Coffee tasting seems to be a suitable activity for afternoons spent taking refuge in air-conditioned spaces--which something tells me I'm going to be doing a lot of this summer. I have a cup of coffee before me that's interesting because it seems to represent the baseline for good coffee. It was prepared and served almost perfectly, allowing the substantial limitations of the bean to come through. If the coffee were infinitesimally worse, I would be outraged at its being passed off as specialty coffee. But it just barely makes it through. I'm trying to think of a suitable analogy--maybe it's like if we thought of coffee taste as a waveform, and the flavor components appear as big, wide, flat blocks. A truly superior cup of coffee, like the Intelligentsia I enjoyed at Boathouse Bagel Company in Lake Geneva yesterday, would feature many pinpoint spikes of flavor in high "resolution". I don't want to specify where I got this coffee from, as that's almost beside the point. There is a certain amount of room between this and commercial coffee such as Maxwell House--room inhabited by Starbucks' Pike Place, perhaps?
As Friday marks perhaps the first 80+ degree day, it may well mark the beginning of iced coffee season in Milwaukee. I'll make it a point to investigate. (Sorry for the short post--I'm really too tired to write, but can't go to bed yet due to the thunderstorm!)
The Guatemala Pampojila was butter in the barista's hands (sorry, lousy metaphor) as she pulled a beautiful doppio. The trick, if you want to call it that, is that it's beautiful in the same way as the standard Espresso Toro. I couldn't tell the difference, and would no doubt need to do a side-by-side test to do so. I'm guessing that they're calibrating our palates, so to speak, and that future single-origin selections will be further afield.
Like much of the rest of humanity, I headed down to the lakefront today at the first opportunity. When I logged into the Wi-Fi and landed on Alterra's site, I saw that they are now offering single-origin espresso shots of the Guatemala Pampojilla. I think I'll have to head up the hill now.
I'm at Alterra on Prospect, having just tried Scott Lucey's signature drink, Liquid Swords. While waiting in line, I had the opportunity to hear Scott's presentation a couple of times before my turn came. The drink consists of a shot of Nelson Melo espresso, sweetened heavy cream with a ring of honey acting as "caulk", and pink grapefruit juice. Simply incredible! Hurry over to try it yourself before 3 p.m. today.
I follow Pittsburgh's Aldo Coffee on Twitter, and I've frequently seen the word "bicerin" and not understood what it could possibly mean. I thought perhaps it was some alcoholic beverage with hallucinogenic properties, like absinthe or something. Turns out the drink is in the hot chocolate family, though much more elaborate (and delicious-sounding!).
Starbucks' Whitefish Bay store has been outfitted with the new superautomatic Mastrena espresso machines. As far as I know, they're the only local location to have it. I'll try to make it up there in the next couple days to try the espresso.