Blogs

Finally, Ethiopia

We've been waiting for Intelligentsia's Yirgacheffe coffee since we opened our doors back in early summer. Of all of the countries of origin, we have received more requests for Ethiopian coffee than any other. I don't think that it is because more people want Ethiopian coffee. It's that Ethiopian coffees stand apart from the others with unique flavors, and those drawn to a good Yirg are much more vocal about what they like. You just don't get the same crazy mix of citrus and berry flavors from (most) Central American or Pacific coffees. Our direct trade Kurimi Yirgacheffe is a very elegant example of what to expect from an Ethiopian cup:

Charming the palate with its citrus fruit acidity, the Kurimi sparkles and shines as it brings forth flavors of orange, lime and lemongrass. Notes of jasmine and honeysuckle carry a delicate sweetness matching the pristine, juicy body that glides across the tongue. A subtle and clean finish leaves notes of sweet spice and cocoa.

Intriguing Indulgences 01

A closer look at a few of Volta's chocolate bars

Coming into Volta you might not look to your left and notice our amazing wall of chocolates. There's a lot to distract you, but a short trip (and perhaps a sample or two) might change your perceptions of chocolate forever.

Lots of coffee people eschew sweetness in hopes of chasing more complex tastes, but modern chocolatiers have been creating nuanced bars of chocolate that are quite different from a Hershey's, Cadbury, or Lindt treat. At Volta we've gathered together a diverse array of chocolates from all over the world, and flavor combinations that are sure to surprise and fascinate the most demanding palates.

Here are just a few...

L'Artigano: Sale et Dolce- the most exciting and immediately rewarding bar of milk chocolate I've ever tasted. It has a bit of olive oil in it which makes its texture immediately yielding and the flavor instantaneous. This is one trick that dark chocolate just cannot match. The chocolate is rich with notes of caramel and cream. The sea salt isn't too coarse, and compliments the gamine forwardness of this bar with just a modest crunch. A truly exceptional milk chocolate and a valid take on the new trend of combinations that stress the meeting of sweet and salty.

Maglio: Santo Domingo- This varietal bar comes from Santa Domingo and has a 70% cocoa content without being at all harsh. The chocolate has a slow approach as it melts in your mouth, and deep malty notes of toasted grains almost leaning towards hazelnut or biscuit. This makes it an excellent companion for rich dark coffees or red wines. The finish is balanced and clean with no lingering bitterness.

Askinosie: Soconusco- This dark bar uses Trinitario beans, a personal favorite of mine, from Mexico and like the Maglio bar focuses on the subtle nuances of flavor available in a single origin bar. The divisions of the bar make for excellent tasting squares and each one is just the right size for a mouth filled with rich chocolate complexity. The bar includes notes of cedar, dark berries, a pleasant tanginess, and a wonderfully balanced body.

These three bars all come from very different companies, each with a story that will only enhance your appreciation for the work, study, and love that goes into artisan chocolates. Visit us and our chocolate wall to learn and taste for yourself what we've been loving in chocolate bars here at Volta.

The Last Watermelon

Summer is finally winding down. We love that it is finally cool enough that people are comfortable on the front patio all day long; the crisp mornings are made that much better with a big cup of Otoño blend. Still, we'll miss the summer watermelons that we've been turning into the most popular agua fresca on the menu: Agua Fresca de Sandia.

We found one last watermelon at the produce stand this morning. It's not a Newberry sweet or a North Carolina Crimson, but it will have to do until next spring. Actually, it's pretty darned good.

We made two gallons worth this morning, so if you want one last fix of your watermelon-lime agua fresca, you need to come by the shop before Wednesday...

Although the watermelons have run their course for the year, we just sourced enough dried hibiscus to last us through the start of 2009. Once this batch of watermelon-lime is gone we will have agua fresca de jamaica on the menu for the rest of the year.

MFA Fiction and Poetry at Volta

Volta is pleased to announce that the shop will now be hosting the UF MFA poetry and fiction reading series. Stop by the shop to hear works read by up-and-coming authors and poets from UF's acclaimed writing program. Readings begin at 8pm and last about an hour.

