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After visiting Taichung, I was deeply inspired by the people there because they take a very passionate role in life and pouring their souls into something that inspires them. Take for example 珈琲院 (COFFEE AREA), the coffee house which I visited, they don’t do this for the money. They don’t work long hours and they closed their cafes every Mondays and Tuesdays to take a break and enjoy life (In Singapore, who closes their restaurants for 2 days?!).

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In essence, they are just doing what they love and they can spend hours telling you so much about coffee. I think that truly passionate people understood the world much better and of course live a better life.

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Along the street of 存中街, is this whole row of old American military quarters cottage. The government has retained the cottages and many interesting establishments has moved in, converted the interior while retaining its old charm of the architecture. 珈琲院 is one of them.

珈琲院 conducts DIY roasting classes for interested parties. Owner of the this cafe, Mr Tang, is also a very experienced and humorous barista. Roasting is fun and as easy as you want to make it, especially when you are only it for own consumption. I am totally clueless to the art of coffee making and I must put a disclaimer here that I am definitely not an expert. But I would just like to share with you what I have learnt from the session.

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The basic process is simple: take green (unroasted) coffee and turn it brown. Why we do it ourselves? So that we can better manage the time and how roasted we want the coffee beans to be. There are many ways to roast coffee, you can do it with whatever appliances you have at home that are suitable for roasting, or buy a small roaster to do it.

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Roasting time varies depending on the method. For this case, it takes us about 15 mins to roast 150g of coffee beans. If you are very into coffee, you can select your own favourite coffee bean based on the differences in flavour.

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Understanding the different stages of the roast will help you control the flavor of your cup and appreciate how different roasts result in different cup flavors.

Yellowing: For the first few minutes the bean remains greenish, then turn lighter yellowish and emit a grassy smell. A few minutes later, the beans start to steam as their internal water content dissipates. For illustration purposes, we used a wooden spoon to take our a sample of the coffee beans to look at the colour changes every 3 minutes.

First Crack: The cracking is an audible cue, and, along with sight and smell, tells you what stage the roast is at. First Crack is distinguished by a loud cracking or popping sound, that is similar to the popping of popcorn. After the first crack, the roast can be considered complete any time according to your taste.

Second Crack: At this point a “second crack” can be heard, often more volatile than the first. Beans should be removed at this stage, if not it may be burnt soon.

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This is the whole process of how coffee beans are roasted. Don’t be afraid of crackling coffee beans, enjoy the process, enjoy the fragrance of the beans, especially toward the end of the roast!

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The coffee beans are then cooled before we grind it!

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After the roasting, we can grind the beans. Sorry it is placed in a awkard position, but the owner said this is the most comfortable and easiest way to ground the beans using this machine. -_-

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So we used one of the easiest way to make coffee! First we warm the filter paper using hot water, then we add in the coffee powder, and pour hot water into it.

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See! Within minutes, your coffee is ready. I am not here to promote any products, because I feel you get a greater sense of achievement brewing your own coffee. You can roast the coffee beans the night before, grind it and brew it on the day you want it! I think it is an interesting skill to pick up!

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After which, Mr Tang demonstrated to use the turkish way of coffee brewing. Do you know, the remains left after drinking Turkish coffee can be used for fortune-telling! So while they brew the coffee, you start to think of the questions you have in your mind. Then drink the cofee, turn it over into the saucer to cool, and then the patterns of the coffee grounds can be used for a method of fortune telling.

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And turkish like to add some baking soda into their coffee to remove its acidity.

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Thank you Mr Tang for sharing with us! Thank you iSee Taiwan Foundation for arranging!

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I have to make a confession here. Before this trip, I knew nothing about Taichung. Absolutely nothing. I probably know abit about Hualien & He Huan Shan, know abit about Jiu Fen and know abit about Taipei. But what is in Taichung? I have absolutely no idea. What to eat there? How would I know? It is only when the native Taiwanese introduced me to this lovely place, I was very attracted by it.

Maybe because of its culture, maybe because it has many interesting cafes, or maybe it is because of their attitude in life. It is unfortunate that not everyone understands the difference between living life and not. Circumstances make me forget about it too. It was somehow a life-changing experience for me after the visit to 珈琲院.

It is only when I slow down, take a step back, then I realised life can be much better when you enjoy the things you do. I don’t believe in new year resolutions because one year has 365 days, it is too long and people like me tend to procrastinate and think that I always have tomorrow to fulfill it. But my ” tomorrow” never appears. But I definitely do believe in daily mini resolutions, because it can bring us closer to our highest, happiest selves.

So after my experience in Taichung, I told myself that my daily resolution is to love more, enjoy more and forgive more. Love the people who love me, enjoy life instead of procrastinating, and forgive the people who give us challenges. Not easy, but at least when I think about my experiences in Taiwan, I remind myself that.

Do you have any daily resolutions? If you can, take some time to slow down, have some “ME” time, draft out a mini resolution and do things that make you happy. Oh ya! I have set a goal after this trip. I hope I can re-visit Taichung again, get a barista certification, conquer all the interesting cafes there, and WRITE A BOOK about it. When will it happen? I hope soon!

珈琲院 (COFFEE AREA)
Address: 台中市存中街165號
Tel: (04)2376-1273
Opening hours: Wednesday and Thursday 12pm to 6pm, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 12pm to 11pm

If you are visiting Taichung and would like to have a DIY coffee roasting session, you can drop an email to: [email protected]

* Food for Fun (食在有趣) gourmet tour is proudly organized by iSee Taiwan Foundation. Only airfare, hotel accommodation and selected meals are sponsored.

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EXTRA!

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If you are interested in coffee, do visit another coffee house in Taiwan called ORSIR COFFEE (歐舍咖啡). ORSIR COFFEE is founded in 1994 by Joe Hsu, a specialty coffee pioneer in Taiwan. Orsir offers specific traceability and good quality coffee around the world.

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Orsir is the first company in Taiwan who customized roasted coffee and also has the first international jury from Taiwan! Here, she also roast her own coffee and creates her own coffee flavour! Like for chinese new year season, she created a new flavour of coffee with has a slight refreshing mint flavour.

Another very interesting series is the SPA COFFEE! You know when you go to spa, they always let you drink some spa tea which is said to make you relax. But if you prefer to drink coffee, you can get these SPA COFFEE which is said to achieve the same effect too.

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While the baristas are brewing their coffee, please do not talk to them.

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There is also a coffee house on the 2nd storey for you to enjoy your coffee.

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Here is the owner cum talented barista Joe!

歐舍咖啡 (ORSIR COFFEE)
Address: 403 台中市西區五權路14號
Tel: 04-22212828 / 04-22200901
Opening hours: Mon to Fri 10.30am to 10pm, Sunday 10.30am to 6pm

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giveaway

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So if you would like to try Orshir’s SPA COFFEE, here is your chance! I decided to giveaway the spa coffee packets to SIX LUCKY READERS!

There are total 6 different kinds of blend: Harmony Blend, Calm Blend, Pleasure Blend, Strength Blend, Grand Tour Blend and Soaring Blend. Sorry you can’t pick the blend but I will give a mixture of 2 blends each! There are quite unique and I don’t think you can find any of such in Singapore!

Here’s the question: What is your favourite coffee drink?

To win, leave a comment with the correct answer! Closing Date: 27 January 2013 (Sunday), 23:59.

RESULTS

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Congratulations to Stacey, Jill, Rosemarry, Zen, Pepper & Quek CH! I will get in touch with you shortly!