Coffee: Intermediate to Advanced

Carlo Medina

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What advantage is there to brewing at 15 bar vice 9?
I'm curious as well. Because the "new hotness" (admitted a few years old now) is pressure profiling. That is varying the pressure throughout the shot. But it usually involves a slower ramp up to 9 bars, and an overall longer extraction than the old chestnut of 9 bars for 27 seconds yielding double the weight of liquid to beans you used (i.e. 17g of grind = 34g of espresso).

So pressure profilers will experiment with, say, 5 seconds at 3 bars, 10 seconds at 5 bars, 10 seconds at 9 bars, 5 seconds ramping back down, etc. I haven't seen someone experiment with going all the way to 15 bars (but I also haven't done an exhaustive deep dive on the matter).
 
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I'm curious as well. Because the "new hotness" (admitted a few years old now) is pressure profiling. That is varying the pressure throughout the shot. But it usually involves a slower ramp up to 9 bars, and an overall longer extraction than the old chestnut of 9 bars for 27 seconds yielding double the weight of liquid to beans you used (i.e. 17g of grind = 34g of espresso).

So pressure profilers will experiment with, say, 5 seconds at 3 bars, 10 seconds at 5 bars, 10 seconds at 9 bars, 5 seconds ramping back down, etc. I haven't seen someone experiment with going all the way to 15 bars (but I also haven't done an exhaustive deep dive on the matter).
Jeez, brewing a cupa joe is more complicated than building a home theater. :P
 
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Carlo Medina

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I've heard they're decent...lol ok, perhaps more so than that.

Pressure profiling is a black hole I don't want to go down. It's already so much art+science to dial in a good shot with a constant 9 bars of pressure (though for my next machine I will want a pre-infusion function), but to be able to create a variable pressure flow throughout the shot...you could drive yourself insane with the different variables.

I liken it to this: back in the 70s your HiFi stereo had treble and bass. Now you have a billion DSP effects, multiband EQs, etc. You could drive yourself nuts. Or...you can do like I do and basically flatline most of the controls, and just do a basic speaker level adjustment (usually via the receiver's built in room correction software) one time and then leave it at that.

If you want to mess with a million variables...and make no mistake about it there are absolutely baristas who do...then the Decent puts that at a price point that's relatively modest.

For me, my next purchase will be something that has true industrial strength steam power to get the very best microfoam I can. Something like a La Marzocco Linea Mini

 
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Carlo Medina

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Also I should say the one known knock on the Decent is the steaming power (which is...yes...decent...but not great). But that machine is for those who really put the focus on the shot. If you drink espressos straight, that baby is going to be right up your alley. But if you like milk based drinks like me, it's going to give you...decent...microfoam (there I go again with the puns) but not the super fine textured milk that will let you do competition-quality latte art (which is an aspiration of mine). The steam boiler is quite simply not big enough to provide the power (and dryness) of steam that you need to make awesome microfoam.
 
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Sam Posten

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Nice, thanks for the input. I'm out of Rook. So I googled best espresso 2020 and picked a few to try. First up is Kicking Horse, on the way. $30 for over 2 pounds. Just hope it hasn't been sitting in warehouse forever. Reviews on Amazon seem to indicate they keep moving fresh stock through:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0027Z7KN6

Next up will be Lavazza Super Crema:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000SDKDM4

Then Black Cat, which I think you have recommended:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0055ZRUOO/
 

Carlo Medina

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Cool let me know what you think!

FWIW, I moved on a few years ago from Intelligentsia's Black Cat to Blue Bottle's Hayes Valley. Then the pandemic closed all the BB stores around me so I went to my local third wave shop that still does takeout orders, Balconi Coffee, and they get their beans from a local roaster called Tectonic Roasters. Their espresso blend is called Shift. Tectonic Shift. Man that is playing with fire, given where we live.

Anyway, the roast is considerably lighter than both Cat and Hayes. I have to grind it noticeably finer, and it takes less time too (4.8s vs. 3.8s) to get the same 18g weight.

