What's here / on the way.

The season of higher than usual coffee consumption is upon us. Here are some details on what is arriving today and tomorrow at Parlour!

49TH PARALLEL COFFEE ROASTERS:

 

GUATEMALA LA BOLSA VENTANA GRANDE

Here is what the roaster has to say about this coffee:

The region of La Libertad is a place that we can’t fully capture - rolling hills turn into the huge sweeping, lush green mountains overlooking the border into the Chiapas region of Mexico. Warm winds sweep in from the Tehuantepec plain, protecting the coffee in the highlands from frost - how nice of Mexico! 

Special coffees grow here. The micro climate and production is exceptional at La Bolsa (which has been in the Vides/ Ovalle family since 1958), but especially the section of the farm that our lot is comprised of. “Ventana Grande” means “big window” - the highest elevated part of the farm is entered through a tunnel in the mountain, opening like a window to the Bourbon and Caturra lot that ripens the slowest, and consequently yields the sweetest fruit. It's the family’s continuous focus on quality, and their sense of social responsibility (they maintain a full school, and access to healthcare for the local community), that make us excited to work with La Bolsa for yet another year.

For all types of filter coffee brewing, we recommend the following parameters:

  • Brewing ratio: 1g coffee to 16-17g water

  • Slurry temperature (coffee+water): 195-200° F


EPIC ESPRESSO

A few words from 49th:

If you're looking for an incredibly sweet, clean espresso with floral notes and bright acidity, this is definitely for you. Epic is roasted on the lighter side to highlight these characteristics.

Epic Espresso is the culmination of our search for the sweetest and most complex espresso we can create. We work every day to improve it - always looking for the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity.

As of Ocotber 13th, 2015, Epic Espresso consists of:

Ethiopia Jimate Organi

  • Local Heirloom  
  • 1900 m.a.s.l.

Here are the parameters that we've been using with our latest Epic Espresso (parameters for an 18g VST Precision Filter Basket)

  • 18 grams of freshly ground coffee
  • Timer for 28-32 seconds
  • Pull 40-41 grams of liquid espresso
  • Grouphead at 200° F
  • 7 bars of pressure

 


PHIL & SEBASTIAN COFFEE ROASTERS:

ETHIOPIA MEKURIA

Here is what P&S has to say about this coffee:

This coffee from the Guji zone in Ethiopia is the product of the intense attention to detail that is afforded on the small farms in the area. Phil has seen significant progress in the area in the last few years, and we are happy to bring you this fruity, milky-bodied offering.

 

WASHING STATION OWNER: Mekuria Mergia
KABELE: Dimtu Wamena
ZONE: Guji
REGION: Oromia
ELEVATION: 1650-1800m
PROCESSING: Washed, 36-48h underwater fermentation
HARVEST: Nov. 2104 – Jan. 2015


DECAF, DON MAYO, COLOMBIA

This decaf coffee is from one of our long time producing partners: The Bonilla Family. This decaf represents coffee from three of the Bonilla family farms: El Llano, El Cedral and Los Nacientes. They have many farms, but these are our three favourite. We have worked on a few projects with the Bonilla Family, including last year, when we launched a drying project with Pablo Bonilla to slow the drying of his coffee. The results of this project were so successful, that they have subsequently altered drying protocols at the Bonilla’s.

Now a bit about why we chose Swiss Water. We’ve gotten to know some of the folks behind the scenes at Swiss Water, and they’re simply great coffee people. They’re always striving to improve their processes and the resulting decaf quality. Just in the last 5 years, their decaf quality has advanced exponentially. Swiss water is based in Burnaby, BC and not Switzerland, although the Swiss Water process was invented in Switzerland in 1933 but was first commercialized by Swiss Water (the company) in Burnaby in 1988.

 

REGION: Tarrazu
PROCESSING: Washed
DECAF PROCESS: Swiss Water
HARVEST DATE: December 2014


SINGLE ORIGIN ESPRESSO - HONDURAS, WILMER DUBON

Wilmer Dubon’s farm is situated in a sub-region of Santa Barbara, right on the border of Los Andes and El Cedral, micro regions that have enjoyed much success in the Honduras Cup of Excellence.  This year, due to some improvements to drying methods, Wilmer's coffee is performing in an extraordinary way.

PRODUCER: Wilmer Dubon
REGION: El Cedral, Santa Barbara
VARIETY: Bourbon, Pacas
ELEVATION: 1600 m
DRY MILL: San Vicente 1900
PROCESSING: Fully Washed
DRYING: Raised Beds with Airflow
HARVEST: April 2015

 

 

 

 

Decaf - It'll keep your spirits high

Here, I'll say it for you. "Uh, WHAT?!?! Did, you actually just say that Decaf coffee will keep your spirits high? You are off your rocker and have no place working at Parlour!" Well, you're probably right about the rocker thing, and I'll leave my employment here up to the Norse gods that Nils' ancestors probably worshipped, but I stand by my statement. Why? Well, for starters, why would one drink coffee that is decaffeinated? Here are a few reasons, all legitimate (trust me I tried to think of some disparaging remarks about it, but I couldn't):

