Latest from First Pour
13th February 2014
We enjoy getting down to the Boathouse on the Maribyrnong River, especially on a gorgeous day. Seems like we’re not the only ones. We came across this review of it and must say, we loved it! Gary Mehigan’s Boathouse is introducing some exciting new changes in the coffee department, so definitely stay tuned for that. We’ll bring you more information on that as it becomes available. In the mean time we’ve re-posted this blog.
For a direct link, click here. Otherwise enjoy the read below!
Monday, February 3, 2014
THE BOATHOUSE – Salad Days
7 The Boulevard, Moonee Ponds, Vic 3038
Views of the Maribyrnong
The Boathouse rests on the banks of the Maribyrnong in Moonee Ponds. It is a collaboration between Gary Mehigan – judge and co-host of MasterChef Australia – and Steve Bogdani, their vision being “to share life’s simple pleasures done really well”.
Dining on the deck
Some of life’s simple pleasures that I enjoy:
– Long, leisurely lunches with dear friends
– Gossiping over good coffee
– River views
– Friendly service
– Scrumptious food
The Boathouse: tick, tick, tick, tick, tick and tick.
Waiting for the oar d’oeuvres
You’d be excused for thinking three ladies at lunch would be all, “Ooh, I’m on a diet, I’ll just have a salad.” Well, yes, we did order three salads as it happens, but we’re not on diets, and thank goodness for that because the portion sizes were more cruise ship than canoe. (In hindsight, the nibbles of olives and chorizo and spicy meatballs were not necessary, though that didn’t stop us from polishing those off, too.)
Beets an’ egg salad
Vietnamese chicken coleslaw
If I had to pick a winner, it was the slow-roasted lamb salad with freekah, pomegranate and tahini; goddamn, that lamb was melt-in-the-mouth good. But the Vietnamese coleslaw with chicken, nuts and a wedge of lime was fresh, tasty and crisp, and the beetroot salad – with red quinoa, soft-boiled egg, walnuts and crème fraiche – was as tasty as it was pretty.
Get your freekah on! Slow-roast lamb salad
Other pluses: the space is vast inside and out, so even when it gets busy you’re still sure to find a table (though the car park can fill up). The room to manoeuvre, location on the riverbank, and excellent public playground on one side also means that prams and their owners are plentiful, but do not obstruct or overrun the place. And for parents of little ones who just won’t sit still, the Boathouse has a takeaway kiosk facing the playground for all your babycino-on-the-go needs.
My final verdict for Gary’s Boathouse? Nautical but nice.
Every boathouse needs a boat
18th January 2014
There used to be a time when people didn’t care what their coffee looked like – as long as they got one and it tasted good!
Recently however, our experience shows that latte art has never been more popular than it is now and is in fact becoming the norm, not just with the specialty coffee outlets; it’s infiltrating all manner of coffee stores from regular cafes right through to larger well-known coffee chains. There is still some way to go but there are no signs of the trend turning back.
Latte Art is favoured both amongst baristas that are trying to perfect their craft and also with customers who enjoy the beautiful presentation of their latte.
So, why does it have such a following? There are several explanations. First let’s consider appearances; presentation says everything. If you are accustomed to a cafe where the baristas always put a nice, aesthetic finishing touch on your milk based beverage, it’s not long before you come to expect it everywhere. Beverages that don’t present well imply less care was taken and that the quality isn’t as good (even if it’s not true) and the impression is that this ‘impacts’ on taste.
If you were to choose from the beverages below, between the left and the right, which would it be? And would you expect it to taste better? Each to their own, but given a choice most people would probably select the one on the right and expect it to taste better!
Above: Left or right?!
Below: some how to’s for latte art patterns
There are a number of latte art competitions out there that are designed specifically to develop the barista’s coffee making skills, with a focus on presentation.
At Veneziano we actively encourage our baristas take part in these competitions. Not only does it hone their skills it’s a great way to mimic the high pressure environment of the hard working cafe. If the baristas want to excel in these competitions and proudly, ours do, then they must put in a lot of time practising their art. As a result, the skills (and awards) they bring back to the cafe makes them a great all round professional barista.
In the speciality coffee industry, the latte art competition produces a winner in each state and then an Australian Latte Art Champion who earns the prestige to go on and represent Australia in a world competition. Criteria for such a competition includes and is not limited to:
- completion of three set latte art tasks within a pre-determined time frame
- visual components such as good contrast between pattern and ‘background’, nice glossy foam, symmetry and centering of the design
- technical components such as cleanliness of the machine, work tools and work space, correct measurements and dosage of coffee and milk, lack of wastage of coffee and milk
The winning latte art champions have the opportunity to earn themselves some great prizes valued at substantial sums and it opens many doors for the career path of a professional barista.
Above: Jen Marks and her participation in the Australian Latte Art Championship 2013 and subsequently in Nice, France for the World competition representing Australia
Latte Art Smack Down (or Throw Down)
Another kind of latte art competition we encourage, and quite often host at our premises, are the extremely popular latte art smackdowns (or latte art throw-down). This is an exciting, fast paced competition pitting two baristas against each other at a time in a knock-out style competition, until there remains a winner. The baristas are under time and performance pressure.
They also makes for a great spectator event. These latte art smackdowns never fail to attract some very fierce competitors! It’s also an excellent opportunity for baristas to win some great prizes related to their trade and some substantial cash prizes are typically offered at Veneziano-hosted smackdowns.
Everyone’s happy. Who’s to complain when all of this leads to a better product (i.e. the end coffee beverage), better baristas, a better coffee experience for the customer and a better reputation for the cafe and/or roaster.
14th November 2013
Industry appointment, Australian specialty coffee.
