Sunday, February 26, 2006

   from Nick

24 (the podcast... not the show starring Keifer Sutherland)

Podcast Number 24: Coffee Fest DC and the MARBC 2006 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).

(Someone's been drinking perhaps? A super-sized show for a super-sized show.)

Discussion topics and special guests:
Sarah Allen, Barista Magazine
Matt Milletto, Bellissimo Infogroup and the ABC.
Kevin Dupree, "The Cup," Bel Air, MD
Heather Perry, Coffee Klatch, San Dimas, CA
Bombay Sapphire Tonics,
Kate LaPoint (To the Point Business Imaging) and Eric Bass, Stirling Gourmet Flavors talk about the place for syrups in specialty coffee
Elizabeth Charrow, murky coffee
Mandy Catron, murky coffee
Marcus Boni, Intelligentsia Coffee
Amber Sather, Intelligentsia Coffee talks about "Espresso L'ARANJA."
Chris Deferio, Carriage House Coffee, Ithaca, NY, talks about the superficiality of latte art, and career moves
Spencer Turer, Kerry Food and Beverage,
Ryan Jensen, murky coffee,
Holger? From Germany?
Michelle Campbell, Director of Community and Events, SCAA,
Alison Trowbridge, Espresso Supply,
Sandy Hon, Java Jazz, Overland Park, KS,
Ken Olsen, Barista Magazine,
Peter Giuliano, Counter Culture Coffee, on cupping at Coffee Fest, and SCAA stuff,
Jesse Cooper, Tryst Coffeehouse, Bar and Lounge.
More Heather Perry on underwear,
and much, much more.

(as always) 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 24 minutes and 38 seconds, 48 kbps VBR bitrate , 44.1 kHz sample rate (36 kbps VBR/44.1 kHz for MP3).
MP3 format, 38.2 MB,
AAC format, 57.3 MB

Click here to go to the Portafilter Podcast on iTunes Music Store.
MAC OS users, click HERE (for a one-click to subscribe in iTunes)

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

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

Saturday, February 18, 2006

   from Nick Logo Contest

The rules are simple:

Submit a simple, scalable, relevant, and creative logo for The winning entry will receive a tamper with the logo custom-engraved onto it. All submissions become property of No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. You must be at least 14 years old to enter. No files over 5MB. You may submit an entry from any country, as long as Google isn't required by your government to censor websites.

Email it (preferably in vector graphic format like AI or EPS, but otherwise in a fairly high-resolution GIF... but again, nothing over 5MB) to:

Deadline for submissions is March 15th (the ides), 2006, but we reserve the right to extend the deadline if no suitable entry is received. All rights to the determination of "suitability" are reserved by Submission may not include copywrited or trademarked material.

The logo should look good on a t-shirt, engraved onto a tamper, or tattooed on the nape of the neck. No shading please. It can be colorful, but should also look good in black-and-white. Click HERE for an example of one of the best logos of all time.

(added 2/19/2006) You can put it into your (theoretical or real) portfolio and show as an example of your work to future customers (whatever that means).

Also, contrary to popular reports, there will be no punch nor pie.
   from Nick

. . .

Did someone say hype?

You ain't even begun to have heard the hype, yo!

Friday, February 17, 2006

   from Nick

Next weekend...

Now everyone... let's be good little coffee-boys and girls when you come to town next week.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

   from AndyS

Mirage Idrocompresso

This is just an eye-candy post. Some photos taken at Gimme Coffee, for your viewing pleasure.

Yup, I wish I owned one, too. :-)
   from Peter G

More musings on the Clover

I spent a little time with the Clover this week, and I had a few little musings about the thing.

1. Cup quality and "granularity" - I won't go into too much detail about the quality of the cups I had, other than to say it generally reminds me of vacpot and eva solo coffee. But this has been said before. The thing that suprised me was how great the impact of small adjustments in dwell time were. Huge. For example, when we were brewing some Illili Daarartu Harrar at 40 seconds/10 ounces, we found very little fruit character. Changing the dwell by four seconds resulted in a complex, fruity cup. Wild. In my opinion, subtle changes in brew time (and perhaps grind as well) have an even greater impact on Clover coffee than espresso. Perhaps this is because Clover coffee is more subtle overall.

