Saturday, September 20, 2008

The review is UP....and it's good.

Finally, after what must have been over 50 visits to the Melbourne Coffee Review page, hitting refresh a million times over, it's up! And like I said in the title, it's good! Here's the link to the review

Thanks Steve for the great review...and you know what, I didn't even have to pay him for it! Glad that someone out there enjoys what we have to offer because what's the point if we try and try and not one really enjoys/appreciates it.

One another note, I dropped by the Brunswick East Project today for a coffee. It's a little roastery/cafe up on Lygon street in er...Brunswick East. They are the roasters of Padre Coffee. Anyway we had planned to got there for lunch only to realise that they do only coffee and muffins. Well that didn't phase be even though it did my friends who were hungry.

There was something about the place that I really liked. Not the Synesso they had or the bright setting or even the nice cup of coffee that I had, but it was the person who ran it and the passion that he had for it. His name is Marinus and he's the owner of Padre coffee. I spent a good hour there I believe and while my friends had moved onto Gingerlee for lunch, I was deep in conversation with Marinus about coffee, coffee accessories, his previous ventures, my previous ventures, etc. It was only till my wife gave me a nudge that I realised how much time had passed. I love it when I get to hae a good engaging converstion about something that we both have a passion for, even just to hear a person speak about his own passion about anything is enough to make me feel like I'm involved somehow.

All in all, today has been a great day. Great morning at Crema catching up with an old customer, then chatting with Marinus at Brunswick East Project, then lunch at Gingerlee with good friends, then I had a great time chatting with Dean from Vespa House and picking up my Vespa S LX 125 (sorry mum), and then coming home to find out that our review on Melbourne Coffee Review is up.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

A nice comment

Was on Coffeesnobs today and someone had posted this on a "Best coffee in Melbourne" thread.

"Had a nice ristretto in a cafe somewhere near the casino....just strolling by and loved the name (The Guava Bean) and great coloured machine at the front...but the coffee was good, if you are in that area." - Buff

That was before the moderator shut the thread down due to there being a strict rule on how members with less than 50 post not allowed to post reviews of cafes. Sad.

Nevertheless, it's great to see yet another person enjoying our coffee at Guava Bean. I do remember this person actually, he's probably the first and so far the only person that has ordered a ristretto.

Thanks Buff, whoever you are.

But on a sad note, I busted my thumb today trying to put stuff from Ikea into my car. I hope that it'll heal before I get to work on Tuesday. Otherwise my coffee making will definitely be affected. It's swollen now and I did hear and feel a crunch as I was trying to fit the pram into the car with some shelving stuff under it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Receiving my first coffee/cafe review

Something really exciting happened yesterday at Guava Bean. A man by the name of Steve Agi from Melbourne Coffee Review popped by the shop for a coffee. He ordered his espresso and then a flat white to take away but didn't really mention anything about who he was. Anyway Soosh made Steve his coffee and Steve proceeded to pay for his coffee and it was then that he told me who he was.

I admit that I got a little nervous then because I wasn't sure if Soosh had done justice to our coffee but Steve seemed pleased and we had a little chat about how Dave Makin had asked him to come check us out. Nice.

Anyway to cut the long story short. Seong-Lee (my business partner) received a letter in the mail today and it came from Steve at Melbourne Coffee Review. It was a certificate of sorts to er...certify that we had received a rating of 2 beans for the cafe! If you want to know the rating system here it is:

1 bean = bloody worth looking up
2 beans = something extra ordinary here
3 Beans = close to sex

I mean, I think that if we had received 1 bean that would already be fantastic but to receive 2 beans makes me feel like our efforts have not gone to waste. It's good to see that my love for good coffee has translated to the cafe actually serving our great coffee as well.

Actually the story goes that apparently when Dave Makin told Steve Agi about Guava Bean, Steve told him that he had already been receiving emails from people to some check us out. Woohoo!

What can I say, it feels good and if anything, it makes me determined to keep up if not improve on our standards of coffee in Guava Bean.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Guava Bean Freshwater Place

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That's where the shop's going to be.

For the past few months I've been working with a good friend of mine to build a cafe. The cafe is called Guava Bean and it's going to be built in Freshwater Place in Southbank. It's been a long time coming with finding a right site then designing it then building it then now we are almost there. Of course it doesn't come without it's share of heachaches and frustrations, but we are almost there.

And yes, the equipment. We are getting a 3 group La Marzocco FB80 (painted Lamborghini Lime Green), Compak K10 WBC, Mazzer Super Jolly (espresso blend) and Compaq K3T (decaf).

