December 4/5 Cuppings

Public and Staff Coffee Cupping

Next public cupping: Saturday, 6 December 2008; 11am

The next Volta coffee cupping will be held this Satruday morning at 11 am. The pace of the new coffee releases has relaxed, so we're taking the opportunity to evaluate the Central Americans one last time before the onslaught of South American and African coffees kick up.

The cupping is free and open to the public. No prior experience (beyond a love of coffee) is necessary; we'll provide instructions and guide the cupping from start to finish. A cupping is a structured tasting that is used in the specialty coffee industry to evaluate the quality of specific coffees, both in the field before auction/purchase and at the point of roasting to determine the best roast level. We'll start by evaluating the dry and wet aromas of the coffees, then move on to the "slurp" to develop an evaluation of each coffee's taste. All we ask is that you refrain from wearing perfumes or other strong scents when cupping with us-- there's just so much that a nose can take in before the individual fragrances of the coffees are overwhelmed.

Staff Cuppings
We also hold informal staff cuppings every Friday morning at 11am. The staff cuppings are for us to develop our baristas' understanding of the coffees that we serve; unlike the public cuppings, these will move at a much faster pace and with less emphasis on describing the cupping process. Anyone is welcome to attend the staff cuppings, but previous experience through one of the public cuppings is encouraged so that you are familiar with the process ahead of time.

New Photography: Keitha McCall

For the December 5 ArtWalk, Volta will host the first solo show by photographer Keitha McCall. Keitha's photography is a natural extension of her love of travel. She won the 2007 Pentax Travel Photo Contest with a photo taken on a trip to Spain and Morocco. While she still travels extensively, taking her camera everywhere she goes, she realized that there are plenty of opportunities around her adopted hometown of Gainesville, Florida, particularly for macro work and landscapes. In May 2007, she began a project to take a self-portrait every day for a year. She is now in the midst of Year Two of this project.

To find out more about Keitha's work, check out both her blog A Scenic World and her Flickr photostream.

ArtWalk takes place between 7 and 10pm.

There Is Power In a Union

If not power, how about a 20% discount on the first drink of the day for all card-carrying members of the UF Graduate Assistants United?

I like to think that Volta is the kind of place that graduate students at UF will want to seek out. As a former GA in the UF English program, I know that the GAU is the only organization that is looking out for the financial interests of grad student instructors in an increasingly hostile work environment. The GAU has been working hard for almost 40 years on behalf of UF's graduate student instructors; if you appreciate your tuition waver, thank the union. The only way for it to succeed is through member participation. For the few bucks a month that it takes to join the GAU, you have a solid group that has been fighting to preserve your pay, provide health insurance, and provide a slim line of protection against workplace abuses. If you frequent Volta and take advantage of your GAU discount, it will more than offset the cost of joining the union-- an incentive that I hope many will take advantage of.

Just show your GAU membership card to your barista when you order to receive your discount.

Dark Milk

The good folks at Askinosie are experimenting again... Fresh off of the successful launch of their amazing white chocolate bar (which is almost pink with residual cocoa solids), they've ventured into the world of milk chocolates. Sort of. The new Soconusco Dark Milk Chocolate bar is 54% cocoa solids-- on the verge of a dark chocolate bar-- and it uses powdered goats' milk instead of cows' milk. The bar is finished off with a touch of fleur de sel, aka French sea salt. The resulting bar is absolutely unctuous-- last time I had something this luxuriously rich, it was the pork belly at WD50, in New York. And that's a good thing.

I'd recommend the Askinosie Soconusco Dark Milk Chocolate for any dark chocolate fan who thinks that there's no such thing as good milk chocolate, as well as for the milk chocolate fan who is trying to venture into the world beyond 41%.

Epic Espresso

Black as the devil,
hot as hell,
pure as an angel,
sweet as love.

The Volta staff is very excited close out the year with one final, great guest-espresso:Vancouver's 49th Parallel Roasters' Epic Espresso. Epic is a blend of coffees from Brazil, El Salvador and Ethiopia. This well crafted espresso displays wonderful balance and acidity. The shots are pulling incredibly creamy and very sweet with a lingering syrupy finish. Run by National and Regional Barista Champions Sammy and Vince Piccolo, along with their brother Mike, 49th Parallel is a new force in the North American coffee scene.

Thanks to a chance connection forged over a shared love of diving between people at both Volta and 49th Parallel, we have enough Epic Espresso to be able to offer it on the guest espresso grinder through the weekend. Sarah and Sam are loving the marzipan-spice notes of the Epic, finding a nice echo of the Coffee Collective espresso that we had over the summer. I'm currently enjoying an Epic cappuccino and think that it is just about perfect as a traditional capp. If you are going to try the Epic, I strongly suggest ordering a cappuccino, macchiato, or double espresso-- I'm sure that a latte will be great, but the extra milk will dull the delicate notes that we're finding in the smaller drinks.

