Spotlight: LM Experience & Camellia Sinensis Bar

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La Marzocco's Ben Blake getting steamy on a Linea Mini

Over the next week TEDsters are connecting with their peers, some of the world’s greatest thinkers in opening dialogues and innovating across disciplines in a fun and interactive way.

In mirroring that interaction, WCE has partnered with our Official Equipment sponsor, La Marzocco and Camellia Sinensis to bring a dynamic bar experience to TEDsters where they can learn and get their hands dirty!

 

Nestled between the entrance and the main hall of the Vancouver Convention Centre, the Experience Bar has been grabbing TEDsters’ attention with its intriguing design and La Marzocco equipment. TEDsters walking up to the matching black, white, and red home espressos machines have been offered the chance to break the barrier of the bar and to get behind the machine to try things for themselves. So far, TEDsters have been embracing the spirit by giving espresso-pulling a shot! The Linea Minis have been built to a professional grade, and are equipped with a steam wand for TEDsters to work on their milk game!

 

Explaining the interest and growth in home espresso, La Marzocco’s Scott Callendar links it to the growth of the specialty coffee industry. “A lot of it has to do with consumer education. People are being exposed to these great coffee shops that have sprung up all over the place and are asking more and more questions. People have started to learn that the product of simple button pushing doesn’t taste the same as what they’re used to in these specialty cafés, and that’s what they’re trying to replicate.”

 

Whippin' real good - Hugo America from Camellia Sinensis preps matcha

Behind the home espresso machine is a manual brew station rotating through seven choice coffee roasters, as well as a tea bar,featuring Canada’s own Camellia Sinensis.

Kevin and Hugo have stocked the bar with a range of classic and exotic fresh loose leaf teas. So far the nutty, green kamiricha, and silky white wulong from Taiwan have teased TEDsters, but the star have been the three types of matcha from Japan.

As Hugo Americi from Camellia explains, tencha tea leaves are shaded for three weeks which results in a smooth tea with a lot of character and no bitterness. Whisked into a smooth consistency, the higher absorption rate by consuming the leaves rather than steeped water will leave TEDsters ready to Dream for hours!

Origin Story

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With TEDsters from around the globe about to descend on the Vancouver Convention Center next week, we thought it’d be fitting to share the journey of one our TED Baristas. And who more fitting than our furthest travelling barista, Ger O’Donohoe.

Handed the keys to a store with a Linea in 1999 in his then role of Operations Manager of a small chain of newsagents, Ger found himself in uncharted waters. 20 minutes later his induction to the world of coffee was complete. He was hooked and decided to venture down the route of specialty, not  escaping from behind the bar until he established First Draft Coffee, an independent barista training company.

Transitioning away from the bar and focussing on training, Ger wanted to experience the elevated service that is delivered as part of the tea & coffee program. ‘I was always so jealous of those who got to take part in Coffee Common, the interaction between barista and customer and that engagement we all talk about but rarely deliver is a reality here’. Beyond tasting delicious coffees and meeting the rest of the baristas, Ger is looking forward to learning the nuances of service in a different part of the world.

On his relationship with coffee at the minute, Ger equates it to a marriage. ‘There’s a love, respect and an unspoken bond. A true infatuation and unending fascination… But sometimes when you’ve been around each other long enough you want to strangle one another! You don’t, of course, you figure it out… but that’s the trick I guess.’

 

 

 

 

Honing in on Honduras

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Learning the background about a coffee’s story can often be as enlightening as revealing the results from a blind coffee cupping session. Norma Zulema Azucena Erazo’s coffee, discovered by Sightglass after cupping Honduras in 2013, is one that showcases the spectacular results of investment and partnership in the supply chain.

Norma Zulema Azucena Erazo, a single mother from the Barbara district of Honduras began selling coffee at local markets, but had her heart set on becoming a world class coffee farmer as she saw the potential of coffees.

Honduras bloomed as a coffee producing country quite late, and as a result of this there is a lack of access to necessary processing equipment and a quality control infrastructure. The agricultural fall out after Hurricane Mitch in the 1980’s and difficulty in drying coffee due to the altitude of the country and the onslaught of coffee rust have all compounded Honduras’ association as a low value commodity exporter to some in the past. From selling her coffee at local markets, Norma quickly saw the potential to elevate to a world-class product, and her strategy was two-fold.

