Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Livin' the "Life"

So we finally solidified a name and a face for our Polish Barista Network: "Barista Life." Helka created a logo and a Facebook page. We are adding things like Discussions, Photo Albums, and an Events page. It's our goal that through this Fanpage, Baristas all over Poland will be able to keep up with events, parties, gatherings--anything for coffee people. Right now, there are big events like the September Barista Competition in Poznan and Filtry Coffee Fest recently, but there aren't many Throwdowns, Spro Downs, or just casual coffee gatherings (especially outside of Warsaw) for Baristas to meet each other and hang out. So, this is us trying to get that ball rolling. (The photo is of coffee shop owners hanging out at Black Coffee Nights). We are here to promote everyone's coffee events in the hope that more and more people will start coming! If you want to check out the lastest in Barista Life happenings, click here. See you soon!

The Journey continues...

Putting one foot in front of the other here in Poland, gotta love it. We were so inspired by the cuppings at the Nordic Barista Cup that we decided to host our own cuppings here in Poznan. We started the first one with a lecture and a casual cupping of 5 coffees (we'll probably take this down to three or four next time). We're calling them "Black Coffee Nights." It was a huge success. At least 30 customers come (most of them late :). I spoke to the crowd for about 50 minutes (I was planning for more like 20-30 but I underestimated translation). My topic was a seed-to-cup kind of thing with a little time for fun stuff like Kopi Luwak and Solar Coffee Roasting. After the talk, we cupped 5 coffees from Java Coffee Company from all over the world--including an Indian, which I had never tried. Everybody was excited. Several of our staff reported great conversations had by customers. And even the news camera showed up. (This one is a shot of Helka being filmed at the bar.) The next Black Coffee Night is scheduled for January 14th and it'll be great! Glen Gregory from Java Coffee is our guest speaker. In from Warsaw, he's probably going to enlighten us with tales of his recent trips to Rwanda and Ethopia. Stay tuned.

Nordic Barista Cup 2010

For those of you who didn't have the time, energy, or resources to attend the Nordic Barista Cup 2010, you really missed out. Opening night, J and David of Intelligentsia introduced us to the competing barista teams at the Kaffa mixer. There, some of our staff (including myself) met Bjornar, one of the roasters there. He told fabulous stories of roasting for the Queen of Norway and vicariously for Obama on his recent visit to the Olso royal family-cool. From day one--George Howell's talk on Specialty Coffee--I was hooked. We cupped at least 40 coffees during the 3-day event and sampled several more. One of the most interesting activites was the chemical tastings hosted by Paul Songer. The solutions also included various combinations of tastes so that the participants could detect such combinations in the cuppings that followed. And, boy, were there cuppings! Even though the event was over 100-plus people, cuppings were hosted at least three times a day. We cupped coffees with defects--or was that the clean cup?--we cupped SO coffees with different roast profiles (and roast dates), and coffees from numerous acclaimed roasters. In case you were wondering, there was a tasting involving Tim Wendelboe roasting the same coffee 4 different ways--the audience doing the tasting was to try to guess what the different roast profiles were like. The trick of it was that 2 of the coffees-which tasted drastically different-were roasted identically. When Tim announced that the only difference between the two was the roast date, everyone in the room GASPED! As it turns out, one had been roasted 7 or 8 days before the tasting and one had been roasted only 2 days before. Never in my life have i witnessed such an emotional reaction from so many people over a roast date. Overall, our entire staff had a great time on the trip. If you love learning about coffee, get out toCopenhagen for the 2012 Nordic Barista Cup--it's totally worth it, promise.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Getting Ready for Awesome :)

Since the last post (three weeks is too long, I know!), we have decided on Colours of Coffee roasters for our espresso and two single origin beans. They are represented to us by the fabulous Lukasz--2009 Areopress Champ and excellent service-guru. If you've never heard of them, you can check them out here. We'll also proudly serve Mundo Novo (a good coffee with a GREAT purpose) as one of our pour-over coffee offerings. Mundo Novo is shade-grown, organic, and fairly traded, not to mention it is our roots--the sole coffee we've served until now. Mundo Novo is where it all began and as long as it exists, I hope we offer it everyday of the week. Never forget where you came from (unless you came from a strange place full of crappy coffee, then it's okay to forget). Since we're expanding our offerings to include pour-over coffee (or, in Polish, "fresh made") coffee, we needed a second grinder dedicated to the pour-over (i.e. non-espresso) grind. Of course, we went to our trusty Uno Espresso for this need (check them out here!) Lescek (Leh-sh-ek) was all over it and sold us a perfect-size grinder with a display-model discount, sweet! If you work in Polish coffee and you don't know Lescek Odija, you are missing out! In the meantime, we are gearing up for the Nordic Barista Cup next week. You would be surprised how much planning goes into a 6-person trip on a budget. The answer is, well, a lot. Sniff sniff. Sorry. Distracted by the smell of Aaron grinding coffee in the kitchen. Where was I? Planning. Yes, so, planning outings and meals, lodging and reservations, making matching scarves for everyone (long story); it's a lot to think about. We're taking the cheap way out (literally) which involves a train ride to Warsaw, a bus to the Warsaw airport, a flight to Oslo, and a train to downtown Oslo. Fun Stuff. In the meantime, I am trying my darndest not to pack two suitcases, but seeing as I am bringing most of the group's food in my check-in, it may not work out. Hoping to post some great pictures when we get back--hold me to that one, guys. I'm scared, nervous and TOTALLY STOKED. I'm excited about meeting a lot of passionate, knowledgable people and tasting fresh coffee over and over again while learning a LOT in a short amount of time. Six people, five days, one hostel bedroom. Pray for us, k? :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pour it on!

