Coffee’s Fourth Wave?

A recent post from Serious Eats about this apparently unbelievable espresso machine heralding coffee’s fourth wave made me think of something; most people don’t even know that coffee is in its fourth wave.

Here’s a short rundown; coffee, in the mind of connoisseurs, has gone through four waves. These are movements, or consumer shifts, that spur massive change through the industry. It effects corporations, growers, businesses, customers, bloggers, and the list goes on. Here are the four waves and brief descriptions:

  • First wave – This was eons ago where Folgers, Maxwell House, or Nescafe made instant coffee an essential component of home kitchens and into ubiquity. This was the start of the nation’s dependence on java.
  • Second wave – We have Starbucks to thank for this. The second wave is where consumers started to look through the coffee prism and see espresso, cappuccino, lattes, etc. Suddenly, it wasn’t just a cup of joe. This was the start of our nation needing coffee at every second of the day served on every street corner.
  • Third wave – This wave is where growers, retailers, and customers were achieving a higher sense of possibility and uniqueness with coffee. Probably the most discussed of the coffee ‘waves’, the Third Wave had people thinking about origins of the beans, characteristics, differences, etc. This was the start of the nation being snobby about their coffee.
  • Fourth wave – Honestly I had no idea that we were even in our fourth wave, but apparently change in the world of coffee never stops. This was the start of the nation Googling ‘coffee third wave’ to learn about the fourth wave.

In the post on Serious Eats, the Fourth Wave is described as the technique and creativity of the barista to enhance the coffee experience. And one can kind of see this happening. Think about the kerfuffle a while back about the Clover machine. This was the espresso machine that was supposed to create as perfect a cup of coffee possible. So awesome that Starbucks bought the company, but only has these machines in a handful of their cafes. Now comes the Slayer (awesome name) a new $18K machine that is supposed to be a game-changer. Hence the fourth wave. I guess. It’s very interesting, but a bit presumptuous.

Honestly, I’m not as well versed on coffee as I could be, but this subject was too interesting to not share. So now if you ever find yourself in a conversation about third wave coffee you can throw your two cents in and elevate your clout by talking about the fourth wave. If there is even such a thing. I’m still getting a hang of the third wave.

Photo from Slayer Espresso
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Pepsi Natural

You gotta give it up for Pepsi-Cola. They are distinctly the number two beverage maker behind Coca-Cola, but they aren’t afraid to shake things up to wrestle away valuable market share points.

This past spring, they tried two new salvos to whet the whistles of beverages drinkers around the country. One, was Pepsi Throwback. A limited-run drink that uses natural sugar (instead of the dastardly High Fructose Corn Syrup). I haven’t had Pepsi Throwback, but I do have to give it up to their commercial. Beautifully kitschy and retro, I think it’s great. They also tried another new product that will be around awhile. Pepsi Natural.

I am unabashedly a Coke person. Love it. And Mexican Coke has a special place in my heart. But I’m always down to try new stuff. I’m experimental like that. On a recent visit to Costco, they had a 12 pack of Pepsi Natural. Of course I’ll try it!

Pepsi Natural is different in that it uses ‘natural’ sugar, sparkling water, and kola nut extract. And it’s in a glass bottle! Fancy. Picked it up on a curious lark, but what does it taste like? Well, it’s not bad. The first thing I noticed was that it had a bit of spice, with notes of ginger and cinnamon. The sparkling water provided subdued carbonation. It took a bit of getting used to, but it was pretty good. I didn’t know what my expectations were, but I thought it was a decent product. I still like Mexican Coke more though.

One of the cool things about Pepsi Natural for Seattle-ites is that we are one of the early markets for the beverage. So we’ve got that going for us. But Pepsi Natural is pretty good; it has the hallmarks of Pepsi, softer notes, mellow sweetness, but it’s very different from their mainline product. I still love my Mexican Coke, but won’t turn a Pepsi Natural down.

Pairing booze with cheese

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I came across this really cool resource for pairing cheese with the hooch of your choice. It’s called Cheese Cupid, and it matches cheese with either red wine, white wine, beer, or spirits. Cool huh?! In the mood for cabernet tonight, check out what pairs best. What about burgers and porter? The site even gives you the flavor profile of each cheese and recommends what to serve with it (i.e., fruit, nuts, olives).

I love cheese and this is a nice resource describing the flavor affinities of cheese and how they pair well with drinks. But then it got me thinking – Cheese Cupid is only Wisconsin focused,  not that anything is wrong with that. This fact made me realize that again Washington needs to step up it’s game. First off, I think the Oregon Tourism Commissions advertising campaign has absolutely been kicking our ass. They’re compelling  me to want to visit Oregon on their ads alone! Have you seen their food ad?  Washington doesn’t have anything that touts itself this well, so Oregon has thrown down the gauntlet and now we have to do something to pick it up.

