Cant get out for that coffee because of work? Bring it with you. Maybe your internet is down? Whatever the reason, come on in to Star Cafe, grab a coffee and access our FREE WI FI!
This summer, we want to get coffee into Toowoomba in a whole new way. You already know us for our different approach that would otherwise place us in the boring category.
So just how are we going to become a cafe that does it differently?
Our staff are creating fresh beverages to add to our Summer beverage menu. Last year we added cool espresso based drinks, icy fruit creations and sweet infusions to our drinks menu… Why not drop in for a taste of the refreshing creations making an appearance this summer!
We all know that wine buffs like to use fancy words and descriptive slang to describe their vino. Well it’s kind of the same these days in the coffee industry. Us caffeine junkies like to use words to describe the aroma, the acidity and the mouth-feel of our origins and blends.
I really believe that the rituals and practices of coffee tasting (cupping) were not created with the primary goal of tasting the coffee better. Cupping coffee was originally a routine is about searching for defects, looking for consistency, and trying to discern as much about the green as possible before purchase. Times have changed a little and everyone is jumping on the cupping band wagon, thus our plates are becoming refined and our cupping sessions are not only to establish the above criteria, but also to work on roasting profiles and origin characteristics. You can do this at home very easily, below are a few hints that we can offer you to get started:
1). Buy two very different coffees. It doesn’t hurt to ask your local roaster/shop for guidance on this.
2). Buy two small french presses. That’s a plunger Or even a $55.00 AeroPress is a great method.
3). Brew two small cups of each coffee. Just enough to taste – there’s no need to make too much – unless of course, you want to buzzzzzzzz.
4). Let them cool a little bit. It is much easier to discern the flavours (nuances) when coffee has cooled a little bit. For some reason, the coffee gets better as it cools down.
5). Start to taste them alternately. Take a couple of sips of one coffee before moving on. Start to think about how the coffee tastes compared to the other. Without a point of reference this is incredibly difficult. Have some water on the table if you need to cleanse your palate.
6). Focus on textures first. To start with focus on things like the mouthfeel of the two coffees. Does one feel heavier than the other? Is one sweeter than the other? Does one have a cleaner acidity (we use the word acidity and shy away from the phrase ‘Bitter’ – bitter is what you call a really bad coffee bought from a truck stop in the middle of an all night road trip) than the other?
7). Don’t read the labels as you taste. Instead note down a handful of words about each coffee. When you are done compare what you have to the roaster’s descriptions. Can you see now what they are trying to communicate about the coffee? See here for an example of flavours
8). Don’t worry about flavours. ‘Worry’ is the key word here. Flavours are the most intimidating part of tasting, as well as the most frustrating. Roasters use flavours not only to describe particular notes – such as “nutty” or “floral” – but also to convey a wide range of sensations. Describing a coffee as having “ripe apple” notes also communicates expectations of sweetness and acidity. If you do identify individual flavours – great! Note it down! If not then don’t worry. Any words or phrases that describe what you are tasting qualify as being useful – random words or flavours.
I can’t stress enough how important the comparative part of this is. Tasting one coffee at a time means that you can focus all you want, but without something to compare it too you are working based on your memory of previous coffee which is unfortunately patchy, flawed and inaccurate.
How often should you do this? Whenever you get the chance and have some time to relax and enjoy coffee. Soon you’ll find describing coffees gets easier and easier, though this is something even industry veterans still work on.
Did you enjoy your coffee here at Star Gardentown Cafe? Why not take our fresh beans home with you. Available in 250g, 500g, 1kg; House blend only available at this stage.
A great customer of Star Gardentown Cafe – Toowoomba – was told that ‘good coffee does not need sugar’, is this true? I have to say that there is no definite answer to this one. There are times where it is a well defined ‘Yes’ and others where you wouldn’t dream of it. I guess the first question that needs to be answered is – are you putting sugar in your coffee to mask an undesirable flavour? – If this is the case, find somewhere else to buy your coffee, or learn to make it the right way!
