Recently, I needed to create a new food blog location for work. Seizing the opportunity, I created it for me, too. I'll be posting most of my recipes, coffee, etc. writing over there. I'm still deciding on wine and beer -- I may post both places, I may just post there. But if you enjoy my foodie nature, please visit Sapid Cellar Door.
I hadn't done a coffee review in a while, and I've been missing it, so here ya go:
It’s my favorite time of the year – that stage when the Earth is exactly at the point when the Ethiopian coffees come into season. And what a glorious season it is!
I just got to cup Barefoot’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, and holy moly, it totally made my day! The smell of the grounds filled the room with a glorious combination of cherries jubilee, chocolate with hot peppers, and a hint of cinnamon. After steeping, the chocolate aromas continued, chased by pumpkin pie.
A well-rounded assortment of flavors and a gloriously smooth mouth feel followed. Nutmeg, hazelnut shells, cocoa powder, and lemon pleased my palate and caused a contented sigh. Orange creamsicles, the vanilla dancing like a pixie on a spring wind, finished the experience on a pretty perfect note. I really, really can’t wait until we get this in the store!
We fit in a marathon coffee cupping yesterday and tried five of Barefoot Coffee’s newest roasts.
I was wooed right away by the nose of the Laoyza Flor Rosa. Curry tickled my senses, followed by hazelnut and nutmeg. The curry carried on in the cup with sour cherries in the middle and finished by the flavors of those lovely dark chocolate covered biscuits, LU le Petit Ecolier.
Next up was a decaf Villa Borghesi. Once again, we were surprised to learn it was a decaf, as the complexity did not disappoint. The scents of Bananas Borrachas transported me to a realm of caramelized sugar, rum, and vanilla ice cream. The palate pleased with orange blossom, cocoa powder, toasted spice, roasted almonds, and dry grass.
Vista Hermosa presented aromas of fennel cookies and vanilla flowers. Its bright, smooth delivery of papaya and dragon fruit was a tropical lover’s dream.
Then it was time for some uber rich dessert in the forms of a Yellow Cutuai and a Maragogype. The Yellow Cutuai smelled of pound cake covered in vanilla ice cream and drizzled with cinnamon syrupy peaches and wowed with a huge gardenia aroma upon breaking the crust. Flavors of thyme and hay were quickly followed by graham crackers and burnt chocolate. Maragogype was a lovely way to finish the day with its bouquet of Terry’s Milk Chocolate Orange Ball, leather, even more chocolate, sugar cookies, currants, and the faintest tease of cedar. The cup presented grass, currants, tangerine, and extra dark chocolate with once again, just a hint of cedar on the edges.
Charles says that the reason that food is so good in New York is because you're so grateful you survived to eat it.
I recently returned from a business trip in Manhattan. While the food at the hotel wasn't all that, wandering around the streets and randomly choosing restaurants worked really well. Almost everything that I ate out was dynamite, and all of it was an experience.
It began with the evening that my boss and I arrived in NYC. We were starving but didn't want to eat in the hotel restaurant. My boss had been given a list of places to go while in the Big Apple, and she was VERY emphatic that we try one of those spots, so I chose a German eatery. I've never been to a German restaurant, so I thought it might be a fun experience. I still have never eaten at a German restaurant. After 45 minutes of wandering around, stomachs growling loud enough to scare fellow pedestrians, we discovered that the eatery in question no longer existed. My boss then admitted that her friend hadn't lived in New York in a number of years. Ugh! Rather annoyed by this point, I said, "There's an Italian place. Let's eat there." And so began our saga of lucky picks. (I had the Ravioli alla Vodka which was stuffed with goat cheese and spinach and topped with pink vodka sauce and asparagus. I paired it with a Pinot, and it was so amazing, I didn't want to stop eating.)
