Coffee Tasting in Lima – Alpha to Omega

hpnxbod0onpvzyc33ukcakzdtsv3nd7_ecxehcvqqdxokod0ukcp6zdvmbrdsuf9ubre5etbsfemsakdowuwhcr5p0nzubr-lf4gv_fxriqgnwj6_b0jwe0govni_4jinuezdd_coxbfaz8bgfyfjpdgotlkfqr7l7j_frmn8jjfbq-_4sotqplpzjI organized a coffee tasting with the guys from Artidoro Rodriguez coffee. After five hours of learning about coffee and drinking coffee, I was too caffeinated to write this blog posting… I realized how little I know about coffee. For the food geeks, there is a coffee tasting certification class in Lima (one week for eight months–not sure why they don’t do a two month class). Anyway, back to what I didn’t know…. Notice in the photo below that there is some magical ratio of weight of ground coffee to water at a certain temperature (I think this is why the Brits say, “water from a freshly boiled kettle”).

brfmvt3pkp_vrir5694d8ojao2lyr5mkilb7xtxvqi8dw6nthmbdf46omagr2bur8dj4ikdz5wzvq-oobk8y5u1b4ssexdm4att3gg_d0jyajwxyglbtshnekvrzri3boy_1rqavemjt9mx58cidyssofiyl9-ctsyhwq6vif2hqpc9lv1zczs7ogxThe coffee tasting class cost 100 soles (about $30) per person. It was planned from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. but we got a five hour class, freebies, coffee (duh!) and so much info that I had a buzz not solely from the coffee! The owners, Felix and Julian, are experts in tasting and roasting respectively. Felix is the grandson of Artidoro Rodriguez so a legend in the making (Juan Valdez was made up by marketeers!). You heard it here!

ck_gg9o4_pmvmxly_y-5h6jrafmnkar10zbojykcqevhm0xbhxvwxacxdhwvcn9wgrjranve-uhvveju7cystubxmhpx-kas17nwrd8cqlhljuxbyvwhvvtxdfxc0h4ffvuftrpxeo3tjy7aocphhfafmosotbyfiuy_ova-wpij11wklzrlinhcsrI set up the class with Julian via email. The class was in Spanish as Felix feels more comfortable in Spanish. Julian’s English is good so he translated when he could. Plus, I had my secret superpower with me (a bilingual friend who is professional level simultaneous translator level, and a subject matter expert to boot!). We tried more than ten brands of coffee and around six methods of making coffee. As it was a tasting, we could choose to not swallow the coffee and spittoons were provided… but I drank the coffee (hence the buzz).

9t5q9-bs1osqtlr9o9vxawhu3ntqwwryvdzjgc6pmagfj36hqwwspqmrorm0rbwehzze5s45zmdvk3tbqpm632speuugo20civf0tmiuv8plr9aimuigezbpgir_6mwy_bxapta7ct1nrt8bfdu7c1zvigewkpvw3l-tjlbpzvk_sblqgshwxv1unrWe learned so much that I can’t recall most of it. But, there are two types of coffee beans and Peru has lots of areas where both kinds (robusta and arabica) of beans can be grown to produce gourmet coffee. We learned about weighing our coffee when we make it. We learned that there is a coffee grading scale from zero to 100 points. 80 or above is gourmet. Aridoro Rodriguez is 84 (no¬† shame in that!). Coffee from 60 to 80 is commercial coffee. Below 60… fuggedaboutit. We learned that shiny beans are no good. Shiny beans have been over roasted, one way to compensate for deficiencies. Notice the shiny burned look of the two groups in the photo below. The smallest bunch of beans are roasted correctly. No oily sheen. Just a healthy luster.

y_aq8gg5cnd3slkdznrwwkungden1qxwkky1tz7kjubqsu4tqa2juijh4untex0pc4tpjcnxsn4jc07agejzpdjlk6eqnrxr07muj7rggkoqum4xctq2jq8rgo8grqgq2lumygasgzadwpsqhcyxsap8zymfxzrilsggobxxgsvb7snp3eqm5zpyynWe learned that slurping is good when tasting coffee. We looked at runty beans called “snails” and how they are picked out as a specialty. Just smaller, uglier, but with equal potential (some deep zen going on here, amiright?).

6e3hxhwt92tcc2kgoq4e9ztntjfznlszfd68phrgsix4x_unin3e2imwp2puu1jvgpf4a8mixmrrijvi_ivkey-2nfzynqhxd2difxifzmawszyofp-qscvcap_zw8onfvvj5ctmmwdt1idns6hte39dcvydc4olwy2xg8_netf-e5n3h3v8ueifgdWe learned that beans need to be separated before roasting so they roast at the same degree. That it’s a matter of seconds from the “first pop” of the first bean roasting to the full on fireworks of popping, and, that in those ten seconds, the coffee roaster can make or destroy a batch of coffee. A roast lasts around eight minutes but I can’t recall the exact details. We also learned that after roasting, coffee grounds should “exhale” for eight hours before being used to brew coffee. We learned about “fragrance” and “aroma” and all the other ways to know one’s coffee. We even learned about coffee “tea” (see raisin-like things next to weak cup of liquid in photo below), and then our minds were blown.

vgzs3l3bykenfekexnqn95bfizn14dimdpuwq66xsw1e72te7oqehh8piaasp0iyjb4kkgjnkq035nwdfnszrv9rbsgzuwj7wgrcyfbmifpvrvl4g7sr6tmdmnet5n8euke11u6alynvohtxudtjzsqqpxyn8slxfqhwq5vwijp2ihepcddd1tilqsWe learned even more. About people, livelihoods, the environment, pride in product, taste, and that Felix and Julian are looking to open up a coffee bar somewhere in Miraflores. We learned of the coffee places approved of by Felix. We sniffed… we sipped… we giggled… we roared with laughter… we… take the class! Learn. Get caffeinated. Get mo’ on joe!

ytsbs7jqqzbzkpnjlvep_bhtjb7uwdlr3x35hnhj6cy76i0i5-xo_ekgbphixb3a7je2g8dujr59m_teya0ofgfuiwingt6dzorqig4m-cvvvyikdcou7f0ejhbhgzbf7iq9pwexu0i1yrxjhi74ggngc7ifyghzqmajtn9d8i18t6frjyhhbcrhjoThe key point that Felix told us was… no two cups of coffee will be the same… each cup is as individual… as an individual…

O-M-ega. This just got deep.

