Archive for the ‘coffee’ Category

Tasting Finca Tzámpetey at La Caféothèque

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
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Pierre at La Caféothèque

Pierre at La Caféothèque Pointing to Finca Tzámpetey
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I stopped by La Caféothèque and asked the salesman, Pierre, for a coffee bean that produces a flavor that lies on the spectrum between strong and mild. He thought for a moment and then recommended Finca Tzámpetey, an estate coffee from Guatemala.

Finca Tzámpetey from Guatemala

Finca Tzámpetey from Guatemala
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I took home a 250-gram bag of whole-bean coffee, ground some in my coffee grinder, and brewed it in a French press. Upon grinding, it released an intriguing aroma of barbecued potato chips. A hearty coffee with spicy notes, and a slightly sweet, full-bodied taste with little bitterness, it is to be savored and enjoyed!

La Caféothèque
52, rue de l’Hôtel de Ville
75004 Paris
Telephone: 01.53.01.83.84

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Vanibel Coffee from Guadeloupe

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
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Vanibel Coffee from Guadeloupe

Vanibel Coffee from Guadeloupe
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

At the recent International Agriculture Show in Paris, I had the occasion to purchase a 250g bag of 100% Arabica, whole-bean Vanibel coffee, labeled “Guadeloupe Bonifieur.”

Back at my place, brewed in a French press, it exuded rich, smooth, satisfying flavor. In short, it was an extraordinary cup of coffee!

From what I can determine from browsing the Internet, the word bonifieur is not an official classification, apparently because the quality of production differs from producer to producer. One source that I found declares that the name bonifieur (improver) comes from the name given to the polishing machine that is used to remove the silver skins from the coffee beans and to give them extra polish. In any case, production of this coffee is limited and I was fortunate to come across it at the agriculture salon in Paris. I doubt that I will ever find it for sale in Paris again at the price that I paid, which was only 10€ for a 250g bag.

Vanibel is a small plantation in Guadeloupe located on the southwest coast of the island of Basse-Terre near a small village called Vieux Habitants. As well as growing coffee, the Vanibel estate rents bungalows to travelers seeking respite from the bustle of big tourist areas.

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Seasons Greetings from Brûlerie des Gobelins!

Friday, December 7th, 2012
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Maxime Marcon-Roze, Manager, and Constanza Bouyat - Brûlerie des Gobelins

Maxime Marcon-Roze, Manager, and Constanza Bouyat
Brûlerie des Gobelins

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I stopped by the Brûlerie des Gobelins this week and found Maxime and Constanza in a cheery mood in spite of the cold weather that Paris is experiencing. They furnish much of the fresh-roasted coffee that I buy throughout the year. For the month of December they are selling Hawaiian coffee from Maui, the only time during the year that they sell it.

In addition to coffee, the shop offers a good selection of tea, cakes, cookies, candies, honey, chocolates, and jams and jellies.

I first wrote about this coffee-roasting store in 2007, when I interviewed the owner, Mr. Logereau. Mr. Logereau has since retired from the business, but before leaving he taught Maxime his techniques of roasting, permitting Maxime to continue offering the same kinds of coffees, roasted in the same way.

My article about Mr. Logereau and the brûlerie can be found in my book Paris Insights – An Anthology. The book will make a nice gift for Christmas this year. The Kindle edition can be downloaded immediately!

Brûlerie des Gobelins
2, avenue des Gobelins
75005 Paris
Telephone: 01.43.31.90.13
Metro: Censier-Daubenton or Gobelins (Line 7)

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Tasting Bruzzi Daterra Coffee at Café Lanni

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
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Bruzzi Daterra Coffee at Café Lanni

Bruzzi Daterra Coffee at Café Lanni
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Just before Christmas I stopped by Café Lanni and purchased 250g of whole-bean Bruzzi Daterra. Priced at 16.60€/kg, the medium-roast coffee beans display a beautiful brown robe de moine color. Brewed in my French press, the coffee produces a chocolaty, smooth, almost sweet, full-bodied taste.

Bruzzi Daterra is an estate-grown coffee from central Brazil.

