Saturday, March 16, 2019
The cafe experience is enjoyed daily by millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, around the world.
On our blog, our own Howard Dinin has recently been posting some wonderful memories and photographs of his adventures with cafes at different times, in different places, illustrating the art of it.
Yesterday, one of our oldest friends, Victor Passacantilli, texted us of a good experience he had at Le Pain Quotidien in Aventura, Florida.
Now add my own positive experience at the Le Pain Quotidien in NYC and we’ve got a conversation leading towards the question of the day.
And putting the cherry on the cupcake, I’ll add one of my more memorable café experiences, made so because of my entering the café without high expectations. That was a visit to Blue Bottle Coffee opposite Bryant Park in New York City.
So was born today’s question of the day.
Postings Count, Weather Brief, and Dinner
Saturday, March 16, 2019
My 338th consecutive posting, committed to 5,000.
Time is 12.01am.
On Saturday Boston’s temperature will reach a high of 46* with a feels-like temperature of 39* under mainly sunny skies.
Dinner of Slow-Roast—Broiled/Seared London Broil.
Tick Tock : Marking Calendars and Deep Weather
After 338 posts we’re at the 6.76% mark of my commitment,
the commitment a different way of marking the passage of time.
Spring rushing in on us.
But don’t assume we’ve seen the last of winter.
Question of the Day
What the experiences like at Blue Bottle Coffee and Le Pain Quotidien?
Elephant jokes to tell at a bar:
Why do elephants have hair on their tails?
by Howard Dinin
Even more than the discovery of a special “hang.” More than having within walking distance a home-y somewhere I can savor a well-brewed mug of coffee, sipping at just the right pace so it doesn’t cool too rapidly and thereby loses flavor, aroma, and intensity before I reach the lees. That I love even more than the happy coincidence, however brilliantly intended by the kindred soul of the owner, of a place that serves up the delights of house-made baked goods that somehow strike a personal chord of delectability… Even more, I love the ethos and the indelible patina of a typical French café, almost any French café, of a certain indeterminate longevity and yet an ageless charm.
It’s more about being French than about coffee, and yet the quality, ineffable and most times inchoate, flavors every cup – from a noisette to a grand café crème.
Sit in any French café in any town on any morning. You’ll strain to see a mindful measured slurp, a pursing of the lips, a flurry-ing of the trapped mouthful of liquid, and the thoughtful meditation, the eyes rolled soulfully toward the ceiling. There are no tasters here, seeking a nostril tease of Madagascar vanilla, or an olfactory blast reminiscent of Morello cherry, or perhaps a soupçon of a whiff of Little Scarlet Strawberry preserve. The French café is the redoubt not of the connoisseur, but of the habitué. Not a difference of modality, but a difference of focus.
In brief, do not seek those engaged in a perpetual self-conscious romance with the bean, but a sampling of the millions of a nation long since settled into the marriage of their being with the daily course of life. Cafés are not about building intensity, but about diffusion into mellowness. Coffee is not the object, but the catalyst.
In France, typically, a stop for coffee is, if nothing else, an opportunity to craft out of nothing but a one euro-fifty demitasse of espresso, a paper tube of granulated sugar from Turkey, a small hard cinnamon flavored Belgian biscuit in a sealed cello-wrap, and a small glass of cool clear water, an interlude of relaxation, from a brief respite, to a flaneur’s afternoon of improvised dolce far niente. Especially if you discover you have that small hard case of Davidoff Mini Cigarillo Golds in a pocket from the days you were quitting for good.
Do not speak of third waves of coffee to the patron of the cafe, as you would breezily with the barista of the Blue Bottle that just opened downtown. But you may, indeed, ask for a third cup. Just another “p’tit ‘xpress... je vous en prie.”
The third wave of coffee is a movement to produce high-quality coffee.
It considers coffee an artisanal food, like wine, rather than a commodity.
This involves improvements at all stages of production, from improving coffee plant growing, harvesting, and processing, to stronger relationships between coffee growers, traders, and roasters, to higher quality and fresh roasting, at times called "microroasting" (by analogy with microbrew beer), to skilled brewing.
Third wave coffee aspires to the highest form of culinary appreciation of coffee, so that one may appreciate subtleties of flavor, varietal, and growing region – similar to other complex consumable plant-derived products such as wine, tea, and chocolate.
Distinctive features of third wave coffee include direct trade coffee, high-quality beans (see specialty coffee for scale), single-origin coffee (as opposed to blends), lighter roasts, and latte art.
It also includes revivals of alternative methods of coffee preparation, such as vacuum coffee and pour-over brewing devices such as the Chemex and Hario V60.
The term "Third Wave" was coined in 1999 by Timothy Castle referring to a focus on quality and refers chiefly to the American phenomenon, particularly from the 1990s and continuing today, but with some effects from prior decades.
Similar movements exist in India, Taiwan, Japan and broader Asia, and Canada, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, and Scandinavia.
More broadly, third wave coffee can be seen as part of the specialty coffee movement.
Specialty coffee refers to the whole process from farmer to cup using single origin coffee.
It refers to the way the coffee is roasted and how it is extracted.
