Wednesday, December 13, 2006

   from Nick

Podcast 57 - Portafilter DriveCast

With Katie Carguilo in the back seat, Nick and Jay are P.W.D. (podcasting while driving). Topics include: Visit with Lindsay and Matt from Canada, Aida Batlle, the unnerving world of espresso blend development, a rant on coffee-blogs, and a non-update on PF2007.

1 hour 21 minutes and 20 seconds - MP3 format, 37.3 MB

See the sidebar to the right for more information and how to subscribe or download.


Anonymous scottlucey said...

"get your dick out of your heart." - thank you katie, you're my new friend.

12/15/2006 09:20:00 PM  
Blogger blanco said...

This post has been removed by the author.

12/16/2006 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger SmooveBcoffee said...

I think you're going to need to elaborate on your rant a bit- you want people to free-blog a bit more OR you want them to be more thoughtful about what they say instead of repeating other folks?

OR you want to tell people who are full of shit to stfu? If this is the case, by all means commence to ripping in this forum. There's no reason to confine your smackdowns to the podcast.

12/18/2006 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

Some interesting bits in this cast.

Espresso blend subjectivity:
Espresso at the roaster has a profile, that profile is achieved with some tolerant range. Note the tolerant range part. Sampling Toscano all over the place Toscano is always Toscano unless someone doesn't know shot pulling to begin with (ie grind/tamp disaster) or their machine is so detuned that it's sour or burned. Even water is generally mastered unless the roaster has no connectivity to a new shop where a new (and naive) owner might not think about their filtration.

I do not believe that a blend's change so radically that the subjectiveness is that different. The tolerant window is pretty wide. Just experiment with pressure, temp, and dose and watch how far you have to change the axis to see a dramatic (ie: this is no longer sharing the characteristics of the profile) difference. Note I am not talking about bad from the get go. If a shop has no clue how to pull shots, this does not apply, but when you bring up Grumpy or 9th Street, you're talking about the groups that know what they are doing but might have some personal variation.

On coffee blogging:
Do you not read too much into all of this? At the end of the day we're all a bunch of quirky and different individuals who more or less are just cats doing what they want. You're not going to be able to herd them well or have them do terribly many tricks. Very individualistic. Just like in life you've got assholes, the pacificst, the altruistic, the humble. Shit floats online just as well as offline. Just stop feeding the trolls man! Do like you would do in normal life and tune out the asses!

On group participation, you also have to understand deep group dynamics. I've worked in a lot of online environments trying to pull lots of people together and you are VERY lucky to find 1:25 people that can be and stay passionate. In a group you need to have 1 or 2 people minimally that are always spinning the people around and keeping the flames of passion high which usually translates into content. If you do not have those people everyone turns into idle slugs.

Regardless, relax more, tune out the bad, tune in the good. Give praise to those you appreciate and stop feeding the damn trolls otherwise. You shouldn't pull in this much angst, it's not good for you.

The challenge I feel now is we talk a lot about the farm side of the chain, and we talk a lot about the consumer side of the equation, but when do we talk about the health of the roasters and cafe's as companies. Does everyone have good business sense? Does everyone pay their bills? Is there good culture within these businesses or is there more opacity in the middle than there should be? New things I'm starting to ponder as my exposure deepens and I'm not sure what to do when ethics and ethos aren't matching.


12/19/2006 06:45:00 AM  
Anonymous michael m said...

Quick--Hurry--Someone grab the domain!

"For when Nick Cho's gotta go..."

12/19/2006 09:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Mitch Gurowitz said...

Hey Katie,

You can see what the Jarts that "old man Nick" was speaking of at this link:

Hey guys, I'm a coffee aficionado/Home Roaster - Don't hate me Nick, I'm really not a bad guy, I'm just not in the business. Anyway I really enjoy your podcast and I think that Jay is a f*cking riot.

Best wishes for the Holidays, all of them!

12/21/2006 08:28:00 PM  
Anonymous SL28ave said...

I've got major problems with, too, and also with some of the people behind it. My humility is almost quenched, which has never happened before.

12/22/2006 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger Ellie said...

(back from the dead, feeling called out, whatever...) ;-}

Regarding the "true" taste of espresso blends discussed in the podcast and here by Andy:

The best example I can think of for discussing this is my team members' experience prior to the 2005 USBC (Seattle). That year, there were 5 of us who competed: Matt, Amber, Stephen, Amanda, and myself. In the GLRBC, the '05 in-house, and the out-of-region regionals we participated in (the SERBC '05, WRBC '05, MWRBC '04 and MWRBC '05) we all used Black Cat. With 5 people we had a very elaborate system of alotting practice time including when we would go through our entire performances for one another and any other interested parties to evaluate (ie break us down). One day, when Matt and Amanda were going thru their routines for the rest of us, we made a very wild discovery- Amanda really, really, really needed to adjust the grind after Matt. We counted it, and she actually moved the Robur adjustment collar 23 notches. This is not just the same blend we are talking about here, but this happened to be the same everything: same roast date, same equipment, same time of day, SAME HOPPER OF COFFEE. Matt used a very coarse grind, Amanda preferred a much finer grind. It made us all a bit curious as to what the espresso would taste like in comparison. Matt's four espressos were fresh in the palate memory (very chocolatey, rich, and a bit pleasantly spicy) when Amanda served her espressos, which tasted totally different- more full-bodied, more of the baking-cocoa notes and more creamy and nougaty.

Upon further investigation, we discovered that The Rog was closer to Amanda, I was closer to Matt, and Amber was kind of in the middle. We had all been practicing with the same coffee but had refined our techniques to bring out different qualities in the espresso based on what we wanted it to taste like- what we liked as individuals and also what we thought the judges would like.

In the USBC, we all used Black Cat although we had settled on a variety of roast dates by that time. None of us said overtly that it was Black Cat and we heard from many, many judges, especially after the finals, that they had no idea we were all using the same coffee, nor that it was Black Cat.

I don't really know what to say except that with all 5 of us making semi's and 3 of us making finals, it seems to suggest that none of us prepared it "wrong."

I can also say with certainty that none of our Black Cat offerings in the '05 USBC tasted remotely like we like Black Cat to taste in the stores, which is prepared with triple baskets, dialed-down pressure, the Chicago Chop, and a much more labored machine (constant cranking of shot after shot after shot rather than 6-8 extractions in a 15 minute period). Furthermore, most of our wholesale customers have double baskets and many use brands other than La Marzocco and again, these changes mean Black Cat tastes a bit different in each environment but I would argue it is still fundamentally Black Cat. Being our wholesale trainer for a long time I have a general idea of how I want the Cat to taste at a retail establishment with doubles and a hx machine and a general idea of how to get there with dosing and leveling and extracting and the different starting points for different types/makes of machines and grinders.

Don't even get me started on troubleshooting around "wrong" water profiles...

1/03/2007 02:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Pete said...

Roasted coffee is an ingredient in the hands of the barista, used to produce a served beverage. Just like any ingredient that a chef uses to create a dish.

Something as simple as a steak can taste different based on preparation style. Why shouldn't coffee be the same? The quality of the ingredient will shine through as well, but the preparation style is a factor.

I was surprised to hear an argument in favor of taste correctness for a blend on your podcast, because it minimizes the creative value of the barista.

Also... I grew up in Lancaster, PA. That was a cool surprise. :)


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