Discussing N’awlins Style BBotE Again

One of the reasons I make these posts here is so that I can have them handy to go reference later when my faculties are failing me.  So, when someone asked me again if I could make a N’awlins-style chicory BBotE I said to myself, “Aha!  You’ve already answered this one.  Email the link, you’re home free and it’s martini time.”  Alas, when I went hunting I discovered that the post disappeared into the black hole of server migration.  So, here it is again with entirely new words and a couple months extra thinking.

As you may or may not be aware, the chicory referred to in N’awlins coffee is a roasted root of the endive family that has little or nothing to do with coffee beans and has no caffeine.  So, why would you ever use it?  Answer: it tastes somewhat like coffee with an interesting “rooty” flavor when roasted.  That’s nice, but why would use it instead of coffee?  Answer: because sometimes you don’t have any coffee.

In times of deprivation, usually war and/or winter in Europe, something had to be done to bulk out the coffee supplies until fresh shipments arrived from abroad.  The Napoleonic Wars and the decade following the Year Without A Summer were a grim time to be a coffee drinker; luckily chicory does relatively well with cold and weak sunlight.  Or as a merchant you could increase your inventory by “stepping on” your coffee with chicory, to use the heroin and cocaine parlance.

Of course, coffee had always been something of a luxury that the poor of the 17th, 18th & 19th century never really had.   Chicory had the advantage of being more readily soluble in water which meant you could get more the roasted “coffee” flavor with less raw material than coffee required.  Make fun of the third world if you like, but as home to the former colonial coffee plantations their inhabitants were enjoying a better and purer coffee than what got sent home to their imperial overlords.  Taken from this point of view, coffee mixed with chicory very likely was the normal flavor of coffee for most of the western world as recently as World War One and saw a resurgence during the Great Depression.  Of course, New Orleans had always been making their morning brew this way as they stayed close to their chronically short-of-coffee French roots (yes, I should be summarily shot for that pun).

Anyway, when asked if I’d be willing to try a N’awlins the first time I gave it a bit of a think and decided to learn a bit more about chicory.  If anything, making BBotE has been an education in the pharmacopoeia of coffee, highlighting the presence of things other than caffeine in the coffee bean and suggesting that I might be doing a preferential extraction of the chemicals present.  The very first thing I ran across was that the a category of pharmaceutical effect I’d never heard of for several of the extracted oils: emmenagogue – promotes or stimulates menstration; in high doses can function as an abortifact.

In light of this discovery, N’awlins BBotE seems like a Terrible Bad No Good Idea for half of the human race, especially if the extraction of those chicory oils is anywhere near as efficient as the pull for caffeine seems to be.

Sometimes the best science is the bit you don’t do.

BBotE Experimentation – Caffe Vita’s Guatemala Mundo Nuvo

Following Test Subject Zitron’s ebullient article on the Huffington Post, I received a flurry of emails.  Some of them were not offers for male enhancement.  One was from the nice folks at Caffe Vita who asked if I was interested in experimenting with their wares and if I would be so kind as to share the results with the world.

As if you could stop me from doing so.  Much to Funranium Mom’s despair, and now my Lovely Assistant, it is nigh impossible to shut me up when there is something I am itching to share.  And oh my, is there a scratch…

I felt the best approach for comparison was to ask for a region I’d already tested extensively from a variety of farms, roasters, and roasts (Ethiopia) and for something that they were proud of, something that got them excited.  This is akin to how I test new bartenders; I will ask for a drink that I love and make extremely well myself (the exquisite Manhattan) and then I will ask them to “show me their moves” as Dance Dance Revolution says.  I judge by my standard and then I prepare to be wowed by their standard.  Caffe Vita did not disappoint, providing a statistically significant quantity of their Ethiopia Nigusie Lemma and Guatemala Mundo Nuvo (no link available).

A Bounty Of Caffe Vita Coffee

A Bounty Of Caffe Vita Coffee

The challenge is to catch everything that was observed in this coffee’s BBotE.  The overwhelming consensus is that, regardless of form (hot & dilute, straight & cold, or mixed with vodka), toffee/chocolate is the dominating flavor but far from the only one.

And while the consensus of was chocolatey delight for flavor, the smell that stuck me most dramatically was that of pipe tobacco.  As a child, I used to love stealing my great-grandfather tobacco pouch and smelling it.  During extraction, I was instantly transported back to the that pouch with the Southern Railway logo.  To others, the nose was generally found to be a bitey toffee aroma.  And I quote, “A pleasant piquancy you never get off a Christmas toffee”.  Yes, someone has spent too much time pretending to be a Victorian toff, so forgive him.

As a hot water dilution, I found a similar martini-like dry sensation to other Guatemalans I’ve tested but only on the front sides of the tongue, which played well with the rich butter pecan flavor.  On the exhale, it was strangely floral.  As a son of the Great State of Florida this could just be my flower programming, but I swear it was hibiscus.