The morning found us stumbling in search of coffee and sustenance. In that order! We walked a few feet down to the Carnegie Deli. The waiter was the best part about our time spent at the Deli. Since it was breakfast time, I opted for a breakfast dish, not one of their (in)famous sandwiches. While the food was okay, the portions were way too large and the coffee was Robusta. The waiter bullied me into getting a bagel with my meal. The strong-arming was hilarious, and he was right. The bagel -- a classic New York wonder of a bagel, was the best part of my meal.
The next night was much the same. We met up with our friend from the Chico Co-op, saw the sights, and realized extreme hunger. Once again, we wandered and ended up at a pretty tasty Indian restaurant. Now, being from Yuba City, Calif. -- also known as "little India" -- I can be pretty picky about my Indian cuisine, but I have to vouch for the place. The decor was fun/quaint/trying to be classy, which I LOVED. The food was awesome. I paired my Chicken Tikka Masala with a Kingfisher Lager. The lager wasn't much to sneeze at on its own, but paired with the food, wonderful banana notes surfaced, so I couldn't say no to a second glass.
My final night in the big city's main event was getting to see a Broadway show. But before doing something ever-so-fancy, the contrary part of my nature wanted something more down-to-earth. That's how we ended up at a brew pub, a place I had had my eye on since the first night. I enjoyed a pulled-pork sandwich, fries, and a very tasty Irish Amber.
Well, since coming back from New York, I haven't had a satisfying meal. Is it because I'm looking for something really fancy-pants or because I just have me some classic palate fatigue?
Charles and I both really like to TASTE things. For quite some time, he's insisted that I must be a supertaster because I pick up so many intricate flavors in wine, coffee, and beer. I thought, hey, why not be a little more scientific about it?
So I purchased a test off of supertastertest.com. (Don't worry, they use paypal.) I watched some YouTube videos of other food bloggers trying out the test, and while some people said that it was unpleasant, it didn't seem like too bad a thing to do.
We received the test strips tonight, and I being someone who wants to do everything right away, immediately grabbed one for myself and gave one to Charles. Those strips are DISGUSTING! I had to spit mine out almost the minute I put it in my mouth. Charles kept his in a couple seconds longer but had the same reaction. The worst part is that the nasty, bitter taste just kept on going -- for both of us. Even drinking some wine hasn't gotten all of the flavor out of my mouth.
The good news about this suffering is that it shows that yes, indeed, I am a supertaster -- and so is Charles! A supertaster couple? No wonder our favorite thing to do is to go wine tasting on our days off! And no wonder we're so picky about what restaurants we'll go to.
The test itself (other than being extremely gross) is pretty simple. You take a strip, hold it on your tongue for a few seconds, and then remove it. If you don't taste anything, you're a non-taster. A taster will experience a mildly bitter or bland taste. A supertaster will find the test extremely bitter, and as in my case, will have to restrain herself from writhing on the floor because of the over-the-top flavor.
So there you have it -- I am a supertaster. Aren't you impressed?
Currently, I'm head-over-heels in love with Barefoot Coffee. Not only do they roast some incredibly complex beans, they also are amazingly ethical. They operate as green as they can, focus on the farmers first (!), and pay their employees a living wage (!!!). I've written a couple of blogs about them for work, but since I'm oh-so in love right now, I thought I'd share them here, too.
I’ve found that I’m not completely happy unless my skin smells like coffee. Yesterday, I was completely happy.
The afternoon involved a cupping of Barefoot coffees, the same that you can find on our coffee bar beginning today. As the cupping commenced, I was transported to a glorious realm of smells, tastes, and textures.
As with all excellent coffees, with my first slurp, my mind’s eye also conjured up images. The first bean on the list was Chiapas Otilio Decaf from Mexico and the UDEPOM Co-op. It didn’t taste like a decaf! Instead, it was like an old friend sitting across the table, familiar and comforting. The nose was full of dark chocolate. I tasted orange blossoms and night jasmine with just enough acidity to tease the tongue.
Barefoot’s cupping notes are below:
Sweet and smartly bright. Touches of orangey citrus highlight the light dustings of chocolate and spice. Light and bright with nice medium body. Surprisingly sweet and involved for a decaf. Retains almost all its warm chocolate and citrus flavors and has a warm clarified butter finish and mouthfeel.
