Tuesday, August 17, 2010
it was pure chance we entered through the glass door with only a small blue bottle decorating it. my friend had suggested we try out a coffee shop on berry street, but failed to remember the name and exact location. we passed it by before realizing that the evasive place must have been on our way...
it was also a lucky chance that this establishment was bicoastal, just like our trip. born in san francisco and only located in brooklyn in addition to several spaces in northern cali, it felt like the perfect destination for us.
walking in you could feel it was no ordinary coffee shop. the air was still and quiet despite the many patrons sitting at the bar, no-one seemed to be in a hurry, and in the back you could see guys walking about around a spacey room doing what seemed, yup, right, coffee roasting and bagging. the service was polite and there was no attitude – something many brooklyn coffee shops are quite famous for...
the blue bottle coffee was started by a san franciscan who got sick of invasive flavors stuck in coffee – to cover the taste of charred and stale beans, i presume – and the elaborate "inventiveness" of baristas who had started to conceal rather than celebrate the flavor of quality coffee. hence, his goal was to direct the focus back to the drink itself.
he took an oath to serve his clients only freshly roasted (max 48hours) coffee made from the finest organic, shade-grown beans that he buys from local, small producers.
there are several blends and single source coffees available and each comes with full information on flavor, origin, processing, preparation suggestions and level of milk adjustment (!!). for example, the bag we bought to take home with us is described as follows:
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Oromia OCFCU
The Yirgacheffe is the most delicate of all Ethiopian coffees: the mint-julep-sipping younger sister to the burly, assertive Harrar, or the conniving Sidamo. At this roast-level (which we are calling medium-plus), the oven-cleanery aftertaste is eliminated. What we are left with is a mild cocoa powder and vanilla bean flavor, with reasonably good body, and low but interesting acid. As it cools, hints of jasmine and apricot float delightfully to the surface. This is a coffee on the demure side: the organic Yirgacheffe is to hearty robust fudginess as Rickie Lee Jones is to impeccable diction. In spite of the above, it takes milk or cream reasonably well, and is best as a filter or French press. The Oromia co-op is one of the largest certified organic co-ops in Ethiopia. Slightly over 20% of all income from the co-op’s coffee sales is used for community development projects in the region.
Location: Yirgacheffe District, Sidama Region, Southern Ethiopia
Altitude: 1500-2000 meters
Varietal: Heirloom Ethiopian Cultivars
Processing Method: Wet-processed
Preparation Methods: French Press, Pour Over, Siphon
when i asked about the coffee, the guy behind the counter gave me an elaborate, nuanced explanation about the subtleties of flavor and how not to ruin the taste by preparing it wrong. a true aficionado if i ever met one.
and yes, it was delicious.