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Caffe dell'Ufficio

It's nice working at a company with enough "vision" to have an espresso machine on the premises, even if it does neet a bit of tweaking (it's an automatic, and the shots it's pulling are too long). I need to bring in a wide, shallow cup so I can practice latte art.

Being able to pull a quality shot is very satisfying. I mean, yeah, for every one that's perfect, there are many that are only okay (and a few that are just plain bad), but it's worth it to see the bubbles and "tiger stripes" in a lovely, caramel-colored crema and taste that perfect balance of smokiness, berry sweetness, and chocolatey bitterness.

At the last company I worked for, in Portland, a cow-orker and I figured out that between the two of us, we were spending about $100/month on our daily americano fix at the Daily Cafe (how apropos). So we decided to pool our resources and buy an espresso machine (a Rancilio Silvia) for the office.

Unforunately, said cow-orker was laid off a few weeks after we bought the machine. Suckage. I ended up buying out his "share", and now it's my home machine. It's a great machine. (Note: Dream Home will have a plumbed-in Synesso Cyncra.) It's not a super-automatic that does the grinding, dosing, tamping, and pulling all with the push of a button; it does require a bit of patience and understanding. But again, the rewards are worth it.

(I read a recent article on the NY Times website about the resurgence of cafes with a focus on quality; the inevitable backlash against the McDonalds-like ubiquity of Starbucks.)

I miss places like the Albina Press, Anna Bananas, Stumptown, and yes, of course Coffee People, but I've been able to find at least a couple of sources down here that are quite excellent. Barefoot Coffee roasts some great blends (Sweetness is my favorite), and pulls a mean shot. They even have an "exchange program" where they occasionally carry blends from other roasteries (such as Stumptown!) Blue Bottle Coffee is also very good, though I've only had it from their booth at the farmer's market. I've yet to visit the cafe location in Hayes Valley.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
transcribe
Sep. 15th, 2006 04:00 am (UTC)
let's discuss!
okay, then i need help. because here i am in the land of Stumptown, Coffee People, et. al. and i'm coffee-MISERABLE. i've even been having coffee shipped to me from Chicago. i just can't grown accustomed to the heavily-roasted Pac NW style. i tried Blue Gardenia (no) and Tully's (god no) and some others, the only one that's caught my eye that i have yet to try is Victrola. any other thoughts of stuff i could try? i like nuanced, deep but elegant flavors. i tend to favor notes of tobacco, chocolate, berries and violets. any thoughts are very welcome!
byronium
Sep. 16th, 2006 10:04 pm (UTC)
Re: let's discuss!
Clearly, the bold taste of Pacific Northwest coffee is too much for your Midwestern taste! Back to the shores of Lake Michigan with you, with its gentle zephyrs and weak elixirs!

OK, just kidding. To be perfectly honest, I found Stumptown's choice for espresso (Hairbender blend) a bit too burnt the last time I tried it. And what had been my preferred blend for drip coffee for many years (Coffee People's Best) was never the same after Diedrich acquired CP. Even after Coffee People bought themselves back, CP Best wasn't the same.

And now that Coffee People is being acquired by Starbucks, I suppose we can expect more of the it-doesn't-matter-what-beans-we-use-because -they're-burnt-beyond-recognition approach to coffee roasting. (Don't get me started on how deeper roasts are analogous to the overuse of oak.)

Maybe try Jim & Patty's? I understand that some of their stuff comes from Stumptown, but if you tell them what you're looking for, they might have some recommendations. I only visited World Cup on a couple of occasions, but I don't recall that their non-dark blends were over-roasted. Kobos was around a long time before the Revolution began, but it seemed like their quality was slipping for a while; not sure where they are now. Portland Roasting might be worth checking out. I like what Anna Bananas uses, but I don't remember who roasts it.

If nothing else, I can send you a pound from Barefoot, or you can call Stumptown and ask them if they're going to be hosting any guest coffees from them in the near future. Good luck!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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