Posts tagged ON TOUR
Inside Seraphina's Oven.

Last month, I had the great opportunity to participate in the inaugural Croissants and Danish pastry course at Martin Barnett’s new artisanal baking school, Seraphina’s Oven in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island.

Over two packed days under the patient, careful, and deeply knowledgeable guidance of Chef David Nolan, we began with the basics - everything is measured by weight and a butter’s fat and water content are key - and were quickly up to our elbows in flour from there.

Structured around creating two types of pastry dough, croissant and puff pastry, the course was perfectly paced allowing the time it takes to create buttery, flaky laminated dough by hand. Every step of the way, Chef David complemented the technical training with explanations about the science behind the baking and practical pointers that only come from a lifetime of professional baking around the world.

Seraphina’s Oven is equipped with all the necessary tools of the trade. From a commercial convection oven and mixer to the game-changing dough sheeter to induction cooktops to drawer after drawer of whisks, spatulas, scrapers and the like, it is wonderful room to work in. And the class size of 8 strikes a great balance between accessibility to the instructor and time and space to focus on your work.

As we rolled, folded, and rested, rolled, folded, and rested, we drafted a plan for which pastries to create with our doughs, prepped the fillings and learned the cutting techniques to make them. It’s rigorous work but the mid-Saturday reprieve of gorgeous wood-fired pizzas and garden salad kept us fuelled for the afternoon.

Many people have started to hear of Seraphina’s Oven and when asked, I tell them all the same thing. Martin and Chef David both know well what they are doing as bakers but the one thing that is exceptional is their knowledge of how to teach with care. They are kind, genial, obliging, and an absolute pleasure to spend a weekend with.

With Ricardo Zelaya Coffee in Guatemala.

At our shop Bean Around The World - Main & 20th, we worked hard to promote the provenance of the coffees we served and the producer relationships quietly developed by the Roastery.

The most impactful was without a doubt their longstanding partnership with Ricardo Zelaya in Antigua, Guatemala. What began with an introduction by Ricardo's brother evolved into a direct trade relationship that not only delivered premium Santa Clara coffee to the Bean lineup, but also resulted in a school being built at the Zelaya family's remote farm, Finca Carrizal.

Built in 2008 by Ricardo and Pete and Barney from Bean, this schoolhouse offers an attentive, substantive education to the children of the Zelaya's staff who would otherwise lack meaningful options. The area has only had electricity for 8 years! With an enrolment that has at times reached over 90 elementary students and is now equipped with a computer lab generously provided by Vancouver-based Health 4 Humanity, Escuela Privada Finca Carrizal continues to thrive with support from Bean Around The World.

After many years of anticipation, this March I was finally able to travel to Guatemala to spend time with Ricardo and his daughter Katia at their estate farm Finca Santa Clara in Antigua as well as at Finca Carrizal, in eastern Guatemala.

Ricardo and Katia know well how much I have admired their tirelesss work both professional and philanthropic. On the ground with them on their turf, I was blown away. It would be hard to pick which is most impressive - their meticulous and ambitious coffee farms and processing facilities, their care and compassion for the folks that work for their fourth-generation coffee company, their almost inexplicable energy for hospitality, their love of Guatemala, their insatiable appetite for ceviche... their Geisha. Along with Maureen, Mike and Chelsea from Bean Victoria, we basked in it all for 10 days feeling pretty blessed.

At Foglifter's inception, we reached out to Katia and Ricardo for opportunities to continue to support their philanthropic endeavours. Katia selected their Santa Clara Scholarship Program as a way for our company and our customers' purchases to have impact. Over conversations on long, picturesque drives and dusty ATV rides around their farms, I was able to get a richer understanding of what this scholarship program means to its now thirty recipients.

By being nimble and adaptive with their support, the Santa Clara Scholarship Program is able to pour fuel on the educational efforts that Finca Santa Clara employees are making for their children - be it public, private, secondary or post-secondary. When Katia relayed that there are four recipients in university, among them one to be an accountant, another an architect, I asked to what degree was the fund transformative for them. "One hundred percent." was Katia's instantaneous response, confirming that the cost of higher education is indeed prohibitive for the recipients' families.

It is a pleasure to be one of the contributors to this worthwhile endeavour. Ricardo is quite literally known around the world for being an innovative, driven and impeccable producer of the some of the finest coffees in Guatemala - that is obvious on their farms, notable in the cup and recognized with industry awards year after year.

We appreciate the time we've had to get to know him and Katia and cannot wait to have their upcoming crop in our lineup.

Ricardo Zelaya Coffee
More shots from our trip on our Instagram feed and Highlights.
Learn about how your Foglifter purchases elevate.
Look back to Bean Around The World's work in Guatemala.

Immense gratitude to Bean Victoria for providing excellent company, deep pours of Zacapa, and more than their share of photography on our journey together.

Aubade Coffee in Vancouver's Chinatown.

This coffee was something else.

There is no doubt I was remiss in not visiting sooner. Earnest shops are opening in Vancouver nearly every day it seems. What's going on at Aubade is extraordinary.

Passing through on a warm, late summer day, we opted to bypass espressos and pourovers - tempting as the offerings were - and give the two Aeropress options on the menu a side-by-side.

Tucked into the front corner of a very eclectic antique shop and facing the lively East Pender Street, it would be easy to wander off enchanted by the distractions. Not recommended. I'm sure Aubade owner, Eldric, would prepare your coffee the same either way but his method invites observation and his genial personality welcomes inquiry and conversation. Coffee without pretension is a gold standard in my mind and it's somewhat uncommon to have someone so honed in their process and so educated about their product share both with little airs.

Our Guatemalan and Ethiopian coffees - both washed process from Small Batch in Melbourne - were not the sour, thin sips you might fear in a modern cup. Roasting aside, each step of their brewing thoughtfully guarded against that end resulting in two very memorable coffees that showcased every flavour note the producers surely strived for throughout the intense growing and processing phases. Outstanding.

Juan Carlos Chen - Bourbon - Guatemala
Hayutadin Jemal - Heirloom - Ethiopia