Six Single-origins in a Week

Making a V60 pour-over at About Life Coffee Brewers in Shibuya, Tokyo, one of six single origins I tried in a week.Yesterday, I wrote about About Life Coffee Brewers, a lovely coffee stand in Shibuya, next door to both my office and my hotel for the week I was working in the area. Using the rear entrance to Shibuya’s Mark City (my hotel was on top of this long, thin shopping mall) and turning right, the office was a two minute walk down the hill. However, left, if I turned left, About Life was two minutes up the hill. So, naturally, I started my day by going to About Life for coffee…

One of the frustrations of being a coffee blogger is that I rarely go back to places on a regular basis, nor do I get to sample the full range of coffee on offer, particularly somewhere like About Life, which has six single-origins available as either pour-over or espresso. However, it struck me as I ordered my two-shot latte on the first morning that there were no other decent coffee options near the office and, with two or three long breaks each day, there was every chance I could actually sample all the coffee.

So, I set myself a challenge: to try all six single-origin coffees in a week…

You can see how I got on after the gallery.

  • Last week I made it back to About Life Coffee Brewers, around the corner from my office.
  • It became my reguar stop on the way to the office for a morning latte...
  • ... seen here being prepared on Tuesday morning (Monday was a public holiday).
  • About Life always extracts into two espresso cups...
  • ... the contents of which are then poured into the final cup...
  • ... which, in this case, was my Eco To Go reusable cup, made from rice husks.
  • While another espresso is prepared, the milk is steamed.
  • Then the latte art is poured...
  • ... and here it is, my first coffee of the morning, a lovely two-shot (hot) latte.
  • The latte art in more detail.
  • About Life has six single-origins... I'm in the office for four days... I sense a plan...
  • That afternoon, I escaped during a break, walked up the hill, and ordered a pour-over.
  • I'd decided to try all six single-origins as (hot) pour-overs. First up, the Honduras La Fresa.
  • After the first pour for the bloom, the coffee's given a good stir...
  • ... then left to filter through...
  • ... before the first of several main pours...
  • ... with breaks between to allow the coffee to filter through.
  • I love watching pour-overs being made and About Life is ideal for that.
  • It's pretty much how I learnt to make pour-over, by watching (and asking questions).
  • Another pause...
  • ... and one more pour for good measure.
  • Look at that flat bed at the bottom of the V60. I always find that a good sign.
  • And my coffee, in my Eco To Go cup.
  • The following (Wednesday) morning I was back at About Life on the way to the office...
  • ... for another two-shot (hot) latte. By now, the staff already knew my name!
  • Lovely latte art, by the way, which, impressively...
  • ... survived being carried back to the office and being drunk.
  • I was back at lunchtime for another pour-over. I'd decided to work my way down the list...
  • ... so today was the Rwanda Nyarusiza.
  • Here's my coffee being brewed. Interestingly, About Life never rinses the filter paper.
  • Almost done.
  • And here's my coffee, once again in my Eco To Go cup.
  • I was back in the afternoon for the Colombian El Campo. I had to drink two a day...
  • ... if I was to make my self-imposed target, which, of course, all the staff now knew about.
  • Still, I'm now half way through both the coffee challenge and the week. Cheers!
  • Thursday morning and I'm back again for another latte...
  • ... this time with my WAKEcup which I'm road-testing this trip.
  • Lunch time saw me move onto the first naturally-processed coffee on the list...
  • ... the Brazilian Sitio Da Torre, the second coffee roasted by Switch Coffee Tokyo.
  • My WAKEcup, by the way, is metal, with a bamboo sleeve. The handle is awesome.
  • Later that afternoon and I was back, moving onto the first of two Ethiopians...
  • ... a washed coffee from Chelelectu, the second one roasted by Onibus.
  • Almost done.
  • One filter coffee in my WAKEcup looks very much like another.
  • Friday morning and  and I thought I'd take a shot from a different angle this time.
  • Here's my final morning two-shot latte...
  • ... and this time I remembered to take a picture of the latte art.
  • Meanwhile, at lunchtime I made my final visit for the final single-origin...
  • ... a naturally-processed Ethiopian Shakiso, the second coffee from Amameria Espresso.
  • Here it is! Four lattes & six single-origins in a week! Read on to see what I made of them.
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Before we get onto the single-origins, I could have just as easily called this post “Four two-shot lattes in a Week”, since that’s how I started each of my four days (it was a public holiday on Monday, so we worked Tuesday – Friday). While I start the day with a filter coffee at home (usually an espresso blend through my cafetiere), when out and about, I like to get things underway with a flat white or equivalent, hence I turned left every morning and popped by About Life Coffee Brewers for a two-shot latte.

