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Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Cornerstone Cafe

Cornerstone Cafe HamptonA mere stone’s throw from the vibrant busy main shopping strip of Hampton, Cornerstone & Co. Cafe is conveniently situation in Bayside Melbourne. Far enough from the hustle and bustle of Hampton Street, yet near enough to ensure ease of access and parking. Set in a quiet suburban location, Cornerstone & Co. café brings together luscious gastronomy, quality coffee, and skilful service.

This fresh and lively café was named after a Kings of Leon song that brought owner Michelle and her partner together. This sentimental value follows through the café, with a unique menu based on a well traversed head chef, Shoichi Ueda , from Japan who travelled through Italy perfecting the art of Italian cuisine. Design wise, cornerstone is clean, and energetic, with timber hexagon wall features behind the counter, bright spring toned wire bar stools, an outstanding yellow wired chandelier, and a fresh courtyard dotted with greenery.

Expect to be spoilt by choices for distinctive meals that bring together a fusion between traditional Italian style cooking, and Japanese cuisine. Not just your average café- this place shines in many ways. From traditionally made pasta dishes, to Karaage Burgers with marinated fried Japanese style chicken; your taste buds are sure to be pleased. The stand out dish that showcases the true talent of head chef Shoichi Ueda,  is the Japanese Brunch Set, which offers wasabi seared salmon, miso soup, creamy mustard mayo filled eggs, marinated veggies, 5 grain rice , and a to die for avocado nori jam!  For those who are after the usual favourites, rest assured- home-made muesli, toasties, and other beloved options are available. The eggs benedict is worth visiting for- topped with an Italian twist- Mortadella. Truly memorable!

Cornerstone_120839Coffee is smoothly extracted on a custom powder coat white La Marzocco Linea, and sourced from Melbourne’s award winning boutique roaster- The Maling Room.  Single Origins rotate weekly, and I was spoilt by the Ethiopian Aricha. As an espresso, it was sweet with floral notes, a creamy body, and a candied lemon fragrance.  Tea is sourced from Larsen and Thompson, and Mork chocolate is also available for those with a yearning to indulge in specialty hot chocolate.

Cornerstone and Co. adds a special touch to Melbourne’s bayside area.

75 Ludstone St

Hampton

Review: Tess Presso

 

 



Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Amsterdam Cafe Crawl


When one thinks of coffee shops in Amsterdam, one’s mind doesn’t always turn to coffee, and then there’s the window shopping … however the closest we got to curb crawling on our trip to Amsterdam in a freezing Spring, was shopping for shoes in the Kalverstraat and strolling along the lovely canals that circumnavigate the central city.

Screaming Beans Amsterdam

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Monday, May 20th, 2013

The History of Coffee

HofCoffee_webThe world’s second-most traded commodity has origins as fascinating and varied as the means of preparing them… from the Turkish invasion of the Holy Roman Empire to the  French Revolution, the history of coffee has emulated world history at many key junctures.

According to legend, an Ethiopian shepherd called Kaldi was the first to observe the influence of the caffeine in coffee beans when the goats appeared to ‘dance’ and to have an increased level of energy after consuming wild coffee berries. Another tale relates that it was a hungry, exiled sheik who chewed the berries, found them too bitter, cooked them over a fire and found them too hard and so boiled them in water, to discover a fragrant, refreshing brew… coffee does indeed have origins almost as fascinating and varied as the means of preparing them… (more…)



Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Blog:: Cafes of Paris

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Parisian Cafe Crawl :: during a couple of weeks in early April, Crema did a ‘café crawl’ around Paris, the full story to be published in our upcoming [southern hemisphere] Autumn 2013 issue. Here, we take the opportunity to publish a few of our initial thoughts from our trip here. Whilst not strictly chronological, this blog more-or-less follows our path across the streets of Paris, from the trendy Left Bank, right up to the ethnic’ and slightly grungy 18th Arrondissement, which is the home to the famous Sacre Coeur.

There are essentially two types of café mentioned here – firstly we cover a couple of the most famous ‘traditional’ –type café, of which there are obviously hundreds in and around the centre of Paris. Typically these cafes are of the round sit-down-table type, where emphasis is as much on the food, wine and ambience, as the coffee. Consequently the quality of the actual coffee served was usually poor. It was almost as if the coffee is incidental to all the other things at these cafes, where [in the case of the most famous ones, at least] the point is as much about ‘seeing and being seen’ as it is about the quality of the coffee. (more…)



Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Cafe Cities of the World – Prague

by Paul Golding

The cafes of Prague represent a completely different concept to the Australian café ideal.  Before you can begin the experience, you must embrace the notion that coffee is not the central tenet or reason for visiting… Prague’s cafes are places to meet, to talk, to discuss business, to linger. In the older establishments you’ll find huge beautifully decorated rooms, waiters in formal attire, wine, beer, excellent food and good coffee, with the understanding that you could spend several hours at your table enjoying these things while you write, read or chat.  Coffee in Prague is very good compared to much of Europe, but it is extremely rare to find the boutique specialty cafes now so common in Australia.  (more…)



Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

Industry Comment – with Emily Oak

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Who decides what the customer wants?

