmas seemed to fly by with all the weeks of preparations disapperaing in what seemed to be ten minutes flat, with me failing miserably to blog at all over the festive period.

Despite the absence of any posts, I was laid in bed in the early hours of the morning the other day having one of those really strange thought processes that can only appear in the dead of the night.

It occured to me that we are changing the way we pronounce the year in this country as a result of the last millennium. Historically we have announced the date in hundreds rather than thousands which is the norm in many other nations. For instance, 1910 wasFather Time “nineteen-ten” to us and typically “one thousand, nine hundred and ten” to, let’s say, the Spanish. Previously we had “nineteen oh-eight” whilst our continental friends more often used “one thousand, nine hundred and eight”, and so on.

Then suddenly as the last millennium approached, people in the UK began talking about “the year two thousand”, or just “two thousand”. It had to be so, because saying “twenty-hundred” just sounded wrong.

Now, I expected once we moved away from the year of 2000 itself that people would revert to saying, for example, “twenty-oh seven”. Some did, but most stuck to “two thousand and seven”. Why not I say, it does after all come to the tongue more easily.

So then, the next big date would be 2010, when it would surely be easier and more historically familiar for us to say “twenty-ten” rather than “two thousand and ten”? Well, as it gets nearer, I have heard quite a few people referring to 2010 and as yet not one has reverted to the older, more familiar format. Everyone that I have heard) seems to be saying “two thousand and ten”.

It remains to be seen whether our verbal reference to the date format has been changed forever by the millennium. In the mean time, my brain goes on in its never ending search for weird things to think about when I’m trying to get to sleep at night!