Posted on June 9, 2017
Emile Haddad Seattle Coffee Enthusiast: What Does Your Coffee Drink Say About You?
Hi! This is Emile Haddad, your Seattle coffee connoisseur, and I’ve always been fascinated by how people like to consume their coffee. Whether it’s drip coffee or a pour-over, practically every type of coffee drink has amassed a loyal following in its own right. If you’ve ever wondered why you gravitate towards a certain type of coffee drink more often than the rest, then read on to find out what each coffee type might have to say about you and your personality:
Disclaimer: This is all based on speculative fun so take them with a grain of salt. If the descriptions don’t seem to apply to you, feel free to tell me about yourself and your favorite coffee drink in the comments section below. Who knows, this could lead to some serious research and discoveries about coffee preferences and personality!
Latte – The nice guy/gal in the bunch—you’re friendly, practical, and likely everyone’s friend at work. Like the classic latte, you’re approachable and easy to get along with, making you a constant figure in many people’s lives, whether you like it or not. You may not be as bold and flashy as the rest but that doesn’t ruffle your feathers as you know you have a good head on your shoulders.
Cappuccino – Are you enrolled in a STEM course? Perhaps you’re into the arts, or active in philanthropy and civic causes. Maybe you’re on a one-way trip to Asia right now or rescuing abandoned animals at your local shelter. The truth is, no one really knows what you’re up to nowadays but that’s because you believe the world is your oyster. Like the balanced portions of a cappuccino, you want to experience a little bit of everything.
Macchiato – Hold on there, tiger! You can be a little bold and dramatic, reckless even, but that’s probably why you’re so popular. Like how pronounced the espresso is in a macchiato, you’re bigger than life, and you motivate and inspire others with your confidence and positive outlook. You may have carved out a path as a freelancer or have quickly climbed the ranks to become an executive but one thing is clear: it’s all about that jet-setting, on-the-go lifestyle for you.
Mocha – There’s always a prankster in any group of friends and chances are, you’re that guy/gal even if you claim otherwise. Charming and witty, you don’t take yourself seriously which has created a string of admirers pining after you, kind of like how chocolate is intoxicating. Street smart and always self-assured about your talents and capabilities, you always give people the benefit of the doubt, believing in the goodness of others.
Flat White – Do you prefer to stay at home on the weekends and binge watch your favorite TV shows? Perhaps you frequent coffee shops in your neighborhood as well, spending countless hours reading your favorite book. Some people may accuse you of being anti-social, but you really just prefer small groups and the company of your friends. Like a double shot of espresso, you often catch people by surprise with the complexity and depth of your thoughts.
What do you think? Do these statements describe you?
Stay tuned to read more from Emile Haddad, Seattle native and serious coffee enthusiast.
Posted on May 15, 2017
Emile Haddad Seattle Coffee Enthusiast on African Coffee
Hey there! This is Emile Haddad, your Seattle coffee expert. Earlier today, while I was having my morning coffee, I realized that I had, in fact, been drinking Ethiopian coffee extensively, for almost two months now. As a serious coffee enthusiast, you’d think I’d keep tabs on where my coffee comes from, but I suppose this is what makes coffee such an extraordinary hobby: it’s so easy to get lost into.
So today I wish to put the spotlight on my morning cuppa, the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. Ethiopia, however, is just one of several regions in Africa that produces some of the world’s best coffee beans. If you’ve never tried African coffee before, I urge you to try it! While the nuances of African coffee will vary from region to region, African coffee in general is known to have a vibrant, citrus-like taste with fruity notes in it.
Here are some of the flavor variations between the coffee-producing regions in Africa and how I find the flavor profile of each:
Ethiopia – Like my fragrant morning cuppa of Yirgacheffe, Ethiopian coffee has fruity and citrus notes giving it a bright, clean taste. As you let the flavors settle, you may also notice a bit of sweetness. Light to medium bodied, Ethiopian coffee is widely available around Seattle’s local roasters because of its relatively cheaper price compared to other African coffees. Other coffee beans produced here are the Ethiopian Sidamo and Harrar.
