Thursday, May 3, 2012

Coffee!

As a perk for working at Johnson & Wales, I was able to take a class this term. I chose the 7:30 AM Coffee, Tea & other non-alcoholic beverages class. I have learned so much already! We focused on teas the first few weeks, moved on to coffee, and are now doing mocktails and smoothies. We have learned the history of both tea and coffe, which is so interesting. Did you know that an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi discovered the Arabica coffee plant because when his goats ate the berries, they got hyper? Or that there is only one type of tea plant that we get teas from? Green Tea, Oolong Tea & Black Tea all come from the plant Camellia Sinensis, and what distinguishes them from each other is how they're roasted and fermented. Fascinating, I know :)

This is from one of our tea tasting days

The best part of this class is that we do about 1/4 lecture, 3/4 hands on, or "practical". We learned the brew times and water temperature for teas and got to taste many fabulous kinds. We then learned how to use an espresso machine, and make all kinds of drinks! That has been the best part so far. I have never mastered the art of steaming milk, and it definitely is an art, but I'm getting the hang of it!

The reason why I'm writing this is to share what I did on Friday with my class: a field trip to Durham to visit Counter Culture Coffee at the headquarters & main roasting facility. Here, we saw the beans come in "green" and get roasted to a nice gorgeous brown, and then bagged up to be shipped out. We also did a coffee "cupping" which is basically like a coffee tasting. It was such a great experience, and I hope you can make it by the roasting facility sometime!

 The "Lab", where they hold the classes and (free) cuppings each week. The espresso machines and grinders are all state-of-the-art!
  
  
   
 We had 7 categories that we needed to analyze: Fragrance (of just-ground beans before water was poured on top), Aroma (after water was poured), Break (what you smelled when, after 5 minutes of steeping, you "break" the grinds from the top), Brightness (Acidity), Flavor, Body (described like skim milk or heavy cream), & Aftertaste
 
Here are the cups all lined up ready to be smelled. We tried 3 different varietals of coffee: Baroida from Papua New Guinea (My fave), Finca Nueva Armenia from Guatemala, & the decaf La Frontera from Peru. They didn't tell us it was decaf until the end! Sneaky!
The Break: I asked a hipster if I could take pictures of him doing it. He obliged

Hipster analyzing the Break

After the cupping, we got a tour of the roasting facility. This is only 2 weeks' work of beans! They always have only about that much at a time, with space and quality constraints to be mindful of

Loved the coffee bags! Wish I had asked for one! Although Connor would have killed me if I brought home anything decorative...
They do some organic coffee, and it is kept separate for the entire process
Freshly roasted beans. The place smelled heavenly!
This guy was filling up bags of coffee
The roasters
The middle-right of the picture shows a little bright hole where the fire is turned on and off about every 5 seconds for 15 minutes while the beans are rotated in the round drum
After they are properly roasted, they are spun around in this thing to cool them down

  This is our class. We had so much fun!

After the tour, we headed to A Southern Season for lunch. This place is like a Williams Sonoma combined with a Dean & Deluca. Foodie paradise! We were going to eat at the restaurant there, but the staff were all super rude to us. We ended up getting sandwiches at the deli. They were all so delicious! I shopped around a bit before lunch, and got some coffee, tea, a ceramic pour over dripper, a flat whisk, and an Asian Spider Strainer.

After I got back, I had a little time to finish tidying up before my parents & aunt visited. More to come, so stay posted!

M

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