Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Time for Another Espresso

Some days are a cloud aloft in transition, slowly creeping towards the next distant horizon. A vague point appears peering like a faint beacon. This is your goal. Munch on a little snack. Have an espresso. Talk about how tired you feel. Get some support. Be one with the countertop. Rest, fart, moan and distress on and on about how it’s unfair of the rain, and oh, the rain.

Perfect time in my opinion for another espresso. I look at the machine, shiny and familiar, sitting, watching, and waiting. The hopper is full. The coffee smells like caramel dirt.

“Push it Joe. Push the button.” I push the button. Screeching, numbing, pulsing, radiating, aching balding head. I dose, skimming the excess grounds off the top. I tamp; north, south east, west, center. Appropriate water temperature, correct grind, suitable tamp, acceptable cup, proper time criteria. The golden brown color of the cream works. The body is syrupy, the taste sweet and nutty. The aroma, deep and intoxicating. The day…a little better.

Monday, May 14, 2007

My Brother Larry

My brother’s name is Larry Greene. Woodworking and cabinetry are his trade. He said to me one time that he was thinking of changing his name to Lorenzo Verde. Something with more flair as to augment his businesses image to attract more clients. He started going over this in a deep Spanish/Italian/muddled fake accent. “bon journo, ima Lorenzo Verde! I mova da wooda with a sharpa toola.”

I am better at making fun of the French accent. Do French people drink coffee? They must. French press. French roast. French vanilla. Café au lait. Oui oui!

I have had a few compliments on the French roast I roast. It’s an organic blend balancing heavy, robust body with even, smooth acidity. I try not to burn out all of the flavor from my coffee so I set a desired temperature which exposes oils on the beans but not so much that they become saturated and sticky with oil. I guess you could say my French roast is a full city + with a robust characteristic. Giving the impression of a dark roasted coffee with hints of carbonization but retaining the complex, taste profile of the coffee. Give it a try, and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear your feedback.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Steamed Milk

Milk comes from a lot of different animals; goats, monkeys... even pigs and giraffes. But here at the Blue Star Café, and many other cafés around the country and the world, we use milk that comes from an animal called the “cow”. These are large cumbersome animals who mope around grassy areas eating and chewing. They produce copious amounts of milk which we procure to use for many things including coffee drinks. Steaming milk can be done right and wrong. I believe foam belongs in the ocean and not in your latte or cappuccino. Textured milk is the consistency of paint, thick and creamy. What you don’t want is foamy milk with huge tasteless bubbles.

To make textured milk, you begin by plunging the steam wand into the milk and turning it on. Introduce air into the milk for the first few seconds of steaming, then use the rest of the time to incorporate the bubbles you made in a cyclone of milk to get velvet texture. You end the process by turning off the steam when you reach the desired temperature which is between 140 and 160 degrees. I spin the milk in the pitcher to make it shiny. I usually have time to make a “rosetta” atop my lattes and cappuccinos. I rock the pitcher side to side and it lies out across the mug and I give a stem by swiping through the top. If I have the time, I make butterflies, people, logos... you name it, I make it.

What would you like to see at your café? I make a delicious Earl Grey Latte. Earl Grey in a tea bag steeped in a little water to get the flavor moving and to warm up the cup. I introduce Vanilla flavor and a dash of cinnamon before pouring my perfectly textured milk. I would be interested to hear new recipes or ideas, so please feel free to post.

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