Where Have You Bean All My Life…

… You are probably asking. Well, I could say I’ve been super duper busy exploring realms of coffee never seen by the human eye, or that I’ve been in a caffeine-coma due to excessive intake of so much amazing espresso! Alas, I’m just a rubbish blogger. Sorry to disappoint, but feel free to believe one of the above reasons. I won’t tell anybody.

Lots of stuff has been happening though! The training biz is really kicking off. I wouldn’t say I have people fighting for slots, but I think that having a steady stream of business is more important these days. I think it promotes longevity in what you do and suggests that it’s not just a fad.

So!

Riverhill Coffee Bar

24 Gordon Street
Glasgow
G1 3PU

riverhill

I have been working with the amazing guys at Riverhill since before they opened in late January. I knew already that they used Dear Green Coffee in their Deli Cafe in Helensburgh, and the rumours of the food they served shouted quality at me. Then Lisa from Dear Green told me they’d ordered not one, but two La Marzocco Lineas accompanied by a trio of Mazzers – a Major Auto, a Mini-E and a Super Jolly, and I thought these guys must be really serious!! Well, they are really serious.

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It’s so refreshing and rewarding to be part of establishing and growing a premium coffee offering in the City Centre of Glasgow! I’m very proud of everyone involved and considering the shop is only now in it’s 7th week (at time of writing) the customer base and level of support in general is outstanding! Long may it continue!

Thanks for reading

Michael

Coffee Jam V

On Tuesday I hosted the fifth monthly Coffee Jam. Coffee Jam is an event organised by a few people looking to engage a wider audience in speciality coffee/general industry antics. There are many baristas and home baristas who attend, and people who haven’t ever made any coffee before but find it interesting and want to learn a bit more about coffee.

Generally the event starts off with an intro to what will be happening, in this case we had arranged a small cupping-style tasting of two different coffees, each processed in two different ways, so we had a selection of four to compare.

I’d like to thank Hasbean for donating four bags of coffee for this event; two Nicaraguan and two El Salvador. Each coffee was processed two ways, fully washed, and pulped natural. A washed coffee is one which has had the fruit removed and the bean fully washed with water (no suds!) so there is no mucilage left over. This typically gives a “cleaner” taste (funnily enough). A naturally processed coffee is one which has been left to dry with the fruit still in tact, then put through a pulping machine with a small amount of water so as not to remove all mucilage. This method usually lets you taste a certain “funk” from the coffee, due to the leftover fruit on the bean.

Some pics;

All really interesting flavours. We tasted all coffees blind (nobody knew what they were beforehand) so as not to influence flavour suggestions.

Everyone had their favourites and as always, some funny flavours were being exclaimed, chilli, and more specifically, kidney beans was my favourite!

Robbie, part of the Brew Lab team made the journey through to Glasgow from Edinburgh and kindly brought some interesting coffees along with him, so after the tasting had finished, he brewed some coffees in a v60 while some cleanup was happening, cheers mate!

We kept tradition by having a light hearted latte art competition, with the four best pours taking home a bag each of the remaining coffee from Hasbean, amazing!

 

Look at this amazing pour by Eilidh – never made a coffee in her life!

Thanks to everyone for the amazing turnout. Anybody who is interested in coming to the next one just get in touch for details, and follow Glasgow Coffee Jam on facebook!

Cheers
Michael

Filmhouse Cinema, Edinburgh

Last week I spent two mornings training the bar staff at Filmhouse Cinema on Edinburgh’s Lothian Road.

Machine was a 3 group Cimbali paired with a Macap grinder.

On first use i noticed the grinder wasn’t grinding at the usual speed, and was getting overly hot around the burrs. Initially I thought it could use a good clean out, as stale grinds clogging the chute could cause a slower output and make the grinder overheat. Removing the upper burr carrier revealed that it wasn’t actually too dirty inside, but the burrs were properly blunt! Thankfully I had another session there a couple days later so whilst back in Glasgow i picked up some new burrs and fitted them first thing on Friday morning – amazing difference. The output was now back to normal and the coffee tasted better, no burnt taste and enhanced flavour!

