Random Picture Friday #29: Drink Coffee

November 16, 2012 · Filed Under Random Picture Friday · Comment 
"drink coffee" diner mug

Drink Coffee, Not Tea.

Wrap-Up of Barista Nation Texas

November 12, 2012 · Filed Under barista jam, DFW · Comment 

Barista Nation Texas was hosted by Oak Cliff Coffee in Dallas on Monday, November 5th.  Anastasia Chovan, the organizer and creator of the Barista Nation project, said Monday that Barista Nation Texas in Dallas was the largest turnout of any Barista Nation in the US, with second being San Francisco.

I have my own theories as to why this occurred, but more on that later.  A variety of presentations were available to a group of coffee lovers from across the region.  Some attendees came from as far as New Mexico, with folks from Austin, Houston, Lubbock, Amarillo, and other parts of this state, as well as neighboring ones.

There were a few presentations that I found particularly interesting.

Coffee Collaboration: Farmer and Roaster

Featuring Ernesto Menendez of Finca Los Brumas in El Salvador, 1st Place in 2012 El Salvador COE.  A few things during his presentation (in collaboration with Shannon Neffendorf) really resonated with me, and some thoughts I’ve had about coffee retail lately. He gave some information about what it takes to consistently produce stellar crops of coffee year after year.

Thoughts like, you have to actually be present on the farm. You have to see how crops are doing, how the climate is effecting them, how the soil is, how the moisture is, and on and on.  There’s no possible way that you can effectively manage and understand what’s going on without having your own boots on the ground to witness it first hand. (Retail owners, are you listening?)

Ernesto Menendez of Finca Las Brumas, #1 in the 2012 El Salvador COE, and Shannon Neffendorf talk about Farmer/Roaster collaboration.

He also mentioned which varietals he grows, which I also found of particular interest, especially when two varietals in specific were mentioned that you don’t think of when you think of coffee from El Salvador: geisha, and SL-28.  I had the opportunity to talk with him later, and it’s interesting to note how “origin flavor” still seems to have such a firm grip on cupping juries, even to this day. Geisha isn’t going to be available for at least another 5 years or so (for those who are curious), and SL-28 (a Kenya cultivar) he describes as “interesting”.  Apparently, when on a cupping table along with a bunch of Bourbons and Pacamaras, it is often described as defective.  (reference back to my note about “origin taste”)

Cafe Marketing: Create an Impact Without Breaking the Bank

Tom Vincent of Texas Coffee School on Retail Marketing

This is a presentation that was given by Tom Vincent of Texas Coffee School about marketing your specialty coffee brick ‘n mortar retail business for little to no money. If you were not already familiar with social media marketing, it was a moderately enlightening and informative string of strategies to increase traffic and sales.  It was mostly just common sense applied where it often isn’t.  Use FourSquare, use a promotional post only every 7nth status update, and recommend only the most profitable menu items (instead of assumed popular drinks) to customers who ask, were just a few of the techniques mentioned.

I didn’t have time to check out both of these first two presentations in their entirety, because they were happening at the same time.  Please take note of this, as it is quite possible that there were significantly more useful topics discussed while I was watching Ernesto and Shannon’s presentation.

Creating A USBC Routine: from the journey, to the competition, to the cafe

This is a presentation given by Lorenzo Perkins that I was only able to catch the tail end of, as I was attending the other presentation given at the same time (mentioned next). I was able to catch the end of it, when Lorenzo was giving a quick run-down of notable champions, including recent previous winners of the USBC. He mentioned what each one went on to do after winning, when he noticed (or at least mentioned) that many Barista champions use their new-found winningness to do things unrelated to being a barista.  This, in my opinion, speaks volumes.  Not about barista champions, but about the United States and our cultural view of the service industry.

