Tag Archives: espresso

Yet Another CuppaChoice Latte Art Throwdown

CuppaChoice is organising another Latte Art Throwdown on Thursday, November 18 from 7:00pm to 9:30pm at their cafe. Entry fee for the competition will be $5 per person, with the final pot as the prize. Interested participants, please email Suhaimie. Knowing CuppaChoice, there’ll be some unorthodox weirdness thrown in for effect. From what I can remember, they’ve organized blindfolded latte art competitions, latte art in coffee (not espresso) from Nestle vending machines. Early birds will be treated to a cupping session.

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Coffee Meetup During Grand Prix

The latest CGSG (Coffee Greens Singapore) gathering was held in my humble abode during the time Grand Prix was in town. As usual, the gathering was called up at the last minute. And as usual, the CGSG Gang of Four showed up.

CGSG Gang Of Four
CGSG G4: Steve, Kai Seng, Melvin, Colin (L to R)

The gathering was called up as I’ve procured a bag of quite-fresh roasted beans from Intelligentsia@Venice, CA courtesy of Sean Bonner. I met Sean on the chat session moderated by Nick Cho during this year’s WBC. We happened to be the only 2 in Singapore awake at an ungodly hour trying to catch glimpses from  a laggy stream of our favourite baristas in action. One thing led to another, and Sean, who’s a regular at Intelli Venice, bought me a bag of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Adado on his trip back to Singapore. On a side note, Sean also introduced me Intelli Venice’s Chris & M’lissa Owens (both of them renowned coffee greats) when they were in town for F1.

Kai Seng was the first to arrive as he had tickets to F1 finals that very day, and was in a rush to drink his fill and leave. I assured him that was not going to happen. Sure enough, the other 2 arrived late. We were all dying to try Intelli’s Yirgacheffe, which I’ve decided to save for this gathering. Steve brought his roast of Metropolis Coffee’s Green Line, which is an unroasted version of their popular Red Line. It was roasted to Full City +. Given that it’s home turf, I was the designated barista of the day and proceeded to pull shots for us all.

This CGSG gathering was unlike the previous ones we’ve been having. While CGSG was formed out of our love for coffee, we found that each of us had a common love for steaks, grills, wine, prosciutto, home baked breads, gourmet french butter, blue cheese and all these could be had at Kai Seng’s. (Un)fortunately, this Sunday gathering had none of these distractions and our discussion went back to our first love, coffee. We shared views on über coffeegeek, Mark Prince’s articles on the state of coffee and his call out to bring back spro downs instead of latte art throwdowns. Steve and I both remarked that we’ve become less anal retentive in our home barista routines. I’ve switched from using the Espro clicker tamper to a Reg Barber (which John Ting helped me get from WBC 2010 in London). Both Steve and I have stopped weighing the beans and have replaced the bottomless portafilters with La Marzocco portafilters, I’ve stopped taking infinte photos of the naked portafilter pours as well.

Specially for this Sunday gathering, I went back to using the Espro tamper as I wanted to minimise the variables in our taste tests for Steve’s Green Line and Intelligentsia’s Yirgacheffe. Since all of us were familiar with Yirgacheffe, we decided to prolong Kai Seng’s agonizing wait and pulled the Green Line first. Fortunately, the grind setting on my Compak K-6 was suitable for both coffees. The pull was started at 197.5°F on Eric’s Thermometer. The scent for Green Line espresso was tobacco, and the finish was caramel. Enjoyable indeed. The following picture has the taste notes from Metropolis Coffee.

Then came the Intelligentsia Organic Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Adado. The pull was also at 197.5°F. And wow! The scent was floral, and upon sipping the espresso, we all felt the lemony notes. While 99% of the time on most espresso with this type of taste profile, lemony notes go into overdrive and the taste gives way to brightness and acidity. This time, it was different. Very different. It was a first for all of us. The lemony notes pulled back. We couldn’t quite put our finger on what it reminded us of. Steve mentioned lemon cheesecake. I said lemon meringue or lemon cream. It was the defining moment of a Godshot for all of us. On the bag’s taste notes, it describes the Yirgacheffe as “Jasmine atop lime candy, lemongrass and bergamot.” The 2nd shot was quite consistent with the first. Same lemony notes that never had a chance to go beyond.

