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Berlin Cupping

So it’s been quite a while since I’ve last posted (I think about a year…) which I’ll put down to school, GCSEs and now A Levels. This isn’t really a return (sadly…) but more an opportunity for me to plug something I’m doing next week!

Next Tuesday, I’m hosting a (guided) cupping of coffees that I picked up during my trip to Berlin last week at Terrone’s popup in Brixton. I visited a number of shops, including The Barn, No Fire No Glory, Five Elephant and others. Some of the coffees were roasted in Berlin, others in Scandinavia, but in any case it should be an interesting experience!

Here is a list of the coffees that I managed to smuggle back in my hand luggage:

Coffee Collective (Copenhagen)

Kenya - Kieni

Columbia - El Desarollo

Solberg & Hansen (Oslo)

Columbia - La Amistad

Kenya - Muchoki

Ethiopia - Tade

Five Elephant (Berlin)

Burundi - Buzira

Brazil - Sitio Canaa Obata

Bonanza (Berlin)

Ethiopia - Lekempti

Ethiopia - Jirmiwachu Yirgacheffe

Drop Coffee (Stockholm)

Rwanda - Huye Mountain

The Barn (Berlin)

Rwanda - Huye Mountain

Ethiopia - Yukro

plus a few other little surprises thrown in…

As I had to pay for (most of) this coffee, I’m suggesting a donation of £7 to cover some of my costs.

I’d also like to give people the opportunity to take home some of the coffees that they particularly enjoy - as long as supplies last! 

If possible, RSVP to me on twitter (@young_barista) so I can get an idea of numbers.

Hope you can make it!

Callum

image

Deets:

Location: Terrone @ Brixton Market - 11A-13 Market Row SW9 8LB

Date/Time: Tuesday 23rd April - 6:30pm

Again, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything…school and exams have really taken a much greater role in my life than I would have thought or liked! As soon as they are done (27th June; yes, I am really counting the days!) I would like to do a lot more posting and writing etc., particularly as I will be in the midst of my longest summer break ever!

Anyway, I thought I’d post some pictures that I just received from the Norwich heat of the UKBC which I competed in, in March of this year. It was a fascinating experience; much was learnt. If anyone’s interested, I scored 577.5 in this round, definitely a step up from last year, despite the last minute destruction of one of my sig drink glasses (I only brought four with me) and some disastrous capps!

Photos credited to Liz Bishop Photography

I’m back…and UKBC

It’s been a long while since I’ve last written a blog post…lots of things, namely school, exams and sixth form applications. However, all of those are now resolved for the time being, with the real school push coming up in May/Junetime.

I’ve been trying to maintain a presence of coffee through all of this, something that has been a little difficult, and I hope will not be reflected in my exam results! The last few months have been a great learning experience for me, as usual, and I’ve had the chance to do shifts in all different places, meet new people, and understand more about processes.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the UKBC. Sadly I was unable to compete in the London heat due to schoolwork and exams, but I will be performing at the Midlands heat in Norwich on the third of March. I began initial prep around last September, but things got a bit difficult, and I’ve only really begun to gear up now. Unfortunately, I realised in November that the WCE age restriction rule was to be implemented for 2012 competitions, moving the age limit from sixteen to eighteen ironically on the year that I would turn sixteen. Therefore, my scores in the Norwich heat will not count. However, as disappointing as this initially was, I think it gives me a good opportunity to have (another) trial run, and to gain as much as I can from the experience without the pressure. I also think that it is probably best that I focus on exams this year, instead of coffee!

I’m really looking forward to the summer, when I will finish school much earlier than normal…about early June, and am beginning to plan something interesting to do then!

Thanks

Callum


 

Last week I did a great guest shift at Bard Coffee in Portland, ME, serving Square Mile coffee (both Summer Espresso and a S.O Espresso).

Here are some pictures!

A short film showing the popup I ran at YCN during April 2011

Shot on Kodak Plus-X Super 8mm film

Music by rjd2

A personal challenge

So, I’ve been seriously involved in specialty coffee for a little over a year now, and in that time, I’ve learnt an incredible amount. But one of the things I’m starting to realise, besides the large amount of knowledge I lack about coffee, is that I am dangerously ignorant of specialty coffee outside London. London is, in may ways, the ‘coffee capital’ of the UK, and I feel greatly privileged to live here, work and learn about coffee from the best of the best. Competing at the UKBC, and meeting all the baristas, many of whom (I believe around 15 out of 20 in the semi-finals) were not from London, I did realise that there are additional specialty coffee scenes outside the capital, and that they were producing exceptional coffee. So I decided to set myself a challenge.

