Month: February 2014

Pour Over #1

Here’s my Thursday video! (New posts every Tue and Thur).

I used Counter Culture Rustico and set a grind at about 31/32 on my Gino Rossi RR45. Overall it was a good run. I was a little nervous since this is my first pour over video. My pre-infusion was sloppy and I could have gone about 30 secs more because my beans are about a week old. The goal of the pre-infusion is to get all the coffee evenly wet and to not let the water/coffee mix to flow out and over onto the edge of the filter. This will let the beans achieve its maximum potential.

Please leave comments and questions below! How could I have improved? Can’t wait to hear from everybody!

Music: Dive by Tycho

Camera: Canon 5D MII with Sigma 20mm 1.8
Canon T1i with 50mm 1.4

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Latte Art #3

Here is my third latte art video. New posts every Tuesday and Friday!

So I’ve been watching pro barista videos where they pour milk in and out of pitchers to get the right consistency of milk. I sort of attempted this today, and it certainly looks a lot better than spooning out extra foam.

Latte Art #2

Today I practiced my latte art with a shot pulled from the De’longhi. I used old coffee with a course grind and pulled a crappy shot with no crema. Why? Well I have decided that I will focus on my milk foaming and latte art because the non-pressurized basket from Seattle Coffee Gear is out of stock. I’m going to wait until I receive it before doing full videos from grind, dosing, tamp, milk, to pour.

I poured high at first, with the milk pitcher tilted just enough to get a steady pour. This allows the less foamy milk to incorporate with the shot, giving it a nice thicker texture and giving the foam a nice rich color. When I’m ready for the rosetta to start forming, I tilt the pitcher at a greater angle towards my cup to allow foam to flow out.

Latte Art #1

Today I learned from watching my video that I wasn’t tilting my cup down enough to let the foam pour down to start my rosetta. The more the milk pitcher is tilted, the more foam comes out. Thats how you can control when to start the rosetta.

My progress over the last year

I always made sure to take an Instagram photo of  my “latte art.”

As I’m creating this post, it feels really good to reflect back on the progress I’ve made in the past year. I made good progress on the texture of my milk/foam in just a month. The trick was taking off the panarello wand.

If you want to made acceptable foam, toss your panarello wands in the trash! DO IT!

Another thing I can tell that I did wrong from looking at my photos is I had way too much foam.

My Equipment: Espresso (and Modifications)

1. De’longhi EC702 15 Bar Pump-Driven Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker

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This was a gift from my mom two Christmas’s ago in 2012. I did a lot of research before I deciding on this machine, but it didn’t take long for me to grow out of it. The temperature is inconsistent, it has a pressurized basket in the portafilter and comes with a really small steam wand. There are other small things I dislike, but these are my main complaints.

However, to pull good shots and steam good milk on a La Marzocco Strada is one thing, but to be able to do that a piece of equipment that costs only about $200 is a whole other thing. This is the machine that I have now, so I will make the most out of it. I’ve read so many people say that its impossible to make a quality espresso shot/drink with an entry-level home espresso machine, but I wonder if anyone has ever really tried to push this machine to see the limits of its capabilities.

I know there are readers who are like “why even bother?” Frankly at this point, I have no choice because I can’t afford a commercial machine. Here are a few tips for the readers out there who have a home espresso machine and would like to pull shots and steam milk that more closely resembles higher quality, traditional machines.

Modifications:

1. Remove the panerello wand. The wand makes messy large foam bubbles that are miles away from the texture of microfoam. Not only does large bubbly foam has a very unpleasant texture and fails to bring out the best in your milk, microfoam is a must when attempting latte art.

2. Purchase a non-pressurized basket upgrade. Seattle Coffee Gear sells them here. Guide2coffee.com has written an awesome article explaining the differences because pressurized and non-pressurized baskets. The article can be found here.

To summarize the article,

  • Pressurized baskets do most the work for the domestic user. It helps to take the variables of espresso making such as grind size, dosing and tamp pressure almost out of the equation. It has a single small exit hole which creates a high pressure environment in the basket. This pressure forces and water to spread more evenly though the basket which results in a more even extraction. The small single hole also prevents water from flowing too quickly just in case the user has a course grind or too light of a tamp. However, the basket takes too much control away from the user. It prevents a rich full-bodied extraction. If the pros don’t use it, why should home coffee enthusiasts use it either?
  • Non-pressurized baskets gives more control to the user but requires more skill and experience and thus more time devotion. The grind, dosing and tamp needs to be just right but when it is, the payoff is worth it.

 

2. Gino Rossi RR45

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I bought this from an eBay auction for $169.50. I wish I had taken pictures of it when I first got it and opened up the machine. It was caked in 1/8th to 1/4th inch of espresso goop! Its been through a lot from the looks of it, but its a workhorse from what I’ve read. I get really a really nice, even grind and at the finest end, the grind is like powder.

 

3. Counter Culture Coffee Beans

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I’ve just started using Counter Culture. My first bag was Kona, which I really liked for pour-over. I will be using Rustico for espresso!