While our steakouts (what I call our wining and dining at Kai Seng’s for now) are both satisfying and sinful, I do miss our home barista jam sessions. I hope we get to do one more before the end of this year as soon as Steve can get his new place in order.

MITR PHOL Barista Challenge 2010

[This post has been updated with correct dates and times as of 3 June 2010]

CUPPACHOICE INTERNATIONAL PTE LTD has been given the honour and responsibility to organise and run a Barista Challenge on behalf of MITR PHOL THAILAND and MAXWILL (ASIA) PTE LTD, in conjunction with MITR PHOL SUGAR Trade Show 2010.

The Trade Show will be held from the 4th to 6th June and the Barista Challenge will be the main focus from the 5th and finals on the 6th of June on the 4th June from 11 am to 7 pm and on the 5th June from 11 am to 7 pm.

The main event is MITR PHOL BARISTA CHALLENGE and the side event, MITR PHOL LATTE ART THROWDOWN.

Come join us in this carnival, after all, it is also the GREAT SINGAPORE SALE and there is no better place to be than in Orchard Road.

MITR PHOL BARISTA CHALLENGE 2010 (in running order)

1. Jackie (Jolly Frog Bistro Bar)

2. Terence (Boomarang Express)

3. Noribsham (Cuppachoice Café & Academy)

4. Natasha (1 Caramel Café)

5. Mustaffa (1 Caramel Café)

6. Fadhly (Cuppachoice Café & Academy)

7. Jason (Starbucks Coffee)

8. Cessna (Café Cartel)

9. Arfian (30 Mls Coffee Bar)

10. Nizam (30 Mls Coffee Bar)

11. Andy (Starbucks Coffee)

12. Main Pavan (Jones The Grocer)

NESTLE LATTE ART CHALLENGE

1. Arfian (30 Mls Coffee Bar)

2. Alif (Jones The Grocer)

3. Fadzli (Jones The Grocer)

4. Noribsham (CuppaChoice Café & Academy)

5. Art (Jones The Grocer)

6. Terence (Boomarang Express)

7. Fadhly (Cuppachoice Café & Academy)

8. Jackie (Jolly Frog Bistro Bar)

9. Andy (Starbucks Coffee)

10. Nizam (30 Mls Coffee Bar)

11. Jason (Starbucks Coffee)

12. Cessna (Café Cartel)

13. Han Bing (Café Cartel)

[excerpted from Facebook]

—————————————————————————

PANEL OF JUDGES

The judges have been announced to be the following:

Alex Chong- Sensory Judge (Master Roaster & MD of CuppaChoice)

Colin Loh – Sensory Judge (CGSG Founding Member, espresso.colinloh.com)

Adrian Toh – Sensory Judge (Nestle Professional Representative)

Zaccheus Leck – Sensory Judge (Maxwill Representative Coffee Lover)

Steve Cairns – Technical Judge (CGSG Founding Member)

Cheryl Lee – Technical Judge (2 time Malaysia Barista Champion)

John Ting – Latte Art Judge (Singapore National Barista Champion 2008,2009, WBC 2009 Ranked #21, Barista@Oriole Cafe)

Competition Blend

The blend used for the competition is a 60% Kenya AA / 40% Ethiopia Sidamo roasted by CuppaChoice to Mid-Dark.

Personal Notes:

I went to scout the location today. While my previous post mentioned that the barista challenge was to be held at Takashimaya, it is in actual fact being held at the outdoors Civic Plaza. The area allocated for the MITR PHOL Barista Challenge is super-huge, as compared to the area we are so used to during the Singapore National Barista Championships. The SNBC 2010 area was about one-tenth the size of MITR PHOL BC. The stage area is just behind the fountain at Ngee Ann City. I hope to update this blog post with photos tomorrow.

3rd CuppaChoice Barista Challenge at Ngee Ann City

[Dates have been updated as of 3rd June 2010]

I was going to announce this event much earlier on, but I’m glad I was busy and couldn’t do so. After a few revisions from CuppaChoice, here’s their final draft. SNBC 2010 #3 Suhaimie, if there are any changes…. Please let me know.

