Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I love the Third Wave of Coffee! (a.k.a. single origin coffees & home grinders with burr mills)

The great thing about the so-called Third Wave of Coffee is the fact that you can consistently get top quality, freshly roasted single origin coffee from far flung owner-grower plantations from all over the world.  Perth, being one of Australia's great coffee capitals (yes I admit Melbourne comes first), is privileged to host exponents in this field.

Like this Guatemalan beauty from Jose Fernando Valdes' Finca Manila plantation, which is located in Nuevo Progreso, San Marcos, a very remote region around 250km from Guatemala City, which was freshly roasted in Ristretto Roasters' little roasting shop in Northbridge (where you can also get a coffee and buy beans through the little window overlooking the laneway).

Notes of "juicy sugarcane and an elegant floral finish"?  Yes I'm told that I should let the beans sit for around a week to hit their peak, but I can't wait to get home and crank this baby up in Miss Silvia tonight!

Post-note #1: After a few days of enjoying coffee brewed from these beans, I can confirm that it makes a great espresso - a mouth filling initial attack of almost pure dark chocolate (like drinking a melted square of one of those 99% Dark Chocolates from Lindt) with caramel aromas and flavours shining through the chocolatey denseness.  The finish is crisp, without any noticeable citrus.  The texture is almost powdery dry, like having a spoonful of cocoa powder in your mouth.

I'm looking forward to tasting and smelling how these beans evolve over the coming weeks!

Post-note #2 (30 May 2015): I believe that you should only grind your beans just before you make your coffee - this preserves maximum flavour, oils and freshness.  No need to be precious about getting the best, fancy top of the range grinder, unless you're an über-aficionado of coffee who lives for all of the barely imperceptible nuances and dimensions of flavour and texture that us mere mortals could not even comprehend.  Or unless you're running a cafe and need a serious industrial strength grinder - but this article is directed at the home coffee aficionado.

All you really need is to ensure is that your grinder has a burr mill rather than steel blades (the latter will heat up the coffee and degrade its quality before it even goes into your filter basket).  You should also make sure that you can adjust the fineness of the grind, because different beans with different post-roasting ages will require a different fineness of grind.  Generally, the longer it has been since roasting, then you should consider a finer grind - unfortunately trial and error is mandatory since every bag of beans will be slightly different).

A ceramic burr grinder will in theory generate even less heat than a steel burr grinder, but I'm not sure it will make a real difference if you only grind enough beans for one or two shots of coffee at a time.

Of course, you get what you pay for, so it's a bit of a balance between a lower price and acceptable durability/quality.

To save you some effort, I've done some searches: the Cuisinart (see my US Amazon Affiliate link below) is an example of something that will do the job, but which won't cost a huge amount of money.  Unfortunately, it doesn't ship to Australia, but I hope that this example gives you an idea of what parameters to look for in selecting a coffee grinder for home use.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

West End Deli, 95 Carr Street, West Perth

I caught up with old friend and veteran online wine auctioneer Lynton Barber of Sterling Wine Auctions the other day for our annual(ish) lunch over some weird and wonderful wines.

Joining us was my good friend the Western Australian Regional Bailli of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Wayne Teo and Lynton's IT guru.

I'd heard of this new little restaurant in a quiet street in (northern) West Perth going by the seemingly innocuous name of West End Deli, so we booked a table there.

The brunch menu was short and sweet, but packed full of amazing delights.  Being unable to decide on what to get, we decided to order a bunch of main dishes to share.  Everything from spiced lamb ribs, pillow-soft gnocchi, and even the simple-sounding cauliflower was unbelievably delicious and hearty.

I have to admit that I was having so much fun trying the huge amount of wines and feeding my face that I didn't take many notes.

The dessert we shared was topped with pop rocks candy which provided a beautifully contrasting experience of textures - the smooth creamy thingamajig (sorry I forgot what it was) punctuated by the snap crackle pop of the pop rocks in your mouth.

A truly fantastic electic lunch accompanied by just as enjoyable eclectic conversation, ranging from wines, food, global politics, business and even IT.

The West End Deli also transforms into a fine dining establishment for dinner.  I must certainly head back there to see what that's like!