Saturday, April 30, 2005

Peter's best! (so far..)

Peter's best! (so far..)
Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
Check this out, our resident ristretto master has just completed the work of art! Cool s*** dude!!!


Jon's first art!

Jon's first art!
Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
I was having problems with the page, as this section was way on down the page. Thanks to a computer genius from Slovakia the problem is now solved making life a lot nicer for everyone. It was only a problem if you run Internet Explorer so if you weren't having a problem viewing the page abd haven't a clue what I am talking about, don't worry about it.

More to the point;
My final exams start on Tuesday, with math! I should really be studying but for the last day and a half of my study break i've been showing Jon how to pour latte art. The result is opposite. This was only his third attempt, as I speak he has just completed his 4th, with a similar result. Check out the hollow leaves! Only problem is that he forgets to put the back of the cup down leading to an over flowing cup.

Continued commentary:

Peter has just poured his best rosetta ever! WOW! We are in the middle of a latte art PARTY!!! If he lets me put up a pic I will, beautiful! this new startbucks cup is working wonders.

The things we create here at Pearson to kill a friday night. Our 1st Year music students also put on a concert tonight and it was awesome. Most of it was composed by them with a few modified Beatles and Bare Naked Ladies tunes!

Joe is up on the podium for art now, then it's me again. We all agree that espresso is what makes the drink but we killing some time and having mega fun coaching each others art. Joe just got his first rosetta too!!! I'm off for a decaf myself!

Take it easy and remember: latte art is only the icing on the cake, we had a girl from india ask us if she came for a coffee would het a 'fancy design?' My response was 'Yes and it'll also be a much better coffee than our cafeteria will supply!' She didn't understand but was overjoyed when I gave her a heart in a 7oz cappa.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Affagato è una caffè con gelato...

Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
This is my favourite dessert drink so far. What went in? Here goes:

Pre-heat glass and sprinkle on a dusting of Premium European (Belgian) dark chocolate. Apply the thinest coating of quality maple syrup. Place a small conical scoop of vanilla ice cream (Shady Creek organic Vanilla bean) in the centre and then cover with a 1&1/4 oz Organic Timor ristretto. I call it: 'Paradiso in una tazza!' (Heaven in a cup)

In theory it is simply a modified affagato, but in reality a lot of time and effort went into finding flavours that would truely compliment the espresso rather than mask it. After trying an affagato at Geir's place about 6 weeks ago I have fallen in love with them. The timor is our favourite bean at the moment. We will not mix it with anything else as it is soooo good as a single origin, roasted to a full city. It is buttery, spicy, chocolatey and has incredible body and a beautiful mouthfeel. It is everything we have come to expect from a blend of Ethiopian Djima, Panama Garrido Volcancido and Monsooned Malabar, except it is only timor at a full city roast. Totally unreal.

The cafe was a blast last night. We tried to boost sales by giving customers a chance to win a free latte. We had seventeen orders which kept us busy for the hour and our two lucky winners were Nayantara Jain (Tara) from India and Mikael from Sweden. Tara is a coffee lover but unfortunately even after agreeing that lattes are great without adding anything, still took B52 in her drink last night. Due to lack of other things to sell we only made about $65. The coffee's of choice were Level Ground Light Roast Bolivian, Med Roast Peruvian and Med Roast Colombian. Our favourite was the colombian, however we lost half a pound during an unfortunate accident involving a shelf, but we were tempted to keep them for an 'Angry Barista' next week!

One last note on the Affagato: The ice cream was free from our cafeteria, the glass was fifty cents from a thrift store, the maple syrup was found in one of our vans and the european dark chocolate was a gift from my host family. Other than the espresso and chocolate, everything else was run of the mill and I highly recommend using good maple syrup and better ice cream. As for glasses and cups; sometimes the best is sitting in front of you if you can lower your sights! (i.e. either have the nerve to look in a thrift store or even visit *$'s!) The Italian translations are courtesy of Caterina Brandmayr a second year Pearson student from Italy.

Hope you are all enjoying the fabulous weather we have in BC right now! Take it easy!


Monday, April 25, 2005


Originally uploaded by espresso_lover.
I almost feel bad posting twice in one day but as I haven't really posted for a week, i think it's ok. This another latte from Saturday. I feel really good that I have been able to reach a good level of consistency with art as I can now put some real focus on raising the bar for my espresso quality.

I'm off to the store soon to get some beans for the cafe, probably level ground, i think we'll try some of their light roasted stuff this time, will update with what I get later.


