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PechaKucha GNV: Vol. 1

20X20: 20 images x 20 seconds

PechaKucha Nights are informal and fun gatherings where creative people get together and share their ideas, works, thoughts, holiday snaps - just about anything really, in the PechaKucha 20x20 format.

PechaKucha presentations uncover the unexpected, unexpected talent, unexpected ideas within a community. Some PechaKuchas tell great stories about a project or a trip. Some are incredibly personal, some are incredibly funny, but all are very different.

Volta will be hosting Gainesville's first PechaKucha Night on 13 August 2010. Download the flyer to find out how you can get involved with PechaKucha. We are now looking for presenters for the first night. The format is open to anyone with a creative concept to present to the community: architects, designers, programmers, artists, storytellers, photographers, activists, theorists, engineers, cooks, musicians...

For info about how to participate, download the call for entries or contact Christina at pechakucha_GNV@voltacoffee.com.

To find out more about how PechaKucha works (and to see examples of presentations from PKNs around the world), check out the official website.

PechaKucha Night - devised and shared by Klein Dytham architecture

Coffee/Commodity/Art

[flickr-photo:id=4691314617,size=-]Volta Coffee, Tea & Chocolate presents Thomas Olmsted's amazing collection of 400 commodity coffee cans. (He still has half again more in storage...) Think of it as a history of the first wave of coffee in the US: view the development of coffee marketing from 1920's to the present, played out in paint and tin.

The oldest tins in the collection date back to the mid-20s, when both modern-streamlined design and ethnic stereotypes were the norm. By mid-century, the artwork shifts to domestic bliss (Love Nest Coffee, anyone?). The 60s and 70s are dominated by utilitarianism, speed, and thrift.

We'll be hosting the collection until the end of the month. A selection of photographs of cans from the collection can be found over on Flickr.

Sarah's latest baking conquest: vanilla macaron with salted caramel filling

[flickr-photo:id=4668661639,size=-]Sarah is progressing on her quest to make the perfect French Macaron: witness her vanilla macaron with a salted caramel filling. Not only is Sarah an amazing barista (representing Volta at the Southeast Regional Barista Championship), but her true passion is in baking. She gets the Volta kitchen to herself three times a week to come up with, well, pretty much anything that she's interested in making. For the last four months, she's been working on perfecting the art of the macaron. Not the macaroon (i.e., the glob of sweetened coconut that passes for a cookie), but the French cookie made of ground almonds and sugar, filled with a contrasting buttercream frosting.

The latest version is truly her best yet: a white, vanilla cookie that is held together with a slathering of shop-made salted caramel. We only have a dozen or so left in the shop. Come by soon or you will have missed your chance to experience the best little slice of Paris that you are likely to find in Gainesville this summer.

Pair with: Four Seasons Baked Oolong tea.

Current Coffees: June 2010

A quick run-down of Volta's current coffee menu...

Organic Nicaragua Los Delirios: Finca Las Termopilas

Aromatics awash with fresh wildflowers, golden raisin and cane sugar. A laid back acidity furnishes a smooth mouthfeel that glides across the palate with Dutch cocoa, fig preserves and a touch of green grape. A gentle finish comes through in notes of malt and black tea.

The Canales family and the El Eden cooperative group continue to be among the most proactive and quality-conscious organic farmers in Nicaragua. The farms themselves are well maintained and almost entirely self-sustaining—they generate the fertilizer they need using manure from the bulls and cows, cherry pulp, and organic waste material from the banana trees and other crops they grow. The ecosystems on the farms can best be described as lush, and there is a great abundance of shade, a good diversity of tree type, babbling creeks running through the land, and a ton of wildlife. Los Delirios itself comes with quite a pedigree, hard earned through a particular focus on details at the farm and a visible dedication to continuous improvement of the farm infrastructure. Our first experience with this farm was in 2004 when it took first place in the Cup of Excellence competition, making history by becoming the first certified organic coffee to win a CoE event.

Nicaragua: Finca San Jose (available after 6/4)

One of the seven Mierisch family farms, Finca San Jose is the baby of the bunch, purchased in 2003. Some of the properties, ranging in scale, have been in the family for generations upon generations and others have come and gone due to implications of the Nicaraguan Revolution and the coffee crisis that hit in 1980 -2000. The acquisition of Finca San Jose in 2003 was risky, as the family had not yet fully recovered from the tough financial crisis but Dr. Mierisch saw promise in the overgrown fallow slopes overlooking Lake Apanas.

Just a couple of months of clearing and pruning and the coffee trees began to recover from the neglect. A few years after that, Intelligentsia was introduced to Finca San Jose. Intelligentsia's Geoff Watts now looks forward to every new harvest with Finca San Jose. Each new year brings about noticeable improvements in quality. What was once a plain, innocuous coffee is becoming a clean, shiny, juicy, nuanced cup. It just keeps getting better and better. Rightly so, their efforts are vigorous and fervent. The long-awaited rewards are beginning to appear.

Cherry preserves start this layered cup with a pleasant tartness, but not far behind are the sweet flavors of raisin, plum, and a textured, buttery mouthfeel. Baked apples and cinnamon lead the finish of this beautiful coffee.

