Espresso Tips (and a video on How to make a good Flat White)

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What IS a flatwhite? 

Flatwhites are made with a double espresso in a 5-5.5oz cup with heated textured milk. The origin is debatable whether it's from NZ or Australia... but since Australia claims most good things and I'm a kiwi, can we side with my country this time on this gem please?!  

The milk should be smooth, creamy and have s velvety texture. The milk should be thinner than a latte and "flatter" in head volume.

A flatwhite should be a short, strong tasting coffee with milk. Thats why its so good! 

Espresso TIPS

  • Use good quality specialty coffee beans – often found at a good independent café (or you can order some from my online shop here)
  • Your grind should be fine, more like fine sand than a powder (Turkish)
  • Your coffee should look dark, thick in consistency and trail down like a mousetail (thick at the top and taper down).
  • Espresso should extract at an even speed – not too fast, not too slow
  • When your espresso starts to look thinner and more watery, “blonde” (a lighter browny/yellow) or starts to “pulse”, wait a second or two and switch the water flow off.

You want your espresso to have a balanced taste and flavour. 

Recipe guide

  • 18-20g Ground Coffee in (I use these scales)
  • 30g liquid coffee out
  • 25-30seconds

Like all recipes this is a guide only. The biggest problem when your espresso isn't extracting well, is the grind size. Especially at home, many people don't realise their grind is still far too coarse. I would suggest grinding your coffee finer than you would normally think to, if not just to see what happens. Invest in a good espresso grinder (quite different to a filter grinder). 

If your grind is very fine, and is running very slow, then you have two options:

  1. Lower your dose (don't put so much in the porterfilter)
  2. Or slightly coarsen your grind

Do the opposite of this if your espresso is running too quickly.  Only do one of these two options at a time so you can see what difference it makes. 

Milk TIPs:

My next blog...

Cafflano Klassic Review | How to use it

It's easier if I SHOW you... so check out my video for all its features and how to use it:  HERE  

If you want to try it out, Cafflano have given me a code for FREE POSTAGE when you order online, just enter TGITCbrews at checkout, until end of May!  www.cafflano.co.uk/cafflano-klassic/


Recently I went home to NZ for a month and I originally packed my Hario mini-mill hand grinder and Aeropress - but at the last minute I took them out and got a Cafflano Klassic, which is an ALL IN ONE pourover filter maker!

It is a grinder, filter, pourer and cup in ONE piece of equipment that neatly screws together so you don't have to take multiple pieces of equipment or filter papers with you. 

The grinder is easily adjustable and made from ceramic conical burrs with gives a more consistent grind and doesn't blunt as easily. You can adjust your grinder to suit other brewing methods - like If you're away from home and there happens to be a cafetiere at the Air BnB or place you're staying in! 

I wouldn't use it as a regular grinder for everyday home use, because it's a little large for my wee hands to use all the time. But for a few days or while I'm away from my regular set up, this is a total luxury!

It's great for travelling, especially if you might not be near good cafes or coffee. You can take it camping or on cycling tours or even bring it on the plane so you don't have to have horrible aeroplane coffee! (Cafflano only weighs about 470g) I even used it on the beach! 

If you're away for a short trip, and you already have coffee beans at home, you can take them with you and even store them in the bottom compartment of the Cafflano (there's space!).

I'm taking it away with me to Lake Como this weekend incase I can't find any good coffee - which means I'll be saving my money on buying crappy coffee and its guaranteed my morning cuppa is gonna be decent. 

If you want to try it out, Cafflano have given me a code for FREE postage(!) when you order online, just enter TGITCbrews at checkout (until end of May)   www.cafflano.co.uk/cafflano-klassic/

The Cafflano Klassic includes:

  • 270ml drip pouring kettle
  • Ceramic conical burr grinder
  • Etched stainless steel filter dripper
  • Dual-wall insulated cup

HOT TIP:

Take a scoop away with you and store it in the bottom of the Cafflano - that way your dose in and out will be pretty accurate & no need for scales!

Here are some LINKS below to products I've mentioned, if you want to check them out:

Hario Buono Temperature controlled Kettle

VIDEO REVIEW


25% OFF HARIO Products: 

Use this code LCF2017 at checkout. 