Café Lanni
54, rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis
75010 Paris
Tel.: 01.47.70.33.43

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Tasting Café Oriental at Brûlerie des Gobelins

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
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Brûlerie des Gobelins
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

I’ve written about the Brûlerie des Gobelins on a number of occasions, and have even made a video of Maxime, the manager, at the coffee-roasting machine.

I stopped by yesterday and noticed that he was selling a new kind of roast, called Café Oriental. Maxime gives it this name because, he says, it is the kind of roast that one finds in Turkey or Lebanon. It is a melange of Arabica coffee beans from Central America and the Antilles that has been roasted at a high temperature (230°C) for a longer period of time (25 minutes). Coffee will crack (emit a cracking sound) up to three times during the roasting process—the first crack gives a light roast, the second a medium roast, and the third a dark roast. Maxime roasts Café Oriental up to the third crack. The result is a very dark bean whose oils form on its surface, making the bean glisten. Brewed in my French press, the beans produce a taste that is unctuous, intense, and bitter.

Café Oriental

Café Oriental
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Brûlerie des Gobelins
2, avenue des Gobelins
75005 Paris.
Telephone 01.43.31.90.13
Metro: Censier-Daubenton or Gobelins (Line 7)

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Tasting Java Lintung Aurore at Méo

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
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Méo Coffee Shop

Méo Coffee Shop at 95, rue Saint Lazare in Paris
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

The company Méo was founded in 1928 by two brothers from Belgium—Jules and Emile Méauxsoone—who opened a grocery store in Lille (France). They began importing coffee and expanding their grocery business, opening more stores in the Lille region. By 1945 they had established a brand name for their coffee, which they called Méo.

Their first coffee boutique in Paris was opened in 1954 on rue Saint-Lazare. Recently I had the occasion to stop there and purchase 250gms of Java Lintung Aurore whole-bean coffee. While there, I also purchased an espresso made from the same coffee. When I tasted it, I found that it had a surprising peppery flavor, followed by a fruity taste. Both of these sensations were pleasurable. Later, when I took the beans home and brewed them in my French press, I experienced the same flavors. I look forward to the time when I will again be in the Sant-Lazare neighborhood so that I can purchase another batch.

I was curious about the origins of the coffee and searched for Lintung on a map of Java, one of the islands of Indonesia. I was not able to find it there, but learned that Lintung (or Lintong) is a region of Sumatra, another island of Indonesia located not far from Java. Wanting to learn more, I called Méo and was able to reach Gérard Méauxsoone, CEO of the company and son of one of the founders. Mr. Méauxsoone explained to me that although the coffee is named Java Lintung, it actually comes from the Lintung region of Sumatra. This would explain why the receipt that I obtained when I purchased the coffee bore the words “Java Lintung Sumatra.”

The Saint-Lazare shop serves espresso made from a variety of coffee beans, including Blue Mountain (1.55€/cup), Zimbabwe (1.25€/cup), and other coffees (1.10€/cup) such as Moka Sidamo, Santos, and Costa Rica. These are good prices for a cup of espresso, and they permit a coffee aficionado to taste the brew while standing at the counter before buying the beans. The sales staff in the store is friendly, and although they could not answer my questions about the coffee that I purchased, they kindly gave me the names of contacts at the company whom I could call for information.

Watch a brief video (in French) about coffee selection, coffee roasting, and the company’s commitment to quality at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/embed/QDlZp7Fj7W0.

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Celebrating Coffee at the Fête de la Gastronomie — Part II

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
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Comptoirs Richard

Comptoirs Richard
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

France’s first Fête de la Gastronomie was held on Friday, September 23. Among the events that were organized around this theme were presentations and tastings of cheese, chocolate, tea, beer, and coffee. I chose to attend the beer and coffee events.

In Part I of “Celebrating Coffee during the Fête de la Gastronomie” I wrote about the coffee-roasting demonstration that was held at Comptoirs Richard in the 15th arrondissement. Today, I present my observations on the presentation and coffee tasting that was held at the company’s shop in the 6th arrondissement.

Before the tasting, the manager, Jérémie, gave a presentation on the history of coffee. He mentioned the legend of the Yemenite goat herder Kaldi (some place him in Ethiopia) who is credited with discovering coffee after noticing one day that his goats were rather frisky after eating the red berry of the coffee tree.