  1. They are with child and have opted to eliminate caffeine from their system. Respect.
  2. You like to sleep and you also like coffee. That works. Decaf can help with both.
  3. One day, they are walking down the street and, maybe they are feeling a bit off, like they got up on the wrong side of the bed. They see a bird flying through the sky and suddenly a thought, out of nowhere, occurs to them -- That bird could just fall right out of the sky, knocking off my spectacles, which land such that they cast a glare into an automobile drivers eyes, who, blinded by the light veers off the road and starts driving on the sidewalk ... ushering in the apocalypse. Their heart begins to beat eratically, their palms sweat, they have a weird momentary sharp painful headache that comes and goes called an icepick headache. Whoa! Bummer! That my friends, is very irrational and can be very real and if you seek appropriate medical attention, may be told that you suffered a panic attack or an anxiety attack. I'm with ya, and for a long time I myself drank only decaffeinated coffee. Why? Because the experience and social aspects of coffee drinking kept me coming back. My friends ordered whatever they wanted, I ordered something decaffeinated that tasted close to what I would normally get. That time has come and gone for me, and now I drink a billion coffees a day ... but I get ya decaf drinkers ... you are legitimate coffee drinkers, no matter how many people show you their lame "death before decaf" tattoo -- because well, with your anxiety, you already died a bit. Blamo! More like, "Decaf or die." I'd almost be inclined to say that hardcore decaf drinkers are more thoughtful about drinking coffee than many caffeine swillin' coffee addicts.

Ooops, got carried away there. Of course there are other reasons that are great. But this is what I'm really here to tell you: Our decaf is awesome. It was awesome nearly 4 years ago when we opened, and it's awesome now. We use the decaffeinated coffees roasted by Calgary's Phil & Sebastian who we trust to do as good a roasting job with decaf as they have proven to do with the rest of their coffee. It's good. 

Two methods of decaffeination are used at Parlour Coffee. If you don't have a chemistry degree (I don't either), read on and click the links. They are only moderately technical at times: 

Ethel Acetate - P&S have previously been roasting a decaf coffee from Colombia using the Ethel Acetate method of extracting caffeine from the coffee bean. This method has been slapped with the term "natural" because it exists in small amounts in ripening fruits. It has been found by many, including Phil & Sebastian and 49th Parallel (both roasters are featured weekly on Parlour's shelves) to yield a more "true" taste once the caffeine has been removed. It yields a better result, than, say, Methylene Chloride does. Both are solvent based methods of decaffeination, and while Ethyl Acetate is, in it's purest form, a naturally occurring compound, it exists in such small quantities in fruit that it is impractical to use in large scale coffee decaffeination. Instead, it is often "produced commercially from ethyl alcohol and acetic acid." The Ethyl Acetate used in the Colombian decaf from P&S was a byproduct of sugar cane production. The results they got were good, but it was just too difficult to trace the source of the producer.  Check out more info on solvent based methods here: Decaffeination 101.

Swiss Water Process - Many of you have asked if we were using Swiss Water process decaf and our lame response to you before was, "well, no ... it's Ethyl Acetate, which many think yield a better taste." We don't know, though. Swiss Water always seemed like a pretty sweet deal to us. P&S have told us they are finally roasting enough decaf to be able to feasibly have some of their coffee sent to the Swiss Water Process facility in Vancouver, Canada. This new Decaf is one of P&S' long-time producing partners - The Bonilla Family, in Costa Rica. 

In the opinions of Phil & Sebastian, who we trust and have proved their merit by consistently roasting amazing coffee, the people at Swiss Water are great and have advanced their process "many-fold" even in just the last five years. Sidenote for nerds: Swiss Water is based in Burnaby, but "Burnaby Water Process" sounds ... well ... we love you Burnaby! Truth be told, the process was invented in Switzerland so ... legitimacy! How does it work? Oh snap! I'm glad you asked!

  1. Soak a batch o' beans in piping hot water to dissolve the caffeine
  2. Get sad about how you lost loads of flavour when you performed that task
  3. Give this water a name because you're bored. Call it Green Coffee Extract (GCE)
  4. Throw away the green coffee and cry big tears into your pillow at night
  5. Come up with an innovative plan to run the GCE through carbon filters removing only the caffeine
  6. Take a new batch of coffee and soak it in hot GCE instead of H20 -- The GCE is already saturated with coffee oils and flavour compounds and so it doesn't take any more delicious flavours outta dem wee beans -- just caffeine
  7. Enjoy a coffee that doesn't make your heart flutter faster than it should and that still tastes like "dark chocolate, roasted nuts, and black raspberry." 

BTW -- Those are the tasting notes for the new Don Mayo Decaf, from Costa Rica. 

It's on the shelves now, but not yet in our grinders. We'll be pulling shots of this stuff soon so you can get as un-wired and sleepy as you want to be! Party off!!

Maragogype is pronounced "Elephant Bean"

Ok, it's not true. Maragogype is not really pronounced "Elephant Bean." That's just silly speak. The Maragogype is a coffee bean variety that is essentially a mutation causing it to be monstrous in size -- I mean, like, Elephant sized. They are comically large. But, guess what else. The plants that produce this variety are quite low yielding. Just look at the size of this here variety before it was roasted in comparison to a regular lil bean. 

 

Here is a comparison of the legendary Elephant Bean (Maragogype). Laugh now, and laugh quickly when you open the bag of the Hartmann Maragogype from P&S, but your laughter will quickly be smothered by the aroma of delicious fruits and fresh Tobacco and then you will laugh at yourself for being so brazen. Then, don't forget to grind and brew. 

Here is a comparison of the legendary Elephant Bean (Maragogype). Laugh now, and laugh quickly when you open the bag of the Hartmann Maragogype from P&S, but your laughter will quickly be smothered by the aroma of delicious fruits and fresh Tobacco and then you will laugh at yourself for being so brazen. Then, don't forget to grind and brew. 