Only Until Midnight April 12th

Water temperature is very important when brewing coffee because it affects how your coffee dissolves and ultimately the tastes. If your water is too hot or too cold it can cause your coffee to taste bitter, sour or flat.

I’ve been using the Hario buono kettle for a few years now, and I love it, so when I heard they were coming out with a temperature controlled kettle I was super excited. It’s something I’ve wanted for quite some time.

After testing and using this new Hario Buono Electric Kettle for a couple of months now, I wouldn’t really want to use anything else. It has made my brewing routine so much more convenient and accurate because it saves me waiting for my boiled water to cool down, or using a hob or kitchen kettle to transfer my heated water into a regular gooseneck kettle. The electric buono temperature controlled kettle requires almost no monitoring or double handling and you don’t need to use a thermometer spike anymore!

It essentially has three steps, so it’s really simple to use:

  1. Press "power on" button
  2. Use “up” and “down” arrows to set desired temperature
  3. Press “Keep-Warm” button

The discrete digital screen is really clear showing the temperature, alternating between the current temperature and the desired temperature it is set to (see video vlog review above).

Even though your can set your desired temperature, I generally boil my water first. So my routine for using this electric kettle has one more added step than you might choose. My mother was born in poverty stricken China where water was fetched from dirty water wells, so when she came to New Zealand as a teenager (where I was born) she was very particular about water and the impurities that might be in it. Even though the waters in NZ are some of the clearest and cleanest in the world, there were still problems like giardia in some parts, and even if it’s treated so that it’s safe to drink, you can still taste the chemicals used to clean it.

It was very important growing up to bring any water to be drunk to the boil… I think I inherited this “habit”…So to keep my conscience clear (and my mother happy), I do, boil that water first. But you don’t have to!

Luckily, the time that it takes for the water to boil, also gives you time to prepare by weighing out and grinding your coffee. Then using fresh off the boil water, I rinse my filter paper and set the kettle to my desired temperature by pressing the “keep warm” button. Water will have cooled down by then and the kettle will regulate the water automatically.

The kettle will “beep” a few times to let you know it has reached the desired set temperature.

Pressing the “up” arrow will automatically take you to 93 degrees. When you get to 96 degrees (maximum setting) and press “up” button again, it will take you back to 60 degrees. Likewise if you were at 60 degrees and pressed “down” you’d be back at 96 degrees. This is great because it cuts out button-pushing time but also allows you to set your water to a lower temperature if you use the kettle for teas too (60-96 degree range).

I think this kettle is a perfect volume too (0.8L).  It is enough to rinse your filter paper and then do a 2 cup pour-over, with out refilling, while still feeling light enough to lift  and operate, which aids with pouring.

Other kettles are often clunky or heavy to handle. I have tried other electric gooseneck kettles and regular kettles with a gooseneck spout and while they are all quite sufficient, there is something really unique about the design of the Hario Kettle spout. Maybe it’s the angle or the diameter of the Hario spout, which gives you more control, precision and safety.  I also find the handle really comfortable and allows my small hands to have a firm grip! The Japanese really do prove why their reputation for efficient form and function is so good.

I have seen an older version of this electric kettle, which had a flick switch instead of buttons and was apparently still good, but not temperature controlled. It took water to the boil only. I think this newer model is definitely superior as the old model seemed to have a light on one side that told you when it was boiled but if you were left handed you couldn’t have the kettle facing the other way around.

Because this newer model is 360 degrees rotatable, and all the settings are on the base which can always face outwards, it doesn’t matter which hand you are more comfortable using.

Another thing that’s handy is if you leave your kettle on afterwards, it will turn itself off if unused for a period of time. Likewise, if you turn it on to boil and there’s no water in it, it will turn itself off too! So it’s super safe.

The base is light, minimal and space efficient so it takes up little room on your bench or café counter.  The cord can be wound underneath the base to shorten so you don’t have long wires sprawled on the bench, or alternatively if you need to pack it away to transport.

I like to try keep factors the same (ie: dose, grind, temperature) and only change one thing at a time to see what makes a difference to my brew. It not only looks slick but on a practical sense it means I have more control over my brew recipe and method. All in all I’m super happy with my Buono Kettle, and I would definitely recommend it for home and café use.