So, are you putting sugar into it just mask an undesirable flavour? If so there may be a few reasons. Has that coffee shop that you frequented for a long time one day dropped the ball in terms of the quality of coffee they serve? The biggest mistake is blaming the coffee itself. Rarely will the coffee be bad. There is a roaster somewhere that put alot of love into that blend and somewhere along the line, a barista or staff member has dropped the proverbial ball and ruined what might have been great.
Take Di Bella coffee for example. They have just taken great honors in Australia’s Golden Bean awards for 2009, yet, one of my local cafes makes their coffee taste like the worst coffee ever made! The poor roaster has no control when he/she sells the beans, yet would go out of business if they refused to supply any cafe that didn’t do them justice. The making of the coffee in your local cafe is only the small final step in a much larger history in your cups life. The process – Grown, picked, fermented, sorted, bagged, shipped, roasted, blended, shipped to the cafe, ground, extracted and drank, – is lengthy enough that somewhere along the line something can foul the end result. You will find that in the roasting process, no faults should be detected and then passed on to the consumer. A good roaster will never roast a sub-standard green bean and pass it onto their customers. Likewise, a good roaster will frequently ‘cup’ their coffee to ensure that the end result in their roast is what they expected.
So what can a barista/cafe stuff up? – Heaps – There is literally tons of ways to ruin a good bean in the final stages of making a coffee.
- Is the whole bean stale? Does your cafe buy too much or not sell enough. Is it sitting on the shelf for way too long, it is exposed to excess amounts of air?
- Once ground is it getting used straight away? Think about it – Once ground, there is A LOT more surface area for air to contact and start the deterioration. A good barista will grind to order, giving you the freshest tasting cup.
- When was the espresso machine cleaned last? This would have to be the biggest fault in why your coffee is bitter, and hence why you need to sweeten it with sugar! Cleaning with chemical over night is essential (domestic machines don’t need this frequency), back flushing the system hourly if not more and cleaning up as mess (washing out equipment) is made can alter the flavour of the cup. A messy machine will kill your coffee.
- How long did the extracted shot sit around until it got drank/milk poured into it? Time kills as well. and,
- How long was the actual extraction of coffee? Did the barista really know what they were doing when they started making your drink?
So these things – plus a whole lot more – can ruin you cup of Joe in a cafe but espresso coffees are only one way of making a good cup. What other factors can make you add sugar in the home or through other processes like siphons/plungers etc?….
‘Good coffee ‘ is a wonderfully diverse medium that knows no limitations. Major factors like what extraction method – Espresso, siphon, plunger, pour over etc – will usually dictate what sort of origins of coffee are used in the process. Different countries, broken down into regions and further into farms will produce unique flavour profiles somewhat like wines. Some origins may produce naturally sweet flavours, some dry. Others will be sour and yet still some can be combinations. An African coffee can be really sweet (Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Kenyan AA) and not need any sugar as they have distinct floral and fruit nuances. In saying that though, an African coffee might give you an intense explosion of these flavours with just a small amount of sugar added. Extract an African coffee through an espresso machine and you will draw out a lot of the beans acidity making it tart on the tongue. Extract the same bean through a siphon or pour over and all that ‘pop’ of acidity will be mellowed and almost non existent, giving you great floral nuances as the beverage cools down.
So, to answer Yes, to the question posed, some coffee’s like African coffee’s can be good with a bit of sugar. Just like a good chef always seasons food with salt and pepper to draw out natural flavours, a little sugar can increase the pop of flavour on your tongue when drinking coffee. A good chef will adjust the seasoning to sit the dish, adding more at the table before even tasting can tip it over the scale and start to ruin the flavour. If you are in a good coffee shop, trust your barista and try the coffee first, they might know that the blend they are using is great as it is, that milk enhances the flavour and that sugar will drown out the delicate nuances that await your palate Being that you picked a good coffee shop as well, chances are that the same barista loves what he does and he cleans his machine and knows what he is doing. Don’t pass judgment on a coffee before you taste it, sip it without added sugar first and then adjust accordingly.