He also mentioned that the high point in barista competition history was, in his opinion, Stephen Morrissey’s WBC performance in 2008.  Search Google

Creating a Roast Profile: Exploring Acid Development in the Roasting Process

Brent Hall of S&D Coffee (formerly of Counture Culture Coffee) gave a presentation of what acids are present in coffee, how they effect taste, and in what percentage each one is present.  I found this one to be the most enjoyably geeky of all of the presentations I witnessed. (note: I didn’t see all of them)

There was a cupping line set up, with a sample of coffee pulled from each minute of roasting to the 23rd minute, if I recall correctly. In my own words in the moment of tasting, “I tasted the rainbow, and they should have stopped at 21.”  It was interesting to taste the progression and development of perceived acidity through the roast process.  Granted, this was a pretty slow roast with a rather long drying phase.

Lunch -
Keynote: Stop, Collaborate, and Listen
Actually given by Jason Burton of The Lab.  It struck me as off-the-cuff and unplanned. The itinerary listed Jordan Michelman and Zachary Carlsen of sprudge.com to be the presenters, so that very well may have been the case.  Nothing worth noting.  A lot of thank you’s were given, and this is when surprise was expressed at the turnout.

Collaborate Barista Business Tools and Your Cafe by Ryan of Oak Lawn Coffee and Shannon Neffendorf.  I missed this presentation entirely.  I wish I hadn’t.

Collaborate, Fair Trade coffee, and liquor by Richard Sandlin of Fair Trade USA.  I missed this one as well, though from what I gathered, it never fully happened. Nothing to report.

Create: How to troubleshoot off tasting results in any brewing method by Tom Vincent. The only quirks demonstrated were based on brew ratio, and the only topic discussed was brew ratio.  I think more than a few people were a little disappointed.  I know that I was personally hoping for more. 55-60 grams per Liter is all you need to know.

Recipes Collaboration: How to Support Your Cafe by Sauro Dall Anglio and Garold LaRue of Avoca Coffee was about drink definitions, how they vary, and a few of Garold’s drink mixture creations that he uses to make his cafe stand out to his customers.  It was mildly entertaining, difficult to hear, and less about coffee, and more about using it as an ingredient rather than as a beverage in itself.  I had mixed feelings about this one, but then, anyone who knows me knows that I am all about the coffee.

Panel Discussion –
Barista & Customer: How can they collaborate to create a better experience?
This was a panel discussion, and I missed most of it. (catching up with old friends kept me from more than one) The last discussion that I caught was about whether or not a mediocre product can be compensated for with outstanding service.  The answers varied, as did their reasons.  This concept might make for a good article for this site later. (note to self)

Lastly, there was a latte art throwdown with a $5 buy-in.  Unfortunately, it started getting a bit late for me to keep my family waiting, so I said my good byes and left.


we have such a huge amount of work to do.  I’ve seen it before in Lubbock, and it’s kind of interesting seeing it somewhere else.  In short, the Revolution I mention in the Texas Coffee People Mission Statement continues HERE.

Barista Nation Texas: 3 Days Away (registration closed)

Just a reminder:

Barista Nation Texas happens this upcoming Monday, all day long.


Oak Cliff Coffee
817 W Davis St.
Dallas, TX 75208


Registration is from 9:30am to 10:30am.
The schedule of events runs until 6:30pm with a reception to boot.

I hope to see you there!

AJ Coffee Company: Dallas, TX

October 29, 2012 · Filed Under Community, DFW, Roasters, TX-Coffee · Comment 

Since my first post here back in January of 2007, I’ve written a lot of posts, tasted a lot of coffee (some good, some not so good), written about shops and roasters across this great state. All it took to get a mention was to send us an email letting us know about you.

I haven’t talked much about my own ventures in coffee, as I never really intended to make this blog about myself, but about the Texas coffee culture as a whole. However, my own ventures are not excluded from the Texas coffee scene, and I figured it’s high time I introduced AJ Coffee Company (http://www.ajcoffeeco.com).

You may have noticed the little AJ Coffee Co ad to the right in our sidebar above the EspressoTrainer.com ad (which is also mine, but that’s for another post).

AJ Coffee Company has long been a dream that became the early stages of a reality in the summer of 2010. The dream was (and still is) bigger than just a tiny wholesale and online retail roasting company, but this is what we were able to do at the time.

