I’m really rubbish at this. These past few weeks have maybe been the most eventful of my life in coffee so far and yet I’ve given you guys nothing but a few photos on Flickr. But don’t hate me. James and David have already covered most of the interesting things that happened, and for me to re iterate them would have been just silly. But still, I could have posted a bit and for not doing so I apologise.
Well first things first. I got a 2.1 in my college degree and so I am now officially finished college. So no more excuses for not attending local shows or making the strides forward I know I require.
The road trip from Vancouver to LA was something I’ll never forget. Seeing old friends in Vancouver was great and it was wonderful to meet Herb Brodsky of Novo Coffee, and his wife Marie. I really enjoyed the cups of his coffee brewed on a clover in The Elysian Room. Such light roasts really contrasted with the profiles of the majority of stops on the trip, and it was cool seeing how you can manipulate cups like that in the Clover Factory in Seattle. The guys there are great and it was while there that I had my best coffee of the trip so far, a Kenya Mamuto roasted by George Howell of Terroir Coffee. The guys had tweaked the clover to get a wonderful cup out of this also quite light roast.
Seattle was charming as ever with many great food and coffee experiences such as Sitka and Spruce, (wondeful capp off Bronwen) and a chance to work behind Schomer’s bar with Schomer and meet with two great Vivace baristas Nicely and April. It was quite nerve racking pouring art in front of such an audience but I think I managed to not embarass myself. David pulled me the best Vivace shot I’ve ever had. I really feel Vivace are one of the few places achieving a consistency in their espresso that few others can match, although the shot profile might not be to everyone’s preference.
Portland was also great and it was lovely having my close friend Alistair come along for the ride. I was quite excited about tasting Hairbender for the first time, so it was doubly exciting to know I was staying in the Ace Hotel. The rooms are just wonderful and I really enjoyed creeping down to the bar early some mornings to enjoy a quick quiet coffee. Its funny how much you can enjoy people’s company so much , you almost forget how nice being alone can be, especially over a tasty capp and voodoo donut in the Stumptown bar in the Ace.
It was great to meet Duane, Stephen Vick and David George from Stumptown and checking out their roastery and cafe’s was just wonderful. We were treated so well by everyone in the cit, especially Sarah and Ken of Barista Magazine. Meeting Billy Wilson was great too and I gotta say that the Albina Press was one of our favourite spots on the whole trip. Getting to see the Training with Champions premiere was cool too, and allowed us to meet a whole load of local baristas and play around with some of the many different machines in the American Barista School.
Em,… other things that stand out. It definitely got tiresome going from cafe to cafe. Schocker and all I know, but I don’t always feel like coffee and after a while, visiting each spot, not matter how significant, felt like us accessing them rather than enjoying them. This was especially true after the long drive to San Francisco from Portland, and once we found a hotel we liked, it was too tempting, adn we end up staying an extra day just to relax. I do love swimming pools. San Francisco itself was great. Everyone, really just everyone at Ritual are great. Chris Baca, Ryan Brown and the wonderful owner Eileen are so so nice. Due to spending one slightly tipsy evening with Brown and Baca, I’ve found myself saying things like ‘Killer’ and ‘Legit’ on occasion. This was worrying at first, but now that I’m here living in LA, working for Intelligentsia I feel like I’m fitting right in.
So yeah, I’m working for Intelligentsia. I am here to help out while they set up for the opening of their new cafe and roastery. The people here are just wonderful and I have found new pleasure in the form of Scha-Boom. I’d rather not explain what the hell that means but those who know’ll know. Apology for that little bit of inside exclusivity but it was necessary. Kyle Glanville really does pour wonderful latte art, has a wonderful girlfriend, and is doing a very very good job of prepping the baristas here for the opening. I’ve learnt more in this last week than I have at any workshop. What this company is doing at origin is just amazing and learning about their Direct Trade model from KC O Keefe has been, and I hate saying this word, but inspiring. If I hadn’t committed to another venture already, I would be doing everything I could to move over here and work for this company.
Tony (tonx), as James has already pointed out is just a great great guy. It will be very interesting to see what he does in his next venture. I look forward to spending more time with him this summer, especially as he lives 2 minutes away.
The baristas I’m working with are fantastic too. Its interesting to see so many styles come together in one focus. I’m learning a lot about my palette and where I need to work to develop it. We took the sweet, sour, salt test the other day and I love that I now know where I’m at. 69% tells me that I’m not a naturally good taster, but informs me what I have to do to develop it. You’ll be able to find out more about what we’re up to by checking out Ryan’s blog. You should also push him to show you his wonderful attempt to drink copious amounts of alcohol at once.
So thats all for now, any questions you might have about any cafes in particular that I didn’t comment on, please leave in the comments.
hopefully, more soon.