Specialty coffee was first used in 1974 by Erna Knutsen in an issue of Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. Knutsen used this term to describe beans of the best flavor which are produced in special microclimates.
According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), coffee which scores 80 points or above on a 100-point scale is graded "specialty."
Countries known for producing specialty coffee are Colombia, Ethiopia, Brazil and Indonesia.
Answer to the Question of the Day:
What the experiences like at Blue Bottle Coffee and Le Pain Quotidien?
Le Pain Quotidien (French for the daily bread) is a bakery-restaurant group founded in Brussels in 1990 by Alain Coumont.
It is an international chain of bakery-restaurants.
It carries an array of baked goods and coffee drinks as well as a dine-in food menu.
Founder Alain Coumont opened Le Pain Quotidien on 26 October 1990 at 16 rue Dansaert in Brussels, Belgium.
As a young chef, Coumont was dissatisfied with the quality of bread available in Brussels, so he began making his own, mixing flour, water and salt into the familiar loaves of his childhood.
He furnished the store with cabinets scoured from antique stores and a large table purchased at a local flea market: the first of Le Pain Quotidien’s many communal tables.
Gradually, items were added to the menu to complement the bread, including pastries, salads, beverages, tartines (traditional, open-faced sandwiches) and specialty retail products.
Within a few months, ten Le Pain Quotidien bakeries were open in Brussels. The first in the United States opened on Madison Avenue in New York City in 1997.
Expansion continued in the US with Los Angeles, and in 2004 the company's headquarters were established in New York.
The headquarters are currently located at 50 Broad Street in New York City's Financial District.
Vincent Herbert was the chief executive officer (CEO) of PQ Licensing S.A. since 2003, managing the company-owned United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, Paris and Australia operations and overseeing the international franchises.
In February 2018, it was announced that Herbert would step down after 17 years as CEO, and would be succeeded on 1 March by Jerry Gamez, who has worked at Burger King and Walmart.
A common theme in all Le Pain Quotidien locations is a long, wooden "communal table".
For the first restaurant in Brussels, founder Alain Coumont found a large table made of wood reclaimed from the floors of retired Belgian trains.
Le Pain Quotidien currently operates more than 260 bakery-restaurant locations worldwide in 20 countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, India, Switzerland, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Turkey, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Russia, Argentina, Japan, Hong Kong and the United States.
The United States, United Kingdom, Belgium and Paris restaurants are fully company-owned and operated, while all other international Le Pain Quotidien restaurants are franchised.
The first location in the US opened in 1997 in Manhattan.
Blue Bottle Coffee, Inc. is a coffee roaster and retailer headquartered in Oakland, California, United States.
In 2017, a majority stake in the company was acquired by Nestlé.
It is considered a major player in third wave coffee.
The company focuses on single-origin beans.
The company while based in Oakland, California soon expanded to other areas around the country.
Blue Bottle first expanded to several cafés in locations around San Francisco, including the Ferry Building and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's rooftop garden.
The company operated 29 stores in 2016, and it anticipates having more than 50 cafes open by end of 2017 in California, New York, Washington, Miami and Tokyo.
W. James Freeman founded Blue Bottle Coffee in the early 2000s in Oakland, CA, borrowing the name from one of Europe's first cafes, The Blue Bottle Coffee House.
His intention was to roast coffee in small batches (6 lbs. per roast) to sell within 24 hours of roasting, initially as a home-delivery service. Blue Bottle soon ceased deliveries and opened as a traditional cafe.
Blue Bottle opened additional locations in San Francisco and elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, and then opened its first New York location in 2010.
The company-owned stores carry off-menu items such as the "Gibraltar", a form of cortado.
In 2012, Blue Bottle received $20 million in venture capital investment.
In January 2014, Blue Bottle raised $25.75 million in new round of funding.
In 2015, Blue Bottle completed a venture capital round in which it raised $70 million+ from investors led by Fidelity.
Since its inception, the company has raised $120 million from investors.
In September 2017, Nestle S.A., the world's largest food and drinks company, acquired a majority stake of Blue Bottle.
While the deal's financial details were not disclosed, the Financial Times reported "Nestle is understood to be paying up to $500m for the 68 per cent stake in Blue Bottle".
Blue Bottle expects to increase sales by 70% in 2017.
In September 2018, Blue Bottle Coffee opened its first location in Kobe, Japan.
In 2019 the company opened in the Prudential Center in Boston.
Note that Blue Bottle has a perfected technique for making a great cup of American-style coffee.
Here’s the link:
Good Morning on this Saturday, the Sixteenth of March.
Today we talked about the café experience, the weather and London Broil, slow-roasted and then Seared/Broiled simultaneously.
And we warned against thinking that winter is entirely done yet.
We posted an elephant joke and discussed third wave coffee and specialty coffee, relying, as we always do, on Wikipedia for the information.
And Howard posted another in his series on cafe life.
The q and a for the day taught us something about two excellent international coffee companies, Le Pain Quotidien and Blue Bottle Coffee.
And now? Gotta go.
Che vuoi? Le pocketbook?
See you soon.