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Drink up, my friends, may your cup runneth over. In the best of company.

Restaurants in Dhaka – Part Five

80 down… here are 61-80. Read roundup part one, part two, part three, and part four to read about the previous 60 eateries I’ve tried in Dhaka. Other than word of mouth (!), read about where I find the restaurants to try. I also scout for new places when I’m out and about and I welcome recommendations.

The lunch buffet at Istanbul is only 1000 taka.
The lunch buffet at Istanbul is only 1000 taka.

Orange and a Half cafe (7/13): New place! Cafe with coffee, shakes, desserts, and sandwiches. Located in Tejgaon, the industrial zone. The cafe is hip looking and located in the Shanta Western building. The owners want a “western” level place. Let’s see if they can reach it. For not, it’s coffee is okay, some of the sandwiches and cakes are okay… let’s see how they do once they have been open for a while. Their goal is to match Gloria Jean’s.

Ideas Manzil (11/13): International guest house with private set menus – Bangladeshi, Indian, Thai, European, and seafood. All the food was fresh. The antique shopping was also fun. Unique location much like a secret garden in Dhaka. You must contact them ahead of time to arrange the menu. Owned by an expat.

Mallika Snacks (8/13): Phoughka. It’s a local place and it’s more a snack place. Best phoughka in the Gulshan area. Very local place.

KFChicken (9/13) on Road 13: Batter fried chicken. The best fried chicken in Dhaka.

Sakura Golden Rice (5/13) near road 118: Chinese/Japanese/Bangladeshi. Reopened and still mediocre watered down food.

Istanbul (12/13): Turkish. Road 118. You can’t even tell you’re in Dhaka. It’s a massive multi-world restaurant with wood fire oven, Las Vegas painted sky ceiling, and a two level castle for children. They have a creamery on location and sell fresh cheese and bread. Soon will have a level with hookah/nargile/water pipe.

Topkapi (6/13): Buffet. Mostly Bangladeshi and Thai food. The papaya salad was not bad and it was spicy!

Emerald Thai (8/13): Thai. Located in Uttara near the flagship Arong store but very hard to find… interior decor is elegant but the food is not Thai spicy. Made for the Bangladeshi palate.

New Cathay (10/13): Chinese. This new location in Banani, on Road 11, is modern looking but the food and the waiters are as good as they have been for 25 years.

Gloria Jean’s (7/13): Cafe with food. Nice enough atmosphere inside and a place to hang out and grab a light bite to eat. Wi-fi and perky staff seem to be some of the reasons there’s hype about this place. I’m not really into it but then I don’t need a cafe to work from.

Nagasaki (7/13): Japanese. This place is like stepping back in time 50 years… there are holes under the tables so that you sit Japanese style but don’t have to sit on the floor if you are out of practice. Soggy rice. Not fresh sashimi. Located out in Uttara.

Just Juice (4/13): Juice and sandwiches. Has a few seats out in front and is otherwise a very small shop.

Attin (9/13): Arabic. Located on Road 27 in Gulshan, this is a hipster sort of place with a rustic loft feel. The middle eastern appetizers are not bad and the waiters are talkative.

Cuppa Coffee Cafe (7/13): Continental/Bangla-Asian. Located with a great view of Gulshan II circle, the people watching is the best thing about this place. Usual hit or miss with dishes covered in mystery white “special sauce” or red ketchup chili.

Baristo (8/13) – Road 6, Banani: Cafe/Italian/Smokers Lounge/Lounge. Opened in February 2013. Have the coffee while sitting in a car… this is a large place suited for large groups. Will soon have hookah/nargile/water pipe.

American Burger (7/13) – Road 11, Banani: Burgers and fries. Okay fries. Burger was okay. Small, take out sort of place with three tables.

Rush Tex Mex (7/13) – Road 6, Banani: Burgers and fries. The advertised Mexican dishes were mysteriously not available… small place with two booths. Fries were okay.

Spicy Restaurant (4/13) on Kemal Attaturk: Opened March 15, 2013. Usual burgers, kababs, banglese (bangla/chinese) stuff. Also has Wifi, I think. Has four booths (or half of the table is booth and the other side is chairs) and a table for six.

Atrium (7/13): Chinesey Bangla food. Some Indian. The lunch buffet for under 600 taka is okay. The exterior Japanesey garden and tables could be nice if it weren’t right on one of the busiest roads in the area.

Quesadilla (5/13); The quesadilla was actually okay. Not greasy and edible. The “Mexican pizza” was like a basic frozen pizza with some charred crumbled beefish added plus a few loops of green pepper. The nachos were a plate of fried wonton skins covered in brown beans, cheese, and decorated with swirls of “mexican” sauce — a slightly sweet pink sauce. The garlic bread with melted cheese was so tasteless as to be useless.

Istanbul restaurant bakes their own bread including this round bread called a simit.
Istanbul restaurant bakes their own bread including this round bread called a simit.

I’m encouraged by the emergence of new places. I’ll blog another time about the best places where I go more than once. Go out and explore!