Melbourne, Australia, November 14, 2013 – Craig Dickson, Managing Director of Veneziano Coffee Roasters calls it a day with his intention to stand down from the AustralAsian Specialty Coffee Association (AASCA) organising committee, including his role as president, effective as of the Annual General Meeting December 2, 2013.
Hesitant to let go of a good thing, Dickson says, “I regret that due to time and work factors I must sacrifice a responsibility that I am really passionate about and one that continues to raise the profile of the specialty coffee industry in Australia”.
“However, I’m also extremely proud of the achievements AASCA has made in the three years I’ve been active in the committee and as its president”, he recalls.
Recapping some milestone events achieved by AASCA during this period:
- Most notably, in an Australian first AASCA under Craig’s direction created the MICE concept – the country’s first international coffee expo which serves as a platform for hosting world events, resulting in successful bids to host World Barista and World Brewers Cup Championships 2013 and World Latte Art, World Coffee in Good Spirits and World Cup Tasters Championships in 2014
- Maintaining high standards for national coffee competitions, including the judging competencies of volunteers, to foster some great barista talent and raise the profile of the barista profession as well as raise the profile of Australia’s specialty coffee scene in the world arena
- Securing sponsors that complement the global specialty coffee environment as well as the domestic scene
- Implementing an improved and more user-friendly website and social media platforms; and more.
“It’s been both challenging and rewarding and I’d like to thank all my industry peers that I’ve had the pleasure to work with in order to achieve all that we have in this period of AASCA’s operation”, Dickson explains.
“I can say that I’m pleased and ready to hand over to the next committee an AASCA that stands in a great position and I’m looking forward to seeing the developments of the next phase as they occur”, he concludes.
AASCA President 2011 – 2013
AASCA Sponsorship Manager 2010 – 2011
AASCA Accredited Judge – 10 years
World Certified coffee competition judge – 4 years
Managing Director, Veneziano Coffee Roasters
Veneziano Coffee Roasters - specialty coffee roasters; award winning blends and exclusive microlot coffees; supporter of direct trade with producers and cooperatives; on site quality coffee training and education by professional baristas; First Pour café espresso bars and coffee showrooms; home of Australian barista, latte art, cupping and roasting champions; licenced Q cuppers and World certified judge; professional espresso machines, grinders and equipment for cafe and home; Australia’s largest distributor of Chemex Coffeemakers, recipient of countless roaster and barista awards and proud supplier to over 500 of Australia’s best cafes.
The First Pours are located at:
SA – 111 Melbourne Road, Adelaide
QLD – 369 Montague Road, West End Brisbane
VIC – 26 Bond Street, Abbotsford, VIC
About AASCA – founded in 2001 by a group of passionate coffee professionals, The AustralAsian Specialty Coffee Association (AASCA) gives the specialty coffee industry in Australia a voice. AASCA is a not-for-profit, whole-of-industry association with Australia-wide coverage, registered under Federal legislation. The association has over 10 categories of membership and is open to anyone who is interested in specialty coffee.
13th November 2013
What makes a good crema and what does it tell us about the coffee? Craig Dickson speak to Matt Holden, writer for Fairfax Media’s Good Food. He also covers what judges are looking for in the competition environment. All of Veneziano’s baristas understand the importance of a perfect extraction. They are experienced competitors and this is covered thoroughly in all Veneziano training courses.
Read that article in full below, or visit Good Food online to read it here.
Clues in the crema: what can it tell you about your coffee?
Published Nov 5, 2013.
Written by Matt Holden.
A while back, Copenhagen’s Coffee Collective wrote about skimming the crema off the top of an espresso to improve its flavour. Crema is bitter, they said, and coffee tastes sweeter without it.
But the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano says that a ”certified” espresso has a ”hazel-brown to dark-brown foam – characterised by tawny reflexes – with a very fine texture”. So no crema, no espresso.
(I tried it. For a few days I ordered two espressos at a time and skimmed one. Sometimes it tasted better, sometimes not. Depends on the beans. But espresso is definitely creamier with the crema. Duh.)
So what can crema tell you about your coffee? Veneziano Coffee’s Craig Dickson is president of the Australasian Specialty Coffee Association. He’s been an Australian barista championship judge for 10 years and a world championship judge for four, and judged the last two semi-finals.
”We used to look for dark brown or hazelnut crema with reddish highlights, but what judges expect has changed over the last couple of years,” Dickson says. ”With lighter roasts you can get a lighter-coloured crema, so now we want baristas to describe how the crema will look.”
Crema consists of carbon dioxide bubbles in a film of fats, oils and sugars. Good crema is an even layer of fine bubbles that is ”elastic”, says Dickson.
To judge elasticity, you tilt the espresso cup to 45 degrees; the crema should stretch to cover the surface of the coffee, and re-form as an even layer when the cup is set right.
Good crema is an important part of espresso flavour and texture, even of milk coffee. ”A lot of the flavour in milk coffee comes from the crema,” Dickson says.
And while some say that natural-process coffees produce more crema and washed coffees less, he doesn’t reckon you can tell much about processing from crema.
What you can tell, he says, is freshness. If the coffee is too fresh – only a couple of days post-roast – there is too much carbon dioxide in the beans, and the crema dissipates quickly. If the coffee is stale – as early as 14 days post-roast, but certainly by 21 days – the crema will be thin.
How do you get good crema at home? Use freshly roasted beans from your local coffee roaster (not ground supermarket coffee), and grind fresh for each cup – don’t leave the beans sitting in the hopper.
What about skimming? ”If you’re removing the crema, you’re getting into a filter-style thing,” says Dickson. ”I’ll leave that one for the real geeks.”