Monday, March 21, 2011

Feeding the addiction

I'm a coffee snob, I freely admit it... I'm a Coffee Supreme-trained barista and have also worked with Cafe L'Affare, Switch & C4 beans, and dammit I have high standards and a full-on caffiene addiction. Hubby and I feed our habit via our own commercial-grade espresso machine, a 2-group La San Marco with dark red trim. Perhaps the only upside of this whole house-destroying earthquake is that we'll have the opportunity to plumb that puppy into our new kitchen.

After selling the mobile espresso business that hubby ran for a few years we kept getting our beans from Wellington-based Coffee Supreme but after I started working with (and drinking a lot of!) C4 coffee, we decided to go local. We went through a few bags of their 'Krank' blend before trying what the C1 Cafe sold as 'Rocket Fuel' (known as 'Stout' at HQ). "Better than P" the sign proclaimed, so we gave it a go and haven't looked back since. C4 had their coffee roastery - Coffee HQ - on Lichfield Street but this building didn't fare so well in the September quake... Falling bricks got staff cars and the work van while concern about the unstable building facade saw traffic diverted away from that side of the street and the cafe closed. Clandestine cash purchases of beans were made in the carpark round the side for a few weeks.
Then they found a new home, Coffee HQ2, across the other side of the vacant Turners & Growers site, on Tuam Street. The concern about their original building was well-founded, as it didn't hold up at all well in the Feb aftershocks. HQ2 is not too badly damaged but it is within the CBD cordon and no-one is allowed in. Photos on the C4 website show the extent of the damage to both buildings.

This latest earthquake & the restrictive cordons have seriously disrupted our supply of coffee beans, forcing us into extreme measures in order to feed the cravings. Initially it wasn't too much of a problem - we had no power so couldn't run our machine, therefore instant coffee made with water boiled on the BBQ was the only option. But after the power returned, the beans ran out and we turned with trepidation to the only outlet available to us - the supermarket. After several disappointing experiments at different supermarket chains we found a Supreme-supplied cafe that was open and wasn't too far away from our place of residence, so bought several small bags of beans there. Having developed a commercial-grade espresso habit to match the machinery though, paying full retail price for beans - almost double the cost - was starting to hurt.

While we were in Wellington we stopped at the Coffee Supreme retail outlet in the central city and bought a kilo of their 'Supreme' blend to take home with us. Which didn't last terribly long... but then, joy oh joy, news that another local roaster, Vivace was helping C4 out by lending them some space and the use of their roasting machinery. Similar co-operative efforts are currently helping hairdressers, retail outlets and schools stay operational in this damaged city.

Today I got my hands on a kilo of C4 'Krank'... it's not my usual but it's all they're roasting at the moment so it's as close to normality-in-a-cup as I'm going to get for now. Cheers Vivace, thanks for helping out... we treasure these little routine pleasures so dearly during these times of constant change.

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