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Friday mornings at Counter Culture Coffee in Durham, NC - Page 5

Postby HB on Thu May 24, 2012 6:08 pm

For those in the Triangle, Apollo version 8 will be served at the get-together. Maybe, just maybe, we'll catch a glimpse of "USA rockstar barista" Lem Butler doing a live demonstration of his five-minute challenge:

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Postby HB on Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:36 pm

Prompted by the thread How to Make Japanese Iced Coffee, we dedicated one Friday to taste-testing this alternative method of enjoying chilled coffee (below left). In my experience with cold brewing, the coffee always had an astringent, bitter character that reminds me of overextracted iced tea.

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Coffee pourover prepared over ice (l); espresso cooled by two methods (r)

The so-called Japanese iced coffee preparation method didn't have this flaw. Bob, our resident retired chemist, explained that the quenching method captures aromatics in solution before they escape.

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It may look like Tim isn't listening, but I found Bob's explanation riveting

Later discussions about the perils of "shocking" coffee prompted another round of testing. Two espressos were pulled simultaneously, one over ice, the other over room temperature water to which water was then added. They were then presented to taste testers:

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Ice and water were weighed beforehand to assure similar brew strength

Hannah is a new employee at Counter Culture Coffee; she samples the two drinks and then passes it around for others to try. There was no consensus on which was better, though the one cooled over ice did have a sharper, slightly fruitier taste. The espresso cooled more gently seemed more mellow-ish; I preferred it ever so slightly, though Tim mentioned the iced espresso more accurately captured the flavor profile they were after.

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Click here for more photos
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Postby HB on Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:43 am

Continuing with our exploration of iced coffee, tomorrow's get-together will be at New World Cafe starting at 8AM. See Summary of iced coffee brewing methods for background information.
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Postby HB on Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:07 pm

Thanks Mike for hosting our iced coffee taste test! Participant commentary is posted in Summary of iced coffee brewing methods. If you live in the Triangle and wish to be notified of upcoming get-togethers, subscribe to this thread (see the link Image at the bottom of this page) or email me.

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Towering iced dripper (left), competition-size cappuccino (right)
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Postby HB on Sat Jul 28, 2012 3:17 pm

The local PBS station was at Counter Culture yesterday interviewing attendees about the coffee scene. They had already filmed baristas at the monthly latte art contest sponsored by Counter Culture and local cafes last week; they stayed through the espresso lab into the cupping at 10am (I hear they hung around to check out the roasting facility too).

Below are some of the get-together attendees answering questions from PBS report Kelly McCullen:

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Brian Ludviksen, Counter Culture Coffee service manager

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Walt Fulcher, local espresso enthusiast

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Bob Barraza, local espresso enthusiast; Brett Smith, co-owner Counter Culture Coffee
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Postby HB on Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:19 pm

This Friday's get-together will be at Counter Culture Coffee. Next Friday is tentatively planned at New World Cafe; Mike will confirm sometime next week.

As a follow-up to my previous report, after visiting with Counter Culture, Kelly McCullen from PBS came to my house to talk a bit more about the online home espresso scene. Mike Zhu was there and provided perspective from someone who's bridged from the amateur ranks to the pros. Before leaving, Kelly offered to do a "one take" HB promotional video. I fumbled my words a couple times, but I like the transition techniques he used. We talked about possibility of doing instructional videos. Just a minor matter of time and budget...

Anyway, he said the coffee feature would show on UNC-TV sometime after Labor Day and later on his youtube channel.

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Postby yakster on Fri Aug 24, 2012 6:11 pm

Very cool, nice video, Dan.
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Postby Nuprin on Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:17 pm

The Triangle Friday Morning Espresso Group will be held at New World Coffee House instead this week/tomorrow morning starting at 8am. Our doors open at 7am so you are welcome to come early and also we have delicious breakfast sandwichs available!

Address is 4112 Pleasant Valley Rd suite-124 Raleigh, NC 27612. The sign will just say "Coffee House" on the building for those who have never been to New World.

I believe Nathan will be bringing the newest version of Rustico and I have some Apollo 9.0 and Toscano on had as well. Lately, I've been really enjoying the Apollo in a cap...really fantastic.

See you there
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Postby HB on Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:07 am

At last week's get-together, Lem wanted to try an experiment to improve the taste balance of his cappuccinos in preparation for the SERBC competition in Atlanta. The problem competitors must deal with is producing a cappuccino with enough coffee flavor while being limited to a split double (1 ounce espresso) for a standard 5 ounce competition cup. Without getting into details, it didn't work out.

Part II... I suggested injecting more air into the milk so there'd be less liquid, thereby increasing the coffee / milk ratio. He was concerned that it'd hurt presentation points because the latte art would be compromised; I argued that what he may lose on presentation, he'll gain on taste balance. Besides, although the barista's scores will suffer for insufficient foam, few judges will mark scores down if there's a slightly too much foam, as long as the texture is creamy smooth, not dry. So, in a nutshell, by substituting almost 1/4" more foam depth, the impact on coffee flavor is noticeable. He agreed the technique helped the taste balance; we'll see if it pans out in competition.

As for the next get-together: Counter Culture Coffee won't be roasting on Friday, so there's nobody to unlock the door on Friday. Mike Zhu has offered to host our get-together at his cafe @ 8AM. Hope to see you then!

http://www.yelp.com/biz/new-world-coffee-house-raleigh
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Postby beanrunner on Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:08 pm

I also took part in this discussion and it was very thought provoking and one of the reasons I really enjoy the espresso lab. After reading Dan's post I looked up the WBC rules:

14.3 CAPPUCCINO EVALUATION - PART II wrote:Cappuccinos will be evaluated using the following protocol by all sensory judges. It is important that sensory judges follow this protocol consistently. Sensory judges will complete all steps of the evaluation before recording scores.

  • Visually correct cappuccino/6 (traditional or latte art)
  • Consistency and persistence of foam/6
  • Taste balance/6 x 4 (served at an acceptable temperature, a harmonious balance of rich sweet milk/espresso)
  • Correct cappuccino vessel used/1 Yes No
  • Served with assessories/1 Yes No
Total: 37

Note: It is important for judges to evaluate the visual appearance and consistency of foam QUICKLY. The "Taste balance" is the most important score in the category and the judge should taste the cappuccino within a few seconds of being served so that it is fresh unless otherwise directed.


As you can see the taste balance is the most important and has 24 possible points out of 37. And since the amount of foam directly effects the taste balance it is even more weighted w/30 of 37. I will concur, the taste balance with the foam persisting into half of the depth of the spoon had so much better balance the taste blew me away. I believe this is the art of latte, or in this case cappuccino!
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