Kenya – When you’re after richness and boldness, Kenya coffee comes to mind. Kenya coffee continues to astound coffee enthusiasts the world over because of its complex flavors like berries and lemongrass. For those mornings you need a quick pick-me-up, Kenya coffee should do the trick. This is probably why coffee shop chains like Starbucks prominently carry Kenya coffee. Aromatic, refined, and intense, Kenya coffee makes you wonder what else you’d want in your coffee because it hits all the right notes so well.
Zimbabwe – One of the more rare coffee brands here in Seattle is Zimbabwe coffee. With great aroma and taste, Zimbabwe coffee is fast catching up to its more popular brothers like Ethiopia and Kenya coffee. This coffee has fruity notes and high acidity that resemble wine just like Yemen coffee. While it may taste sharp at first, it eventually mellows out to a delicate and balanced flavor that has hints of wood and chocolate.
Other coffee-producing regions in Africa are Cameroon, Tanzania, and Uganda, to name a few. As you can see, Africa’s coffees alone can already keep you busy, which is why it’s easy to get lost in this hobby.
And with that, I leave you now to enjoy my cup. If you’re ever in Seattle, please feel free to look me up! I would be honored to introduce you to my favorite coffee hangouts, and share with you what I know about my most favorite beverage in the world; coffee, of course. I look forward to hearing from you!
Stay tuned to read more from Emile Haddad, Seattle native and serious coffee enthusiast.
Posted on May 11, 2017
Emile Haddad Seattle Coffee Lover: Top 3 Myths About Coffee Debunked
Hey there, welcome! My name is Emile Haddad. Seattle, as some of you may know, has been at the center of a growing coffee industry since coffee shop chains sprouted up around the world more than three decades ago. In fact, locals of Emerald City consume coffee more than any other city in the country, and are very proud of Seattle’s coffee craft and culture. Having grown up to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee all my life, I admit we take our coffee pretty seriously over here at Seattle. That said, I thought of writing down a short list of common coffee myths people ought to stop believing:
1. Dark roasts have more caffeine than light roasts – I admit to believing this one until I seriously got into coffee—finally regarding it as more than just a causal hobby. In a nutshell, a darker roast doesn’t necessarily mean more caffeine content compared to a light roast—in no way at all does color affect the caffeine level. So the next time someone tells you they exclusively drink dark roasts for its high caffeine content, tell them that between dark and light roasts, there’s actually little variance in the caffeine content. As coffee lovers, I’m sure they would appreciate learning a thing or two about their favorite cuppa!
2. Pregnant women should avoid drinking coffee – We know caffeine does all sorts of funny things to us. We feel jittery or our heart may begin to race. We may suddenly feel anxious or agitated, or just plain restless as the caffeine courses through our bloodstream. This shouldn’t be any different for pregnant women, right? Well, yes and no. For starters, pregnant women can certainly still have their morning cuppa and not have to worry about their baby’s safety. However, they should also lay off on the refills as these could laready have adverse effects on their baby.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, expectant mothers should limit their caffeine to fewer than 200 milligrams (mg) per day, or the amount of caffeine in a 10 oz cup. Skirting this rule by drinking decaf isn’t advisable as well. Apart from the fact that decaf still contains caffeine albeit in small amounts, there aren’t enough studies on decaf and its effects on pregnant mothers, so it’s best to err on the side of safety.
3. You need sophisticated coffee equipment to make a great cuppa – Time and time again, I’ve come across folks who shell out thousands of dollars on the latest coffee equipment in the market only to show that they fail to understand the basic tenets of making a great cuppa. Fancy, sophisticated coffee equipment is fine and even necessary for some like coffee shops, for instance, but before you purchase that fancy equipment, why not tread in shallow waters first? There is already an abundance of coffee equipment under the $100 tag, which I’m confident will suit your needs.