Costa Rica: Flecha Roja

Peanut brittle, sweet walnut and citrus fruit provide enticing aromatics. A popping acidity cools into a mellow marmalade. Sustaining notes of maple, crème brulee and cherry bring about a counterbalance, lending depth and composure. The finish is resolute but leaves hints of nut toffee.

Panama: Finca Santa Teresa El Machete

Our El Machete is produced by an innovative farmer named Juan Pablo Berard. His dedication to coffee quality and social and environmental sustainability are obvious in all endeavors at the farm, from funding Casa Esperanza (a school for his workers’ children) to separating individual lots of coffee to preserving forest on his property.

Forest blackberries, concord grape and a pleasant winyness dominate the nose. The body is full, dense and silky in texture; reminiscent of Black Forest cake. The lime acidity underscores notes of St. Germain and muscat grape as the finish tapers into cocoa and nutmeg spice.

Tanzania: Edelweiss Finagro Estate (available after 6/4)

[flickr-photo:id=3761353377,size=m]There is a ton of excitement around here about the coffees from Edelweiss/Finagro. It has quickly become something of a staff favorite, especially out in Los Angeles. It may be because the coffee has something of a mixed personality, in the best of ways. African coffees are perennially among our favorites on the cupping table, but they are also among the most challenging from a sensory perspective. The brilliantly unapologetic acidity and occasional savory tastes in great Kenyan coffees can sometimes be intimidating to the uninitiated. The complex floral and perfume-like aromatics combined with the lemongrass and delicate citric notes in fresh coffees from Southern Ethiopia can be so intoxicating that consumers accustomed to old or milder coffees don’t quite know what to make of them at first. But the Edelweiss, and Tanzania coffee in general, contains flavors coffee drinkers are familiar with in Central American coffees while keeping a very distinctly African identity. The coffees from Oldeani have been getting better and better each season, and still have not even glimpsed their true peak.

Tanzania has long been growing coffee in the shadows of more familiar African nations like Kenya and Ethiopia. In recent years its neighbor to the north (Rwanda) pulled off an astonishing climb up the Specialty ladder and has made a compelling bid for the attention of quality coffee drinkers worldwide.

A bursting, apple-like acidity leaves an impression of hazelnuts and cranberries through a finish that stays zesty and proper.

New York Egg Cream

[flickr-photo:id=4603555749,size=-]It's only May, and Gainesville afternoons are already tripping the 90-degree mark. When looking for a summer drink to add to the menu, we decided to look to Brooklyn and the mythical egg cream. What is an egg cream? Well, for starters, it doesn't involve egg or cream. Think of it as a cross between a cold chocolate milk and a melted ice cream float. From Wikipedia:

The origin of the name "egg cream" is constantly debated. One theory was said that they used grade "A" milk calling it a chocolate A cream thus sounding like 'egg' cream. Stanley Auster, the grandson of the beverage's alleged inventor, has been quoted as saying that the origins of the name are lost in time. One commonly accepted origin is that "Egg" is a corruption of the German (also found in Yiddish) word echt ("genuine" or "real") and this was a "good cream".

One thing is for certain: you better not call it a New York Egg Cream without using Fox's U-Bet Chocolate Syrup. Accept no substitute. We tried making an uptown version using both Askinosie and Vintage Plantation chocolate sauces. No matter how refined the syrup, the result fell short of the Fox's. Sometimes it just doesn't pay to mess with a classic.

For our take on the drink, we start with an ounce and a half of Fox's, add three ounces of milk, then top the glass off with shop-made seltzer water. Give it a quick stir and you have a multi-layered drink with a white, foamy head and a clean, sweet, cool taste. It's the perfect drink to cool off before heading out for an afternoon at the springs.

In case you were wondering about the place of the egg cream in the mythos of NYC, here's Lou Reed with a few words on the subject...

New photography show: ASIA

Volta is pleased to present the premier of photographer Kazunori Saki's new collection, ASIA. Saki's work documents street life in China, India, Japan, and Hong Kong. The diverse subject matter is tied together by a strong sense of composition and play of positive and negative space that can be traced back to Kazunori Saki's formal training as an architect. We will be featuring the work until the April ArtWalk on 4/30.

Watts and Volta

Date: Wednesday, March 31

Time: 8:00 pm

Volta is honored to present an evening with Geoff Watts, Intelligentsia's VP of Coffee and Green Coffee Buyer. Join us at 8pm for a round-table discussion of (among other topics), Intelligentsia's development of the Direct Trade model of coffee trade, new production and processing experiments at origin, and the impact of the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange on specialty coffee.

Under Geoff's management, Intelligentsia practices direct trade, working closely with actual producers--and not just importers or exporters-- promoting a “seed to cup” attention to their product. Geoff Watts assisted in the opening of Intelligentsia Coffee in 1995.Today, he travels extensively to farms throughout Central and South America, Africa, and Indonesia, establishing new relationships with farmers, exporters, and specialty coffee importers throughout the world, all the while gathering insight and understanding of what it is that makes that makes coffee extraordinary.

