Category Archives: Coffee

Cold-Pressed Coffee using an Aeropress

By | Coffee | 16 Comments

This post is intended for anyone who loves and appreciates a good coffee and is interested in finding out about some cool coffee-making techniques. If you don’t like coffee, heck, you can still read. It’s free.

If you are a regular reader of The Food Blog, you would know that I left the world of employment in January and am currently self-employed. This change has had a hugely positive impact on my life. I am healthier and more energetic; I have more freedom with my schedule and am spending a huge amount of quality time with my family. Though this may be a short lived state of being, seeing that I will more than certainly have to go back to employment at some point, I am doing my best to enjoy the here and the now.

Though things are all rosy at the moment, there’s no denying that employment did have its benefits. There’s the professional side of things. My previous role did wonders for my skills in software development. You learn so much when you are surrounded by people who know more than you do. Then, there’s the social aspect – the friends you make, the lunches and the coffees. Oh man, do I miss the coffee. You see, my previous employer was a short stroll away from one of my favourite cafes, Mecca Espresso on King Street, Sydney. I wrote about these guys previously, discussing Mecca’s wonder machine, the Clover, which can brew coffee under extremely accurate conditions of time and temperature. In my opinion, their espresso is one of the best in town. But alas, their coffee is no longer a daily ritual of mine.

It seems the dream of having readily available, high quality coffee is one that I constantly approach and then always see drift away. I live in Flemington – a barren wasteland populated by an atheist, coffee-bastardising society waiting to hear the good word according to the Gospel of St Bean. But it wasn’t always like this. I had it good, goddammit! I lived in Newtown for 4 years, literally two doors down from Campos Coffee. I visited these guys so often that I could have put down a deposit on a house with the money I spent there. But there are no regrets. Campos pours an amazing cup. Owner Will Young was one of the first people in Sydney to produce coffee of such excellent quality and consistency. In fact, the first coffee/god moment I ever experienced was from a Campos coffee. I never knew coffee could taste that sublime.

(1- Campos Micro-Lot Coffee. 2- The parts of an Aeropress. 3 and 4 – Coldpressing with an Aeropress)

Will Young is experienced at raising the bar, if you get my drift. He recently opened a cupping room above the Newtown premises where people can go and sample different types of high quality beans. He is also supporting small growers that grow beans exclusively for his shops. On a recent visit, I nabbed the last bag of his most expensive single origin coffee ($15.00 for 250grams, way too much for a self-employed person to spend), labelled “Guatemala Finca, El Triangulo” following a suggestion from Ben the Barista Man. To appreciate this coffee, I went for a cold drip method, but instead of “dripping” the coffee, I pressed it with my Aeropress.

The Aeropress is one heck of an invention. My father in law bought me one as a present and it has been well used in the Kassab household. It’s basically a cylinder with a filter that gets filled with coffee and hot water, mixed and left to extract for 10 or 20 seconds and then pressed, like you would with a syringe, by the process of vacuum (see pictures). I own a Gaggia espresso machine which I no longer use, and instead, I stick with the Aeropress. It’s that good. If you’re not convinced, consider this. Both Mecca and Campos sell an Aeropress. If they think it’s good, chances are, so will you. My advice is that you get one. It’s cheap (I think it’s around $30 or less), easy to use, easier to clean and makes surprisingly sensational coffee.

To produce a cold-pressed coffee, I mixed 3 Aeropress scoops of plunger-ground coffee with 1 cup of room temperature water and left it alone for 12 hours. I then extracted the coffee using the Aeropress. A bit of ice and half a cup’s worth of coffee, and we’re done. Iced coffee like you’ve never experienced. The beauty of cold-pressing or cold extraction is that the entire aroma in the coffee stays intact, instead of being destroyed by heat. The method really showcases the flavours of this wonderful single origin: loads of fruit (I tasted blackberries and cherries), low acid, almost no bitterness and a huge hit of chocolate and caramel. And a good caffeine hit to boot.

Have you been to Campos or to Mecca? Have you tried Aeropress coffee? Leave a comment and let me and other readers know about it.


Clover Coffee- A New Way to Experience The World’s Finest Beans

By | Coffee, Reviews, Sydney Reviews | 5 Comments

Mecca Espresso’s Clover brewed coffee. At $5 a cup, you’re in for a unique coffee experience.

We’ve come a long way. Five years ago, buying a coffee in Sydney CBD was like playing Russian roulette, though, the odds of getting a killer coffee was even less favourable than 1 in 6. We all have nightmares where we relive the moments we were handed disaster in a cup: a sea of boiling hot milk and an extraction of an over roasted bean from a non-determinate origin or era, weak in structure, lacking in flavour, overpowered by bitterness and topped with a turbulent foam and air bubbles of gigantic proportions.