You get the idea. What about taste, you ask? Well, let's be honest. One could buy up a lot of green Maragogype beans and then do them a large disservice through poor roasting, and unfortunately, a quick internet search suggests this happens all too often. Luckily, Phil and Seb know what's up and they have roasted these biggies just right. It helps that this particular lot was processed naturally. If you didn't know, there are many ways to process the coffee cherry and the "natural process" usually results in a more fruity taste than if they were "washed." Whoa whoa whoa. Let's slow this up. We aren't talking about processing methods here. I will leave you curious about that for future posts. For now, just know that the Maragogype varietal tends to be rather "fruit-forward" in the first place, so a natural processed Maragogype is like visiting Willie Wonka's factory, but instead of scary little orange faced dudes chanting their punishments at you, it's just coffee and chocolate and picnics and everlasting gobstoppers. And no weird TV zapper thing that transports your phsycial body bit by bit to another realm ---- THOUGH, this coffee is good enough to transport you to another realm. Transcendence! 

Why am I writing this? Because for this week, and possibly some of next week, we have this coffee on the shelves -- but not very much of it because it's rare. The Hartmann family from Panama grow a bit of it on their farm, and P&S have a pretty tight relationship with the Hartmann family. You should probably read about them at P&S's website, but note, this coffee isn't even listed on their shopping page because it's sold out there. You'll have to click that link.

At first I thought, "why in the world would they write 'Tobacco'" in the description -- do I want to drink an ashtray? Nope! But, it actually says "Fresh Tobacco" which is pretty much spot on and pretty damn tasty. Smokers and non-Smokers rejoice! 

Tasting Notes: Apricot and Mango Jam / Fresh Tobacco / Tamarind

That's a pretty great description of a pretty great coffee. I will say no more.

If you want to get your tiny hands on these large beans we'll have them on the shelf Thursday afternoon (sometime after our shipment arrives which remains slightly ambiguous), but I doubt they'll last long. It's a race!

$21 - very limited quantities 

 

Hot off the Aeropress

Thing number 1: If you haven't noticed, we've been nerding out over the Aerobie Aeropress brewing system lately -- well, since Stephen's epic collapse at the Canadian Aeropress championship we've been playing around with these lil' dudes. Seriously, you thought Apple's iPad was magic, but uh-uh you're wrong, the Aeropress is magic. It doubles as a frisbee just like can be expected from Aerobie -- nope, that's not true. Also, Stephen did just fine, considering he lost to the Canadian semi-finalist. He's a great barista, I promise.

Thing number 2: You should brew with an Aeropress at home. Some of us here at Parlour use the Aeropress to brew coffee in the afternoon when we don't want to make a big ol' press, pour-over, or pot o' brew. It gives me just enough caffeine to keep me tossing and turning at night! Some of us take it camping because, let's be honest, do ya really want to bring a goose-neck kettle, ceramic dripper, and glass decanter into the wild? Good luck Gatsby. You're better off pulling a Willie Wonka and imbibing your beverage brewed through the magic, and nearly indestructible Aeropress. You could probably pack it under an anvil in your bags and it'd be fine. It also packs super easily into any carry-on for those cross continental or pond-hopping trips.... AND it freaks the security guards out when it goes through the X-ray machine because it resembles... well, something that rhymes with bipe tom. Better keep it in an easily accessible place, then brag to the security guard about how you will be able to brew the best cup on the plane (actually it's not easy to do on the plane ... just use it when you land, k?) 

Thing 3: The Aeropress World Championship happened in Seattle not to long ago. Remember how Stephen lost to the runner up in the Canadian Aeropress championship? Well, the guy who beat the runner-up, which is to say, the winner of the competition went on to compete in the "worlds." Yep, that's how cool you can be when you work in coffee ... go and compete and try to win and be famous to a small group of coffee nerds. Sign me up. Anyway, the Winner, Nick Hatch competed and in great Canadian fashion, he placed 2nd! Hey, it's not Olympic Hockey. (Just kidding, Canada is awesome at lots of stuff.) So.... without further ado, here is Nick's recipe along with one that gave him a run for his money (3rd place) and the one that kept him humble (1st). 


Kaye Joy Ong, Habitual Coffee, The Philippines

(3RD PLACE)

  • Standard brew method
  • 22.5 grams of coffee ground at #4 setting on Mahlkönig EK43 grinder
  • Heat water to 79 Celsius
  • Add 56 grams of water
  • Bloom 30 seconds
  • Add the rest of the water (to 280 grams) in 1 minute
  • Press for 30 seconds.

Nick Hatch, Eight Ounce Coffee, Canada

(2nd PLACE)

  • Standard Brew Method
  • 17.5 grams of coffee ground at "17" on a Baratza Virtuoso grinder
  • Heat water to 85 Celsius
  • Add 50-60 grams of water
  • Stir five times
  • Let bloom for 25 seconds
  • Add the rest of the water (280 grams) in 20 seconds
  • 1 minute plunge in a cold cup.


Lukas Zahradnik, Green Plantation Coffee, Slovakia

(1ST PLACE WINNer!)

  • Inverted Brew Method
  • 20 grams of coffee ground at the “7.3” setting on a Mahlkönig EK34 
  • Heat water to 79 Celsius
  • Add 60 grams of water
  • Turbulent wiggle 15 seconds
  • 30 second bloom
  • Add the rest of the water in 10 seconds
  • 45 seconds press
  • 1:37 minute total brew time

Here is a link to some coverage and photos of the shenanigans in Canada

Here is a link to the world Aeropress shenanigans in Seattle


My recent personal Aerofoible - don't worry! We are working on a How To Video which includes some tips and tricks along with our very own recipe.

My recent personal Aerofoible - don't worry! We are working on a How To Video which includes some tips and tricks along with our very own recipe.


We Use Epic Espresso Because it's ... Epic.

