artisan coffee roasters

The Joy of Steamed Milk

Let’s get one thing straight: I love steamed milk. Forever, I have relished the fact that something simple as milk can be transformed into a lush and creamy foam. Before I got into coffee, I just spooned out the foam of a cappuccino and treated the foamed milk with a bit of cocoa as my special type of treat. This love must have been obvious as I recall the landlady during a stay in Tuscany putting an extra cup in front of me, filled solely with foam. That is how I learned the Italian word schiuma – foam. While I have now come to appreciate coffee in itself, steamed milk still remains a mystery to me. While the process to foamy perfection seems somewhat simple – use cold milk, submerge the wand, listen for certain sounds, look for a so called vortex – the truth is that steaming milk cannot be learned from a textbook. It requires practice, a good-ish machine and the right kind of milk.

It should be no surprise that steamed milk does indeed require you to think about what kind of milk to use. In a 2014 interview with SQIRL‘s head barista Colleen King, Rico Gagliano got her perspective on what type of milk is best for coffee. If you have read my previous post on SQIRL you will know that I absolutely love the combination of their black drip coffee and the toast. But if you must have milk, Colleen recommends using full fat milk – bad news for the low-fat crowd. According to her, the fattiness of the milk complements the bitterness of the coffee, a statement that I would definitely support. I mean creamier the milk equals creamier foam. Sound pretty logical, right? Rico and her are even musing about the future of milk, in which different types of milk will complement different beans and roasts of coffee. Ironically, most coffee purists, including Colleen, will tell you that putting milk in your coffee is pretty much an adulteration of taste. This explains the glance of appreciation my bf gets when he orders black coffee. I assume this somewhat new interest is strongly connected to the birth of “Barista Milk.” Apparently it is not more than a lightly homogenized milk, which might allow for a higher creaminess. Depending on who you speak to that might be absolute BS or the natural evolution of milk used in coffee shops. In any case, it is great marketing, and since it is organic you cannot go wrong. I am certainly excited about what these crazy coffee people come up with next.

Any comments? How do you drink your coffee?

cafe savo

Nachruf auf das Café Savo

An einem warmen Sommertag im September wollte ich mich endlich wieder im Café Savo niederlassen, meinem Lieblingscafé im ehemaligen Kiez. Nach langer Anreise stand ich vor verschlossener Tür – Café Savo hat zugemacht. Das Café Savo war einzigartig in Schöneberg. Ein Rückzugsort mit mediterranem Charme, kaltem Kachelboden und altmodischer Einrichtung, die an ein italienisches Café aus den 1950er Jahren erinnert. Inmitten der Gentrifizierung des Kiezes mit Third Wave Coffee und neumodischen Burgern war das Café Savo eine Insel des Widerstands. Soweit ich mich erinnere gab es hier kein W-Lan, niemand kam auf die Idee, seinen Laptop aufzuklappen. Hier regierte noch das Papier. Das Menü war nicht durchgestylt, die Gerichte hätten auf Instagram nicht viele Likes erhalten. Und trotzdem gab es hier eine Linzerschnitte die sogar meinen amerikanischen Freund zum absoluten Kaffee-und-Kuchen Anhänger konvertierte. Nun ist auch dies vorbei. Nie mehr wird der Besitzer mit seinem weißen Pferdeschwanz meine Bestellung aufnehmen. Fantastischen Kaffee gibt es natürlich im Überfluss im Akazienkiez. Bei Double Eye zum Beispiel. Aber diese Linzerschnitten gab es nur einmal. Tschüß liebes Café Savo, es war eine Freude.

University of Nottingham

What a Year!

And again: What a year!

After studying in England for a year, it is time to say goodbye. It has been wonderful getting to know new people, learning about new cultures and tasting exciting new drinks and meals. I was introduced to a proper English breakfast, high tea, and these curious things called crumpets. I have come to value the taste of perfectly baked scones with a dollop of raspberry jam and hot black tea on rainy afternoons. My trip into the unknown was once again rewarded and I am returning a lot poorer but at the same packed with invaluable treasures. The friends I made along the way, the lessons I have learned and the knowledge I acquired will stay with me no matter where I am.

And now I will go back to writing, posting and testing delicious treats from all over the world. See you soon!

Buttered Coffee

The latest trend from our friends in Palo Alto is buttered coffee. Championed by the entrepreneur, self-proclaimed “biohacker” and founder of Bulletproof Coffee®, Dave Asprey, this is basically hot coffee mixed with two tablespoons of butter (grass-fed) and medium chain triglyceride oil. Not a new idea in itself (especially Asian cultures have been drinking buttered beverages for centuries), it is definitely ballsy to introduce this to our Western, fat-fearing culture. I love butter and was excited to try using it in coffee. In fact, I was so excited that I went into the experiment without any preparation and ended up mixing Lidl butter with Starbucks coffee. The result? A creamy and delicious cup of coffee that has the heaviness of a Latte macchiato while still leaving some room for the coffee flavor to shine through.