9/11 Beau Golwitzer (fiction), Karin Lightstone (poetry)

9/18 Rachel Khong (fiction), James Davis (poetry)

10/9 Halvor Aakhus (fiction), Diya Chaudhuri (poetry)

10/23 Philip Pinch (fiction)

11/6 David Blanton (fiction), Jessica Hammack (poetry)

11/20 Sarah Sheldon (fiction), Laura Deily (poetry)

Little turtles and lime-sorbet coffee

We're in a (welcome) lull between new crop offerings with our coffees. The pace of new releases this summer has been difficult to keep up with-- new favorite coffees appear for a few weeks in limited release, only to vanish just as we come to terms with the aromatic complexities. I know that I'll miss the Nicaragua Finca San Jose, and it seems like the Tres Santos from Huila was gone in a blink. We tried our hand at our first limited edition guest espresso, the wonderful Nordic blend from Copenhagen's Coffee Collection. It was a one-off chance to sample the espresso from one of Europe's up-and-coming roasters, and everyone who tried a shot raved about the rich, buttery, spicy tones. It was a nice contrast to the Black Cat. I'm using past-tense because we pulled the last shot for a customer yesterday afternoon. Here's to more limited and guest espresso offerings in the future...

While the Coffee Collective espresso might be gone, we do have two limted, reserve coffees on the board this week. The Nicaraguan Lemoncello has a few more days left. The Lemoncello won second place in this year's Nicaragua Cup of Excellence competition; only 14 bags were harvested, and that lot was split between four roasters at auction. The retail price of the Lemoncello is $70 per pound. You can enjoy a cup of this rare coffee, brewed on our Clover, for less than the price of Heineken at most bars in town. Here's how Intelligentsia describes the cup: "Stunning in its nuanced nature, Limoncillo is a dazzling representation of Nicaragua. The plush aromatics boast of coffee blossoms and butter cream. Lush, juicy lime-like acidity lifts notes of jasmine and perfectly ripened tropical fruit. The body is both delicate and creamy as the buttery aftertaste lingers pleasantly and deftly." Here's how we describe it: subtle lime sorbet that becomes sweeter and more floral as it cools.

The other micro-lot coffee on the menu is a carefully selected version of the Honduras La Tortuga called Galapagito. At least half of the baristas agree with me that it is among the top three coffees of the dozen or so that we've served this summer, if not the best. If you like the big chocolately body of the Tortuga, you'll love the added punch of caramel and pear of the Galapagito. Our batch was roasted on Monday and will be peaking for the rest of the weekend, so be sure to set time aside to enjoy a cup before our after the Gator game.

Comme Ci, Comme Ça

Society Promotions and Volta Coffee, Tea & Chocolate presents new work by Evan McIntyre. McIntyre paints large-scale transcriptions of film stills that are both cinematic (in scope and, obviously, subject matter) and abstract (in style: recalling Chuck Close, the LA landscapes of David Hockney and the rotoscoped animations of Ralph Bakski). Explaining the evolution of his work, McIntyre writes: "Into college, I started photography classes pursing a possible photography fine art degree. One semester, I ended up in a painting class by pure accident and decided to give it a try. Previous to the course, I had wielded a simple brush or roller to help around the house. This was different. This was real, and I loved it. I couldn't stop painting, or photographing things to eventually paint, for that matter. Soon, this merged into my love for film. I just had to see some of my favorite scenes on a canvas. The paintings you see are real images of interesting actors."

Join us for the opening on Friday, 29 August, from 5-9pm. SP will be providing the sort of refreshments we can't sell at Volta, and we'll have music by the Aphids (Jason Sanders & Daniel Cummings)–indie ambient electronica from 5-7, followed by the Klezmer Katz on our patio at 7pm.

Sturm und Drang

Hello, Tropical Storm Fay.

Danmark Gerning!

Volta is pleased to announce our newest guest espresso offering: The Coffee Collective Espresso, direct from Copenhagen. The Coffee Collective is one of the up-and-coming roasters on the international coffee scene. The collaborative effort of a group of exceedingly passionate coffee professionals, the Collective's distinctive selection of finely sourced and carefully roasted coffees are recognized as among the best in the world. What else would you expect from a company that boasts a staff comprised of a World Barista Champion, a master roaster, and the World Cup Tasting Champion.