Until the age of 16 here in the UK, I am entitled to a ridiculous discount on train fares (about 1/3 the price of a full adult fare), yet I have rarely taken advantage of it (except when visiting relatives with family etc.). After a bit of thinking, I put two and two together, and realised that I (until January 21st next year) could visit many fantastic coffee shops outside London, and it not cost me a ridiculous amount.

I started this (unofficially) about a month ago, when I visited Hayley Draper at the Window Coffee in Norwich (@thewindowcoffee) with during my half term holiday. I had a fantastic day, and really enjoyed the new experiences that I had. As I write this now, I am returning from a guest shift at The Music Room (@cremathecrop and @thecoffeehopper) in Lancaster, a journey that cost me £22 return!

So having had these two great trips, I now want to set myself some more rigid goals. Before I turn sixteen, I want to have made at least ten trips to coffee shops/roasteries around the UK using my cheap travel as much as I can as well as widening my knowledge of coffee!

There are so many places in the UK to choose from, so if anyone has any particular recommendations or needs a guest barista anytime from the 23rd to the 27th July, please DM or email me!

Thanks

Callum

 

 

Competition and Espresso

I know people have spoken about this before in various ways, but I just want to put out there what I think.

I was thinking about this over the weekend. I really like barista competition, the preparation of a presentation, thinking up a signature drink, cupping coffees to use etc, and I also really like the simplicity of (particularly round one) the Brewers Cup (although it is still not perfect), and think there is great scope to take aspects from either and create either a WCE-style competition, or a format to be run causally, like the latte art throwdown. Here are my ideas:

·      Like the Brewers Cup, an anonymous coffee

The coffee should not be roasted by a local roaster, to prevent conflict of interest etc.

·      Everyone uses the same espresso machine and grinder

They can change the temperature of the brew water, grinder settings, dose, extraction times etc.

·      No performance, stage or prep time

Competitors are given a reasonable amount of time (20/30 minutes) in which they can dial in their coffee (scales and timers should be greatly encouraged), taste it, and serve it to the judges in whenever in that timeframe they wish.

·      No additional equipment/ingredients

Competitors should only be able to use what is presented to them; no ingredients can be added to the espresso, no methods etc.

·      Reset of temperature and grind settings etc

A standard should be set, possibly outside of espresso brewing parameters so that competitors have to dial it in, and can’t simply serve espresso at the standard setting. After each performance, the equipment should be cleaned and reset to this standard.

Before flaws are pointed out with this format (and I do understand there are several), here are what I perceive to be the benefits:

·      Equal chances

As everyone uses exactly the same equipment to brew their espresso, everyone has in theory a fair chance (not taking into account skill). This contrasts to barista competition, as one cannot use a more expensive grinder that may produce a more consistent grind.

·      It encourages more baristas

I believe many baristas are turned off competition because of the costs, time needed to prepare and need for a presentation. This format removes all three issues, and in theory should encourage more baristas to take part.

·      It is about the coffee

The winner of such a competition will have won because his espresso tasted the best, or presented the most pleasing characteristics, because of his/her’s skill as a barista and not because they are more confident at presenting, for example.

·      More relevance to the barista profession

In a quality focussed coffee establishment, the most important factor is not a signature drink or a presentation; it is the quality of the espresso. This competition replicates this exactly; it rewards talent and intuition.

·      Cheaper to organise and can be regular

All that is needed for this competition can be found in any quality café. The competition can be run regularly, and does not necessarily have to be affiliated with the WCE or SCAE, for example.

I’m not saying such competition should be run instead of barista competitions, but I think it would work very well alongside them. It is possible to see a direct correlation between the forming of the WBC and barista competitions and an increase in café quality. With a competition focussing merely on espresso itself, surely it will help not just as much, but even more?

I’m really interested to hear what people have to say about this! Feedback would be greatly appreciated. 

 

A short low production value video I made a few months ago on how I brew an aeropress.

I need to invest in a better camera ;)

Some nice pictures from YCN taken by Alex de Mora (@alexdemora)

A little espresso method video I made a little while ago.

Apologies for the low production values!

Berlin Cupping

So it’s been quite a while since I’ve last posted (I think about a year…) which I’ll put down to school, GCSEs and now A Levels. This isn’t really a return (sadly…) but more an opportunity for me to plug something I’m doing next week!