If you happen to be a extra tall, extra caramel, half shot coffee drinker, than chances are sipping on an espresso shot will taste awful. Intensity of flavour is obviously going to alter your preference to the final cup you drink. A good barista will know if his/her blend goes better in milk based drinks compared to straight shots. We at Star Gardentown Cafe try to offer alternatives for espresso drinkers. We know that we designed our blend for the 80% of our customers that drink milk based beverages. Therefore, we offer single origins and blended alternatives for the coffee geeks drinking it strong and black.
In the end it comes down to personal preference. The biggest advice we can give though, is that if you are getting a coffee that requires more than one sugar, either find another another shop or learn to cut down on your sugar intake. Who knows, you might enjoy the flavours that you are masking (and cull your dentist bills). So, does good coffee need sugar? – Yes if you want a small amount to help draw out natural flavours, – no, if you are just using it to mask terrible coffee.
So Star cafe is becoming one of those cafe’s in Toowoomba that expats from BrisVegas, Sydney and Melbourne are dying for! Gone are the days of settling for below average coffee at above average prices.
We have decided to follow the evolving niche market of specialty coffee and grab as many interesting single origin and estate coffees as we can. These are batch roasted in small quantities and we serve them with a recommendation as to how to drink.
We are roasting one a week and serving them as our ‘S.O. of the Week’. To Give our local market a ‘heads up’ on what exactly we are talking about this post is to give some clarity as to the reason why we are doing this.
It’s surprising just how little people think about the coffee bean when they go about drinking their morning cup. Just like a good wine growing region, coffee bean growing regions around the world will have dramatic nuances in the end result of flavour. Coffee to the average drinker can be likened to fine wine drank by a beer guzzler wearing a four and twenty stained singlet.
Then there’s a group of people who know zero about coffee, but they do know about their wine or their chocolate. They can relate to you when you talk about the nuances in coffee and nod knowingly when you tell them that coffee is different from country to country. These people can also understand that just like wine, coffee trees grown on one side of the hill can yield a different tasting bean to the other side of the very same hill.
Believe it or not, millions of people are employed around the world just to sort coffee, and grade it according to its size, shape and number of defects. Ethiopia alone, employs over 12 million people in the industry. Buyers of green coffee beans are really geeks – they crave consistency and understand that quality and price necessarily go hand in hand.
Because of such a change in the end result, coffee beans can influence an espresso in so many ways: strength, mouthfeel, aroma, amount of crema produced, crema colour and thickness and aftertaste.
So why do different regions wield differing flavours?
It is largely known that beans that come from just one country are called single origin coffee. Simply put, coffee can be classified as Brazilian, Colombian, Costa Rican, Guatemalan etc. But as suggested previously, the classification is much more complicated than that. Brazilian coffee can be further broken down into size and quality. For example, a coffee roaster may order Brazil Cerrado NY – 2 Screen – 17/18 – Washed Arabica. Most of this is self explanatory apart from “Cerrado” which simply refers to the region where the beans were grown (a dry-flat savana) and “17/18” which refers to the “screen size.” Green beans are sieved to separate out different sizes. Everything falling through the 17/18 sieve is too small to be classified as 17/18 and everything that sits above the sieve must be large enough to attain that status (and therefore accompanying higher price).
Single Origin Coffees – What Defines Them?
The soil in which the coffee trees grow can obviously impact on the flavour of the coffee beans just like terra rossa is to wines. Different pH levels, mineral content and even what crops coffee grows next to on a plantation will affect taste, aroma etc. For example, coffee that is grown in India sometimes takes on a spicy undertone as it grows under the forest canopies next to pepper trees. Coffee from the highlands in Mexico can take on a slight chocolaty aftertaste as it grows near cacao trees that are used to produce chocolate.
Climate will also impact on coffee and is one of the main reasons that single origin coffees taste different to each other. Countries with distinct wet and dry seasons will often have a shorter maturation period than countries with slightly less temperate climates.
