Tuesday, September 20, 2005

   from chris

Friday, September 16, 2005

   from Nick

Podcast #13 - Special Edition: Live from the SCAA Charlotte 'Joint Committee Meetings'

Podcast Number 13: Special Edition (again). Pick your link below and right-click and select Save As (on PC) or Control-Click and select "Download Linked File" in MacOS to save it to your hard drive... OR click the "podcast" icon above for the RSS podcast feed (AAC format).

Podcasting from the Hilton City Center Hotel, Charlotte, NC

Show highlights:
- Ellie Matuzsak, Intelligentsia Coffee, Chicago, IL
- Trish Skeie, Zoka Coffee, Seattle, WA
- Tim Chapdelaine, Volcafe Specialty Coffee, talks about importing coffee
- Mike McKim, Cuvee Coffee, Houston, TX and Espresso Specialists, Seattle, WA, about coffee in Texas
- Geoff Watts, Intelligentsia Coffee, Chicago, IL, about varietals
- David Haddock, Bellissimo Consulting, about the Charlotte Shout

An AMAZING and JAM-PACKED show, super-sized for your pleasure. This is definitely one that you'll probably listen to more than once, because there's some mind-numbing stuff in this sucker. And in case you were wondering, yes, people were drinking.

TWO DIFFERENT FILES, but the same show... your choice (the AAC version sounds better and includes "bookmarking" for iTunes and iPods: if you stop midway, you can come back to where you left off) both: 1 hour 58 minutes and 25 seconds, 32 kbps bitrate, 32 kHz (16 kHz for MP3) sample rate.
MP3 format, 27,2 MB,
AAC format, 28.5 MB

Click here to go to the Portafilter Podcast on iTunes Music Store.

-- AAC XML feed -:- MP3 XML feed --

Questions? Comments? Hate mail? Email us at podcast@portafilter.net, and we might read your email during the next show.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

   from Nick

Crazy theories: golf balls and portafilter baskets

PeterG told me yesterday that as he sits around thinking about all of the things that make different coffees different and great and growing regions and subspecies and etc... he thinks I'm sitting around thinking about brewing theories and pondering what's going on inside a portafilter basket. I just agreed, because that wasn't the main point of what we were talking about, even though it wasn't true... but then I wondered to myself, "Well, what would I think about if I WERE thinking about that?"

So a thought popped in my head: what would be the ultimate espresso-brewing environment, as far as inside the basket? I was reading through the Scace Thermofilter thread on Home-Barista.com", and my mind was swimming with different ideas. What if instead of the dispersion-screw design of the LM, a machine had a shower-head similar to the multi-hole spray of the Fetco Extractor brewers? In other words, instead of the water spraying from a central spot outwards in different directions, you had little nozzles firing straight down (let's say like 20 of them) evenly distributed throughout the shower-head area.

THEN, what if you had (this is totally absurd, but fun to think about) little thermocouple points throughout the basket bottom... like 8 different points. They'd measure the temperature of the bottom of the extraction. THEN, using this data, the shower-head nozzles could actually individually heat up or cool down different areas of the extraction matrix, depending on what's going on at the brew basket bottom?

Tacy... add that to my version of your cost-prohibitive fantasy espresso machine please. :wink:

More thoughts... what if a flat-bottom for a brew basket isn't ideal? What if a slight curve isn't ideal either? I mean, the bottom of the basket is designed the way it is because we visualize the ideal extraction as being a perfect column of water traveling downwards through the coffee, with the brewed coffee emerging from the bottom of the basket perfectly evenly. There ain't no perfect. The water that's coming from the shower-head certainly isn't uniform in its pressure and distribution.

So just as a golf ball is dimpled and not smooth, maybe the bottom of a basket needs to work WITH the imperfect flow of water, not in denial of it.

Just a bunch of random thoughts.

