Amsterdam Coffee Festival, Part 2

This post ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated, but when I talk about food I tend to be really descriptive. We covered caffeine in Part 1, so now we can cover the other things that go into making caffeinated beverages amazing!

Milk One of the reasons I had so many coffees, and ended up having the whole beverage, was the different types of milks. My favorite was the oat milk latte. I’ve been a fan of oat milk since I tried it in 2014, but even so, I was impressed at how far it’s come. I remember oat milk being a bit chalky, but its natural sweetness made it indulgent in my Sunday morning tea. Oatly! does an amazing oat milk which froths amazingly, I was legitimately impressed.

Also worth my attention was Rude Health’s hazelnut milk. It was smooth, with no funny stuff coating your mouth after (which can happen with fillers and thickeners other brands may use), and the flavor was light enough to appreciate the hazelnut, but not heavy enough to take away from the coffee. I tried it cold and warm (don’t boil it if you’re going to heat it!!), and could only imagine how amazing it would be with Hotel Chocolat’s 70% Hot Chocolate! Alpro‘s almond milk, which isn’t out yet and won’t be to consumers for a bit, is free of fillers and thickeners. As someone who’s never cared for almond milk, Alpro’s was pretty darn good.

I learned a lot about Jersey cow milk, the fat:protein ratio really does make a difference in flavor and consistency! After ACF, I definitely will be more attuned to where the milk in my flat white comes from!

20170311_115121

Water I was really excited for the water workshops, but in my haze and daze and excitement, I lost track of time and wasn’t able to attend any! I changed up my water filter game late last year and it made a striking difference in my morning coffee. I never appreciated how contributory water is to coffee, even though it makes up the majority of the beverage!

Barista Championships I enjoyed watching a few of the stellar baristas duke it out for the title of champion. I would have loved to watch every single competitor, but I only had a day to do everything. Fifteen minutes to make 3 coffee beverages (espresso, milk-based coffee drink, and a specialty), while discussing their coffee. The discussion part was quite intriguing- one barista who spoke on sustainable coffee farming particularly caught my attention- as was the nuances of each barista’s technique. Espresso pulling and coffee making was taken up to an art form by these people!20170311_122128

Community The overall sense of community during ACF was really meaningful to me. There were people from all over the world. Literally. They’d come from every corner to take part in this and share their passion with like-minded people.

I could go on and on about ACF, but I’ll keep it to those main points. London Coffee Festival is just a couple short weeks away, and I plan to gather more information as I’ll be more prepared. And I will certainly pace myself with the caffeine.

-Karen

Amsterdam Coffee Festival, Part I

I’m always a bit surprised at people’s disbelief surrounding the existence of coffee festivals. I’m also quite surprised by how many are held in the UK alone (Manchester, Edinburgh….). But yes, Coffee Festival is a thing and there’s one group of folks who host Amsterdam, London, and New York Coffee Festivals.

20170311_112709.jpg

Amsterdam was my very first experience with a coffee festival, so I went in wide-eyed and not knowing what to expect. I read about past festivals online, I knew the website (http://amsterdamcoffeefestival.com/) inside-out, but I had no expectations for the actual experience. Well, let’s be real, I knew it would be amazing no matter what.

Coffee I learned a valuable lesson: Pace yourself. I tried to mentally prepare myself for this, practicing ways to sip coffee, not feel inclined to finish a whole coffee, discerning when to skip a particular beverage. But once you’re inside the festival amongst the buzz and hype and passion, you lose count so quickly. I had 7 espresso-shots-worth of coffee…in 5 hours. And because caffeine suppresses your appetite, and I was so engrossed in all the happenings around, I totally forgot to eat lunch. Good thing there were some amazing vegetarian options at the mini food truck station. I must mention Black Goat Coffee, a roaster who uses 100% robusta beans (arabica is the unchallenged champion bean).

Chocolate High quality chocolate ran rampant here, from bars of 100% dark to hot chocolate powders. Rawchock‘s raw chocolate bars, which are also offered with exotic fruit flavors mixed in, were especially fun to taste test. And Macao‘s drinking chocolate was so smooth, even in cold milk!

Tea The Dutch Tea Championship took place at ACF, so naturally there was a great variety of tea to try and learn about. Let me just say, if I see kombucha, I will immediately go there, and YaYa had some pretty nice stuff. Aside from the amazing kombucha, though, there were a couple powdered tea beverages showcased, of which Chalo surprised me most. I’m an avid chai drinker and make my own at home; as far as powders go, I opt for David Rio (the David Rio Chai Bar in SF makes me biased), so for me to accept Chalo is something. Do powdered chais have a place in a connoisseur’s home? I think so- they make for a comforting drink on rainy afternoons when you’re not feeling the hot chocolate!

20170311_140424.jpg

Stay tuned for Part II!

-Karen