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Why I Hate Home Espresso; Why I Love Julie by Aaron De Lazzer
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espresso_jim
Senior Member
espresso_jim
Joined: 13 Jun 2002
Posts: 325
Location: Austin, TX
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Mini Vivaldi II
Grinder: Mazzer Mini E
Drip: Technivorm Moccamaster...
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Sun Jul 27, 2003, 10:37am
Subject: Can't we do both?
 

AAron says: "Here's where the missing half comes in: for me there is nothing better to accompany a great shot of espresso than some really good company (especially some good cute company) and conversation. It's not to say this can't happen in your home or wherever your coffee set-up is but it's just not the same as going out for coffee."

It seems to me that having espresso out is akin to eating out.  I like the home cooking at home but like, as well, going out for the fellowship and ambiance "going out" offers.  Having good home equipment allows me to have the best of both worlds.  Sometimes, I like to sip good espresso working on my computer and others I like to enjoy companionship being out - no matter that many espresso shops have poor vistas.

Aaron also states: "More to the point, if she wasn't working, I wasn't buying coffee" and "for me there is nothing better to accompany a great shot of espresso than some really good company."   Hmmm... so you do go for the good espresso, too!  If more places produced consistently great espressos like Julie, I might go out for espresso more often.  Instead, when I do go out for the companionship and ambience, it isn't to espresso shops that serve bad espressos (unfortunately, a majority here).  

There is a little coffee house that roasts up one of the best espresso blends I have had. On Tuesdays, you can get a pound, fresh roasted that day, for under $7 and get a free drink.  I buy the beans and pass on their espresso.  They take a lovely blend and pull really average to poor shots.

So, I think we do go out and enjoy the companionship, it just might not be to espresso shops.  This does go along with your previous articles about training of the shop owner and the baristas.

Thanks for the thought provoking article.  I like your wit and style.
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Junkstyle
Senior Member
Junkstyle
Joined: 14 Jan 2003
Posts: 15
Location: Seattle
Expertise: Beginner

Espresso: ashamed to tell
Grinder: none
Vac Pot: nope
Drip: Mr. Coffee (only the best)
Roaster: AMD CPU
Posted Sun Jul 27, 2003, 12:45pm
Subject: are you done yet?
 

I could barely finish your boring and obvious whine.  Sure I get your point but couldn't you have summarized that in one sentence. Starbucks has taken over where I live (seattle) and I'm not about to drive 8 miles to the nearest good espresso cafe everytime I want a  cup of espresso--which is every morning for me.  I'd rather make a cup myself thats ten times better than the fully automatic swiss machines make with overly roasted coffee beans at starbucks. And if Dismas Smith is reading my whine of this whine, I have news for you. Train your workers(i wont even title them baristas) better at Zoka's because everytime I've been there I get a disappointing shot of espresso.
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MarkPrince
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Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 5,618
Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: KvdW Speedster
Grinder: Versalab M3 Grinder
Vac Pot: A bit too many
Drip: Bonavita
Roaster: Hario Glass Retro Roaster
Posted Sun Jul 27, 2003, 3:49pm
Subject: I need more practice...
 

It's true. I need a hella lot more practice. You gotta figure that Dismas has at least 30x the amount of shots built and poured over me, as a pro Barista working in a high volume cafe. That experience gives him the opportunity to know grind just by look, or sound, or both; to recognize instantly how to correct a bad pour; to instantly judge how a machine is pouring and what it's capable of.

We also had a "great equalizer"... we were using very bad, very old, very robusta laden beans from an Italian company I will not name. The judges, both of whom are world class Barista judges, didn't like any of the shots, but did choose Dismas' shot from the La Marzocco as the best overall, and his shot from the FF!! X3 as the second best, but had a hard time choosing it over my LM produced shot (at first, they declared Dis' FF shot and my La Marzocco shot "equally bad", but when pressed, gave a nod to the FF Shot).

It'd be interesting to see how it would play out with a killer blend.
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jester
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Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 33
Location: Vancouver
Expertise: Professional

Posted Sun Jul 27, 2003, 3:55pm
Subject: Well you can't please everybody...
 

I knew there would be at least a few humourless souls out there.

Perhaps the article hits a little too close to home for some.  Maybe you either live in the "espresso perfection at any cost" camp while for others the espresso is just part of the big picture.  My fear is that those in the "espresso perfection at any cost" camp rarely if ever visit the other side.

Marshall totally gets it.  Great setting of the scene.  I was so there with you...at least wishing I was.

