Drinking vs. Tasting: Brewing Parameters
A quick observation is in order: I don't think it's overkill to claim that most coffee consumers, even coffee aficionados, would distinguish the differences between the french press and, say, a Chemex, only along the lines of their cup characteristics. Said simply, the tendency is to describe and judge the brewing method based on its finished product, not by the process and nuances of the method itself. This may not sound like much, but let me make a parallel observation: if I asked you to tell me the differences between a cut of beef that's been roasted and one that's been grilled, you could likely list a few distinctions without thinking much. Now, if you were a chef, you could likely go into far greater detail about the processes of roasting and grilling and their respective effects on a cut of beef. You would expect this knowledge of a chef, wouldn't you? Translate that back over to coffee. Any barista worth his or her salt could tell you the difference between a cup of coffee from a press and one from a Chemex, right? How many of them, even outstanding ones, can tell you what's happening in those brew processes? How many will be able to intuitively and intelligently theorize on the effects brewing temperature, water flow and agitation, grind size, roast level, bean varietal, and dwell time will have on a cup of coffee? What about with espresso, a preparatory process that is far, far, far more intense and sensitive and mysterious than "just" brewed coffee?
I pose these questions not because I thought them up on my own, but because I've run across others posing the same sorts of queries. Alex Negranza, James Hoffmann, Alex Brooks, and Paul Stack are just a handful of industry professionals that have been publicly -- meaning, via the web and otherwise -- thinking through and pushing the envelope on our "accepted" standards of brewing, both for filtered coffee and espresso; they're challenging the status quo. If guys like these are doing some outside-the-box thinking and are freely sharing their thoughts with the rest of the specialty coffee world, I think I am correct in expecting the bar to be raised yet again.
That's a good thing, right?
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Small, lightweight, and portable, the Skerton is the ideal hand grinder for the traveling coffee enthusiast, or the home enthusiast on a limited budget. The Skerton employs adjustable conical ceramic burrs for grinding any of the wide range of grinds employed in today’s coffee market. It can easily handle anything from fine espresso to a coarse French Press setting. The Skerton’s detachable 100 gr. glass jar is perfect for collecting the grounds, and in combination with the plastic screw-on lid (included in order) can even double as a storage unit for whole beans on those long trips. After grinding is finished, cleaning the Skerton is as easy as placing the unit in the dishwasher since the entire grinder is dishwasher safe. Whether you desire a quality, handy grinder for the road or enjoy the fine art of manual coffee preparation, the Hario Skerton is the ideal candidate. For an even more portable hand grinder from Hario, check out the Mini Mill (for a more detailed comparison of the two grinders, check out this blog post: Hario Skerton vs. Mini Mill).
Few advancements in espresso machine technology over the past fifty years could be called revolutionary. The latest advancement featured in La Marzocco's Strada Electronic Paddle (EP) is one that has earned that title. Pressure profiling was first introduced into the mass market in 2009 by the Slayer Espresso Machine. The La Marzocco Strada takes this new technology to the next level by allowing the barista to save up to four pressure profiles at any given time. Along with the ability to save profiles, each group has a digital display that shows the temperature (±0.1°C), shot time, and current bars of pressure (±.1 Bar). The Strada perfectly combines the durability and workmanship of La Marzocco with the technology of the future.
$1,687.00(For a guest barista review, click here.) Anfim's Super Caimano espresso grinder, upon its initial release, was a solid addition to any high-end coffee house. It featured a 75mm flat burr set that helped to give a very consistent grind, allowing baristas to rely upon it for excellent shot-to-shot uniformity. When dialing in a coffee, the Super Caimano had 70 holes in its adjustment collar to allow for tinkering between shots. Now, however, Anfim has added an additional 20 spots for a total of 90 holes in the adjustment collar. The benefit of this? When dialing in and finding the sweet spot for any coffee being used to pull shots of espresso, a key factor the barista must take into consideration is the size of the grind particles. Yes, uniformity and consistency of those grind particles is also key, but the ability to make tiny, incremental adjustments is always helpful when striving to find the right balance of all a coffee's characteristics when pulled as espresso.