Posted Sat May 15, 2004, 11:40am Subject: Friday Espresso Lab at Counter Culture Coffee in Durham, NC
Peter Giuliano from Counter Culture Coffee has graciously offered to bounce out of bed early and meet us at their Durham roasting location for an informal "espresso lab" at their espresso bar every Friday, beginning at 7:30am and finishing by 9:30am in time for his regular 10am cupping. If you're interested in joining us, e-mail me to get on the mailing list.
Directions: 4911 South Alston Avenue, Durham. If you are at the 54/55 intersection (there is a 54/55 exit from I-40) go on 54 East to the next signal. That is Alston Avenue. Go south 3/4 mile, and CCC is on the left in a brown warehouse-style building. The main entrance is at the back left corner of the building.
Thanks for the hint. Maybe that is part of the reason I like my shots at home better than at CCC, i.e., mine's running a few degrees warmer.
Apparently I need to convince him to upgrade his La Marzocco with a PID'd unit. Richard and I both noticed the first shot of BC was a teenie bit sour and asked about bumping the temperature up. Peter suggested waiting for the top of the boiler cycle since there's a few degrees of variance. Me, I'm thinking, "Sheesh, a top of the line commercial machine and I still have to temperature surf?!? Isn't that like having to push start your Ferrari?"
Well, his machine does have nice built-in shot timers. It would be interesting to do temperature trials of the same blend at different temperatures. The VersaLab M3 would come in handy for that. :-)
You don't have to convince me, man. Problem is they keep stealing my espresso machines (La Marzoccos are in short supply these days) and I haven't had one in the shop long enough to PID the thing! I am patiently waiting for the next gen LMs with PID built in to arrive....
I just checked the machine and, indeed, it was running a bit cool (198-201). I got it set to 201-204 (there is a 3 degree or so swing to these machines) so we'll se how it works. The response is pretty quick on these guys so if you want to try a couple of different temperatures we can.
Posted Sat May 22, 2004, 7:26pm Subject: Re: Friday Espresso Lab at Counter Culture Coffee in Durham, NC
Another Friday, another espresso lab.
We did some shot diagnosis exercises, differentiating between channeling caused by vertical striation versus horizontal striation. Peter explained that differing amounts of grounds across the puck cause the latter, resulting in a circuitous water pathway. The signs are an initially dark pour followed by what appears to be a fairly normal pour, yet still tasting underextracted (as opposed to vertical channeling, witnessed by the telltale rapid transitions between blond and dark). I also did the classic "test of thirds" extraction demonstration (a comparison of the tastes of a double split among three shot glasses).
As part of his "seeing how the other half lives" experience, Peter pulled shots from an Isomac Amica and we compared impressions. He thought they were fabulous and I found them wanting for body. That led to a terminology discussion of "body" versus "texture." I equate the term body to viscosity and Peter defines it in terms of buttery character or oiliness. It was fun waxing poetically about it and we recalled some of the more flowery terms we have heard during cuppings and wine tastings ("barnyard taste", "gentlemanly flavor", and "dusty" to name a few).
OK, you had to be there.
Dang!! According to Mapquest, that's 4h15 from here. A little bit closer and I might've roadtripped it.
We discussed the possibility of scheduling a weekend EspressoFest for those who can't do Fridays. Maybe a 1/2 day with a gaggle of consumer machines plus Peter's three-group La Marzocco? Who knows, we may even convince him to setup the original Faema E61 currently in the warehouse. :-)
Posted Sun May 30, 2004, 9:21am Subject: Re: Friday Espresso Lab at Counter Culture Coffee in Durham, NC
Elektra enjoyed her first road trip to this past Friday's espresso lab! She was accompanied by her sidekick, Mr. Mazzer Mini.
She's a quick warmup, so her three shots were the first of the day. Peter was impressed with the smoothness (apparently other lever machines he's sampled in the past produced bitter shots), but he found the body lacking. The macchiatos were more the crowd pleaser and easily done to boot. The Elektra Microcasa a Leva is a steaming dream. :-)
Next up was Peter's "Afficionado" blend. I would describe it as bright, Schomer-esque in composition. I'm not a fan of acidic blends, but Peter explains they are the rage among cuppers. Richard commented that he liked it a lot. Presenting it as a macchiato tamed it down to my preference and would be great for summertime. We plan to sample another blend next week, Counter Culture's "Forté" espresso. So far the Toscano blend remains my favorite of their offerings; we'll see if Forté can knock it off that perch.
For those interested in formalizing their barista education, CCC offers espresso preparation seminars twice a month for their clients. There is a written test and a final modeled after the SCAA barista competitions, except you prepare for two judges instead of four. I'm very jammed on the weekends for the next month or two, but I plan to give it a whirl. The certification includes an engraved Reg Barber tamper sporting the CCC logo and your name. Woowee, gotta have one of them! :-)
We closed out the session discussing next week's lab. I proposed a triple-basket to standard double shootout. My underlying question is how much, if any, does it help packing loads-o-grinds into the portafilter. Is it "cheating"? Be there Friday and decide for yourself! E-mail me or Peter if interested.
Posted Tue Jun 22, 2004, 5:08pm Subject: Re: Friday Espresso Lab at Counter Culture Coffee in Durham, NC
We skipped two weeks but were back at it last Friday for the mondo-basket shootout (triple versus double). Peter also brought out some of his Forté blend, which is similar in many ways to the Afficionado we had tried the last time. To close out the session, we hiked up to the attic to check out his original Faema E61. It is in storage until they finish expanding their training area.
We loosely discussed a Saturday "EspressoFest". No firm date but Peter is more than happy to provide the space and coffee. I will try to cobble together at least 3-4 consumer machines that attendees might like to test drive, in addition to Peter's 3-group La Marzocco. I'm going to keep nagging him to drag down the Faema, expanded training area or not!
Interested in joining us Friday, 7:30-9:30am? E-mail me or Peter.
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