Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Some cappuccino art from yesterday.

Tall Rosetta. A little off balance, but with a big heart.

More proportional and symmetrical. Pretty happy with this one.

Another angle to show froth volume.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

New Item on the Cart

Brand new, though borrowed.

This is so I can get some practice in for the SCRBC. No, I don't have a LM to use, but I'm doing what I can. Practice coffee on the way. Watch out, South Central competitors... I've got your number.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Just some art

6oz. cappuccino. Tulip shaped cup. Milk texture could've been better, but I was pretty happy with the rosetta... especially considering the cup shape. (flat bottom, small diameter rim, etc..)
The serving tray I'll be using for the SCRBC. The three flower pics are actually slots for 4x6 photos. Those slots will be put to good use.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Look! Look! The standard for transparency is farther still

Guess whose blog I snagged this little gem from?
Origins listed in percentiles as contents of the blend. Amazing. I can't wait to see this sort of thing here in the States. It's bound to happen eventually. Right? ...Bueller?

Next step: visible lot numbers along with everything else... and then Agtron numbers. Roast profiles are a bit much. Roast level is almost too much to ask. Is it possible?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Rocket Reserve Espresso blend

Larry was kind enough to send me a pound of his newest espresso blend.

Rocket Reserve:

When it arrived, it had not even been publicly released. This stuff retails for a whopping $21/lb. If you knew the list of coffees in it, you would understand why. One of these coffees is exclusively available from Rocket Coffee Roasters.

Here's a look at the roast color and consistency:

It was recommended to start this experimentation at roughly 16 grams and 201F for a double.

So I did just that. 16 grams, but the temp was a little on the high side.
The resulting shot:

The flavor was of leather, cigar tobacco leaf, and a winey tinge. The flavors are not "clean", per se, but they are very clear, very refined, and very easy to identify. The culmination is much like what a possible men's cologne could smell like.

With a heavier dose, I've noticed that the leather becomes dominant, and the winey tinge is a little sharp. Not unpleasantly so, but it's something I noticed.

At a lower temperature, the leather and tobacco take center stage, and the acidity is dulled a little. Strange, I realize, but that's what my tastes told me. At a higher temperature, it becomes a little unpleasant. The flavors lack balance, and the sophistication gives way to an exaggeration of the darker flavor characteristics, and not much else.

I've discovered that with this blend, it's actually best to pull it a little longer than normal. Don't cut it at the first sign of blonding, or you'll be missing some of the clarity.

I found my preferred brew paramters to be closer to 14 grams, a fine grind to pull in ~26-28 seconds, with a lighter tamp (say, 25lbs.. according to the elbow-gauge). The tobacco flavor becomes enhanced with a particular sweetness. The leather is tamed to the status of a compliment rather than a contending flavor. The wineyness is balanced by the sweetness and tobacco flavors quite nicely. The resulting shot was smoother with a much rounder flavor profile and medium body. The temperature was about 201, if I remember correctly, so don't change that part.

As an Americano, the extraction parameter effects become more apparent. I'm not entirely sure why that is.
Often times, I'll find that an Americano can actually expose otherwise hidden flavors in a complex blend. The flavors in this particular case are exactly the same. This is credence to the earlier description that the flavors are clear and distinct.
For a killer Americano, nail the shot with the specs mentioned.

In milk, the leather and tobacco come right through, but so does a dark fruit flavor. This fruit isn't berry.. it's more like plum, but even less tart, if that makes sense. The flavor is present in the straight espresso, but not so much. I believe this is due to the milk dulling the acidity that is a critical part of the winey tinge mentioned earlier.

The flavor is strong enough to cut through even a 16oz. latte, if that's what you like, but I found I liked it best as an Americano for reasons mentioned earlier. It works beautifully in a cappuccino, and makes a very pleasant straight espresso. The lingering aftertaste is sweet, more tobacco than leather, with some of the dried plum coming through. Take a drink of water after the espresso to heighten this effect.

Overall, this doesn't replace my favorite, even at the price-point, but that's just a subjective thing. There is no guessing what you're tasting with this one. The flavors are clear, the mouthfeel is consistent from beginning to end, and the aftertaste isn't far from the initial flavor. Once you've had it, there are no more surprises. It's a consistent flavor, and for that reason, I would consider it to be a very forgiving blend, with little sacrifice to the elegance of the coffee itself in the cup.

Definitely worth a try once it becomes available. Look for it in the coming week or two.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sold the Gaggia

My first machine capable of real espresso has been sold. Thankfully, it was sold locally. Thankfully still, the guy who bought it has become an instant coffee buddy, so I'll get to see my old machine once in awhile.

I have a potential training session on the horizon. I've been "promised" the gig, but there's no set date, so I will not say it's for certain.

I had the chance to see and use the newer Astoria stylish machine.

I thought it looked very cool. It seems to be fairly messy with no backsplash. Rinsing the PF takes more care than usual. It also seemed to run a little hot, even with the HX boiler at under 1 bar. It also felt a little different with all of the controls down below rather than closer to eye level. Very cool looking in person, though. I can't stress that enough.

I've been playing with some more Rocket Coffee, but that's for another post. Competition is coming closer, and I'm feeling unprepared. The rules aren't even up yet. :eekomg!:

I don't have a single La Marzocco locally to even try to get with for practice. I'm just doing what I can with what I have with the words "Grab ahold of something, bite your lip, and give it hell" running through my mind. Strange, yet somehow fitting.

I am officially quitting my job at Papa John's. I've realized that if I were to follow through on interest I've received for training or consulting projects, I would have enough work to not need a "wages" job. On top of that, I'd have the time to get out and sell the services in person, which is always better. "Even fishing takes effort"

And here's a teaser for the review(s) to come within the next few days.