Ben’s Brew Blog #3: Nizza

Take a deep breath. Think about the place where you go to escape. I mean really escape for a moment of personal peace and quiet – your own mental tropical deserted island, your own mountainside cabin. Take another breath, close your eyes, and be there. Feel better?

For me and many other La Colombe folks, our Nizza blend is our coffee “quiet place.” It’s the coffee we always come back to after coffee experimenting and exploring. It simply feels like home (or the beach, or mountainside cabin). From the fragrance of the grinding, to the aroma of the brewing, and finally the sweet balanced flavors in the cup.

la colombe nizza espresso

Part of the beauty of being a barista at La Colombe is that I get to work very closely with all of our coffees. Since Nizza is used in all La Colombe cafes as our house espresso blend, I have become quite familiar with this coffee. As an espresso, Nizza has flavors of caramel and almond, with a subtle floral acidity. It has a creamy, medium body and a sweet finish with touches of cocoa. It is an extremely classic espresso, which is quite welcoming to many, many palettes. Because I have gotten to know this blend so well, I use it to test out new brewing methods that are unfamiliar to me.

Most recently, I have begun to brew with a Chemex (check it out here) at home. I love how clean Chemex-brewed coffee turns out. It really allows the subtleties of a coffee to shine through. The filter for Chemex is pretty heavy, so it really cleans up the fines that sneak into your ground coffee. It also absorbs some of the natural oils that occur in coffee, hence its “clean” mouth feel. One thing I love about brewing coffee (in this case, Nizza) with the Chemex is that you get the full aroma of the coffee while it brews. It kind of fakes out my brain in thinking that I’m about to drink an espresso. Aside from the big-difference-in-mouth feel, I still get those notes of almond and caramel in my Chemex brews, but it’s softer, and more stretched out over the palate. Also, with filtered coffee, you can let the cup develop as the coffee cools down. It’s during this time that I get the more floral aspects of the blend to pop out. Another thing which I really like about the Chemex, unlike the AeroPress (Ben’s Brew Blog #2), I can also brew enough coffee to share with friends. Sharing is caring, after all! Stay tuned for a Chemex brewing lesson from my main men up at the La Colombe HQ. Todd C. and James are working on really cool videos about their preferred Chemex methods which we will share in a couple of months!

ben contois la colombe

I know that it has been some time since my last post, and I’ve missed you all! As you may or may not know, La Colombe was one of many great sponsors of the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s 2013 Exposition. The event ran from April 11-14, and we had a sweet satellite cafe featuring our freshest single origin coffees. I had the pleasure of being there with not only Todd and J.P., but many other awesome and talented La Colombe folks. A full recap of my experience at SCAA 2013 – The Event (my first SCAA event ever actually!) is on its way soon! Check out the photo album on our Facebook in the meantime. Take care, and drink great coffee!

Photo credit: Theo Constantinou

8 Comments on Ben’s Brew Blog #3: Nizza

  1. I have to wonder if you have brewed Nizza using a vacuum pot such as a Bodum and if so what your impression of the results were. My wife gave me my Bodum vacuum pot a couple of years ago and it has become my preferred method of brewing for myself and company.

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    • bensbrewblog // April 23, 2013 at 8:13 pm // Reply

      Hi Jeff! Thanks for getting in touch! To be honest, I have not brewed a lot of coffee using a traditional Vacuum Pot/Syphon system. From what I have experienced, I feel like Nizza would be just as tasty in a vacuum pot as a Chemex or a French press brew. The vacuum pot is a hybrid method in that it is a full immersion extraction process (like a French press), and is also more finely filtered (like a pour over). It’s quite a coincidence that you mention the Vacuum Pot. La Colombe has just installed a series of machines in our cafes called the “Steam Punk” from Alpha Dominche. It is a new brewing device which creates a vacuum to move brewing water, and then finally brewed coffee between two glass chambers (we call them crucibles), but it’s powered by a water boiler like in espresso machines. I am not sure where you are writing from Jeff, but if you are nearby to Philly (Dilworth Plaza/City Hall), New York City (NoHo/4th and LaFayette Sts.), or Chicago (West Loop/Randolph and Morgan Sts.), you gotta come check out our new gear! We have been featuring some of our freshest single-origin coffees from the Steam Punk. Which coffee is your favorite to share (or keep all to yourself)? Thanks again Jeff!