After moving our opening date week after week, finally we are looking at opening on the 12th of August 2008, if all goes to plan. Our lauch party is going to be on the 16th of August 2008. Here's the flyer that I designed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Black Gold

Don't know if anyone's heard about the movie Black Gold, but I just watched it and it's a fantastic documentary about the coffee industry, specifically about the farmers in Ethopia. It follows an Ethopian man who represents the Coffee Union in Ethopia and he presents to us the current deteriorating situation for coffee farmers in Ethopia. It really made me think about how much I enjoy my coffee and how much paying for it vs how much the farmers are getting for all their efforts. The farmers are basically getting paid about $0.09 per kilo of coffee that they produce. Ouch! But the truth is that I haven't heard much good about the Fairtrade system as well, so really, what can we do? Going to do some research about that. These are the wonderful farmers who have worked hard to bring us such beans as the Ethopian Harrar, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe. Yummy stuff. The Harrar has to be one of my fave single origins at the moment.

Here's a review of the movie from the NY Times.

And here's the trailer

Definitely a much watch for any coffee aficionado out there.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Makin WBC Espresso Blend

I scored myself some of David Makin's WBC Espresso blend yesterday at First Pour. It's a blend of the El Salvador St Helena's and Brazil Daterra Reserve Vintage 2005. I hear that the Daterra release is usually really limited so Makin was pretty happy to score some of it for the comps.

Here's what they had to say about it on the Veneziano Website

"In David's espresso blend, he really wanted a coffee that reminded him of his travels through Europe and America. His espresso blend comprises of 2 origins; firstly an El Salvador St. Helena for the coffee fruit notes and the sparkling acidity almost like a good quality riesling. He then rounded the blend off with the Brazil Daterra Vintage Reserve for the dry berry notes it adds through the middle of the cup."

I'm still trying to dial my K10 grinder in to get a proper shot of it and so far it's been pretty good. I'm trying to taste all the stuff that they say is in it but so far I got the fruit notes, but sparkling acidity and dry berry? Hmmm...will try again later, a little coffeed out at the moment.

Anyway for those who didn't watch his spectacular performance at the WBC, here it is.

There was Singapore as well and we came in 32nd, which isn't all too bad. Was considering training up for WBC in Australia but going back to represent Singapore. Hmmm...

Streaming Video by Ustream.TV

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Compak K10 WBC Mod

Did a simple mod to my K10. The difference between the K10 WBC and the K10, aside from its price, is the auto cutoff.

But for some reason, probably cos it's easier, Compak left the plastic contraption still there on the WBC version. So I took it off. That way it gives me a better view of the doser and it also gives me better access to the grind chute.

The grind chute on the K10 is really deep and I think it probably holds about 20gms of coffee before it drops, so now by taking the plastic contraption I have full access to it so I can give it a good clean when I need to.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New toys

Just got my Vac Pot in the mail yesterday and am going to find some time to play with it soon. It looks something like the one in the video. I'm using the video as reference for how best to use my Vac Pot/Coffee Syphon.

Another new toy is my Compak K10 WBC that I just received from Talkcoffee. Got to find some space on my bench to test it out as well.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mazzer Mini Mod - Part 1

Finally I get a chance to post about the mods I've done to my Mazzer Mini. I think that everyone agrees about how messy the Mazzers can be. I mean, as good as they are, they have their flaws and one of them is that the doser chamber doesn't sweep very clean. And for home users, it can be a real pain because you obviously don't want to waste any of that $20 - $40 a kg coffee that you bought. Thus the term Black Gold.

Anyway, the first thing is to take the doser apart. That involves using a flat head screw driver and unscrewing the middle screw. Then you unscrew the entire doser star anti-clockwise until it comes off. Underneath the doser star, you'll see 2 smaller flathead screws that you can remove to take apart the doser star as well.

This is what you should see at the end of it.

I then applied the cloth tape to the doser according to the but I made mine a little longer which in retrospect may not be such a great idea.

I also applied tape to the doser star "top part" so that it sweeps clean over the drop chute cover. The pictures probably tell a better story.

As with the problem of the grind getting spat over over the middle of the doser, I applied a flap over the chute so that the grind drop directly down into the chambers and not all over the doser. And with the flap, I can still lift it up to sweep all the remaining grind out of the chute.

I haven't made any modifications to the drop chute yet and it's still dropping left a lot, but I've learnt not to clack it too quickly and that helps.

Will continue to look at how to improve the doser's messiness as I ran out of beans the last few days and haven't had much time to test. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Mazzer Mini Mod

I'm currently planning my Mazzer Mini Sweep Mod. Or MMSM for short. Just the acronym part at least. Here are the a few threads that I've been reading and I think I may try a combination of both.

Having pretty much done my research tonight, I'll continue tomorrow and take some photos at the same time. But for now....bed time, though I just had a Nespresso (sorry...) at a friend's place.

Queenscliff Holiday

Just came back from 2 nights in Queenscliff, west past Geelong and it was great. Well, the weather was abysmal as it pretty much rained the 2 days that we were there. So much that we didn't even get to go down to the pier, well, we pretty much didn't make use of the fact that we were in a sea side town.

Lots of cafes in this little town. Lots of different coffee suppliers there, Gigante, Grinders, Di Manfredi, Piazza D'oro just to name a few. And of course, none to rave about. Did see a place that claim to have the 'best coffee in town', but didn't dare venture into unknown territory. Though I must say that the Gigante that we tried in Athelstane House was pretty decent, not burnt I mean.