After constructing a fermentation tank, depulper and shaded drying bed, Norma had the processing equipment she needed to showcase the Zulema, a rust-resistant Catimor varietal. In partnering with Beneficio San Vincente, a consistent contributor to Honduras Cup of Excellence, Norma could ensure that all milling was to a world standard before the Zulema reached Sightglass in San Francisco for roasting.

TEDsters can expect a balanced cup, with cacao nib flavours, crisp apple acidity and the syrupy sweetness of strawberry candy across our bars from Wednesday afternoon.

Dream Service

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TEDsters. It’s a name that describes the attendees of the TED conference, a gathering of razor sharp and varied intellects from around the world, designed to perpetuate ideas worth spreading. And spread they do. Over the course of five days, TEDsters participate in the cross pollination of ideas, innovations and conversations.

It’s where CEOs have their eyes opened by child-writers, and where pediatric cardiologists discover common ground with afro-beat artists. It’s a gathering of reciprocal influencers where no number of degrees of separation can take away from commonality or relevance. And this content takes various forms—the experience ranges from talks to music to dance to interactive workshops.

The theme for TED2016 is Dream, and the coffee & tea service this year is set up to reflect that theme—to tell the stories of specialty coffee, and to share some insight into the dreams of each roaster, farmer, barista, and coffee plant that is reflected in this service.  A key to delivering a world-class service to TEDsters lies in partnering with top-notch equipment and coffee partners.

A team of Q Graders and coffee professionals have whittled down 35 global submissions to the seven coffees that will be appearing at TED2016. La Marzocco, TED2016 coffee service’s Official Equipment Partner, has teamed up with WCE to provide six full-service bars that are set up to stimulate conversation, from both sides of the bar.

Manning the bars will be a team of 45 baristas that are not only competitive and highly qualified coffee professionals, but are also authors, artists, and entrepreneurs from around the world. This team is able to brew pour-over coffees at the same time as pore-ing over the finer points of a TEDster’s game changing pitch, and bring their unique perspective to the table.

In an industry where even the most established coffee professionals see themselves as students, it speaks volumes to how valuable communication between all stakeholders is, including the consumer. Our baristas are excited to have their chance in opening those lines of communication with their consumers, TEDsters, in showcasing not only the coffees but the stories behind them too.

Pacific Foods Travel Giveaway Winner

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The lovely folks over at Pacific Foods have been kind enough to offer a travel giveaway that all our TEDBaristas have been dreaming about – return airfare to TED 2016 in Vancouver!

With just over 15 days and counting until our baristas start brewing up a storm for TEDsters, the giveaway was especially heated, with entries down to the wire in the last few hours.

There can be only one winner and that is….

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…Cole McBride!

 

Congratulations Cole, see you in Vancouver!

Hello again, Vancouver!

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As the sun rises over the North Shore mountains on February 15 and hits the glass façade of the Convention Centre in Vancouver Harbor, it marks the beginning of this year’s TED talks. Waking with the sun, in order to fuel some of the most innovative and inspirational minds on the planet, will be this year’s elite barista team. They’re assembling in one of the world’s most important coffee cities to create the TEDCoffee experience. The theme of TED2016 is DREAM. And WCE has been hard at work to create a truly dreamy experience—from our team of international baristas, to our menu of coffee and teas, to our specialty coffee workshop for TEDsters, facilitated by SCAA’s Director of Specialty Coffee Symposium, Peter Giuliano.

 

WCE is delighted to be on hand not only to provide the liquid fuel for this conference, but also to engage the TEDsters by bringing in coffees that provide unique windows into the fascinating world of specialty coffee.

To ensure TEDsters can keep dreaming all day long, a committee of Q-graders, SCAA instructors and coffee professionals cupped coffees in order to make coffee selections for TED2016. Check back soon for the final menu!

 

Additionally, our Tea Program has been Oolong-ated this year, with Kevin Gascoyne of Camellia Sinesis promising to rock Vancouver with some exotic leaves! He is not only providing some truly excellent direction for our TED2016 tea service, but is also looking to upgrade barista terroir knowledge, and enhance our tea service with some very exciting global context.

