Saturday, May 5, 2012

Learn something about Coffee

Postcard from Marina

hello,

According to a coffee history legend, an Arabian shepherd named Kaldi found his goats dancing joyously around a dark green leafed shrub with bright red cherries in the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.  Kaldi soon determined that it was the bright red cherries on the shrub that were causing the peculiar euphoria and after trying the cherries himself, he learned of their powerful effect.  The stimulating effect was then exploited by monks at a local monastery to stay awake during extended hours of prayer and distributed to other monasteries around the world.  Coffee was born.
Despite the appeal of such a legend, recent botanical evidence suggests a different coffee bean origin. This evidence indicates that the history of the coffee bean beagan on the plateaus of central Ethiopia and somehow must have been brought to Yemen where it was cultivated since the 6th century.  Upon introduction of the first coffee houses in Cairo and Mecca coffee became a passion rather than just a stimulant.
For more coffee legends and details about the history of the coffee bean, visit National Geographic.com.

Espresso coffee 
The term "espresso" is derived from the Italian word for express since espresso is made for and served immediately to the customer.  A double espresso is a 47-62.5 mL (1.5-2 ounce) extract that is prepared from 14-17 grams of coffee through which purified water of 88-95°C has been forced at 9-10 atmospheres of pressure for a brew time of 22-28 seconds.  The espresso should drip out of the porta-filter like warm honey, have a deep reddish-brown color, and a crema that makes up 10-30% of the beverage. 

Definition of Espresso

Espresso coffee brewing is defined by four "M's": the Macinazione is the correct grinding of a coffee blend, Miscela is the coffee blend, Macchina is the espresso machine, and Mano is the skilled hand of the barista.  When each factor of the four M's is precisely controlled, the espresso beverage that is produced is the ultimate coffee experience.

The best espresso should be extraordinarily sweet, have a potent aroma, and flavor similar to freshly ground coffee.  The crema should be dark reddish-brown and smooth, yet thick.  A perfect espresso should be enjoyable straight with no additives, yet bold enough to not disappear in milk.  A pleasant and aromatic aftertaste should linger on the palate for several minutes after consumption.
The following steps describe in detail how to make espresso. You will also learn about the various factors and problems with espresso that limit its perfection. If any of these factors are off, you will not achieve a high quality espresso.

Making Perfect Espresso

Blending Espresso

Without a good espresso coffee blend you cannot have a good espresso.  The best espresso coffee beans are blended to achieve the sweetness, aromatics, and smoothness desired in espresso.  The espresso blend must also be fresh.  We recommend using espresso within four days of roasting.  Please see the espresso blending section for help on creating your own blends or order some excellent espresso blends from roasted coffee suppliers, such as Caffe D'arte or Espresso Vivace.

Roasting Espresso

Too often you will find espresso roasted very dark.  This results in a bitter, charcoal tasting brew.  People that know how to make an espresso will roast light to preserve the aroma and sugars. For more information, read the section about espresso roasting.

Grinding Espresso

The grind must be continuously monitored throughout the day to achieve an extraction time of 25-30 seconds.  Do not change the pressure you tamp with to compensate for a grind that has become too large or small.  For more information, read the section about espresso grinding.

Espresso Grinder

A high quality burr grinder is essential for espresso.  A conical burr grinder is preferred to flat burrs since the particle size is more even, they last longer, and the coffee is not heated during the grinding process.  If the burrs become hot the coffee aroma will be diminished.  A conical/parallel hybrid blade is considered the best design by many coffee professionals. 

Dosing Espresso

Coffee must be freshly ground to achieve peak flavors.  Grind and dose on demand.  When someone orders an espresso grind only what is necessary for one shot, dose properly, tamp, and brew.  Discard any espresso grounds that are not used within 30 seconds.  For more information, read the section about espresso grinding and dosing

Distribution in Portafilter

Distribute the coffee evenly after dosing in the porta-filter before tamping.

Tamping Espresso

Tamp the coffee once very evenly with 5 lbs of pressure, then once with 30 lbs of pressure, and polish 720° with 20 lbs of pressure. For more information, read the section about espresso tamping.