Fookoonetwork the bit about the drum was tongue in cheek.  More an expression to get Mark going since he is adament that the contest was VERY close.  He's the only one that I've heard that from by the way. ;)
I'm a little worried about you disinterest in the social aspect of espresso.  I mean really?  Yikes, you're scaring me.  How about the beautiful woman in the picture at the top of the article?  That's not me and my girlfriend by the way.  You probably weren't wondering but just in case you were...Heck to giggle away the afternoon with her I'd be lucky to remember my name let alone if the coffee was good.  I'm thinking you need to get out of LA for a bit.  Come up to Vancouver for a visit.  Can't promise the coffee will be better but I'll be the bestest most charming company you could ask for. :)

You also touch on something that I can't help but comment on.  It is the idea that the home CoffeeGeek at the top of their game is just one step away (or an afternoon as you suggest) from really delivering the goods in a professional environment.
Get off the glue.
Mark and I debated this a long while back.  Mark (as the CoffeeGeek everyman) does a nice job, he really does (I'm sure many of you do).  However, he does not do a nice job for $8 hr, 40 hours a week and hundreds of coffees a day.  More to the point I don't think he could.  His gifts are elsewhere.  He does not have the speed, timing and touch essential to being a big B Barista.  His talents are for all to see here on the Web as I'm sure your talents shine elsewhere.  I'm not a big B Barista either but I am insulted when I hear others speak to being a Barista as something that they COULD do if they wanted.  Having an understanding of how to make espresso etc. is one thing.  Having the personality, desire etc. to care to make great coffee while working long hours, for a little money is another altogether different thing.

Espresso Jim, thank you for being the voice of reason.  You speak wisely to the delicate balance of the situation being neither all about the coffee or all about the companionship.  Indeed a bit of both is ideal.  Thanks for the perspective.

Junkstyle, I'm sorry that I bored you to death.  Never my intention.  I think that if you'd read my previous 2 articles that you'd know what to do about Zokas yes?  Maybe a little feedback is in order...I think that they would remake your drink in a second and more than that are one of the places that would be able to fix whatever was broke in the first shot.  Give it a try I'd love the hear what happens.

Aaron
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MarkPrince
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Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 5,618
Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: KvdW Speedster
Grinder: Versalab M3 Grinder
Vac Pot: A bit too many
Drip: Bonavita
Roaster: Hario Glass Retro Roaster
Posted Sun Jul 27, 2003, 3:57pm
Subject: Response to Fookoo
 

You said "I will pass on the social aspect of espresso, but would state that the company and/or ambience would have to be very interesting to overcome lousy espresso that is, unfortunately, the norm in your business."

Which leads me to believe that you're missing the entire point of Aaron's article. His last two were harping on the sad state of coffee quality out there, and then offer solutions.

This one clearly acknowledges that fact, but says "get over it" as in, "coffee is much more than just the taste". It's the experience, the cameraderie, the social aspects of it that make it the beverage it has become on a global scale today.

One point Aaron didn't touch on was the social change coffee has brought to the globe. I'm of the firm belief that if it wasn't for coffee, the French Revolution, the American Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution (just to name three) wouldn't have happened, at least not when they did. Coffee gave the average person the opportunity to meet, discuss, philosophize, dream, and flesh out ideas that they certainly could not do under the cloudy haze of the world's previous "most socialable drink"... the world's previous "breakfast drink": beer. Coffee gave the world the impetus for clear thought and discussion and debate and thinking "yes, we can do it better", and this all stemmed from the social aspects of coffee and the meeting places where it was consumed.

But I get off track here. The point of this article, as I see it, is not to forget or stop trying to make better coffee. The point is that along with that, NEVER forget the real reason why coffee is the world's most consumed social beverage.
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MarkPrince
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Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 5,618
Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: KvdW Speedster
Grinder: Versalab M3 Grinder
Vac Pot: A bit too many
Drip: Bonavita
Roaster: Hario Glass Retro Roaster
Posted Sun Jul 27, 2003, 4:00pm
Subject: Uh... speed.
 

Hehe. third comment.

I got news for you Aaron... even on my "crippled" 1 group LM, I'm down to 12.5 mins for the Barista championship routine. :)
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fookoonetwork
Senior Member
fookoonetwork
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 229
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Pasquini Livia 90
Grinder: Pasquini Moka 90, Anfim...
Vac Pot: Royal Balance Brewer
Drip: none
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Sun Jul 27, 2003, 5:34pm
Subject: fookoo response
 

"It may or may not come as a secret to you, but I hate home espresso machines."

