Monday, October 30, 2006

Seattle Baby!!

Coffee Fest Seattle

The Clover, again, was the star of another coffee convention. With six Clovers on the showroom floor, it was hard not to get a cup of Clover coffee. Zoka, Olympia Coffee Co. Portland Coffee Roasters, Batdorf and Bronson as well as the Clover booth were offering an array of coffees all served from the Clover machine. It’s an amazing machine to watch to be sure, it’s just as interesting as watching a barista pull a shot of espresso. Claims made by the company reps, are pretty broad. I was told that by adjusting the grind size, the steep time and the screen size the Clover can imitate brewing methods such as: the French Press, Vac Pot and Cone Filter. While this may be true, everyone at the show seemed to be making coffee with the same parameters. 70 micron screen size, around 40 second dwell time and a grind size fit for drip/cone filter coffee. Now, I have by NO means spent enough time with the Clover to make a great evaluation of it, but from what I tasted, I can say that it produces a cup of coffee as clean as a paper cone filter, with the body of a moka pot or a french press. As good as the coffee from the Clover was, nothing I had would make me feel as though I was tasting coffee for the first time. It’s hard to explain exactly how the Clover affects the flavor of the coffee. The best way I can describe it, is that it brings out more of the subtle nuances of flavor that are easily missed when cupping or brewing as a press pot, but it tones down the intense flavors you pick up when you cup or brew a press pot. It brings more of a balance to the flavors in the coffee. This can be good or bad. For a coffee that doesn’t cup with good balance it can be very beneficial, bringing out the delicate flavors that slip past the palate towards the end of tasting experience thereby prolonging the flavor the coffee. But, for a coffee like the Ethiopian Adado, which cups amazingly well, it became harder to pick up the intense flavors of pineapple and peach that are so prevalent on the front end of the flavor when cupped or brewed as a press. At first, I was convinced, this could be a great substitute for the usual method of cupping coffee, but after partaking from the Clover and then immediately cupping the same coffees with the traditional cupping method, I felt as though I tasted more of the true raw flavor of the coffee when done traditionally. Maybe with the right coffee and more refined palate, the Clover is the single greatest breakthrough in the coffee industry since Achille created the modern espresso machine, but for me, so far, it’s just one more great method of making coffee.

For me, the highlight of the weekend was spending time so many people who have an outstanding passion for coffee that I just can’t find in SoCal. They’re the people who make this industry, this community so great and such a birthplace of knowledge and growth with the sharing of ideas and theories without selfishness of pride or secrecy. The people I was fortunate enough to spend time with and made this event worth the trip are: the 3 Chris’, Scott, Justin, Tony, Sarah, Hiroshi, Reid, Shiloh, Mike, Terry, Brian, Jeff, Nick, Phil, Phil’s friend (sorry), the group from Esi, Visions, Clover, Espresso Parts NW, Pallo, Barista Magazine… I could go on, but I’m tired and in an airport just about board a plane to go home. These are just a few of the people who are trying to better this industry and make it something more, not just to beat the corporate giants, but to be the best at what they do. This is not just a part time job for them, this is a career that we all take very seriously and are willing to go to great lengths to see it improved. I’m proud to be in this industry and they are the reason why.