A Big Fall Update
Posted October 12, 2002 1:45pm
Man, what is it with the comments (or lack thereof) on this board! :) I think just maybe, coffee drinker and aficionados simply don't like to 'leave their mark'. This page here gets about 450 visitors a day on average, and 0 comments on the last article? Sheesh! :)
Or maybe it's the quality of my rants. Naaaaaaa.
Fodder for discussion.
I had a very cool conversation with Jim from 1st Line last night on the phone that rambled on for an hour or two. One of the things Jim and I discussed is something I've been mulling for an article on the CoffeeGeek site for some time: the influence of reservoir water temperatures on a shot of espresso.
It's been a long standing theory of mine (and something I see in practice) that the built in reservoir on most consumer and prosumer espresso machines plays a very large role in the shot quality the machine produces, and it's all related to temperatures. I am fortunate that I get exposed to a lot of different espresso machines first hand, and it's been my experience that some machines the water reservoir get hotter than others. This water flows through either a heat exchanger or single boiler, then hits the bed of coffee, and then your cup. You can see how reservoir temperatures make a difference.
I'm pretty sure that single boiler machines don't really get influenced by hot reservoirs, with the possible exception of the pump, which could have long term damage from excessively hot water.
But heat exchanger machines. They are directly influenced by the reservoir temperatures. HX machines are designed in such a way that if water at temperature A is delivered through a boiler at temperature B, it would give espresso temperature C in the cup. But if A is now A+20C, going through boiler still at B, it would give espresso at C+ something (maybe not 20C higher, but certainly influenced).
I need to do some work on this, but it's a topic for discussion that I've never seen raised before online.
When I was in Portland a few weeks ago for the NASCORE show, I tried a couple of good coffees (to be honest, most were bad), and one exceptional one - the folks from Stumptown. I tried some of their espresso blend as pulled on a La Marzocco FB70 machine by none other than John Blackwell of ESI, and the shots were great (John had help from the Swift grinder he took part in designing).
At the very end of the show, as I was walking out and John called me over to the dismantling ESI booth, and he had a surprise for me - 5lbs of the good stuff from Stumptown Roasters. WOW. I got it home, and let me tell you, these folks know how to blend. I won't say they are the absolute best espresso blend I've tried in recent times (that honour goes to Intelligentsia's Black Cat Blend), but trust me, you could do far worse than Stumptown's Espresso Blend. It's a slightly darker blend than I'm used to (a bit of surface oil, something I try to avoid with my home roasted blends), but was great as a double ristretto, and even better in milk based drinks.
The Fun and Joy of Evaluating Machines
For the time being, I have had to put a moratorium on new products coming my way for testing. Reason? I have peaked 20 machines in the house at the moment. Yikes. Everything froma a fairly decent $200 espresso machine up to a $2,200 "quasi commercial, yet modified for home use" behomoth. It's all really fun and games.
I just wrapped up my first look evaluation of the Francis! Francis! X3 machine, and I think this machine is the surprise of the bunch. I didn't expect it to perform nearly as well as it did, so that was all good.
Up tap next for first looks are a Spidem machine, a coffee roaster (no, not the lost Hot Top), and machine in the Gaggia lineup. Then a whole whack more.
For Detailed Reviews, I got the Mazzer review done, and it's up next. Then (depending on things), a Nuova Simonelli Oscar review. Then a whole whack more. I basically have enough products to review to last me until next summer.
Lastly, we have a VERY cool contest in the works, we're still working out the logistics and contest rules, but here it is - Intelligentsia's Doug Zell has ponied up a Year's worth of coffee either in green or roasted, to some lucky person. That means (probably), 1lb a week delivered for a year! WOW. A couple of the contests we run over there make me wish I could enter the contests (I can't, and neither can any members of my family), and this is definitely one of those contests... sigh.
Look for it soon over at the CoffeeGeek site.