Double Purpose

Originally uploaded by espresso_lover.
This post started out by trying to put down my thoughts about the waves coffee has seen over the last hundred years but I don't think it can be put any better than Jimmy has put it on his blog. We really need to show consumers what they are missing by approaching coffee as something that needs to have hazelnet syrup and chocolate power added before they even try it. There is still a majority that have the same drink that gets modified the same way at the same time every day. The challenge being possed is one that the 4th wave barista i.e. Geir, Sam, Jimmy and other passionate baristas out there must face. Mainly educating customers to know what they can expect from a latte that doesn't involve spooned dry bubbles on top. Helping consumers understand what goes in to preparing a cup, from growing to drinking. People still think wine is complex! Once they begin to understand coffee they'll see how simple it really is and how important it is becoming to have ambassadors for coffee, much like a sommalier. (is this how you spell it???)

The point I guess i'm trying to make is that we are in a very exciting period at the moment, and need to be the driving force to lift the bar of customer expectations. I'm no pro-barista yet but on the small scale Peter and I run our staudent cafe on a tuesday night and we still have mochas and other sweet options but when a customers asks us for a recommendation i'll say a latte every time and usually encourage customers to go for a latte no matter how much extra money we could make from mochas. I am looking forward to being a barista in the 'real world' and my plans for life involve having my own cafe. I have a lot of learning to do before then but I have not spoken to one barista yet, no matter how pro I conceive them, that thinks they have no more learning to do. This constant learning curve excites me for the future. Both mine and the furture of the coffee industry.

The other purpose of this post was to put out a thank-you to companies like Starbucks, as they have done a great job in getting customers as far as 'specialty' coffee. Now we need to go to the next step. Starbucks will always exist, they do some things well. I tried one of there new drinking chocolate things the other day (Chantico, I think) and it was divine. I also bought a cup from them (pictured above with a rosetta I poured this morning). It is a very good cup, maybe over pricied but my art has improved 10-fold just with the use of this cup. More pictures will follow soon.

So to close this overly long post I'll say it is important to life the bar and push our limits when trying to educate the consumer. However we need to maintain realistic expectations and try not to get into a comparitive cycle of criticizing other companies that may choose not to follow. Who knows, Starbucks may pick up it's act and follow us in our espresso journey for the betterment of the planet!

So here's to my new cup and saucer! (They are pure white and only say starbucks on the bottom!) And to the future of coffee and educated customers and hopefully an even more cohesive and supportive generation of baristas!


Apologies if this seems idealistic and incoherant! I'm finding it hard to put what I think into words, and i'm really happy with my new cup so i'm feeling kinda bad for being anti-*$'s!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


pitcher heart and fresh beans
Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
I don't know about you but the weather here at the moment is just phenomenal! It is a clear day and is 17 degrees! It feels like i'm in the tropics! There is so much out there to be appreciated, from light and heat from the sun to home roasted beans and iced mochas. I have really stepped away from the idea of dessert coffees but right now I think an iced mocha is the absolute bomb. We have made quite a few recently and they are sooo satisfying.

With the whole WBC going on and the Danes taking the show by storm I have found a determination to up my own standard here at home. I haven't not poured art for over a week which is a very satisfying level of consistency. My home roasting is coming along very well and is surprisingly easy once you get the hang of it. I had a scare yesterday when the popper stopped working after I did a batch of Malabar but it was ok again once it cooled, rather than a fuse the machine must run on some thermal control system.

The latest thing going through our minds though is the concept of a signature drink. I want to get some photos of some of the ideas we're playing around with, some based on other drinks out there tailored to my taste and some we are trying to devise ourselves. One is in a 3oz. martini glass which is coming along nicely, you'll have to wait for details and pics! Hang on to your hats!

As for today: Life is great, the weather is amazing, Jon completed the Boston Marathon in 3hrs 12mins which is an amazing accomplishment. He was the only under 20yr old male to qualify for this years 42km race and he finished before people with lower qualifying time passing around about 2500 other participants that were supposedly 'better' and finishing in the top 1100 people. Absolutely incredible- well done Jon!!! He also brought us back coffee from a cafe there (can't remember name), an italian roast which is there house blend. It is extremely dark but is really great as a latte. As espresso it is very carbony but it has fabulous nutty mid-tones and a caramel after taste. He'll probably be round for an after dinner latte.

