Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Because it's about time we had another coffee post

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  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    Well that does get esoteric.

    No I don't think so. I don't think the countless coffee carts of Yogyakarta, Ipoh and Vientiane arrived in response to Starbucks. Nor the coffee houses of Jakarta and the Yum Char traditions of Guangdong.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3206 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    resurrecting the plunger

    There's nothing wrong with good plunger coffee. The usual rules apply: use freshly roasted beans, grind them just before use, keep your equipment clean.

    but not really to my taste.

    This is what we have been teaching our daughters to say when confronted by food they don't like. Not, "Yuck! That tastes disgusting", but, "Thank you, but it's not really to my taste."

    I haven't yet found good coffee in Palmerston North, 'though I haven't been cafe hopping all that much either. Anyone got any helpful suggestions?

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1315 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I don’t really like the sweetened milk thing

    Communist.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3656 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    I'm all for that. Must try some of those next time I'm down.

    It's good. The gentler methods really bring out all the fruity esters in the coffee, bringing a mellowness that's refreshing after some of the bitter, burnt, over-extracted stuff that you can sometimes get even in good places. Robyn covered Customs nicely just a year ago.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

  • mobsta,

    Only reasonable coffee I've found in CHC is C4, and anywhere rural is a write-off.

    Lack of tattoos and piercings, you see. The freakier the barista, the better the coffee. If they're clean cut, they typically won't make decent coffee.

    Heh heh.
    I found myself in Fairlie for the New Years Day parade this year (long story....)
    Saw a little place called Cue Espresso.
    Went in and saw this clean cut south-canterbury looking likely lad and thought oh-oh. Then saw that he had a Faema E61 coffee machine and that he had ristretto's on the board....
    Had to try, it would have been impolite to not to....

    Well blow me down with a feather.
    He threw the first one away, because it wasn't up to his standards, but the second came out perfect.

    So yes, you can find little surprises in rural NZ.

    Espresso is just one way to extract a bean with water, there are plenty others. I'd love for some of the NZ cafes to start experimenting with other methods (they probably already are, I speak in ignorance at the moment).

    George - Check out the Supreme cafe on Ghuznee Street.
    They do coffe 4 ways, including with a Clover (NZ's only?).

    wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Although I'd still have to say I don't really like the sweetened milk thing

    It's a style that I can take only irregularly but it is but one of many variants. Deep, very full bodied (unsweetened) black coffee is another and it tends to be my poison.

    I love the coffee I find in New Zealand but I don't miss it in SEA and never feel the desire to find a western styled coffee shop, unless I'm in Central Singapore where it feels right.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3206 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Parker,

    And in related news I just got the regular newsletter from L'affare saying the global financial crisis has brought about sharp increases in commodity prices, including a 71% rise in coffee futures since June. They say their coffee will go up by $2.30 per kg. Guess we'll all be paying more for our coffees.

    Napier • Since Nov 2008 • 232 posts Report Reply

  • Katie Brockie,

    Check it out:
    "The ratio of espresso machines to population in Australia and New Zealand is approximately 850 people to 1 machine, only bested by Italy. In comparison, in the US, there are roughly 20,000 people per espresso machine. With such a limited number of customers per machine to draw on, cafés in Australia and New Zealand must use quality as the biggest drawcard."
    http://coffeegeek.com/opinions/georgesabados/06-12-2007

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    There’s nothing wrong with good plunger coffee. The usual rules apply: use freshly roasted beans, grind them just before use, keep your equipment clean.

    And importantly, don't burn the coffee with boiling water. 100C burns it - coffee isn't tea - 88-93C is where you should aim for, although a little on either side won't hurt. Surprisingly, very few people seem to know this. Stovetop burners which force scalding hot water through the coffee are absolutely terrible for this reason. Coffee will always be bitter with one of those.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2135 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    They say their coffee will go up by $2.30 per kg. Guess we’ll all be paying more for our coffees.

    From USD$1.50/kg on the open market to $2.30 is what I've read as well. I make a completely uninformed guess and say that will push prices up by at least NZ $2/kg retail. It might be enough to put cafes on squeezed margins up another 30cents a cup.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2135 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    I don’t think the countless coffee carts of Yogyakarta, Ipoh and Vientiane arrived in response to Starbucks. Nor the coffee houses of Jakarta and the Yum Char traditions of Guangdong.

    Of course not and that is apropos of what?

    OK - if you really want to be pedantic about it: "It was hard to find decent espresso style coffee in Asia."

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 289 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Although I'd still have to say I don't really like the sweetened milk thing

    Call it cortado condensada or leche y leche and you'll have a new craze in no time. But give me a caffè corretto any day.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    re TsarBucks
    I think they must spend a fortune on product placement – I noticed while reading a particularly frothy Janet Evanovich that she extolled their virtues and name checked them about 5 times on one page!

    Did they ever try and get down with the kids
    and introduce a Goldfrapp-accino?

