The Winter Tea Season

[flickr-photo:id=5263766909,size=""]While we are tightly focused on the seasonality of coffee, we shouldn't neglect of the seasonality of tea. It's not just that there are the famous "flushes" of Assam and Darjeeling teas throughout the year. Each of the great teas of China and Japan has their season, and each year's crop can have dramatic variation from the previous crops. For example, we've been out of Maccha (ceremonial powdered green tea) since the middle of summer thanks to a very wet winter and spring in Uji province in Japan. The quality of maccha available for import suffered enough that Intelligentsia's tea buyer (and Volta hero) Doug Palas could not find a lot of maccha without significant defects-- and thus, we've been out of maccha for months.

With winter, it's time for a rush of new teas from Asia to make it to the US market. New crop shade-grown sencha and maccha will be here in early January. By the end of January, we plan to have up to eight different oolongs on the menu, including new High Mountain oolongs from Taiwan and new Wuyi Mountain oolongs from China.

Already, new teas have made it onto the menu. Lightly Baked Qin Xin oolong is a new (to Volta) lightly oxidized tea. Qin Xin is a tea varietal that tends to grow slowly and as a result it is able to develop a soft, rich body and deep, complex flavors. Our Lightly Baked Qin Xin was hand-picked to insure consistent quality and was gently fired to preserve the delicate flavors of pine needle and wildflower. This new style tea really exemplifies the nuance of this special varietal.

The Dan Cong tea varietal is known for its distinctive aroma types that mimic the fragrances of various flowers. Our particular Dan Cong has an aroma and flavor reminiscent of the magnolia blossom-- even though no magnolia flowers are used as flavoring. The flavor is sweet and fruity with a bright floral aroma that borders on herbaceous.

Two new teas from Nepal have also made it to Gainesville. Himalayan Jade and Himalayan Oolong are the first two teas that we've tried from the region. This unique terrior produces an elegant green tea with notes of pine, fresh cut herbs, lime zest, and gardenia. Its brisk, almost effervescent character, is both assertive and yet graceful. The oolong is very lightly oxidized as is actually brewed like a green tea.

Volta Thanksgiving Hours

We will be closing early on Wednesday (8am-7pm). Closed Thanksgiving, open 9-5 on Friday. Regular hours resume Saturday.


PechaKucha GNV vol. 3 Call For Entries

Now accepting proposals for PechaKucha GNV vol. 3:

Volta Network Security Update

Volta's wireless network has always been open and free. It will continue to be free for customers-- but we've just completed a security update that moves from open to encrypted access. While open, free networks have always presented limited-but-present security risks, new tools like the Firesheep plug-in make it far too easy for anyone to hijack your personal data and take control of accounts like Facebook and Twitter. We realize that most of our customers are going to use sites that are easily compromised while working at Volta, and we want to be able to offer an environment where our customers are free from the danger of compromising their personal information. We want to be able to use the network ourselves without the fear that someone can easily hijack our own accounts.

Effective immediately, Volta customers will need a password to access our wireless network. The password will be printed on your receipt with your purchase.

Fest Weekend

[flickr-photo:id=5126058360,size=-]A good weekend for espresso in Gainesville. Volta is taking advantage of the crush of bands in town for The Fest to feature a number of guest espressos:

Ecco Caffe Espresso
Ritual Double Rainbow
Coava Guatemala Xeucalvitz
De La Paz Cherry Chapstick
Counter Culture Coffee's El Salvador Finca Mauritania Triple Process and Apollo v2.1

We'll have the latest Ecco espresso on the big Robur at all times, and we'll cycle through the guest espresso selections all weekend long.

Featured brewed coffees: Ecco Caffe Guatemala El Tambor, Kenya Kangocho, Sidama Shilcho; Counter Culture Coffee's El Salvador Los Luchadores

We're planning to stay open at least an hour later on Saturday and Sunday nights.

And more from Ecco Caffè

[flickr-photo:id=5053919379,size=-]Ecco Caffe's Sidama Shilcho
This season's coffees from Ecco Caffè just keep getting better and better. Case in point: Ecco's roast of the organic Ethiopia Dara Sidama Shilcho. We knew that this coffee was going to be a superstar from the first time we cupped it two Thursdays ago (at our Volta public cupping!). The Shilcho has a malty sweetness when freshly ground, with notes of macadamia, plum, and coconut milk in the aroma. The coffee has a pleasing sweetness that is countered by an unmistakable grapefruit zest acidity. As the coffee cools, it offers distinct flavors of candied orange and lemon, with a nice rich fig finish. Speaking to the collaborative effort to bring this coffee to market, Ecco says "Shilcho, which roughly translates to “good taste”, belongs to the larger Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (SCFCU). Formed in 2001, the SCFCU provides export services through the Direct Specialty Trade window of the Ethiopia Commodities Exchange, as well as credit support, technical assistance, certification management, and other social services for the 2,200 farmer members." We've found that it best performs when brewed with the Chemex.

