Pour-over in Pasadena

Intelligentsia Pasadena’s “Red Arrow” and a Mexican pearl

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Two stand out coffees right now, at Intelligetsia Pasadena: La Perla de Oaxaca — an organic coffee from Mexico — and Flecha Roja from Costa Rica. Both on the pour-over.

Both are brewing sweet and clean, with the former displaying a rustic, almost savory, smoky sweetness with a cling-to-the-tongue body and the latter just being its juicy, juicy self — pleasantly fruit-sweet and a little dance-y on the tongue.

Yep, I said “dance-y”.

RIP Intelligentsia’s food program

A heartfelt bye-bye to Intelligentsia’s consistently scrumptious food offerings and a welcome to an expanded pastry and wine program

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RIP Intelligentsia’s food program.

RIPx2 their absolutely rich and delicious pecan-crusted fried chicken and waffle magnificence — you’re crispy-sweet crust and juicy flesh will be missed.

I’m sorry if you din’t get a chance to chow down on the richest, juiciest fried chicken I’ve had in Los Angeles. The waffle was great but it didn’t stand a chance against that chicken. It was (ironically) just it’s wing-man.

Everything we had there was awesome actually and it was all made in-house.

A moment of silence…

Cheese & Charcuterie

The only food menu you are going to see is a two-choice menu: a cheese plate and a charcuterie plate. I’ve yet to try either of them.

Wine

At the back bar you’ve still got a nicely curated selection of beer to choose from but they’ve also put some additional effort into the selection of a small number (maybe ten) of wines.

More pastries!

To offset the lack of more hearty food options, Intelli Pasadena has increased the variety of pastries it carries. They’re from a local bakery called Short Cake.

What I’ve liked so far: the miniature apple pies, (perfectly spiced and juuuust sweet enough), the twice-baked hazelnut croissant (think those ridiculously sweet almond croissants everybody’s been carrying since the late 80s but filled with hazelnut paste instead of almond and without the teeth-ringing sugar content), and the Comte and thyme croissant (suuuuper savory with fresh thyme sprinkled on top at some point in te baking process and laminate-like layer of Comte cheese).

Brewer’s Log: Tonx and Buena Vista Mill’s “Bangin’” Bolivia

Bangin' Bolivia!

Friends! … Who love coffee! … Who send me coffee!

Love it.

This edition of Brewer’s Log goes out to @jo for her generous, completely unsolicited, and quite timely gift of a bag of beans — Tonx Coffee‘s “Bangin’ Bolivia”.

The Skinny

I’ve mostly pulled away from the daily-update style of posting these Brewer’s Log pieces but I have to say that this morning’s batch, while not destined to be the best, I predict, was certainly noteworthy. It turned out to be quite the concentrated brew…

Brew method: V60 • Brew ratio: 13:1

450g:37g • Grind: 1st “fine” on the Capresso Infiniti • Temp: (…not really sure, 1:30 off the boil) • Time: 3:19 (includes 1:00 preinfuse)

Notwithstanding any possible goofs on my part (I did just come back from a Vegas bachelor party weekend — recovery time required1) my inaugural with this coffee was brewed at my usual starting point ratio of 13:1 (water to coffee).

Good lord. It was thick.

Too thick. Delicious — sweet and clean at its core — but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that its intensity was overshadowing some subtleties that I want to taste.

This would be the first time that a 13:1 ratio extracted this much flavor out of a coffee. Scale-back time. 14:1? 15:1?

Onward…

Brew method: V60 • Brew ratio: 15:1 • 450g H2O • 1st “Fine” on the Capresso

15:1. Fifteen…to one. It’s never worked before.

A 15:1 ratio usually means a weak, dilute, wretched brew. Under-extracted grounds. Brown water, really. Not pretty and not tasty. Maybe I’d do it to make a point. Never would I have gone that high a water to coffee ratio for personal enjoyment. Until now.

Maybe this is what “Bangin'” means. An adjective denoting strength and heightened extractability. If so, there has never been a more bangin’ bag of coffee to roll through the (extremely technically advanced) DofA Labs™. I’ll know for next time.

Flavors that my wife and I enjoyed: citrus, burnt sugar, wood. A very forthright and concentrated coffee. Sweet and highly articulated flavors just like the Tonx boys like it.


  1. The question does present itself: should I even be writing this? 

Brewer’s Log: Sightglass’s Colombia El Meridiano Tolima

Sightglass's Colombia El Meridiano Tolima

Mmmmmmm…yum. Yes, you can quote me.

I’m liking the Central American coffees I’m picking up — tangy and sweet and big on “mouth-feel”. Textural almost.

I bought this bag in Downtown LA, at Spring for Coffee.

