Friday mornings at Counter Culture Coffee in Durham, NC - Page 2

Talk about your favorite cafes, local barista events, or plan your own get-together.

#11: Post by PeterG »

I certainly miss those Friday morning espresso sessions. Can't wait to join in again next time I am in Durham.

Peter G
counter culture coffee

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HB (original poster)

#12: Post by HB (original poster) »

We miss you too Peter! Be sure to give us a heads up next time you're in Durham.

Back to my regular blog entry... Every month or so, the regulars would gather at a local coffeehouse in Apex called Pheasant Creek Cafe. Unfortunately Geoff's shop went out of business. We've talked about reviving the tradition of stepping out, either at a local cafe (e.g., New World Cafe in Raleigh) or another regular's house. Since I recently finished outfitting my espresso bar, last Friday was the "grand opening" attended by our friends at Counter Culture Coffee and the other Friday regulars.

The Elektra Semiautomatica that has served me well the last few years has been replaced by a two-group La Marzocco Strada. During the SCAA 2011 conference, Tim at Counter Culture Coffee and I talked about a "reference platform" for espresso evaluations. The two-group allows for temperature/dosing/coffee comparisons that aren't practical with a single-group Elektra. I had the room, so...

La Marzocco Strada, Compak K10

In the photo below on the left is Ken McDuffie; he's one of Counter Culture's service technicians. Last week, he and I hauled the very heavy Strada up two flights of stairs. We then spent the next few hours on the installation. I'm grateful for his attention to detail and concern that the install be just-so. Next to Ken is Brian Ludviksen, Counter Culture Customer Support Manager and Lem Butler, Customer Service Representative. That's me on the far right. Not sure what we were talking about, but clearly we're having a good time.

Ken, Brian, Lem, Dan

Below on the left, Ian is prepping an espresso. Bob Barraza cautiously samples it. Friday we started with a couple coffees from Intelligentsia, then switched to Counter Culture's Toscano and Apollo 5.0. Bob's a big fan of sweet coffees and really appreciated Nathan's offering. Unfortunately there are no photos of Nathan since he was the photographer (this album has all the morning's photos). Next time, I need to grab the camera from him for a few minutes.

Ian, Bob

Sometimes our get-togethers have a specific test planned out, but other times it's simply an exchange of ideas. Mike Walsh (below center) is one of the original members of the Counter Culture espresso get-together; he's chatting with Bob and Ian. I think he was discussing a time years ago when I called him at work to chat about temperature profiling (I have no memory of the discussion, which I find a bit disquieting).

Ian, Mike, Bob

Below is a look down the length of the espresso bar. It has enough power for a 220V commercial espresso machine plus several 110V prosumer espresso machines. The computer on the far right is where I compose these blog entries.

Ken, Mike, David, Ian

PS: If you're interested in attending the Counter Culture espresso lab, see the first post in this thread. We also coordinate cafe crawls / drop-ins with regulars at that time since we don't have a fixed schedule for them (i.e., when in doubt, Fridays are at Counter Culture).
Dan Kehn

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#13: Post by Marshall »

Well, Dan, you've definitively topped everyone in the "Post a Picture of Your Home Setup" thread, which is only fitting for the founder of this joint. Congratulations, and I hope you got a great price!

Also, say "hi" to Brian Ludviksen for me. I do a lot of work for his wife.
Los Angeles

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#14: Post by the_trystero »

you've definitively topped everyone in the "Post a Picture of Your Home Setup" thread
That is for sure. The power alone is making me say whoa.
"A screaming comes across the sky..." - Thomas Pynchon


#15: Post by portamento »

Yowza. Very nice. The teeny tiny Compak hopper next to the 2-group Strada is cracking me up.


#16: Post by TheMuffinMan01 »

Marshall wrote:Also, say "hi" to Brian Ludviksen for me. I do a lot of work for his wife.
This statement... if taken out of context... :p

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HB (original poster)

#17: Post by HB (original poster) »

In my continued introduction of regulars at the get-together, below is Tom White:

Tom is one of Counter Culture Coffee's service technicians, responsible for installing their clients' equipment and performing regular maintenance. Of course, he and Ken also take care of the equipment in the espresso lab / cupping rooms themselves, as was the case for the EP today prior to it going on the road.

As Nathan announced in the Marketplace forum, Counter Culture is touring a new La Marzocco Strada EP through Atlanta, Washington DC, and New York City. Ken and Tom were busy setting/testing it before its first stop, so the Friday regulars had a short chance to try it out:
Dan Kehn

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HB (original poster)

#18: Post by HB (original poster) »

Along with Counter Culture Coffee, Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea is one of the first HB sponsors. Recently they started a "preview" program to raise awareness of upcoming coffee offerings among coffee buyers and enthusiasts:

Preview of coffees coming soon to Intelligentsia's website

Counter Culture and Intelligentsia share a common love of coffee; since our regular Fridays are about sharing, I brought along the most recent Preview release coffee. Each was from Kenya and we served it as a pourover. It's interesting to compare/contrast coffees with the same origins but different characteristics (e.g., one was heavier with a tomato / savory character, the other was lighter with more citrus).

Mike Zhu of New World Cafe often makes it out to Counter Culture's espresso lab on Friday:

Mike Zhu, owner of New World Cafe and confirmed audiophile

In addition to being a coffee aficionado, Mike is also an audiophile/videophile. He offered me sage advice on setting up our home theatre. Mike also convinced me to blow my budget a few times over; a year later, I have no regrets, but caveat emptor to the cost conscious!

Zach Neuman from Helios stopped by to take a coffee certification test:

Nathan (left), Zach (right)

Helios is located at Five Points in Raleigh. If you're in the area, stop by for a consistently good espresso/cappuccino and ask Zach about his Brewers Cup win at the SERBC. They also host an occasional latte art throwdown on Thursdays ("TNT"). You can friend Counter Culture's facebook page if you're local and want regular notifications of events like the TNT.
Dan Kehn

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HB (original poster)

#19: Post by HB (original poster) »

I'm running over a month behind on my blog entries. Tonight's photos are actually from September 2nd at my house. The espresso bar is laden with test equipment in preparation for an article that will be published in November (the publisher asked that I not elaborate).

Lem and the others from Counter Culture Coffee were particularly interested in the low-end equipment. He was surprised how well this little Gaggia Baby managed:

A couple new visitors joined us. Matt Souza works at 3-Cups in Chapel Hill. They're a Counter Culture account and Nathan invited him. He spent most of his time playing with the Vibiemme DoubleDomo and Mazzer Super Jolly combination:

Winston is a good friend of mine, but I think this may have been his first "open cafe" visit at my house. I gave him a quick lesson on the Strega. Though at home he makes only French press, he appreciates espresso:

Ian is a regular at the get-togethers, at least when he's not "working" as a dive photographer at some exotic locale. The La Spaziale S1 is his home setup; he also gave the Strega a quick spin.

Courtesy of Nathan, the full set of photos is available here.
Dan Kehn

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HB (original poster)

#20: Post by HB (original poster) »

For those in the Triangle, please note that this coming Friday's get-together will be at New World Cafe at 9AM (click here for directions). Mike will have three prosumer espresso machines available for hands-on use: Crossland CC1, Quickmill Alexia, and La Spaziale Vivaldi Mini.
Dan Kehn