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Two Lasts


I experienced two lasts today: my last shift at cafca *tear tear tear*, and the last shot of Sammy Piccolo’s WBC 2009 Blend.

First, the cafca shift – it was pretty slow, especially for a friday. I made maybe 10 customer drinks, but luckily enough for me, I was on today with one of cafca’s new acquisitions – Mayuna (aka May) happens to be living with the soon-to-be GM of Café Artigiano’s Hastings location and is slowly adjusting to tasting coffee and caffeine overdoses. We played around a lot, as the espresso was 9 days old and a little fresh. It never really tasted great, although it was better once I dropped the temperature to 200*F from 201.3.

I can hear the non-coffee-geeks yelling from here…”What?!?? 1.3*F difference? That can’t possibly change anything!”….Even a 0.5 degree change can have a very noticeable impact. With some beans and blends, it even necessitates a change of grind and/or dose. Anyways, after a little more fooling it was much better. As for the freshness of the bean, most espresso blends require a 4-8 day rest period after roasting so they can “gas off”, before they reach their espresso prime. Our current espresso, 49th Parallel’s Organic Espresso, actually needs at least 10 days to taste really good, preferably 12. French Press (drip, Syphon, Clover, etc. as well) typically only need a 1-3 day rest.

As we went through the last of the roast from the 5th of August today (we’ve been training a lot this week), all there is for tomorrow is beans from the 12th. I opened 4 bags so they could gas off overnight but, to be blunt, harsh, and a tad unfair, that’s not good enough. One of the things we at cafca need to do is sort out the coffee usage so this doesn’t happen so often – it’s an all-too-common occurrence. What makes it difficult is that our traffic is slowly increasing in random jumps, so we can’t really predict how much we will need for the next week.

Luckily enough, the decaf ran well after minimal “dialing in” – this was really good, because it can be a little temperamental sometimes. After a quick grind change (2 or 3 notches! Shocking!) and a taste it was good to go. My steaming and art today was pretty solid as well – other than one specific skinny café latté, I was satisfied. I even took a couple shots at the moose! (We had a latté art wizard come in earlier in the week; her etching was NUTS!)
We called the second one the “Angry Stewie Moose” – a reference to Family Guy (shame on me!).

My second last was what I call “The Last Shot” – I have videos that I can’t post to Youtube in good conscience because they skip around a ridiculous amount and I don’t know why! Maybe the battery is the problem?

Anyways, Sammy Piccolo, the former owner and current GM of Caffé Artigiano won the Canadian Barista Championships, and came second in the Worlds. He lost to Gwilym Davis of London by 3.5 points – a small margin to be sure, but Davis actually went over time! (Time limit is 15 minutes, each second after that is penalized heavily. A one-minute excess is rewarded with disqualification.) When that is taken into account, Davis is the clear winner. Nevertheless, Sammy is easily the best barista in Canada and one of the best in the world – he has won the Canadians four CONSECUTIVE times (a record), and placed in the top 3 at the Worlds three times (also consecutively), another record.

His blend is 85% Costa Rican, 15% Ethiopia, roasted under his watchful eye at 49th. Highly aromatic, with notes of grapefruit, bittersweet chocolate, and flowers. A chocolatey finish is complemented by spice and a dancing sensation on the tongue. When it was fresh it was full-bodied, and even last night it was still very creamy. Les, our consultant, left what may have been the last existing bag of this coffee at cafca last Friday for us to try, but I was over-caffeinated already so we saved it until last night.

First, let me preface this by saying this coffee was roasted on March 26th, 2009 – it’s almost 5 months old!

Now let me say this – this coffee, even 5 months later, is MINDBLOWING! Grapefruit is such an unusual taste to find in a coffee and despite being flown TWICE, this coffee has lost little of its grapefruity taste or complexity. While it did like a hotter temperature, a fairly high dose, and didn’t pour prettily, it was still amazing – I wish I could have tasted it in its prime! We served up solo espressi all around to people in the café and Les, Tyler, May, and I shared a solo café macchiato and a cappucino between us. Just for fun, we ran the last of the beans through the Clover. We didn’t have quite enough for a proper dose, but it was a very nice brewed coffee anyways. Creamy, with the expected grapefruit bittersweetness and very very smooth. The café macchiato:

Probably the best mac I’ve ever poured – very tasty and it looked nice to boot!

So this is me bidding cafca goodbye until my return at Christmas break and “nice knowing you!” to Sammy’s WBC blend. Lovely coffee, lovely café, lovely experience. Until we meet again, my friends!



  1. Lisa
    15/08/2009 at 7:48 pm

    Sayonara Tim,

    We’ll miss you and your awesome barista skills!

  2. 02/09/2009 at 12:31 am

    Great site…keep up the good work.

  1. 15/08/2009 at 1:29 am

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