Got a question about Seattle coffee or coffee in general you want to ask? Feel free to ask me anytime. This is Emile Haddad, your Seattle coffee expert signing out for now!
Updated on May 8, 2017
Emile Haddad Seattle Coffee Lover: Top 5 Mistakes on Coffee Brewing
Hi, this is Emile Haddad! As a Seattle coffee lover, I always start my day with a great cup of coffee. In fact, even after all these years, coffee can still make me get up from bed to start my day! I want you to experience the same—to look forward to your mornings—so watch out for these common mistakes on coffee brewing.
1. Using boiling water – Simply put, boiling water will scald or burn your coffee. The trick is to use water that’s just about to come to a boil, or at a temperature between 195 F (91 C) and 205 F (96 C). Since this number is quite precise and hard to gauge through observation, you’re better off using a cheap thermometer for this. In my experience, getting the temperature right is easier done by getting the water to boil and let it cool down. Of course, you can also do it the other way and anticipate as it reaches the desired temperature. It’s up to you which you find more convenient.
2. Using distilled water – Without delving in too deep into the science behind this debated topic, using distilled water will basically yield you a bitter-tasting cup due to the composition of the water. As distilled water hardly has any ions, it will take on mineral content from its surroundings; in this case, your coffee equipment, thereby ruining the taste of your coffee. Conversely, water that has high mineral content will yield a sour-tasting cup.
3. Eyeballing proportions – Making coffee is as much a science as it is art. With that said, you will need to use a kitchen weighing scale for measuring coffee. Unfortunately, spoons and other measuring tools will not do. Eyeballing proportions is discouraged as well. You’d be surprised how a seemingly small difference in the amount of water, for instance, can alter the taste. It would greatly help if you jot down your ratios and proportions each time so you can tweak it as necessary until you find the formula for your kind of a perfect cup.
4. Grinding beans with a blade grinder – If you read my blog regularly, you should know by now that blade grinders aren’t any good compared to burr grinders. Blade grinders produce a dusty mess whereas burr grinders produce a nice uniform grind. Additionally, you don’t need a burr grinder with the bells and whistles that cost upwards of a thousand dollars. Burr grinders below $100 will work just fine especially for your personal consumption. They are a significant improvement already than your regular commercial coffee, believe me.
5. Don’t use old coffee beans – Many beginners are surprised to find out that coffee beans have a relatively small window for consumption. Generally, freshly roasted coffee beans only last a month or two. Any longer and you risk letting the oils in the coffee bean spoil and oxidize which ruins its flavor. When it comes to using ground coffee beans, the window is significantly smaller: a minute to 5 minutes only. This is why many serious coffee enthusiasts buy their own burr grinders and grind their own beans at home.
Stay tuned to read more from Emile Haddad, Seattle native and serious coffee enthusiast.
Posted on May 1, 2017
Emile Haddad Seattle Coffee Lessons: 3 Tips for Cleaning Your Coffee Equipment
Hi there, this is Emile Haddad, your Seattle coffee expert. From roasting to brewing, many Seattle residents like myself made it their life’s mission to celebrate the humble coffee bean, the world’s second most traded commodity after oil. We love our coffee so much that we have nurtured our expertise in it to include how to clean trusty coffee equipment properly.
When you shop around for a French press or a Moka pot, chances are, the number of cleaning steps they come with is the last thing on your mind. However, something as basic as cleaning can spell the difference between a fine cup of coffee and horrid, almost undrinkable coffee. Generally, water and soap should suffice for cleaning, but heavy users of their coffee equipment may need to do additional steps to ensure their accessories remain spick and span for years to come.
1. Wipe the filter screen thoroughly regularly – Whether you use a French press or an Aeropress, cleaning the filter regularly is a must. It may seem cumbersome to have to remove it frequently, and wipe it when you can just rinse it with water and soap, but know that the cleanliness of the coffee filter can drastically affect the taste of your coffee. Water and soap may not be enough to remove those coffee grounds and sediments that have gotten stuck on the filter as well, which is why you have to gingerly take apart your French press, for instance, and then clean it.
