Tag Archives: Grumpy Mule

Coffee Cupping @ La Bottega Milanese, Leeds

La Bottega Milanese had their first coffee cupping event a little while ago at their recently opened coffee shop on Bond Court. If you’ve not been to La Bottega’s newest coffee shop, you really must as Alex Galantino has done such a beautiful job on getting the place fitted out, it looks fantastic!

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The original plan was for roastery The Grumpy Mule to showcase their coffee, but sadly they were unable to attend. As always, the show must go on, so fortunately a number of fantastic baristas from well-known coffee shops around Leeds and it’s surrounding areas were on hand to help out with their coffee expertise instead. Another typical example of how Leeds’ coffee community works together so well, with the likes of Adam (Opposite), Matt (Mrs Athas) and Oakley (Crema Espresso) bringing a selection of coffees along for the event.

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There seemed to be a varying amount of cupping experience amongst us, so Alex was more than happy to ease us into the procedure. I really liked this because it showed us that whatever experience and knowledge we had with coffee, it was an event that could cater for everyone, regardless of any limitations we may have.

Alex briefly explained how the aim of a cupping session was to compare and contrast coffees against each other. Six different coffees with slightly different flavour profiles, produced by a range of well-known roasters using beans from a variety of countries would be showcased. He drew our attention to taking tasting notes, possibly drawing out a wheel of flavour to compare each coffee. The most popular coffee would then be used to produce coffee to drink using an  Aeropress.

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Here’s a brief run through of the cupping procedure:

1. Smell the ground coffee – is there are difference between ground and not ground? Some coffees had been processed in different methods, e.g. processed/washed would give differences in how clean their flavours were.

I even surprised myself when I got a noseful of the Hasbean coffee, which had a huge whack of strawberry that instantly filled my nostrils. Earlier that morning I’d had a bowl of strawberries for breakfast and it reminded me of that immediately. 

2. Each coffee was brewed for 4 minutes by added hot water of a specific temperature (not boiling) onto the coffee grounds, allowing an even extraction and the formation of a crust. 

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3. The surface of the crust was broken by using a spoon to push the grounds down with three swift movements. The aromas released would give an indication of what was to come during tasting.  Quickly the cups had the ground coffee removed before the slurping process could begin.

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4. People started to work their way through each coffee, slurping away, getting the coffee to coat the tongue to taste, comparing them at different temperatures. 

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A quick analysis of opinions was garnered to see what people thought. 

There was a general consensus that the Grumpy Mule tasted the most ‘ordinary’ – with a more bitter taste, it tasted like a more traditional, standard coffee. This was unlike the others as they had been roasted much lighter to develop flavour profiles.

The San Agustin roasted by Square Mile seemed to be a popular choice – an easy drinking coffee and not too bitter. As it started to cool its taste began to resemble tea. The Yirgacheffe, (Square Mile) was found to be very floral, with bergamot notes. We were told that fully washed coffees produce lovely bright fruit flavours. 

The Nicaraguan Hasbean coffee was also a popular choice, it certainly stood out as the flavours produced were very intense with fruit. Matt explained that these beans were massive, due to being grown slowly at high altitude. After undergoing a natural process, rather than being washed like others, fermentation allows levels of texture and flavour to intensify, resulting in really jammy coffee full of strawberry.

During each cupping session there is always so much to take in and learn and I always feel completely out of my depth, but at the same time feel I am very slowly learning more a bit at a time. I would highly recommend going to a cupping event if you’ve not been to one before!!

Their next cupping session is this Sunday, when La Bottega will be hosting The Coffee Officina  roasters from Essex.

Hopefully I’ll see you there!!

La Bottega Milanese
2 Bond Court
Leeds
LS1 2JZ
0113 2454242
http://www.labottegamilanese.co.uk

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North Star Latte Art Throwdown @ North Star Micro Roasters, Leeds

One of my 2013 blog highlights was North Star Micro Roasters Inaugural Cupping Event.  Since their initial launch North Star have gone from strength to strength, building a large following of coffee lovers in Leeds and beyond.

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Wednesday was the day of their Inaugural Latte Art Throwdown Championships, held at their premises in Meanwood. I’ve been a little obsessed with the whole latte art thing over the last few months after seeing a latte with a Darth Vadar design, to the point where I’ve even been really sad watching YouTube clips and making my husband watch them! 

For people not in the know, Latte art is where coffee is made by pouring steamed milk into a shot of espresso which results in a  pattern on the surface.

headed down after school with my friend Alice to meet some coffee folk, watch in awe and of course take some photos!! We’d wondered which baristas would be competing, with such great places to get coffee in Leeds at the moment we were optimistic, such as Laynes, Opposite, Mrs Athas and La Bottega Milanese to name a well known few. really decent crowd were already there when we arrived at North Star Headquarters, and Krag and Ellis, the boys at the helm of North Star were there hosting.  

When Ellis announced the competitors we weren’t far wrong, representing Leeds were baristas from Froth ‘n’ Fodder, Cielo, La Bottega Milanese, Mrs AthasNotes and also Ellis from North Star. Also vying for the crown were baristas from further afield – Bean and Bud and Baltzersens hailing from HarrogateUpshot Espresso from Sheffield, Grumpy Mule from Meltham and finally Crema Espresso from Bridlington.

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Independent food produce was also on show during the event with fantastic bread from theLeeds Bread Co-op, paired with yummy chutney fromMade by Jim, unctuous brownies and caramels from Sarah at Noisette Bakehouse, and lastly beautiful meat and cheese platters supplied byBaltzersens.

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Ok, so apologies for my trigger happy camera finger, I know it happens a lot, but I managed to take 300+ photos during the evening!!! I’ve tried to be good and have whittled it down to a compilation of photos that hopefully tell the tale of the competition.

The rules for the 1st round were that competitors would battle it out head to head, they could pour any design they wanted into a 6oz cup, using a 12oz jug. Being watched by eagle-eyed judges – Adam from Opposite Cafe, Carl from Layne’s Espresso and Krag from North Star, competitors were judged using the following criteria:

  • balance and symmetry
  • colour definition
  • use of space
  • the overall pour

All of to be done under pressure with a crowd of their peers and latte art admirers!!!Here’s a compilation of the 1st round pours:

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In the 2nd round the ten remaining baristas had to pour a rosetta:

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Tulips were up next in the semi-finals:

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So after three rounds of a closely contested battle, the field of twenty hopefuls was down to the final three: Lenka (Bean and Bud), Matt (Mrs Athas) and Oakley (Crema Espresso).

In the final round they had to use a 12oz jug to make a latte in a 6oz cup but also a piccolo, being as artistic as they dared with the design.

Matt from Mrs Athas
Matt from Mrs Athas
Oakley from Crema Espresso
Oakley from Crema Espresso
Lenka from Bean and Bud
Lenka from Bean and Bud

The judges took a few minutes to deliberate and come to an agreement over their scores, in the meantime the crowd and the competitors waited with baited breath.

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A few minutes later Ellis announced the winner of this years Inaugural Latte Art Throwdown – Oakley from Crema Espresso!! He was the clear winner, with Lenka from Bean Bud in 2nd and Matt from Mrs Athas in 3rd. All very well deserved!!

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The winner – Oakley from Crema Espresso!!!

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So another great event at North Star, an evening full of shaky hands, tense moments, great camaraderie and sportsmanship. It was fantastic to meet some of the North’s independent coffee community and see them come out in force! Here’s to more cupping events and throwdowns in the future!!!

North Star Micro Roasters

Unit 27
Penraevon Industrial Estate
Jackson Road
Meanwood Road
Leeds
LS7 2AP