How many specialty coffee shops can one neighborhood support? In the case of Istanbul’s Nişantaşı neighborhood, the answer is at least one more. As we’ve written elsewhere, the neighborhood has perhaps Istanbul’s densest number of specialty coffee shops. The latest addition is a new location from Turkish coffee pioneer Kronotrop Coffee Bar & Roastery. …
With representatives from over fifty different countries, the World Barista Championship is something like the World Cup for coffee professionals. Along with Brewers Cup, Latte Art, and Coffee in Good Spirits, these competitions can help launch a barista’s career, landing them lucrative jobs offers, endorsements, or funding for their own businesses. Competitions also help push the industry forward, highlighting new processing methods, obscure varieties, and new brewing techniques.
Many baristas aspire to compete, but the learning curve is steep for first time competitors. As a barista competitor, coach, and judge, there are several mistakes I often see first time competitors make— many of which I made myself. These mistakes can result in a bad score that is discouraging even demoralizing for an aspiring barista, but thankfully can be avoided with good coaching and feedback.
Conflating the taste Balance and Flavor Descriptors
It’s pretty common to hear competitors describe their coffee as having “a lime-like acidity, a chocolate sweetness,” etc. The problem with this mistake— which is one I made myself— is that it conflates the taste balance and flavor categories on the score sheet. For taste balance, the competitor only needs to describe the intensity and quality of the acidity, …
The Aeropress enjoys a cult following around the globe, and Turkey is no exception. We recently were on hand for the 2018 Turkish Aeropress Championship in Istanbul, which attracted baristas from as far afield as Ankara and Izmir to see who was the best at making coffee with a plastic tube. …
There are few jobs in the coffee industry as romantic or mysterious as roaster. Traditionally, the tradecraft of the making-coffee darker arts has been a closely guarded secret, passed on from roaster to roaster in old fashioned apprenticeships. Other than a couple of good books, there aren’t many resources available to aspiring novice roasters. Joe Marrocco is helping to change that. The longtime Cafe Imports educator recently moved on to work with Mill City Roasters, but the year-long video project Roasting Concepts is now free to view on YouTube. We caught up with “Roaster Joe” over email in the midst of his busy travel schedule to learn the thought behind the project–and how young roasters can develop their skills.
Over the last seven months Cafe Imports has been releasing a series of videos called “Roasting Concepts.” What inspired the project?
This is a project that I worked on with Cafe Imports over several years. I know that the videos seem very simple and short, but they took a long time to conceptualize, carve out time for and put together. The idea was born out of teaching people roasting at the Cafe Imports headquarters in Minneapolis….
We love hearing from our readers, especially if they’re passing through one of the cities where our blogging team is based (Louisville, San Francisco, and Istanbul). It was in the latter we met up with Canadian barista Gavyn Stroh, sharing a pour-over at Coffee Department in Balat. Istanbul is one of the world’s great travel hubs, so it’s not uncommon to meet visiting coffee professionals. But what made our visit with Gavyn exceptional was his mode of transportation. Turkey is one of 34 countries Gavyn cycled through over the last 12 months. We’ve been following his journey since that delicious, naturally-processed El Salvador we shared, and we’ve been taken by its breath-taking panoramas, ever-increasing tan lines, and of course, the many cups of coffee along the way. Now that his journey is coming to a close, we caught up with him to learn about coffee on the open road.
Known as Smyrna in Ancient Greece, Izmir is Turkey’s third largest city, and perhaps its most progressive. The city surrounds a natural harbor, which means you’re never far from the Aegean Sea. With beautiful parks that line the coastline and a relatively modest population of 3 million, it feels relaxed and liveable to one visiting from Istanbul. Izmir is a main travel hub for many of Turkey’s best beaches, as well the stunning ruins of Ephesus. But the city has long been associated with coffee too, as it’s home to Turkey’s thriving coffee roaster manufacturing industry, with brands such as Toper and Has Garanti headquartered here.
With so many coffee roasters readily available and all around good vibes, perhaps a specialty coffee boom was inevitable. Indeed Izmir could give the capital Ankara a run for its money as Turkey’s second coffee city. Unfortunately, when I visited many of the cafés on my list were closed for the holidays, but thankfully two great coffee shops had their doors open.
Roast and Found
Izmir’s Bostanlı neighborhood on the north side of the city is home to Roast and Found, a microroastery and café. From the city center the neighborhood is a short ferry ride away (as in Istanbul, commuting by ferry is one of Izmir’s great pleasures). The café curiously has two espresso machines: including a customized Kees Van Der Weston Spirit. I enjoyed a sweet, chocolatey espresso with such a think head of crema I suspect their was some robusta in the blend. Regardless, it was a fantastic shot I would gladly drink any day. With plentiful outdoor seating, this is a great café to enjoy Izmir’s beautiful weather.