"EPIC ESPRESSO IS THE CULMINATION OF OUR SEARCH FOR THE SWEETEST AND MOST COMPLEX ESPRESSO WE CAN CREATE. WE WORK EVERYDAY TO IMPROVE IT - ALWAYS LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT BALANCE OF SWEETNESS AND ACIDITY."

- 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters

Every single time you come into our shop and order an espresso based beverage by saying something simple like "I'll have a cappuccino please," and nothing more than that, you are drinking 49th Parallel's Epic Espresso. No!!! You are drinking years of hard work and research, blood, sweat, and tears. Wait, no, not the tears, that's gross. Epic is a blended coffee (much of the time), that is always roasted according to the espresso philosophy outlined in the quote above. 

It wouldn't be fair to call Epic Espresso a "roast" or a "blend" really, because those variables change seasonally as the varying composition of the roast and blend are in constant flux. Perhaps if we asked 49th they'd say it is more of a project. That said, the end goal and the result are often the same -- sweet, complex and damn fine espresso that tastes great on its own or in a milky concoction of your choosing. 

The components of Epic Espresso change seasonally and we are in the midst of a shift RIGHT NOW!!! You better Belieb dat! If you rush into the shop immediately, you might catch the last bit of the Epic that has been pouring for the last 4 or 5 months. It is comprised of one coffee with a rather familiar name -- Bulga. Why familiar, you ask? Lemme tell you -- because it's on the shelf and roasted for your filter coffee brew method of choice! It's delicious as a filter coffee and it has been so sweet to us as an Espresso. Yum! Is it single origin espresso, you ask? Well, sort of. Most of the time single origin espressos are roasted in a way that profiles the particular bean, lot, and region etc. Epic keeps it's goals the same, and if finding that God Shot means blending beans together, or focusing on a single lot from one harvest ... do it! The goal, again, is to find something Sweet and Complex! So ... we are transitioning from the Epic Espresso that is comprised of the Ethiopia Bulga, to another harvest from Ethiopia known as the Gelana Abaya. We haven't tried it yet, but we are always pretty excited to try a new edition of Epic. Can you guess what happens then?!? Then you come in the shop just after we dialled it in and see us all bouncing around like pinballs in your favourite pinball machine. Sorry in advance. 

Come in, try the new Espresso! Hell, if you come in this week (May 4th-May 11th) and can name the Ethiopian component to this iteration of Epic Espresso, we will pull a shot for you on the house! 

Strange Brews Cold Coffee News!

Ok coffee nerds and nerdettes, we aren’t there yet, but it’s coming soooon. We, here in Winnipeg, have the great misfortune of having highly unpredictable ups and downs in weather during the early spring months. Yesterday I was walking into a driving icy snow, and today it was mild and I completely regretted my decision to take the bus instead of ride my bike. Just ask me about the people I encountered on the bus today, this day, the 8th day of April in the year of our Lord, 2015. 

So wait?! What is coming? Warmer weather? Yes. But that is not all. Every year there comes a day when we can no longer legitimately deny our customers an icy, caffeinated treat. I mean, at some point saying “Sorry, our ice machine has been turned off for the season,” just becomes a ridiculous sentence. In fact it’s not even true anymore! Our ice machine is ON! We are producing hundreds of icy little blocks that we can put into drinks that will smack against your teeth, and numb your lips, and contribute to a thirst quenching caffeinated bevy that will deliver the necessary pick-me-up feelings into your system just that much quicker. 

Ok, let me clarify: We have ice, and we can make you an Iced Latté. At present writing, this the 8th day of April in the year of our Lord, 2015, that is the only cold drink we are offering. But, rest assured, Cold Brewed Coffee is just around the corner!!! I anticipate that by the weekend we will have enough people asking for this delectable coffee treat that we would be remiss, indeed cruel, to refuse it. Don’t quote me on that though … ok, well I guess I’ve written it, but we want to see this stuff make it’s annual appearance too! 

So, “What is it?” you ask, and “why would I want to drink cold coffee?” I am here to tell you! Cold Brew coffee is blowing up in cafes and roasteries across the world! Trust me, or just take googles word for it. If you didn’t click on that link, or you did and didn’t happen to notice, there were just under 4.2 million pages that popped up when I typed in “cold” + “brew” into the google machine. Magic! 

If you’ve read this far and said, “Meh, No thanks. I hate Iced coffee,” I would say to you, “Yup. I get it. I agree, but I do love cold brew!” They are different! And also, it’s not entirely fair to iced coffee …. you can achieve some decent results, but there is a difficult chemical process at play. 

Iced Coffee is often also referred to as the “Japanese iced method,” and begins by brewing coffee as you normally would, with water heated to the appropriate temperature for full extraction, usually between 195ºF and 205ºF. The ratios change a bit to compensate for the mass of the ice used. The ice sits at the bottom of the server and the coffee is brewed directly onto it, cooling it. I have had iced coffee brewed this way, and it works to preserve some of the distinct floral, citrusy, and bright flavours that are often lost when brewed via the “cold brew” method. In case you didn’t click on the link in that last sentence, it was a video of coffee legend, and Counter Culture coffee member, Peter Giuliano brewing up a a cup of ice coffee Japanese style. 

Finally, COLD BREW — This is the method that coffee god, P. Giuliano dislikes and he has even written about why we should dislike it from a technical, chemical standpoint, referring to oxidation, solubility, and volatility. Blah, blah, blah, blah blah, blah …. I say it’s time to become irreverent, Dionysian even, and drink what we want to! I love me some science, but I also love me some aesthetic. They aren’t mutually exclusive, ya know. It’s just often easier to articulate and comprehend the chemical processes than it is the sensory aesthetic experience. 

