Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Expobar Update

So, I know I said I would have pictures.

And I do, but I didn't want to post them just yet.

The Pulser has a leak. A pretty severe leak. A length of John Guest tubing kept bursting under pressure, so I'm waiting for some replacement tubing before I try to reassemble it.

It should be here sometime this week... I hope.

The espresso was good, but I'm having a hard time with the frothing on this thing.

Replacement tip, here I come!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Massive Update

I'm back. Actually, I've been back, but haven't spent the time to update.

The Barista Jam in Tucson, AZ was an absolute blast. Everyone there was so passionate about what they do. So many people asking questions from anyone they can to learn whatever they can in order to advance their craft. It was extremely refreshing.

I shared a hotel room with Larry Jones and Edwin Martinez, which was pretty interesting. In the room we had: A Rocky doserless, a Chemex, a French Press, about 8 or so different coffees, and three coffee nerds.

Edwin and I woke up every morning to the words "There's a Chemex going over there for ya". What a way to start the day.

I met a whole lot of people. I really doubt I'd even begin to be able to remember all of their names. I met the crew from Cabin Coffee, and they seemed to be the most eager passionate group there. At least, that was my perspective.

Reid Hickman was there to give a presentation on Latte Art, which was extremely well received. It was quite the popular event. Rightfully so, considering the fact that he's won the Millrock Latte Art contest... twice.

I met Gene Lemos of Vanelli's and talked to him quite a bit. It was interesting to be proverbially slapped around a bit by someone who's been in the industry for longer than I've been alive. I learned alot. He was there to give a presentation on home espresso machines which were demoed during the Home Barista shin-dig following the end of Day 1 of the Jam.

Edwin gave his Seed-to-cup presentation, which was a bit more refined and interactive than what I remember in San Antonio. It was also streamlined quite a bit to fit the time frame that was partly taken up when Edwin had everyone introduce themselves. A good idea for sure.

Bill Brodberg gave a presentation on espresso machine maintenance for the working barista. As far as The Coffee Vein is concerned, he is the ONLY espresso equipment technician in Tucson. He had some examples of what can happen if you don't use softened water, if you don't clean out your portafilters, and other little gems that should never grace the counter of a good shop. I was amazed by some of it. You hear alot about it, but how often do you see a 1/4" cake of "black" crack and knock out of a portafilter than had never been cleaned? Yeah... seriously. Gross stuff.

Larry and Gene were scheduled to give a presentation entitled "Advanced Espresso Techniques". Seeing that training is what I do, I figured I would offer to help them outline it. They almost suckered me into doing the whole thing on my own. I could have, but I didn't feel right about it. I was there as a part of the audience, in theory, and I really would not have felt right about taking it on entirely. So, they decided that I should cover distribution techniques. Of course, once I started talking, I had a hard time shutting up, but oh well. I think it went over pretty well. There were some good questions, and a lot of people walking up to me afterwards with various questions.

Mike Trevino did one hell of a job organizing this thing and keeping it on track. It never would have gone as smoothly as it did without him.

Chris(aka Psyd) was there in the background doing all of the grunt-work to make this thing carry through without a hitch. Changing out 5gallon water bottles, washing milk pitchers, setting up, tearing down, cleaning up, and so on. I asked him about it in a light-hearted manner, and he told me his purpose for doing all of that was to make sure that The Vein maintained a great reputation so that it would always be there so he could get a shot when he didn't feel like pulling one on his 2-group Astoria in his small kitchen. (I saw pictures.. it's nuts) The Vein has at least one seriously dedicated customer. I always wished for customers who I could talk coffee with. It's a rare thing.

There was a latte art contest and a signature drink contest. I didn't enter either. I was having way too much fun talking to people about coffee.

That just about wraps up the AZ Barista jam.

I was supposed to go to Tyler, TX to train a shop, but that was called off at the last minute. Joy!

I guess it's okay, though, because it gave me some time to figure out my schooling for this upcoming semester. (going back at it.. need to finish)

I also launched, but have not yet gone public with, www.espressotrainer.com . It is still under construction, but I think it's starting to come together... slowly.

I've gotten positive feedback from people about Texas Coffee People.(http://txcp.wordpress.com). Everyone seems to want to help pull the Texas coffee community together. It's a beautiful thing, and I hope I can help make it happen.

Last, but certainly not least, the Expobar Pulser arrived equipped with a PID and Manometer. Woohoo! HX > 2.5oz. single boiler. It had a leak when it arrived, which I believe to now be fixed. I need to replace the water level safety switch, but I think I can bypass it in the mean time.

Pictures to come.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The New Project

I am proud to announce the beginning of what could be a huge change for the community of coffee fans and enthusiasts in Texas, much like what arizona-coffee.com has done for the coffee community in Arizona.

It's called Texas Coffee People, named for Aaron Blanco's title for those who are genuinely passionate about coffee, and the Lone Star State.

Take a look.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The AZ Barista Jam

I leave for Phoenix, AZ tomorrow afternoon. Larry is going to get me from the airport, and we'll put around Phoenix for part of the day, at least. I'm not sure if we're driving down to Tucson that night, or the next morning.

It's exciting for me. I'll get to put a face to all these people I've been in contact with for quite some time now thanks to Arizona Coffee.

I know Mike "call me Trevino" Trevino has been putting a lot of work into organizing this thing, which is taking place at The Coffee Vein.

Here is an abbreviated schedule of events - (times subject to change - but unlikely)

Sunday 1/7

10am- "Making the perfect Mocha"

11am- "From seed to cup" presentation; by Edwin Martinez, Finca Vista Hermosa, Guatemala

12:00- Lunch Break (free time)

1pm- Pacific Foods "Latte Art Contest"

2:30pm- Latte Art Technique

3:30pm- "Importance of water quality" presentation - David Beeman, Cirqua Water Systems

5pm- Advanced Espresso Extraction

6pm - 9pm- Home Barista Espresso Fest, sponsored by Vaneli's

Monday 1/8

10am- "Espresso Machine Maintenance" - Bill Brodberg, Espresso Wrench

11am- "Comparative Cupping" - Larry Jones, Rocket Coffee Roasters

12:00- Lunch Break (free time)

1pm- Artista Signature Drink Competition

2:30pm- Advanced Brewing Methods- Edwin Martinez

3:30pm- "What's on your drink menu?" Alternative drink options- Red Rock Foods

4:30pm "Open Jam" time on espresso machines

So, there you have it. I'm hoping to get a lot of pictures from this one. I may or may not enter the sig drink contest. I don't feel I'm prepared. I just haven't had time to play with my ideas yet, but hopefully, soon.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Art of the Bean

I just discovered this film on HB.

I never knew it existed. (or maybe I did, but just don't remember)