There are two main species of coffee tree that grow commercially around the world: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica coffee refers to coffee that grows on a tree. It is generally more difficult to grow than its poor cousin Robusta, but Arabicas are generally better tasting than Robustas and hence command a higher price in the market place. Robusta coffee grows on a wild shrub or a vine and although they are easier to grow than Arabicas and their yield is higher, they often yield a bean that produces bitter espresso that dries out the drinker’s palate.
Altitude plays a large part in taste as well. Generally, the higher the altitude, the better the Arabica coffee that is produced.
It surprises people but the method of processing and the individual farmer will have a huge impact on a coffee’s taste, aroma and depth of quality. A plantation that cuts corners when it ferments its coffee cherries or dries the green beans artificially/too quickly or stores them in their hessian bags incorrectly will produce inferior-tasting coffee compared to the farm next door that does these things correctly.
What to Buy
Generally you will purchase a blend when you purchase your coffee, but if you are at the stage or experimenting with the often-costlier single origins, the better-known ones include Ethiopian Yirgacheffe (the home of coffee), Kenya AA, Costa Rican SHB and Colombian. We can put you into contact with some amazing coffee geek that will point you in the right direction. We are continually buying new single origin beans for the cafes consumption and would love to teach you more.
As part of our Email Masterclasses, we are going to be giving you the inside scoop on some of our menu items.
The potato rostie has become a staple menu item in the cafe since we designed it an featured it on the menu. Below is exactly how we make it.
INGREDIENTS (makes 4)
For the rostie:
4kg Pontiac potatoes
1.5 Tblspn Dukkah (Nut and seed mix that we can sell you)
1.5 Tblspn Fresh Dill
Salt and Pepper
4 x Rashers of Bacon
160gm Fresh Rocket
2 x Ripe Avocados
Hollandaise sauce (see this recipe)
4 x Eggs
Boil the pontiac potatoes in their skin, whole until a wooden skewer just penetrates to the centre. (Do not over cook but ensure they are cooked just through).
Cool the potatoes under ice cold, running water to prevent them from over cooking. Drain and set aside.
Chop the tips of the dill roughly with a sharp knife and set aside.
Using a grater, or the grater attachment on a food processor, grate the whole potatoes (with skin) on the course side of the grater.
Whisk the whole eggs lightly to combine the yoke and whites.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the grated potato, dukkah and chopped dill with the whisked egg. Mix with hands or spoon until ingredients are combined. Add salt and pepper to season.
Preheat a flat BBQ plate or a large flat fry pan on a medium heat and line a baking tray with grease proof paper, set the tray aside.
Using a 90mm round scone cutter placed and greased on the flat cooking surface, fill with the rostie mix. (the idea of this step is to seal the surface of the rostie and provide some colour – the heat of the cooking surface will cook the egg and bind the surface ingredients)
Seal the rostie on both sides for a few minutes – only until golden brown.
Place sealed rostie’s on baking tray and repeat the previous steps until all rosties are shaped, sealed and ready to bake.
Bake for 20 minutes at 160 degrees Celsius – This will be just long enough to finish cooking the rostie through.
Either serve rostie from hot or cool down immediately and reheat in a low temperature oven.
Place a poaching pot full of water on to boil with a splash of white vinegar. Wait until it boils, turn down and stir the water into a whirlpool.
crack the whole egg into the centre of the whirlpool and cook until soft. Remove and drain on paper towel.
Cook Bacon rashers until crispy and drain on paper towel.
Cut avocado’s in half, remove the seed with a sharp knife and using a spoon, carefully remove the skin.
Arrange on the plate a few rocket leaves.
Place the hot rostie on top and on top of rostie place bacon and more rocket.
On top of stack place the halved avocado on top with the seed side facing up (like a cup).
Place the poached egg inside the avocado and pour over pre prepared hollandaise.
Hopefully, you should end up with something similar to this…. Enjoy.