Jérémie - Manager of Comptoirs Richard

Jérémie - Manager of Comptoirs Richard
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Jérémie went on to trace the trade route of coffee from Ethiopia to Yemen and then to Europe. From Europe, the French took it to Martinique in the Caribbean.

He talked about two different kinds of coffee, Arabica and Robusta, whose beans come from different species of plants. Arabica grows at high altitudes, while Robusta grows at low elevations. Arabica is the preferred coffee; its taste ranges from sweet and soft to sharp and tangy. It represents 70% of the world’s annual coffee production. Robusta has a limited range of taste and is considered to be an inferior coffee. The top producer of Robusta is Vietnam, which exports 12% of the world’s annual coffee production. The top producer of both types of coffee is Brazil, which exports 35% of the world’s annual coffee production.

Jérémie mentioned that the top importer of coffee is the United States (20 million sacks of coffee per year), followed by Germany (10 million), Japan (7 million), Italy (5.4 million), and France (5.4 million). Although the U.S. is the top importer of coffee, it is not the top consumer in terms of number of kilos per coffee drinker per year. That honor goes to the Norwegians, whose coffee drinkers each consume 10 to 11 kilos of coffee per year.

Jérémie then turned to the details of coffee production itself, including where it is grown (in the sun or in the shade), how it is harvested (machine picked or handpicked), how it is prepared (wet process or dry process) and how it is sorted (mechanically or manually). The production of coffee, he explained, is a complex process. Mishandling at any point, including the final phases (roasting, grinding, and brewing), can adversely affect the flavor of the product.

To help its customers choose which coffee they might like to purchase, Comptoirs Richard provides the following information about each product:

• The continent from which it comes
• The country
• The region
• The plantation
• The method of harvesting
• The method of drying
• The method of sorting

Following Jérémie’s presentation, we repaired to the coffee bar where we tasted Costa Rica (country) Tarrazu (region) “La Pantera” (plantation) coffee brewed in three different ways: drip-brewed with a filter; steeped in a French press; and pressure-forced in an espresso machine. I found that the filtered coffee had a mild fruity flavor, but at the same time tasted bitter; the flavor of the steeped coffee was stronger but less bitter; and the espresso the strongest flavor with the least bitterness.

Espresso Coffee at Comptoirs Richard

Espresso Coffee at Comptoirs Richard
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

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Celebrating Coffee at the Fête de la Gastronomie — Part I

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
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France’s first Fête de la Gastronomie was held on September 23. Among the events at the festival were presentations on and tastings of cheese, chocolate, tea, beer, and coffee.

I wrote about the beer tasting in an earlier blog. In this article, I present my experience at one of the two coffee presentations that I attended. Both were given by Comptoirs Richard, a purveyor of fresh-roasted coffee with seven shops in Paris.

Comtoirs Richard in the 15th Arrondissement

Comtoirs Richard 73, rue Lecourbe Paris
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

On the morning of the 23rd of September I went to the shop at 73, rue Lecourbe, located in the 15th arrondissement. There, I saw Yoann Linares load a 4kg batch of Guatemala Antigua coffee into his SASA SAMIAC coffee roaster. While the drum turned, Linares explained that when green coffee beans are received from the distributor, they contain about 12% to 15% humidity. It is the humidity in the beans during the roasting process that causes them to expand (they double in volume) and “crack” (make a cracking sound). The escaping hot water transforms the sugar and acids in the beans into aroma, a process called the Maillard reaction (named after the French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, who discovered the phenomenon).

Yohann Linares Standing next to Sasa Samiac Roaster

Yohann Linares Standing next to Sasa Samiac Roaster
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Coffee roasting requires roughly twenty minutes, but that is only an estimate. During the process, Linares checks the quality of the roast by means of a scoop that catches the beans as they tumble in the drum. He withdraws the scoop and inspects the coffee. He explained to me that coffee will crack three times during the roasting process. For his coffee, he stops the roast after the second crack.

