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Monday, February 14, 2011

Greek Coffee

I had too much coffee today.  But, after I had finished my triple Americano, one of the coffee shop regulars at Zocalo Coffeehouse in San Leandro showed up with his portable coffee gear.  This is a style of coffee that he makes at his home in Greece and it is quite interesting.  As you can see, his portable gear consists of a 35 year old MSR camp stove, a Greek coffee maker and a bottle of fuel.  We used both a Greek brand of coffee, Bravo, and with Zocalo's house blend. 
As you can see, like any camp stove, it takes a bit to get the flame stabilized and the element heated up.  For those that don't know, that tin cup is not the coffee maker, that is the old cup that holds the stove.  Ancient stuff here.  The Bravo coffee is not a gourmet item, unless you allow for the fact that it is completely labeled in Greek and came from Greece.  Apparently in Greece, this is a very common household item.  It was ground extremely fine, beyond espresso grind.  It's texture was almost like cinnamon in texture.  The coffee was ladled into the cold water in the coffee maker, 2 to 2.5 teaspoons for about 4 demitasse of water.  Sugar is also added, 2 to 3 teaspoons is apparently the norm.  This is heated over the stove until just shy of boiling.  Naturally, the coffee should not be boiled.
The great thing about this method, is that the coffee will tell you when it is ready.  As the coffee approaches the boil, it starts to give off a 'crema' of sorts that floats at the top of the pot.  This even looks like the 'crema' on an espresso.  The foam color you are looking for is the classic light tan, with some tiger striping of lighter and darker tans.  If the 'crema' turns dark, it is burned.  Here is a shot of the Zocalo House blend 'crema' which was darker than the Bravo.
The interesting thing was the range of flavors, the ligther roasted Bravo brand gave a simpler flavor, but, with a clear nut and fruit profile.  It was quite sweet since the sugar was added.  The sweetness is not quite like a 'Cuban' Espresso  with it caramelized flavors, it is more a simple sweetness.  We tried two types of sugar and you could taste the difference between the unwashed Turbinado and the regular granulated cane sugar.  The Zocalo House blend, which is not my favorite coffee bean, was totally different with a richer overall texture and flavor showing the spice, wine and roast qualities typical of this blend.  It is much better this way.  We also cut the sugar back on this brew which is much more to my liking.  As you can see, there is a float of oil on the top of the coffee which is what I would expect in any good coffee extraction.
This represents essentially  double shot of espresso, which means, if you allow for a triple Americano, and three double Greek coffees, I had 9 shots of coffee. WHEEEEE!

My stomach hurts.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article. I am new in San Leandro and Zocalo Coffeehouse is fist place to visit in my list.