Brew method: V60 • Brew ratio: 12:1

444g:37g • Grind: 1st fine on the Capresso Infiniti • Temp: 95°C • Time: 2:56 (includes 1:00 preinfuse)

tamarind, fruit loops, lime, citrus, roasted vegetable, dry as a desert (that’s good).

The Intelli alums are a-spreading: Babinski & Glanville intend to strike out on their own

So, another coffee bar in LA — Possibly Echo Park — and birthed by two more (soon-to-be) Intelli alums: Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski. The lineage machine is working overtime here in LA. It smacks of the meandering flow chart that begins with Blue Bottle back in my beloved Bay Area. You can’t swing a portafilter out there without makin’ one say, “Hey! Watch what you’re doing with that thing!”.

The more the merrier I say. Although, I was hoping for another high-profile local roaster announcement — they’ll apparently be going with Intelligentsia.

Just make sure it’s transitable, you guys. Whatta ya say?

Coava & Reinelio Lopez’s Colombia El Jardin

Coava & Reinelio Lopez's Colombia El Jardin

The best

Brew method: AeroPress (inverted method) • Brew ratio: 13:1

247g:18g • Grind: btw. “Medium” and “Fine” on the Capresso Infiniti • Temp: 95°C • Time: 3:36

Even though there is still that signature AeroPress muddiness — similar to in the press pot, it can kill a lot of the high end.1 — there is still more depth in this than the majority of my AeroPress brews. Dark chocolate. Black pepper.

Brew method: V60 • Brew ratio: 13:1

444:32 • Grind: 1st fine on the Capresso Infiniti • Temp: 95°C • Time: 2:56 (includes 1:00 preinfuse)

A sweet-spot has been reached in the V60. Finally. The bag is almost empty.

Tangy. Spicy (cinnamon and clove). Dark cocoa. All of it muted and cohesive with not a single aspect ruling over another: “smooth” in its own way.


  1. …seems like that’s the way it goes roughly ninety percent of the time in the AeroPress — it takes a coffee with an extraordinarily defined and exemplary structured flavor profile to shine in the AeroPress. And you don’t come across those every day. 

Intelligentsia and Stumptown and private labels and proprietary blending… oh my

Well, I guess Stumptown offering their product under private labeling is a new-ish thing.

Over at Shot Zombies today, a note of surprise brought on by my innocent statement, that behind the Primo Passo label is actually Stumptown coffee. I didn’t realize it was a secret. I hope I’m not getting anyone in trouble. Aparently we’re scoopin’ over here people!

But seriously, I didn’t think this was a big secret.

The piece at Shot Zombies references 9th St. Espresso’s dropping of Stumptown coffee in favor of Intelligentisa, over Stumptown’s unwillingness, back in ’09(?) to privately label and offer proprietary blending…

‘I wouldn’t let him put a sticker over the Stumptown bag,’ he says. ‘That’s our coffee, man.’

Duane Sorenson

…to frame its surprise at the situation. It does appear there has been a change of heart up in Portland.

I wonder if this new willingness has anything to do with Stumptown’s influx of funding from last June.

Two things I didn’t know: the reasons 9th St. Espresso dropped Stumptown, and that Intelligentsia apparently offers proprietary blending.

Ya learn something new every day.

Update: To be clear; I’m on the fence about private labeling. I think there is a way to do it right but transparency is key. A café’s label attached to a bag that clearly indicates who is responsible for the production of that particular coffee is ideal if a private label is what you simply must have.

I don’t quite understand, or more accurately, I suppose, agree with the motivation behind the complete obfuscation of the responsible party behind a bag of coffee. I think ManSeekingCoffee gets it right…

@danapalooza @shotzombies Thanks for sharing. I wish ST hadn’t changed their mind. Why should cafes be able to buy a lack of transparency!?

A central tenet in the quality proposition that is imbedded in the 21st C. coffee roasting ethos is exactly that: transparency. But also why would you want to purchase what amounts to taking full responsibility for what is in that bag of coffee on your shelf when you have limited control over the quality of that product? It’s you or your company’s name out there on the line. That is something to be taken very seriously. If you’re going to have a few links in the chain where something could possibly break, why not make it absolutely clear where you’re influence over the final product begins and where it ends. Also, the Stumptown name still carries some caché after all. Why not hitch a ride on it.

A note: it was expressed to me, on my initial visit to Primo Passo — a brand spankin’ new café it should be noted — that they are still working on the labeling. Maybe this is something that they are considering — that the covering over of the source of their beans is of limited value, and that clearly exhibiting that they are in fact in a partnership with what is still a well-respected 21st. C. coffee pioneer is not a bad thing after all.

This is the kind of situation that makes marketing so damn interesting to me.