Water mineral content

The water used for espresso must be filtered.  Some cities must even compensate for the mineral content of their water.  Over time oxygen will be forced out of the water in the espresso machine leading to off tasting water.  Try filling a small glass with water, letting it cool, and tasting it for off flavors.  If the water tastes strange you may want to dump the tanks daily and begin with fresh water.

Water temperature

The water temperature should be stable and somewhere between 92-96°C.  Choosing the best espresso machine is very important to both water temperature and temperature stability.

Temperature stabilizing

A stable temperature helps ensure that you prepare excellent espresso. For more information about stabilizing the temperature of your espresso machine, read about espresso temperature stabilizing.

Water pressure for Espresso

The pressure of the water forced through the espresso should be between 9 and 10 atm.  This pressure is responsible for the development of the crema.

Boiler pressure

The boiler pressure determines the amount of water to be incorporated in the steam.  If your milk is not foaming correctly as described in the section on latte art, you may want to experiment with different boiler pressures. Boiler pressure, however, should only be altered by professionals.  You can check your boiler pressure by looking at the boiler pressure gauge on the front of most espresso machines.

Extraction time

Extraction time to fill two 1-oz cups should be between 25-30 seconds.  Despite the time the pump should be turned off if the espresso becomes slightly lighter in color.  The goal is to have a dark red espresso take approximately 25-30 seconds to brew with no change in color. Fore more information, read the section on extracting espresso.

Porta-filter and basket

The porta-filter should always remain the same temperature as the water used to brew the espresso.  Therefore it should always remain in the group head.  The basket should hold 16-18 grams of coffee and must be straight walled.  Curvatures in the basket will lead to uneven extraction.

Timeliness

Act quickly, but carefully.  You should spend no longer than 30 seconds for the time it takes to dose, distribute, tamp, pre-heat, and brew the espresso.

Espresso machine cleanliness

Coffee machine cleaning is probably the biggest problem with espresso today.  If the machine, basket, and porta-filter are not cleaned regularly, the espresso will always taste rancid. 

Espresso grinder maintenance

Everyday the burr blades should be swept clean.  Between shots you may want to brush out the excess espresso that gets stuck between the burrs and the dosing chamber.  The burrs must be replaced at least yearly so that they continue to produce coffee granules with a maximal surface area.

Environmental Factors

The humidity and temperature will change throughout the day.  Since coffee is hydroscopic (absorbs moisture), the grind size must be changed throughout the day to achieve a brew time of 25-30 seconds.  The temperature will not affect the espresso like the humidity, but it is important to avoid exposing the coffee to any high temperatures until brewing.

Espresso cup

The espresso cup should be pre-heated from a source other than the espresso machine.  Filling a cup with water from the espresso machine prior to brewing the espresso will lower the temperature of the water in the boiler and the espresso extraction will be uneven.  The espresso cup should have thick walls and a narrow mouth to retain heat and aroma, respectively.

Practice makes perfect

If you want to learn to make espresso, it is essential to practice and experiment.  The key to making espresso is to realize that it always has further potential.  By changing any one of these factors you can improve or diminish its potential.  Espresso preparation is an art that demands the precision and dedication of science.  I have never achieved, nor have ever seen anyone make a perfect espresso.  A perfect espresso is more of a concept than an actuality.  The beauty is that espresso is volatile and difficult.  If it were easy, we would develop a machine that knows how to make a perfect espresso every time.  There are so many factors involved in espresso preparation that only a human mind and a passionate heart can begin to understand and control its complexity.

repost from here :)

have a nice day!

Learn something about Philippines

Postcard from Philippines
hello!

EXPERIENCE the Philippines... It's 7,107 Islands, its natural wonders, colorful history, and warm and engaging people!
Over a hundred ethnic groups, a mixture of foreign influences and a fusion of culture and arts have enhanced the uniqueness of the Filipino and wonder that is the PHILIPPINES.
An archipelago abundant in nature, rich in culture, and filled with pleasant discoveries. The Philippines has three main islands - Luzon in the north, Visayas; a cluster of smaller islands in the middle, and Mindanao down south; the largest island.
The Philippines enjoys a diversity of destinations, activities, and events which every explorer experiences in this archipelago of wonders. Vast mountains and volcanoes tell of great legends. Old cities share stories of the past. Caves excite. Shimmering waters and a tropical climate lure travelers all year round.

