Three Years Ago, Today
November 9, 2000 - November 9, 2003
It was three years ago today that Silvia, Rocky, and HWP arrived at my door and the hands-on portion of my coffee journey began. Three years sure seems to go by in a hurry, but I have learned a lot in that time. Not to say that I am done learning, and certainly not to say that I am any sort of expert on coffee in any way.
In that time a lot has changed. I no longer keep coffee in the refrigerator in a 'sealed' white paper sack, I haven't plugged in the Braun coffee maker, and I have only purchased one cup of coffee out of the house. I can now smell a brewed cup of coffee and generally get a pretty good idea of how it is going to taste (that burnt taste from KK coffee is still with me, I think).
I can list four things that in their own way have made the biggest difference in my coffee experience and the quality of the beverages I make (not necessarily in any order):
1) PID- the addition of precision temperature control to Silvia has been huge in the consistency and quality of my espresso. Before that I was contemplating an upgrade, but currently see no need to do so.
2) Hottop Roaster - The consistency and quality of the roast from this machine as compared to my previous two roasters (Hearthware Gourmet and Hearthware Precision) was evident from the first roast and continues to be so. This was probably from the roast profile programmed into this machine as compared to the uncontrolled profile of the air roaster, but that doesn't lessen the Hottop's ability to roast excellent coffee every time.
[NOTE: I asked my wife, "What are the two factors that have had the biggest effect on the quality of my coffee?" and these two- PID, and Hottop, were her answer.]
3) alt.coffee - If there is any single source for up-to-date, accurate, and helpful information anywhere in the world, that is better than alt.coffee, I haven't found it, and it hasn't been from not looking. I wouldn't have even found Silvia and Rocky, or at least I wouldn't have learned about their value and ability if it weren't for alt.coffee, directly and indirectly.
4) My Pro Roaster friend- His assistance over the last year with some simple tricks has really helped. I have often recommended to others that if they are having a problem with their coffee, invite someone over who knows, and let them help. My friend's assistance with blending, light-roasting for drip, and finding a finer grind with an accompanying lighter tamp have made quite a bit of difference for me.
Today.. My espresso is very consistent from shot to shot and day to day. The crema is consistently darker, richer, and longer lasting. The aroma of the espresso is deep, rich and delicious in itself, and my roasted coffee blends are cherished and desired by all my friends. Even my wife, who was not a coffee drinker when this started, drinks the coffee I brew in my modified Bunn A10 black, no sugar. We haven't had to purchase eggs for months as I trade a half pound of roasted coffee for a dozen or two home raised eggs (the eggs are as delicious as my coffee!). My roasted coffee is now much lighter- espresso roast is barely into second crack and my drip around mid-first crack.
So thanks to all the many dozens of people on alt coffee- the ones I have helped and the ones who have helped me. I wish I could name all those who have guided me along on my journey. For the most part they are "The Regulars" of alt.coffee. You probably know who they are (you might BE one of them!). I like to think myself as part of that elite group, and for fear of leaving someone out will refrain from listing individuals' names. It's very cool that, even in my little community, folks often say, "Oh, that's right! You're the coffee guy." Mostly they mean, "You are that guy who is so anal about coffee," but that's OK. Even my wife, when I asked her to guess what was the THIRD most important factor in improving my coffee over the last three years, she answered, "The A--h--- making it...?" Oh, well. It sort of goes with the territory.
Here's to the next three years- at least! Cheers!