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Portola Coffee's "Theorem" bar
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MarshallF
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Posted Sat Jan 5, 2013, 8:18pm
Subject: Portola Coffee's "Theorem" bar
 

Because of my industry ties, I stopped reviewing coffee bars a long time ago. But I have to make an exception now. Inspired by Cerridwyn’s August 2012 report, I took my wife and two coffee industry veterans down to Portola in Costa Mesa today to experience their “Theorem” bar "craft coffee service." Before we arrived, we thought it might be a bit precious, but instead we were all blown away.

Truman Severson, the barista and manager of the Theorem bar, was our private host for an hour. He presented an experience that had something to teach each of us. His current theme (it changes regularly) was “alcohol.” This meant using techniques normally associated with aging, distilling or mixing alcoholic beverages and applying them to coffee – without actually serving any alcohol.

The first was a cold-brewed Ethiopian coffee that was then aged for several weeks in a nitro-flushed wine barrel, so that some of the oak and its char would be imparted to the coffee. It worked beautifully, producing a sweet, rich brew.

Second was a kind of cheat, since it wasn’t coffee. He served a long-aged and fermented pu’er tea, very slightly carbonated and chilled with an ice cube. Another treat.

Third was the mind-blower: crystal clear “coffee” that had been run through a distiller. All the bitterness (and color) had been left behind in the distillation process. It was tingly acidic. I thought some sugars came through, but my companions convinced me I was really tasting the absence of bitterness.

Last was a “shaken, not stirred” coffee sour, prepared in the style of a sour cocktail. It had a citrus foam head and was laced with homemade coffee bitters in the style of Angustura (but with coffee essence). Quite delicious.

This is an experience that will expand your idea of what can be done with coffee, which is, I suppose, why they call it “Theorem.” Well worth the $28 and half hour trip down from L.A. Reservations required (online on Urban Spoon).

Theorem site.
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jbviau
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Posted Sat Jan 5, 2013, 10:20pm
Subject: Re: Portola Coffee's "Theorem" bar
 

Drool. I'd love to check this place out in 2013. Thanks for the report.

Speaking of, I noticed Ceremony Coffee has been experimenting with barrel-conditioned coffees recently: Click Here (store.ceremonycoffee.com)
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cerridwyn
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Posted Sun Jan 6, 2013, 12:32pm
Subject: Re: Portola Coffee's "Theorem" bar
 

You will love it. My daughter said repeatedly that the sad thing about Theorem, is you will never have that taste again.

Truman rocks. I have to say that. He knows what he is doing and has been given the rare chance to totally explore the coffee he is featuring that week. He's a pleasure to sit and talk with and if I lived in OC, I'd probably go weekly just to see what gem he has created. They are in the perfect part of the world to do this sort of experiment.

She can't wait to come visiting again just to see what that week's options are. Menu's are posted, but only by name of the creation, so you don't really know what you are having until he tells you.

Theorum also has a brew bar for when the craft service is not running. I don't know what the difference is between it and what you get in the main bar. If anyone knows I'd love to know.

Glad you enjoyed it.

 
The world needs more outstanding coffee.

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cerridwyn
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Posted Sun Jan 6, 2013, 12:35pm
Subject: Re: Portola Coffee's "Theorem" bar
 

jbviau Said:

Speaking of, I noticed Ceremony Coffee has been experimenting with barrel-conditioned coffees recently: Click Here (store.ceremonycoffee.com)

Posted January 5, 2013 link


Our local place regularly buys beans from all over the country to keep an eye on what's out there and how he compares. He had a bag of the barrel-conditioned coffee from Ceremony. I did not try it, they will make anything they have on that shelf for you, it is just not guaranteed to be in the 15 day period. I did smell it and you could smell the wine characteristics.

I'm considering ordering a bag when I need to order something random again next time (I regularly order from all around the country just to taste new things). (Plus their bags are gorgeous.)

 
The world needs more outstanding coffee.

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MarshallF
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Posted Sun Jan 6, 2013, 8:11pm
Subject: Re: Portola Coffee's "Theorem" bar
 

Just to be clear, the coffee we were served in the Theorem bar was aged after cold brewing. Also, the wine barrel was made of Hungarian oak which had been toasted a bit in the normal manner, but had never actually held any wine. They did not want any wine flavors to be part of the final product.

I should also mention that the pu'er tea earned its place at the table by having been fermented and then aged for 15 years, then allowed to ferment again after brewing to produce an effervescense.
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cerridwyn
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Posted Sun Jan 20, 2013, 4:15pm
Subject: Re: Portola Coffee's "Theorem" bar
 

Got an email from them a few days ago (on the 18th). If it wasn't such a long drive, I'd so go down there next weekend:

Ardi
New Menu Starting Wednesday.
Ardi is an amazing Ethiopian Coffee from Sidamo.  This coffee was discovered shortly after an ancient fossil nicknamed "arid" was discovered.  So with a shared discovery comes a shared name.  

Complex, molasses/cherry sweetness with a hint of savory tones to round it off.  This coffee graces our bar starting Wednesday.

 
The world needs more outstanding coffee.

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JimOD
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Posted Mon Feb 18, 2013, 11:42pm
Subject: Re: Portola Coffee's "Theorem" bar
 

I haven't had the pleasure of trying the Theorem bar yet, but I can say the Lab area featuring the Slayer, three Trifectas, a siphon area and a pour over area is well worth the visit.

 
My tongue is burned
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cerridwyn
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Posted Fri Feb 22, 2013, 6:30am
Subject: Re: Portola Coffee's "Theorem" bar
 

They are sending two Barista's to the SW Regionals. In the upcoming weeks, they will be demoing their competition drinks in competition style.

I hope they do well.

 
The world needs more outstanding coffee.

do you game?:
http://forum.paxcorvus.info
http://www.outland.org
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