Tuesday 29 September 2009

Coffee at any price

Yesterday I managed to get in to watch the Irish Latte Art competition. I say 'managed to' because, a) it was part of a trade show only for people in the catering business, and b) I didn't have a ticket. However, the words "I think there is meant to be a ticket left at the desk here for me to get into the coffee competition" plus a nice smile seemed to do the trick.

After getting past a crowd of exhibitors offering me free samples of ice cream, pizza, chocolate, olives, bread and information about a start of the art walk-in refrigerator unit I found the show stage of SCAE - Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (Ireland Chapter). They were hosting the coffee competition.

After waiting around for a while longer than expected the competition got under way to see who could pour the best looking latte art - those little designs on the top of your drink. It was interesting for a while, but to be honest the views of the final creations were not great and I got a bit bored so I left before it was over. However, the bonus was that there was free coffee to be had. After the judges had viewed and tasted the drinks they were offered to the audience. For some reason I couldn't help thinking of this experience of passing around a special cup as similar to a common chalice used in Holy Communion! Imagine that: coffee and a danish instead of bread and wine.

I was the recipient of a great looking cappuccino created by Bela Zudor of Avoca Cafe in Kilmacanogue, Co. Wicklow (a lovely, if a bit expensive, place to go for lunch). He went on to win the competition!

Leaving the competition I wondered around the trade show again and bumped into Buzz who was demonstrating machines for Milano Coffee Systems - the people he just bought a machine from. Buzz didn't seem to be into the coffee competitions scene. All tricks and no substance, I wondered?? I chatted with one of the guys from Milano about their cheapest fully automatic machine - press one button and it does everything for you. We have a ministry project set for Rathmines and I'd like to be able to offer quality coffee to people who are part of what we will do. The price for the machine? €10,000.

I gave a nice smile, but it didn't seem to do the trick.


Snot Head said...

Aww...so sad. I can't believe they didn't go for the smile! What a shame... It sounds interesting. I wonder why Buzz was not so interested in the competition? Hmmm...Glad you got a good cup out of the deal, though. I wish we had something like that around where I live! My coffee obsession is growing, but alas, I am losing my once great love of my local coffee shop the more I learn. :( Today, I went into my coffee shop to meet with someone about crocheting a hat to match a scarf her grandmother had knitted her. I asked the barista if I could get my latte with no foam or little to no foam because as I mentioned before, it is covered in awful bubbly foam of the mass market sort. She just looked at me dumbfounded and said, "Well, I can try."

I just said, "Ok." This past weekend, I was even more disappointed with another of my local favorites...It seems the barista is the best part of the cafe when it comes to a good cappuccino. The cafe is in a book store about half an hour away from my home. My husband and I go so often, he remembered our names and even our wedding date! He is a great barista...Yet he was not aware or didn't care about the ideals of a perfect cappuccino. I found here during "happy hour" I could get a large cappuccino for only $3, but nearly half of my mug was bubbly awful foam! So sad...I guess I will have to continue my quest down town next time. I am really dropping loads of hints to my husband about this espresso machine desire of mine. I have so much to learn! haha

Wish me luck.

Cosmo said...

Sorry, I feel kind of responsible for your changing feelings towards your local coffeehouse. I can sympathise, though. In fact I had a thought the other day along similar lines that I need to blog about.

In the meantime, two ideas: Ask your local simply to hold back the foam with a knife when pouring. Ideally the milk should just be textured nicely that it wouldn't need that and would pour perfectly, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. I've recently taken to asking for lattes like this if I see what was served to the person before me!

The other idea is to take a trip to Chicago (I've no idea how far that would be for you) and go find an Intelligentsia cafe. They changed my view of coffee - and are happy to talk about it. I loved their store on N. Broadway. I guarantee you'll get a great drink. If I remember rightly they also have a few machines for sale in the store.

Go on...Have a weekend away in Chicago. You know you want to!

Snot Head said...

I absolutely want to! haha The funny thing is, Chicago is only about two hours from me. I live in Central Illinois! We could make a weekend of it somet time, if for no other reason than for a coffee excursion. lol I'm sure there are few craft stores and flea markets I could find as well. ;o)