Cold brewed coffee does not require electricity, or fire. Even the dumbest caveman/cavewoman could make cold brew (if they were given roasted coffee of course). At Parlour Coffee we brew our Cold Brew at room temperature for 12-14 hours and we’ve found a blend of coffees that make for a particularly delectable treat. As it turns out, Cold Brewers are equally capable of ad hominem attacks and arguments from authority by using sciency words like “ketons, esters and amids.” The general characteristics that present in a cold brewed coffee, when done correctly, are notes of chocolate and caramel, the result of which is something smooth and creamy. Milk adders rejoice!!! Adding milk to Iced Coffee often ends up being … well, gross. Howevvvvver, adding milk, and maybe even some simple syrup, to cold brew is, dare I say, glorious, refreshing, smooth, uplifting, good for the soul. There are all kinds of technical reasons why one ought to drink cold brew, and there are as many for why one ought to drink iced coffee (not to mention those who laugh off both). In the end it will ultimately come down to the difficult aspect of the subjectivity of taste. Don’t get me started on that though, because it’s used as a poor excuse to not taste things way too often. “Taste on!” I say. We like cold brew, we brew cold brew, and we serve cold brew, ‘cause hey, we’re the brews!’

Here is more reading for nerds — this is just the tip of the iceberg:

Toddy 

Prima Cafe on cold brew and iced coffee

Peter Giuliano’s blog

— Even TIME Magazine is getting into the fray - this one appears to only have been written 7 hours ago, the 8th of April, in the this, the year of our Lord 2015.

— Also just google it … it’s overwhelming. Cold Brew is making its way onto grocery store shelves and comes in cartons, cool apothecary looking bottles, old style beer bottles, and so much more. Gimmick? Sometimes, but often delicious.

Bye,

Bryan

Coffee Profile - Ethiopia, Asgori from Phil & Sebastian

Ethiopia, Asgori from Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters

MILK & HONEY / FRESH PEACHES / BLACK TEA

Process: Washed, Underwater Fermentation

Harvest Date: Nov ’13 - Jan ’14

Kebele (Neighbourhood): Asgori

Region: Oromia

Zone: Borena

District: Gelana

Elevation: 1950m

Look at all those geographical descriptors above! Kabele, Oromia, Borena, Gelana. This coffee was processed in a private mill in the neighbourhood called “Asgori.” Hence its name. With many African coffees, Ethiopian and Kenyan, in particular, you will not find the name of the farmer written on the bag like you would with coffee from Latin and Central America. There is a reason for this, and I won’t get into the nitty gritty of it here. In short, there is a central governing agency that oversees the coffee market in Ethiopia. This, however, will be left for a longer, and potentially much more boring post about Ethiopia sometime in the future. Coffee is often farmed by hundreds of individuals who bring their harvest to the local Milll or Washing Station which is the name that will often make its way onto the bag of coffee you hold in your hand when you come into the shop. 

Sooooo…. The Asgori coffee profiled above was handled by no fewer than 1340 hands! That means that 670 people have had their hands busy caring for, farming, and processing the coffee that makes its way onto our shelves. Pretty incredible when you think about it. Often Ethiopian coffees are processed by co-ops, but the Asgori is a private mill. If you were to google “coffee in Ethiopia” the zone from which this coffee comes, Borena, will not often show up as it is much lesser known. But holy smokes, is it ever making a name for itself with this here delightful brew. Just look at these websites to see if you can find any info of Borena — cafe imports; Sweet Maria’s; Wikipedia! We are all probably familiar with the Ethiopian coffees from “Sidamo,” “Harrar,” and of course “Yirgacheffe” — all are great. But Ethiopia has so much to offer the coffee drinking world and Phil & Seb have sourced a beauty here. You know what? You should probably read about this coffee on their site. They talk about their goals when buying coffee and some of the difficulties they come up against when working with farmers. Be warned, coffee buying is a economical and political business. Drinking it, is only potentially political. Just eavesdrop conversations that happen every now and then in the café once the caffeine hits the blood stream. Yikes! 

Read up on this awesome coffee from P&S here! Then, come in and buy a bag and brew it at home! It tastes amazing in an Aeropress — I know this because I tasted it that way in Calgary at one of Phil & Seb’s cafes and it exploded my mind.

Hot off the Press - The Canadian Aeropress Championship

Every once in a while the designer / inventor of your favourite flying object makes something that makes coffee and also flies but usually only in your carry-on luggage. I’m speaking, of course, about the Aeropress by Aerobie. Buy an Aeropress from us and buy some flying frisbee type objects at Canadian Tire or here! Look at those geeks on the front page! You know who else is that geeky in the Aeropress. Well, let me tell you. Stephen thought he was but he isn’t. Here is the story of the Canadian Aeropress Championship at Phil and Sebastian Coffee Roaster headquarters in Calgary. 

Last weekend, if you visited us here at Parlour or sought a caffeinated bevy at Little Sister Coffee Maker, you may have been disappointed to not see me, Stephen, Kailey and Vanessa. Why? Because we travelled to Calgary to compete (Stephen did) and act as cheerleaders / pit crew and give high fives to competitors. Also we drank the equivalent of Marine World’s water in coffee. Gross, but also amazing! Did you know Killer whales are the number one mammalian consumer of coffee?! Well, they aren’t; that’s false. 

I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret: Some of my coffee colleagues have not been particularly fond of the Aeropress. They claimed that they were unable to achieve a nice tasting cup of coffee with one of these little tubular things. I told them that I had made some totally tubular coffee while I rode in a big rig with my pops down to Arizona last February. Click that link for a pic and a brief little story. Coffee can be brewed in big rigs, even while driving … I promise you that (just don’t let the driver do it). 

