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Date: 02 Dec 2006 09:44:42
From: ramboorider@gmail.com
Subject: Fellow Newbies - go check out a GOOD barista (long)
I'm about a month in with a Silvia/Rocky and have posted a couple of
pleas for help and a few observations over that time. One of the
recommendations (from shall I think) was to go check out John
Hornall's shop in Chestnut Hill (since I live in the Philly area). I
wasn't able to for a while, and just kept plugging away. I was
increasingly pleased with the shots I was getting, but wasn't sure
exactly what a great shot tasted like. I'd gotten to where I'd get a
deep chocolate-like flavor, but the whole idea of 'citrus like
overtones' was lost on me. I don't have a sense of smell (none, nada,
zilch, zip, not even a trace) and I figured some of what I was missing
might have been do to that, although I have a pretty refined sense of
taste that I guess I've developed to compensate. So I didn't know quite
where I was, but I didn't feel much sense of urgency.

I recently made it up to John's shop for a cappa and a couple of double
shots. John wasn't around, but a couple of guys he trained were, both
of whom obviously knew what they were doing. The first observation came
about one sip into a double ristretto - fruity overtones abound! Along
with the chocolate-like taste I'd had. I could get used to drinking
shots like this. They let me step behind the counter to watch the
shots. I realized that I'd been pouring too much volume and, in some
cases, too long.

Second observation had to do with foam. I'm very happy with the foam
I've been getting, but I'd never quite understood what was meant by a
DRY cappacino. Now I do. I'm not even sure I prefer it, but I sure was
impressed with it. My foam is what I'd call a very firm liquid - you
can't see any bubbles in it, it's very shiney/glisteny and it pours
really nicely and sits on top of the drink. What these guys came up
with I'd describe as more of a pourable solid - you could see the
bubbles, but damn they're tiny! And the whole drink had a very dry feel
to it (and a much less reflective look), like you're almost eating it
instead of drinking it. He poured it over the top of the cup and it sat
there like a mushroom without spilling over the sides. My foam is
really quite good I think, but it's nothing like that. Frankly, I'm not
sure you could do latte art with their foam, whereas mine would work
really well for it - I've almost stumbled on a nice design once or
twice. Not sure what the ideal "microfoam" is anymore, but nice to see
the possibilities.

Anyway, I got home and started playing with the shots and I was getting
shots very much like what I tasted there within a few tries. Tightened
up the grind, simplified the dosing and distribution a bit, a bit more
pressure on the polish twist (based on what I saw them doing), and I
was getting very nice fruity overtones from my shots. I played around
with the PID temperature and found a new sweet-spot at 228, still
cooler than some have recommended for the Black Cat beans I'm using,
but at 230 I started losing the overtones and at 232 it started getting
bitter. I also took the portafilter holder off of the doserless rocky,
which allows me to dose the basket a little overfull, at which point, I
can distribute with a poor approximation of the stockfleth (sp?) method
instead of using a chopstick on a partially full basket and then
topping it off. With the portafilter holder in place, the spout knocks
off the top of the dose and made it tough to get the basket full enough
to distribute and then level it off at the top of the basket. Much
quicker process and much more consistent results since removing the
portafilter holder from the grinder.

Anyway, the point is, spending 15-20 minutes with some folks who really
know their stuff made a HUGE difference in my understanding of what I
was doing right and wrong and how to improve it. Seemingly by osmosis,
my shots improved substantially pretty much right away, partly just by
having a better understanding of what's possible. If you're similarly
new to this home barista bidness and are either frustrated or just not
sure about what you're shooting for, I highly recommend finding a
really good barista in your area and go hang out with him or her for a
little while.

-Ray





 
Date: 02 Dec 2006 18:11:44
From: ramboorider@gmail.com
Subject: Re: Fellow Newbies - go check out a GOOD barista (long)
I just told 'em I was a newbie home barista, that I'd heard really good
things about them, and wanted to try a few drinks to "see how good it
can get". You tell 'em what you're there for and pay them a compliment
at the same time and they should be motivated to try for good results.
It helps to know going in that they're really good though.

-Ray

On Dec 2, 7:39 pm, Ton <thisisafakefors...@hotmail.com > wrote:
> Maybe I will do that too. There should be a good coffee bar in my
> neighborhood. But to be sure that you get the best they can make, would
> it be wise to ask them to do their best, because you brew espresso
> yourself and would like compare ? Or could that be taken up wrong ?



 
Date: 03 Dec 2006 01:39:25
From: Ton
Subject: Re: Fellow Newbies - go check out a GOOD barista (long)
Maybe I will do that too. There should be a good coffee bar in my
neighborhood. But to be sure that you get the best they can make, would
it be wise to ask them to do their best, because you brew espresso
yourself and would like compare ? Or could that be taken up wrong ?


 
Date: 02 Dec 2006 09:49:25
From: ramboorider@gmail.com
Subject: Re: Fellow Newbies - go check out a GOOD barista (long)
Oy, sorry about the double post. The 'first' version hadn't posted
after about half an hour, so I posted it again and the 'second' version
came up right away. Then, the first one just popped up, quite a while
later. The vaguaries of USEnet.

-Ray