The main issue in businesses with high numbers of staff is lack of consistency between baristas. In every shop I’ve worked in this has been an issue to some degree, and was initially what made me want to deliver training. As an employer I would love to have access to a training resource that would ensure all my staff were delivering the same product time after time. Fun in a Cup was born!

Filmhouse Cinema is a massively busy picture house. The bar sells alcohol, a full hot food menu, breakfast rolls, tea, bulk brew filter, hot chocolate and espresso based drinks. Their beans are supplied by Edinburgh Tea & Coffee.

This was an example of a coffee supplier/someone in charge saying “don’t mess with the grind setting”. I understand that it can be dangerous to have 15 staff members all changing the grind to what THEY think it should be set to, but I always encourage at least a few of the full time members f staff being trained on how to dial in the grinder correctly, even to a basic level, so that’s what we did! Lots of time spent on equipment setup, dialling in the grinder, bean storage and coffee freshness, then working our way through the drinks menu ensuring that everything is produced to a high standard.

When clients are already established and recognise a need for delivering higher standards, there are usually elements they want to change and elements they don’t. In this case, I was not there to advise on cup sizes or equipment upgrades. Simply to improve what they already offer, which is 8oz americanos, 12oz mochas and 16oz lattes & cappuccinos. Absolutely fine! Not to everyone’s taste, and I don’t think I’d be able to drink 16oz of coffee in one go, but these guys are really busy and the customers lap it up, so crack on!

Latte art wasn’t a part of the training, but as the staff became more familiar with the slightly adjusted way of steaming and pouring milk, the art was beginning to happen naturally and will only continue to improve as long as they keep striving to achieve better.

Overall this was a really enjoyable team to work with. All very keen to learn more and build on what they already learned. With any luck their future new recruits will receive clearer, more precise coffee training, reducing inconsistencies as far as possible!

Keep it up FH!
Filmhouse Cinema

Michael
Michael

Video Interview

Last month I met with Aleks Jurczak, writer of a blog called A Black Spot as she had offered to film a short video interview with me about what Fun in a Cup is all about and a bit about how we work.

This was a new thing for me as I had never done any video interviews so I was really just hoping I didn’t sound horrible (nobody likes the sound of their own voice!) but a week or two later when Aleks had edited the video, put music to it and cut out the useless parts, I watched it with my hands half covering my eyes…and I was really happy with it!

You can see the video

here

I’ve had so many compliments about the video and for that I can’t thank Aleks enough for her help and the work she put in.

We also shot a video on how to brew a (roughly) which you can find

here

Thanks for looking
Michael

It’s been a while!

Hello there!

So, last post was in February…sheesh! Where has the time gone?!

A lot has happened since then, let’s see…(this might be a big one!)

I provided coffee for two different companies exhibiting at Diabetes UK, held at the SECC in March. That was an amazing experience and the biggest event that I had done. I hired all the gear to equip two bars with 2 group machines, grinders, and the friendliest baristas I knew, without whom it wouldn’t have been possible. Filled a van with milk and we were ready to go! Amazing fun and can’t wait for the next one!

The other big news is that I am now 100% self employed! Since Fun in a Cup started, I had been running it around my full time work, simply because the business was in its infancy and hadn’t picked up enough speed to depend on it fully. I was always working towards running the business full time but didn’t know when that time would come.

Back in June I was asked to deliver training on behalf of Tennents Training Academy as an external tutor. Barista training isn’t the most popular course they deliver, being an alcohol based business, but nevertheless they wanted to ensure the barista training was very high quality, so this is something I’m currently working on with them, as well as advanced barista training, filter coffee and latte art master classes – fun stuff, but this meant taking a couple days off work most weeks to honour these commitments, which wasn’t ideal.