We have secured enough freshly roasted Coffee Collective espresso to be able to offer it as our guest espresso for the next week. As far as we can tell, Volta is the first shop in the US to offer a chance to taste the Coffee Collective's espresso. It is available as a $1.50 upcharge for any espresso drink on our menu. Here's how the Collective describes the coffee:

  • 50% Daterra Sweet Collection, Brazil
  • 25% Finca Vista Hermosa, Guatemala
  • 25% Adado, Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia

Full Bodied, Oily And Creamy. Sweet And Fresh. Marzipan, Chocolate And Caramel. Topnotes Of Strawberries.
Our espresso blend is composed and roasted from a Nordic approach to taste and aroma. We call the approach Nordic because cleanliness and freshness in the flavour has been driving forces combined with a wish of minimizing the bitterness.

In finding the right green beans, clean cup has been a fundamental criteria where especially Finca Vista Hermosa and Daterra are brilliant but we also found a Yirgacheffe-4 from the Adado mill, which is a lot cleaner than the normal naturals from Ethiopia. In the blending we have searched for the recipe that would let the acidity, of especially Finca Vista Hermosa, balance the oily and creamy body of this espresso to give a sense of life and freshness in the coffee. Finally we have created a light but slow roasting profile to support the aroma, sweetness and liveliness of the espresso and at the same time keeping the bitterness lower than in traditional Italian espresso blends. Combined with milk the coffee flavour is experienced as deep and distinct.

Early Closing on Sunday, 24 August

Volta will be closing at 4pm this Sunday for staff development. We are very lucky to have Intelligentsia's Alexandra Switzer coming in from Chicago to work with our staff to help us become even more obsessive about pouring Gainesville's best espresso and coffee drinks. We'll resume regular store hours on Monday.

Volta World Cupping, Round 4

Volta's World Cupping series continues with round 4: Tanzania vs. Guatemala vs. Costa Rica vs. Nicaragua. The Central American coffees are launching a full-force attack on two-time winner Tanzania Edelweiss Estate. I'm afraid that our African champion has its work cut out for it: Guatemala has been the rising star of the specialty coffee world for the last decade, while Costa Rica has a strong local fan base. The proverbial 500lb gorilla is the Nicaraguan Limoncillo. This specific coffee is a micro-lot from the same farm that produced one of our previous winners, the Finca San Jose. Specifically, this lot of Limoncillo won second place in Nicaragua's Cup of Excellence competition. Retail price on the Limoncillo is $35. Per. Half. Pound. Yes, we're pitting a $70-a-pound, award-winning coffee against scrappy upstart Tanzania Edelweiss.

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.

Update

Another tie-- or, actually, two ties! The Edelweiss (aka, the little coffee that could) held its own against the best coffees we could throw at it, but ended up tied for second. Once again, it stood out for its wine-like body and malty aftertaste, with fragrances noted as earthy, peppery, and smokey. Showing that it can stand up to the best coffees in the world, the Edelweiss tied with the Nicaraguan Lemoncello. The Lemoncello came to the Volta World Cupping with an outstanding record as the second place crop in the highly competitive Nicaraguan Cup of Excellence league. At $70 a pound, its value is on par with its quality. The Volta cuppers found bright aromas of roasted almonds and (in a rather specific descriptor) Queen Anne's Chocolate Covered Cherries.

First place was split between the Kenya Gaturiri Auction Lot coffee and the just-released Costa Rica Flecha Roja. The Kenya was easy to spot on the table if you were familiar with its syrupy tropical fruit flavors and spicy finish. The Costa Rican coffee was the real find of the day. Everyone raved about its toasty aroma, with many people picking out aromas of luscious pipe tobacco and cocoa butter. Its bright lemon-lime body and sweet & sour bite were wonderfully refreshing-- as coffee #5, it was clearly refreshing to find such a clean and bright coffee on the table.

We're out of the Gaturiri Auction Lot coffee for the season, and the Tanzania Edelweiss only has a few weeks left in the shop before it is retired for the season. We are sold out of Lemoncello but will have more in before classes begin. The Costa Rica Flecha Roja will be with us at the shop for at least another month.

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