ANYWAYS, I should probably mention that we visited a few cafe’s the day before the competition and Vanessa ordered a “coffee by hand” or whatever they called it. We sat down, waited and watched. There was a look of uncertainty on her face when she noticed her coffee was being brewed via Aeropress. That kind of coffee probably would not have been ordered had we known. So, in Barista nerd fashion, we all started sipping and sharing beverages, tasting as much as we could. Vanessa looked shocked. It was Deeelicious. Possibly, nay, probably the best coffee tasted on the entire trip, brewed via the method we feared as inferior, despite being there for the competition. That struck fear into our hearts for what lay ahead on competition day.

Stephen stepped up and decided to try to beat Ben Put and a whole bunch o’ other cool cats who thought they were Aeropress champion material (click Ben’s name to find out how rad he is at coffee). Stephen lost in the very first round. What’s worse was that he was up against two independent brewers — that means, people who didn’t work in a cafe. Turns out one of the brewers, middle aged fella, was entered into the comp by his daughter who informed him he’d be competing. He was there with his daughter and wife cheering him on. Ready for a twist in the story? Perry, the dad, brewed up a mean cup. He won a few rounds in the round-robin style tourney and then came up against Ben Put. The Judges (Phil from P&S, Sam from P&S and Josh from Transcend) blindly tasted and cupped the coffees from each competitor. Here is what judging looked like when the moment came to decide. And Here! It was so intense, my photo’s were blurry. So, Perry was up against Ben and some other guy and the judges all pointed at one single cup, meaning there was a clear winner rather than 2 against one. “For sure that’s Ben’s brew” thought every single person in the crowd. “He’s the National Barista Champion, for goodness sake!” I said to no one. The competitors names were written on the bottom of the cups so the judges could not see them. They lifted the winning cup and …. “PERRY!” Perry beat Ben. Who is Perry anyway? He’s a guy who likes coffee and brews at home with a decent burr grinder and a few other simple tools including the Aeropress. So, after having handily dispatched the Canadian Barista champion, he soon found himself in the final up against … wait for it … another independent home brewer. You heard me. Home brewers! Perry’s true underdog fairytale didn’t end with the Championship gold Aeropress trophy and the all expenses paid trip to Seattle to try his hand in the world competition. That award went to another home brewer, who brewed under the Banner of Eight Ounce Coffee Co. named Nick Hatch. You can find their winning recipes on Phil & Sebastian’s Facebook page. It’s worth a look! 

The moral of this story? There are two. First, Stephen was less a failure than we thought, having been beaten by some of the best, so we continued to hang out with him for the rest of the weekend and even gave him a high five and let him eat Ramen with us. Secondly, brew at home! But also come into the shop for a coffee. But … Brew at home, you champion. Also, when you come up with a winning recipe, come buy a coffee from us and tell us your recipe. We are learning all the time. Let’s chat, ok? 

Brew On! 

- Bryan

Country Profile - A Bolivian Oblivion

In my last blog post I spoke briefly about the influx of Bolivian coffees we are seeing showing up on the shelves of different cafes, ours being no exception. You know how those lil’ homemade panini machines have a little light on them that stays off for a while and you put your stuff in there and you’re like … “uh, hullo? Are you on?” And so you open it up and touch the plate only to find that you almost accidentally just made a digit sandwich? Then you realize, “ohhhhh, no lights means it’s doing its work, and when the light pops on, that means it’s done!!!” Well, Bolivia is a panini machine and the light is ON BRIGHT and telling you to take that sandwich outta there! Or …  start brewing up some Bolivian coffees because we have got numerous offerings from both Phil & Sebastian and 49th Parallel right now. I don’t bring them all in every single week because out of the 4 or so coffees on the shelf each week, they could all be different Bolivian offerings, and that would be confusing. “Hello, Welcome to Bolivian coffee by Parlour.” That’s how bright that light is. 

Ok! Let’s learn something about Bolivia and coffee. High above the cafe in our secret coffee lair / office, I blew the dust off a couple o’ old (nope they are new) books and cracked open the section on Bolivia. Here is a real cool book that you should buy. Maybe one day we will make a section on the site or on this blog that lists some resources. Whaddaya say? Good idea?

The conditions for growing coffee in Bolivia are, in many ways, ideal. For starters, the geographical space is not much different from coffee giants Ethiopia or Colombia. However, it hasn't always been the case that Bolivia has produced great coffees. Coffee exporting has been made difficult by fluctuating market prices, and this addictive little chemical compound is sometimes more economically stable than this one

Bolivia is landlocked and quite mountainous, making it difficult to transport coffees. I mean, it is really mountainous. Drive a bit too far to the left and you plumet into a Bolivian oblivion. It looks much like this. Don’t die!

Farmers have struggled finding appropriate means of transportation to prevent coffees from inappropriately fermenting or even freezing on the journey. So…. either the coffee dies with the truck driver when they go careening down a cliff, or it dies in the bosom of mother nature, who we presume, never wanted you to taste what she’d produced in the first place. Ideal? You decide.