It started in Lubbock, TX, where I lived when this website (and my career in specialty coffee) got started, and I moved back to Dallas in the Spring of this year with my family, bringing AJ Coffee Company with us.

My commitment to relationships, coffee ethics, sustainability, and quality is as strong as ever. These are the backbone of this company.

Our roasterie is located in the Lake Highlands neighborhood in the office park at the NW corner of Plano Rd. and Miller. Visits by appointment only. (one day, I hope it can be more)

AJ Coffee Company
10725 Plano Rd., Ste. 400
Dallas, TX 75238

Barista Nation Event: November 5th, 2012 – Dallas, TX

October 22, 2012 · Filed Under barista jam, DFW, TX-Coffee · 1 Comment 

Click image for full size. From the BaristaNation.com blog.

The first actual Barista Jam I’ve seen in Texas in a Loooong time.  (Latte Art Throwdowns seem to have taken over)

Hosted by Oak Cliff Coffee in Oak Cliff (neighborhood in Dallas).  Entry is only $10, and every penny goes to Care.org (in fact, that’s where you go to pay for it).

Mingle with your coffee-loving brethren.  Learn new knowable knowledge.  Have fun learning about coffee in a social setting.  Do it all for a good cause. (or because you’re a selfish, attention-hungry coffee slinger who wants somewhere to show how awesome you are.  This is perfect for you).

Black Ivory: Here we Go Again (Elephant-Poop Coffee)

October 16, 2012 · Filed Under Gimmicks, News, TX-Coffee · Comment 

Elephant Dung Coffee Among World’s Most Expensive, Exclusive

PHOTO: An elephant in Thailand.

An elephant in Thailand. (Getty Images/LOOK) via ABC News

You’ve likely heard of civet coffee.  No?  Kopi Luwak?  Here, let me refresh your memory:

Does that look familiar?  People often talk about how “smooth” civet coffee is, and the pickle always seems to be the novelty that it was previously enjoyed by a cat-like critter in South East Asia.

The next trend in like fashion is now known as Black Ivory.

Arabica coffee grown at 1500 meters (a decent altitude, actually) is brought to elephants to eat up with their long snouts, cramming the coffee fruit into their enormous cavern-sized mouths before digesting, and.. (ahem).. you know.

The elephant’s caretaker then harvests the now strangely valuable coffee remnant (the seed, what you and I know as the unroasted bean) to be roasted and sold at a premium.  What kind of a premium are we talking?  I’m glad you asked.

$1,100 per Kg

 Yes, that’s $498.95/lb, or $31.18/oz, which rounds out to roughly $15.59 per brewed 8oz cup of elephant poop coffee.  To be fair, a portion of sales goes for a good cause.. to help the elephant who ate the coffee, or something.  You can read the original article here: Elephant Dung Coffee Among World’s Most Expensive, Exclusive

Fiat 500L to include espresso maker option.

July 17, 2012 · Filed Under Equipment and Supplies, Gimmicks, Humor · Comment 

Fiat 500L's in-car espresso maker.Yes, it’s true.  The Fiat 500L will be the first production consumer automobile to include an espresso machine as a trim option.

Ridiculous?  probably.  Marketable?  Absolutely.  Available in the US?  Odds are slim.

Let’s be honest, would you really want an espresso made by your car from a tiny pack of pre-ground Lavazza espresso blend?  I guess that depends on how addicted and how desperate you are.  I know I’ve been there.

Check out more pictures and more information (including a promo video from Fiat, and another video from Autoblog that shows the contraption in all its.. well.. glory?) by clicking here.

EXPENSIVE Coffee, WBC Champ, and WBC Champ

June 20, 2012 · Filed Under Auctions, Barista Competition · Comment 

I doubt that I could summarize it better than Oliver Strand, so I’ll just let him do it for you.
$500.50 a Pound for Coffee Beans - NYT (clicky)

Summary: El Injerto wins Guatemala CoE, fetching an astronomical price.


Raul Rodas took the World Barista Competition trophy home to a major producing country for the first time.