I did find this WA wine and cheese pairing sheet from the Dairy Farmers of Washington, but it doesn’t have the fancy little webpage that all the kids seem to love these days. Washington has so many things to be proud of and we need to share these attributes with the rest of the country. Our shellfish, beer, wine, produce, restaurants, etc. are all top notch – and even our cheese is great. Come on Washington! Get in the game!

Washington Wine Month

March kicks off Washington Wine Month and there are a slew of events going on throughout the state during this month. But here is the funny thing; for how much March is touted as Washington Wine Month, August is also known as Washington Wine Month. Kind of weird – I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the official month is, but so far, no resolution. So I suppose our little corner of the winemaking world has enough of a complex to have two ‘months’ to tout its virtues.

In “March,” a lot of wineries are partnering with restaurants (or are a lot of restaurants partnering with wineries?), so it’s a chance to visit and support some local establishments that are putting a proper spotlight on the greatness and potential that wines of Washington produce.

As Washington steps up to the world stage, it’s important that locals discover and embrace the homegrown wines we grow. In fact, the Washington Wine Commission has recently announced the 600th winery to be licensed and a new AVA has been made official in Washington – say hello to the Snipes Mountain AVA! In fact, there may be an 11th AVA as Lake Chelan’s is under review as we speak.

With this support for Washington wines, please go out and support some of the producers throughout the state. Washington produces all sorts of great wines in a number of varietals. World class wines should be quite easy to find, even your next favorite for a Wednesday dinner.

Here are my favorite Washington wines of the moment in the varietals that our state does well (note – I’m just scratching the surface of the good wines from WA, this is only a primer to whet your palate):

  • Cabernet Sauvignon – Washington really shines with this red noble grape, so there are great producers everywhere. Some can be really pricey, but the Five Star Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon is pretty darn good. Vibrant fruit, with elegant tannins, this is a really nice red.
  • Merlot – This varietal stands out in Washington and I really, really like the Merlot that comes from Otis Kenyon. It’s bold, complex and a standard bearer for how good the Merlot from Washington can be.
  • Syrah – The Syrah’s from Betz Family Winery are amongst the best wines that come from Washington and with good reason. Their Syrah has an opulent body and complexity to match.
  • Riesling – I love Riesling and outside of Alsace, I think some of the best in the world come from our state. There are a ton of great values through WA, but right now I really enjoy the Riesling from Tsillan Cellars. Bright acidity and definite aromatics, this is a nice wine with a ton of different foods – particularly shellfish and Asian foods.

Sippin’ on Siduri

I am in love with this winery and I have only had one glass of it. During my dinner at Art of the Table last weekend, Dustin paired the 2006 Siduri Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir with the main course and I was instantly smitten with wine from Siduri. He mentioned that they just received it that day; this stirred my curiosity and I was desperate to learn more about this winery.

Pinot Noir has always been a popular wine, but when Sideways came out a few years ago it reached even higher plateaus. This new demand drove the cost of Pinot up, but on the inverse, mediocre Pinot started to surface. It’s a difficult grape to grow and it can create wines that are deserving of all sorts of praise and sonnets. When it’s great it is truly great. Like Michael Jordan-level great. I felt this way with the Siduri I had. Now I wonder what it’ll be like if I ever have a taste of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Although I doubt I’ll ever have that opportunity.

I started to do some research on Siduri and was walloped with this nugget of information – when Pearl Jam hits the stage, Eddie Vedder drinks Siduri’s Van der Kamp Pinot Noir. I’ve been a huge Pearl Jam fan (Ten Club member!) and have gone to my fair share of shows. I’ve sat close enough to see Eddie bring a bottle of wine onstage and see him swig and enjoy himself. I always wanted to know what he drank and now I know. My obsession with Siduri continues.

Reading more about Siduri I discovered that Pinot noir is the only varietal that they produce. And they make Pinot from vineyards between Oregon and California. So this is great for those Pinot snobs that only drink from certain appellations, they’ll play nice with Pinot Noir from the states that do it best. However, best is a relative term because Siduri’s goal is to produce world-class Pinot noir from areas that grow Pinot best. Admirable indeed.

Digging a little deeper into Siduri, I also discovered that they produce and vinify each barrel of wine by lot, yeast, and cooperage. Idiosyncratic, but in their quest to create top notch Pinot noir that best expresses the terroir, these steps pay off in the long run.

The folks at Siduri have a good thing going. They’ve carved out a winemaking niche that is admirable and have the accolades to show for their efforts. I try to make it to Napa and Sonoma once a year and now I have another place to visit. It should be a fun visit don’t you think?