2. On-demand brewing - Much of the the punditry I have heard on this device focuses on the mechanics and cup quality of the thing. While important, I feel the most incredible impact of this machine is its ability to brew any coffee at any time, within just a few seconds. This takes instant gratification to a new level. We had the machine for two days, and the day after it was gone, everybody was bummed that they couldn't have their fave coffee instantaneously. (Of course, I was shouting, "how hard is it to make a dang French Press", but nobody listens to me.) I feel that this will have a HUGE impact, perhaps more than we anticipate, on coffeeshops that also retail beans. As we demo'd the machine for folks, they would ask "Can I have a cup of coffee?" The response is: "Sure. What kind?" Typical response: "I dunno. Whatever you are brewing." Answer: "We have everything. You must choose". This dialog has incredible power when trying to emphasize the highly differentiated world of coffee.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

   from Nick


Is your espresso sad?

Then make it HAPPY!!!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

   from AndyS

SOS taste recalibration?

Do you make a conscious or unconscious taste adjustment when you drink single origin shots? I think I do. For instance, if I'm pulling shots with a Harrar that has great blueberries, I tend to be so psyched about tasting the blueberries that I ignore other things that may be taste flaws. It might be sour, or need more body, but I get a tunnel vision effect, and I just concentrate on the flavor that I'm seeking. The shot will be exciting for me, but maybe other folks, being more objective, would find it flawed.

It's not just blueberries, of course. The same thing can happen when I taste great orange-fruity flavors in a Rwandan or even just a classic earthy Sumatra.

Tonight I chatted on the phone with Kevin C about this issue. He talked how the origin flavors could come through with much greater clarity than they could in a blend. As he said this, I flashed on how an SOS was like an expert soloist performing on their instrument; you could hear every nuance of style and interpretation. An espresso blend, on the other hand, was like a chamber group, with harmony and complexity being more important than solo virtuosity.

One of my goals as a barista, although I'm only an amateur, is to make single origin shots joyously expressive of their uniqueness, while remaining finely balanced. The Harrar shot that Kevin prepared last week did this pretty darn well. On a forty-year-old espresso machine!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

   from AndyS

Italian humor

Who says Italian espresso engineers don't have a riotous sense of humor?

On Gimme's vintage E61 machine, the engineers really outdid themselves. In the photo, the blue arrow points to a little chrome-plated fitting. The yellow arrow points to a small knob. When you twist the knob counterclockwise, a thin stream of pressurized, 200 degree water shoots from the chrome fitting DIRECTLY AT YOUR CROTCH.

Hahahahaha! It's genius!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

   from AndyS

Sending out an SOS: double pump style

I had the pleasure of stopping in at Gimme Coffee today. Lately Kevin seems to be splitting his time between Ithaca, Costa Rica, Brooklyn, and Idaho. How does he do it without collapsing? It's a trick I'll never master.

We retired to the roasting room in back, and Kevin began exploring the "extraction space" with their Leftist Blend. The back room has an original Faema E-61, which seems to be Kevin's favorite machine. He says the Faema takes a few shots to get in a groove, but then produces beautiful, syrupy shots. Here's a shot of it, not all cleaned up and shiny, but rather in full-on action mode:

Soon we switched over to their current Harrar coffee, which had been gently roasted to a nice, blueberry-preserving light color. I don't think Kevin was making any effort to play with brew temperature; that's not what this machine is about. Instead he was experimenting with the Sabadian, Bassetacious and Wendelboean variables of dose and headspace.

The Harrar was fruity, but it lacked sweetness and tasted a bit harsh. Kevin loosened the grind on the Robur and updosed a bit. The flow was very slow in starting. So he tried a trick I've never heard about outside of Gimme: when no drops appeared after six or eight seconds, he pulled the E-61 lever down to its mid (preinfusion) position. This turned the pump off, but left the 3-way valve in brew position and kept mains pressure on the group. After a couple seconds, he lifted the lever back to its regular, pump-on brew position.

In Kevin's view, this technique allows the puck to expand a little, and helps get a good flow going. Since a moderate amount of pressure is maintained on the puck, it doesn't blow up; it just "breathes" a little.

The results were really great. This cup was loaded with blueberries, sweet lemon, and a refreshing acidity. All the excitement of SOS (single origin shots) without the pucker factor. What a beautiful ristretto shot.

Is this double pump technique common knowledge? You'd think it might screw up the shot, but in fact it does not. I haven't seen it mentioned elsewhere.