Next Tuesday, I’m hosting a (guided) cupping of coffees that I picked up during my trip to Berlin last week at Terrone’s popup in Brixton. I visited a number of shops, including The Barn, No Fire No Glory, Five Elephant and others. Some of the coffees were roasted in Berlin, others in Scandinavia, but in any case it should be an interesting experience!

Here is a list of the coffees that I managed to smuggle back in my hand luggage:

Coffee Collective (Copenhagen)

Kenya - Kieni

Columbia - El Desarollo

Solberg & Hansen (Oslo)

Columbia - La Amistad

Kenya - Muchoki

Ethiopia - Tade

Five Elephant (Berlin)

Burundi - Buzira

Brazil - Sitio Canaa Obata

Bonanza (Berlin)

Ethiopia - Lekempti

Ethiopia - Jirmiwachu Yirgacheffe

Drop Coffee (Stockholm)

Rwanda - Huye Mountain

The Barn (Berlin)

Rwanda - Huye Mountain

Ethiopia - Yukro

plus a few other little surprises thrown in…

As I had to pay for (most of) this coffee, I’m suggesting a donation of £7 to cover some of my costs.

I’d also like to give people the opportunity to take home some of the coffees that they particularly enjoy - as long as supplies last! 

If possible, RSVP to me on twitter (@young_barista) so I can get an idea of numbers.

Hope you can make it!

Callum

image

Deets:

Location: Terrone @ Brixton Market - 11A-13 Market Row SW9 8LB

Date/Time: Tuesday 23rd April - 6:30pm

Again, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything…school and exams have really taken a much greater role in my life than I would have thought or liked! As soon as they are done (27th June; yes, I am really counting the days!) I would like to do a lot more posting and writing etc., particularly as I will be in the midst of my longest summer break ever!

Anyway, I thought I’d post some pictures that I just received from the Norwich heat of the UKBC which I competed in, in March of this year. It was a fascinating experience; much was learnt. If anyone’s interested, I scored 577.5 in this round, definitely a step up from last year, despite the last minute destruction of one of my sig drink glasses (I only brought four with me) and some disastrous capps!

Photos credited to Liz Bishop Photography

I’m back…and UKBC

It’s been a long while since I’ve last written a blog post…lots of things, namely school, exams and sixth form applications. However, all of those are now resolved for the time being, with the real school push coming up in May/Junetime.

I’ve been trying to maintain a presence of coffee through all of this, something that has been a little difficult, and I hope will not be reflected in my exam results! The last few months have been a great learning experience for me, as usual, and I’ve had the chance to do shifts in all different places, meet new people, and understand more about processes.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the UKBC. Sadly I was unable to compete in the London heat due to schoolwork and exams, but I will be performing at the Midlands heat in Norwich on the third of March. I began initial prep around last September, but things got a bit difficult, and I’ve only really begun to gear up now. Unfortunately, I realised in November that the WCE age restriction rule was to be implemented for 2012 competitions, moving the age limit from sixteen to eighteen ironically on the year that I would turn sixteen. Therefore, my scores in the Norwich heat will not count. However, as disappointing as this initially was, I think it gives me a good opportunity to have (another) trial run, and to gain as much as I can from the experience without the pressure. I also think that it is probably best that I focus on exams this year, instead of coffee!

I’m really looking forward to the summer, when I will finish school much earlier than normal…about early June, and am beginning to plan something interesting to do then!

Thanks

Callum


 

Last week I did a great guest shift at Bard Coffee in Portland, ME, serving Square Mile coffee (both Summer Espresso and a S.O Espresso).

Here are some pictures!

A short film showing the popup I ran at YCN during April 2011

Shot on Kodak Plus-X Super 8mm film

Music by rjd2

A personal challenge

So, I’ve been seriously involved in specialty coffee for a little over a year now, and in that time, I’ve learnt an incredible amount. But one of the things I’m starting to realise, besides the large amount of knowledge I lack about coffee, is that I am dangerously ignorant of specialty coffee outside London. London is, in may ways, the ‘coffee capital’ of the UK, and I feel greatly privileged to live here, work and learn about coffee from the best of the best. Competing at the UKBC, and meeting all the baristas, many of whom (I believe around 15 out of 20 in the semi-finals) were not from London, I did realise that there are additional specialty coffee scenes outside the capital, and that they were producing exceptional coffee. So I decided to set myself a challenge.