Our roasters have teamed up with amazing farmers whose production and methodical processing / transporting results in some pretty ideal green coffee beans. We could say so much more about Bolivian coffee and it’s rise to world dominance, but I will leave you with these fascinating little beans:

  • Bolivia produces coffee. Brazil produces coffee. One large Brazilian farm can produce as much coffee in a year as every single farm in Bolivia combined. 
  • Bolivian coffee farms are disappearing. Wait, what? Slow down Houdini. Since specialty farms share a similar elevation to coca farms they have the potential of being replaced for a different type of stimulant. That sucks for coffee drinkers. Where is the Walter White of coffee? (Note: coca farms do switch to farming coffee from time to time - paying a higher price for the work that goes into specialty coffee helps make coffee farming a more sustainable endeavour)
  • James Hoffmann from Square Mile coffee roasters has written a cool book that I stole loads of information from — I linked to it above. He says “Coffees in Bolivia are typically traceable down to a single farm or cooperative.” Cool one James. 
  • It is rare to find a particularly fruit-forward tasting Bolivian coffee. Most are sweet and clean. 

Here are the Bolivian coffees available from our Roasters at this exact moment — not all are on our shelves. Talk to us, tell us what you want to see in your hands, and we will try to get it there.

49th Parallel - Estrella Organic                           $22.00

49th Parallel - Buena Vista Peaberry Organic    $19.00

Phil & Sebastian - Nueva Llusta                           $18.00

(This original blog post was edited on March 24, 2015 @ 8:33PM - the first version of this post included general reference to some of the issues concerning the drug trade and its consequences on coffee farmers. It was brought to our attention that the general nature and tone of the writing could be seen as rehashing old stereotypes concerning Latin America. We have the utmost respect for the countries and farmers who produce our coffees and are sincerely apologetic for any misunderstanding or offense.)

Pour Over 101 - Science for the Aesthete

Sometimes you order a pour over coffee from us. We love that you do. It's truly one of our favourite ways to get caffeine into our bodies so we can smile at you when you come into the shop. You should see us before we open the door in the morning --- no you shouldn't. The quandary: how do we do it and how should you do it at home so you don't end up like this, without doing this. Well, we are here to help with science and aesthetic, but first, a brief note about what kind of delicious coffee you can find on our shelves in the coming week. 

In the next while you are going to see a whole bunch of offerings from Bolivian farms hitting the shelves. You better Boliviat! This very moment that I am typing this we have 49th Parallel’s Buena Vista Peaberry on the shelf. Today (Thursday) we just received the Nueva Llusta from P&S and expect to see the third instalment of 49th’s Small Lot series, the Estrella Organic, also coming from Bolivia. 

Ok, let the lesson begin. We love how pour over coffees can taste and we love making them for you. But, we have spent a lot of time trying to figure how we can brew up a cup that approaches perfect every time. We have even had staff meetings dedicated to Pour Over coffee alone! With a dash of science here and a sprinkle of ingenuity there and careful attention to detail, here is what we, as a Parlour team collectively came up with to bring you a damn fine cup.

This is a 101 — so we won’t get too nerdy, ok? But a bit nerdy. Right now, you just need some anchor points and a good recipe to get started. In the future we will get into much more detail. First a Recipe, and then some fundamentals!

Here is our recipe and recommended tools for the Hario v60 (They are available on our shelves! We bring ‘em in from Japan and pay billions of dollars in shipping so you don’t have to)

Recipe:

  • 20g Fresh Coffee - All our coffee has been roasted within the last 2 weeks! See our current offerings under the “Coffee” heading.
  • 350g Filtered H20, boiled to 205ºF. (That’s a ratio of 1g grinds to 16g Water!) 
  • 10 minutes or less and a healthy respect for ritual

Tools

  • A Kettle with a “Swan Neck” such as this one from Hario. Doubles as a watering can for you plants that are drying up in the corner, stretching towards the sliver of sunlight coming in through that dirty window. We sell a few of these. 
  • V60 Cone Dripper and Range Server or just a dumb ol’ mug (don’t over flow that opaque beast)— we sell those Hario thingys too.
  • Filters for that there Cone dripper. We sell em. We use the bleached ones ‘cause paper tastes gross — remember from grade 1 when you used to put paper in your mouth just to show off, or just to see?! 
  • A Scale. We Sell em, but who cares. Get one wherever you can find a scale that measures in grams. People in the coffee world are all confused about measurements, so we measure in whatever unit we want. Somehow, it became convention to measure in grams for both mass (coffee grinds) and volume (Water). It’s weird, but we love it and it works, so just do it, k?
  • Fresh Coffee — duh - see what we have in the shop by clicking on "coffee"

 

Method: Here are the anchor points, not the detailed nuances. That will come later; after you pass the 101! At this point, you want to avoid both this and this

  1. Boil water — if you don’t have a thermometer, just let your water sit for 10-20 seconds after it’s boiled. Ideally, it will be around 205ºF (See what I’m saying? Fahrenheit? Grams? Where are we, the United States of the Commonwealth?)
  2. Rinse your filter you savage! Paper tastes like paper, not delicious coffee! Don't forget to dump out that water or your coffee will be watered down. Sickening. You’ve just accomplished paper rinsing and vessel warming in one fell swoop.
  3. Grind - You need a Burr grinder. You don’t even have an excuse if you are camping. Trust us, we’ve ground coffee in the weirdest places, and now you can too, because we sell those magical masticators. 
    1. You will probably find that playing with the grind setting is the best way to shift results — this is a 101 class, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to experiment. 
    2. Sour coffee? Try making your grind just a bit finer — it’s probably under-extracted
    3. Sour and Bitter at the same time? Again, try fining up the grind a bit? You may have heard that bitter = over extraction but that isn’t always so.
    4. Bitter coffee? Loosen that grind up a bit. You’ll probably know that you should do this if you’ve used our recipe and your brew is taking more than 3:45 — our brew times range from 2:45-3:45, but that is not a hard and fast rule, it is relative to the coffee! We will science that up for you in a future post.
  4. Pour — First pour a 30g “bloom” — this allows trapped gasses to escape. Trapped gas is uncomfortable and your coffee feels the same way. Wait about 30 seconds and then start pouring water in concentric circles up to 200 grams. (Told ya you’d need a scale). If you can, try to reach 200g at around the 1:00 mark. Then pour in 50g increments waiting in between pours for 10 seconds or so. You never really want to leave your grinds out of the water for very long because they are just sitting there like a scared kid at the side of the pool, wearing water wings, wishing they could play tag with the big kids in the deep end. Keep doing this until you reach your target weight — 350g in our recipe. Gently tap your dripper onto your receptacle - don’t break anything! You Win! 
  5. Now wait for the coffee gods to bless you.
  6. Come in to the shop and give us a high five and tell us that you will no longer be coming in to spend $3.50 a day on pour overs because you have found a method that works better than the one we use. 
  7. Teach us your method.
  8. Amen.

