"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2008 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Blues Harp and Espresso
Coffee and the Blues would seem to go hand in hand— a cup of espresso, a smoky room, and some live, hard-driven blues from a riser in the corner. That would seem to satisfy a number of senses, but in my world it didn't work that way.
One of my other interests is playing live blues harmonica. I have played harp for a few decades, on and off, just for fun, but since late 2007 I have been playing live with a local open-mic blues jam and have been having a great time. Some of the folks I play with are pro-quality musicians, so I am challenged to a level I never have been, and that has done nothing but make me a better player.
Last night was a special night. I left the house in a bit of a grumpy mood but that was all washed away when, on the way down the mountain, I glanced over my left shoulder to see a beautiful, bright, full rainbow out over the canyon. It was spectacular and I had a smile on my face all the way to the jam.
Usually I play one set and then move off for another harp player that shows up. He was a no-show on this evening so I got to play two sets— almost three straight hours of blowing harp and on my feet the whole time. Subsequently, I did not get home until about 11:35 which is about an hour past when I am usually in bed.
Allow me to flashback for a moment, the remainder of this story started yesterday morning when, out of the blue, the required grind setting changed dramatically. I have never had that happen with Rocky nor with the Kony, but I had to grind about 5 "steps" more coarse than I had been. The previous setting that had been working fine for a few weeks now produced something that looked like it was oozing out of the crankcase of a '67 Impala that had been in a wrecking yard since '72— black, thick, and nasty. If the rainbow was a "sign" that the evening of music would be a wonderful experience, the dramatic change in grind setting was the evil eye cast upon the next day's espresso.
This morning's espresso adventure was something.. special.. as in "short bus" special. I was in a real haze trying to get setup. I had the additional pressure of being down near the bottom of the jar of my remaining home roast with no backup. I had enough beans to offer one spare pull. After walking through the house two or three times, getting together all the things I needed (milk, reading glasses, cups, mental clarity, etc.), I got started.
The first dose of beans was insufficient so I had to add a bit more to the grinder. I tried to tamp and slipped, dislodging the coffee into a ski slope. I dumped it back into the doser (another reason to have a doser) and tried again.
When the first pull was done I went to add some more beans to the hopper. The Kony is huge— about 24 inches to the top of the enormous hopper. It is also very transparent, and the clear plastic is difficult to see first thing in the morning... particularly THIS morning. Place that monster on top of my espresso bar means the top edge of the hopper is 61" off the floor. If you are not careful and attentive it is quite easy to hit the top edge of the hopper with the coffee scoop as you try to dose into the hopper and beans go everywhere. This morning I was neither careful nor attentive, not to mention alert, and beans went everywhere.
I dosed the coffee and looked into the portafilter. There was a lump which usually does not occur with the Kony. I looked closer and found it was a stray bean from my earlier miss, and so I had to remove the bean, dump the coffee back into the doser (again) and try again.
When I finally got it together enough that I got to the point that I had a portafilter dosed, loaded, and locked, I lifted the brew lever and glanced at Eric's E-61 brewhead thermometer and realized that 208F. brew temp to begin the pull was a bit high, to say the least. I had forgotten to flush the HX to lower the temp after allowing the machine to idle for a while. The temperature at the end of the pull was closer to the temperature at which the pull usually begins.
So, without injury, other than to my pride, I was able to produce two cappas this morning, and they were pretty good. Ya... I was as amazed as you probably are right now.