Tag Archives: Counter Culture

Running into Helios Cafe in Raliegh and end up meeting important peeps!

rich_futrell_s Hmmm, I quickly with a rush blow into Helios Cafe in Raleigh to grab some Counter Culture whole bean for the press and some espresso to tide us over until the Square Mile comes in and “lo and behold” Rich Futrell is sitting there getting wired up on espresso Aficionado.

I had never met Rich, but dude was there and with the very limited time we had we were able to talk shop!! I wish I had much more time, but I had my sister’s family and mine in the Excursion waiting!

Good to meet you Rich and I hope we can run into each other again very soon!

While I was there I got a pound of Counter Culture’s Espresso Aficionado, Ada’s Finca Mauritania, & Kenya Kangocho (a personal CCC fav).

Can’t wait until the morning when I can get into this stuff.


More blithering about aweful espresso. It is making me physically ill

Remember my post about Mickey’s Pastries in Goldsboro taking an add out in the paper for an experienced barista?  Well, what a bunch of crapola.

Look, gloves off.  I have been nice the past few weeks about going into places and getting espresso, capps and coffee that just sucks.  It would be different if I was going into a Starbucks or some cracked up truckstop, but I am going into places that should know better, but they don’t. After reading a post on the Barista Exchange entitled “you serve bad espresso…..an you should be ashamed…..igot razors in my car if you want” and then replying, I am just sick of bad espresso and coffee.  It isn’t that bad when it is some cracked up joint that doesn’t care (or doesn’t have a history of caring) for the products they sell, they just want to sell’em (like a convenience store: no reason to care if the coffee sucks or not).  But, it is sick, absolutely gut wrenching, when you go into a place historically renown nationwide as being a stalwart and essence of quality.  Mickey’s Pastry has two people that are Certified Master Baker’s, which it is a rarity to have two CMBs on staff.  She has been in Cooking Light Magazine and I have read the article.  There are only a few CMBs in the United States, period.

So, with the CMB background I would figure that Melanie Daniels (CMB) and Mickey’s Pastries would take the same care and effort and funnel that into espresso and coffee.  Of course I know there is a learning curve.  Of course I understand that it will not be perfect at first.  But, there are few essentials I truly figured they would have taken care of first and foremost.

I walked in and a young lady came up to the counter asking if she could help me.  I asked “Did you fill the barista position?”  She said, “What is that?”  And I pointed to the LM Linea.  She said, “Oh, no, Melanie does it.”  So, I said, “I can order an espresso then?”  She replied, “Yes.”

Melanie came out about two minutes later never making eye contact, never saying “hi.”  She ground the shot, never wiping the portafilter after coming out of the group and tamped it with an RB.  Never flushing the Linea.  Pulled the shot which “went blond” immediately and poured in about 12 seconds.  That Espresso Toscano was just literally massacred.  Then, to completely finish whacking any tendons that may have been holding the skull to the upper vertebrae she poured it into a Styrofoam cup.  Yeah, that is right…Styrofoam, not even a paper cup.  Because she didn’t bleed the temperature off of the machine it was surely boiling and I didn’t taste a thing but hot, muddy water.

After she pulled it, she never looked at me and put it up on the counter, starting to walk off I said, “Hey, Melanie!  Have you had a hard time finding a barista?  I saw your ad in the paper.”  She finally made eye contact with me and said the following twice, “No, we really don’t have a need.”  She then, turned about face and walked off.  Weird.  Just weird.

So, what did a walk in on here?  A tax write off?  I know she had at least $7,000 (if used) if not $12,000 (if new) worth of equipment.

Melanie, if your reading this?  Don’t get mad, get better.  Get some cups from espressoparts.com and find out as much about Espresso Toscano and coffee, how precious it is and how hard people work to make it spectacular, as you found out about the rest of your fantastic products in your bakery.  That bench with the coffee equipment is a black eye in that shop.  It is just as bad as having tray after tray of baked goods in your display and then on the end having some cakes that a three year old made with mommy. Another thing, about the equipment, there hardly any better equipment that can be purchased; There are a couple machines better and a few grinders better, but they are rarely chosen.  You have a La Marzocco Linea, a Mazzer Super Jolly and a Reg Barber Tamper.  You have the tools of about 80% (my number) of  the best professionals in the world.  Whether it is Murky Coffee in D.C, Octane in ATL, and the list just goes on and on, the LM Linea and the Mazzer SJ are the workhorses of fantastic coffee the world over.

And I am going to ask a serious question here: Where in HADES is Counter Culture Coffee here?  All that talk about espresso, coffee integrity and sustainability and all that.  Look guys, her whole bean on the shelf was roasted in mid-June.  I know you trained her, I could tell she had some practice.  But, what gives?  Are things so bad your salesmen have to talk people into purchasing the equipment that have no education in coffee, no compass to work off of regarding quality?  I know you sold her the drip blend for the walk-ins for years and that is fantastic.  It probably should have stayed right there.  I wonder how long it took you to talk her into the idea of buying $7k to $12k of equipment (or was it a write off).  You (CCC & Melanie) may say “is this any of your business?”  Yes, yes it is.  It becomes my business when I see somebody continuing the thought process in their customer’s mind that espresso is nasty and cappuccinos and lattes need two shots of syrup to hide the coffee.

I am just tired of seeing the same senario over and over and over with no “letting up.”  And on top of that, this time they dropped it right in my backyard.  I sit here looking at places where I would DIE to setup shop and create a fantastic product and atmosphere for people.  I sit here with no money and nobody with to develop a business.  Mrs. Daniels and CCC, if you desire, call me, write me, respond here or whatever.  Just Google me and get my address and phone number.  I am not hard at all to find.  Now, rip me.  Respond here and tell me what you were thinking.  Defend yourself.  Or just blow steam off on me.  Call me the idiot.  Call me the “coffee snob.”  Or you could call me (or somebody) up and ask for some advice.  You DO have a market.  And you CAN “have a need.”

Counter Culture Ethiopian and A Fuente Opus X

What a combo!  A fantastic combo, indeed.  I have a large humidor that most people mistake for an “end table!”  Most of the cigars in it are in the five to six year old range and the air inside has been maintained to perfect levels.  The Fuente Opus Opus X robustos’, all four of them, cost me about $50 a peice several years ago.  The Churchill size were about $75 a peice.  They are rare, even more rare than Cubans.  But, they are Dominican in origin (I have 10 Cubans in there right now too 🙂 )

I paired them with some fantastic Counter Culture Ethiopian that I French Pressed and the wife and I sat on the porch in the absolute DARK and just puffed and sipped.  The taste of blueberries were already very present, but OMG the cigar made the blueberries EXPLODE.  They (the combination of the two) really was fantastic.  We haven’t sat on the porch and smoke a cigar on a few years!  We are going to have to “get back to basics!”  What an event.

I have some fantastic Intelligentsia Kenya – Gaturiri Auction Lot and tomorrow morning I will proceed to harm that bag!  I also have something I think is special: Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso.  Special because Intelli was my first source for specialty coffee almost two years ago and I always wanted some BC espresso, but in all of my travels I have failed to find any in a cafe.  I have had my machine up for seven months now and it was just time to have some.  I can’t want until the morning!

A. Fuente Opus Opus X Cigar info:  You can read up here, but the prices are really low now.  When they first came out in the early part of the 90’s they were super rare as most cigar shops held them in humidors behind the counter or in the back of the store.  As about 1999 or 2000 rolled around (about the time I purchased them), it wasn’t much different.  Only “good customers” would get them.  I think they only made them available in the beginning to East Coast U.S.A stores.