Espresso Catering – Vineyard Bridal Shower

Being a newcomer to Vancouver, I was unfamiliar with certain places around the city. There are always new surprises around the corner for each and every event that I do espresso catering for. But on this one particular event, I was told that the event would take place at a vineyard. I didn’t realize that there are vineyards so close to the city. I knew that BC was a producer of fine wines, but I suspected somewhere far away in the vast province. Wrong I was. Only a 45 minute drive took me to wine country with valleys of grapes and the scenery much like you’d expect to see in the countryside of Italy. This took place during the middle of the heat wave in June 2021, with the temperature soaring past 40 degrees.

The bride’s family and friends had gathered there to enjoy an afternoon of celebrations . The event planner had organized a few carts at the venue, one with flowers, one with cocktails, and one with appetizers. My coffee cart was located near the entrance, looking out over the vast vineyard landscapes, and the other side, facing the guests.

Needless to say, when the temperature reaches into the 40 degrees, most people prefer iced drinks. You might be surprised to know that at this event, most people had their coffees hot, and the mocha seemed to be the most popular.

Bridal showers are always such special celebrations. Being a man, I haven’t attended any bridal showers until getting into this business. And now, I have learned that there are some traditions that take place at bridal showers, involving activities including games that show the guests’ knowledge of the bride, and also making dresses out of toilet paper! Who knew? But of course, it is a celebration to congratulate the soon-to-be bride on her upcoming marriage, which is a great reason to celebrate indeed.

And remember folks, when you’re outside in the hot summer – drink coffee…- and stay hydrated!

Espresso Catering – Spring Celebration at the Office

When I first started this espresso catering business, I imagined all of the different places that a mobile cafe might be needed. The first kinds of events that came to mind were parties, weddings, and special occasions. It didn’t occur to me until later that the office would be a setting in which a coffee cart would be appreciated.

On this particular day in spring 2022, I was serving coffee for the employees at an office downtown. Even though there was a cafe in the lobby of their building, still I was hired to do the coffee catering. It was a celebration of spring, the time when life begins again, flowers bloom, and hearts are full. Family members of the employees came to the office for appetizers, coffee and to socialize. They were chatting together with coffees in hand, and I felt so good to serve coffee and to see the hard-working team of people with their families on the weekend enjoying life, enjoying spring.

And so here I was, with my coffee cart, in an office, with new people. The feeling that the coffee cart fit in so well to the office, that serving coffee was helping to bring the spring feeling, that life can begin again with a warm sip of coffee.

Espresso Catering – Private Party

Last year, October 2021, I had the great privilege to serve at a friend’s celebration of being sober. The party was being held in the lounge of an upscale restaurant downtown. In the lounge, there was a bar with a bartender serving non-alcoholic beverages, and servers handing out small dishes of food for the tables. The party went on late into the evening. I had never imagined that my espresso catering services would be required for such an event. But somewhere in the middle of it all, I had the realization of how natural it felt. My coffee cart was appreciated by the guests, and I had a profound satisfaction to be a part of and serving the good people celebrating an effort to becoming sober.

It was a reminder that new breakthroughs are always at our fingertips, and we must stretch out and accept new opportunities as they come. When we imagine venturing into something new, we are often faced with doubt and uncertainty. It requires courage to put ourselves in a challenging situation and seeing it through. That is a fact. But that is where growth happens. That is where breakthroughs happen.

As with coffee and espresso catering, I am always amazed to see where my coffee cart will take me. I try to embrace and adapt to the new environments I am surrounded by, and find how I fit into it, and then find how I can conduct myself to better serve the people around me. It is something that requires practice and something that I am still learning about, but with all things, practice makes perfect.

Arabica and Robusta. What’s the difference?

I see many people confuse coffee “strength” or, caffeine content, with roast styles. A lot of times people associate a “stronger” (higher caffeine) coffee with a darker roast. This simply isn’t true. The content of caffeine in your coffee depends largely on the type of coffee beans you are using.

There are 2 types of coffee beans. Arabica and Robusta. And so what’s the difference?

To begin with, Arabica makes up most of the coffee produced and most of the coffee that we drink. It grows in a high altitude near the equator and is very particular in terms of where it can grow. Robusta on the other hand, can grow at lower altitudes and is less susceptible to pests, making it cheaper and easier to produce.

The Arabica bean has a better taste than robusta. Often you will find high quality coffees that use 100% Arabica. But it is important to note that Arabica has about half the caffeine content of Robusta.

Because it is cheaper to buy robusta, a lot of cheaper coffees will contain a certain amount of robusta. A typical ratio may be 70% Arabica and 30% Robusta. That is not to say that it may be more or less, but when there is a higher Robusta content in the coffee, there will inevitably be more caffeine.

Of course, we expect that coffee has caffeine, and maybe it’s the reason why some of us drink it. But some people complain about caffeine sensitivity or the ill-effects caffeine has on their system. I would suggest looking to see what kind of coffee you typically drink on a regular basis, and if it is a cheaper coffee, it could be worth your while to change to a higher quality, 100% Arabica coffee instead.