Our french teacher lives on campus and she's coming up tonight for a coffee as well. She loves espresso based drinks and really enjoys watching the art being poured. Hope I don't disappoint.

I guess that's all for now, I should let my mum know to expect a gaggia in the mail over the next few days!


Monday, April 18, 2005

My new wee machiney

Here is my latest ebay purchase:

I snapped up the bid at the last minute and only payed 37GBP for it. The going rate for a new one is somewhere between 200 and 300 GBP ($450CDN). It's a real gamble though as mentioned before bedcause I will not get to see or use it until the 27th of May when I return home. It seems to be in good condition and all working, and if it is crap I'll sell it again on ebay!

•  Commercial chrome plated brass portafilter handle
•  Commercial Brew Group
•  17.5 Bar Pump and 1425 Watt Boiler
•  Thermoset Plastic Housing
•  64 oz Reservoir Capacity
•  Improved Turbo Frother (to be modified!!!)
•  Coffee Pod Ready (won't be used for though...)
•  Cup Warmer

I'm really looking forward to using it, besides the plastic housing I don't think I have any complaints about it. I have been looking through the EspressoParts catalogue and have finall realised what I'm getting myself into financially. The cost sure mounts up! Let's say in the next 6/7 months I upgrade machine and grinder to the silvia & rocky combination, thats about $1000, then I'll need some tampers, $150, then a knock box, PID, tamp station, bigger frothing pitchers, measuring glasses, nice demitasse, etc etc. The list never ends! I'm sure the bank manager will love my credit card!

On a different note, everyone who's anyone seems to be at the SCAA and WBA in Seattle this weekend. Looks like a blast, I wish I had have been able to get over but with not being Canadian I would have needed a Visa... next year the WBA is in Switzerland I think so hopefully I can get to it then!

It's 7:30pm, that must mean it's latte time!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Cafe

One of the problems we have from running a cafe one night a week is that we require our 'customers' to bring their own mug. Not only does this increase the pressure of trying to pour art into every cup, it means varying amounts of milk and needing to have some of our own cups available for those that forget thie own cups. The latest conquest was one guy from Quebec who brought a thermos mug with him. We were tempted to try and make him hang around and use one of our cups but then decided to give it a go, after all JonR10 has proven it possible! The result:

And a very shocked and satisfied customer.

Other news: I currently have a bid on a Gaggia Espresso. I really like the retro 70's look. If I can get it cheap it means I'll have a decent machine ready to use as soon as I get home to Northern Ireland at the end of May. During which time I'll be saving crazily to invest in a Rancilio Silvia . This machine is basically a commercial machine in a domestic package. The design is of simple beauty with the polished chrome and brushed stainless steel combination. Of course I'll also need a grinder during all this! I'm hoping to pick up a Gaggia MDF while I save for a Rancilio Rocky grinder. I think a Mazzer might be a little extravagent!

That's all for now. My Birthday was great fun and the weather is on the turn. There is a Coffee God and I'm off to worship him! (sorry if that offends!)


Friday, April 15, 2005


Originally uploaded by Boston_Jon.
Jon came by for a coffee yesterday and I was more than happy to oblige. This was the outcome. The response was: "It looks so good, I don't think I can drink it!" I responded Sam Jones style; "Well I could make you an ugly one and you can drink it!" Watching it happen was a great feeling. Jon is off to Boston on saturday to run the marathon on monday! Good Luck Jonny boy! He was the only runner under 20yrs old in Canada to qualify for the Boston.

We had the cafe last night instead of Tuesday and still cracked over $100. Not bad eh? Every cup had art and we had a few customers comment on how are standards just keep going up. We even converted one customer to straight espresso!

Side note: Big Thank-You from Peter and I to Sam Jones of 2% Jazz for donating 1/2 pound of his in house espresso blend to the cafe, via Joe. Thanks Sam!

Tomorrow is my 19th birthday, so i'll be legal in B.C.! WooHoo! Guess I'll be celebrating Pearson College style at midnight tonight!

Bye for now

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
After pulling many an espresso shot sans crema, we discovered that it is related to how freshly the beans were roasted. For example, the less time between the beans being roast and being used the more crema you should have.

This doesn't answer my question though of: "What is Crema?"

So Google said Crema is...

This picture was of a shot from home roasted Organic Timor. Home roasting, we are finding is producing soooo much more crema than beans we buy else where. We have even had really dark red crema. Not bad when the total investment is under $100.