If this is your real sentiment toward home espresso machines, too bad.  That's all that I've got.  There is a big difference between the barista who has to crank out the shots fast for business reasons and the home espresso fanatic who can take his time.  I am not in the espresso business so that the barista short cuts of not sweeping out the grinder in between shots, not doing a back flush, not having relatively fresh beans, not brushing off the screen, not wiping the PF/basket dry, not flushing out the PF/basket will automatically put even the best barista at a great disadvantage compared to someone who goes through the trouble to do that and has adequate hardware and technique.  There is more, but what's the point?  

Ambience is fine and can be a contributing factor in one's enjoyment.  Too bad that not enough of the professionals in your business fail to capitalize on the possibility of bringing espresso to the level of the Iron Chef and I don't mean fancy latte art.  In the culinary food world, there was an initial emphasis on presentation - how things look - not how they taste.  Well, the same applies to coffee, whether it be espresso or not.  If it doesn't taste any good, then it is a failure and I don't care how pretty it looks or how much showmanship went into its presentation.  Or as one of the cliches goes: where's the beef?  The sophisticated culinary world now focuses on taste and texture and the techniques and means to deliver the goods.  It is strange that some of us home espresso fanatics with inferior equipment and without professional training can beat a lot of those professionals like a drum.   If I had professional equipment, I would have no excuse and would make it my business to learn how to execute espresso properly.  

Aaron, next time use a smiley.  I think that I have made my point that there is a fundamentally large gulf between the professional barista and the home espresso fanatic.  And the SCAA may never be able to bridge that gap because the goals are very different: acceptable drinkable espresso (because of cost and time restrictions) versus a knock-your-socks-off experience without similar restrictions.    If that upsets you, too bad.
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Fred_Astaire
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Joined: 18 Jan 2003
Posts: 177
Location: NY/NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Tea
Grinder: Solis Maestro; NS MCF
Vac Pot: none
Drip: Braun (love my drip)
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Mon Jul 28, 2003, 8:00am
Subject: Re: Why I Hate Home Espresso; Why I Love Julie by Aaron De Lazzer
 

That is one fine piece of work. IMHO, a high water mark for the site.

Thank you.
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Sespe33
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Joined: 16 Apr 2003
Posts: 6
Location: California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Mr Coffee/ecmp10
Grinder: Innova I-2 No Doser, Krups...
Vac Pot: 10/cup 18/10(SS)...
Posted Mon Jul 28, 2003, 10:03am
Subject: SOUNDS GREAT!! / but not going to  happen in the U.S.
 

This article seems to be written by a European or someone who has visited Europe.   Bar hopping for a glass of  vino tinto  or vino blanco, café solo, or café con leche is very much part of that culture, especially Spain. Unfortunately, here in the United States you cannot buy a good cup of wine or coffee for under 1 euro (approx. 1 dollar) including the tip.  I believe that is why prosumer brewing machines are taking a foothold here in the U.S.. People are developing their own bartista skills as well as enjoying more of a good thing.  I for one do not want to drive to a Starbucks for an espresso to meet with friends and then drive another 10 miles to a Coffee Bean for a second cup.  However, in Spain you would have 60+ bars (coffee houses) all within 5 min. walking distance and  each having a different atmosphere.  Social interaction is not held only in bars but often with friends who stop you on the streets and may tag along as well.  In addition, coffee houses in the U.S. are generally located for indoor convenience not for outdoor enjoyment.
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phaelon56
Senior Member
phaelon56
Joined: 11 Feb 2002
Posts: 1,144
Location: Syracuse, NY
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: LM 4 group , Isomac Tea,...
Grinder: Major, Super Jolly,...
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos
Drip: Fetco, Melitta
Roaster: Sivetz , Diedrich
Posted Mon Jul 28, 2003, 12:26pm
Subject: Good points but we don't all have the same options...
 

Good article and all points well taken.  I can easily justify the cost of my prosumer home gear and really love the convenience of having a good capp or espresso at home in my bunny slippers on a weekend morning (not really bunny slippers but you get the idea).  

The dilemma for some of us is finding a place that serves an espresso even close to as good as what we can get at home. Most of the cafes and  coffee houses I've found in Manhattan (apart from the 70 or so Starbucks, many of which I've visited) serve truly sucky quality drinks.  Drinks so poor that one feels ripped off by the cost and can't really enjoy them because they just plain don't taste good.    Cafe culture requires a cafe serving a reasonable quality of drink - Seattle, Vancouver and a select few other cities in North America offer such opportunities _ I avail myself of them when possible but in the absence of good options - a killer home espresso setup is a godsend for the godshot.

For me the point is that when someone does finally establish a coffee house or cafe in your area that really makes an effort and serves a half decent drink - it should be patronized regularly even if it means spending far more $$ than you would to have the same drinks at home.
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