On the way back we made a trip to a winery for lunch called Pettavel and the food and service there was awesome. Coffee was average, but I guess it is a winery not a cafe so that's forgivable. I had the Venison served pink and the texture of the meat was smooth and though the portions were "fine dining" size, there was such a flavourful little piece of meat.

Plus they gave us a more than required discount when we used our Entertainment Book Gold Card. Thumbs up to them! I mean, for a restaurant in the middle of nowhere 5kms out from Geelong it was quite crowded for a weekday lunch.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Compak K10 WBC vs Mazzer Robur

Man, this is a hard one. We are currently trying to decide which grinder we should get for the cafe and it has brought me to choose between the obvious 2 heavy weight contenders, The Compak K10 WBC vs the Mazzer Robur.

I believe that the Robus has a strong following in cafes all around Melbourne, it has proven itself in battle over and over again and has come out tops each time. But in the recent years, Compak grinders have been gaining popularity as well. Especially with the introduction of the K10 and Compak's strong marketing in the World Barista Championship has seen it slowly becoming the grinder of choice.

Ok, here's the dilemma, do I want a trusted workhorse which I've used before or a hot shot newbie that is all the rage at the moment. And if I do decide to join the Barista Comps next year or the year after, it'll be good to train myself on the compulsory grinder (K10 WBC).

Well, that's it. I've read reviews after reviews and I think I've decided to go with the Compack K10 WBC. After all it's cheaper than the Robur, and from what I read I think I've made a good choice.
Tell me I've made the right choice?

Friday, July 04, 2008

San Marino Compact CKX

A friend of mine won a San Marino CKX off Ebay a few days ago and I drove her to go pick it up today. Very nice shiny machine, single group semi-auto espresso machine. Some information about it here

It was in a pretty good nick, but unfortunately it hasn't been used in a while so when we took the shower screen off, it was fully clogged up. Oh well, nothing some scrubbing and Cafetto won't fix. Turned it on and it seems like everything's working well. Gonna wait for my friend to give it a good clean and run some shots of it.

That's my friend Evie with her new purchase
Anyway we made a trip to Liar Liar (The Age review) after for a cuppa and as usual, Nolan and his team serve up an awesome latte and the Ethopian 'Harrar' short black that we had after was sublime as well. Also realised that Liar Liar appear in this winter edition of Crema Magazine as one of Melbourne's top 5 cafes. Also mentioned were Brother Baba Budan (St Ali's), First Pour (Veneziano), 7 Grams (Veneziano) and Maling Room (Atomica), also gave a special mention to A Minor Place in Brunswick.
Oh btw, have you heard? St Ali's been sold to Paul Mathis. This spells the end of Mark Dundan's season in St Ali's. Read here for what he had to say about it. So it looks like Paul's heading into the coffee scene by pretty buying into it. I mean, if you're going to buy a cafe and can afford it, St Ali's about as good as it gets if you want to get a foot into the specialty coffee industry in Melbourne. Well, at least Toshi is staying...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Ok, so where should I start? How should this first post on my "coffee" blog look read like. It's not like I'm even much of a writer, but I guess this is the reason why I'm endeavouring to do this blog. To not only chart my progress/journey with my passion for coffee, but to also chart some kind of progress with my literary ability.

Language has never been my strong suit. I mean, I've done well in English through my school days but I've never really taken to writing or reading (mum's fault if you ask me...hehehe). So at 30 years old, is it too late to start? Love it.

My journey with it started when I came to Melbourne 7 years ago. Had my first latte (at Fruits of Passion, Kensington), and slowly progressed from 2 sugars to 1 sugar, to none. To tell you the truth, when my dad made his first trip to Europe with his friends when I was a wee lad, he came back with this espresso craze. He then started buying an assortment of different machinery (which I now recognise as stovepots) which I believe are still in our kitchen in Singapore somewhere. It was then that I tried specialty coffee *yucks* paraphrase.

Now, I can't go through a day without it. Yes some might say that it's an addiction and yes if I don't have a cup I do get a mild headache, but I love it. I look forward to waking up, turning on my Sunbeam EM6910, loading my Mazzer Mini with beans (Guatamalan RFA), filling my little Incasa jug with Pura full cream milk, and making my coffee. And then...drinking it...what a celebration of the efforts taken by my Guatamalan friends to grow this specially for me. does sound a little crazy. Or even to make my journey to a fave cafe, giving a thumbs up to the barista and sit there with a good friend to savour the latte, and make space to connect over it.

It's suffice to say that it's not only the taste of coffee that I love, but the place that it's served in to the way that's it's made. The space that it creates for conversation and connections for me, goes beyond what is served in the cup. What I guess I'm trying to say is that, the quality of the coffee in that little 7 1/2 oz glass; for me; makes or breaks the space that I've given to it, and the quality if the conversations spent over it, rides on that.

So who's going to read all this? Who cares you say? I guess even if no one does, I'll email my mum the blog address and she will...she's mum after all. Happy Birthday Mum!