Coffee Profile - Panama Carlos Aguilera

Panama, Carlos Aguilera from Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters

BERRIES / ORCHARD FRUIT / CARAMEL

Panama may not have a reputation for being a top coffee producing nation, but when one tastes a coffee like this one produced by Carlos Aguilera, it is as if you’ve freed a genie from a bottle and said, “Hey, can I have an amazing coffee to drink please” and the genie says, “Yep! Here you go!” For the record, Carlos’ relation to Christina Aguilera remains unknown, but  I still choose to believe she is his daughter and works at the coffee farm on holidays singing to the trees giving high fives to her fellow coffee cherry picker friends who are clearly responsible for her early success (She’s not been there in a while, hence the career decline, obviously).

Interesting fact about Panamanian coffees: The only good ones come from farmers who sport one of these. That’s false. But really, the high altitude at which many Panamanian coffees are grown makes for a truly delicious product. Don’t believe me? Well, try it out! We’ve got Carlos Aguilera, Carmen Estate roasted by Phil & Sebastian on the brew bar right now! Also you could read this history of coffee in Panama if you are a coffee or history nerd, which I assume you are at least one of those if you are reading this. 

What should you expect when we brew up a cup o’ this gold for you? Well, for starters, those tasting notes provided by Phil & Sebastian I listed above are pretty darn accurate. But you should know that what P&S list on their bags isn’t always the only thing you will find. Even the fine folks at P&S themselves know this and will detect different tasting notes from week to week and roast to roast, season to season. A few weeks ago the same coffee was described as Floral / Hard Candy / Marzipan. We’ve been brewing this up for ourselves and sipping yours before we hand it off* and we’ve been tasting Pear, and Brown Sugar — the astute reader will point out that pear is an orchard fruit and caramel and brown sugar are nearly one and the same. It just goes to show that a coffee can be described in myriad ways and all are possibly correct. The mega coffee nerds at Counter Culture Coffee have created this complex tasting wheel to help you get started! Use it!

 

We’ve been loving this coffee lately and we think you will too. I could probably wax poetic about how good of a farmer Carlos is, or how Phil & Sebastian went to extreme levels of nerdery to find a perfect roast profile but wouldn’t it be better to read it from the source!? 

I’ve linked some neat-o pages below, but before you go there here is one final note of interest: There are four harvest dates for this coffee, which helps explain why the dominant tasting notes change. The harvest dates are from “New Year,” “January” “early February,” and “late February.”  Ask us which harvest we are brewing for you when you order a pour-over or what you are picking up when you buy a bag. Hint: It’s printed on the bag too, silly. 

Here is P&S’ page on Carlos Aguilera

Here is Carmen Estate’s very own webpage

Here are some facts I copied and pasted from Phil & Sebastian’s website in case you are too lazy to click your mouse/trackpad:

Region: Volcán 

Farm: Carmen Estate 

Lot: Año Nuevo 

Elevation: 1700–1900 m 

Varieties: Caturra 

Processing: Mechanical, Fully Washed 

Drying: Patio and Guardiola 

Transport: Refrigerated Container 

Harvest Date: February 9, 13, and 18, 2014

 

*We do not, have not, and never will sip your drink before handing it off to you.  

Imbibe This! It's the "Strange Brews Coffee News" Newsletter

For the past few months I have been writing a weekly coffee newsletter that is electronically distributed amongst the parlour staff. It's initial intent was to keep the Parlour staff updated on various aspects of the coffees we serve and sell, from tasting notes, to brewing parameter details, to processing notes handed down by the roasters and even bits of information about the farming methods and the farmers themselves. The idea, of course, was to keep us thinking about the coffees we love and serve, so that we could lovingly disseminate this knowledge to customers. Then we got thinking, "what if we semi-censored the amazingly wonderful, somewhat annoying, mostly bewildering and quasi-relevant internet hyperlink inside jokes that are so abundantly present in these mail-outs, and produced something consumers could view directly?" So here it is. Be warned, I used the words "semi-censored" with intent. Why? Because I just can't help myself. There will be hyperlinks to things pertaining to coffee, and there will be a few inside jokes.  It just wouldn't be right, nor would we be representing ourselves honestly if we refrained from sharing some of our silliness with you. 

Also, I'm longwinded and I promise to try to keep things concise. For this reason, I will attempt to discuss only one thing at a time, whether a coffee, a brew method, a story from our roasters or whatever else seems fit to print. I won't write about every coffee we have on the shelf right now because you'd fall asleep, no matter how much coffee you've consumed. Also, many of these coffees will live for multiple weeks on our shelves while they are in season (of course they are freshly roasted every week) and so I need not write about everything I've ordered for the coming week. I will however, profile one or two new coffees every week, some will be familiar from previous harvests, and some will be completely new! Look out, it's going to be bonkers. 

Bye!

- Bryan