Wednesday, October 29, 2008

octane 2.0

after kinda working out the atlanta transit system last night i decided to try and get back to octane one more time before leaving atlanta and heading home to the cold and grey (or more likely dreaded white) of wisconsin.
this time it was super easy. a short train ride and hop on the bus, bingo. i'm stood outside atl's best coffee bar once more.

this time it's danielle how greet me as i stumble inside. another seasoned serbc and usbc competitor.
spro... super sweet and syrupy. bakers chocolate and cream. with a pleasant acidity in the finish.

after i was through with my spro, danielle brought over a chemex of finca mauritania from el salvador.
sweet plum and dried fruit up front. syrupy body. kinda dry finish, but still with a load of plum sweetness.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


so after spending four and a half days in the middle of nowhere, GA. i was craving some good coffee. hell, i was craving anything that wasn't folgers.

i left the family at the airport, headed home to merry ol' england, and i jumped on the marta headed for 5points.

the little sister and i on the way to the airport

subway map understood? check. checked into hotel? errr... check. know where i'm going? check. and i was off to octane.

apparently i'm not particularly good at judging distances. because what i thought would be a 20min walk ended up being closer to an hour. through some neighborhoods i wouldn't walk at night.
but non-the-less i arrive at octane. a little later than i'd have liked, but who cares. i'm here. bring on the coffee!

i have to make a confession. i actually walked past the store initially, and had to double back about a block. the exterior is absolutely not what i was expecting. the "b" in the address made me think it'd be a basement dive-bar type deal, which would have been just fine by me. but no.... turns out its the joint corner unit of a strip-mall type deal. the interior is super dark with a long red brick exterior wall. there are separate stations on the bar, one dedicated to espresso and one to beer and wine. ben is the barista on tonight, he's stood in front of the three group lm linea as i walk in. he also happens to be the SE chapter rep for the bga, a seasoned usbc competitor, and a really nice guy.

the first order of business is my introduction to counter culture's espresso. served in a classic, plain white nuova point demitasse, i was excited. kinda peppery in the aroma and the initial taste, followed up with bittersweet bakers chocolate. so so good.
next up was a cappuccino. this time served in sweet black ceramic. i've gotta say i was kinda surprised. it was super wet, honestly more like a 5oz latte than a cap. and it was a little hot.... but looking past those things it as still super sweet and creamy, with a load of espresso flavor coming through. counter cultures' spro really cuts through milk!

goodbyes were said. coffee was purchased, to prolong the geeking out at home. and that was it. octane is a truly awesome coffee bar, and thoroughly deserves the reputation they've achieved recently.

back to milwaukee tomorrow. back to my bar. back to the cold. grrrrr

the joy of airline travel?

you know what i hate the most about airline travel? the packing in of people like cattle, giving us only enough room to sway our heads, in true bovine style? the crappy microwaved food most likely impregnated with some sort of pathogen? the guy in front who has his seat reclined all the way back from take off to landing, who therefore has the top of his inevitably bald head in my face the entire journey? these would all be good guesses but alas, they'd all be wrong. for me, the worst thing about airline travel is the coffee at the airport.

yesterday i was forced to stoop this low. now i know that the coffee industry owes ☆$'s a huge debt. but the coffee
is just bad. cafe verona, thick syrupy body with a load of burnt hazelnut and not very much else.

so after being legally violated going through security, i arrive at my gate expecting to be boarding anytime soon, only to be told that the flight has been delayed, for apparently absolutely no discernible reason. another luxury of air travel, being treated like an idiot by patronising flight attendants. the flight itself wasn't too bad. nothing amazing, nothing terrible. just ok.
upon arrival in atlanta i'm greeted by family i haven't seen for too long. some almost three years and some even longer. suddenly all the airport nonsense seems unimportant. this is why i came down here to spend some much needed time with family.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

two days of sickly cupping

i must preface this by saying i was, and unfortunately still am, sick. my head is full of enough mucus to sink the proverbial "ship" and my muscles ache to the extent that i question what i've been doing in my sleep.
so, you get the idea. the pallet isn't what it could be. that being said, i was the one pushing for regular cuppings at the store so i felt compelled to take part, flu-shaped handicap and all.

