Tag Archives: coffee culture

Kaffetur 22 / Coffee Tour #22: Taf Coffee, Athens (Greece)

“Coffee is a sense of energy for your body. One cup of good coffee
is a perfect reason for a good start of your day!”
~Konstantinos Iatridis, barista

Once again, our travel – this time, to Athens – was preceded by the mandatory coffee research. As I began reading, I ran across info about a shop called Taf. And when I saw that one of their baristas, Konstantinos Iatridis, had recently come in second place in the 2015 World Brewers Cup, I knew I wanted to check this place out.

So imagine my surprise when I started chatting with the barista behind the counter, and discovered that he was none other than the World Brewers Cup man himself!

We talked about the recent championship, and about the fact that he came in second to a Norwegian barista from Supreme Roastworks, a fantastic shop in Oslo that we have visited on several occasions.

Konstantinos at work, preparing a delicious V60 filter coffee for us

Iatridis has been in the coffee game for about six years, the last half of that time working in the specialty coffee industry, at Taf Coffee. When asked what sparked his desire to become a barista, one name came up: Stefanos Domatiotis.

Domatiotis is a well-known name in the coffee world, winning the World Barista Championship in 2014, and being named Greek Barista Champion six times. So for Iatridis to be inspired and motivated by the likes of a Stefanos suggests a truly deep passion for coffee.

After spending the day walking all over the city, it was nice to take a break and savor a quality cup of coffee. We found a table outside, and ordered a V60 and an espresso. The V60 was good. Okay, good would be quite an understatement. But Konstantinos impressed me most with the espresso. He offered us several options, and we chose Taf’s Rosebud blend. It is a mix of Ethiopian, Rwandan, and El Salvadorian beans. As our skilled barista explained, Rosebud’s cup profile has a creamy feeling and smooth body, with notes of cherry, apricot and tangerine.

I’ve tried a lot of espressos. I’ve had some that were great, and some that I struggled to finish. But Taf’s Rosebud espresso is one of the best I have ever tasted. It’s a tribute to quality coffee, quality roasting, and a barista who knows what he’s doing!

Konstantinos enjoys being a barista, and it shows in his attitude and his coffee. He loves his job and he loves coffee. He is extremely knowledgeable, and his fantastic people skills make a stop by Taf Coffee all the better.

When asked what he prefers to drink, Konstantinos opts for the coffee he used in the World Brewer Cup championship, a Ninety Plus maker series from Panama. And Iatridis is a coffee purist, preferring a filter coffee over anything else, due to the fact that this methods makes it “easier to realize all the aromas and the characteristics of the coffee.”

Thanks to Konstantinos for his time, expertise, and help in making our afternoon at Taf so very satisfying!

 

Taf Coffee 
Benaki Emmanouil 7-9
Athens, Greece

Kaffetur 20 / Coffee Tour #20: My Coffee Story

Why do I do this? Why do I share the coffee tour?

Photo: Brown/Evans 2014

We enjoy visiting coffee shops because we like coffee. But also because we like to hear the stories of the people who work there, of the people who started the shop.

Sometimes it’s about their interest in coffee. Sometimes it’s stories of the beans, of the farmers, of dreams, of relationships.

I consider myself a bit of a storyteller. And I love hearing stories. That’s what this is really about: stories.

And so today, I thought I would share my
own coffee story.

Growing up, my parents never drank coffee. My dad still doesn’t drink it, while my mom will have a coffee drink from time to time.

But I vividly remember coffee as a child. When I was small, I spent quite a few of my weekends – possibly the majority of them – with either my grandparents or my great-grandparents. As the oldest of the grandkids and because we lived close by, I found myself there quite often.

I would often sleep over on Friday nights. It was fun to play games and watch TV together. We’d sometimes go out for ice cream in the evening. And when I was with my grandparents, I looked forward to the possibility of staying up with my grandfather and watching the monologue on the Johnny Carson show. I didn’t really understand what was so funny. But those few minutes sitting with him were special. I sat there, enjoying the sound of his laughter, and feeling quite grown up.

On Saturday morning, while my grandfather slept in, I would wake fairly early and tiptoe into the living room, where my grandmother would be sitting with her cup of coffee. And as became the norm, she would offer me a cup of my own.

I always accepted the offer. And I enjoyed my little cup of coffee. About 25% coffee, the rest milk, along with a nice big spoon of sugar.

The same happened when staying with my great-grandmother. And again, I always graciously accepted the offer for a cup.

And so began my interest in coffee. A meager start, but that’s how it began.

As with most things with which one has interest, my knowledge has increased over the years and my preferences have changed. And yet, almost every time I pick up a cup of coffee, I think back to that little cup: the foundation of my coffee story.

Kaffetur 19 / Coffee Tour #19: Starbucks Reserve / Starbucks Clover

Before moving here, we didn’t think twice about finding anything other than a national chain for coffee. I guess that’s mostly because we had not yet been exposed much to locally roasted and handcrafted coffees. But that was probably also because we didn’t have many independent shops around us.

So it was pretty normal of us to stop by Starbucks. But since getting into the local coffee scene and learning more, Starbucks has become less about coffee and more about a travel tradition.

Yes, it’s really become more about the place we stop by when we are traveling, so we can pick up a city mug. Now don’t get me wrong: I like their specialty drinks. And yes, whenever the season and my travels align, I have to pop in for a pumpkin spice latte! But we are not regulars.

But today I have to share with our readers that it is possible, though not frequently, to get something from Starbucks other than their mass-produced drinks. We discovered this as we were transferring planes at Schiphol Airport, in Amsterdam.

It’s there that we discovered one of the rare Starbucks Reserve shops. They offer small batch single origin coffee, and will be glad to brew a cup for you on the clover machine.

Clover is a single cup system that takes into consideration water temperature and brew time in an effort to produce a higher quality cup of coffee.

While I still prefer locally roasted beans, hand brewed coffee, and supporting local businesses, it’s nice to know that Starbucks is recognizing the changing market and seeking to offer something that fits the niche a bit better.

Read more about Clover at http://www.starbucks.com/coffee/learn/clover

This is a personal blog.  The authors have not receive any compensation for posts, monetary or otherwise. The opinions expressed are solely that: opinions. If you find anything helpful, feel free to share but please reference the original work.

Growing our Bean Knowledge

Recently we were talking coffee with friends, and I realized how quickly both our passion and knowledge have grown. Okay, probably Zack more than me. But we are married, so we share everything!

Moving to Norway two and a half years ago, coffee was a nice drink, one that we liked to make a pot of fairly often. We had already come to the point where we drank it black. But our world had not yet opened up to the wonderful world of hand brews, pour overs, and slow coffee.

Terms like V60 and Aeropress were not yet in our vocabularies, and we knew little of the importance of things like water temperature, filter color, blooming, and pouring techniques.

We still have a long way to go. We are learning more about the types of beans and the roasts that were prefer. We are discovering more about roasting methods.
Have you ever had unwashed beans? Quite unique.
We have not begun roasting at home, although I would not be shocked to see Zack go that direction one day.
And to be perfectly honest, I am not sure I will personally ever be at the level where I can identify the specific notes as I sip a cup of freshly brewed coffee.
Perhaps a proper cupping course is in order.
But we really do enjoy coffee. Finding just the right beans. Learning new techniques. Trying new things.
The process of preparing a Hario or Aeropress is a large part of the overall experience. It really has become more than just drinking the coffee. And the gear is cool. And meeting people with a similar passion is fun. Exploring new shops has become a part of every vacation, day trip or business travel.

We really do enjoy the coffee culture.Are you a coffee lover? Do you enjoy a particular drink or a special brewing method?