Items tagged with 'coffee'
For the second year, a group of the Capital Region's top baristas vied to make the best coffee drinks this past weekend in the Barista Albany competition, part of the Wine & Dine for the Arts food and wine festival. This year's winner was Luen Proft from The Confectionery in Troy. Congrats to him.
But the competition not only crowned a winner that day, it also highlighted the coffee culture in the Capital Region, a culture that's evolving beyond just cream-or-sugar, those machines with the little plastic cups, and Starbucks.
So we figured it'd be interesting to bounce a few quick questions to each of the four competitors at this year's Baristas Albany competition -- about the state of the Capital Region coffee culture, what separates a great cup of coffee, and what you should try at their shops.
We got the impression that a lot of people found the anonymous job interviews we did for Work Week interesting, so we've decided to continue them as an occasional series.
On the job with: The Barista.
This person has been working in coffee for a decade -- as a barista, shift leader, and manager. The Barista talks about dealing with a stream of caffeine-seeking people, interpreting esoteric coffee lingo, and the people who camp out all day with their laptops...
This could be interesting -- and fun -- if you're into coffee: The Capital Region Coffee Collective. Blurbage:
The Capital Region Coffee Collective will hold its first public event on Saturday, November 2nd at the Lucas Confectionery in Troy, N.Y. The goal of the CRCC is to promote the awareness and enjoyment of specialty coffee in the Capital Region. The group intends to spend half of its time arranging public tasting events and the other half holding private educational events for area coffee professionals.
The initial founders of the collective wear the hats of baristi, barista trainers, coffee roasters, green coffee buyers and most importantly coffee lovers employed at a few different coffee shops and business entities in the region. So far the CRCC has met privately each month since May this year to explore palate development through tasting exercises as well as features of roasters across the country.
That first public event at noon on November 2 (a Saturday) at the Confectionery. It will include a "tasting of one coffee roasted to three different roast levels, displaying a wide range of taste possibility from a single green coffee source." If you go, you'll get to try all three and there will be a discussion after the tasting.
As we've seen from pizza and other things we've tested, side-by-side tastings are a good way to better understand a food and get a sense of what you like/don't like. So this might be a good opportunity to get a better feel for coffee.
We hear more public events are in the works.
Earlier on AOA:
+ Eat this: Iced coffee at the Confectionery
+ Talking with David Schulman, winner of the Barista Albany competition
photo via Capital Region Coffee Collective
Love them or hate them, one thing that can be said about Starbucks is that they make their own rules. They've made up their own sizes, they've coined terms such as "frappuccino," and have changed skim milk into "skinny."
Most of those changes are relatively harmless, except for your poor local coffee shop barista who genuinely isn't sure what size people want when they say "grande."
But one Starbucks change is just plain wrong: the macchiato.
The emerging coffee culture in the Capital Region is probably invisible to most. And honestly, it may never grow much beyond the few outposts that currently dot the landscape. New hiqh-quality coffee shops are opening up, long established ones are improving their wares, and passionate baristas are honing their craft.
The espresso at Caffe Vero is old news. You should check out what's happening at Tierra, especially their brewed coffee that's prepared to order in the Chemex. And Uncommon Grounds has been seriously improving their coffee roasting.
But right now -- right now -- when it's hot and humid, hot coffee is the last thing on your mind. Iced coffee is the order of the day. One of the best versions available is from a place that many don't even consider to be a coffee shop. However the New Orleans-style iced coffee at the Lucas Confectionery offers not only a reprieve from the heat, but it is also a blessed relief from all of the terrible iced coffee everywhere.
Spot Coffee -- a chain of "progressive continental-style cafes" from western New York -- says it expects to open its downtown Saratoga location at the Market Center development this Wednesday (February 6). The grand opening is scheduled for February 15. (The Saratoga location has been in the works for about a year -- and had earlier been slated to open this past December.)
Spot is also planning a location in Glens Falls and Spot's Simon Ouderkirk says the company is building out its space there. He says Spot is also "actively pursuing a location" in Troy. And the company is hunting for two more locations in the region.
Full press release about the Saratoga Spot post jump.
Recently there was an espresso showdown at the Hotel Albany, as part of the Albany Chefs Food & Wine Festival. Several baristas from across the region came to compete head-to-head in order to see who was the best of the bunch. (It should be noted that Caffe Vero decided to sit this one out.)
The competitors each had five minutes of preparation time and then 17 minutes to prepare four drinks for three tasting judges, while a fourth technical judge evaluated the barista's performance. Scores were based on the barista's espresso, then either a cappuccino or a latte, a signature drink, and a fourth drink that combined coffee with booze.
The winner was David Schulman of the Hudson River Coffee House in Albany. So how did someone who six months ago knew little about coffee go on to take the title of best barista in the area? And what set him apart from the other contenders? The only way to find out was to sit down with him and have a little coffee talk.