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What does a customer remember about a coffee they drink? Is it the latte art, the café atmosphere, the conversation they shared with the barista or the origin and farm the coffee came from? Chances are it’s one of the aforementioned, but what a barista is trying to share and what a customer takes away is probably rarely the same thing.

The experience that a customer treasures from going for coffee or visiting a cafe is often the same reason they were attracted to go there in the first place – and it is different for everyone.  Of course there is no right and wrong when it comes to defining this interaction although for the most part a feeling of trust and respect between the customer and the café must exist.

Specialty coffee baristas love what they do. We’re passionate, dedicated and in most instances educated quite thoroughly and specifically about the coffees we roast, dial in, pour and serve every day. We know the region and district it was grown, in some instances we’ve met the farmers and workers and touched the trees that produce the cherries. We care about the supply chain and the integrity of our product, and, we want you to understand it’s true value. Despite our competing businesses, as a collective this is our common goal.

So why is this a topic worth discussing? As I mentioned earlier, the problem occurs when the goals and the outcomes don’t line up.

The biggest question currently facing the specialty coffee retailer is how to better engage customers to share our passion. Because more often than not, it seems, that customers just aren’t that into it. We have, I believe, as an industry, accepted that in the past that sometimes our interactions have been less than ideal. In the push to share our cause we’ve come across as patronising, soap-boxy and preachy, and not actually stopped to find out what people are looking for. Customers end up dissatisfied and then disengage, no longer paying attention to what we’re trying to share.  What we need to do as an industry is recognise that not every person who walks through the door is looking to know the whole story…. (yet!) Equally, customers need to recognise that coffee isn’t just coffee, hopefully through the quality of experience and relationships that can be developed between a café and its patrons.

As an industry we’re in a unique position. Our clients visit regularly (daily in most instances) and the frequency of interaction we are offered is far greater than that of most other hospitality industries.  Specialty coffee needs to share with customers our product and our story, because the coffee we serve is undervalued by the general public. Because of this, people are not willing to pay what coffee is worth, or understand why in fact, we actually need to pay more.

How we better spread this message is still being debated, but at the very least communication needs to be improved. Baristas need to adapt to respect the needs and wishes of their customers and understand that everyone is looking for a different outcome from their interaction. Hopefully from this basis, a new dialogue can open up. Equally, customers need to be willing to engage a little more and begin to understand that when it comes to coffee, things can only get better.

Emily Oak is Division Manager for St Ali and Sensory Lab in NSW and a former member of the WCE Board of Directors.



Friday, January 25th, 2013

Coffee Profile – Karatu Estate,Tanzania

by Rob Stewart

Trying to use single origins in an espresso machine can sometimes be like pushing a square peg into a round hole – they just don’t fit. The extraction can be uneven, delivering results that are either too high in acidity, sweet or sour, or lacking in body, which inevitably means that they either must be blended, or ignored and not used at all. This is pretty sad when you consider the beans’ journey in order to make it into our cups. Yesterday I decided to cup some washed coffees from Guatemala, and my whiz-bang, bells and whistles, multi-boiler espresso machine was highlighting the high levels of acidity in the coffee. Disappointed with these results, I dragged out my $10 French press and bingo, the coffee came to life! It had body, flavour and sweetness, and was perfectly balanced.

The resurgence of lo-tech brewing methods such as siphons, aeropress and pour-over units has fortunately come at a time when blending coffees is beginning to take a back seat. Roasters are searching out unique origins, micro lots and rare varieties and these brewing devices are extracting the coffee in such a delicate way that they can turn on these coffees’ unique flavours in a more palatable way. An example of one origin I have had ongoing trouble with is the Tanzania AA. It always seemed to vary in flavour from season to season and to be too bright and winey, that is until recently when I bought my first Chemex pour-over.

Dating back to the 16th century Tanzanian coffee was used as an energy food source for tribes and also as a form of currency. Fast forward to the 19th century when the Germans ruled most of East Africa and coffee quickly became a cash crop, coffee was heavily planted in the perfect, rich volcanic-soil Moshi region in the north and in the Bukoba region in the northwest. By the end of World War I, the British had control and continued to push the coffee industry, which saw many natives forming cooperatives to gain a fairer share of the market. By 1961, Tanzania finally had its independence but also had a government that made poor decisions which, in conjunction with a failing market, had pretty much destroyed the infrastructure of the coffee industry by the 1980s, with a dramatic effect on the quality of the coffee.

In 2001, the government took action and set up the Tanzania Coffee Research Institute, to embark on fixing the ailing industry. Their goal was to replace every tree in Tanzania with plants more suited to the environment and that are less prone to diseases. This was conceived as a 10-year plan and was designed to stabilise the industry; it’s now starting to pay off, as Tanzanian origins are now beginning to appear at the cupping table, especially coffees from Kilimanjaro, Arusha region in the north and Ruvuma in the south – coffees that, perhaps surprisingly, are beginning to rival the superior Kenyans.

