the story so far

So,…..I’m in Vancouver!

For those of you’s eager to hear any news, I’m sorry for not writing anything sooner. (Are any of you eager to hear my news?) Anyway, the reason I haven’t posted yet, is that yesterday morning, I wrote a 1000 word post on all my antics so far and lost it all when the battery on my laptop died. Which was particularly annoying. So, right now, I am sitting in Wicked Cafe with my laptop securely hooked up to a power socket, and grudgingly rewriting the post.

So after a long day of traveling on Thursday I arrived into Vancouver at half two local time. I rang my boss Brad and found out he was very kindly waiting outside to pick me up. Unfortunately, instead of taking the normal 20minutes to get through to the arrivals lounge, immigration had other plans and I ended up not leaving the airport for a full three hours. Even more annoyingly, Brad’s mobile died, and as neither of us knew what the other looked like, he ended up staying at the airport a full four hours, till he eventually realised I’d already left.

It was really odd to leave a heat wave in Ireland and be greeted with I’m told unseasonable torrential rain. To add insult to injury, the hostel I was required to stay in on the first night was a bit of a kip (an Irish term), so I decided I’d move into my house share straight away. My apartment turned out to be really nice, and so after I’d unpacked, I rang Alistar Durie of Elysian Cafe, and joined Brad, and others for dinner.

I was pretty late and only had time to say a quick hello to the group, and enjoy a really enjoyable glass of 30 year old port, courtesy of Mark. I then got a quick tour of the local area off Brad and went home to bed at around 6 am my time.

The next morning, I got up early in an attempt to tackle jet lag and walked the 4km walk to my new job at Wicked Cafe. Thankfully, I wasn’t on the roster till today, so I had a chance to go in and soak up the feel of the place. Its quite a small cafe, around 20 seats, and is equipped with a gleaming gb5, an lm swift, and a mazzer major grinder, and a twin fetco brewer. As Brad is the distributor for Intelligentsia, the back wall behind the bar is adorned with a range of coffee’s offered by the company.

I then got a taxi into town to do an orientation course, another mandatory feature of my work visa, but one I have to admit that proved very helpful and informative. The weather had cleared up quite a lot and I got a chance to walk around downtown a bit. On first impressions, I have to say Vancouver really is charming and always feels safe.

I met up with Brad in the afternoon, and we drove around the city, dropping off a few orders for his Intelligentsia customers. We also got a chance to check out Artigiano. More importantly, and I ha dno idea of this, but this was also the first day Artigiano were selling the famous #1 Brazil Cup of Excellence, Santa Ines on the Clover in their store. I had been under the impression this coffee would have been finished already, but instead, I was there to taste on its premiere! What was it like? Well before I answer this, I should talk about the significance of the moment for me.

It has been discussed before by others, but living in Dublin, and trying to keep up with cutting edge developments in speciality coffee can be a little disheartening as often you have no benchmark, to compare to. So I make a press pot at home, thats freshly ground, with fresh water and fresh coffee, and I enjoy it. But, is it as good as what Jim makes for breakfast in London? Or what they serve in the Annex or Elysian? Its easy to presume from online chatter that what I make at home isn’t as good. So for me, to get the chance to sit down in one of the world’s most famous espresso bars, with arguably one of the best coffee’s in the world, and brewed on the machine thats wet many pants both for its quality mark, and its price tag, was a great benchmarking moment for my palette.

So what was it like? Well, I won’t attempt to describe alla coffeereview style, but here’s what I thought. It was incredibly well balanced with no one note jumping out at me. It was quite sweet and had more fruit come out as it cooled. It has quite a winey texture, and an interesting acidity. I did really really enjoy it. However, it wasn’t so radically different to coffee’s I’ve tasted before.

Now, perhaps my palette isn’t yet capable of properly recognising the quality in the cup, but for me, I found tasting this coffee a very reasurring experience. Reasurring as it told me I was capable of making very good coffee. Sure people throw such praise at barista’s often, but for me, that moment was the coffee speaking, not a customer or friend. The clover , whilst definitely requiring a certain level of care and attention, takes so many of the factors under control, and allows the coffee to shine.

I also recieved some extraordinary shots in Artigiano, pulled by one of their barista’s Robert. He gave me a great shot of their house blend as well as one from Sammy’s blend. I will talk more soon about the espresso I’ve been tasting, but for the moment I’m gonna go check out the Elysian room.

I apologise if this post was poorly structured, but if you’ve ever met me, and seen my own physical features, you’d understand.


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