Buckle Up For Caffeine Insanity*

Linea Espresso Machine
Pi’s 2-group Linea w/ PID rebuilt by Barry Jarrett–formerly of Riley’s.

Due to the unfortunate closing of the Central West End location of Companion Bake House, today was to mark the opening of Chris Sommers’ new Pi Coffee Bar–located under the loft of Pi’s new Central West End location.  Teaming up with Matt Herren and Debbie Sultan of Edwardsville’s Goshen Coffee and 222 Artisan Bakery, the plan was to begin carrying a full line of Goshen’s coffee and teas as well as Sultan’s award winning pastries.

Of course, to run a great coffee bar, you need a great manager and barista, and when the topic of who to run the bar came up last Thursday, Herren told Sommers there was only one choice: Alex Brooks.  In a whirlwind of a day, the call went out, and an offer was made, mulled over, and accepted by Brooks.

For St. Louis coffee fans, this is great news.  A more passionate coffee professional you will rarely find.  It does, however, mean that the opening has been delayed as Sommers feels it wouldn’t be right to open without Brooks at the helm.  Sommers is, after all,  hoping to raise the level of what coffee can be in the Central West End saying about the Brooks acquisition, “I can’t afford him, but I can’t afford not too.”

Speaking with Brooks last week, he is currently putting the finishing touches on his employment in Portland and is excited for the opportunity to be back amongst his friends putting his mark on St. Louis coffee.

At this time, the plans are to now open Monday, February 8, with the hours being Monday-Saturday 6-11AM.  Be sure to stop in to welcome Alex home.

Full Disclosure: Alex Brooks, Matt Herren, Chris Sommers, and Debbie Sultan are all friends of mine.

* The title is lifted from a text message Sommers sent to me.

Goshen Coffee @ Foundation Grounds

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And in still more local coffee news, Ian Froeb and Melody Meiners of toastedrav.com reported that Foundation Grounds is now open in Maplewood. Between the two of them they covered most of the W’s (like it’s being Green) except for one: Foundation Grounds is another Missouri notch for Edwardsville’s Goshen Coffee.

Continuing to increase their West-Side presence, their drip and espresso coffees are becoming increasingly easy to find around town as prominent spots like Pi, Winslow’s Home, Local Harvest Cafe, The Good Pie and Niche turn to them for service.

Slow Food Art of Food Menu

This is why you want to buy tickets for Art of Food

222 Artisan Bakery / Goshen Coffee – Debbie Sultan / Matt Herren

  • 222 Artisan breads in roll form: bacon, brioche, and sun dried tomato olive and feta
  • Goshen-roasted Costa Rican pour-over drip coffee

Bailey’s Chocolate Bar / Rooster – Robin Murphy

  • Fruitland roast beef sandwich with red onion marmalade and herbed Heartland Creamery goat cheese on a housemade roll
  • Bailey’s buttercream chocolate bar cake

An American Place – Joshua Galliano

  • Prairie Grass Farms lamb and foie gras ballotine, apple mustard, chickpea salad, saba

Annie Gunn’s – Lou Rook III

  • Duroc pork belly confit on Companion brioche roll with Atomic horseradish mustard and house made local peach chutney

Araka – Mark Curran

  • Prairie Grass Farms housemade sausages
  • Local heirloom tomato salad

Erato on Main – Kevin Willmann

  • House smoked Guthrie Farms chicken with local vegetable chow chow

Local Harvest Grocery – Clara Moore

  • Housemade hummus served on local cucumber circles and local tomatoes tossed with fresh pesto and served on Companion crostinis

Moxy Bistro – Eric Brenner

  • Duck breast with grilled peaches

Niche – Gerard Craft

  • Slow-roasted Greenwood Farms pork butt sandwiches with brussel sprout slaw on Companion bread

Schlafly Bottleworks – Matt Bessler

  • Schlafy “Gardenworks” beet and Arugula salad
  • Troutdale Farms smoked Trout Mousse with English cucumber cups
  • Bacon-wrapped Hinkebein Hills Farm smoked pork tenderloin with Schlafy pale ale raspberry BBQ sauce

Sidney Street Café – Kevin Nashan

  • Hinkebein Hills Farm smoked pork butt with cornmeal “toast”, Eilerman Brothers peach bbq glaze, Claverach Farm greens and pickled peaches
  • On the Wind Farms watermelon gazpacho with jumbo lump crab

Veruca – Mathew Rice

  • Local peach and lavender trifles

If you were cool…

you would be at Mad Art Gallery this Saturday for Slow Food St. Louis’s annual fund raiser, The Art of Food.