Checking the Quality of the Roast

Checking the Quality of the Roast
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

After he determined that the roast was about ready, he turned off the heat and let the drum turn awhile. Then he opened a chute, allowing the hot beans to spill onto a cooling tray. Blades in the tray churned the coffee while a fan underneath forced cool air through the beans. The coffee was almost finished! He let the beans cool down and then placed them in a special bag with a valve that allows gasses to escape. After resting 24 to 48 hours, the coffee will be ready to sell to customers.

The Roasted Beans Spill onto the Cooling Tray

The Roasted Beans Spill onto the Cooling Tray
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Linares showed me one of the roasted beans and pointed out the caramel-colored stripe that runs down the middle. This is a membrane (called, I believe, chaff or silverskin), and if the coffee is roasted correctly, the membrane has a golden color.

Roasted Coffee Beans Showing Silverskin in Crease

Roasted Coffee Beans Showing Silverskin in Crease
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Linares broke open a bean and showed me the interior. I could see the golden membrane wrapped within.

Cross Section of Roasted Coffee Bean Courtesy of Willem J Boot

Cross Section of Roasted Coffee Bean
Photo courtesy of Willem J Boot - www.bootcoffee.com

At the end of the roasting demonstration, Linares showed me a scoop of green beans next to a scoop of the roasted ones.

Before and After

Before and After
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

I left the shop impressed by the careful attention that Comptoirs Richard gives to its coffee. It is especially notable that the coffee is roasted in small batches, a process that distinguishes it as a quality artisanal product.

As I was leaving, Linares mentioned that if I would look up at the façade next door, I would see the name of the original owner: J. Ladoux. It seems that one of the heirs of the Richard coffee company married a daughter of the Ladoux family (the owners of the Ladoux coffee company), thereby fusing the two companies into one. It was a matrimonial alliance worthy of royalty!

Façade of J. Ladoux

Façade of J. Ladoux
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

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A Cooking Class with Chef François Rosati at the Cook & Coffee Showroom

Sunday, October 16th, 2011
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Ever on the lookout for information about how to prepare a better cup of coffee, I recently attended a cooking presentation at Cook & Coffee, a showroom in Paris set up to demonstrate Kenwood and DeLonghi cookware.

Cook & Coffee Showroom

Cook & Coffee Showroom
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Chef François Rosati first demonstrated how to make choux pastry using the Kenwood Cooking Chef, a mixer that cooks as it stirs. It is a beautiful machine that prepares breads, pastries, risottos, and a zillion other things. It was fun to watch Chef Rosati operate the device and even better to taste the finished pastries that had been baked in advance. (I had half expected the marvelous machine to bake the pastries and was disappointed to see that they had to be formed, using a pastry bag, on a baking sheet and then popped into a preheated oven.)

Chef François Rosati with the Kenwood Cooking Chef

Chef François Rosati with the
Kenwood Cooking Chef
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Following this presentation, Chef Rosati demonstrated the DeLonghi Lattissima+, a “one-touch” espresso machine and milk steamer that uses Nespresso capsules. He prepared a three-layered cappuccino: the bottom layer was a purée of green apple (prepared using the Kenwood machine); the middle layer was hot espresso; and the top layer was frothy, steamed milk. Chef Rosati told us that this drink was invented by Michel Roth, chef at the Ritz hotel. I was skeptical but tried it. To drink it, one is supposed to use a spoon to draw the apple purée at the bottom of the cup up through the layers of coffee and milk. Although I thought that the idea was clever, I did not find the combination of the three ingredients to be particularly appealing. I prefer my cappuccino prepared in the traditional way!

Cappuccino Prepared with Purée of Green Apple

Cappuccino Prepared with
Purée of Green Apple
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

Cook & Coffee
3, rue Paul Cézanne
75008 Paris
Tel: 01.53.75.44.44
Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

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Paris Is for (Coffee) Lovers

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
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Verlet

Verlet
Photo by www.DiscoverParis.net

The folks at HostelBrokers.com recently invited me to contribute a guest blog for their September “Love Paris”campaign. I was happy to comply and wrote an article about one of my favorite subjects: coffee. Click here to read about Verlet, a store that sells fresh-roasted coffee beans and offers sit-down service where you can order an espresso made from any of the twenty-seven coffees of origin that the shop sells.

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