Matt Perger takes home the still under-rated World Brewers Cup to Australia.

I’d like to note, Andy Sprenger of Cermony Coffee in Annapolis, MD won a respectable 2nd place.  (go USA)

More Robusta in Your Cup: Reuters

June 15, 2012 · Filed Under Article, Economy · Comment 


Analysis: Coffee roasters stick with less costly robusta

By Marcy Nicholson     

NEW YORK | Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:13am EDT

(Reuters) – Coffee roasters quietly pulled off a financial feat last year that went unnoticed by most customers: Adding a higher proportion of cheaper, lower-grade robusta to their grounds as the price of top-notch arabica beans surged. more…     


If this isn’t just another reason to buy from specialty roasters, I don’t know what is.  I sometimes get the impression that the United States just doesn’t care about quality or ethics, just as long as we are comfortable in our own little bubbles.  It’s sad and pathetic.

From another perspective, it has made it easier for people to continue their “quality of life” during a turbulent time in the economy of coffee when compared to the economic health of the United States and the world.

Don’t get me wrong: there is a market for every coffee, and yes, that includes the robusta grown in lower altitudes.  That having been said, the increased demand of cheaper robusta to combat a record high market price for coffee futures has perpetuated an increase in the amount of robusta being grown, insulting us, the consuming public, further.

People have not said anything, which must somehow mean that they can’t tell the difference.  I reject that notion outright.  Most people wouldn’t complain publicly or to the brands directly.  Most people, I believe, would simply acknowledge that it “isn’t as good as it used to be”, but still buy it anyway because they were, and still are, either too cheap, too lazy, or too broke to buy the real deal.

Here’s the part that I found really interesting.. a company is paid money to steam admittedly inferior coffee to “improve” it.  In other words, the coffee’s taste is diminished and broken down on purpose before it is roasted and sold.  This is a classic example of consciously choosing the “lesser” evil.  Why bother?

Ethically sourced specialty coffee is ~$0.50 per serving (assuming you drink a 10oz cup).. and this is expensive?  Give me a break.  What can we do to help the general unwashed masses wake up and smell the inspiring aroma of affordable, sustainable, and fantastically delicious coffee from specialty roasters?

2012 World Barista Competition Semi-Finalists.

June 13, 2012 · Filed Under TX-Coffee · Comment 

This blogger sucks, but more on that later.  As reported by Sprudge, your world barista competition semi-finalists are:

[in no particular order, with twitter handles attached, also thanks to Sprudge]

1. Daniel Mendez, Viva Espresso, El Salvador @VivaEspresso1

2. Per Nordell, Åre Kafferoster, Sweden

3. Ricardo Azofeifa, Costa Rica Coffee Institute (ICAFE), Costa Rica@ICAFE_COSTARICA

4. Philipp Meier, Independent, Switzerland

5. Colin Harmon, 3FE (Third Floor Espresso), Ireland @dublinbarista @3FE

6. Miki Suzuki, Maruyama Coffee, Japan @maruyamacoffee

7. Fabrizio Sención Ramírez, Cafe Sublime, Mexico

8. Raul Rodas, Paradigma Coffee Roasters, Guatemala @raultigre

9. Coen van Sprang, Lebkov & Sons, The Netherlands @lebkov

10. Stefanos Domatiotis, Taf, Greece @stefanosook @tafcoffee

11. Matija Hrkac, Good Food, Croatia @kavica_org

12. Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, Colonna and Small’s, United Kingdom@Colonna_Smalls

Frankly, I LOVE this mix.  An independent, a few producing nation baristas (including Ricardo Azofeifa from ICAFE!), the now legendary Stefano Domatiotis and the guy with the Tantrum, Colin Harmon.  What’s missing from this list?  Our own Katie Carguillo of Counter Culture Coffee:  aka, Team USA.

You can watch it LIVE by clicking here: http://worldbaristachampionship.com

Today is finished, but the Semi-Finals will begin at 11am tomorrow, Vienna time (5am CST.. -7hrs)

The Finals will be on Friday at 5:30am CST.

Next Page »

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