Intelligentsia Coffee, no longer content with strongholds on the West and Middle coasts, opened its eighth coffee bar this week in New York City's High Line Hotel, finally heralding a flagship NYC location for the Chicago-based specialty roaster, along with new pourover methods and a custom built espresso machine.
For those who've even heard of it on American shores, the Caffe Allongé is, to many, much-maligned. And that's no surprise: US specialty coffee trends have definitively shifted towards the short shot—ristretto, or restricted, espresso pulls that draw a small amount of concentrated espresso with intense flavor. The allongé is considered strange, at best, by those who've embraced the ristretto trend. But to make a short story long...there's more to the allongé than a style mysteriously popular in Quebec.
We examined 5 commercially available bottled cold-brew coffees and tasted them looking for not just taste, but technique, suitability in milk, and their ability to transcend those terrible typical qualities of flat, dull, stale flavor so often found in cold brew methods.
Counter Culture Coffee's Erin McCarthy recently won the 2013 United States Brewers Cup Championship at a heated showdown in Boston, Mass. Before he heads to the world championships in Melbourne to brew the (gulp!) best cup of coffee in the world, we asked Erin what he thinks the five most common mistakes people make in their everyday brewing routines.
Coffee lovers love to argue techniques til the cows come home, but there's one incontrovertible fact. You can't make hot coffee (or tea!) without hot water. We checked out some of the newest electric kettles on the market and let me tell you...things got pretty hot around here.
What happens when you gather thousands of coffee industry professionals in one large room to show each other all their newest innovations? Well, most of them gather around five or six booths which have the very coolest toys. Here are a few of our findings of the new and cool from last weekend's Specialty Coffee Association of America show in Boston, some of which may be appearing on counters near you very soon—maybe even your own.
Following up last month's post on greater waves in the Parisian coffee scene, we offer this guide to some of the best spots to drink quality coffee when in lovely Paris in the spring (or any time of year).
Numi's Garden Sampler box of savory teas contains a panoply of vegetable "tea" flavors: Carrot Curry, Spinach Chive, Broccoli Cilantro, Beet Cabbage, Fennel Spice and Tomato Mint. The Tomato Mint is totally drinkable, pleasant and surprising, but it gets a little weird from there.
The terrain of flans, panna cottas, and otherwise jiggly desserts can be tricky and divisive: but when these desserts are perfect, they are breathtaking. Picture, then, the sneak-attack of an incredibly unappealing colored treat in the cooler at Paris hipster-bento shop Nanashi. Specifically a plastic tub of something inarguably grey and speckled topped rather confusingly with items that looked sweet: blackberries, blueberries, and a dollop of whipped creme.
A coffee chain opening their first cafe outside of their hometown isn't always a game-changer. But looking at the likes of Intelligentsia and Stumptown: sometimes it is. Enter New York's City's Joe, then—who last week opened their first-ever out-of-state cafe in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood of Philadelphia. Their entry into this growing coffee-literate city isn't shocking at first. But throw into the mix that it's part of Joe's gradual transition to roasting their own coffees exclusively and the Northeast will soon have another major roasting force on its hands.
Paris has very few things about it that inspire pity, and until recently, coffee was one of them. What a travesty of taste that in a place where the sidewalk cafe and all its attendant idle pursuits have been perfected, what's inside the cup has been, until recently, so very poor. The enlightenment's come, however.
There's got to be room for a beer in even this city of wine, wine, and wine. As French brewers slowly join the legion of specialty craft beer makers crawling across Europe, Paris at last has an emphatic entrant in the beer destination category in La Fine Mousse. La Fine Mousse is a uniquely French-brewer focused, craft-focused gem of a beer bar in the 11th arrondissement.
The high-design Sowden Softbrew is an intriguing infuser that looks more like a tea-steeping pot than the coffeemaking carafe it is. But we like surprises, and this full immersion strainer-basket brewer has potential.
For those who plan to spend their trip to SXSW—or any trip to Austin, really—staying up late and, maybe, possibly, consuming lots of tacos and booze: a solid morning (or afternoon or even evening) coffee is going to be of the utmost importance. Thus, we offer a quick guide to some of the finest cafes in this land of sensory indulgence.