tuesday oct 21st.
why do i feel the need to preface everything i say with some feeble excuse or explanation for my shortcomings...?
i showed up at the cupping after he crusts were broken and after the samples had cooled somewhat, so my notes weren't as comprehensive as i'd have liked. but what is a boy to do? my bar shift finished at 11, and steve and matt (somewhat excitable roaster and super-chill owner, respectively) started the proceedings at 1045.
on the table was a new mexican chiapas onix, a guatemalan, a bolivian (again my half-assed notes let me down... and all this sickness prevents me from remembering the specifics for the guat and bolivian, sorry) and a new sample of an ethiopia harrar from the wonderful boys at atlas.

guatemala: a good medium-heavy body with super dark bakers chocolate throughout with a surprising subtle acidity. not much to speak of, but a little snap on the sides of the tongue. the finish was kinda dry, which combined with the snappy acidy in a strange, and not necessarily pleasant way.

bolivia: a mouthful of chocolate and hazelnuts, some dry tobacco with a pleasant clean finish.

mexican chiapas onix: hmmmm.... my notes really let me down here;
"good chiapas" and "boring" were the extent of them.

ethiopia harrar: now this was the stand out on the table. a superb cup and everything i was hoping for from the birthplace of all of this nonsense. great body, not too thin, not too thick and heavy. super sweet with buckets of blueberry and sweet cherry notes, with a clean lime acidity in the finish.


on my way home i stopped into alterra to see superstar barista sL, and after shooting some shit and a killer single shot (pulled kinda short with some "oh so sweet" cherries in the finish) i was presented with the remainder of an, obviously much enjoyed, ethiopia sedoma from batdorf&bronson.


wednesday oct 22nd.
cupping the sedoma from b&b was equal parts wonderful and frustrating. wonderful because its awesome, and frustrating because of my mucus-filled head and the coffee was obviously not super fresh.

i couldn't tell you what the dry fragrance was. seriously. i got nothin'. damn snot-filled head. but the wet aroma was full of bergamot and lemongrass. the body was evident from before the beans were even ground, roasted of the lighter side with a really drinkable body. a pleasant snappy citric acidity with loads of bergamot, cocoa and bakers chocolate in the finish. as it cooled a nice berry sweetness came through the cup.

Monday, October 20, 2008

the first blog proper

i've been stuck in milwaukee, wisconsin for far too long. and by that i don't mean i've been actively trying to leave for any considerable period of time. i simply mean that i haven't actually left the city for more than a day in almost a year. its certainly time to get the fuck out for a while.
destination? atlanta, georgia. ATL or the diiiirty south, whichever you prefer.
why atlanta? to see the family. oh my, its been too long. i moved to this drunken suburb of chicago almost 3 yrs. and i haven't really seen much of my family since. mum. nana. uncle. aunt. 2 cousins. have all converged in ted turners city and now seems like a good time to see alot of people in a short space of time. not to mention, its about a third of the cost of transatlantic air travel. although, my o my, i really do miss england.

so. atlanta here i come. and just an added note, whilst i'm down in the south, it'd be terribly rude of me if i didn't stop in @ octane and say hello. they've been throwing down in the south-east region and nationally for a while now, and i want to see what its all about.....more about this in time *promise*

the first blog post

i guess i should start with some sort of introduction....
there is nothing tangible about albion espresso bar. it doesn't actually exist, yet. albion is the coffee house that i dream of opening. some day, possibly in the future, probably not in the past, it'll be open and i'll be able to chronical my freak-outs and verbose meanderings about being a coffeeshop owner into the ether. but for now, this is my space to collect idea's and inspirations. share experiences. express thought. and hopefully learn more than a few things.