    My my – you paint with the stuff?

    It’s all it’s good for. Burnt ink is a fair description.

    as long as no one takes burnt umberage…

    re Fails Cafe photo
    Shame on Chch library for their spelling :

    Woman serving expresso coffee at Fails Cafe…

    …friends of mine did the demolition of Fails Cafe and have built all those wonderful glass bricks into their kitchen/lounge – it looks great curves, gold leaf signs and all...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4961 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Apropos cold brew, that really is very easy to do at home, and just the thing as a base for iced coffee.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2967 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard,

    It looks like the Aussies have been coffee snobs for years.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1039 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    I've patronised Starbucks in places like Singapore, because it is clearly the least-worst option for a long black.

    Which is precisely why I frequented SBs while I was on my OE. As for Asia, when I first went there in the mid-90s, I didn't find much coffee, but there was this stuff called Nescafé...

    It's also the only place I have seen someone go and get their money back because they took too long to make the coffee.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 455 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to George Darroch,

    Coffee will always be bitter with one of those.

    If you're referring to a little stovetop espresso pot, I disagree. I use one of those every morning, and I don't think my coffee is bitter at all. (I like my coffee very strong, but I really hate bitter coffee.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3656 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    That is ridiculously easy. With its lower acidity and coolness, it might be the basis for some more interesting creations...

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2135 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    It’s a style that I can take only irregularly but it is but one of many variants. Deep, very full bodied (unsweetened) black coffee is another and it tends to be my poison.

    Now that’s more my style.

    Older readers (!) may recall a previous (and pre PA System) epic coffee post where Louise Gardiner shared this wonderful experience:

    The best coffee experiences I’ve had is at my friend’s council flat in Wellington.

    I learnt that if an Ethiopian invites you to pop round for coffee you should allow a couple of hours!

    First she sets up a low stool and a small metal brazier. Then she heats up some charcoal and places it in the brazier. Green coffee beans are then very skillfully roasted over the coals until she is satisfied they’re just right. Everyone present gets to smell the wonderful aroma before she grinds the beans.

    When I first met her she ground the beans by hand with an improvised mortar and pestle, but the neighbours complained about the banging so she got an electric grinder from Briscoes!

    That was from the last of three posts in a truly epic series in 2005. The others were this one and this one.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18891 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to mobsta,

    Apparently Coffee Supreme in Woodward St has a Clover machine.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 289 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Which reminded me of this.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 289 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to steven crawford,

    I think Starbucks already uses milk powder milk. All they need is to add an aroma of kerosene, then they'll have something nostalgic.

    Classic.

    We travel the world, New Zealand included, with Kopi Bali or Kopi Jawa packets (very finely ground dark coffee which you simply pour hit water over and wait two minutes before partaking).

    Yes, I tend to agree that coffee snobbery can be self-defeating. It's a bloody hard ask at home during a party to serve 10 espressos/lattes, but not at all difficult to do with a largish plunger. It's still coffee, still tastes OK, many people prefer it. Even a plunger is overkill if you're traveling, a small sieve does the same job. Then there's the concept of just stopping before you get to the grounds, nearly the simplest method of all. Actual simplest is still always going to be instant, and there's times and places for it. Like at a picnic, on a boat, at a sports game, etc. It's not flash, but it's a lot better than it used to be, and often a damned sight nicer than coffee that's been sitting in a thermos for hours, and you can also serve tea.

    Also sometimes nice is canned coffee, usually it's milky and sweet, but hard to beat for sheer laziness, easy to grab and run, and cold is refreshing.

    But if I'm just all about the nice coffee experience, I still dig NZ/Ozzie style. You can tell effort has been made to make the coffee good. It's reflected in the price. Except at Starbucks.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8529 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I learnt that if an Ethiopian invites you to pop round for coffee you should allow a couple of hours!

    Ah, yes. I had a similar experience with a bunch of Eritrean men a couple of years back. Coffee in the Horn of Africa is traditionally a woman's business, but they'd all been in the army and learned the practices. Delicious, if ridiculously sweet (far sweeter than any coffee I've ever had before or since).

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2135 posts Report Reply

  • Judy Spencer,

    No competition; didn't Starbucks destroy that?

    Auckland • Since Feb 2008 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Apropos "burning" etc: it's more that at different temperatures and pressures and grind fineness, different constituents are extracted at different rates. Therefore the nature of the beans and blend has a role here. For example, my experiments tell me that while you can get some great espresso from unblended Ethiopian beans, most of the qualities that make them distinctive stand out best in filter methods. Turkish/Arab/Greek coffee can be delicious, even though you make it with boiling water, probably because buttloads of sugar and maybe some added spices help, and because we have different expectations about how it should taste compared to espresso.

    So I wouldn't be too quick to say that method X always produces a bad result. Raw materials, your technique, and your end-goal all have a part there too.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2967 posts Report Reply

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