CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Milstead

Back Buzz - 5 January, 2019

A few months ago, while visiting Seattle with my Bay Area friend Mistah Rick, we stayed in a B&B in Fremont only a few steps away from the famous Fremont Troll. Hiding in its nook under the Aurora Bridge at North 36th Street, the troll was created by four artists in 1990 in a competition organised by the Fremont Arts Council to rehabilitate the area and deter drug dealing. The troll, who is clutching an actual VW Beetle -- which for some reason has a California license plate -- spends its days and nights attracting tourists in droves (forgive the pun).

On our Friday morning we stepped out of the guesthouse, walked down the road, turned left at the Troll, and headed the few steps down to the Ship Canal where we found Milstead Coffee. The cafe, situated with an amazing view of the canal and the Aurora Bridge directly above, was packed. It’s a big place with high ceilings with overhead piping, giving that still-trendy industrial feel that was so popular last century. Andrew Milstead, the cafe owner, was seated behind the end of the counter, his nose buried in his laptop. He was dressed casually in jeans and a "World Aeropress Championship" t-shirt.

We managed to find a spot at the end of one of the tall tables, sharing with a young man who also had his head buried in his laptop. Instead of my usual macchiato I decided to try Rick’s choice, which was a cup of one of their five featured drip coffees. I went for the Costa Rica Intelligentsia and Rick chose the Ethiopia Woka Chelbessa. To accompany our coffees Rick had a cherry croissant from Macrina Bakery that was surprisingly tasteful l and not overly sweet. I had a Macrina dill parmesan scone, with bits of spring onions mixed in. As this was my second Macrina dill parmesan scone in two days, I was obviously finding them quite addicting, and they would be great heated slightly with a little butter (hint, hint...)

Our coffees were made with the cafe’s featured La Marzocco Aeropress machine, hence Andrew’s t-shirt. After spending an hour searching for information about this unique coffee making process, I learned that the AeroPress machine is a quite simple set-up, but there are a zillion different methods and recipes for making everything from espresso to drip coffee. It makes me think of the Japanese game Go, which appears very simple but is immensely complicated in strategy. And there are annual AeroPress Championships staged all around the world. The basic AeroPress method works through a combination of immersion and pressure producing a small amount of strong coffee concentrate. The particular method used by Milstead Coffee involves steeping the coffee for 10-50 seconds.

Sadly, my coffee was much weaker than I like, and Rick admitted his was, too. I'm glad I went for what sounded like the heaviest body of the five choices. But in a boxing tournament this would probably have been the heavyfeatherweight contender. Hopefully it was just the fault of the touch of the particular barista, but we did realise we would definitely be craving another coffee later on in our day, hopefully with a bit more rocket fuel.

Speaking of disappointing outcomes, following is a few bits from a recent pun-cringey FB posting session:

DON’T GIVE UP. The person who wrote the first recipe for Beer had many rough drafts. The key is to not wine about it if it goes wrong. Yes! That’d be sour grapes. Be sure not to bottle up all of your emotion. Good advice! Also, it's important to not get a head of yourself and be true to what ales you. And if you fail, it's okay. At yeast you tried. If it weren't for rough drafts we would be missing some great literature. Remember The Brewer that Shakes the Barley? The Brothers Karamaltzhops? Yeast of Eden?