This last week has been fabulous. Not only the highest grossing week in FOREVER, but also everyone's been in a rockin' mood. Something about the super-positive newspaper column Thursday night put us all in The Zone. Helka's been e-mailing a few more papers. Aaron's been churning out the paperwork. And me? Well, my Beehouse pourover filtercones finally came in so you KNOW what I've been doing. Testing and tasting like crazy! My goal is to create a method for the beehouse that creates a strong, but not bitter, cup of coffee. Poles are looking for the strength in their cup when they order coffee, but the average Joę puts quite a bit of cream and sugar. I chose the Beehouse because they could offer some barista control, while ensuring a minimum 2-minute brew (which we are definately going to need if we aim to please). The hardest part is the crema. Poles are very concerned with this little detail in their cup. After all, when they order "black coffee" in a coffeeshop, they are expecting a café lungo (go on, i had to look up a recipe too). This wouldn't be a problem, except for the crema. The pressure of the espresso brewing forces the crema into the cup. At the same time, a high-quality pourover has foam in the filtercone during brewing, but that is not forced into the cup. Thus, Poles have been told that crema is the key to spotting a great cup of coffee (and they are right when it comes to the lungo). If I'm going to create something Poles love, I need to speak a lot more Polish! Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Headlines.

In later news, our coffee shop ROCKS. A friend of ours gave us the name and email of a food columnist for a major Polish newspaper. Me, not really speaking Polish, enlisted the help of Ania and Helka to write her an invitation to our shop. She declined the invitation, saying that she would rather walk in unnoticed and be a regular customer. And then write a review. Gulp. But she did. And it's awesome! It posted online already. Supposted to be on hard copy tomorrow. Gosh, i hope it's front page :) Check it out. Original Polish Link:,104398,8214793,Sweet_Surrender.html Google Translated English link:

Monday, August 2, 2010

Polish Coffee Talk

This afternoon we received an awesome visit from Lukasz Jura, a coffee guru form Warsaw (and winner of the 2009 AeroPress Championships). Luckily, we had just finished pressing a fresh pot of Mundo Novo just moments before he walked in the door. (Not perfect since it was a press of blade-ground coffee :) We talked about specialty coffee in general and in Poland for about three hours over coffee and lunch. Trust me, when you are a nerd, this is not hard. He confirmed what we had suspected: there are no local roasters to be had in Poznan. Oh well. Saw that one coming. In the meantime, he left us with two half-kilos of his proprietary espresso blend (roasted in Norway). He mentioned something about a blueberry note in the beans over lunch, so I was anxious to pull some shots. Fast-forward to 7pm. Open the bag of beans and it was like-WHAM! Blueberries! But despite pulling 10 sets of shots, i could not reproduce that gorgeous smell in the cup...darn. Even though Lukasz recommended against it, we french-pressed the coffee afterwards. (sh! don't tell!) Despite the heavy body from the press, I loved the blueberry and cocoa notes :) Definitely planning to work with these beans more this week. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Okay, i know i say this all the time, I poured my best cappuccino ever so far. :) You can check it out here. At this point i'd say I have a long way to go latte-art-wise. Definitely coming along, though.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The slow day...

I used to think that 100 customers was a VERY slow day. Not anymore. The 9 we had today totally threw me for a loop. How do you describe a day with only 3 couples and one out-of-town family of three? Slower than brushing the dirt away from bones at an archeological dig? I think so. Perhaps it should be seen as a warning sign when your staff can describe EVERY customer that came by in a day. It's days like today that I want to declare, "We are nowhere!" and cry myself to sleep. But then, i cup a beautiful Ethopian and remind myself why i'm here in the first place- the people. Then i think: if that is the case, then why aren't there more of them? I. have. no. idea. The upside: every customer got personal attention. Lidz and I talked to a student named Monica for a while and she promised to return tomorrow (with a magazine i lent her). So maybe having time for each customer that comes through the door is a good thing. Or maybe i should install a second door. Then maybe 18 customers would walk though. 18. Wow. Already it's sounding to me like a packed day.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Today, it hit me. Maybe it was the weather. Maybe it was the crappy shot of espresso I had just been served at a random coffeehouse on the square. Maybe it was my three nights of endless searching for signs of a coffee community in Poland, I don't know. What I do know is, that today it hit me: perhaps I really have arrived here at the ground floor of specialty coffee service in Poland. Woah. So then I thought, where do I go from here? I decided to start where I live: Poznan. Today, I collected what I hope to be the first of many e-mail addresses from baristas across Poznan. I guess what I'm trying to create is a network from which a community can be born. I want to learn about coffee together and grow together and throwdown latte art together. What I have so far is one e-mail address and TONS of Poznan cafes to visit and the only thing I can say in Polish is, "Can I talk to the barista who made this cappuccino?" (except not at any normal speaking speed.) So, basically, I got nothing. Well, here goes nothing.