 

The lovely folks at La Marzocco will be providing our six full-service bars with a top-notch kit, and some stellar barista support. As the TEDCoffee Official Equipment Partner, La Marzocco is debuting a unique Experience Bar within the context of TED2016, where TEDsters will have a chance to create some of their own, unique beverages.

 

We have also been very lucky to select a DREAM team of baristas in 2016, in partnership with Barista Guild of America and Barista Guild of Europe. Make sure to check out who’ll be fuelling your daily caffeine needs here… Who knows – sparking a conversation with a barista could make some mutual dreams come true!

 

Finally, we are teaming up with Pacific Foods Barista Series to run a travel giveaway to all participating TED baristas!

To be in with a chance to win standard airfare to and from TED2016, baristas should compose a coffee-related image that BEST represents the TED2016 theme, #DREAM.

Entries should be posted on Instagram and must tag @WCoffeeEvents, @PacificFoods #BaristaSeries and #TEDCoffee. Bonus points will be awarded for posts featuring Pacific Natural Foods products.

Check back to see the winning post on Friday!

 

There’s just one month between now and when eager TEDsters will gather in the amber tinted atrium of Vancouver Convention Centre, but no limit to how many dreams can be dreamt up in the interim.

As The Chaff Settles: TEDCoffee Recap

Credit: Marla Aufmuth
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42 volunteer baristas, 5 WCE staffers. Mission #TEDCoffee: complete…for 2014 at least! It has been almost a week since our team of baristas rounded out a wonderfully eventful 5 days of coffee & tea service at TED2014 in Vancouver and at TEDActive in Whistler. Our team, with the help of 26 incredible partners, and the guidance and wisdom of the BGA, smoothly and professionally operated 7 full service bars and 11 self-serve stations in two cities. We had the pleasure of utilizing 5 different brewing methods while serving coffees that highlighted local roasters from Canada, as well as coffee that was shipped across oceans from New Zealand and Taiwan. On top of that, we helped facilitate the debut of TOM’s new roasting venture. All the while bringing together a community of coffee professionals from across North America to work side-by-side towards a common goal. Not too shabby!

Matthew Williams of WCE remarked, “The success of coffee service at TED was the result of an extraordinary group of baristas. They were adept at handling the unique challenges of operating a temporary bar in a busy venue. They made awesome tasting coffee and they engaged with TEDsters in a way that everyone should be proud of. Hats off to a great team!”

Our dedicated group of volunteers really pulled through, working passionately to spread the word (and taste) of specialty coffee to the eclectic group of literati roaming the Vancouver Convention Center and the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. This made for a very unique experience as Jonathan Paul Doerr of Portola Coffee Lab in Costa Mesa pointed out.

“You are at this incredible event working with the best of your peers in the industry, serving amazing coffees and having an amazing time; but yes, that was a Nobel Prize winner you just served a soy cappuccino. And yes, your heart stopped while you were pouring it. Coffee at TED2014 is the most fun and enjoyable coffee experience I’ve been a part of. A constant flow of energy pulses through the space you are in. It is infectious. There is, however, a heaviness in some of the topics that are being discussed. You are a buffer though, and you stand in the decided safety between the trenches. The openness and free flow of ideas can only take place when there is a gap between things. At TED we facilitate that gap, but also provide the joy and intensity that permeates the conference.”

We are extremely excited to announce that WCE will be managing #TEDCoffee again next year, so please check back for updates on TED2015 and TEDActive. And check out some choice pics at our Photo Shelter Gallery!

WCE would like to send out a humongous “Thank You!” again to everyone who helped make #TEDCoffee 2014 so great!

Potent Quotables: Alex Negranza on his TEDCoffee Experience

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This is the second year in a row that Alex Negranza of Seattle, Washington, has volunteered his skills and talents to the coffee program at TED; both in 2013 at TEDActive in Palm Springs, and again this year at TEDActive in Whistler. Mr. Negranza put together a wonderful video for us that highlights the coffee/tea service in Whistler this year, and also explained what inspired him to participate in the TEDCoffee experience:

“Despite our communities and cultures, taste preferences and training, there’s a beautiful thing in coffee that unites us all: it’s the drive to serve someone a coffee that changes the way they approach their morning ritual. Almost a decade ago, I was entrapped by the idea that if I couldn’t understand something as simple as a cup of coffee, how was I going to take on the rest of my day…. and down the rabbit hole I went. I spent years reading, training, traveling, and countless sleepless nights of over-caffeination trying to wrap my head around a way to serve up that “A-Ha!” moment to a consumer. That moment that the light bulb clicks on…that moment when we share something that transcends the morning ritual…that moment when we, as baristas, turn into culinary alchemists and share black gold to a palate that’s only known charcoal and ash: that moment, created by depth and breadth of flavor and a story of scores of people united by a cause across handfuls of countries. Sure, it is something as simple as a cup of coffee- but nothing is ever as simple as it seems. And everything starts as an idea.