Here’s a link if you want to check it out further. Here 

Ps: If you have the original Buono kettle, don't worry, I checked out Hario's site, and they seperately sell a lid with a temperature controlled spike built into it. But if you're like me, I'd opt for both - one for home and one for travel or camping! 

 

TGITC V60 Simple Brew Recipe:

  • 18g coffee
  • 250ml hot water (94 degrees)
  • 3 minutes

Rinse your filter paper. Then grind coffee into the cone and slowly pour hot water in a circular motion into the coffee. The coffee will bloom, and when it starts to drop, keep topping it up with water until 250mls of water has passed through. It should take approximately 3 minutes to complete. 

Relax & Enjoy...

Also check out the TGITC online store for lots of great coffee products here. 

 

“North East by Southwest”

AROUND THE WORLD IN 8 WEEKS

Here's what happened...

For eight weeks I curated a host of world coffees at Stone & Crow. I started in London with Alchemy Coffee Roasters (which was available throughout the duration) then I featured:


Week 1: Nomad Coffee (Barcelona)

Week 2: Five Elephants (Berlin)

Week 3: Coffee Supreme Melbourne (Australia)

Week 4: Coutume Coffee Roasters (Paris)

Week 5: DoubleShot (Prague) 

Week 6: Reunion Island (Toronto)

Week 7: Rich Coffee Roasters (New Zealand)

then finished with my last weekend in London using a few of my favourite London roasters…

What an incredible 8 weeks I had at Stone & Crow.

Leytonstone has been my home for the past couple of months and an amazing place to hold my pop up café. The local community have been incredibly supportive. I really enjoyed meeting so many locals and others from around London, making you coffee and discussing all sorts of coffee and non-coffee related stuff with you!

I really hope over the past few weeks I was able to introduce some new ideas as well as provide access to some top-grade coffees that London has never had before. There were so many interesting coffees, I was blown away with everyone that I had and worked with.

Look out for these roasters, as they are all developing and doing some really interesting work in the coffee world and remember coffee makes a great xmas prezzy! 

In my last weekend I finished off Around the world in 8 weeks in “LONDON”.

As I love film, my concept for the last weekend paid homage to Leytonstone’s most famous resident, Alfred Hitchcock. It also gave me an excuse to have some of my favourite London roasters in the hopper.

I called the London-Weekend “North East by Southwest” after Alfred Hitchcock’s famous film “North by Northwest”.

North: Vagabond Coffee

East: Squaremile Coffee

Southwest: Alchemy Coffee

 

NORTH LONDON: Vagabond

Having three locations (N7, N5, E1) I got my coffee from their Holloway Rd (N7) café/roastery. It was a nice place to visit with the roaster out the back of the café where you can dine in whilst watching them roast. As an espresso I used “Balzac’s cup” which was a blend of Brazilian and Columbian coffee. Having not worked with their coffee before, I really enjoyed using it. It made for a juicy and smooth cup, which was easy to drink with milk and lovely as an espresso.  I was especially impressed by their Ethiopian Guji that I ran as a batch brew. It was so good - sweet, super clean and tasty. People really enjoyed it.

East London: Squaremile

Most of you will know Squaremile to be one of the best roasters in London and for good reason. But rather than get their house blend “Red Brick”, I asked them to get me what ever they thought was their “best”, so they sent me their Kenyan Espresso Kangunu AA (the AA refers to bean size which is bigger than other beans). Kenyan AA is typically very good so it was a bit special to have. I came in early and had a play around with different doses and grinds and got it where I thought it should be - it tasted great! It’s quite different using a Kenyan as a single origin espresso. I often enjoy blends because you can use the different origins to bring out certain profiles in an espresso, but this was really interesting to drink and probably a little different from what most other places are using in cafes around London. It tasted of deep red fruits but was quite light and bright at the same time. A very tasty number!

SouthWest London: Alchemy Coffee

Alchemy coffee is one of my favourite roasters in London. They first caught my attention a few years ago with their Guatemalan range – they source some of the best guats I’ve tasted. So of course I used a Guatemalan single origin of theirs from San Sebastian.  It didn't disappoint. It was beautiful, and again quite bright but with caramel undertones that gave it a nice finish with milk. Incidentally, I had Alchemy coffee on throughout the duration of my pop up as filter coffee as well as the other coffees I was using from around the world. I was particularly fond of their costa rican brewed in various ways; batch brew, V60, Chemex and aeropress. Their El Salvador is good too.  Alchemy coffee roasters are super easy and accommodating to work with.  I really enjoyed using their coffee at my pop up regularly and I find their coffee consistently reliable. We have a good laugh and they seem to put up with my regular questions and general cheekiness.

