Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bits and Morsels brews with Stumptown

The beans at first crack at Stumptown Roasters in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

It’s no secret that Stumptown brews excellent coffee. The Portland based company recently opened a café in The Ace Hotel and started roasting their coffee beans in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Last week, I took my digital over the bridge to their warehouse space in Red Hook for a cupping (akin to wine tasting for coffee) and a-roastin'.

Turns out I have simply been ignoring one of coffee's most important properties: its fragrance and aroma. But onto the technique: In short, the coffee is roasted for approximately 14 minutes, wherein every few minutes the roaster would remove a handful of beans and smell (inhale is more descript) them to determine where they were in the process.
The coffee beans in their raw form.
Raw coffee beans start out green, only turning brown after they are roasted. Luke Dirks smelling the freshly ground coffee.
The tasting: The coffees were arranged from mild to strong. The process starts with two-cup portions of beans from each coffee. Why two cups? To be sure the whole batch is good. After the beans are ground (and sniffed and snuffed), hot water is poured over them and they are left to steep for four minutes. After removing any foam that rises to the top, the coffees are tasted with spoons. We sampled a few single origin coffees and ended with a blend, Hair Bender. The Ethiopian variety was my favorite — seasonally fruity and tea-like.

However, my number one would have to be the Hair Bender. Smooth as a freshly zambonied ice skating rink, fantastic as regular coffee or espresso. Hair Bender got its name from a hair salon — Hair Bender — which previously occupied the spot that became the original Stumptown Coffee Shop in Portland.
Ryan Goodrow is one of the roasters. He is constantly checking and smelling the coffee beans throughout the roasting process.
The roasting machine.
Coffee beans cooling off after being roasted. The smell is intoixacting.
The cooled beans go through a device to be sure there are only coffee beans in the final product.
Cupping — coffees arranged from mild to strong.
After pouring hot water on the coffee, we let it brew for four minutes.
Ethiopia Michelle coffee ready to taste. Ethiopian coffee has fruitier notes than Latin American coffee. It's also more acidic.
Hair Bender is my favorite. It's a blend, and the last coffee we tried.
A new espresso machine.
A near-ancient espresso machine.
Freshly roasted bags of Hair Bender.
If you find yourself in Midtown, go to The Stumptown Café in the Ace Hotel on 29th between 5th and Broadway. In addition to regular coffee drinks they concoct awesome mochas with Mast Brothers Chocolate that are not cloyingly sweet. They also sell their fresh roasted coffee; good for home brewing and great for a gift.

Stumptown at the Ace
18 West 29th Street
Stumptown at the Ace.
They sell Mast Brother's chocolate.
Iced mocha.
Mochas made with Mast Brothers Chocolate, iced and hot.
New addition. Bel Ami is a new boulangerie and patisserie located at 30 East 68th Street. It’s a welcome and necessary addition to the neighborhood as there isn’t anything like it around. Their baked goods range from muffins to croissants, and their salads and sandwiches are perfect for lunch or a light dinner. The bench outside the shop is the perfect place to sit with a cappuccino in one hand and your dog in the other. I went there on Sunday at noontime hoping to try one of their delectable-looking croissants. No such luck as they were sold out. I ended up with a zucchini muffin, which worked for me. Bel Ami is brand new so you might have to be a little patient with them while they work out their kinks. Either way, Bel Ami is worth visiting — just go early on the weekends.

Bel Ami
30 East 68th Street

Bel Ami from the outside.
The perfect bench to share with your dog- I met Lola there.
Bel Ami on the inside.
A good selection of pastries.
Sandwiches and salads.
Almond croissants.
Zucchini muffin.
Sandwiched is the new pop up café at The Whitney (in place of Sarabeth’s). It’s run by Danny Meyer’s restaurant group, Union Square Hospitality, and will be open until the fall when they will open a permanent café. As the name suggests, they serve sandwiches designed by the chefs of his restaurants and catering group. It’s kid friendly with PB & Js and fluffer nutters on the menu, which will keep everyone happy. Everything looked good so I asked the woman behind the register for her favorite sandwich: the Bombay Pita Panino by Chef Floyd Cardoz of Tabla. Of course I ordered it and it was sold out! Not my week I suppose. I ordered the egg sandwich — not really what I wanted, but it did hit the spot. I do like the concept of a sandwich shop at the Whitney — it’s reasonable, quick and casual. I would consdier making it a permanent fixture.

Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
Sandwiched at the Whitney.
Peanut butter and jelly.
Knoll Crest Egg sandwich with cheddar curds and tomato marmalade.
This is a relevant article about tipping. While I agree it’s important to tip well, I draw the line when tip jars start appearing at the grocery store. The argument for: you should leave a bigger tip for better service. But, shouldn’t everyone be receieving the same good service? [NY Post]

Subway now serves breakfast sandwiches.
Once in a while, when absolutely necessary, I will go for a Subway. It’s basically an egg sandwich with the same condiments that you select for your sub. [Serious Eats]

Everyone is buzzing about the new Double Down “sandwich” from KFC. The sandwich is made with two fried chicken breasts as "bread," filled with bacon, cheese and mayonnaise. It amazes me that when most chains are trying to move in a healthier direction, KFC introduces the Double Down. Many people have tried it, and as you would expect, it's salty and greasy; but surprisingly, not particualry tasty. [Diner's Journal]

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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