Confessions: The Road from Super-Automatic to Baratza Grinder

Posted on September 23, 2011 by Baratza in Blog

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

I must confess that for many years I have depended on a super-automatic Palazzo for my espresso in the morning. When Baratza started business in 1999, we were the importer of Solis super-automatic machines and grinders. After years of going to Starbucks each morning, it was very convenient to make my latte at home. However, in 2004 Baratza sold off the Solis business and started concentrating on designing and building grinders. This would have been a good time to change to an espresso machine and grinder. I mean, come on, I was the owner of a GRINDER oriented company. But no, super automatic was way too easy to give up.

In 2007, Mark Prince (of Coffee Geek fame) spent a day with us testing espresso machines and grinders . We wanted to learn more about our grinders and our competition’s grinders. Mark convinced me to go home with a Silva and Virtuoso and begin practicing. I put it in my outdoor kitchen and started experimenting. It wasn’t like I didn’t know the basics of espresso; I had taken a class form Sheri Johns (the ultimate barista trainer). However, after months of trying, I could not seem to make a decent espresso. In fact, when I made them for my husband he would secretly pour it out and make himself a drink on the Palazzo that was still in our kitchen, so much for my skills as a Barista.

In the summer of 2009, Mark Crawford (Mont Blanc Chocolate) again told me that I needed to move to using Baratza grinders every day. I dug out the Silvia and tried again. The Vario made dialing in the grind much easier, but still my espresso was less than stellar. Sometime in July the boiler quit working and I started thinking that maybe the problem the entire time was the temperature of the water. Maybe it wasn’t me, maybe it was the machine. I hoped it was the machine; it’s always something else’s fault, right?
In November, I bought Mark’s Dalla Corte Mini. Much to my surprise, I started knocking out a pretty good espresso. In fact, after about a week, I no longer wanted to drink espresso from the Palazzo. By December the Palazzo was moved into the garage and the Dalla Corte and Vario were installed in the kitchen (much to the dismay of my daughter who loved the push-a-button-and-you-get-coffee aspect of the Palazzo).However, I am now on the road to becoming a home barista. I have catered a few events where we served 70 to 100 drinks; I have gone to local classes at Barefoot coffee and cupping’s at Pacific Bay. I have started ordering wonderful whole bean coffee from Intelligentcia, Ritual, Barefoot, and Stumptown and am excited to work my way through the roasters on our customer list, gotta love good coffee!

In February, I attended a latte art class at Barefoot. Much to the amusement of my family, I am slowly and awkwardly trying to learn to pour hearts and rosettes. More on that later.