"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2002 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
444/3/01 - It seems to have been a while since I reported on my progress (or regress). To begin, Rocky continues to break in. I found this out during a fifteen second double a couple of weeks ago. It was the first shot that I have tossed into the sink in quite some time. I took Rocky down a click and the next shot was fine. I later checked for Rocky's "0" point, and I was right. It had changed. For quite some time it hovered around 1.5 or so, but now it is at -1. For point of reference, I find that +5 (which is "4" on Rocky's analog numbering scale) makes for a very nice 25 second double. "Your espresso may vary."
Odds and Ends
Another change is that I am grinding (relatively) finer now by about one click than I had previously. I am now achieving a twenty-five second double shot that is never more than two ounces, and usually just a little short of that. I find that the pull starts darker, and stays dark longer as well. Near the end of the pull as the stream of espresso gets light in color, it still contains streaks of darker colors where before it became a light colored stream with no other color definition. If you have not done so, and you're not totally pleased with your espresso, try clicking your grinder one or two clicks finer and pull a double just to see what you get.
I am in the midst of some new blends. I bought some green (and was given some more) from my local commercial roaster- about 22 pounds. I roasted one batch of each bean in the HWP roaster and placed each roast in a separate jar. I waited a day or so and then, using my digital scale, created four or five different blends from those roasts. I am in the midst of testing these new blends and will report the details in a week or so when I have a full set of notes.
I am in a state of slight flux in my roasting. I was at a point that I was roasting quite dark- until a good shine of oil was present, but have backed off from that quite a bit. I am now roasting most all my beans to about the beginning of second crack or to the first acceleration of second crack (some folks say "about 12 clicks into second"). Little oil shows at this level- a spot or two on some leaky beans, but the aroma of the beans after about a twelve hour rest is delicious as is the depth of flavor from the beans.
Recently I have made some adjustments to my procedure- particularly to the dosing. I fill the basket (I am still using the La Marzocco double basket) about 2/3 full, gently shake it sideways to get the coffee fairly level in the basket, then lightly rap the spout of the portafilter two times on the counter top. This visibly settles the grounds in the basket just a little bit. I then fill to a bit more than full, and then level the coffee across the top of the basket with the handle to a plastic coffee dosing spoon. I then tamp to about 25 pounds, rap the side, then final tamp to about 40 pounds, polish, lock, use the temperature control as outlined on this website, and pull. I have found that anything near the correct tamp pressure works fine and it seems to be far more critical to grind and dose consistently than it is to tamp. At around 35 to 40 pounds or so you can feel the coffee stop compressing, and after that it doesn't really matter how much pressure you use (within reason), it comes out about the same. I would say that the "correct" tamping pressure should be stated as, "at least thirty pounds."