Personally, cleaning the filter after every use is best, but if you plan to make several cups throughout the day, cleaning it after the final cup should be fine. You simply don’t want to wait until your coffee equipment smells funny before you do a deep rinse.
2. Use vinegar or baking soda – Speaking of deep rinses, you’ll need vinegar or baking soda to get rid of all those oils that have accumulated inside. For those just starting out in this hobby, the oils that have been extracted from the coffee beans are what give your coffee great taste and flavor. Rinsing your coffee equipment with hot water, in my opinion, is not enough. Instead you should rinse it with vinegar or a paste made from water and baking soda. In my experience, weekly cleanses of this type should be enough. Anything more frequent than that like every other day, for example, may not be necessary.
3. Never scrub stainless steel French presses – French presses are commonly made with glass, but the stainless steel type is fast catching on among home brewers. Cleaning stainless steel French presses isn’t any different from cleaning glass ones in the sense that you should do regular soap and water, and vinegar or baking soda cleanses. However, just keep in mind never to scrub stainless steel French presses. Not only do you risk damaging your equipment but you also risk creating an environment for the oils to stick to.
How do you clean your coffee equipment? Feel free to share your experiences with me, Emile Haddad, your Seattle coffee expert.
Updated on April 28, 2017
Emile Haddad Seattle Coffee Drinker: Should You Get A French Press or an Aeropress?
Hey everyone, this is Emile Haddad. I am a Seattle native, which should explain my obsession for good coffee. Over the years, I have urged practically all my friends to ditch Folger’s and try brewing their own coffee. However, I don’t recommend that they make do with a regular coffee brewer. More often than not, I encourage them to go out and buy a French press or an Aeropress, as the coffee they produce tastes a hundred times better.
Don’t be fooled by the seemingly elitist talk you hear about coffee. In my experience, beginners do just fine with a French press. Usage of this contraption may seem complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be your own barista in no time! Contrary to most people’s first impressions, French presses are easy to use and are even beginner-friendly. All you need is almost boiling water and ground coffee which you put inside the French press and let the coffee steep for 2 to 5 minutes before depressing the plunger. That’s it! You can now pour yourself a cup and take a sweet sip.
While a French press can significantly enhance your coffee experience, there are a few caveats. One, remember that the glass is fragile, hence, it could break in your dish rack, so be careful with cleaning and handling in general. Two, cleaning can take longer compared to your regular coffee brewer because as I’ve mentioned, the glass is fragile. I should mention as well that French presses can leave coffee sediments in your drink so if you’re not used to that, maybe an Aeropress would be a better choice for you.
Unlike French presses that have metal filters, Aeropresses make use of paper filters; hence you don’t need to worry about coffee sediments getting in to your drink. An Aeropress is also easier to clean as it’s self-cleaning, which means to say all you need to do is remove the coffee grounds and give it a good rinse. Some people swear by the superior flavor Aeropresses can extract from coffee beans in general. I attribute this to two things: one, the device has even heat distribution as it’s a full immersion brewing method; and two, these people who may notice the subtle difference in taste may likely have already found their favorite coffee beans to brew. It’s my belief that once you brew a certain coffee bean for a period of time, you’ll begin to taste the nuances as you play with the temperature and brewing time. It’s all good fun, which is why I’m confident you’ll love your Aeropress!
Right now, I use my Aeropress more than my French press, but that’s not to say getting a French press isn’t worth it. Both produce great coffee for so little effort that it’s almost ridiculous to me now how people can stand commercial coffee.
If you have any questions about your French press or Aeropress, please feel free to ask me, Emile Haddad, your Seattle native coffee lover.