It’s interesting how much wine can grab you and sweep you off your feet. So much, that you can rediscover how great wine can be and how a sip can make you love it all over again. It’s happened a couple of times in my legal drinking career. Now I can chalk up a glass of Siduri Pinot noir to my list. I look forward to drinking more of their stuff.

The sexy wines of Spanish reds

Valentine’s Day is almost upon us, which for many (mostly marketing and advertising people) is the most romantic day of the year. Chocolate is prominent, roses are abundant, and a special dinner is in the cards for many. But what about wine? Whether you’re ordering out or ordering in, I have a wine for you that exudes sexiness, passion, and surprises. Say hello to the Monastrell grape from Spain.

Specifically, Monastrell wines from the Yecla and Jumilla regions of Spain. Those are the ones that I’m sprung on. Why do I feel this way about them? Well, they have so many things going for them. Spanish wines are super affordable; you can generally get good stuff for under $20. Getting value from your wine is very cool. A big reason is because Spain is the third-largest producer of wine in the world, but they are only now starting to break into the Old World hierarchy of France and Italy – those two countries have wines that are a bit more expensive. This affordability also goes for their Iberian neighbor too; lots of wines from Portugal are also very great.

Another thing to note about Monastrell and Spanish wines in general is that they very fruit-forward with depth and bright acidity to refresh the palate. When you drink one you’ll notice both the fruit and hints of smoke to add to the depth. The tannins are on the finer side, and not chunky or brash. Lastly, and this is my favorite part, they have a bright acidity that is uncommon for many red wines – the acidity keeps your mouth watering for more. Chart this up to the environment of Spain’s vineyards.

The great regions for Monastrell in Spain are Yecla, Bullas, and Jumilla. Since we’re spending time with the Monastrell’s of Jumilla and Yecla let’s focus there. Both regions are located on the southeast corner of Spain. Because of the proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, Spain goes through a bit of a Mediterranean effect where the ocean breezes help cool the wine during the growing season. Couple this with the high heat of the day and the cool nights, the wines have relatively low alcohol levels and high acidity.

What does this mean for you? That you’ll get a bottle of wine that is easy to drink now with potential for aging. And with those flavor characteristics, you’ll get a wine that is quite enjoyable. And how does this equate to a sexy wine? You won’t be ambushed by high alcohol levels and you’ll gently be swayed by the elegance of a wine that will envelop you in it’s graces. Try some, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

As for recommendations? There are two that stand out in my mind as easy drinkers that won’t wallop the wallet.

Bellum from Senioro de Barahonda – Check your local wine retailer if they have this one, because you’ll love it. Long finish with flavors of plum, blackberries, and bits of smoked meat. This is a wine that can take the evening places. Bellum is from Yecla so you’ll notice how great the wines from here can be.

Castillo de Jumilla – Enjoyed this one at dinner the other night, and I’m sure you’ll like it too. It’s a surprising wine in that you get a lot of bang for your buck. The flavors are definitely in the red fruit spectrum, but you’ll notice a bit of earthiness that comes as a back note.

Seattle Happy Hour: Boat Street Cafe

Thank our good friends at City Stimulus for this bit of food info; Boat Street Cafe has announced their new happy hour.

Yup, Renee Erickson’s great little French spot is having a happy hour that runs from 5-7pm. I’m excited about this for a bunch of reasons. The food at Boat Street Cafe (and it’s sister restaurant Boat Street Kitchen) is excellent, so having the opportunity to get their food at a deal is not to be missed. Even if you can’t make it to the happy, go for dinner or brunch, Boat Street Cafe is one of the great Seattle restaurants. It’s also great because this happy hour runs a bit later than most. A lot of Seattle happy hours seem to end at 6pm. I don’t know about you, but I doubt I could get out of work, make it to Belltown (or wherever), find parking, and figure out my order by 6pm. Close to chronologically impossible.

So now we have the option of Boat Street Cafe. Renee’s restaurants are in a funky location on the west end of Denny Ave. where it meets up with Western. Parking can be a bit tricky. I’d look for parking along Western and the side streets. Note, the North side of Denny could be a hassle with the rush of people trying to get off of work.

Enjoy happy hour at Boat Street Cafe! Happy Hour runs from 5-7pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I’ll see you there; I’ll be the one indulging in duck fat fries, hangar steak, and oysters. Other things on the happy hour menu include bread  from Columbia Bakery & Oregon Butter, pate tartines, Nicoise olives, pickled figs with goat cheese, and more! Top this off with the drink deals (four bucks for a glass of Muscadet or Beaujolais; $18 for a bottle!) – and you have a great post work meet-up with some friends.

Boat Street Café / Boat Street Kitchen on Urbanspoon