It was the added commitment of tutoring at Tennents on top of my job as a cafe manager, combined with my increasingly busy Coffee Training business that made me decide that I would make the scary jump to being fully self employed, so handed in a months notice at the cafe and started preparing to finish up at the end of July. Over a month in now and I haven’t looked back once! All the little things that I was writing down on my notepad to do ‘later’ can now get done sooner rather than later, and booking clients in for training is much easier as I only have the clients and my own schedules to work around – happy happy days!

Taking Fun in a Cup full time at the start of August also dovetailed with the completion of a new training space. Based at Espresso Services in Govans Elderpark Workspace, Fun in a Cup can now cater for groups in a more efficient way as we can have up to 4 machines running at any one time. We use equipment from manufacturers such as Gaggia, La Spaziale, Espresso Services, Simonelli, Franke, Anfim, and many more!

I now have space to offer training on alternative brew methods such as v60, chemex, French press, clever coffee dripper and aeropress. I use a wide range of freshly roasted coffee from suppliers such as Glasgows own Dear Green, HasBean, Extract, Union amongst others.

I’ll leave this one at that, but theres more to come soon!

Thanks
Michael

Jam Jar Coffee!

So our friend Cass runs a fun blog called JamJarJam and does really cool things with disused jam jars. She suggested it might be fun if I did something coffee related. This will be the first of a few coffee&jar colaborations, so here is the first one…

Fun in a Cup’s French Press (in a jar) Guide;

You will need;

  • A french press (caffetiere)
  • some jars (I’m using two)
  • some scales
  • fresh coffee (beans or ground)
  • a kettle!

Firstly, boil the kettle, and preheat your cup, caffetiere, and jar. I’m using the jar as a decanter, because I’m cool like that. Maintaining temperature is important with coffee.

Next up, weigh out 15g of beans (or ground coffee) and grind them up nice and coursely so it feels like rough sand. I’m using another jar to weigh my coffee.

Pour the water out of the caffetiere and add your ground coffee

This should have only taken you a minute or so, which means the water in the kettle will have dropped slightly from boiling. That’s what we want. This is to avoid scorching the coffee grounds and leaving a burnt or bitter taste in the cup.

Add your water. I’m using a 1-cup caffetiere, which holds around 300ml of water. Ensure all the grounds are wet by giving it a brief stir, then start a timer. You’ve got 4 minutes to kill here!

In the meantime, I made myself a quick espresso (in a jar!) to keep me going!

When your timer tells you it has been 4 minutes, it’s time to scoop off the crust (the big thick bit of coffee at the top of the caffetiere) to reduce sediment in the cup. Using two desert spoons, simultaneously pull them across the top evenly so as to catch all the crust in one swoop, then throw it in the compost bin – it’s a good fertilising aid!


Replace the plunger, and press down slowly and evenly


Then pour the coffee into your decanting jar. I used a decanter so my coffee wasn’t continuing to brew after I’d poured myself a cup.

And we’re done! Pour and enjoy 🙂

Cupping…

I bought a home coffee roaster recently, a Behmor 1600. Its around the size of a microwave, and has a rotating mesh drum inside to turn the coffee while it is being heated by a couple of very hot elements!

It looks like this;

 

 

 

 

 

So I set out with the intention of creating a Christmas blend for filter brew methods, mainly french press. I proceeded to buy 1kg each of 3 different coffees from http://www.greencoffeeshop.co.uk – a Guatemalan, Costa Rican and Ethiopian.

After almost setting my house on fire, I roasted a half-pound (225g) of each coffee separately and let it develop for just over 48hrs, then I called a friend with a good nose round to cup them with me. Here are the pics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The flat white wasn’t very nice, but it looked good so that was ok! The milk completely obliterated any complexity in the blend. Good job it’s for filter…completely intentional!

I decided to go with a 60/30/10 blend of Guatemalan, Costa Rican, Ethiopian respectively. Tried in french press and aeropress and enjoying it so far! Considering I  rushed this whole process to get it done in time for christmas with the small amount of time I have spare at the moment I’m fairly happy with it!

After Christmas is over I will really start playing with different coffees. I want to nail an espresso blend as that’s what I drink mostly at home. Watch this space (but it might take a while…so get a cup of tea or something first)