CuppaChoice International is organising their #3 Barista Challenge @ Takashimaya Departmental Store THE CIVIC PLAZA, Ngee Ann City from the 4th to 6th 5th June 2010 in conjunction with Asia’s Number 1 sugar manufacturer, MITR PHOL (who is running a )TRADESHOW from 4th to 6th June. Competition will thus be named, MITR PHOL BARISTA CHALLENGE 2010. More than $2,000 worth of cash and prizes are to be won. Interested baristi, please email #3 at suhaimie@cuppachoice.com for details (and obviously some well-wishes if you want to get on #3’s good side and win at least a door prize) today.

There are 2 competitions being contested. The main one, MITR PHOL BARISTA CHALLENGE requires a participation fee of $30 per Barista and the side challenge, Nestle Latte Art Free Pour requires a fee of $10. CuppaChoice will be collecting the funds on behalf of MITR PHOL and these funds will be added to the prize money.

Please confirm the challenges in which you and/or your representative(s) will be participating in. Please write a cheque payable to CUPPACHOICE PTE LTD and mail it to

CUPPACHOICE ACADEMY
3 Temple Street
Singapore 058556

BY 22nd OF MAY 2010.

For more details & well wishes, please email #3 at suhaimie@cuppachoice.com.

This Barista Challenge has garnered a huge interest and CuppaChoice has increased the slots from 10 to 12 Baristi for the main challenge. Latte Art has no capped limit on participation.

Hands On Review: La Marzocco FB80 Paddle Group

First of all, I would like to thank May Soo from Wineberry, the official La Marzocco distributor in Singapore for inviting me and Kai Seng to Food And Hotel Asia 2010 at Singapore Expo. The first thing we did after passing through the visitor registration process yesterday was heading to the La Marzocco booth at Hall 5C-8. The La Marzocco booth is also conveniently located opposite from the stage area where the Asia Barista Championship is being held today and tomorrow. Thankfully, ABC’s La Marzocco machines are sponsored by Wineberry, unlike Singapore National Barista Championship’s mismatched pair of machine-grinder combo.

On display were 2 very sought after machines of mine.

This is a La Marzocco GS3 Paddle Group with clear side panels. The clear side panels are an exhibition only feature as the original GS3 comes with black side panels. This one time model is also on sale for a very good price of S$9000. I was told that there will be a price hike for La Marzocco soon.

And the winning espresso machine of FHA 2010 this year would be the La Marzocco FB80 Paddle Group. This machine is a beauty to behold. We could see that the 3 groups all had individual PIDs, with temperatures set at 94.8°C, 96.6°C and 95.5°C. As the temperatures show, it would mean the PIDs could be configured in steps of 0.1 degree. WOW!

This FB80 model comes with LED lights too. Note also the matte black steam wands. Sleek!

That’s one less trip to Ikea to get the LED strips.

Paired with the 2 La Marzocco espresso machines is the La Marzocco Swift, a grinder with auto-dosing and auto-tamping.

The real feature the FB80 and the GS3 had that attracted the both of us were the paddle groups and the ability of pressure profiling. So many of the other espresso machines found at FHA this year were mostly boasting Green-Save-The-Environment features. These paddle group machines meant that we could control the amount of pre-infusion time and the amount of pressure manually. The paadle group lever goes smoothly from right to left. As I gradually moved the lever to the center position, I could see that the pressure went to 3 bars steadily, and as I moved the lever to the left, the pressure began to climb to 9 bars.

With the La Marzocco Swift ensuring the tamping and dosing variable would remain constant throughout, we could easily put the FB80 to the test. I went first. I chose to use the 95.5°C grouphead and proceeded to flush the grouphead with the portafilter attached. I then detached the portafilter, gave it a good wipe and locked it into the Swift. The coffee provided was Oriole Cafe’s freshly roasted Espresso blend, another good match to the machine. After the Swift’s dosing and tamping ended, I unlocked the portafilter and locked it back into the FB80. I gradually moved the lever to the center position and then waited for the first drops. Just as I did that, I knew that Kai Seng would probably be thinking the same thing as I was at the time. This experience would be perfect if I had brought along my naked portafilter. After about 7 seconds, the first dark chocolate coloured drops appeared in the cup. I let it drip for about 4 seconds before gradually moving the lever the the left, bringing the pressure up to 9 bars. The pour was superb, the colours went from dark chocolate to lighter dark chocolate. The crema in the cup was so spectacular. At the first sign of very slight bloding, I moved the lever back to the right to stop the pour. The espresso was heavenly. I could taste the wide complex taste spectrum of the espresso. No bitters at all, some chocolates, a buttery mouthfeel. At 95.5°C, I was in 7th heaven with Oriole Cafe’s espresso blend.