Art of Food

Full event details are at artoffood.org though what you’ll really want to know is who the chefs are:

Debbie Sultan & Matt Herren – 222 Artisan Bakery and Goshen Coffee
Joshua Galliano – An American Place
Lou Rook – Annie Gunn’s
Mark Curran – Araka
David Bailey – Bailey’s Chocolate Bar and Rooster
Kevin Willmann – Erato on Main
Eric Brenner – Moxy Bistro
Gerard CraftNiche
Matt Bessler – Schlafly Bottleworks
Kevin Nashan – Sidney Street Cafe
Mathew Rice – Veruca

and possibly more to come…

The Boobs are Back

starbucksThey shut stores down to discuss quality and renew “focus on espresso standards.”

They bought the Clover prompting coffeegeeks to shudder and Stumptown to pull them from their stores.

And starting yesterday the original topless logo has returned to signal Starbucks commitment to quality along with their new Pike Place Roast which Howard Schultz says “is truly one of the best coffees we have offered our customers in our 37-year history and it will reinvent brewed coffee.”

They have also migrated to “30-minute hold times for brewed coffee” and with a renewed focus on quality say that The Pike Place blend is both “Fresh” and “Hand-Scooped.” With all the bags on display in the shop I went to having roasted dates of 3/24 though, it was already two weeks old the minute it arrived.

So take note when you go to buy that next bag of coffee that while local roasters like Goshen, Kaldi’s and Northwest may not have topless logos, they do have fresh roasted coffee that was hand-scooped all along.

Do you think they’ll have to change all those green signs to brown now? 

222 Baking Class

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Former Edwardsvillian Webdesigner Bill Klingensmith of myDarndest was recently in town and made some updates to the Goshen Coffee/222 Artisan Bakery website in the form of adding a blog.

The first post went up last week, and for the high-rolling wanna-be-baker, Matt Herren and 222’s new(ish) head baker Paula will be teach some classes for the adoring public.

So for years now people have been asking me to teach them to make bread. I have always grumbled about “some day” and “when I have time” Well the time is now! Paula our head baker has been inspiring me, and freeing up some time for me as well, and we are going to offer a class…it’s going to be two weekends from 2-5 each Saturday.

They’re only taking six people so head to the blog for more details if interested.

Paula by the way is the one responsible for all the braided loaves they’ve been turning out lately as well as some of the new varieties like chocolate pomegranate.

[As a side note, Bill did this website for South Wedge Farmes' Market in Rochester, NY (where he now lives), and it's pretty slick considering he used the same CMS I do for stlbites.]

SCAA Midwest Regional Barista Competition

SCAA Midwest Reginonal Barista Competition Round 1 Day 2 that is…

I’m not yet styling a DSLR like some of the other photo snappers I saw (McCracken), so while I’m sure some better shots will come out of the weekend, what I lack in quality I make up for in swiftness to the web.

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This is Alex Brooks. Saturday was his first barista competition.

On my initial quest for good cappuccino in St. Louis Ellie and I somehow found ourselves in St. Charles at Picasso’s Coffeehouse. Alex worked there, and he was the first person in the city I didn’t have to have a conversation with about what I wanted. He just did it right.

On the weekends we knew he was working we’d go after dinner. And then one day he was gone.

Honestly, I was pissed. It was like losing a dealer; until I found Goshen Coffee that is.

So then Matt tells me he’s hiring a new barista/sales guy for Goshen a few months ago. “Alex” he tell’s us. Ellie and I churn it over, put two and two together, and sure enough, it’s Alex…”Picasso” Alex…our Alex.

You’d be pressed to find someone more enthusiastic than Alex about coffee in St. Louis, and I personally find the whole thing pretty amazing because he was barely 20 when we first met him. He’s 21 now.

If you want a good shot of espresso go to Goshen when he’s working and have him pull the single origin yirgacheffe.

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Now this guy is Pete Licata. This was not his first competition.

He’s from PT’s Coffee. PT’s is based out of Topeka, KS, but he is the manager of their store in Overland Park.

Where Alex seemed a bit nervous competing for the first time and didn’t talk much, Licata seemed a lot more relaxed about the whole thing. And he should be. Licata came in second at the US Barista Competition last year, and was therefore the alternate in the World Barista Competition in Japan.

Though I’ve never seen one of these competitions before I can only assume he did not perform as well as he must have at the national competition last year, because his latte art was a bit sketchy from pour to pour. Still you could tell he has skills, and although I didn’t stick around to see who made it to the finals tomorrow, I’d imagine he did fairly well.