Ecco Caffe's Guatemala El Tambor Espresso
Unleash your inner coffee geek by exploring the many ways that Ecco's Guatemala El Tambor expresses itself as it is brewed via different methods. We're loving the silky-but-substantial way it brews on the Clover; you can also ask to have it brewed on the Chemex to bring out more of its grapey acidity. Once you've tried it as a brewed coffee, move over to try it as our featured single origin espresso. Ecco provides a slightly different roast of the coffee for use as an espresso. We're enjoying learning how this coffee changes as it ages-- just off roast, it is bright and full of light florals that are best experienced as a straight shot. As the coffee rests for a few days we're finding amazing malty chocolate notes, but with fruit notes that are very similar to some of the very fruity single origin chocolates from Askinosie. Seven days off roast, it's the base for the perfect fall cappuccino as the spicy aromatics come to the front.

Ecco says:

As an espresso, this coffee’s layered sugars transform into the velvety body that hold aloft notes cinnamon, baked pear and stone fruit. Illuminated by the balanced citrus acidity, this espresso lingers sweetly on the palate.

...e ecco volta!

...and here again: Ecco at Volta. This month marks the one year anniversary since Volta introduced Ecco Caffe coffees to Gainesville. To mark the occasion, we've switched up to menu to feature an all-Ecco line-up. We couldn't have picked a better time, as Ecco is currently offering both the last of the summer season's stellar crop of Central American coffees and an amazing selection of the best African coffees now coming into season.

Although Ecco is part of the Intelligentsia family, the Sonoma-based headquarters maintains the flexibility of a smaller, independent roaster. Take their current offering from Costa Rica's Coope Dota: not only have we been offering the Coope Dota as a brewed coffee via the Clover and Chemex, but the roasters offered to hand-craft a batch for Volta especially for us to offer as an espresso. For the last ten days, Volta's customer's have been able to enjoy espressos and cappuccinos that were made with coffee as close as possible to that used by Michael Phillips to win the World Barista Championship. Although from a slightly later harvest, the Coope Dota espresso that we offered from Ecco "would likely be the same varietals, similar elevations (within 300 meters or so), tended by the same agronomists, grown in the same micro climate, and processed at the same mill" as Mike's coffee. That's close enough for us, and the results won over our customers.

Current Offerings

Costa Rica Coope Dota
The Coope Dota cooperative was founded in 1960 and has grown to 769 farmers. The Ecco team has been directly working with the cooperative for the past four years. Coope Dota's immaculate processing mills are nestled in the hills of the prominent Tarrazu growing region.

This year has certainly proven that the care put into the crop by the farmers results in a better coffee: Coope Dota's coffee was used by Michael Phillips to win both the US and World Barista Championships, and it is the coffee used in Intelligentsia's Flecha Roja project. Although the Flecha Roja is always a favorite at Volta, we are actually more fond of Ecco's approach to the coffee this year. From our own cupping notes, we are finding the Dota to be a medium-bodied coffee with a persistent acidity, like a clove-studded orange peel. The coffee has a plum sweetness layered with toasted walnut notes, with a plush, lingering finish of dark caramel.

Guatemala El Tambor
El Tambor means ‘the drum’, and refers to the sound of water rumbling over an historical underground waterfall on this 450-acre farm. Founded in 1930 as a cattle ranch, coffee was planted starting in 1966. Mining was active on the farm until Victor Calderon successfully challenged the mining company and ceased mining activities. Most of the farm is old Bourbon, Typica and Caturra coffee plants, and broad swaths of land are maintained as natural forest. Honey and avocados are produced, and 10% of the farm is set aside for the farm’s workers to plant food crops such as black beans and corn.

Ecco's cupping notes: this coffee is saturated in sugars: praline, maple, fig, pear and stone fruit. Elegant floral notes reward your patience as this coffee cools, revealing white grape acidity and a sparkling, almost effervescent finish of honey and cinnamon sugar. To that, we'd add that the El Tambor has one of the heaviest bodies of our current offerings, with a finish that is both peppery and oaky.

Honduras Finca La Tina
Ecco's roast of Finca La Tina's coffee is now the fourth iteration of coffee from this model farm that we've featured on the Volta menu this summer. Intelligentsia's La Tortuga was offered as both a brewed coffee and, on occasion, as a single origin espresso through most of the summer. Last month we offered the Isabella micro-lot, certainly one of the most delicate and floral Central American coffees that we saw this year. Now we have Ecco's offering from the farms of Don Fabio Caballero and Moises Herrera.

Finca La Tina is a local landmark of the Mogola region and boasts heirloom varietals of great genetic purity. The Caballero family is innovative and hardworking, investing each year in quality improvement measures, as well as social and environmental projects. For example, by building their own wet mill, they have direct control over coffee quality from growing, to picking, to dry parchment.

Volta cupping notes: Ecco's Finca La Tina, brewed on the Clover, is a mellow medium-bodied coffee with a pleasing acidity and sweetness of fresh pomegranates. It has a crisp finish with a touch of cashew oil.

Current espresso offering: Ecco Espresso

Blue Velvet

For Dennis Hopper:


(and thanks to Aly, who first suggested the idea last summer) An appropriate side note: while Sam was prepping the batter for the Blue Velvet cupcakes, the kitchen looked like a Smurf murder scene.

The Syphon Project

A wonderful video from my friend Ben (and his friend Jake) illustrating the syphon brewing process.

We are currently offering Intelligentsia's Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Adado brewed on the syphon as a special limited edition coffee.

UF MFA Poetry & Fiction Reading Series

The return of UF’s MFA poetry & fiction reading series: Thursday 9 September, 8pm. Then they will continue every other week (Sept. 23, Oct. 7 and 21, Nov. 4 and 18) through the end of the semester, restarting again in the spring.

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