Baristocrat has three locations around Izmir, and we visited their Konak location in the heart of the city– a reasonable walk from sights like Izmir’s iconic Clock Tower and Agora. I first met Baristocrat founder Nurettin Karakundakoğlu at a Q course in Istanbul almost three years ago, when he was still working for Toper. Now he’s fulltime at his own roastery with an expanding number of cafés around the city. In addition to a gorgeous La Marzocco Linea PB with color-coordinated Mythos Grinder, the café has a great selection of back issues of Fresh Cup and Barista Magazine available, a real rarity in Turkey. Our group enjoyed a cappuccino, cortado, and cold brew, but regretted we didn’t find time to make it our to their roastery in Urla.
Coffee is one of the few fruits grown only for its seeds. But this presents coffee producers with a challenge, as the cherries must be processed– separated from the fruit, dried, and milled — before being exported. But processing is more than an obligatory step after harvesting: the methods the coffee producer uses has an enormous effect on flavor. In fact, many coffee professionals believe processing has a bigger effect on the way your coffee taste than the variety of the plant or the country of origin.
There are four main ways of processing coffee, with perhaps infinite variations within each category. Certain methods tend to be common in different regions, often driven by the local climate and available infrastructure….
Stretching from the Canadian border all the way to Fort Meyers, Florida, I-75 is the one of America’s great highways, the second longest north-south interstate. Like most Americans who’ve lived in the Midwest or Upper South, I’ve driven long sections of it, though perhaps none more monotonous than the stretch connecting Cincinnati to Detroit.
After Dayton, the trip is mostly pristine farmland, with grain silos and barns providing the only breaks in the landscape. It has all of the idyllic beauty and existential despair of an Andrew Wyeth painting. (I am– I realize– projecting my own experience of being raised in a small town– albeit on the opposite end of the country.)
Both times I drove the strip were for weddings: my wife’s second cousins in Ann Arbor. The first wedding was held on a Labor Day weekend, the second, fittingly, Memorial Day weekend a few years later. With the cruise control set at an easy 80 mph, I reminded Julie that I didn’t know any of my second cousins– let alone go to their weddings. But secretly, I was excited about the trip, because of the chance to make a brief detour to a most unlikely small town café: Flatlands Coffee in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Flatlands Coffee was founded by husband and wife Ben and Cassy Vollmar. In a hard-fought Kickstarter campaign, the Vollmars somehow convinced people who would likely never visit Bowling Green to contribute to their passion project. Graduates of Bowling Green State University, they dreamed of bringing third wave coffee culture to their beloved town. After a back-breaking 16 month buildout, the café finally opened. A rare success story when faith in the American dream has never been lower.
Located on Bowling Green’s time capsule-like Main Street, the café is bright and airy. From the eclectic lightbulbs that hang above the concrete counter to the Turkish rug that runs in front of it, there are plenty of nods to Cassy’s background in interior design. Bowling Green is a college town, and even on a holiday weekend Flatlands is filled with students and creative types. From my seat in the café it seems the baristas know most everyone who comes in. They certainly peg us as out-of-towners, and ask where we’re from– a touch of small town hospitality that one misses in the city.
Flatlands Coffee is a self-professed “extreme multiroaster” shop. In other words, their coffee lineup is constantly changing. Certainly, you’ld be hard pressed to find a North American coffee roaster they haven’t featured: Madcap, Sweet Bloom, Kuma, Methodical, Brandywine, Huckleberry, George Howell, the list goes on. It’s the sort of shop that’s the bane of wholesale directors, but a delight for every coffee nerd who wants to try as many different brands as possible. Filter brews are prepared by the cup with Kalita Waves and espresso is made on a La Marzocco Linea. Each shot is ground to order on a Mahlkönig EK43, outfitted with a patent-pending distribution funnel Ben invented.
When I visited, I enjoyed a pour-over from a nationally known roaster from my wife’s hometown in North Carolina. I couldn’t help but reflect I’ve drunk their coffee in dozens of cafés around the country, and this cup of coffee was better than most of them.
Perhaps, the Vollmars have proved what many of us already knew: specialty coffee is not the exclusive property of hip urban dwellers. People that live in small towns and rural communities like coffee too. They should all be as lucky as Bowling Green, Ohio.
When it comes to home coffee grinders, there is one Holy Grail. The white whale we’ve been chasing for years. One grinder to rule them all, and in the dark roast bind them. That coffee grinder, of course, is the Baratza Forté. With a touch screen, built-in scale, micro-adjust, and particle size distribution that puts a lot of more expensive commercial grinders to shame, the Forté has been the leading “prosumer” grinder in the industry since debuting at SCAA five years ago. You can see it on some of the best brew bars in the world. And after a few years of scheming and scrimping, we finally snagged one. And after putting it through its paces, we have some thoughts about this grinder and who’s it for….
The incredible story of how a few coffee seeds from Southwestern Ethiopia found their way to Panama and subsequently changed the entire coffee industry is well known, but worth repeating. …