Posted on April 17, 2017
Emile Haddad Seattle Coffee Expert: 5 Local Roasters to Try
Hey there! My name is Emile Haddad, your Seattle coffee expert, and I’m on a mission to promote the local craft coffee scene here in my hometown through this blog. One of the first things I tell people when they want to make a great cup of coffee is to start with the basics, and when it comes to making a great cuppa, it can’t get any simpler than starting with the coffee beans.
Make no mistake; trying out different coffee beans and their unique flavors can already keep you busy for practically the rest of your life! Since I live in Seattle—the undisputed coffee capital of the world—I often feel there is never enough mornings to try all the coffee beans available in the market. However, I also feel fortunate to be surrounded by dozens of artisanal coffee roasters from whom I get my coffee beans.
Right now, I only have excellent words for these local coffee roasters. I urge you to check them out and support local businesses:
1. Elm – Located in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square, Elm Coffee Roasters roast their coffee beans on-site so you can rest assured you’re getting quality beans every time. I initially signed up for their bi-monthly coffee subscriptions but have since been on the weekly one as I love the variety they have been offering their customers so far. Elm, two thumbs up!
2. Slate – Another favorite of local coffee aficionados is Slate Coffee Roasters. When I’m feeling lazy to bring out my Aeropress, I swing by at Slate for an espresso. I grab a seat outside and just watch the world go by. I should mention before signing up for Elm’s coffee subscription, I had signed up at Slate. Their coffee simply just tastes better in the hands of their skilled baristas!
3. Broadcast – Broadcast Coffee Roasters has three different locations in Seattle, which should tell you something about their expertise in coffee. Have I tried coffee subscription? No, not yet, but I do frequent their café on the weekends. Their stores have a nice and cozy ambience and their staff is always polite and courteous. Visit Broadcast’s café often enough and you bet their baristas will remember your go-to coffee.
4. Victrola – I imagine the young hipster crowd will enjoy Victrola’s a lot. Apart from delicious coffee, they also have live events like public cuppings. Public cuppings are events where you can learn about and taste samplings of different coffee beans. It’s a highly educational, entertaining, and engaging event I’m sure you wouldn’t want to miss.
5. Caffe Ladro – Out of all the roasters on this list, Caffe Ladro has the most number of locations in Seattle. Having been in the business for more than two decades now, Ladro has become one of Seattle’s most prized coffee institutions, with its own cupping lab and training program! How neat is that? Ladro’s is a great place to catch up with friends over a cuppa.
Stay tuned to this blog to read more from Emile Haddad, your Seattle coffee expert.
Posted on April 12, 2017
Emile Haddad Seattle Coffee Critic: 3 Things To Remember When Making Coffee
So you’re sick and tired of that coffee shop chain and decided it’s time to learn how to make a good cup of joe? Then you’ve come to the right place! I’m Emile Haddad, Seattle native and Ballard’s resident coffee connoisseur, and I’d love to share to you everything I know about coffee. Whether you’ve had that coffee interest for only 24 hours or 24 years and running, you are most welcome to hang out here in my blog.
Reading my previous blog entries, I realize that I may have been talking about coffee to a limited audience. By this I mean only other coffee lovers would probably understand and be able to keep up with what I’ve been talking about. Because of this, I thought of writing down some of the basics of coffee making first.
Based on my experience, a lot of people seem to be intimated to dive right in, possibly, the world’s most beloved drink. This is completely understandable, of course; what with so many coffee beans and regions to read up on, “fancy” machines to get the hang of, and intricate processes and methods to jot down for posterity—a beginner can and will easily feel overwhelmed.
Remember, when it comes to making a coffee, there’s already a world to explore in these three things, three variables that are under your control and which should be enough to kick-start and sustain your interest in coffee for a few years:
#1: Grind size – The first thing you should think about is grind size. Finer or coarser? There’s a whole spectrum between both as well, so you can just imagine the possibilities. Generally, you’re better off using burr grinders over blade grinders. Burr grinders produce a nice, uniform grind whereas a blade grinder can leave you with an uneven, dusty mess. Not only that, blade runners also run the risk of “burning” your beans, which is the last thing you want. Take note too that your brewing method will also dictate the grind size. Unfortunately, you can’t just use any grind size for any brewing method you wish. Trust me on this; plenty of others have attempted this before and the coffee always turns out the same: horrible.