I can honestly highly recommend all of the roasters I used during this time, so if you do happen to be in any of those countries or cities, do look for them as you’ll be able to reliably drink them. I know only too well how hard it can be when you’re travelling, need coffee but don’t know the good local coffee suppliers – so I hope this helps when you’re in Barcelona (Spain), Berlin (Germany), Melbourne (Australia), Paris (France), Prague(Czech Republic), Toronto (Canada), Wellington (New Zealand) and of course, for those who were only able to follow the journey via social media, London! (when you visit)

Karma Cola were dope too, as I had their deliciously fun sodas at my popup. They’re such a great company and do amazing work not only through their products but their philanthropic work too which is award-winning (See my earlier blog on them here). I really appreciate their support and encouragement for me and my work too. I love working with such great people and companies with great products. 

Without Julian from Stone & Crow it wouldn't have happened. It was wicked to work with him and I'm super grateful to him for welcoming me into his amazing space. Every week I would come in to find him running around like an excited animal with all the new (vintage) things he had acquired. There was always a story or a history to tell about each item. Julian has a great eye and cool taste. He has an amazing knowledge of vintage furniture and artwork which was awesome to be around and chat about. Super generous, I couldn't have done this without him. I had so much fun.

The biggest thanks goes to so many of you for popping in and to Leytonstone. It’s always great to see people come visit from around London and see friends and people in the coffee/hospitality industry, I really appreciate your time and the love. An absolute pleasure. It's the first time since my Soho days that I really felt such an amazing supportive community. I got real buzz from seeing you and I’m grateful for your support – in person and online. Thank you.

Stay tuned, for my webseries and more cool stuff coming soon. I know its been ages, but sometimes, good things take time.

Peace out xx

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The Alchemist

My very first Blog originally for Origin Outterwear on Roasting and the basics with Phil from Alchemy Coffee:

This is my first official blog post for British Steed I thought it would be good to go back to basics and start with looking at where beans are sourced and how coffee is actually roasted. I want to give you an understanding of the process by taking you through it with an experienced and passionate coffee team – hence my visit to Alchemy coffee this week. Joe, the founder and owner of Alchemy, is still as active and passionate as ever about coffee and the industry. After working as a structural engineer, he began his journey into coffee in his late 20’s on a visit to Guatemala, Belize, Mexico (Yucatan) and Cuba with his wife Anne. Through fate, he was invited as an observer for the Cup of Excellence in Guatemala. There he got to meet the judges and the national cuppers and other industry specialists, but what made the most impact on him was meeting the local growers. It was here that Joe got the itch for what is now a thriving career in coffee. Alchemy have a range of espresso and filter coffees, which I used in my slow drip cold filter coffee during this London “summer” as I was particularly impressed by their Guatemalan acquisitions. Joe is a fan and somewhat of a connoisseur of this region having done a number of trips there – all of Alchemy’s Guatemalan beans are direct trade, which I think is pretty amazing. They use a combination of direct trade and agents to have a solid range of Guatemalan, Columbian, Brazilian, Rwandan, Bolivian, El Salvador and Ethiopian beans. I was surprised to find out that they don’t really have many ethical or environmental concerns with the farms they are working with because, their producer Juan Diego in El Sorocco is an agronomist and has a keen understanding of the health of his farm. It is a bio-diverse environment and they have specifically chosen to retain native forest shade plants rather than plant Grevillea as it does not belong in that region. They keep weeding to a minimum as the weeds help prevent erosion and promote insect life, essential for pollinating the flowers. “The quality of the picking at EL Socorro is amazing and this is based on working with the same pickers each year and training them well. Pay rates are raised to encourage the pickers to buy into the idea that knowing how to grow well and pick more selectively, creates a better product that results in better prices for the coffee and in turn – better rates for pickers. We pay based on the quality of the coffee which rewards and gives incentives to everyone in the chain and hopefully will insure amazing coffee for years to come. It gives us and the consumer access to great coffees at a fair price for all.” Here Joe mentions a tweet we both saw this week: “Good coffee isn’t cheap – cheap coffee isn’t good”. Says it all really. The origins that excite them right now are El Socorro (Guatemalan), San Sebastian (Guatemalan), and La Esperanza (Honduras) that they are hoping will arrive in a few weeks time. Ironically, La Esperanza directly translates from Spanish to “Hope” as does El Socorro translates to “relief”. So (for their sake as well as mine) I’m La Esperanza-ing to taste some of that San Sebastian in which I’ll be El Socorro-ed. Lame but had to get it in there…