Next up was the Nueva Granada from El Salvador, producer Gloria Rodriguez. This time I was sent to a spring meadow. A breeze caressed my face with smells of damp grass and green growing things as I watched fat bumblebees spill out of buttercups. The taste of golden raspberries followed by meyer lemons caressed my tongue. I wanted to consume every last drop.
Crisp and sweet at the same time. Nicely balanced stone fruits and rounded citrus flavors blossom and boogie. Butterscotchy middle layers with sweet finish. Very complex and sweet. More rounded stone fruits and syrupy thickness than Gloria’s other lots.
Finally, a Guatemalan from producer Edwin Martinez took me by the hand. The Honey Michicoy was like sitting in a warm, dark movie theater, snacking on candy bars that I had hidden in my pockets, sweeter and more satisfying than if they’d been eaten in the light of day. The cup sang of blood oranges and dark chocolate with a gloriously full mouthfeel and a honeycomb finish.
Crazy fruit bomb of honey & maple syrup with bing cherries, blackberries and apple. Rounds out with buttery caramel and cocoa. Succulent and juicy mouthfeel with crazy sweet fresh juice. A decadent, long lasting finish of apricot nectar and honey.
I am incredibly grateful that I got to experience this magical range of coffees. I feel even more grateful that we’re carrying these coffees in our deli. More information on this truly inspirational business (I didn’t even go into their kick-ass ethics!) can be found at Barefoot’s website. Make sure to come in as soon as you can so you too can be transported by these amazing, bewitching beans.
Coffee & Chocolate
I know, I know... sometimes my job is just too hard. I mean really, having to taste coffee and then chocolate all on the same day? The only thing that would have made this Saturday of tantalizing my taste buds any better would have been if I ended it with a wine tasting.
Once again, Barefoot Coffee delivers the goods. These coffees are so complex, my concentrated tongue bumps had difficulty picking everything up!
First was Sulawesi, Sapan Minanga. Roasted almonds, white bergamot, and a slight tease of white pepper gave way to sweet hay, Terry's Milk Chocolate Orange Ball, and finally, cashew. The soft and silky mouthfeel made me want to eat this coffee up.
Next up was El Salvador COE #27, La Montanita. Ruby grapefruit, apple blossoms, and jasmine caressed my nose as taffy and citrus notes followed. Velvet caressed my tongue as the flavors of Clementines and hazelnuts finished my bliss.
Finally I tried the Panama Casa Ruiz, Lot A. My olfactory senses were tickled by vanilla bean, warm chocolate chip cookies, and leather followed by white chocolate and spice. The bright, sparkling mouthfeel made my taste buds dance as the flavors of lemon, raspberries, mangosteen, and cranberries did the cha cha.
Hard on the heels of the coffee cupping came the Equal Exchange chocolate tasting and presentation on Social Investment. I learned how people actually invest and about shareholder activism. Basically, you can invest by saying what you don't want to put money into, i.e. weapons, cigarettes, oil, etc., or you can invest in a positive way -- by finding a company who's principles you believe in and investing directly with them. Then it was on to the chocolate!
Now, chocolate has a series of steps to taste as well, but the majority of these chocolates came pre-flavored, so a more informal sampling commenced. There was a dark chocolate mint bar of 37% cacao, a creamy milk chocolate of 38% cacao, an espresso bar of 55%, a sweet, soft dark chocolate almond that was also 55%, and a dark chocolate that was 71%. It was amazing how many different flavors could be picked up in the plain, dark chocolate bar. It smelled slightly spicy and carried fruit notes that resolved to a navel orange finish. It would have been fun to sample more plain chocolate to compare and contrast the different inherent flavors, but hey, there was chocolate to be had, and I definitely had it all.
It was a very fun day with plenty of caffeine. Hopefully, we'll do it all again soon.
To read Barefoot's even more super-fun tasting notes on the coffees listed above, go here. And to learn more about Equal Exchange and their chocolate, click here.