"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2002 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
2211/14/00- We both had a cappa this morning made from my Monkey 5¾ roast, ground at 11 and tamped to about 30 pounds. She a single caramello and I a 'regular' double cappa. We tasted the espresso straight before adding the milk, and it was delicious- the best yet- incredibly smooth and rich. Her face lit up when she sipped it straight, and she is a person who is still acquiring a taste for coffee. It tasted just like the roasted and ground coffee smelled, smooth and rich. We sat together, looking out over the deck watching the birds in the backyard, our white German Shepherd lounging between us on the loveseat, we sipping our delicious cappas. What a wonderful way to start the day.
I'm Starting to Look Like I Know What I'm Doing
The first double I pulled for her cappa took about 22 seconds and was chuck-full of crema and took a number of seconds to separate. The second double for my cappa took about 28 seconds (both pulls timed with a digital watch). The second was just a bit more bitter than the first, but still full of crema and extremely tasty. If every morning's brew could be guaranteed to be this good (and easy), this book could end here and now! Subsequent pulls make me believe that 22-25 seconds is the target time for me.
I visually examined the three batches of Donkey roast from last night. The one at 5 shows little to no oil spots and the 5½ and 6 show some oily spots- the 6 a bit more then the 5½. We will taste-test these tomorrow morning to see if they are any more palatable than the 4½ from yesterday which was absolutely undrinkable. If compared to a demitasse of warm urine it would have been a tie.
Ever examine a discarded puck? Once ejected from the portafilter it should be a solid, quite dry mass with no holes, washed-out areas, or weak spots. This shows that the coffee was ground with consistency and packed evenly (not easy to do with Silvia's tamper). Take the discarded puck, break it open and sniff it. If it was from a good pull it becomes immediately clear that you have extracted all that is good and left behind all that is bad. The puck smells bitter and just a bit foul whereas the coffee that came from it was flavorful and rich. That's exactly what espresso is all about- extract all that is good from the coffee, drink that, and throw out all that is bad with the puck... "Drink on.. Puck off!"
11/15/00- We started the morning by testing the three Donkey roasts. The 5 was acidic and was immediately discarded. The 5½ was acceptable but also had a touch of acidic taste to it- drinkable but not as good as it could be. The 6 roast was quite nice. Pretty close to what we are looking for in a decaf. Funny, though. Keeping in mind that the Donkey was purchased for wifee as she had the feeling that she had a low tolerance for caffeine, and after all that she requested a Monkey cappa this morning. The addiction sets in early.
The Monkey I roasted at 5¾ was quite good and so I did a double batch at 6 today hoping to get a little more surface oil. Now that I have my routine down and am getting consistently reasonably decent pulls, this should last a number of days.
I am getting a bit low on green beans. The learning process goes through beans at a pretty decent rate. We were in town so I stopped by Paulo's coffee shop in Chico. He also roasts and sells in various stores in town, in bags with hios label (has a very large drum roaster that was beautiful to look upon). He wasn't in so I asked the girl behind the counter if they sold green beans. I told her that I was looking for an espresso blend or a nice Arabica (or Arabica blend) and she went searching in back. While she was gone I peered over the counter at their espresso machine. I wouldn't drink a cup of coffee in there if she poured it all over herself and let me lick it off. The outer, chrome surface of the portafilters were disgustingly dirty with a heavy brown patina indicating that they hadn't been cleaned for some time. I hate to think what they looked like inside or what the brew heads looked like. They were also sitting on the drip tray so they would be nice and cool for the next pull. I shudder to think about it. "If me 'n the boys wanted to drink mucilege, we'd have ordered mucilege."
When she had looked through the large bags of beans and told me what was available I asked her how much they would cost, and she replied that she had no idea but could sell them to me at the regular (roasted) price. I replied that I wasn't interested at that price as I could easily get beans for half that. She said to call back and leave a message for the owner. I don't think this is going to go much of anywhere, but will give it a try. She mentioned that I was the only person to ever ask for green beans. There is another roaster over in Oroville, and I will look them up in a week or so.
Speaking of consistent, it is a well documented fact, here as well as on other sites, that the tamper that comes with the Silvia is worthless. I received my 58mm aluminum tamper from Espresso Supply this afternoon, just three business days after ordering, and am anxious to try it in the morning.. or maybe tonight! Looks like no more excuses from now on. Bad pulls are my fault beginning now.
On the way home we dropped by Costco and picked up some more kitchen towels- just another expense to tick off. At this rate I am making some very expensive espresso.. Reminds me of an old joke:
"How much is your espresso?"
Quote of the Day: "If Folgers made beer, it would be called Budweiser."