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  2. Ben, I’m in central Vermont but do find myself in Manhattan a few times a year. I’ve ordered some of your single origins in the past, really enjoyed the Ethiopian that was in the Dangerous Grounds show as well as the Papua New Guinea. Up here in the hinterland my choice for freshest roasts is http://www.vtartisan.com/ Vermont Artisan Coffee and Tea.

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    • bensbrewblog // April 24, 2013 at 7:55 pm // Reply

      Jeff, I used to live in Vermont from 2003-2007 while at Johnson State College. I certainly miss the Green Mountain State from time to time, but have certainly found a home here in Philly. Vermont Artisan Coffee Roasters were my go to beans while I lived there. Of the current La Colombe single-origins, I think you should try the coffee from Bolivia and our newest from Kenya and Costa Rica. We also are getting in some coffee from Panama that is absolutely gorgeous. Keep your eyes peeled for it! Thanks Jeff, it’s been great messaging with you. Stay in touch!

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  3. Hey Ben,

    Nice blog, you speak about coffee with a lot of love and passion. I had a quick noob question. Does the color of the coffee have anything to do with the strength/caffeine content? I’ve always assumed the darker the coffee the stronger it is. Is this true? Is it possible to have a nice flavor full cup with out the instant shot of adrenaline?

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    • bensbrewblog // May 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm // Reply

      Hi Chang!

      Thanks for your kind words! Thank you as well for a great question (kind of a “Stump your Barista” style)! So I’ve done a little bit of research and the clearest, shortest answer to your question is: Not exactly. So let me explain a little bit as to why there is not one simple way to sum this all up.

      Now the “color” which you are referring to is also described as its “Roast Profile”. Darker roasted coffees tend to eliminate the more subtle flavor characteristics of the coffee, whether it is a single-origin bean, or a blend of coffees. Darker roasted coffees also have more “roasty” flavors from simply being in the coffee roaster for longer amounts of time (read: burnt). Another side of this question which leaves the answer open ended is that every coffee bean has it’s own caffeine content to begin with. It is also understood that darker roasts tend to roast off some of the beans caffeine content, but the reduction isn’t drastic. Now with the end part of your question about still feeling that rush of caffeine (or “adrenaline” as you put it), even with a coffee which we know could potentially have slightly less caffeine due to it’s darker roast profile, you may be thinking “how is this possible?”. Like I said every coffee bean has it’s own caffeine content. It depends on it’s country of origin, the quality of the farmers growing practices, and most importantly the type or genus of the coffee. The most commercially used coffee is of the Arabica genus, the second most used coffee is of the Robusta genus. Robusta is cheaper and easier to grow, less susceptible coffee leave rust disease (which is becoming a major problem for specialty coffee farmers), and higher in caffeine content. Some Robusta’s can have as much as three times the amount of caffeine as Arabica coffees.

      So make sure to purchase your coffee from a reputable coffee roaster (like La Colombe!) which never cuts it’s blends with low-quality Robusta coffee, and make sure your brewing method and ratios are proper so you can achieve that dream cup of coffee without the shakes afterward. Thanks again for your great question Chang, let me know if you have any more questions!

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  4. Ben, Thank you very much for the response. It’s refreshing to read that you take the time and effort to research a question if you don’t know the answer off the top of your head. Based on your answer is there a particular roast you would recommend? I’m assuming a single-origin bean with a dark roast profile would be the way to go?

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  5. Thanks for any info. // May 8, 2016 at 5:07 pm // Reply

    Hey, how many of this style posts should we have?-I find them really helpful and want to keep them printed out (If they can be printed.) in my kitchen. Is it possible that there was never a number five?

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