Every year, visits to Central America form a major part of my travel. In today’s specialty world, Central America’s coffees seem to be a staple in everyone’s line-up. Their ability to master processing and thus provide consistency year after year has created not only a dependency, but a general love for their coffee. Prior to leaving, I cupped samples furiously to help guide my itinerary. With many things already shifting with regards to supply, I knew it was more than likely that we would be starting a new relationship this year.
There is something instantly reassuring and comforting about entering the door at Hawk & Hunter. Is it the buzz of happy conversation or the Best Interior Design Award subtlety propped on the shelf — or is it the front of house team swiftly working the floor in snappy cargo aprons or the nod of the barista working over a custom eggshell blue 3 group Synesso Hydra? Actually, it’s probably all these things and more.
When you talk coffee, there’s not many other cities that spring to mind more strongly than Seattle. Even before birthing the first Starbucks store, Seattle had a vibrant coffee culture, nourished by a cool climate and perpetual drizzle of rain. Given this history, it was super exciting to see the premier global competition of the World Barista Championship join forces with the largest specialty coffee trade show, the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Expo, over this last weekend in the emerald city.
The World Barista Competition in Seattle had a significant highlight this year with Australian competitor Sasa Sestic winning the title of 2015 World Barista Champion.
On an inconspicuous street in West Leederville which is mostly occupied by early-rising wholesale florists sits a cosy little coffee shop called Myrtle Ivy. Myrtle Ivy is not only a cheerful hole-in-the-wall where passers-by can lean in and grab a superb coffee and a delectable treat, it is also the name of a loving and generous grandmother from Wickipen, a small farming town in Western Australia.
One of the topics we explore in depth in our Advanced Barista Skills class at the Australian Barista Academy is brew water temperature and its effect on espresso taste and extraction.
I suspect most of you will have your own go-to list of favourite cafes around town. Those spots which you can rely on time after time to tick all the boxes. The service, the setting, the food and, of course, the coffee! Let me introduce you to one of mine… Lemon, Middle and Orange.
Our monthly Curated Cupping Series is our opportunity to share our most unique micro-lot coffees to the Australian specialty coffee community. The April Curated Cupping event is one of our most anticipated public cuppings to date as we showcase the first natural processed coffee through our Tiga Raja mill in Simalungun, Sumatra.
The coffee extravaganza of MICE 2015 is over and done, and as life returns to normal, we just want to say thanks to all those who came and celebrated with us at our annual Brews ‘n’ Bats party. As the sun set on the first day of the MICE trade show, the brats hit the coals and competitors limbered up for ping pong glory and extraction craziness. For the third year running, we pushed the desks back, pulled up the roller doors and wheeled out the BBQs to welcome our friends and peers into our Barista Academy site in West Melbourne.
Every year our trip to Central America is big, and this year was no different. New relationships were explored in Guatemala, I touched based with our favourite coop and producer in Costa Rica and I investigated the coffee landscape of Nicaragua for the first time. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the trip.
For those who may have missed the action over the weekend, here are a few shots from the various coffee competitions which were held at this year’s Melbourne International Coffee Expo. Friday through Sunday, we found new champions across the Latte Art, Coffee in Good Spirits, Brewers Cup, Cup Tasters and Barista competitions for 2015.
Are you familiar with the Aeropress? It’s one of the most distinctive brewers on the market, looking like a giant coffee syringe. But that’s not all! It’s also the only device to have an international competition, the World Aeropress Championship, dedicated to it.
Asado in Spanish means barbecue, so you can imagine that visiting a small bar named after Argentina’s most beloved dish you’ll fine fresh, clean and bold South American flavours!
“Check out this blog, it has some sweet computer wallpaper images!” … Said no one since 2006. But here we are, bringing you the freshest coffee wallpapers around!
The second Singaporean Aeropress championships went down with a bang on Thursday night at Common Man Coffee Roasters, as 18 competitors went head to head for the top spot. I was honoured to be invited back to act as head judge for the second year running, and was once again impressed by the amount of interest shown in the Aeropress competition and the high standard of competitors.
This year’s Sumatran season marks the production of the first ever natural micro lot to come from the Tiga Raja mill. This micro lot truly is a collaborative effort between the mill, Common Man Coffee, Five Senses and our ‘Limu Putri’ farm in Sidamanik.
Brews ‘n’ Bats is back for 2015 with an exciting new coffee competition and of course our hyper competitive ping pong tournament, all during the Melbourne International Coffee Expo weekend of festivities.
With a blog that’s been around as long as this one, we’ve managed to cover a lot of topics. However, given how quickly the world of coffee changes, we figured it was time to revisit one of the most basic (and important) concepts in espresso: the brew ratio.
This may be kicking things off on the wrong foot, but I must confess to lying about the Tim Ferriss bit. For those of you who don’t know Tim Ferriss, he’s the author of the phenomenally successful Four-Hour book series. Tim takes a topic and strips away all the customs, traditions, rules and guidelines that make us behave in predictable, boring and sometimes nonsensical ways.
My lunch companions have it right! We struck the jackpot when we wandered into Exquise Patisserie, just off the main street in Freo, and ordered up a table full of treats. The pastry is just delightful – crisp, light and fluffy all at once. You can taste that it’s been made with the good stuff: real butter in the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing.
The weekend just past saw the latest annual edition of the Victorian Specialty Coffee Championships, this year generously hosted by Griffiths Coffee, held in the southern burbs of Mulgrave. Following an in depth day of judges calibration on Friday, we saw across Saturday and Sunday a selection of Victoria’s barista talent test their metal against Latte Art, Brewers Cup, Cup Tasting and Barista Championships.
I’m not going to lie, but I might once have been part of the group of coffee people who assumed that once you have driven past the airport in Melbourne, you are in a cultural wasteland and it’s not even worth searching for a great cup of coffee.
The Backroom programme is our avenue for offering some of Five Senses’ most distinct coffees. Sourced from our travels around the world or purchased from a variety of auctions, these ‘micro-lots’ are offered as a limited release and are constantly changing.
Aromas and flavours are powerful things. On one level they are stimuli for the senses, but on another, they spark things deep in our minds. Memories, ideas and relationships float alongside them and for many of us, the end of each year sees a unique array of foods and drinks spiced and flavoured in a way that clearly shouts ‘Holiday Time!’. And so, to celebrate this time of family, friends and sensory delights, have fun playing with our Spiced Cold Brew recipe below – a great, super easy way to get the day started as the weather warms up.
Our Curated Cupping series, held at both the Victoria and Western Australian Barista Academies plus one of our partnering cafes in Sydney, is an opportunity to showcase a few microlots from of our exquisite range of coffees. More so, beyond just tasting or cupping the coffees it is also an opportunity to share about relationships forged, various cultures experienced, and the nuances that these coffees represent in a tangible form.
- Richard Austin
- Tom Beaumont
- Ben Bicknell
- Ashley Brian
- Henry Brink
- Jordan Brock
- Brad Butler
- Marc Chandler
- Shaughan Dunne
- Andrew Easthope
- Dean Gallagher
- Jeremy Hartley
- Jeremy Hulsdunk
- Jacob Ibarra
- Brett Millar
- Richard Muhl
- Jennifer Murray
- Juliana Nobre
- Katherine Porter
- Brydon Price
- Charles Stewart
- Megan Williams
- Guest Writer