Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Posts posted by malachi

  1. Those of you who are serious about coffee: Do you think a drip machine can ever make good coffee?


    Vac Pot, French Press, Moka Pot, commercial espresso machine. If you want truly good coffee those are the options.

    Just my humble opinion of course (grin).

  2. Yeah... no-one except Starbucks can get Kona...

    And if you buy that one I've got a bridge to sell you.

    (The idea of a delicate, fragrant and wonderful coffee like Kona being dramatically over-roasted like this makes me want to weep.)

  3. The design that is sold today is for the most part still based on 1920's technology even though it was last revised in the 1960's.

    The key dates in espresso machine technology are 1901, 1948 and 1961 (boiler and portafilter design, lever pressure, modern style pump) though some might consider the addition of dates associated with the development of the pressure relief valve, three-way solenoid and automatic volumetric dosage.

  4. This was the basic type of machine used until 1948, but the coffee being produced by it would not be recognizable by any of us as espresso.

    Not having tried coffee from a machine of the described style, I am curious. Is it closer to Moka coffee in terms of body, flavor and consistency?

    It is closer to the coffee produced by a Moka pot, but has even less crema. It's better described as a "quick brewed" coffee than a "pressure brewed" coffee.

  5. He's talking about in La Pavoni. The machines go for about 400-600 bucks, and as far as I am concerned its espresso, not moka. Ive had shots pulled from these things, its awesome, but you gotta know what you are doing. The margin for error on using these things is considerable and they are a bitch to maintain.

    Actually, I'm talking about the very original Pavoni, which was before the lever Pavoni machines. The La Pavoni lever machines, do, in fact, produce espresso, but they were not introduced until after Gaggia introduced the first lever machines.

  6. Actually, espresso does, in fact, refer to being made quickly... in addition to describing the method of extraction. Actually, "espresso" has a number of types of meaning in Italian. As described above, one is the process of "expressing" the flavour of coffee. Another is to make the coffee quickly. And finally, Luigi Bezzera created and popularized "caffe expres" in 1901, a coffee making method that created a single cup of coffee "expressly for you." This was an early precurrsor to true espresso machines and there is little doubt that the name derives from this. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, the first use of "caffe espresso" as a phrase was in the 1906 International Trade Fair in Milan where Bezzera was an exhibitor and offered caffe espresso made from the Ideale machine. By 1909 the Ideale machine was being sold by Desiderio Pavoni (who obtained the Bezzera patent in 1903), with the key addition of a steam relief valve. This was the basic type of machine used until 1948, but the coffee being produced by it would not be recognizable by any of us as espresso. It was not until Gaggia introduced the first lever machine in 1948 that true espresso was created.

  7. Hey Folks

    So I'm looking for any good tips and/or tricks for a last minute reservation. My parents are looking to have dinner at either Circo or Aureole (their choices, not mine) tomorrow (Saturday) night between 6:30 and 7:30. Yeah... I know... they're being more than a little high-maintenence and unrealistic.

    Neither, of course, has openings currently.

    Any tricks? Suggestions?


  8. the variation in roast contributes to the unique "wild" flavours of Yemeni coffees. you want to roast into 2nd crack, at which point the least roasted beans will usually be at a City roast level.

    if you want to test and practice technique, i would suggest trying a roast with a more consistent coffee. some of the Brazilian coffees would be good choices for this sort of practice - and if you use a Traditional Dry processed one, you'll get some of the same flavours that you get in a Yemeni (though, admittedly, to a dramatically decreased degree).

  9. if you're using a French Press or a decent espresso machine you are going to need a grinder that produces consistent size grinds.

    now... the truth is that the grinder is NOT the single most important factor and for many people there will be no real improvement when buying a good grinder. the trouble is that most people are using bad beans. by bad, in this case, i mean beans that are either not fresh or of poor quality or badly roasted and/or blended (or all three). and/or the beans are pre-ground. in addition, most people are using poorly maintained equipment that is either dirty, incapable of producing and maintaining the correct temperature consistently (and, in the case of an espresso machine, the correct pressure) or has been cleaned with dish soap.

    the truth is that, for most people, the first taste of correctly prepared coffee from good beans tends to be astonishing. but... simply using a good grinder rarely solves the problem.

    as a cautionary tale, i know someone who spent over $2500 on equipment in a short period of time and found little to no improvement in the resulting coffee. it turned out that he was using pre-ground Trader Joe coffee. he was amazed when a visitor brought some fresh, high quality beans by and pulled some shots. and then he was depressed later than week when his coffee (with the new beans) was not the same quality. it turned out that he had, after his visitor left, ground all the remaining beans, put the coffee in tupperware and stuck it in the freezer.

    as with most things in life, there are no shortcuts.

  10. question to those who know a hell of a lot more than i:

    we have a krups 12 cup drip coffee maker, a regular sized braun blade coffee bean grinder, we buy "fresh"(??) beans (mostly mocha java, vanilla, vienna), & mix together before grinding.

    is it really worth going out & buying a french press (what size?), & a "burr" grinder (like a regular med size melitta), & order 1lb bags of "maybe freshly-roasted" coffee beans from WA (we live in NYC)??????????????????????????????

    just seems to be so much re: which burr grinder is better, are the beans really fresh-roasted, etc, etc......


    I guess the simple answer is Yes.

    The difference between ordinary coffee and good coffee is similar to the difference between Coors Light and Chimay Gran Cru. Seriously.

    I'm usually opposed to telling people what to do, but at least as a starting point, and to indicate how much easier this is than you seem to fear - here is what I (personally) would suggest you buy to get started:


    French Press,

    1 pound Intelligentsia House Blend whole bean coffee.