Mecca’s menu doesn’t give justice to how much these guys love their coffee

Things have changed drastically thanks to our coffee pioneers who showed Sydney what coffee was meant to be. Living two doors down from Campos Coffee in Newtown, I practically saw Will Young change the cafe scene single handed. The bar was defined and raised, and as more and more people experienced what a good coffee could taste like, the new face of Sydney’s coffee culture started emerging, and the debate of what coffee is best began. But sure enough as with all things food, there is a natural progression in our understanding of what defines the best coffee.

The $15,000 Clover. Could this be the holy grail of brewed coffee?

There is a movement in our understanding that no longer accepts one definition of a good coffee, but instead tries to cover more depth and breadth in the coffee experience. The depth is in terms of our knowledge of the bean itself; its origin, altitude, varietal, drying process and seasonality, and the breadth is in terms of the methods of preparing the final cup. Sydney is almost strictly an espresso drinking city, but espresso is certainly not the only way to drink coffee. The Middle-East is big on Turkish coffee and the Americans and much of Europe favour the drip method, and then there are experimental brewing means such as the vacuum method or our main topic, the Clover, a very unique method of preparing coffee. And to sample the Clover’s unique brew, you need to make a pilgrimage to Mecca Espresso.

Paul Geshos pours in the freshly ground Ethiopian Yirga Cheffe into the temperature controlled water

The long queues of caffeine craving business people at the CBD’s Mecca Espresso may give you a clue about the quality of the coffee that owner Paul Geshos (who I met at our first secret dinner) and his crew of passionate baristas bring to the masses. However there are no big banners or signs telling you about how seriously these guys take their coffee. And boy are they serious. Mecca not only roasts its own, but goes to great lengths sourcing high quality, interesting and unique beans. Direct relations have been formed with geographically diverse growers of high quality coffee, some a unique niche whose produce is sold exclusively to Mecca.

The Clover is a world of exactness when it comes to brewing time and temperature

The attitude to selecting a bean is as rigorous as that of a wine maker, which takes into account the location and the altitude of the growing regions, along with seasonality and the method in which the berries are dried and handled. With the quality and variety of beans available, a coffee maker such as Mecca that possesses the inquisitive Australian spirit is driven to explore this diversity by focusing on single origin coffees, in an effort to appreciate the nuances of the terroir and growing process and how these variables affect flavour.

The coffee is then stirred and left to brew for around 55 seconds

That’s where the Clover comes in. The Clover (short of Coffee Lover) is a high-tech piece of machinery that simply allows a barista to select the exact temperature and brewing time for a coffee. This exactness and science applied to brewed coffee puts the Clover on par with the commercial espresso machine. The Clover was designed by an independent design company as they were researching a brewing technique for Starbucks, who was looking for a way to overcharge Americans for brewed coffee. Before the company was fully taken over by Starbucks, coffee shops had the opportunity to own a Clover, at the measly price of $11,000 USD. Since the takeover, only the Clovers that remain in circulation are the machines available for the general public. So you see what I mean when I say Mecca is serious about coffee, having spent $15000 AUD to acquire the Clover. Paul knows of only 3 other cafes in Australia that own a Clover.

After the exact brewing time is done, the Clover uses vacuum to separate the brew from the grind. The grind then rises as a disk to the top.

At Mecca, coffee for the Clover is roasted at a lower temperature than that for normal espresso. Espresso is a short, strong, concentrated drink. Clover brewed coffee is enjoyed over a longer period of time, and the flavour and complexity of the coffee bean itself is preserved, as the bean’s sugars are less caramelised. You will find yourself using wine terms to describe the flavours of a Clover coffee: fruity (watermelon, stone fruit, berries), earthy, crisp, complex, spicy, etc… At $5 a cup, it’s certainly not cheap, compared to an espresso, so you might not replace your three short blacks a day for a Clover. But bear in mind that the coffee used for the Clover is usually of an extremely high quality, which can cost up to ten times the amount of that used in espresso. So you can choose to spend $5 at the pub for a VB, or you can sample some of the most unique coffees in the world… Don’t buy a VB. A Clover coffee is well worth the price tag, and depending on the coffee used on the day, you will get to immerse yourself into a unique world region and taste experience. It is not better than an espresso, but rather a totally different drink, one that will give you much insight and pleasure.

The disk of ground coffee rises to the surface, dry and dark. It looks like a chocolate biscuit…

Single origin coffees available/coming soon to Mecca Espresso

Yirga Cheffe
• Aricha Selection 16
• Beloya Selection 16

El Salvador:
Alta Mira Estate
Natural Process
Special Preparation for Mecca
Cup of Excellence

La Pedrera
Cup of Excellence

Costa Rica:
High Altitude (1900 m)
Helsar De Zacery
Villa Sarchi Varietal

Fazenda Fortaleza
Joao Hamilton
Experimental Process for Mecca, producing only 60 bags a year in total

Mecca Espresso
Address: 67 King Street Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: 02 9299 8828