Yesterday I went on an espresso tour of Victoria with Jordan and Alex. We started at Mocambo, which was not a very pleasing experience, went on to Mirage, then Caffe Fantastico then 2% Jazz. We then caught the bus up to The Keating Cafe and met Jimmy and at one point there were 6 of us CoffeeGeeks in the cafe.

Soon I will explain why my espresso photos only have espresso coming out one hole and describe my experience at Mocambo. Thanks to Jimmy, Jordan, Alex and Peter (who cycled up to meet us at Keating!) for a great day. I was sooo coffee'd out I bought a pound of Level Ground De-caf on the return journey, for a night-cap!


Sunday, April 10, 2005

A Moment of Sacrilige

Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
This is the little tea cup that I have fallen in love with. How could I not, it is bright yellow with golden oriental dragons all over it, and has a matching saucer! It is a similar shape to the cups that Artigiano use for their lattes except it's a lot smaller. Look at this heart and tell me it's not worht using. This is not even the best heart I have done in this cup either, which brings me back tro my digital camera issue! Thanks to Joe for the use of his. I am really enjoying doing hearts at the moment, there are a lot of females here that appreciate coffee made by me and Pete. So, a heart usually makes a bigger impact than a Rosetta would.

I visited Mirage Coffee yesterday as I wanted to see for myself the image that had been portrayed about the place. I was very impressed with the place. It looked good. The two Elektras looked incredible, the art work was sweet, and the music, colours, atmosphere were just great. All to be topped of with very nice latte art. I know what you're thinking now: What about the coffee/espresso. Well, I didn't actually have an espresso, as I was recommended not to, but the latte was pretty good. There definate chocolate tones throughout and the heart was pretty good, Jon got a pretty decent rosetta as well.

I went back later to visit Jordan in his humble shot preparing abode. Had another latte with Peter and Joe. Mine was the only one without art! I was very disappointed as my goal of being there was to get an idea of the image the cafe is trying to portray. the respect here is for the art not for the espresso beneath. Jordan preapred our shots in the after noon and mine was definately better than my first that day, mainly because Jordan seemed to care so much more for the espresso and how it is responsible for creating the good drink, not the art!

On the topic of art I'm off to practice mine now. One of our cook's just gave me some coffee from a place called Peet's Coffee in Berkley California. It is a very nice dark roast blend.


Saturday, April 09, 2005

Black Cat

yum, black cat
Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
Intelligensia Black Cat has been regarded as one of the better espresso blends out there. I was more than happy to recieve half a pound as a gift from a pal from Vancouver. Over easter break he returned to his home in vancouver and visited Artigiano, as one opened on his block recently.

I was quite impressed but was surpised at how bitter it actually was. There were definate chocolate flavours and toffee/praline midtones with underlying hints of clove, anise and tangerine? A very well rounded espresso that was smooth as a ristretto, despite the bitterness. I say bitter but I think tangy/tart may describe it better.

The photo is clearly two bags of Black Cat and my newly acquired tea cup. (6oz. Latte cup!!!) I will upload some nice art pics soon in the little


Friday, April 08, 2005

Espresso Tasting

Malabar Gold ristretto
Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
It's official, espresso is my favourite beverage in the world! The espresso tasting was indeed a success! Hooray for success!

To kick start Peter ground up some Monsooned Malabar Gold, Med Roast. This is a picture of the initial ristretto from it. It was absolutely divine. I found it really smooth with initial hints of chocolate, crisp toffee midtones and a sharp clove finish. Through-out there was a lingering spiciness which we had expected from the bean. We did indeed use the SCAA Tasting Wheel.

Life is good. I am on a roll with latte art again, it has been a few weeks since my last un-artted (invented word!) latte. Hearts are coming along really well, thanks to Joe's camera I'll be able to share some nice images soon. I really like a well executed heart. Rosetta's are by far the king of latte art but a well done heart is a great way to express my love for coffee I find. (Emotional moment!)

Images shall follow in the near future. I'm off to prepare for our big show tomoroow. Pearson puts on a show every year called One World. A cultural demonstration of the many nationalities represented at the college. We are usually sold out with about 1500 people attending each show (we do 3 in total). I am the backstage manager and am performing in three act's, Joe is the assistant backstage manager and is in two acts. Life is busy but good. Espresso keeps our heart's beating! Yay for Espresso!

I'm very happy,
Stay Tuned

Thursday, April 07, 2005

New Sections

With the help of Peter's html skills and some numb-chuk skills I have just added a links section below the archive section on the left side of the page. Other blogs, sites and videos of latte art.

