delonghi ec702

05.28.14 First Latte Art Attempt of the Day

Hey guys!

I’m doing a new segment where its just a first take, first latte art attempt of the day! It could be the dopest rosetta or maybe even a 16 layer tulip, but hopefully it won’t just be a total FLOP.

No pressure.

An Update.

So, we haven’t really been able to work on espresso drinks because the non-pressurized basket for the crappy De’Longhi machine is still on backorder at Seattle Coffee Gear until sometime in April. Meanwhile, we’ve just been practicing a little latte art here and there. We’re really happy to get some great feedback from friends and family. We’re especially flattered to have requests to try our coffee! Hopefully, that can happen as soon as we get the new basket and get everything calibrated. I’m really excited, and at the same time curious, even dubious, as to whether the De’longhi will be able to perform. Its like expecting a Honda Civic to compete in a race amongst Ferraris.

I was going to post a latte art video today since its Thursday but decided to do something different and a lot better. Expect a longer video next week!

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Meanwhile, we’re loving this milk from Maple View Farms and trying out the Bourbon variety and La Golondrina. We’re still catching up on all the new coffees from CC. Happy weekend!

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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!