Copenhagen Over Coffee

Date: Monday, March 29

Time: 5:30-7:00 pm

The Alachua County Young Democrats invite you to 'Copenhagen Over Coffee' - a talk with Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan about climate change policy and Gainesville. As a recent delegate to the U.N. Conference on Climate Change, the Mayor will share her views on local government's role in implementing climate change solutions. Volta Coffee owner Antony Rue will also give an introduction about running a local progressive business.

The event will start at five-thirty at Volta Coffee (48 Southwest 2nd St) and finish with a question and answer period with Mayor Hanrahan.

Reserve Tea Offering: Hong Yue

[flickr-photo:id=4407473848] Developed under the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, Hong Yue is the result of the Taiwanese Tea Institute experiments in blending native or wild varietals of Taiwanese tea with varietals grown in Japanese-controlled territories. Since the Japanese controlled Burma, they brought an Assamica plant similar to the Da Yeh varietal (Yunnan varietal) from Burma to breed with native plants. The result was Hong Yue.

Considered a red tea, Hong Yue is a similar to a black tea, but is brewed more like an oolong. Intelligentsia’s Doug Palas provides the back story: “This is the first Hong Yue I’ve ever tasted that lived up to its billing. The farm that I bought our Hong Yue from started growing the tea 7 years ago. They originally planted it because it is a tall leafy plant. In Taiwan land is parceled strangely. The island is so small so large plots of land are divided amongst families. The two families that produce our teas thought a barrier was needed to block wind to prevent soil erosion from occurring on their land. They planted Hong Yue to do just that. They harvested and made just 10 kg of this tea by hand. Intelly is buying all of it. This is only the third time in my 7 years of tea buying that I have come across a black tea of this quality.” The Hong Yue deserves careful consideration over multiple infusions. It begins with a first cup of mellow, honey-like flavors and a velvety mouthfeel. Successive infusions bring out crisp wintergreen flavors that are never malty or brisk-- most unusual for a black tea with this level of oxidation. It is best enjoyed as a self-drinker: no milk or sugar for this tea.

SERBC 2010: Competition Update

[flickr-photo:id=4381172035]The 2010 Southeastern Regional Barista Championship is in the history book. Volta sent its first full team to travel out to compete with the best baristas from Virginia to Mississippi, Florida to Tennessee. To the outsider, the competition must seem arcane. For those of us at the shop, it is a once-a-year opportunity to test the limits of our coffee knowledge and to learn from/party/network with other dedicated, passionate coffee professionals from around the country.

Sarah West, as a first time competitor, acquitted herself with both grace and passion. We couldn't be more proud of the performance that Sarah put in at the SERBC. A slight bobble with steaming milk for her capps cost her a place in the finals; best as we can tell she placed 7th out of 35 and was one of the highest placed first-time competitors. Missed the finals by a point or two. Also, she is possibly the highest score ever for a barista from Florida! She's certainly has the top place of any Floridan barista of the last three years. Sarah worked very closely with the Intelligentsia roasters and QC team to narrow down her coffee choices, ultimately settling on the Bolivia Anjilanaka component of the Black Cat espresso, roasted a touch light to bring out the acidity that she wanted for her signature drink. Special thanks to Jesse Crouse, Deaton Pigot, Chris Clements, and Geoff Watts for helping with the coffee roasting and background information on the Anjilanaka. Of course, there's also Alexandra Wright: serving as Sarah's coach, Aly joined Sarah in Chicago for training with Stephen Morrissey and Michael Philips. (Special thanks to Paul Rekstad and Doug Zell for setting the training up and making sure Stephen and Michael had time to help in spite of daunting schedule conflicts.)

[flickr-photo:id=4381172973]While Sarah took up the challenge of competing, Anthony Rue and Natalie Suwanprakorn took up the daunting task of volunteering as sensory judges for the competition. For Natalie, the SERBC was the first barista competition that she had ever seen in person. After a month of studying for the judge's exam, she demonstrated what we at the shop have always known-- her discerning palate is matched by her sharp observational acumen. In a display of trust in her abilities, Natalie was selected to judge a full slate of nine competitors for each of the first two days of the competition. For those keeping count, that means that she evaluated (and drank) over 57 espresso drinks in a bit over 24 hours. On one hand, judging is easy. You sit at a table while person after person serves you espresso, cappuccino, and signature drinks. In reality, it is very difficult to spend hour after hour give full, undivided concentration to drink after drink, furiously scribbling notes and tabulating evaluations on score sheets before retreating to a room to "calibrate" or justify your scores to the other judges. On a professional level, it is an amazing opportunity to be able to sit in one room and sample all of the best espressos from the top roasters and cafes in the country, served by passionate men and women who have put considerable effort and expense into their presentations.

In spite of the late nights spent at Volta testing espresso, evaluating milk suppliers, and endlessly discussing signature drink variations, I get the impression that the experience has stoked the passions of the Volta staff. Look for a larger team presence in 2011-- we're already making notes for how we can push ourselves to improve our results at next year's competition.

Atlanta Journal Constitution article about the SERBC, along with photos of Anthony judging Byron Holcomb, from 1000Faces Coffee

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