I’ve said it once, typed it three or four times and I’ll probably tweet it again- being a part of TED is one of the most inspirational and empowering things someone could ever experience. It’s hard to say what the coolest thing at TED was… Technology? Human Rights? Medical Advancements? Architecture? Biology? Aerospace? Edward Snowden Robot?! Selfies with aforementioned Snowden Robot?!?! Sure, those created unforgettable moments, but the coolest thing about TED for the coffee service was stripping down the baristas from our home machines, the comforts of our coffee bars, our favorite customers and coffees, removing the indie-branding and type-facing, letting us forget about our restored vintage knick-knacks and refurbished beech wood bars to remember that we share a common goal and story united across communities and cultures. We volunteered our minds and bodies for six long days. We served the idea of specialty coffee. We shared the goal of sustainability. We curated the service of that “A-Ha!” moment over and over again. And at the end of the day, we quietly bowed out, packed up, and went home to do it all over again.”

TEDCoffee 2014- Coffee Worth Sharing from World Coffee Events on Vimeo.

Behind the Scenes @ TEDCoffee 2014

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While they may not have been in-your-face at the stations, there were many things happening on back bars, behind closed doors, in hidden hallways and under counters in Vancouver and in Whistler that involved people and partners whose contributions to TEDCoffee were invaluable. All day, every day at TED, our rotating “BREW CREW” of 3 to 4 baristas could be found weighing, grinding, brewing, filtering, re-stocking, and running around to the 9 self-serve stations to ensure that all of the coffee and tea were available and at top quality for the over 2000 speakers, attendees, and staff at TED and TEDActive. Without the help of Bunn-O-MaticStealth Coffee Systems, Curtis, FLO-JET,  Global Customized Water, Visions Espresso, and Reg Barber, our coffee/tea service would’ve been a real drag.

Both BUNN & Stealth Coffee Systems provided us with grinders for batch brewing, including the MAHLKÖNIG EK 43, an industry sweetheart that allowed us to consistently and swiftly grind coffee for the masses. BUNN even provided us with their very own Rusty Angell, whose technical savvy and always-sunny disposition made everyone’s TEDCoffee experience even brighter :)

The wonderful Mr. Rusty Angell, of Bunn-O-Matic

FLOJET, as well as David Beeman and Stacy Ingram from Global Customized Water, allowed us to have exquisitely clean, filtered water constantly pumping to our espresso machines, hot water towers, and brewers,  which were provided by Curtis. Not to mention all the small wares from Visions Espresso and Reg Barber that our baristas used to tamp, steam, rinse, and serve the most delicious coffee possible at TED. Thank you again for enabling us to make the coffee and tea service at TED and TEDActive a huge success!

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Self-service set-up @ TED Vancouver

Potent Quotables: Mike Strumpf On The Swiss Water Process

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While at TED, we had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Mr. Mike Strumpf, who, aside from being a Licensed Q Grader, SCAA Instructor, SCAA Competitions Committee Member, Roaster’s Guild Advisory Council Member, and Head Judge, is also the Green Coffee Buyer for Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Company here in Vancouver. He happily obliged to answer some questions about his job at Swiss Water and explain some details of the process:

World Coffee Events (WCE): So, your position with Swiss Water is Green Coffee Buyer. Can you explain the different ways that your company interacts with roasters?

Mike Strumpf (MS): Yeah! There are more or less 2 different business channels: One is called tolling. Tolling is when a roaster owns coffee and then send it to us and we are the toll processor. No monetary transaction of buying coffee; we just take possession of it for a couple days, decaffeinate it, and then send it back to them.

