Coffee Appreciation Workshop

At the start of the year, I made a promise to myself that I will learn (at least) one new skill this year, and (at least) one, every year. Among the items on my learning list is Coffee, I had thoughts about signing up for courses associated with coffee.

Well, luck embraced me and my retweet made it to the winners list of TimeOut’s Illy Coffee Appreciation workshop, conducted by Universita Del Caffe Della Malesia (University of Coffee, Malaysia) at Phileo Damansara.

The workshop provided informative insights on coffee and personally, it was definitely a good exposure and a great prologue to more coffee-related courses for me in the near future. I learned about the differences between Arabica and Robusta beans today, and our Certified Barista instructors showed us a demo on how to use the espresso machine to get the perfect cup of espresso. If brewed wrongly, you can be sure your cup of latte, cappucino, americano and other espresso-based beverage will go really wrong too.

The demo was followed by a coffee tasting session, and it proved to us how a small variation in coffee handling and brewing time (to even using a cold versus warm cup) can make or break the taste and aroma of coffee. It was definitely an insightful 2-hour session.

To brew a cup of perfect espresso, the correct dose of coffee is EXACTLY 7g (single shot, 14g for double), tamped just once (so it is compact enough to let water percolate through), water temperature at 90 degrees, and frothed milk no hotter than 65 degrees.

And I learned what ristretto is today! It is widely-known that there are no shortages of ‘good coffee’ in Australia and that’s because their order comes in the form of double ristretto. Technically speaking, 7g of coffee grind will produce about 25-30ml of espresso, but the same dosage of grind will produce only 15ml of ristretto, therefore extracting only the most intense characteristics of the beans.

The highlight of today’s workshop has got to be the guided hands-on opportunity to make our own cup of espresso (and milk frothing), with a nice finishing in the form of coffee art. I have to say, barista is no easy job! Even milk steaming and frothing needs accuracy!

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My first coffee art- a disfigured heart. Jessica’s creation on the right, or what she refers to as autumn trapped on foot leaf.

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…. and something prettier from our Barista instructor.

It was definitely a fun and incredible experience. I’ve been drinking coffee since my teenage years, but now that I know a tiny bit more more about coffee and its preparation methods, I think I will definitely appreciate coffee more (which is exactly the whole point of the workshop).

It won’t be a cheap investment, but I think I shall consider signing up for more comprehensive coffee courses in the near future.

Oh yes, say no to 3D coffee art! They’re nice to see, but it’s made with dry (bad) foam, which will definitely ruin even the best brew!

Living without Stress

Was watching a show on KBS, and this newly-released episode touches on the topic of living without stress. Members of the show were asked to meet a ‘happy person’ and find out their secrets to happiness. I think this episode came out at the right time, as I ponder on how to make my life more fruitful and more blissful in the coming year(s). Following are some tips (some published as-is, some reworded by me) from each member of the show. I shall remember these by heart and may there be less sorrow or discontentment in time to come.

Here goes.

1. Life is like a competition for happiness.

Everyone is trying to be happy. (If you say they look happy, you lose.) You have no reason to be less happier than anyone else. Whenever you do things that you like, count that as happiness.

2. Everyone gets stressed.

Half happiness, half sorrow. Half fortune, half misfortune. Half hope, half despair. That’s how we were created. But we were only taught to focus on one side. Be happy, have hope, have courage, they only talk about one side. But there’s another side (and we were never taught how to overcome misfortune). Stress is a burden we have to live with. Worries too. God made us like that.

3. Be grateful.

Even on things that might seem trivial to you.

4. Don’t try to force yourself to do things.

That will cause stress.

5. Be loyal to this moment.

Happiness is this moment. Enjoy this moment. Be grateful you’re alive. Be grateful you’re not hurt. There’s no use worrying bout the future that has yet to come.

6. Find a friend who you can talk to deep down from the heart.

7. Smile

You’re not smiling because you’re happy. You’re happy because you smile.

Hello and Goodbye 2013.

헉… 이 블로그를 업데이트한 지 1년이 넘었다.

Reviving this blog, which I had ignored long enough. A lot has changed since the copy-and-paste update last year. I left my job, went to Korea for 6 months to pursue my passion, and now I’m back to the homeland, albeit earlier than what I had planned for originally.

2013 is coming to an end in about 2 weeks. What can I say?

Shitty first two months (I was counting down to leave the discouraging job, and company), yet I had the best time of my life between March to August. New country, new environment, new seek, new friends. An eye-opening journey. I probably had too much fun in Seoul, and I can’t wait to do it again.

Have a good 2014 too, self. I wish you (me) the best, and I hope you will enjoy 2014 as much as (if not more than) 2013.

Neil Gaiman’s The Kindly Ones.

Neil Gaiman’s The Kindly Ones.

“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…

You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart.

It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.”

Present for Future

We may live FOR the future, but we must live in the present.

Living in the present involves being practical and choose to do what is within our means. It involves focusing on what is in front of us rather than a distant, non-existent dream. If we focus on an un-materialized dream, it will always seem unattainable and so far away. We will constantly feel discouraged. But if we focus on living in the present, make practical decisions and small achievements day by day, we will soon find our destiny at our doorstep.

-Yvoone Foong, November 2011

RIP Steve

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

-Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech
Thanks Steve, and RIP.

Old Life

it’s 1.05 in the morning, and I’m writing this in a corner of the dining room. The life I’ve had, the similar things I’ve done pre-Feb 2009.

I’m just thrilled to be back to see everyone else; everyone else equals relatives and cousins whom I’ve not seen for months, and 6 freaking years for one! It saddens me that we can no longer be together as much as we wanted now that we are ALL grown-ups.