To sum it all up, Robusta is cheaper and has about twice the amount of caffeine compared with Arabica. Many cheaper coffees will also use a higher ratio of Robusta, to make up for cost, hence giving you a coffee with more caffeine. On the flip side, Arabica is the higher quality bean with a better taste.

The Moka Pot

You will find this little contraption on the stovetops of almost any Italian home you visit. It is a symbol for ‘coffee-at-home’ in the eyes of Italians, and for good reason.

A lot of people are familiar with the drink you may find in your local cafe called “mocha”. But don’t confuse that chocolatey drink to the moka pot, because they are quite different. The moka pot is used for making a strong, almost espresso-like, coffee.

 It was invented by an Italian engineer named Alfonso Bialetti in 1933, and has become a household staple ever since. Bialetti is also the name of the original brand who started manufacturing moka pots, which you can still find today. They are made of aluminum and are built to stand the tests of time.

So how does it work? Using a fine espresso-like grind, put the coffee in the funnel-shaped part. Next, fill the bottom base with water up to the safety valve. Place the part with the coffee into the part with water and then screw on the top part. Place the moka pot on the stove at medium-high heat. The water will boil and the steam pressure will funnel up through the coffee and spurt out into the top chamber, resulting in a strong coffee. The concept is similar to that of an espresso machine.

So who is this for? Anyone who likes strong coffee or espresso will be very satisfied using the moka pot! It is a household staple in Italy for good reason, and Italians are known for enjoying their coffee. I would wholeheartedly recommend using this beautiful device.

Brewing Coffee at Home – Pour Over Coffee

If every morning you start your day by brewing and drinking a cup of coffee, it’s worth your while to do it right. Millions of people start their day by drinking a cup of coffee, but how many put love and care into this ritual?

My home-coffee drinking experiences range from Nescafe, drip coffee machine, hand-drip coffee, capsule-style coffee, French press, Italian-style stove top moka pot, and high-end espresso machine coffee. And which is the best and which is the worst? In this article, I will talk about pour over coffee.

If you’re drinking instant coffee, I would probably recommend switching to real coffee right away. Also, as convenient as those capsules/pods are, I would also suggest switching to buying coffee beans (ground or whole). Keurig and Nespresso are top brands that focus on producing capsule/pod style coffee for the home consumer. while they are convenient and also allow little room for error in the brewing process, I still wouldn’t recommend them. First of all, The amount of plastic waste that is produced by using one (or more) capsule(s) everyday can really increase your ecological footprint. Also healthwise, brewing coffee in plastic with hot water, is not such a wise idea. Ecological and health matters aside, you can brew much better coffee using your own beans and a hand dripper by controlling some different variables such as dose (the amount of coffee), water temperature, grind size and brew time.

Pour Over Coffee

Some arguments I hear against using a drip coffee machine at home are, “I am only brewing coffee for myself, and I can’t drink a whole pot of coffee by myself.” Well, I have some good news for you. In recent years, pour over coffee has become popular at home and also in trendy coffee shops, and this is for good reason. You can brew a great cup of coffee in a short amount of time, with only a little knowledge and technique. Most pour over coffee drippers will do the trick, but I would recommend Hario or Kalita. These are two of the best, in my opinion.

Pour over coffee involves pouring hot water over ground coffee in a coffee filter, in a dripper. By pouring slowly you can increase the the brew time and also the extraction. But be careful, if you pour too slowly you can risk over-extraction, leaving a bitter taste in your coffee. This rule also applies to pouring too fast. If the hot water goes through the coffee too quickly, it will be under-extracted and will have a sour, acidic taste. Understanding this rule, you can then understand why grind size is also important. If the coffee is ground too fine, it will take a longer time for the water to go through the coffee grounds, also resulting in an over-extracted, bitter-tasting brew. If the coffee is too course, the hot water will pass through the coffee grounds too quickly, resulting in a sour, acidic tasting coffee. This is also why I would recommend buying a coffee grinder and grinding the whole beans yourself to play around with the grind size.

Some people argue that the kettle is very important in hand drip coffee brewing, although, I have had good results with a regular kettle, as long as you can control the pouring speed with some accuracy.

To wrap it up, I believe that a good substitute for the pod/capsule style coffee is pour over coffee, and that it is a good step in the right direction for discovering your home-brewing potential! Not to mention the money you could save, and the reduction of personal plastic waste. I hope you will consider making the switch to pour over coffee, and trying out for yourself this wonderful coffee brewing tool.

Adventures of the Travelling Coffee Caterer

Dear fellow readers and coffee lovers,

Thank you for joining me on the adventures of the travelling barista. I will share some of my insights with coffee, and experiences in my mobile espresso catering with you. From place to place, I bring the cafe to all sorts of new settings, where a cafe has never been before! You will hear about some (mis)haps of mine on this locomotive coffee journey. Is that the sound of the steam whistle? Then grab your bags and tag along!