Alchemy has been roasting coffee in South Wimbledon since 2008 and Phil Sung is their head roaster. Like many in the coffee industry, I like to call him over qualified but in a way, he couldn’t be any less qualified to do this job as well as he does. Not only does he have a biochemistry degree, but a Masters in food science with experience sourcing and importing at Matthew Algie Coffee (Glasgow) and Broadway Market’s Climpson & Sons, (London). Phil’s cherry demeanour and hybrid English, Canadian, Scottish and Chinese accent is fun (sometimes confusing – to him as well as me) but it adds to the richness of his technical explanations. There’s a playfulness to him, so hearing him speak about the process and watching his intense attention to the computer graphs and dials was incredibly fascinating. I’ll try to recap the roasting process for you: When the green beans are released into the roasting drum, (which is at around 203-204 degrees Celsius) bean and air temperature are measured against a profile, which is predetermined based on previous sample testing: time, heat, bean type and origin. This is closely tracked on a time and heat continuum and attentively adjusted by dials on the Probat Probatone12. It seemed like navigating a route through London, with an end destination clearly in sight, in a certain amount of time, adjusting the route only when necessary. There is about 13-14% moisture in green beans which needs to be dried so that it can go through two chemical reaction phases when roasting. These phases are Maillard and Caramelisation. The first is the reaction between protein (amino acids) and sugar particles and the second being the browning of sugars. If you’re a Sunday roast fan or have a sweet tooth, it’s really similar to the process of roasting meat or baking a cake and necessary to develop flavour. At many times during the process Phil would quickly withdraw a sample of beans and momentarily study the aroma and colour, which he calls “mental imaging”. It’s something I also constantly do as a barista when I cup and pull espressos. It’s a useful way to mentally associate smell and colour with knowledge you have about the bean and its origin, so you can decipher if it is doing what it should and therefore result in an expected taste or flavour

Hard not to be romanced by the number of beautiful autumn colour phases that the beans went through in Phil’s 11 minute roast. From Green, yellow, tan to brown, the smells went from grassy and crisp to sweet and toasty. It’s interesting to note that the time between the yellow and brown stage also affects acidity, which made me wonder next time I drank a cup with a certain acidity to it, how long the roast process might be or what roast times would other roasters use for the same origin? My thoughts were interrupted when I heard the ‘first crack’, which is when the CO2 within the bean is trying to release itself by pushing out from inside the bean – similar to a piece of popcorn (also one of my favourite foods). Quite soon after this, Phil releases the evenly golden browned and expanded beans into the cooling drum. Some larger roasters or chains still roast beyond the first crack but is less common these days as taste can be compromised despite workability. However, there are still darker roasts out there that are interesting and tasty. Much depends on the skill in the roasting as much as the bean type/origin and it makes me keen to find out more as this blog-journey evolves.

There’s no doubt that behind Phil’s deceptively cheeky smile is a scientist who has an instinct, curiosity and keen palate for exposing us to new varieties – which allow us to develop ours. All the Alchemy guys are great and we had a good old laugh. My visits with them are always really generous, informative and inspiring.

You can try their coffee out for yourself at their St Pauls Café: 8 Ludgate Broadway, London EC4V 6DU – or check their website to find a list of other cafes who use their beans
www.alchemycoffee.co.uk
twitter: @alchemycafes (café)
twitter: @alchemy_coffee (roastery)

Photos by Jake Green  www.jakegreen.co.uk

Instagram:          Jake Green

              The Girl in the Cafe

Twitter:              @j_grn

              @Girl_inthe_Cafe