Maddies Mud and Flying Goat Coffee

Every Thursday and Sunday in San Rafael, California, Maddies Mud serves up sweet, smooth espresso drinks at the farmer’s market near the Marin Civic Center.    

Carlos Silva, the owner of Maddie’s Mud always greets everyone with a smiling face.   They feature espresso No. 9, from Flying Goat Coffee which is perfectly smooth, and sweet enough that it doesn’t need sugar.


Carlos is always fun to chat with, remembers his customers, and is continually learning more about coffee.  He will be heading to Colorado soon to learn more about making espresso at Allegro’s roastery.


He started his business in Baja, Mexico, and named his coffee business after his daughter, Madeline.   Maddie’s uses organic coffee beans and organic milk from local sources.

I have yet to visit Flying Goat Coffee in Santa Rosa, but it is next on my list.   They source sustainably grown coffee from around the world, and recently, their coffee buyer, Phil Anacker, attended the best of Panama competition in Boquete, Panama as a judge.

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Coffee People and their Machines

Lately I’ve been noticing some ingenuity in coffee making machinery.   One of the more interesting is the Steampunk Coffee Machine by Alpha Dominche.   It uses a siphon brewing method.   My experience with siphon brewed coffee is, that it results in  cleaner cup, than say, a French Press, with virtually no sediment.

It also tends to have a more tea-like or wine-like mouthfeel to it.  Khristian Bombeck, who invented the Alpha Dominche, says that they use high temperature steam, which is different than siphon.   He also says that the machine brings flavors out from the coffee that they haven’t experienced before.   I thought of espresso, and how different it tastes from brewed coffee.
This seems like it falls somewhere in between an espresso, which uses pressure and steam, and French Press, which uses a hot water infusion method.   I’d love to try coffee brewed by the Steampunk machine.

They have a great video about the product here:

And then there is Kone from Able Brewing

Crazy Coffee Cubes…..which I have never seen before

And if you prefer to make cold drip coffee, Proper Coffee makes an interesting object d’ arte that is totally functional, and was funded by Kickstarter.

There is also Blossom Coffee, whose tagline is “better brewing through technology”

For travel, and on the go, there is the Impress Brewer.  I really like this travel brewer.   Shipping begins in April…but I want it now!


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Iced Coffee at the Farmer’s Market

I recently visited a farmer’s market in the town of Belmont, California and came across a booth selling iced coffee.   Not just iced coffee, but “infusions”.    Normally I’m not a fan of “flavored” coffee, because  I am a bit of a purist and want to taste the coffee itself, without covering it up with syrups or other flavorings.

I was open to trying this, because it was an infusion pairing the flavor notes of the coffee with fruits, herbs and spice combinations.   I asked the team selling the bottled iced coffee who the roaster is, and they are apparently using Ecco Coffee which I had heard of before.

The flavor “infusions” on offer that day were  “Fresh Banana” , “Jasmine Pearl”, and “Lemon Cookie”.   I liked the jasmine pearl, and the banana.   The banana infusion comes with a little vial of chocolate milk, that is meant to be mixed with the banana coffee.

Mixte Fresh Banana with chocolate milk

It’s an interesting concept.   I wish I could have been at their L.A. tasting event where they had the following “infusion” flavors:

  • Chili Cinnamon Chocolate
  • Jasmine
  • Banana
  • Honey Ginger
  • Lemon
  • Brown Sugar and Cinnamon
  • Orange Basil

Of all of the pairings, I think the Brown Sugar and Cinnamon and Chili Cinnamon Chocolate sound interesting.   I would suggest they do an infusion with Cardamom next, and maybe a Mint Iced Coffee.   Another question I had, is if the coffee has been cold brewed.

To learn more about Mixte, go to their site at :

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Just Say Yes to Crack

First crack, and second crack refer audible cues in coffee roasting.  It can sound like popcorn popping.   Sweet Maria’s in Oakland, California  has a great video about what the coffee looks like at first and second crack here : 

I have just posted the third in a series of videos from my interviews with roasters in Sacramento.  In this one, master roaster Eton Tsuno and roaster Ryan Ausbun talk about their method and technique in coffee roasting.  Eton does a great job of explaining how roasting affects the flavor, and Ryan backs up the explanation while he roasts espresso.