Until the age of 16 here in the UK, I am entitled to a ridiculous discount on train fares (about 1/3 the price of a full adult fare), yet I have rarely taken advantage of it (except when visiting relatives with family etc.). After a bit of thinking, I put two and two together, and realised that I (until January 21st next year) could visit many fantastic coffee shops outside London, and it not cost me a ridiculous amount.

I started this (unofficially) about a month ago, when I visited Hayley Draper at the Window Coffee in Norwich (@thewindowcoffee) with during my half term holiday. I had a fantastic day, and really enjoyed the new experiences that I had. As I write this now, I am returning from a guest shift at The Music Room (@cremathecrop and @thecoffeehopper) in Lancaster, a journey that cost me £22 return!

So having had these two great trips, I now want to set myself some more rigid goals. Before I turn sixteen, I want to have made at least ten trips to coffee shops/roasteries around the UK using my cheap travel as much as I can as well as widening my knowledge of coffee!

There are so many places in the UK to choose from, so if anyone has any particular recommendations or needs a guest barista anytime from the 23rd to the 27th July, please DM or email me!

Thanks

Callum

 

 

Competition and Espresso

I know people have spoken about this before in various ways, but I just want to put out there what I think.

I was thinking about this over the weekend. I really like barista competition, the preparation of a presentation, thinking up a signature drink, cupping coffees to use etc, and I also really like the simplicity of (particularly round one) the Brewers Cup (although it is still not perfect), and think there is great scope to take aspects from either and create either a WCE-style competition, or a format to be run causally, like the latte art throwdown. Here are my ideas:

·      Like the Brewers Cup, an anonymous coffee

The coffee should not be roasted by a local roaster, to prevent conflict of interest etc.

·      Everyone uses the same espresso machine and grinder

They can change the temperature of the brew water, grinder settings, dose, extraction times etc.

·      No performance, stage or prep time

Competitors are given a reasonable amount of time (20/30 minutes) in which they can dial in their coffee (scales and timers should be greatly encouraged), taste it, and serve it to the judges in whenever in that timeframe they wish.

·      No additional equipment/ingredients

Competitors should only be able to use what is presented to them; no ingredients can be added to the espresso, no methods etc.

·      Reset of temperature and grind settings etc

A standard should be set, possibly outside of espresso brewing parameters so that competitors have to dial it in, and can’t simply serve espresso at the standard setting. After each performance, the equipment should be cleaned and reset to this standard.

Before flaws are pointed out with this format (and I do understand there are several), here are what I perceive to be the benefits:

·      Equal chances

As everyone uses exactly the same equipment to brew their espresso, everyone has in theory a fair chance (not taking into account skill). This contrasts to barista competition, as one cannot use a more expensive grinder that may produce a more consistent grind.

·      It encourages more baristas

I believe many baristas are turned off competition because of the costs, time needed to prepare and need for a presentation. This format removes all three issues, and in theory should encourage more baristas to take part.

·      It is about the coffee

The winner of such a competition will have won because his espresso tasted the best, or presented the most pleasing characteristics, because of his/her’s skill as a barista and not because they are more confident at presenting, for example.

·      More relevance to the barista profession

In a quality focussed coffee establishment, the most important factor is not a signature drink or a presentation; it is the quality of the espresso. This competition replicates this exactly; it rewards talent and intuition.

·      Cheaper to organise and can be regular

All that is needed for this competition can be found in any quality café. The competition can be run regularly, and does not necessarily have to be affiliated with the WCE or SCAE, for example.

I’m not saying such competition should be run instead of barista competitions, but I think it would work very well alongside them. It is possible to see a direct correlation between the forming of the WBC and barista competitions and an increase in café quality. With a competition focussing merely on espresso itself, surely it will help not just as much, but even more?

I’m really interested to hear what people have to say about this! Feedback would be greatly appreciated. 

 

A short low production value video I made a few months ago on how I brew an aeropress.

I need to invest in a better camera ;)

Some nice pictures from YCN taken by Alex de Mora (@alexdemora)

A little espresso method video I made a little while ago.

Apologies for the low production values!

Berlin Cupping
I’m back…and UKBC
A personal challenge
Competition and Espresso

About:

My name is Callum Hale Thomson and I am a young barista living, working and studying in London. I'm currently freelancing, working around exams in my spare time; twitter should let you know where I am.
I entered the UKBC in 2011, placing third in the London and SE heat, but was unable to progress due to my age. I'll be back in 2012 though!
This blog should hopefully be a way of following what I am doing, things I am interested in, and I hope I can update it regularly.
It's probably best to contact me via email, at callumhalethomson-at-gmail.com

    follow me on Twitter

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