Jihye Chang

“Roastery”

Favorite Espresso bean (for now) – Belle from Klatch

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belle

Last year I stumbled upon the “Belle” espresso by a micro-roastery in California while browsing the internet. There was a “coffee guru” guy (Kenneth Davids) and his website called “coffeereview.com” and the Belle espresso beans from the Klatch Coffee in CA got the highest ever score (94 points) by him. Davids described the bean as ”

Woops. I think I posted it before it was finished..! I can fix it on my blog, but not on this page..so here it goes:

“Intense aroma: brandy, chocolate, caramel. In the small cup medium in body but smooth in mouthfeel, crisply pungent yet caramelly sweet, with a tightly knit, understated complexity: brandy, caramel, cedar and flowers, hints of See Morewhich persist in the roundly rich finish. Masters milk with a gentle, brandied chocolate authority.”

So I ordered just to see how good it was and it turned out to be the best choice for my Ascaso machine. Ever since I bought that machine in 2006, I have used many different kinds of beans – Intelligentsia’s Black Cat, Barrington Coffee Roasting company’s Gold espresso, Peet’s, Gimme! Coffee’s Leftist, Counter Culture’s Toscano and Rustico, Batdorf & Goodman’s, etc. So far the Toscano from Counter Culture was my favorite, but this one provided a bit more depth and body than the Toscano. (Also the price and the shipping method used to be nicer.) It really tastes like chocolate and brandy, with really sweet smell of caramel.

The package used to look like the picture on the right side – now they have changed the packaging and their website outlook. Sure, the bag looks more modernized, and the website has a lot of useful information and cool facts about the company. The sad thing is that the price changed (upward), too. The Belle used to cost $12.95 for 1lb (about 450g), but now 12oz (350g) costs $11.95, which is similar to the Counter Culture Coffee’s pricing. Klatch still ships via USPS, and it’s much better than the usual UPS ground shipping.

Next beans to try are – Stumptown Hair Bender and Terroir. ūüôā

The best way to make iced coffee

I have been drinking only espresso macchiato and lattes for the last 3.5 years with my own espresso machine and grinder. (My husband drinks dripped coffee, and I sometimes drink a bit of what he brews.) However on a hot summer day like today, iced coffee seems to be so much more appealing, and I decided to follow the method that’s introduced at the Counter Culture Coffee’s website. (Counter Culture Coffee makes one of my favorite espresso beans, Espresso Toscano.) And the result? The BEST iced coffee I have ever tasted! It’s also much lighter tasting than iced Americano, which is made with espresso shots and ice/water. Also it gets the most aroma from the beans, and it tastes much more fresh than a lot of iced coffee that you get from the commercial places.

You can find the original instruction here:

http://www.counterculturecoffee.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=574&Itemid=

I used a coffee stand that my dear friend Robert Scott – a dentist, flutist, and a beautiful wood-worker – made for me last Christmas. It’s supposed to be a Costa Rican chorreador stand, but I think it works much better for this recipe. You can make your own following the direction here: http://www.runnerduck.com/coffee_maker.htm You can buy one at www.chorreador.com as well. (Of course the one that I bought in San Jose was much cheaper, but I am thrilled that you can finally order one in the states.)

Here is how I did:

1) Hang the coffee basket and filter on the chorreador stand (or find a similar way to suspend a basket above the glass that you’ll use for the finished coffee).

2) Boil enough water to fill a tall glass – you won’t use all of it, because the glass will have ice in it.

3) Put 3-4 tbs. of freshly ground coffee in the filter.¬† Today I used Coffee Klatch’s Ipanema Dulce.

4) Fill a tall glass to the top with ice cubes, and put it under the coffee basket.

5) Slowly pour the hot water over the filter.¬† Watch the coffee level in the glass so it doesn’t overflow.¬† You’ll wind up using less water than you would if you were making hot coffee with the same amount of grounds, to compensate for the dilution that happens when the hot water hits the ice cubes.

Enjoy!

Great Cafes in America #3

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It’s genius- a cafe called “Gimme! Coffee.”

Located in Ithaca (2 in Ithaca and now in a few other places, including NYC), Gimme! Coffee is one of those small, a bit snotty, and yet very charming independent coffee shops. Their Baristas know what they are doing, are friendly and cool, and they make perfect espresso macchiato with a dollop of heart-shaped milk foam, smooth latte with leafy-decoration and spectacular espresso.

I visited Gimme! Coffee on N. Cayuga St. in the spring of 2006, and I knew I would come back to Ithaca because I always go back to a place where there is a great cafe that I fall in love with. (Williamstown, Lenox, Atlanta to name a few.) Gimme! Coffee was using one of the La Marzzoco machines in 2006. This year they were using a machine named Mirage – a very sturdy, shiny machine that makes very thick, caramel-like, syrupy espresso. (The barista told me that Mirage is made by hand in Denmark.)