For the first time in sixteen years, Starbucks has shoved over some space on its year-round menu for a new espresso drink, which debuts today across the United States. Like its older sister the Caramel Macchiato, the new Starbucks Hazelnut Macchiato is built atop vanilla syrup—a couple of pumps to sweeten the base for steamed 2% milk and Starbucks' dark-dark espresso roast. The theme flavor comes only at the end, measured out carefully in a specific pattern of cross-hatches and swirls conceived to dispense just the right proportion of viscous, hazelnutty goodness.
These kinds of subscription samplers fill a distinct need in specialty coffee: access to a wide selection of different coffees remains the province of the few, and usually those concentrated in urban centers. And even in big cities, the entry fee to taste a little bit of a lot of different coffees remains prohibitively high. MistoBox aims to deliver a curated, rotating selection of coffees from roasters around the land.
The concept is a traditional way of making bad coffee taste better, and at times in history when only lower quality coffees were easy to access, flavored blends seemed like a luxury. In general, coffee flavoring contains flavor compounds mixed with a solvent like propylene glycol (popularly used in pharmaceuticals, and airplane de-icing compound!) in order to attach the flavor chemicals to the beans.
Los Angeles! Where better to see and be seen drinking delicious coffee beverages? In recent years, countless Californians have taken breaks from their juice cleanses to strut around with to-go cups from early coffee scene pioneers like Intelligentsia and LAMill. But nowadays, the playing field is a little more crowded. LA's current coffee selection has some of the country's best and most interesting shops.
The basic theory behind espresso blending is to create a layered set of flavors that respond well to the intense mode of brewing that is espresso. Layering allows the coffee roaster to control the sensory balance of acidity, sweetness, and body in a coffee—specifically in a coffee that's going to be brewed to accentuate all of the characteristics of the beans in a less-than-subtle way.
Last week we covered a traditional method of brewing Turkish coffee in an ibrik, a small pot designed for stovetop preparation of coffee. Though the techniques used to make the classically sludgy, intense coffee are hundreds of years old, it's no surprise that modern coffee lovers couldn't leave well enough alone. To this end, the World Ibrik/Cezve Championship was born, a battle of skills and innovation using these small metal pots, with results that traditionalists are likely to scoff at.
Weary of coffee fads? Perhaps you'd prefer something a little more five-hundred-years ago: it's time to dust off your ibrik and prepare a little Turkish coffee.
The words "hot" and "coffee" are as closely linked in our animal brains as two words can be. Closer, perhaps, than "pepperoni" and "pizza", closer even than "rooty" and "tooty". That said, are we making a terrible daily mistake when we serve our coffee steaming hot? We like our coffee hot, but how hot? And as coffee enthusiasts ask themselves with each and every cup: are we doing it wrong?
Chicago! City of big shoulders, hog butcher to the world and...the next Portland? Oh, I wouldn't say such a thing. But maybe. A resolute coffee city, Chicago's craft-coffee cups have been dominated by big-fish local heroes Intelligentsia, and the more modestly-sized fish Metropolis Coffee Roasters, for more than a decade. But suddenly (did someone at the zoning department get paid off for the remainder of their term?) new artisan microroasters and roastery cafes are popping up like, well, I already said it. Portland.
If there's one thing coffee enthusiasts are consistently great at, it's being fickle. Whether it's how one stirs, skims, or pours, each year ushers in new ideas and toys that absolutely, positively contradict and improve upon old thinking. Old like you know, last year. We now take a moment to revisit four of 2012's most trendy coffee tools.
Bikini Bar (yes, it's called that, and no, no one inside was wearing bikinis the day we visited) sits on a cozy stretch of Duane Street, and houses the neighborhood's first surfboard-lifestyle themed espresso bar.
There are few neighborhoods more pleasant for a coffee wander than those on the East Village and Lower East Side of Manhattan. There must be something in the proximity of the East River that just brings the magic—wait, scratch that—at least there's something in the community, anyhow. This list comprises a handful of our favorite coffee destinations in the neighborhood.