Today: Espresso tasting session commences in 15 minutes so off I go to get high on caffeine! Hooray! (Details will come later)


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Espresso Tasting

Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
Tomorrow is the big day. Yes that's right we WILL have an afternoon of espresso tasting, accompanied by the SCAA flavour wheel. I have roasted some Medium Panamanian and a Dark to try the difference in the roasts and have a med/dark Timor. Peter has roasted up some Monsooned Malabar gold to a medium as well. It is going to be sooo good. It's so difficult trying not to use the fresh stuff, deep breathi g and giving it time to degas!

Hoping to do a coffee shop tour on monday as we have the day off school. Hopefully we can hit Caffe Fantastico then 2% Jazz ending the day in my favourite place: The Keating Cafe! Anyone from outside Victoria I thoroughly recommend you go to everyone of these places at some point, you are missing out if you don't. It should be me, Joe and hopefully Peter will be coming this time too!

The Cafe went pretty well last night. We opened late and still made a fair few latte's. My moment of glory was pouring a beautiful heart into a cup while I was still steaming milk for the next one, which was also a nice heart in a cylindrical mug. Marika in aussieland can pour two rosettas at the same time, but she is a professional! Maybe I can still give it a go thought!

I'll try and get some pics up from the espresso tasting tomorrow and of some recent latte art. I have been playing around with Luigi's style and got a full cup of swirls which I etched into a nice flower pattern, sooo much fun!

Glad to see Jimmy's back on-line! Yippee!

Cheers for now

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Jimmy and John...

Jimmy and John...
Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
Where do you start when talking about pro-athlete's and pro-barista's, eh? Let's see, Jimmy is a pro-cyclist and barista. John is an olympic gold medalist and a barista/cafe owner. It definately seems that coffee and sports go hand in hand. Caffeine is a drug that enhances peformance, both alertness and endurance. But is this the reason these guys are so into coffee?

Short answer is NO! Coffee for the purist like Jimmy or even myself is more than just a pick-me-up. It is and has become a way of life, a hobby, a passion and a learning experience. I doubt I will ever know everything there is to know or even as much as Jimmy, John and Geir do but hey, does that mean I should give up? Again, NO! From short visits up to Keating I have learned the difference a Naked PF makes, how to properly sanitize a cup, different art pouring techniques, how important it is to belive what you taste and also how important it is to never give up when you want to acheive something. Is it the athlete in these guys that makes them compete to be better or the passion for coffee and everything it entails that makes them want to improve? Clearly it is their love for coffee.

In a single cup you can taste anything from chocolate and toffee to tobacco and carbon to jasmine and cabbage. Change the roast, grind setting, water temperature and tamp pressure on the same bean and you can experience something totally different! It is just amazing. Very rarely do I have trouble speaking but my brain is fried due to information overload. It is a passion that I am very glad I have found and am very greatful to these people for helping me continue to develop it.

On Jimmy's advice I headed up to Caffe Fantastico today and bought 1kg of unroasted Panamanian and 595gm of Timor. I roasted the Timor to a medium tonight, the girl in the caffe said she remembers it being buttery. Yum, can't wait to try it!

Sounds like a cupping session is neccessary in the near future, what do you think Pete, Joe, Jon?

Cheers for now.

Side note

It is John on the left and Jimmy on the right!


Saturday, April 02, 2005

Keating Cafe; Panini and Espresso Bar

This is the road sign for The Keating Cafe; Panini and Espresso Bar. I really like the logo, simple but really effective.

Unfortunately it was not an April fool's joke, Jimmy could not update his site as his laptop has actually packed in. Thanks to Geir for sharing it with us. It's amazing how dependent I have become with Jimmy's site. Each day get's funnier, interesting and informative! Excellent job Jimmy and can't wait until you are back up and running again!

I have been given the most beautiful little tea cup from the French teacher at Pearson, Domonique Hamel. It is most amazing or pouring latte art, today was by far one of my best rosetta days in a long time. It is about 6 ounces in size, yellow and covered in gold oriental dragons. It's shape is amazing! Once I get a nice pic of it I'll get it up! Apparently I'm being sacreligious by using it for coffee as it is fine bone china that was made in England but hey, one must be resourceful in these quests for good latte art! Wouldn't you agree?

Gotta go, I have a modicum of e-mail to reply to. Life's good, there are lambs in the farmers field which means spring is definately here!