The Cayuga St. location has a very narrow space, small tables, and is always packed with Cornell students. It’s not fancy looking but it’s warm and cozy. Highly recommended for anybody need good coffee and decent (not as good as their coffee, but still good enough) baked goods.

* Their espresso blend, “Leftist,” is not my favorite choice for home espresso making (at least with my machine), but it tastes great in their own store.

Club Espresso, Seoul

LatteClub Espresso in Buam-dong, Seoul (image from www.clubespresso.co.kr)

Korea’s cafe scene has changed drastically over the past 10-15 years, and now the big cities in Korea are bustling with amazing independent roastery and artisanal cafes.

The term “roasted beans” was a very strange one in the early¬†90s as “coffee” in Korea meant ¬†instant powdered coffee for such a long time. The most popular and available kind back was a single packet of coffee granules with lots of sugar and palm-oil based coffee cream powder. (aka “coffee mix”, which is still readily available in supermarkets and convenient stores) In the early 90s, stores like Jardin coffee and Bremer coffee opened with the name “Wondu coffee” meaning coffee made from roasted bean (basically dripped coffee) and became very popular among young people. I was a high school student and loved giong to one of those Jardin shops with my friend in our school uniforms – it was like a very big guilty pleasure as we were not so sure if it was ok for high school students to drink coffee but it tasted good nonetheless!

The big sales point of such “wondu coffee” shops were flavored coffees. It was fun for a while but¬†soon I learned that those French vanilla flavored and Raspberry chocolate flavored coffee beans were old coffee beans with new make-up. Then in 1999 the first Starbucks shop opened in Korea – I was back for a summer break from my graduate studies at Indiana University, Bloomington, where one of the first Starbucks shops suffered a window damage from a local vandalism. After the huge success of the first Starbucks store located in the biggest women’s college in Korea, almost every universities in Seoul had to have one nearby. Every summer break I would go back home and there would be more Starbucks stores.
Then smaller chains started catching up, providing cheaper espresso drinks. Big shopping areas like Myungdong and a lot of college areas were covered with big and small coffee shops.

I cannot recall when the artisanal cafe movement began in Korea, but I remember visiting a small¬†coffee shop near Korea University where the owner was roasting his own beans and served really fresh and super-tasting coffee as early as 1996 or 1997. I would also hear about and visit some independent coffee shops with ridiculously high price tag ($8-9 for a cup of dripped coffee or cappuccino!) since the late 90s. Also many cake shops opened with small coffee bar as well as big bakery-cafe chains such as “Twosome place” and “Paris Croissant.” (Korean bakeries are very much like Japanese bakeries, which was largely influenced by French baking style. The cakes are much smaller and¬†lighter than the American varieties, and the selection is much larger.)

Quite a few really¬†awesome cafes¬†with great coffess with $4-5 price tag became popular during the past 3-4 years. These¬†shops are usually run by young people who recently finished their barista training,¬†who¬†roast their own coffee in the store, and who¬†run a coffee academy along with the cafe.¬†This kind of¬†artisanal cafes seem to be replacing the cheap, small chains and become more and more popular.¬†In 2007, a soap opera called “Coffee Prince No. 1″featured a high-end cafe that hired only men as their baristas and became a mega-hit in the TV box office. I think that raised the awareness¬†on the good coffee, barista, and so on. One interesting thing is that a lot of these artisanal coffee shops focus on the hand-dripped coffee. To me, it’s like a very delicate version of Costa Rican Chorreador – the barista takes great care of the water temperature, texture of the coffee, and height and direction of the water poured into the ground beans. Watching this kind of coffee-making is almost like watching a painter working on an art-work.¬†This kind of dripped coffee is 10 times better than machine dripped coffee, but¬†still my passion lies on espresso drinks…

One of the best coffee shops I visted in Korea is called “Club Espresso,” and this shop serves really amazing espresso drinks. They have a big roasting machine in the store, and they sell freshly roasted beans by the bag.¬†Pretty spacious and comfortable as well.¬†This shop also serves¬†really fantastic cookies, cakes, and cheese cakes, all baked in the store. The only problem is that it is a little difficult to get to unless you have a car. The owner here worked in various coffee shops in the early 90s and self-taught a lot of things before he went to Japan to learn some more.

Here is the direction:

Take the subway line 3 (orange line) and get off at the “Gyungbokgung” station.
Take a bus (1020, 7022, and 7018) and get off at the “Buam dong office” – it’s on the way to the “Bookak san” road.

Website: www.clubespresso.co.kr (only in Korean)

* There is a very famous dumpling restaurant called “Sonmandoo” if you follow the “Bookak san” road. They serve homemade Korena style dumplings at its best with nice view of the Bookak Mountain. Have a bol of dumpling soup or steamed dumpling there and walk down to get¬†some coffee at¬†the Club Espresso – a perfect day.