In addition to tolling, we also go out and buy green coffee, decaffeinate it, and then sell it, rather than simply selling the processing. We don’t roast for sale though. We roast for evaluation, and we roast what we drink in the building. We have a production roaster so that we can speak about production roasting which really helps a lot, because it is much different from sample roasting. Just having a sample roaster is great for evaluation, but it doesn’t help us talk about the end product. We like to be as knowledgeable as possible because a lot of the job is educating accounts about how to roast decaf properly, and how to serve the best decaf possible.

WCE: How does roasting decaffeinated coffee differ from regular roasting?

MS: The roasting is similar, but you have different cues. If you are going by color, you’ll see a similar progression of color from light to dark, but it’s kind of like a different Pantone swatch. Your starting point is different, so even though your progression follows the same path, it starts at a different point, so what you expect at 3 minutes will be a different color than expected. I have a background in production roasting and sample roasting, and so I do a lot of work with people on how they can fine tune their roasts, which is tricky, because we aren’t trying to tell people how to roast  coffee so we have to listen to them about what their roasting style is and then try and think about what they can do differently.

WCE: How many decaffeination plants exist as far as you are aware?

MS: There are about 20 decaffeination plants in the world, but we are the only one that really markets our brand as strongly as we do, and we are really the only ones that do direct-to-consumer marketing.

WCE: In my experience with decaf coffees, when you hear a coffee was processed by Swiss Water, you know it’s going to be good…

MS: Here’s the thing – The secret to decaf is that if you have good coffee before it’s decaffeinated, you have good decaf. Which shouldn’t be a secret, but that’s the key, and so that’s why the toll processing program is really great. Because if you are a roaster and you already buy great coffee, you can offer the exact same coffee in regular and in decaf, and your customers already know that farm or coop and that works really well. Otherwise, if you don’t have enough volume to process your own decaf, you have to go with someone like us who is selecting the green coffee and decaffeinating it. But it’s hard to give up that control.

WCE: Can you explain the process of decaffeinating the beans?

MS: Of course! They all work in about the same way. First, you soak/steam beans (makes it easier to extract caffeine when they are moist), then you just need a medium to remove the caffeine from beans, and then you have another process to remove the caffeine from that medium, and then you dry the beans. And that’s decaffeination everywhere.

WCE: What makes the Swiss Water Process different from other processes?

MS:The difference comes in asking: What do you do to soak/steam the beans? What’s the medium? How do you remove the caffeine from them? The big difference is the medium that we use is what we call green coffee extract (water saturated with flavor-soluble solids of coffee) So caffeine is a soluble solid…it just brews out with water. You put beans into this extract, because the soluble solids are at equilibrium and the extract is in the beans, the only thing that brews out is the caffeine. The flavor never leaves, it just stays in the beans. What is very unique to us is how we remove the caffeine from that medium. We call it the Proprietary Carbon Technology: use columns of carbon to remove the caffeine from the extract, but to not remove the rest of the soluble solids. And that’s what is proprietary about it is that it is custom for us and we have to manage the whole process and make sure that it is working properly. This is what allows us to decaffeinate without the use of chemicals.

WCE: Most companies sell off the caffeine after they extract it. Does Swiss Water also do this?

MS: We are pretty much the only people that don’t sell the caffeine. We put our carbon through a reactivation furnace which allows the carbon to be used again. We are organic certified and as far as I am aware there are less than 5 certified organic decaffeinators in the world.

WCE: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about before we finish up?

MS: I’d love to return to the subject of coffee sourcing – the fact that you have to trust us to buy your coffee means you have to know who we are, and having face to face interactions really helps, so that’s why we support events with WCE/SCAA/SCAE. We are the same specialty coffee professionals that the roasters are. That is why we support this kind of event, along with almost every other WCE event or competition.

WCE: How are the sentiments about decaf coffee changing in the specialty coffee world?

MS: We are serious about specialty coffee. And it starts from within, because even in the industry, it’s a hard paradigm to break away from and it’s happening slowly, but it is happening, and people are not thinking the same way about decaf where it’s simply an afterthought. For example, the type of service held here at TED, with farm-specific decaf alongside the farm-specific regular coffee; there is just as much information about decaf coffee, and it can taste just as good, but you have to give it the same amount of attention. When a process comes out perfectly, the coffee tastes the same.

 

Learn more about the Swiss Water Process at their website.