Here's the last one: the crotchless/naked portafilter thing from last year has been quite popular and (hopefully) has helped improve espresso coffee the world-over. Here's an idea that's along the same lines, though I'm either too tired or too lazy to go do it myself: Take a double-basket on a La Marzocco (or anything that uses the similar 4-hole brew water dispersion design), and create a basket insert that a) creates four evenly-sized chambers that will separate the brewing environment into fourths, and b) has walls that are short enough that it won't exceed the height of the 'average' coffee bed so it won't interfere with your tamp. The thought is, if distribution flaws can create negative effects in espresso brewing, what if you compartmentalized the brewing environment into smaller cells, effectively (theoretically) diminishing the negative effects of not only the distribution of coffee grounds, but the imperfect water dispersion? Of course, this could exacerbate channeling along the basket walls by creating even more walls to channel at... but whatever. Just a silly thought I thought I'd share.
   from chris

Keeping in mind how spoiled we are

In the last few days I've had a couple of conversations and/or experiences that have reminded me of just how spoiled we really are.

First - this morning I walked into the Stumptown roastery just in time to get handed a cup of freshly brewed Panama Esmerelda. Such an incredible or perhaps astonishing coffee - like a Belgian Gran Cru ale. Seriously. So I sat there, enjoying the complexities, smiling to myself and Jim and I got into a conversation which lead to the following statement - "you know, it's sad to think that most people don't even know what coffee really tastes like." Thinking about this I came to realize just how true it is. Jim then told me a story of how, when driving to Idaho, he stopped at a gas station to use the hot water tap on their coffee brewer to make a press pot of the Panama Don Pachi. He offered to give the woman behind the counter some of the coffee in exchange, but she told him she didn't really like coffee. None the less, he left her a small cup of it. As he was starting to drive away she came running out of the station, waving her arms in the air. She wanted to know everything about the coffee... "what he put in it" why it tasted the way it did how he made it.

Second - this ties into a comment someone made to me the other day. I was tasting some incredible CoE coffees that Andrew Barnett sent to me. I shared a lovely Nicaragua CoE with a friend. He took a sip and the weirdest look came over his face. Another sip... He turned to me and said, "this doesn't even taste like coffee!"

Third - I had a hysterical conversation with someone the other day on the phone. They were trying to get me to "sell them" on why they should drive in from the suburbs to Stumptown to get their coffee. They'd never had Stumptown coffee and simply couldn't see how it could be worth it.

The reality is that most people probably don't actually know what coffee really tastes like. And that is very sad.
This also presents us with a serious challenge. How do you describe the colour green to someone who sees in black and white? How do you describe the emotional content of that colour? How do you express the value of experiencing it?

Every one of us should savour our next cup of coffee - because we are the few, the lucky ones. We actually get to know what coffee really is.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

   from bronwen

the new hines

it is with much joy and relief that i post about the new hines. after many LONG months waiting and wondering, we are FINALLY moving. our new locale will still be on eastlake -- the hines crew is very happy we are staying in the neighborhood and our regulars are even happier.

so what now? we have spent the last week moving to our new address, 2203 eastlake ave e (at the end of block north on the same side of our former location, across the street from serafina). ALL of us are tired and cannot wait to get our new digs up and running. currently, we cannot serve as a retail location -- we are working on permits for a cart while our plans and permits for a retail space and cafe are worked out. we hope to have a cart at the new space up and running within 4-6 weeks. we hope to have the new cafe up and running in about 6 months. until then, we will continue our wholesale and retail wholebean coffee sales. we will still do our own roasting out of a few local roasters (thanks in advance for their hospitality and generosity).

i think i have covered most of the important questions. we will post more as news progresses. thanks to the coffee community for your suppport and well wishes -- the hines crew know you all rock and hope you come by and say hello if you're ever in seattle.

bronwen =)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

   from Nick

Podcast #12 Special Edition: The Barista Competition Tutorial

Podcast Number 12: Special Edition. Pick your link below and right-click and select Save As (on PC) or Control-Click and select "Download Linked File" in MacOS to save it to your hard drive... OR click the "podcast" icon above for the RSS podcast feed (AAC format).