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Coffee Culture from Sacramento, California

The coffee trail has taken me from Sydney, Australia, to Santa Cruz, California for the Southwest Regional Barista Competition, thus far.  I was introduced to Temple Coffee, Verve Roasters, and Chocolate Fish Coffee at the competition.  Temple Coffee had a booth at the event giving free samples of espresso drinks.   So…I decided I needed to visit Temple’s roastery and cafes in Sacramento.

I interviewed Eton Tsuno, master roaster for Temple Coffee, and Andy Baker, of Chocolate Fish Coffee.

Eton has many years of experience in coffee.  He started as a barista, and hasn’t changed course from coffee since then.   Husband and wife team Edie and Andy Baker started their New Zealand style coffee house in Sacramento in 2004 after researching several locations.

I enjoyed talking with both of them, and learning more about what each has to offer.   I also found that Sacramento is buzzing with fine coffee and artisan roasters!   In addition to Temple and Chocolate Fish, there is Insight, Old Soul and Broadacre.

In the first of a series of videos I will be posting, Eton talks about what specialty coffee is, and isn’t.

In the second video, both Eton and Andy talk about American coffee culture, as compared to European, Australian and New Zealand coffee culture.

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make eat simple

Author Resource: Dean Caporella is a professional broadcaster and by his own admission; a semi coffee addict.

Reblog from: FX777 CoffeeWorld | Fernando Lachica   <||> Okay, coffee isn’t what it used to be. Drinking coffee today is almost like sampling wine. Fine taste, smooth texture, good body… gourmet coffee has become the buzz word in coffee circles.

For a confessed caffeine addict like myself, the change in the way I look at coffee these days has been amazing. I put it down to the many varieties of gourmet coffee now available. Just walk into your favorite coffee shop and what used to be a simple procedure of asking for a coffee, two sugars and cream is now a few minutes of deep deliberation as you scan up and down the price board to decide whether you want a flat white, latte, cappuccino… and the list goes on.

Isn’t all coffee…

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make eat simple

Thanks to Ramon Alivio of San Jose, CA for this share.  This came early this morning Saturday. One of many do it yourself “Espresso” machines for your car. Yes your car! At least the gentleman got off the road prior to brewing!! la machine expresso pour la voiture – espresso machine for the car – handpresso auto La première machine expresso pour la voiture !  I guess the next thing they will put in is a mini fridge and a microwave. Ha ha! Troopers watch out.

Watch Video:


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Barefoot Coffee

An existential question — are you simple syrup, or half & half?   Or are you feeling        used today?    Barefoot Coffee gives you food for thought in a literal way.

In my quest for good coffee, I have been exploring cafes featuring artisan roasters in California and Oregon.   Barefoot Coffee was on my list, and I had the chance to visit their Santa Clara, CA location recently.   What I learned, is that the roastery is in San Jose, CA and all of the Barefoot Coffee retail locations are franchises.

Their Vision…

“Barefoot Coffee was born from the idea of treating coffee as a culinary art. Just like great produce at your local farmers market, our coffees are offered in season, fresh from the farm, when they are at their most delicious. Throughout the year we travel to origin, to hand select and purchase directly from artisan farmers whom we have established a personal and truly sustainable long-term relationship. From conscientious cultivation to beautifully developed roasts, we hand craft each exceptional coffee to speak for itself.”

So…the coffee does speak for itself.  I bought Barefoot’s Red Cab decaf for a friend, and while I am not usually a decaf drinker, I did try it, and thought the Red Cab was pretty good.

I always sip coffee black before adding milk, cream or sugar, just to get the essence of it and to see if I can discern what flavors are there.   While I give it my very best effort, I can rarely finish drinking an espresso straight, with no sugar, and no milk.   I can handle a macchiato.   My drinks of choice are usually flat whites and cappucinos.   I am sure, that one day I will find an espresso smooth enough that I will be able to handle the intensity.   I’ve also noticed that when I order an espresso shot, I sometimes get a nod of respect from the barista…which I assume has to do with drinking straight espresso for it’s character and nuances, and for being a purist.

The way I look at tasting coffee black, with no sugar and no cream, and espresso black, with nothing else, is to evaluate it as a baseline.    I would love to be able to say, “I detected notes of dried apricot and citrus followed by a nutty chocolate finish.”   Realistically…I may need more practice tasting and cupping coffees, and an aroma kit would probably help.

What I do know, is that from  espresso, or black drip coffee, all of the other coffee drinks will be based upon it.   The coffee itself must be good to start with, so that you know you have a good base drink upon which to build your lattes, flat whites, pour overs, and so on.

I still enjoy reading the flowery descriptions and tasting notes for coffee written on the package, such as “vanilla chiffon” and “honey crisp apple” used to describe the Palo Blanc reserva at Barefoot Coffee.

I believe that there is likely a crossover in consumer tastes between beer and wine drinkers in profiling preferences in coffee.

People who prefer sweeter drinks will probably not like lager or certain types of beer that are hoppy and bitter.  Those same people will probably like coffee that has sweeter, lighter notes to it, and a rich, but mellow flavor.  My preference is for coffee that is full bodied with nutty and chocolatey characteristics.

There is a line (that is probably somewhat fine) between masking the flavor of the coffee, and accentuating the coffee’s natural flavors with additional ingredients.

Signature drinks in a Barista Competition would likely be an example of complementing the flavors existing in the coffee.  Coffee purists and  snobs will sometimes say that certain coffee drinks, such as Starbucks Caramel Macchiato, or the the Cinnamon Dolce Latte, cover up and overpower the true flavor of the coffee with syrups and whipped cream.   I have to agree.  The syrups they use have alot of sugar and artificial flavors, not to mention the portions they use like Venti or Grande are enormous and watered down compared to what you would get in a cafe in Italy, for example.  I have also heard people say that coffee roasters can cover up defects in the coffee bean, that would affect flavor,  by over-roasting them.

Jim Seven has something to say about roasting too dark in his blog.

Home Barista has a beautiful pictorial on roasting defects here:

While at Barefoot Coffee, I had a drink called the Voodoo …and wow was that good.               It was really tasty. I drank it so fast I didn’t manage to get a photo for this posting.            It is a “sweet concoction of espresso, dark chocolate, coconut milk and muscavado sugar”.

A few of the other interesting drinks on the menu included:

The Orange and Ginger Cubano – a Cubano (a cappucino with muscavado sugar carmelized into the shot) with orange and ginger steamed into the milk.

Cafe brulee – A perfectly balanced cappucino with a crust of carmelized muscovado sugar.

Vanitte – A latte with Madagascar vanilla extract steamed into the milk.

The Whim (heated) is as follows:  “Put your hands in the fate of the creator.  Our skilled baristas will choose from their wide knowledge of flavors to create you something out of this world concoction.”   The Shakerado is the iced or cold version of the Whim.   They also had a nice selection of teas, such as Keemun Premium, Yellow Mountain Mao Feng, and an aromatic, refreshing Lavender Mint.

Barefoot Coffee is also offering classes on brewing methods for coffee, tea  and espresso and latte art.

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The Southwest Barista Competition 2012

I recently attended the Southwest Regional barista competition in Santa Cruz, California, which was held at the top of the Rittenhouse Building.  This was the first competition I had ever been to.

 I was in the check out line at Trader Joe’s when a cashier asked what my weekend plans were. When I said would be going to a barista competition his response was “what’s a barista?” Some other responses I got in response to  “going to a barista competition” were: “A what?” “What is that?” I wonder if I had said “bartender competition” how people might have responded differently.
In some respects it is only recently, in my opinion, that coffee has had it’s turn to shine in the limelight of the culinary world.
We’re in the age of celebrity chefs and celebrity bartenders pushing and driving innovation, so why not Baristas?

It is also interesting to note how different coffee subcultures are emerging, and how there is a sort of polarization happening, at different levels.  Here is is a link to a video  made about “coffee snob” cafe workers looking down their nose at customers who order drinks that don’t meet their standards :  Coffee Snobs

There is also the  “Coffee Wars of San Francisco” :

Just to keep it real, Nick Cho, of Wrecking Ball Coffee, posted a great video of people talking about where they get their coffee, and what they look for in coffee and cafes:

I overheard comments at the Competition such as “These kids think they invented the “pour over”.   They don’t realize we grew up with Melitta cone drip filters in the 70’s.”
So how much does a barista really have to know, in order to make a good espresso drink or brewed coffee?   Verve Coffee, who hosted the Barista Competition, puts their baristas through three days of training and a four hour test before hiring them.

Any barista can enter the competition, but it takes alot of preparation in advance.   The baristas in the Southwest Regional 2012 Competition started training in December, and the competition was held in March.  They are given an espresso machine and a table, and they provide everything else.  They have 15 minutes to unload, and prepare before the judges arrive.  Once the judges arrive, they have 15 minutes to serve a single espresso, a cappucino and a “freestyle” or signature drink, while explaining what they’re making and why.   The technical judges evaluate categories like technical skill, cleanliness, efficiency while the sensory judges evaluate the drinks served on balance, flavor, color of crema, consistency and presentation.

While the Barista Competition was happening, the Brewers Competition was also happening across the room.  Manual methods of brewing such as French Press or pour over are used and scores are given for flavor, aroma, body, acidity and balance.

Here was my view from the back of the room:   The judges were seated at the espresso bar while the Barista gave their presentation and served drinks.

One of the impressions I took away from watching throngs of people buzzing about, excited about coffee, was the passion for an artisan craft, of roasting, and also the art and skill involved in preparation.   Barista Competitions give recognition to the professionals in the industry and fuel creativity.   The crowd cheered on their favorite contestants and there was plenty of excitement in the in the air.

I believe the signature drinks will, and probably already have, inspired new coffee drinks at local cafes. I was intrigued by the signature drinks – artisan concoctions crafted with blending and pairing in mind.

What I mean by pairing, is similar to that of pairing wine with food.   The signature drink can highlight and complement the the existing flavors in the coffee they have chosen to prepare.   In a 2009 Western Regional Competition, Nick Griffith of Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, showcased a coffee called Maravilla at a from Guatemala.  He described it as a sweet coffee, with initial notes of Clementine and citrus, followed by cocoa butter.  His signature drink was created by blending a shot espresso with a puree of Medjool dates and pouring that into a mixture of whipped cream, vanilla bean, a little sugar and a dash of orange blossom water.   More drink recipes from the 2009 Western Regional Barista Competition can be found on Food GPS at:

It will be interesting to see what new drink recipes surface at the upcoming U.S. Barista Championship which will be held in Portland Oregon:

 The author, and a parrot whose owner brought it to the barista competition.

It was nice to spend the weekend meeting coffee professionals, and watching the competition.   I also enjoyed seeing a little more of Santa Cruz, CA which is full of colorful characters.

This dog was sitting next to it’s owner at a bistro in downtown Santa Cruz.            Apparently the dog’s name is Louis Vuitton.

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Getting the best flavor out of your coffee

There is one ingredient in coffee that is often overlooked in making coffee — water!   Coffee is 99 percent water, so it’s important to use the right water for brewing.

It is actually more important for brewed coffee to have the right mineral content than it is for espresso.   In expresso extraction, the water is at a hotter temperature and it moves  under pressure through the espresso in a fraction of a second.  The espresso is not in contact with the minerals in the water long enough to have a role in the extraction.

However, in filter or brewed coffee, the minerals in the water definitely affect the flavor of the coffee.  The flavor of coffee is mostly contained within the oils, and when we pour hot water over coffee grounds, the heat and the minerals in the water combine to bring out that flavor.

If the water is distilled, or too softened, your coffee will be almost flavorless.  The minimum mineral content should be around 150-200 parts per million.   Filtered or bottled water should work fine.

The temperature of the water for drip coffee or filtered coffee should be around 203-208F (95-98C)

Another important factor to having great tasting coffee is freshness.  When you buy a bag of coffee, check to see if there is a date of when it was roasted.   If there is no date, don’t buy it.  Whole bean roasted coffee remains fresh somewhere between two to three weeks.

An ideal scenario is the have a grinder, so that when you are ready to drink coffee, you can grind it immediately beforehand.   Once coffee is ground, the freshness and aroma diminishes rapidly – usually within a few minutes.   Think of opening a soda, or a beer, and leaving it sitting on the counter for a couple of hours, and then drinking it.

It would taste flat.   The same principle goes for coffee.   Once the coffee is ground, the beans and their oils are exposed to air, and will go stale quickly, regardless of how it is stored.

Speaking of storing coffee, here are some tips:

Store coffee in an air-tight container in a dry, cool, dark place.  Avoid exposure to sunlight or sources of heat.

Coffee is porous, therefore it is not a good idea to keep it in the refrigerator, where it can absorb food odors.  The freezer should also be avoided, because of the moisture.

Intelligentsia Coffee has a very stylish Brew Guide here:

Stumptown Roasters have a Brewing Guide on their website for several methods of making coffee here:

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