    Please note that you might well be able to get these cheaper at other locations (I just did some quick research) and you might be able to find other options that you like, personally, more than these. These are just what I would tend to suggest.

    Of course... as I said earlier, I really am unaware of the East Coast coffee scene, so I don't know if there is a great artisan roaster that is local to you. If there is, you should certainly buy from them. Regardless, I would tend to suggest mail-ordering coffee now and then from the other great roasters around the country - just to expand your horizons and your appreciation for flavour.

  11. I'm glad.

    In the immortal words of Dr. Illy... "Great espresso is like 30 minutes of heaven. Bad espresso is like 30 minutes in the dentist's chair."

    This morning I had a wonderful Ethiopian Yrgecheffe Estate Auction Lot from Eastside Artisan Coffees. A stunning coffee. Incredibly complex and wild tasting, with wonderful flower and wine/berry notes. Not a big coffee - but a truly intense one.

  12. Good roasters always roast date their coffees.

    As for mail-order -- if you're dealing with a good roaster they will roast and ship the same day. Coffees need to "de-gas" for between 4 and 72 hours, so shipping them (priority or two day) should result in optimal coffee on your doorstep.

    Thus, the "don't order too much" suggestion.

    I know it seems complex and perhaps overwhelming, but it's actually more simple than you might see. The trouble is that you have to unlearn much of what you've been told, and ignore much of what you hear. The amount of mis and dis-information about coffee (and the amount of ignorance and incompetence, even in the industry itself) is astonishing.

    Step One: Buy a small amount of high quality, fresh and roast dated coffee from a reputable, skilled artisan roaster (by small amount, I would suggest no more than you will go through in 4-5 days).

    Step Two: Grind only enough for one French Press. Put grounds in French Press (I prefer my coffee ground quite coarse for French Press, but it's a matter of personal taste).

    Step Three: Boil water.

    Step Four: Pour water over grounds to fill French Press. Stir once.

    Step Five: Wait for between 3 and 5 minutes (depending upon your personal taste - I tend to brew for no more than 4 minutes myself).

    Step Six: Plunge, pour.

    Step Seven: Taste. Looked shocked. Discover just how great coffee can be (or discover that the particular coffee you ordered is not to your taste - grin).

    Step Eight: Add sugar and/or cream if that's the sort of thing you like (but please please please... always taste the coffee by itself first).

    To make all this happen all you need to do is:

    - Buy a French Press (I'm a fan of the Bodum 16oz myself).

    - Buy a good burr grinder (check out the reviews on http://www.coffeegeek.com/ for advice).

    - Buy a little coffee.

    Far easier than making Hollendaise, no?

  13. for a French Press I don't think you could go wrong with:

    - Guatamalan Antigua from Zoka,

    - Arabian Moka-Java from Intelligentsia,

    - Sumatra Mandheling from Stumptown.

    Those are just personal favorites - those three roasters do a damn good job with just about any coffee. A good resource for reviews of coffees is http://www.coffeereview.com/

    sorry - i know little to nothing about the coffee scene on the East Coast.

    Oh... obviously you should order the coffee whole bean and grind it yourself. And order less rather than more - fresh coffee is key to the equation (refrigerator, freezer, etc. -- none of them substitute for freshness). i tend to never buy more than 1 pound at a time, and usually buy either 1/4 pound or 1/2 pound.

  14. Moka-java would absolutely blow as espresso...

    Here is a recipe for "Moka-Java" Espresso...

    1 part Yemeni Moka Sanani,

    1 part Uganda Bugisu,

    1 part Sulawesi Toraja

    (all roasted full city).

    The Uganda has the chocolate richness of a Java, the Sulawesi contributes the Indonesian spice and earth and the Yemeni is, well, the Moka in the equation (wild, intense, winey).

    It's actually a lovely espresso. Not a "daily drinker" but really cool and fun.

  15. Anyway, espresso is a drink that must be produced from a blend, and really from a blend specifically designed for espresso. A moka-java blend would be disappointing as espresso, but a single varietal would really suck.

    Actually, this is not 100% accurate.

    There are a number of single-origin coffees that produce interesting to good espresso on their own, and a lot that can be used to make wonderful Americanos.

    Just this morning I had a lovely Americano made with Indian Peaberry Pearl Mountain Estate.

  16. In my opinion, it is very difficult to get consistent, level and predictable pressure while tamping with the little plastic tampers. The pro tampers are all much more ergonomic (assuming you buy one that fits your hand) and are weighted in a manner to allow a solid and even tamp.

    Again, in my opinion, it is entirely worth the money to purchase a good tamper. To get the most out of it, however, I would suggest that (once you purchase it) you practice on a scale to figure out what 30 pounds of pressure feels like. The idea is to eliminate that as a variable and end up only having to adjust the grind on your grinder on a day to day basis in order to pull excellent shots.

    I'm a huge fan of stainless steel tamper bases. The weight, in my opinion, makes level tamping much easier. I also like flat bottomed tampers, though this is more of a matter of taste and I have to admit I've had lovely espresso tamped with a convex tamper as well.

  17. look for the "old style" artisan lambics

    Drei Fonteinen Oude Gueuze

    Hanssens Oude Kriek

    as examples.

    as for other Belgians you might like...

    Orval, Unibroue Maudite, Chimay Gran Cru, Duvel, Wesvleteren 12 and 8, Petrus would be a good start.

    you should look for the true Trappists and try them all.

    and come summer, try some saisson and some wit -- underappreciated beers.

  • Create New...