Your hosts: Jay Caragay (two-time USBC competitor, two-time regional barista competition competitor), and Nick Cho (USBC competitor, coach/trainer for regional, USBC, and WBC competitors, USBC certified judge, emcee at regional, USBC and WBC competitions, almost WBC judge certified).

Show highlights:
- News bits: Hurricanes, gas prices, Hines, Caffe Artigiano espresso, "Old Timers' Barista Competition" CANCELLED, CoffeeGeek Podcast vs. Portafilter Podcast.
- A complete, comprehensive, two-hour run-down of the barista competition (WBC/USBC) scoresheets, chock full of tips, secrets, and insights for the competition barista.

Please keep in mind, though we know of no other such endeavor that's attempted to really delve into the specifics of the barista competition scoring criteria, this is all just based on personal observations. Your results may vary.

Also, if you have NO INTEREST WHATSOEVER in barista competitions, then I recommend that once we start talking about them, you just stop listening. Don't say we didn't warn ya!

Print these out and follow along:
Competitor Rules and Regulations
Head Judge Score Sheet
Technical Judge Score Sheet
Sensory Judge Score Sheet

TWO DIFFERENT FILES, but the same show... your choice (the AAC version sounds better and includes "bookmarking" for iTunes and iPods: if you stop midway, you can come back to where you left off) both: 2 hours 13 minutes and 50 seconds, 32 kbps bitrate, 32 kHz (16 kHz for MP3) sample rate.
MP3 format, 30.7 MB,
AAC format, 32.1 MB

Click here to go to the Portafilter Podcast on iTunes Music Store.

-- AAC XML feed -:- MP3 XML feed --

Questions? Comments? Hate mail? Email us at podcast@portafilter.net, and we might read your email during the next show.

Friday, September 02, 2005

   from Nick

The State of the Portafilter Address... the first 100 days.

In Korean culture, a child's 100th day is celebrated like a first birthday. The "baek-il" is significant because many children didn't make it to 100 days, with infant mortality being what it was. A bit morbid, for sure.

A recurring theme in our 'clique' is transparency, and so I thought that it cool to let y'all know how this blog is doing so far.

This site was essentially born on May 25, 2005, and since then there have been a total of over 8,000 unique visitors, generating over 180,000 hits. The podcast has been downloaded almost 10,000 times, with a current total of over 900 subscribers. If you played every file that's been downloaded back-to-back, you'd have well over a full year's worth of continuous Jay and Nick blah-blah-blah.

This site was created for one main purpose: to help shape the conversations and discussions that folks are having about coffee. It's been an exciting experience to see that vision starting to be fulfilled... and we're only 100 days in. We have people from around the world who visit this site on a regular basis, and it is our honor to be bookmarked in people's browsers and have our RSS feed subscribed to.

Each of our contributors is known for a passion and committment to coffee quality that makes what they have to say something that people should perhaps sit up and take notice of. From Peter and Ellie's reports from abroad, to Bronwen's thoughts on cafe culture, to whatever Chris is thinking about today, to Trish's insights into a roaster's life... and much more to come, and from what we hope will be a growing and more diverse group of bloggers.

And of course, the podcast... the silly, silly, podcast. I had dreamt about a radio show for coffee professionals as I was listening to NPR one day, and I figured that rather than dream, I'd try to make something happen. Again, I'm honored and humbled that so many folks would choose to make Jay and I a regular part of their audio-diet. As we continue to develop the podcast, we hope that you'll see us continue to grow and mature into... aww, screw it. We ain't maturing, nor are we growing. But please know that we do take our 'jobs' very seriously.

I do hope that this site will continue to grow into its potential, whatever that may be. If it can add anything constructive to the coffee blog-o-sphere, then that's all we can really hope for, I suppose.

Thanks for all your support. Keep the faith.