#2: Water to coffee ratio – The rule of thumb has pretty much been 1-2 tbsp of coffee for every 6 oz of water, but as you go along and learn how to taste coffee, and I mean truly taste the different flavors and notes in a single sip, you can change it up according to your preferences. Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun! If you ask around, you’ll most likely find that people have different answers. Personally, I find 16:1 the sweet spot.
#3: Length of time for extraction – You know how coffee shop chains obsess over extracting the “the perfect shot”? The truth is, there’s a real rationale behind that obsession. Getting the resistance and timing right, and consistently at that, takes years to master and is what keeps baristas all over the world passionate over their craft.
Do you have any questions for me, Emile Haddad? Seattle is a wonderful place to discover coffee so I hope to see you here again soon!
Posted on April 3, 2017
How to Keep Your Coffee Beans Fresh
For any true-blue coffee aficionado, a cup of freshly brewed coffee in the morning is the perfect way to start the day. And if you’re like me, having coffee beans on hand—ready to be brewed at any time of the day—is a must. If there’s one thing that gets to me, it’s using stale coffee beans for a “fresh” brew. I would know right away if the beans are stale—you can detect the difference right away from the way the coffee tastes! Below are the things I do to keep my coffee fresh.
First off, I prefer storing coffee beans over coffee grounds. Freshly ground coffee is the only way to get that perfect flavor. Keep the beans in an airtight jar away from sunlight. My first tip is to get an airtight glass or ceramic jar (opaque, not clear) as it keeps the sunlight, air, and moisture away. Sunlight, air, and moisture can affect the beans’ freshness, so be mindful of this.
As for storing, a cool, dark place like the cupboard or pantry is the perfect hiding spot for your beans. Make sure though that the cupboard isn’t directly above the oven or stove as the heat from these cooking appliances can ruin the flavor of the beans.
Finally, coffee experts suggest that you use the beans within two weeks of being roasted. On this note, I avoid buying a lot of beans only to store them for six months. I understand that there might not be a coffee shop or roaster near you, but you can always try online shops. Have your beans delivered instead!
Remember that coffee beans start to lose their freshness after roasting so keeping these three things in mind could help you save their flavor and keep them fresh for your morning cup!
Do you have tips you wish to share? You may contact me directly through this site.
Updated on March 27, 2017
Training, Instinct and Experience: 3 Factors That Would Make for an Exceptional Barista
Since I love all things coffee, I thought I’d talk a little bit about the people behind our perfect cup of brew at our favorite coffee shop; the barista. Gone are the days when anyone can just walk into a coffee shop, hand in their resume and be hired to make coffee on the spot. Barista has become a respected profession—one that entails training and experience.
While it’s true that you can work at a coffee shop even without experience as a barista, but you’re most likely going to be assigned to the register or to work the tables. Coffee-making has become an art form—and the barista, an artist. With experience, you learn to develop your instincts. And instincts will tell you when an espresso shot is just right, or when a recipe has the right amount of ingredients to create the perfect cup.
In other words, your instincts will also tell you when you need more of a specific ingredient, if you need to add another ingredient, or need to adjust the temperature.
With proper training, you will learn how to grind coffee (it’s not as simple as pouring the beans into the grinder), create recipes for blends, measure coffee to water ratio, how to heat and texturize milk, and everything in between.
All these things combined; training, experience, and instincts will help you become a truly exceptional barista—perhaps even the best one in your area! And as with anything, it takes years of practice and constant learning; plus, loads of patience to get to where you want to be as a barista. Of course, it goes without saying that you should be a coffee lover too!
There are coffee shops that have training programs for their baristas, and there are also schools that offer certificate programs for baristas. If you’re serious about becoming a barista, there are options available to you!