Tag Archives: coffee

Confessions: The Road from Super-Automatic to Baratza Grinder

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.

Grind Fresh for the Love of Coffee

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Baratza sells grinders, so of course we believe that grinding fresh is synonymous with great coffee. This morning, I was checking out a new coffee site that sells coffee from some great micro-roasters. When I went to checkout, I was surprised to see that I could buy the coffee pre-ground to my specifications. I was surprised to say the least that roasters that scour the earth for the best beans, cup and roast for perfection, and stamp the bag with the roast date, would pre-grind the coffee. There must be some mistake. I then went to the web sites of some of the award winning roasters, to find that almost all of them will pre-grind the coffee for mail order as specified by the customer.

This morning as I was grinding my Metropolis Redline Espresso I noticed that the roast date was clearly stamped on the bag. I decided to grind extra, use it for my afternoon coffee break and see if I could taste the difference. When afternoon rolled along, I made a shot with fresh ground coffee. Than pulled a shot with the coffee I had ground 6 hours earlier. This was not a blind, formal test. This was just me seeing if I could taste the difference. Well, I could defiantly see, smell, and taste the difference.

  • The smell of fresh ground coffee is heavenly, and the coffee loses a lot of the aroma after a few hours.
  • The pre-ground espresso shot was faster, with less crème, and had lost some of the rich flavor of the fresh ground. It was not a bad shot; it was just not as good as it could have been.

All this got me thinking about why people do not want to grind their coffee fresh. I most often hear?

  • Way to messy!
  • I don’t really know enough about coffee to grind it myself.
  • I doubt I could taste the difference.
  • I do not want to spend the money on a grinder.
  • It takes to much extra time

Below are a few comments on the subject that I found from people in the industry:

George Howell (Terroir Coffees) says, “Storing pre-ground coffee greatly accelerates the staling process, because the entire surface area of the bean’s cellular structure is now exposed to oxygen. So, always, always (did we say ALWAYS) grind just before brewing. Some studies have found that the shelf life of ground coffee less than one (1) hour when ground coffee is placed into an airpot, or filter. Best to throw it into the compost, and start anew.”

Mark Prince (Coffee Geek) says “Well, here’s the deal folks – you too can brew amazing coffee in the home with a brewing system that costs $4. The caveat? You gotta spend good dollars on a grinder. With anything coffee related, the grinder is of paramount importance.”

As I said in the beginning, Grind Fresh for the Love of Coffee…..

Why I Love Coffee

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

This is a guest blog post from my friend, Stacy Roach. While she is not in the coffee biz, she is passionate about good coffee and loves learning about coffee.

I love coffee for a lot of reasons, and when I am sitting at my desk, in the wee hours of the morning, sipping my soy latte, I really love coffee. But the most important reason that I love coffee is really community. I love going to coffee with friends, I love making a latte for guests and I love going to little coffee specialty shops and hanging with people who are passionate about coffee. Such was the experience I had on two Monday nights at Barefoot Coffee Roasters in San Jose.

On Monday nights they hold classes on how to pull the perfect shot of espresso and how to make latte art. Check out their calendar. Can I pull a great shot? Probably not, not yet anyway. As for my latte art, it’s getting better. My attempts at hearts are at least semi-identifiable. I think I am going to give leaves a try next.

Regardless of my own personal skill level on espresso and latte art, I know that I can count on coffee to connect me with other people who also love coffee, it’s this awesome and diverse community that I am a member of, simply because I love coffee. Oh, circular logic! Fun!