My Equipment – Pourover

I love espresso drinks, particularly the cortado. To me, it has the perfect ratio of milk and espresso. However, I must say that I’m a little biased in that I could take a straight pour-over, or hand pour, over an espresso drink 51% of the time. I guess I just appreciate the foundation, which consist of the the beans itself. A hand pour allows me to taste the beans and the roast in a smooth way that doesn’t pack such a heavy punch like a straight shot. A hand poured coffee allows me to savor my cup of coffee and making it becomes a really soothing, methodical and perhaps even a spiritual ritual.

1. Hario Buono V60 1.2L Gooseneck Kettle – I love the design. The ridges allow me to measure my water and the handle feels really good in my hand, way better than the Bonavita in my opinion. Boils fast, the holes on the lid allow steam to escape which serves as an indicator that my water is ready. I also really appreciate that the lid is a perfect fit for the kettle, not too tight and not loose enough to pop off while pouring.blog 2 6 copyblog 2 4 copy

2. Bee House Large Ceramic Dripper – I have mixed feelings about this product. I think the design is really aesthetically pleasing and I love the elegant handle, but I don’t know if those make up for other practical design flaws. First of all, its really small for a large size. The large takes a #2 filter. A #4 filter will also work because the bottom of the filter is the same size. Its just taller. Secondly and most importantly, the little notch at the bottom (shown in the photo below) is really annoying. Its designed to prevent the dripper from sliding off of a cup, but it really limits the size of cup that can be used with it. When used with a dripper stand, the notch also serves as a problem in that it allows the dripper to rock back and forth. I will be buying a Bonmac Pro next week, and planning on buying the Hario V60. I want to try them all!

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My first pour, using shitty Gevalia Coffee

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The aftermath

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I purchased everything from Amazon.com and got the cheapest prices compare to physical retail stores and free shipping was awesome. I love Amazon.com!

And it starts here…

I don’t think that I’m a particularly good writer. I just hope that my passion for what I’m doing will prevail in this blog.

My love for coffee started in a not so exciting or noteworthy way. During my freshman year in high school, I worked at my parent’s restaurant and on my down time I would walk a few stores over to the Barnes & Nobles to read(escape) and on that particular day, I purchased my first adult beverage. An adult beverage usually consists of alcohol and some kind of overly sweet syrup, but for me, it was a Starbucks Frapuccino.

Coffee is so much more accepted as a routine part of our lives now, especially in the US. At shopping malls, I often see teenagers ordering coffee drinks at Starbucks. As a kid and into my early teens, coffee was a forbidden thing. I was taught that it was a naughty, evil drink that will stunt my growth and being shorter than everyone in class made me too paranoid to test my luck. This is a quintessential “can you believe what my parents made me believe as a kid?” story that probably any Asian could tell, so I won’t bore you by elaborating on this aspect.

Back to my first coffee drink… The sound of the slushy moving through the straw and the feeling of the refreshingly cold grainy textured blended ice followed by the taste of syrupy sweet nutty and delightfully TASTY? coffee? I felt instantly energized, or so I thought at the time! Perhaps the little bit of caffeine did work on me then.

That Frappucino was life changing.

Don’t get me wrong though. I dislike the Starbucks Coffee Corporation because they have indoctrinated the world into thinking that their coffee is the best. They have brainwashed the public into making their sub-par coffee into the standard of good coffee! For example, my mother thinks that acidity is a big NO NO and burnt is a big YES YES. However, I still understand that with a big corporate business, money is #1 and they are doing just fine, more than fine, selling their burnt tasting coffee with awfully foamed milk. I will still have a soft spot for them because they are responsible for bringing coffee to the mainstream public through their ingenious Frappucinos. At least that is my take on it.

That Frappucino was life changing because it introduced me to coffee.

SO what am I doing here? I have a mission. I have just finished writing a business plan for my mobile cafe business in the 20 minutes before starting this blog. It has been a dream of mine for the past decade to own my own coffee shop business. With the rising popularity of food trucks and mobile businesses in general, I just see it as the perfect opportunity for me to started on owning a brick and mortar coffee shop. With the low start up cost of a mobile business, I can build my clientele and gain invaluable experience at a lower risk.

I don’t have any experience as a coffee shop barista, only a home barista. When I start my business, I know that there will be a lot of doubts as to whether or not I will be able to handle the volume of orders with speed and accuracy. However, anyone who really knows me knows that if anyone can pull it off, it would be me.

I want to use this blog to document my journey over the next couple of years. I want to show my investors, stakeholders and future customers that coffee is my passion and hard work is the norm.

So back to the mission. What is my mission and what is involved?

My mission is to be a world class barista and successful business owner with the most humble background.

Humble means that I will be starting with De’longhi EC702 semi-automatic crappy machine and a Rossi RR45 grinder (that I purchased from eBay for $169 and Jimmy and I spent three days restoring). 

My goal is to make:

1) lattes that a Starbucks customer would prefer over Starbucks

2)lattes that are indistinguishable as homemade to a high-end third-wave coffeeshop customer.

I know this sounds crazy and that there is a low chance of succeeding in the second part of my goal, but I think that at the end of it, its the journey that really counts! Let’s do this!