Heritage

Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park
Location: Middle of the Sulu Sea, 181 kilometers southeast of Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Inscribe in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1993


The Tubbataha Reef Marine Park covers 33,200 hectares including the north and south reefs. It is a marvelous marine wilderness and a special ecosystem much appreciated for its beauty as well as its scientific value.


It is a unique example of an atoll reef with a very high density of marine species, with 80% coral cover of 46 coral genres and 376 fish species. The site is an excellent example of a pristine coral reef with a spectacular 100-meter perpendicular wall, extensive lagoons and two-coral islands.


Tubbataha’s north islet is a nesting site for sea birds of all kinds and endangered hawksbill sea turtles; a diver’s paradise with gorgonian seafans, soft corals, and gigantic sea sponges serving as home to turkey fish, anemone crab, banded seasnakes, nudibranchs, starfish, catsharks, surgeon fish, batfish, and butterfly fish. The rare, unusual looking fox-faced rabbit fish can also be found in the marine park. Marine turtles, including the critically endangered hawksbill and green turtle, nest on some of the beaches.
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park
Location: Saint Paul Mountain Range on the northern coast of Palawan
Inscribe in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1999

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park features a spectacular limestone karst landscape with its underground river. The river is unique because it flows directly into the sea, and its lower portion is subject to tidal influences. The area also represents a significant habitat for biodiversity conservation. The site contains a whole ecosystem --- from mountain to the sea; and protects forests, which are among the most significant in Asia.


A highlight of each visit is a ride through its 8 km-long underground river which runs through a dome of stalactites complemented by stalagmites running the entire length of the cave.


The park is a popular destination for bird watching and is known for regular sightings of threatened bird species of Palawan peacock-peasant and Philippine cockatoo and the endemic birds Palawan scopsowl, swiftlet, hornbill, flyeater and blue flycatcher, tit and flowerpecker. It is blessed to have the Palawan flying fox, Oriental small-clawed otter, stinkbadger, binturong, flying squirrel, mountain tree squirrel and porcupine.


The park also features an exciting Monkey Trail with its series of wooden paths to the forest.


Historic Town of Vigan
Location: Vigan, Ilocos Sur
Inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1999


The 16th century town of Vigan is “an exceptionally intact and well-preserved example of a European trading town in East and East Asia.” Its architecture reflects the fusion of cultural elements from the Philippines, China and Europe, resulting in a culture and townscape that has no parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.


Seemingly impervious to time, spared from rebellion and the ravages of war, Vigan has remained unchanged and its many preserved historic sites – more than 180 edifices – make it look like “a piece of Spain.” With its grand cathedral, massive mansions with red-tile roofs and spacious balconies, narrow cobblestone streets, horse drawn carriages, and friendly faces peering out of large windows, Vigan is a place where “time stood still.”

San Agustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte
Photo by Anna Buenaventura.
Paoay’s San Agustin Church, built in 1604, is one of the most outstanding variants of “earthquake baroque” in the Philippines, where the primary consideration was to design the structure for earthquake protection.

The fa├žade of San Agustin Church is astounding but its most prominent feature is the phalanx of buttresses that juts out perpendicularly from the sidewalls, purposely to strengthen the walls – and the entire structure – against earthquake damage. Fourteen massive S-shaped buttresses rise in rhythmic cadence from the ground to the roofline.


The church is an eye-catcher as it emerges from a beautiful open space, unlike many other churches located within urban settings.  

Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras
Location: Ifugao
Inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995

The 2,000-year old Banaue Rice Terraces – the most extensive anywhere in the world – were carved into the mountains of Ifugao by ancestors of the Batad indigenous people. The terraces are located approximately 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) above sea level and cover 10,360 square kilometers (about 4,000 square miles) of the mountainside.

Known as the “eight wonder of the world,” the terraces were carved with only simple tools and bare hands. They are fed by an ancient irrigation system, an ingenious complex of bamboo pipes and canals, drawing water from streams created by bubbling springs located in the mountain rainforests.

Considered as a monument to man’s genius in turning a rugged and forbidding terrain into a source of sustenance, the rice terraces stand to be the most awe-inspiring man-made landscape in the Cordilleras. They are also invariably called “The Stairway to the Sky.”

repost from here :)