I'm From Barcelona

Volta welcomes Blanxart Chocolates

We have an amazing new chocolate line that we'd like to announce: Blanxart Chocolates. Blanxart has been producing extraordinary chocolates in their Barcelona workshop for almost sixty years. We discovered their wonderful bars at Murry's Cheese Shop, in NYC's west village, last winter. After a ten month search for a distributor, we've gone straight to the source to become a wholesale client of the importer. We're thrilled. Blanxart is a true bean-to-bar producer; sourcing top quality cocoa beans from around the world, Blanxart crushes, toasts, and extracts their own chocolate liquor, cocoa powder, and cocoa butter. Every step of the process is carried out by hand to ensure the right blend, aroma, texture, and taste. After roasting and refining, all natural ingredients (usually drawn from Spanish culture) are blended to create a deep and luscious chocolate.

The two centerpiece bars are now the two darkest bars that we offer: a single-origin 80% Ghana bar and a blended 85% bar with cocoa nibs. If you are a fan of straight dark chocolate, you will want to try these bars. Only the Escazu Esca bar comes close to offering the pure chocolate thrill of the Ghana bar. It manages to pull off exotic, spicy, sweet, fruity and still have the super-clean finish that you'd expect of an 80% bar. The nib bar combines the clean flavor of the Ghana bar with a touch more bite and the added crunch of the nibs. We're also carrying three of the smaller bars, the classic Spanish dark, a dark with almonds, and a white chocolate that is sophisticated and refined-- while avoiding the cloying sweetness often found in German and Swiss white chocolates.

The Volta Barcelona Hot Chocolate

Working with Blanxart's amazing Organic 73% dark chocolate, we've decided to add a new hot chocolate to the drink menu: the Volta Barcelona. While the Vosges hot chocolates are sophisticated blends of spices, herbs, flours, chocolate chunks and cocoa powders, the Barcelona reflects the sort of rustic sophistication that defines new Spanish cuisine: 73% organic chocolate, a splash of milk, organic sugar, and a touch a vanilla. We serve the Barcelona in a 5.5 oz. cappuccino cup. The drink is close to perfection as it stands, but you can guild the lilly by adding a pinch of ground chipotle and/or a splash of Volta's homemade cinnamon syrup. I highly recommend the authentic continental breakfast: a Barcelona hot chocolate and a croissant.

Prima Colazione Classica

Just in time for the holiday season, Volta is now serving Loison's Panettone Classico. The Panettone comes direct from Italy, and we just received the first shipment into the US for the fall. It is my new perfect breakfast with a Black Cat cappuccino-- just dip a slice of the Panettone into the foam and the rest of the morning shines just a little brighter.

Yo La Tango

Special Event: TangoVolta

Wednesdays, 8-10pm, starting November 5
Join Volta for a night of Tango dancing and music. Come by to learn or just to watch-- or learn to tango with free lessons from 7:30-8pm. Hosted by the UF Argentine Tango Club and Volta Coffee.

Preserving the other 98%

Special Event, November 3@7:30pm

As I've written before, we take our water very seriously here at Volta. We can spend all the time and money sourcing coffee and tea, but without high quality water we'd be wasting our time. Coffee and Tea are, after all, 98% water. Before opening the shop, I was involved for ten years with Global Underwater Explorers and the Woodville Karst Plain Project, two local non-profit organizations dedicated to protecting the magnificent springs of North Florida. I'm pleased to be able to bring the leading hydrogeologist, Todd Kincaid, to Volta to talk about the threats to the Floridan aquifer.

Join Dr. Todd Kincaid as he outlines the perilous conditions developing within our global aquatic environments and the efforts of a local Gainesville non-profit (Global Underwater Explorers - GUE) in stemming the tide of environmental contamination in the Floridan Aquifer. This engaging discussion will highlight the contamination present within Northern Florida springs and the fascinating science that seeks to preserve these natural environments. These research efforts have evolved into an entirely novel approach to the study of groundwater that involves cave divers to get detailed maps of underwater caves and instrument the caves with scientific equipment. By harnessing an all volunteer team of GUE divers, Dr. Kincaid and his team at the Florida Geological Survey have been able to establish ground breaking models that promise to revolutionize our approach to ground water preservation. More broadly, he’ll discuss how we hope to apply a similar approach to solve a host of similar environmental problems related to our underwater realms.

Día de los Muertos

Stay tuned for information about Volta's first Day of the Dead celebration...

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