But I get some of the smoothest, sweetest espresso out of it. So something good came out of the pandemic: I discovered a new espresso blend I love!
 
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I've heard they're decent...lol ok, perhaps more so than that.

Pressure profiling is a black hole I don't want to go down. It's already so much art+science to dial in a good shot with a constant 9 bars of pressure (though for my next machine I will want a pre-infusion function), but to be able to create a variable pressure flow throughout the shot...you could drive yourself insane with the different variables.

I liken it to this: back in the 70s your HiFi stereo had treble and bass. Now you have a billion DSP effects, multiband EQs, etc. You could drive yourself nuts. Or...you can do like I do and basically flatline most of the controls, and just do a basic speaker level adjustment (usually via the receiver's built in room correction software) one time and then leave it at that.

If you want to mess with a million variables...and make no mistake about it there are absolutely baristas who do...then the Decent puts that at a price point that's relatively modest.

For me, my next purchase will be something that has true industrial strength steam power to get the very best microfoam I can. Something like a La Marzocco Linea Mini

That's a very good analogy. And like with audio, most people would never know the difference even if it's "improperly" adjusted. Just go with defaults, tweak them a bit for what you prefer (more highs/lows/etc. or w/coffee - lighter/darker) and call it done.
 

Carlo Medina

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Got my shipment overnight from Amazon. Looks like it was bagged March 18th. Not as fresh as I prefer but it'll have to do.
For different beans/blends the days may differ a little, but in my experience with espresso blends, they're usually at peak between 3-5 days after roast date (Hayes was about 3, Cat 4 and Shift is 4-5). They need time to off-gas (you'll know if you pull a shot and it's got a lot of "gassy-style crema" that it's still too close to the roast date).

and then stay good for about 5 days, declining more greatly towards the end so that by day 6 they're acceptable, and 7 you can really tell it's time for new beans.

I've been able to mitigate this a little bit by putting a piece of clear plastic wrap on top of the beans, which I keep in my grinder hopper, which reduces airflow/air exposure. Before I did this, Day 6 was meh and Day 7 was unacceptable, and it basically added about a day to it's viability, so that Day 7 was meh, but what it did do was "flatten the decline curve" so that the bean provided quality espresso shots for longer.

That's just grinding and brewing for espresso. Other brew types (french press, pourover, cold brew) are more tolerant of aging beans. My current workflow is this:
  1. Buy 12oz of Shift for espresso once a week, which comes to Balconi late Monday, having been roasted on Saturday.
  2. By Thursday of that week I take out the old whole bean from my grinder and put it in an airtight container, I find I only use about 10oz for espresso in a week.
  3. I do steps 1-2 on a weekly basis.
  4. After every 2 weeks I find I have 4 oz of leftover Shift beans, which taste sweet and chocolate-y when brewed
  5. When I have those 4oz of Shift in a container, I buy 8oz of a single origin of theirs that I like (beans rotate but Balconi does a good job of indicating flavor profile)--I like a more mild, smooth, sweet flavors.
  6. I mix 8oz of single origin and 4oz of shift, grind them for Toddy Cold Brew (basically super coarse setting) and add 2oz of ground chicory and 8cups of water. Let sit 24 hours, drain into pitcher...tada, 7 cups or so of a delicious New Orleans style extract!
So that's how I have one espresso drink in the morning and one in the evening, and me and my housemate share the New Orleans style cold brew over those two weeks (it stays good in the refrigerator over that time), mixing one part water, one part NO extract, one part whole milk, simple syrup to taste (about a tsp), and ice.

It's a great workflow that's kept me sane during this pandemic :D
 

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Yeah you know that's not a big deal for me making lattes. I buy a pound at a time and pour it all in the hopper and it works fine for about a month. But that's buying 5 days past roast. Will see how this goes.

I gotta say right off the top I like Rook Fores and their other espresso blend I can't remember the name of better than this one from Kicking Horse, but it'll do.
 

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