While I find it hard to believe that this fatty caffeine beverage is supposed to help you lose weight, I have to admit that I felt quite full for an extended period of time. Apparently, drinking coffee this way is also supposed to take the edge off the caffeine, resulting in a pleasant, long-lasting buzz as opposed to a jolt and a crash. Blame it on the Lidl-butter but I did feel both a jolt and an all day buzz. Weird.

After Soylent, I am becoming more and more convinced that some Silicon Valley geniuses must hate food. I mean, yes, when I am in a rush I’d certainly consider some buttered coffee. But a constant replacement for breakfast? No way. What happened to the pleasure of eating? I much rather would eat a yogurt with granola and fruit than chug this blended coffee beverage.

What’s the verdict? Give it a try. You have nothing to lose.

And if you do, I would love to hear about it.

Nextshark Buttered Coffee All rights reserved by Nextshark. http://nextshark.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/photo-3.jpg

The Body and Self-Empowerment

March 1 marked the end of the National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW)! While I was a little disappointed about the lack of outreach programs at my university, it was very nice to see the amount of media attention this topic created. I think that these events are extremely important to raise awareness but we also need to look at the bigger picture. Too often do people (including me) and the media convey the idea that it is OK to judge other person’s bodies, thereby claiming ownership of something that is not theirs. I was touched by this post on Buzzfeed, in which women respond to the first mean thing somebody said about their bodies. Some of these comments were made in elementary school!

In response to these  awful comments, these women reclaim ownership of their body and perform an act of self-empowerment. Before you say anything: I know that it is not only women that are affected. Men also are under intense pressure to be “more manly”, fitter, more groomed and so on and so forth. But rarely will you find a fashion police/hot or not/who wore it better-column that puts men under the same intense scrutiny as it does for women. It creates an atmosphere of surveillance in which every action, every lost or gained gram, is quietly noted, where weight becomes a benchmark against which a person’s worth is judged, deciding punishment or reward. So, thank you Buzzfeed for drawing attention to this issue.

Thoughts, comments, and common/different experiences? Go ahead, I’d love to hear them!

Sqirl

In my last blog post, I was inspired by this wonderful story about toast, roots and routine. Now I will get back to doing what I do best: Write about food. Or coffee. Or cake. While Sqirl is not technically a café, it fits perfectly with last post’s story. This restaurant definitely caught on with the “hipster” trend of fancy toast with even fancier toppings. When I visit, I always get the same combination: Toasted brioche with nut butter and preserves, accompanied by drip coffee. What you get is a thickly cut, gorgeous brioche that has been toasted gently in butter, creating a crispy brown crust. This is then topped of with nut butter (usually Hazelnut) and a jam of your choice (I recommend Apricot or Strawberry). The carafe of drip coffee balances the richness of this “toast” perfectly by adding just a little acidity. Last time, however, I feel like the chef was a bit too generous with the bread. Don’t get me wrong, the bread is wonderful but remember in the Lord of the Rings when Bilbo says: “I feel … stretched. Like butter scraped over too much bread.”? I bet if this bread could talk, it would say something like that.

What’s the verdict? In general, this is an amazing place to sit outside, do a bit of people watching and just sink your teeth into this ginormous piece of bread. They also have plenty of other more savory options so everyone is happy. Sqirl 720 N Virgil Ave #4 Los Angeles CA 90029

Sqirl Los Angeles

Sqirl Brioche and Jam via http://www.disarraymagazine.com/2014/04/restaurant-spotlight-sqirl-jam-becomes.html I do not own the rights, all rights reserved by Sqirl.

street art, graffiti, abbott kinney

A New Year

It’s exam time, guys! Despite my efforts to concentrate completely on my exam preparation, I have failed to stay away and decided to come out of my holiday/post-NYE-hangover/exam hibernation.

Anyways, prompted by this thought-provoking piece “A Toast Story” about mental illness, the importance of routine, and – yes – toast, I want to show how it ties in with coffee and cake. Having become somewhat of a globetrotter (or Weltenbummler, as we call it), the constant traveling, moving, goodbyes and hellos made me much aware of a need for routine and rituals. It is easy to get caught up in the rush of newness, and the fear of everything that weighs you down, that boredom of the known. Along the way though, I feel like you lose part of what defines you, your roots so to speak. For me it is the small rituals that take me back to my sense of self, my culture and memories.

Coffee and cake definitely presents one of these rituals that bring me back to afternoons at the grandparents, the wonderful cakes and cookies made by my mother (with much creativity but little system) and the long afternoons spent talking hours and hours to friends.

Coffee and cake is the perfect occasion for much needed face-time (and not the digital kind), where you can connect with old and new friends, have stimulating conversations or just plainly exchange some good gossip.

So, I toast to more stories, more exciting coffee shops, delicious cakes and coffee!

I also want to thank people like John Gravois  who bring us interesting and heartwarming background stories, and to the passionate entrepreneurs dedicated to creating these social spaces. Happy 2015!

Feel free to leave any comments about your coffee and cake experiences and stay tuned for my next post (featuring toast).