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Ahhh, Espresso

June 11, 2009

So, I now have near-perfect espresso available in my kitchen pretty much at whim.

I’ve long been a de-facto coffee geek, and recruited a number of my friends to share my passion for good coffee (most notable among them being Rachel, who has worked in cafes as near as long as I have, and beat me to the punch with home espresso, both getting a home machine first, and getting a better machine in the long run.)  But I’m on my way to getting my own back.

I talked Mother into buying a Gaggia “Espresso Pure” – effectively a low-end model from one of the top companies in domestic espresso (Achille Gaggia being the inventor of the modern espresso machine, before his “steamless coffee maker” the crema so prized by espresso conesseurs didn’t exist).  We did good things with it, but as good as it was, the coffee tended towards thin, with decent but weak and short-lived crema.  I’ve been figuring much of the blame sat at the machine, simply the limitations of a small boiler and a small machine: simply unable to match the precise tempterature and high pressure (9 bars, please) of a industrial machine.

But, just the other day I found myself at the Coffee Geek Yard Sale in vancouver here, and picked up a proper milled aluminum tamp and Baratza Virtuoso grinder – for $65.  As in, a $300+ grinder for less than 1/3 of it’s intended price, simply because it needed minor service and was missing it’s cap.

The difference that using a proper tamp made was astounding, I initially made little change, but as I got more confident with tamping pressure (my Krups can’t take tamped espresso, or the resistance of the espresso is greater than the seal around the portafilter and I just get hot water spraying everywhere) the product improved dramatically; and the end difference the tamp made was startling.

Off sick today, (Congested, can’t talk for shit.  I can still do stuff, but working a phone while talking like a cartoon character and losing my voice just wasn’t working for me.)  I repaired the grinder and put it through it’s paces, and on it’s “0” and “1” grind settings, the two finest, I get nice light & fluffy espresso.   that I can run through the Gaggia for absolutely brilliant espresso – deep, fluffy crema, the ideal caramel colour.  The espresso, while slightly on the bitter for my taste, was thick and syrupy in consistancy and with far more of the nuanced flavours than the thinner brew we were producing earlier.

All in all, I’m now making something close to what I’d serve at a cafe, and better than some I’ve had elsewhere.  I’m pretty excited to see what I can put out with further practice and tweaking.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 16, 2009 1:58 am

    my new favourite drink is a double shot of the Van Goh espresso flavoured vodka, on the rocks.

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