Congratulations to everyone that competed though. I’ll be the first one to tell you your coffee sucks, but I can’t even pull a shot of espresso now can I?

But then I don’t have an espresso machine either

If anybody has about $1000 extra dollars to pitch in on a used Rancillio S27, I’ll be happy to practice my heart out and pull you a shot. Another $500 for a Mazzer Mini grinder would be cool too.

Thanks to David from Kaldi’s for the rule info. He made some sort of umami heavy specialty shot with mackerel and seaweed that was far to involved for me to remember. I’m curious what it tasted like.

And here’s the rest of the flickr photo set from Round 1 Day 2:

IMG_2840IMG_2843IMG_2844IMG_2846IMG_2847IMG_2850IMG_2851IMG_2852IMG_2853IMG_2855IMG_2856IMG_2857IMG_2858

What does seasonality mean to you?

Asparagus-m

I want you to weigh in on seasonality.

I posted about this dish back in November:

Seasonal Cuisine at its finest, California figs and Parma ham with a drizzle of aged Balsamic of Modena

Who’s season? Yours or California’s?

Many people disagreed with me then when I said this was a ridiculous usage of the term, but if I can call something from California seasonal, than I can call my mom’s Mexican asparagus from last Friday seasonal as well.

Clearly that’s just not the case, so where’s the line?

Missouri grown strawberries in February were mentioned on the forum.

Just because you can grow something in a hot house or other controlled environment, in what is traditionally not the correct growing season, should you? And if you do, does that make it seasonal?

And what about its quality? Sure I can grow a coffee plant in my home but it wouldn’t want to drink anything that came from it.

Weigh in at the forum.

I am…

unique

That’s one word for what I am. This coffee mug is pretty unique too right? I could wax on about how it came from a thrift store, or how I bought it for the hilarious irony of it all, but no, I bought it new, in San Francisco, on Fisherman’s Wharf, in about 1983, when I lived in the San Joaquin Valley, in the city of Modesto, 90 minutes outside of San Francisco.

At the time I thought the mug was awesome, and while that might have signaled something was obviously amiss with me early on, I think I deserve some slack, I was like 7.

Now the mug sits in my cabinet; one of few in my arsenal to host a delicious assortment of brewed coffees from my Presto Scandinavian coffee maker–the cheapest drip coffee maker that brews at the correct temperature ( so cheap–$19–I have backups)–and Ellie makes fun of me every time I use it.

Yesterday the mug contained a drip brewed cup from the half pound of Stumptown’s Hair Bender Espresso which Matt (Goshen) gave me on my weekly trek to Edwardsville.  He has this wacky (read awesome) idea to bring in guest roasts from other shops all over the country to show people what other great roasters are up to, and they’d been pouring the Stumptown as drip all week.  (Matt believes a great espresso should also make a decent drip brewed cup)  As a coffeegeek I think it’s a great idea as roasters don’t all go about things in the same manner.  It’s cool to see the variations of what a shop is doing as I travel.

Using just Kaldi’s and Goshen as a local example, Kaldi’s roasts in San Franciscan drum roasters, where as Goshen roasts with a hot air roaster Matt built himself because he finds he can finesse out of it more of the flavors he’s after.  Generally people believe drum roasters to be superior because they think air roasting leaves coffees brighter than drum roasting.  To these people I can only say I was shocked when Matt told me he air roasted–try it for yourself.

As for the Hair Bender, Matt tasked me with noting something in the finish, and I hope my emailed response didn’t fall completely off the mark, for that would be embarrassing and I’d lose what tiny bit of coffee street-cred I’ve got.

To be honest though, I’m not great at picking flavors out of beverages.  What I mean is, it’s one thing to say a wine tastes like fruit, it’s a whole different thing to specify fresh or dried fruit, and another thing entirely, still, to specify what fruit exactly.  Currants? Cherries? Blueberries?  They all taste different, and I’m only now beginning to get better at picking this stuff up with that kind of clarity.

My answer, by the way, was caramel apples.  But it could have just been something I ate.

Oh…and Matt hired my favorite barista in St. Louis…some kid named Alex that used to do some amazing things with Chauvin at Picasso’s in St. Charles.

10 St. Louis Food(ie) Holiday Gifts

presents3Did you know St. Louis food bloggers have love for you. Well we do, and today we’re all posting our lists of 10 local food gifts.

Here you can find the other participants lists. There’s sure to be some overlap, and it will be fun to see where it occurs:

Find out what to get me after the jump…

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