Monday, May 16, 2011

I Shall Wear the Bottom of My Trousers Rolled

A cup of Papua New Guinea Sigri Peaberry, The Steeping Room
The Steeping Room
Fun times at The Steeping Room, a pop-up shop with a lifespan of only 3 months, from the same folk who brought us Papa Palheta and Loysel's Toy. Reminiscent of Square Mile Coffee Roasters' Penny University. Fantastic initiative and, to use politico-speak, where the ground is heading. (Or is the ground being led there?)


Like much art and theory, the methodology isn't new - the nonchalant Kenyan AA in a syphon has hung around The Coffee Connoiseur for some time and the Hario Buono Kettle, V60 drip filters and Skerton and Slim Mill grinders have been offered by Japanese department stores for ages.

But this is now gathering enough support (and coolness?) to be termed "a movement", with attendant evangelistic guerilla shop set up on the second floor of the 261 Waterloo Street HDB block, two floors down from farm.sg and a stone's throw from Food For Thought, with wooden pallets as wall decor and Pyrex Iwaki beakers as beverage vessels.

Shelves of Exhibits/Wares, The Steeping Room
Despite oozing such coolness that even ah-peks think I'm far less hip than them (plus the uncle from the "Famous Waterloo Street" chicken rice downstairs was so pained by my lousy Mandarin, he felt it necessary to hold up the queue to correct it), I've managed to acquire almost half the equipment on display during the continuing quest for the most decent cup of homebrew (early and late March, April*).

The Steeping Room Menu, The Steeping Room
The current menu for May was interesting enough: Papua New Guinea Sigri Peaberry served in the Hario V60 or Hario Woodneck cloth drip, Ibero El Salvador Pacamara in the Aerobie Aeropress, Ethiopia Yirgacheffe in the Hario Syphon and for The Steeping Series, the PNG Sigri Peaberry and Ethiopian Yirgacheffe paired with dark and milk Royce nama chocolates. Lovely. No espresso-based drinks or milk additives here - just coffee in its glory.

Leon Foo explaining coffee, The Steeping Room The Steeping Room
Still, the highlight of the visit was to be able to lean over and have a grand old yabber with the baristas about failed home experiments, 13g-14g for the Aerobie Aeropress) vs 23g (! aiyoh!), "circular pour with agitation", Geishas, etc without so much as a puzzled blink from across the counter.

The Bench at The Steeping Room Papua New Guinea Sigri Peaberry, Hario Woodneck, The Steeping Room
It seemed to me, as we were debating the historicity of Jesus' resurrection at Christianity Explored today, that there are great similarities between coffeegeekery and Christian evangelism - you've discovered something great and it's so marvellous that you want to share the good news with everyone! Yet, being obsessed about coffee makes one an interesting person but being passionate about the God who made this wonderful world makes you a scary fundamentalist; gabbing on about beans and showing people that "coffee can be sweet, floral, fruity and nutty" is very exciting but talking about Jesus who died in our place for the sins we committed and showing people the goodness of God's laws just results in complaints that we are infringing on the rights of others.

Yet exploring the coffee bean is so much much less important than exploring the meaning to life, the reason we have been put on earth, who made the entire universe, who rules it, and where we will go when we die.


*
Hasbean's Malawi Mzimba Geisha coffee in the Hario V60-02 for Election Day
My most recent experiments involving Has Bean's Malawi Mzimba Geisha 2011 + Hario V60 have been fantastic for the princely sum of £4.30. It's not that geisha from Hacienda La Esmerelda in Panama, but the fallout radius was still at least 10m from the epicenter of the mid-afternoon brew in the office pantry. Much less swooning with Has Bean's Malawi Viphya Geisha 2011 though.

Here's Stephen Leighton's write-up:
Grown in the Viphya North Hills on the grassland plateau overlooking Lake Malawi, this micro lot is of the Geisha varietal. Geisha is an ancient and very rare coffee variety that has gained a lot of favour of late. The agronomic yield of Geisha is extremely low, which is why it is so difficult to find commercial plantations of this variety. One of the reasons for its new found popularity is an auction lot that fetched a huge premium. In fact it was the most expensive coffee ever, which in some areas led to a huge rush to rip out perfectly good plant stock and replace it with a varietal that tends only to work at a higher altitude and in perfect growing conditions.

The good news about the Mzimba Geisha Micro Lot is that it has been growing in this location for a very long time at an altitude of 1600m above sea level upwards, and it's great tasting. This coffee is so similar to the Mssese I have tried to find out more about why it is so close and if it's a co op name change.

In the cup expect the super creamy mouth-feel and clarity that you would expect from a great washed African coffee. This is then backed up by a delicious tropical fruit that zaps your mouth with pineapple, apricot and all sorts of summer fruits. Great mouth-feel.

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