an espresso lover's blog

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

I've just had a super evening roasting coffee with my friend Anders Gulden Olstad. After visiting a really nice italian restaurant (and skipping their espresso..hehe), we went to my house and fired up the poppers.

Well, before that we sampled some espresso beans that I had roasted four days ago. It was a preblend of the ottolina classica, one of my favourite espressi. I think Anders likes it a lot too. I was not expecting that much since the last roast I did with it was not up to par compared to the original preroasted beans. They were just too dark. Probably because I used the old, more aggressive popper. With the new popper and its longer roasting time (8-9 mins for espresso) and better circulation, I really noticed a difference in both how the beans looked and the way the espresso tasted. Really good! Maybe a bit less body, but surprisingly close to the shots I make with the preroasted beans. I really liked that since I am in general a fan of underdogs performing well :). I mean, look at the picture of my modificed scarecrow popper below. Just 249 kroner and an illy can do an impressive roast! The capacity is larger too. Anders roasted some costa rican with it and got 130 grams of roasted beans with a normal load. That is close to 150g capacity!.

We roasted various beans and tried them as drip after a 30 min rest. The Ethiopia Sidamo was especially good. We could clearly smell and taste flowers when sampling it. The melange blend (50% light, 50% dark) of the mexican liquid ambar was interesting, but not as good as the sidamo (I didn't expect it either).

I had a great time and now I just hope the caffeine load won't keep me from getting some sleep tonight :).

Setting up the poppers and other stuff

Breathing in the popper exhaust and stirring tze beanz

Anders is happy with the result

Tze beanz

Classica double shot

Me steaming milk for Anders's cappa

Scarecrow popper

3/24/2004 10:30:00 PM  

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

I booked hotel and plane tickets yesterday for the national barista championship next month. Really looking forward to it! It will be fun to hang around taking pictures and talking to other coffeeheads. I may even do some video recording since the DV-camera at work is available that weekend.

SCAE Norway published more information about the competition a couple of days ago. Apparently the semifinals will be held on friday and the finals (and part of the semifinals) on saturday. My nice boss has given me a day off so I will fly to Trondheim early on friday in time for the semifinals.

Anders Gulden Olstad and me have been planning to roast some coffee together since I've got two poppers now. Sadly we've been forced to postpone it a couple of times already because of me catching a nasty cold and some delays in the shipment of green beans from Stavanger. I hope we will make it happen this week. We'll probably roast mostly for drip which is most fun since we can brew some (amazing) coffee right away.

Coffee at work is really poor so I am twisting my brain to find a solution :). I tried to bring some drip on thermos this morning, but it had a weird "thermos taste". No good. The best solution would probably be to buy a simple superauto like the gaggia digital compact, but that is 6500 kroner. Just too expensive.

3/23/2004 09:29:00 AM  

Thursday, March 11, 2004

I tried the new popper yesterday and immediately noticed how much more powerful the fan was. In my first attempt I used about 85g of monsooned malabar. It is the lightest (in weight) bean I've got in my green bean stock, so it immediately started to circulate and jump around in the hot rising air. No need to stir! It was so powerful however, that beans were falling out. I tried to mount the plastic hood, but it was only slightly better. The temperature didn't seem to get high enough either, probably because of the diminishing amount of beans in the chamber. I never got to second crack, even after 25 minutes of roasting. After some pondering I found a solution. I removed the bottom of an empty illy can with a can opener and mounted it on top of the chamber with aluminium foil and tape. Then I used more beans, maybe 100 grams to reduce the circulation and thereby increase the temperature. It worked a lot better. Second crack at about 9 minutes and a surprisingly even roast considering it was a monsooned malabar. I really like the fact that it is almost fire and forget, a lot easier than stirring the beans in the old popper.

3/11/2004 09:31:00 AM  

Monday, March 08, 2004

I bought a second popper this weekend. A member of the discussion forum on confirmed that the princesss silver popper had the correct chamber design and had been using it successfully for 6 months. While browsing for the popper in the shop (Glassmagasinet, Stortorvet), I noticed a female nespresso representative demonstrating their machines and serving drinks. Some months ago a guy wrote in the no.alt.mat.drikke newsgroup that the nespresso - espresso was passable, so I was curious and decided to ask for a shot. She was busy with another customer, so in the meantime I paid for the popper. When I returned she was available and I asked for a shot. "Sure, but which one?". She then gave a fancy menu with the different espresso pods that the nespresso can use. I guess there were about 10 different one. I went for a pod that she recommended. It was supposed to be smooth, but well, it wasn't. The pour started out fine, dark brown and surprisingly thick, but then went white and didn't stop before the desired programmed volume was obtained. The crema was whitish and the shot bitter and *hot*. I slightly burned my tongue on the first sip, and got the same experience as I've had when tasting shots from pressurized groups or superautos. Repeatable and consistent yes, but who wants this type of below average shot. The big plus of the whole nespresso concept is the cleanliness and easy preparation. Load the pod, click the button and you get an espresso. The spent pod is ejected into a cannister in the back. When you buy a nespresso machine you're automatically enrolled in an "espresso club" which they try to portray as something exclusive and fancy. All their brochures and the like paint this image to the consumer. So, to sum it up, Nespresso sells a machine and makes money, and then in the process also gets a loyal pod customer since only nespresso pods can be used. Pods can be bought on the internet or by phone for 29,50 NoK for 10 pods. The simplest machine is 3500 NoK. I think my parents could dig this concept because of how easy and clean it is, but the shot is just too bad.

A friend of mine was in chicago last week and brought me a pound of starbucks "smooth espresso blend" which was described as "dense and caramelly-sweet". Yeah right, more like thin and bitter swill :). Just impossible to produce a passable shot with it. Terrible stuff, even worse than expected. I now understand why they call it charbucks and why it is so nice to make espresso at home in the states.

3/08/2004 11:36:00 AM  


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