Straight and cold BBotE, as stated before, varying degrees of chocolate were claimed by the tasters with a creaminess familiar from the coating fats of the Ethiopia & Colombia Finca Yara tests of yore.  It tasted decidedly sweet and salty milk chocolate to me with a nice earthy/buttery coating character.  One claim was made for shortbread, calling to the creamy buttery flavor, and we could see that.  A nutty/fruity note was also claimed, though those claims were all over the map of stone fruits.  I was inclined toward apricots, but that pecan was strong.  Such is the challenge with the experiential flavor reference library of the mind trying to put words to flavors.

By far the most interesting response was from Test Subject James’ jalapeno sullied palate.  And I quote, “Briny, canned tuna…but sweet with chocolate.  I like it!”  I think there may be a future for hard chocolate shell encapsulated sashimi.  Foster’s Freeze and Starkist should get together it seems…

When combined with vodka for the customary test of alcohol opening, the typical increase in sweetness was observed in the BBotE but with a muting of the pleasant piquant bite.  Otherwise, no significant change flavor just a lengthening the the duration of aftertaste.

Because I can’t leave well enough alone and thought the flavor complex enough that something interesting might happen, I mixed a modicum of the Mundo Nuvo BBotE into a glass of absinthe over ice.  It became “annis Oreos”.  Chocolate, creamy, pricking of of the previously stated piquancy, a subtle absinthe bite and coolness.  Very enjoyable.

Another batch is running now to check for reproducibility of flavor.

Next: Caffe Vita’s Ethiopia Nigusie Lemma

Oh, Canada.

A great hue and cry has been rising up from the northlands, primarily from Vancouver and Toronto, with honorable mention to Calgary and Halifax, asking the following:


Some of you used very colorful metaphors, explicatives, imperatives, and biological impossibilities.  I understand people getting emotional about BBotE and Steins of Science, I really do, but I’m glad Funranium Mom has not been giving the task of mail reader.  She has a delicate constitution and can’t take such maple crazed imagery.  Strangely, a similar declaration of vexation has not come from Mexico and the Caribbean.  Go figure.

It is the same answer as why it is so expensive for everywhere else in the world: Customs and, in the case of BBotE, perishability.

As far as the United States Postal Service is concerned, London, Ontario is no different than London, England.  They only really start getting concerned when I ask them to ship something with tracking and insurance to the dark heart of Africa (quote: “3-5 days?  To Kinshasa?!?! You gotta be kidding me.”)  Slower shipping works for the steins, but BBotE must go global express to get to you in a timely manner.  And no, UPS and FedEx are decidedly not cheaper.

So, what is a Canuck in need to do?  Speaking from my experience taking several liters of delicious alcohol and BBotE to Australia and New Zealand, evidence suggests that Immigration & Quarantine officers are somewhat uninterested in bottles of hypercoffee, though they are very concerned by sausages.

Step 1 – Make a friend in an American border town.

Step 2 – Have said friend purchase delights on your behalf.

Step 3 – Come to America and pay said friend for their trouble.  I also suggest buying them a beer.

Step 4 – Return home where the beavers and bison frolic freely.

In so doing, you are reversing the Bronfman Montreal liquor trade from the Prohibition Era but with caffeine.  Really, it’s only fair.

I Don’t Even Like To Think About It

And I apologize for broaching the topic before the high holy days of the Halloween/Birthday-tide season have passed, but *INSERT WINTER HOLIDAY CELEBRATION OF CHOICE* here is approaching.  Talking to the people I was taking money from while playing poker on Tuesday, they made the black cold dread of the imminent holiday shopping creep up my spine.

For Black Blood of the Earth, the concern is somewhat ameliorated by the fact that I am not running at the full 6L/day production capacity right now.  I can accommodate some ridiculous coffee demands (although I might make some local roasters upset/happy by rapidly depleting their supplies) but eventually, like Scotty, I’ll be givin’ ‘er all I’ve got, Cap’n.  If it gets to that point, I will start snapping some purchasing limits down on the BBotE to make sure that I can meet the production in a timely manner.  If you know that you are going to want a large quantity of BBotE, let me know ASAP so I can plan the schedule (hyper-caffeinated holiday parties have to be at least as fun as hep’d up weddings).

For Steins of Science, I normally quote a three week production lead time with first-com first-serve as I build to meet demand, following a good Just-In-Time inventory model.  In slow times, I tend to get steins out within the week they are ordered and I have only overrun the three week estimate once.  Of course, anyone who has worked a Kanban production line can let you know exactly how fun it gets when the supply lines don’t run right.  I have some concerns about a December rush, so I definitely recommend doing steins sooner rather than later just in case.

There, now the cold black dread has been transferred from me to all of you.  I’m gonna go hide under my desk again now if you don’t mind.

Announcing Brad, BBotE Pimp of Greater Santa Barbara

Mr. Brad Hubbard, the humble soul responsible for the current fourth iteration of this website, has declared his undying devotion to the Black Blood, held the sword & rope in judgment among his brethren & sistren, and not been found wanting.  In so doing, he has been anointed Pimp of Greater Santa Barbara with all rights, duties, privileges, and cocktails incumbent thereon.  His measurements will be available in the 2012 Funranium Labs centerfold spread and he shall have his first case of 750ml bottles available for local distribution this Friday if the winds are true.

You may contact him to arrange your fix by emailing: bbote [at] bradhubbard [dot] net

Goleta, represent!