I’ve ordered a lot of coffee from the Karatu Estate in the north of Tanzania, bordering the Serengeti national park. I like this coffee best when using pour-over methods such as a chemex or a plunger. This emphasises the unique brightness and delicate flavours that are seemingly lost when extracting from a traditional espresso machine. If roasted lightly, the grind aroma should reveal a molasses-sweet tone but also be slightly peppery, and the aromatics when the coffee is wet offer a hint of red berry and apricot. When using the chemex, the flavour is reminiscent of camomile tea with a hint of honey and raspberry, which is near impossible to achieve as an espresso. The body is well balanced and it has a flavour that lingers, but is still relatively clean and as the cup cools more of the sweet, sugary notes start to dominate.

The coffee

Location: Tanzania, Karatu estate

Plant type: Bourbon/Arusha

Process: washed

Grade: AA

Cup profile

Fragrance/Aroma: pepper, red berry and apricot

Flavour: camomile, honey and raspberry

Aftertaste: clean

Body: silky and smooth



Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Industry Comment – with Emily Oak

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Singles or Blends?

Not so long ago I had a minor squabble with Neil Perry via twitter on the pros and cons of single origins vs. blends in espresso beverages. Even as one of Australia’s most recognised and successful celebrity chefs, his mis-interpretation of the merits of each had me perplexed. As I attempted to explain how each performed generally as espressos the conversation got split into tangents and inevitably came to a halt, but it left me wondering how many people are confused by what ‘single origin’ or ‘blend’ actually means and how they can best be used.

The term ‘single origin’ can be a little confusing. Essentially it means coffee from one single place – either one country, one region or one single estate. It is not mixed or blended with any other coffee, be it from another or the same, country, region or farm. It is alone, one bean from one place.

A blend is anything other than that. A blend can be coffees from various countries, from various regions, or even two varying roasts of the same coffee mixed together (usually referred to as a ‘single origin blend’– just to things!).

So, why do we offer both? It’s hard to establish how blending coffees together began, but it is easy to explain why it became popular. By putting together coffees of various taste and depth, a roaster can develop flavours and textures that might not be possible in a single origin bean. When done well, a blend can bring out the best in coffees as individuals, while complementing each other to create balance, the desired taste or other aspect most sought after. Blending can sometimes hide faults in coffees and add volume as fillers, or perform better (than single origins) when mixed with milk.  Traditionally, over decades, coupled with the limited technology for quality control from the growing and production of green coffee and roasting, blends produced a better outcome for espresso coffees.

Single origins coffees, whilst always having existed, have had somewhat of a renaissance in the last decade or so. This is primarily because of the rapid increase in the quality and traceability of coffees, as well as a renewed interest in single cup brewing. Even when I started in the coffee industry 17 years ago we sold the generic Colombia, Brazil or Mexican coffee. Now, we can trace our coffees back to the region, farm or estate and get a much higher quality cup.

Singe Origin coffees are however individual in their taste and not for everyone. In fact, the point of them, more often than not, is to highlight the individuality and nuances of a region, variety or processing method; aspects of flavour that can get lost if mixed with other coffees. As an espresso, single origins are most often softer in milk than a blend or sometimes a little confronting with unusual or unique characteristics as a black coffee. They are not for everyone and are almost always limited when it comes to repeating a flavour profile.

Both blends and single origins are valuable elements, especially for specialty coffee, as an avenue of sharing just how good quality coffee can taste. Blends are a fantastic way of introducing people to better coffees but ironically, as people explore coffee more and more they are inevitably drawn to tasting the distinct and diverse range of single origin coffees now available to the market. Regardless of what you prefer, if it’s a good coffee bean to start with you will almost always enjoy the experience.

Emily Oak is Division Manager for St Ali and Sensory Lab in NSW and a former member of the WCE Board of Directors.



Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Crema Kitchen – Ricotta & Chocolate Cannoli

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Deliciously decadent, fresh cannoli are the perfect treat to enjoy with a great coffee!

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Ingredients

350g fresh ricotta
150g caster sugar
½ cup dark chocolate chopped
½  teaspoon vanilla extract
8 cannoli shells
Icing sugar mixture for dusting cannoli when filled

Method

Place the ricotta, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon mix well until smooth. Fold in half the chopped chocolate into the mixture.

Melt remaining chocolate in a small container in the microware. Dip each tip of  the empty cannoli shells into the melted chocolate and set aside until chocolate has set.

Spoon the ricotta mixture into a piping bag.  Pipe the ricotta evenly into the cannoli shells.

Arrange the filled cannoli on a serving plate. Dust evenly with icing sugar and serve.



Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Cool Coffee Creations – Perfect for Summer!

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Proving that the weather is never too warm for coffee, Lavazza has come up with its own ‘hot’ espresso menu to delight and cool the senses. We bring you a few of their creations, from the traditional to the deliciously exotic…. so make that perfect shot of espresso and chill out!

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