Darn! I’m late for work. I will finish this review when I return later in another 11 hours’ time. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, please attend FHA 2010 even if it means paying the $80 at the door. Wineberry will not be having the FB80 for long. I’ve heard that the unit already has a buyer.

P.S.  The only odd feature we didin’t like was the fact that there was only 1 pressure gauge shared between all 3 groups. I turned on the 3 individual groups at different times and it seemed that the pressure gauge displayed the highest pressure at any one time.

Video – SNBC 2010 Finals – Keith Loh

This is the video of Keith Loh’s (Oriole Cafe) winning performance during the Final Round of the Singapore National Barista Championship 2010. Keith went on to win the Championship and will be representing Singapore in the World Barista Championship held in London later this year.

[xr_video id=”95531d3a9e0d4bce892ec5180671da24″ size=”sm”]

Video – SNBC Day 2 – John Ting

Here’s a video of John’s performance at this year’s SNBC. Having participated in SNBC every year since 2007, John has been placed Runner Up in 2007, and Champion in 2008 and 2009. His latest WBC 2009 rank representing Singapore is #21.

[xr_video id=”5e4fecb120e545b4916d8b028a2b39e5″ size=”sm”]

SNBC Day 2

Today, I came prepared, with my naked portafilter, a digital thermometer crippled from my Eric Svendson’s setup from home, and my Espro tamper.

While attention was focused on the latte art competition on the floor, I stole away to try my stint at the Rancilio Classe 6 unit at the door. A few points in summary:

My Rancilio naked portafilter locks in at 6 o clock

The Ditting-Mahlkoenig clumps to high heaven because of the lack of a doser to help in some unclumping. I had to use the digital thermometer to unclump the grounds in order to perfect my pour. I had spritzing in most my pours no thanks to the doserless grinder.

The Rancilio Classe 6 rapidly loses heat in the grouphead. I read initial temps of 205, and then it steadily decreases to a range between 165 and 175 degrees 20 seconds in. I’m sure past competitors would miss the PID’d temperature stability and machine build of previous SNBC sponsor who brought in La Marzocco. Even Nuova Simonelli had their WBC machines specially customized with a PID to ensure temperature stability.

The Spinelli roast worked very well with the Rancilios. I managed to test out one pour at the competition machine with the Boncafe roast, intended for the latte art comp, and it tasted inferior to the Spinelli roast. I would think Ross had tailored the roasts to suit his machines. Despite the temperature instability and the clumping, Spinelli pours from the Rancilio were all within a good degree of tolerance in body, flavour and acidity. Point in note, if all else fails in this year’s SNBC, be sure to use Spinelli roast. I’m sure it’ll taste quite fine to please the judges’ palates.

Updated with new photos:

At SNBC

I’m awaiting for the SNBC competition to start. As with all other previous SNBC’s, there are the usual familiar faces:

Justin Metcalf, WBC certified judge and looks to be head judge of SNBC this year.

Victor Mah, head of Singapore Coffee Association, the organiser for SNBC.

Ross Bright, roaster at Spinelli Coffee and sponsor of this year’s Rancilio machines.

Danny Pang, past SNBCs’ finalist and of Geek Terminal and Espressoul fame.

A few points that I’ve noted are:

There are 3 stations of Rancilio Classe 8. The portafilters are so tight they can’t lock into the normal 6 o clock position. I was told the machines are new and so the tabs are not seasoned enough to lock into the right position. And some of the machines’ spouts are angled while others aren’t. I’m not sure if changing the baskets to the thinner ones might help any.

The trophies this year look quite cheap, not the usual frothing pitchers from past years. Entry into this competition is by no means cheap, being $250 a head for non SCA members. You would think they could at least mount a tamper or portafilter or at least something representative of a barista to begin with. The winner from SNBC this year also walks away with a Ditting grinder, which looks like a Vario Baratza, sponsored by Hospitality Essential.

Updated with new photos below: