Posts Tagged ‘Aldo Coffee’

Coffee Tasting – First Impressions

March 13, 2010

The first time I was introduced to tasting different coffees from different parts of the world was a coffee tasting session at Aldo Coffee in Mt. Lebanon, PA. We tasted three different coffees: Ethiopian, Central American, and Sumatran (Indonesian). What was my first impression? Whether or not these are true descriptors of these coffees, this is what I have as an impression: Ethiopian coffee was very bright and fruity; Central American was bright and floral; Sumatran was smooth and heavy.

At that time the Ethiopian coffee seemed too intense. So much was going on in my mouth that I wondered if I could handle that first thing in the morning.

The Central American coffee (I don’t remember exactly where it was from) had a floral aroma. It wasn’t as “in your face” as the Ethiopian.

The Sumatran coffee was smooth, not as bright as the Ethiopian or Central American coffee. The other characteristic was it’s body – it felt thick on the tongue, kind of sticky to the mouth.

These were my first impressions. Since then, I’ve taken a liking to the Ethiopian coffees. This is my starting point in developing a familiarity to different coffees.


Kudos to the Coffee Community

March 14, 2009

The coffee community typically gets a bad rap. Most consider coffee lovers, “coffee snobs.” But since beginning this blog in October 2008, I have received comments, especially from home roasters, that are extremely supportive. I’m just in an appreciative mood right now. So thanks to Rich at Aldo Coffee, Phil and John at La Prima, Derek at Bongo Java, Stephen Leighton, and many others.  While I’m at it, thanks to my brother-in-law for letting me smoke up his house, and to John and Chris at work for helping me brainstorm while on our coffee breaks at work. My point is this: I really like having this blog.

Want More Flavor? Cool Your Cup Down

December 23, 2008

piping-hot-cupLet me begin by telling you that I normally like my liquids piping hot. Soup’s gotta be steaming  hot. Leftovers’ gotta be steaming hot – nuke it for 3 minutes. For the longest time – my cup of coffee had to piping hot. I typically take comfort in the warmth the hot cup of coffee can give to my hands, especially when it is 10F with a 10 mph wind blowing at the bus stop.

Then I read a post by Rich at Aldo Coffee (dated Dec 09, 2008). He was raving over his cup of Guatemala Itzamna from Intelligentsia. I bought the same beans from his shop and was wrestling with why my cup of Itzamna was not “a complex, bold brew of fruits and spices.” What was more pronounced to me was the dry tannin taste you normally find in teas.

Then my cup of Itzamna cooled down. Oh no! My coffee is cooling down! But when I tasted it, guess what? It was “a complex bold brew of fruits and spices.” Now I’m not talking lukewarm. It just cooled down to perfect hot chocolate temperature. Just warm enough to keep your insides warm, but cool enough to chug if you wanted to.

I know I’m probably speaking heresy for many coffee drinkers. But it actually worked!

Bridging the Gap – double the beans in a French press

December 10, 2008

This morning I decided to double the amount of beans I normally use in my French press. Will this be “stronger”? I’m using a direct trade Itzamna, Guatemala from Intelligentsia that I bought from Aldo Coffee. It was definitely “stronger”. But I also noticed that the flavor was also “stronger”. The one taste that stuck out a little too much was the dryness similar to the dryness of the tannins in tea. That would hit with each sip and stayed in my mouth for a long time – maybe even hours after drinking the coffee.

I think I like this method of tasting the coffee: make a cup  of coffee in a French Press using twice the amount of beans.

Does that mean that I liked the dryness lasting in my mouth for hours? Not really, but I like the attack of the tastebuds. This provides me a way to try many types of beans.

Bridging the Gap Between Average Coffee Drinker to Specialty Coffee

December 8, 2008

This past Saturday was my coffee Saturday. I had a tour of the roastery at La Prima. Then my first cupping session at Aldo Coffee. It was really a great time.

The tour at La Prima consisted of 25 people. I really liked the makeup of the group. They were people that I wouldn’t mind hanging out and having a cup of coffee with. Phil was great to watch and talk to while he roasted the coffee. One comment during the talking session that has stuck with me –  Matt said, “When customers come to the coffee bar and ask for a strong cup of coffee, it is usually hard to know what they are referring to. Strong in acidity, in body, in taste?” (Don’t let this thought go, I’m going to address it.)

At Aldo Coffee, Rich and Melanie as well as the baristas there were very friendly and great to be around. There was only three of us in the class – a newly wed couple and me. It was first experiencing cupping. I would even say that it was my first experience tasting real specialty coffee – coffee roasted to bring out the characteristics of the particular beans. It was a real education to my palate. I liked the challenge to distinguish the nuances with each cup.

One particular coffee was from Kenya. It had a very fruity and floral aroma and taste. Being my first experience of specialty coffee, I would say that it was an attack to my tastebuds. I liked that challenge to my palate. But I also considered, “Would I want that kind of palate attack every morning?” My quick answer was no. It was too novel. Give me something a little more balanced. The novel I will drink once a week or in the evenings to maintain its novelty.

That was Saturday. Today is Sunday. My thoughts never really solidify until at least 24 hours of processing. Here is my thought today: I’m not sure if many of the friends and family that consider themselves coffee drinkers would like the many of the specialty coffees. Many would consider them “weak” even approaching the taste of tea. Rich at Aldo Coffee even said that some people don’t like the Panama Esmeralda because it tastes like Earl Grey Tea!

So what to do? I think my coffee drinking friends and family would like the challenge to their tastebuds, but I don’t think they will ever give up whatever it is they consider to be “strong” or “bold.” So what is that? The body of the coffee? The carbon content in the darker roasts? I’m not sure yet.

Maybe the overly dark roast that Starbucks does to all of their beans was their answer to the question. I think the answer is the bridge to the gap between the average coffee drinker and the specialty coffee drinker.

I am going to see if Cafe Americano – a shot of espresso put into a cup of hot water – is a step in the right direction. Maybe there is something in espresso that will bridge the gap.

La Prima and Aldo Coffee

November 25, 2008

I’m excited about two places in Pittsburgh. The first is La Prima. I haven’t had their coffee yet, but I’ve read many good reviews. They give a tour of their roasting plant the first Saturday of the month at 10:00AM. I’ve already signed up for December 6th. I heard that we’ll actually see them roast coffee and get samples. The tour is just $10.

Aldo Coffee is in Mt. Lebanon. They give two coffee tasting classes a month. By chance their next beginners’ class is also December 6th at 1:00PM. I’ve made my reservation. By the way it’s free! We should be tasting coffee from different countries.

I’m anxious for December 6 to come.