These, I have to say, were excellent. About Life serves milky coffees using a blend from its parent, Onibus Coffee, which, while I was there, was the BFW, a mix of Honduran and Guatemalan beans (and different from the Step Blend I was served when I visited Onibus in Nakameguro a few days earlier).

The other thing About Life does which pleases me no end is not use too much milk. I’m currently travelling with my (relatively) new Eco To Go Cup and road-testing the Global WAKEcup, a new cup for me, essentially a metal travel mug, but with a bamboo skin, which looks absolutely gorgeous (the handle is also a big plus). Both are around the 9oz size, which is slightly bigger than I’d like, but each morning, the various baristas at About Life resisted the temptation to fill the cup to the top and instead made a 6oz latte, which, for me, is a great ratio of coffee to milk: enough for a reasonably long drink, but not so much that the milk dominates the flavour. The result was a series of excellent lattes (although I defy anyone served these blind to tell the difference between them and a flat white) which set me up for each coming day.

That aside out of the way, what about the single-origins? About Life uses three Tokyo-based roasters, its parent, Onibus Coffee, Switch Coffee Tokyo and Amameria Espresso, with two single-origins from each. These are listed at the bottom of the menu and to keep things simple, I decided to start at the top and work my way down.

I popped back on Tuesday afternoon to get the process under way with the Honduras La Fresa from Switch. I could have tried the single-origins as espressos, but I wanted something longer that I could take back to the office with me, so decided to go with pour-overs instead, About Coffee using the V60.

In a good sign, the barista wasn’t happy with the first V60 she made as the coffee was coming through too quickly, so she made me a second one, a nice, well-balanced coffee. I also discovered something else about About Life: if you come back for a second (or third) coffee in the day, as long as it’s a black coffee, it’s half price! How cool is that, particularly for someone who starts his day with a latte? Although imagine how gutted I’d have been if I was in the habit of ordering a filter coffee in the morning and a latte at lunch time…

Things really got underway on Wednesday when I snuck out after lunch and then again in the afternoon for coffees two and three. These were, respectively, a Rwanda Nyarusiza from Onibus and a Colombia El Campo from Amameria. The Rwandan was very smooth and fruity, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the Colombian, which could have done with more body, although it improved markedly as it cooled.

I repeated the twice-a-day pattern on Thursday, when I also switched to my WAKEcup. Another thing in About Life’s favour is that every time, without fail, my cup was given a proper rinse with hot water, then dried and then pre-warmed before my coffee was served. It’s the little things that make all the difference.

The first three single-origins had been washed coffees, but the first of Thursday’s offerings was naturally processed, a Brazil Sitio Da Torre from Switch, which was okay, but I had expected more from a natural so was a little disappointed. In the afternoon I had the first of two Ethiopians, a Chelelectu from Onibus, another washed coffee, resulting in another well-balanced coffee.

I had deliberately left myself just one coffee for Friday since meetings often end early on the last day as people rush off to catch flights. So it proved and I only had one break which I used to try the last of the single-origins, a naturally-processed Ethiopia Shakiso from Amameria. It turns out that I had unintentionally saved the best to last since this was a lovely coffee, with plenty of body and subtle fruitiness.

And there you have it, six single-origins (and four lattes) in a week.

1-19-8 DOGENZAKA • SHIBUYA-KU • TOKYO • 150-0043 • JAPAN +81 (0) 3-6809-0751
Monday 08:30 – 20:30 Roaster Onibus, Switch, Amareria (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 08:30 – 20:30 Seating Stand-bar Bar, Benches (outside)
Wednesday 08:30 – 20:30 Food Cake
Thursday 08:30 – 20:30 Service Counter
Friday 08:30 – 20:30 Payment Cash Only
Saturday 09:00 – 19:30 Wifi No
Sunday 09:00 – 19:30 Power No
Chain Local Visits 17th-20th July 2018

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5 thoughts on “Six Single-origins in a Week

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