Wednesday, November 29, 2006

   from Nick

Instaurator's New Project

There have been rumors floating around for a while now that someone in Australia was planning a barista competition event to rival the World Barista Championship, and it looks like this is just that.

I can't say that personally, I really know how I feel about an event like this. On the one hand, there's the "more the merrier" perspective. On the other hand, considering the current status of espresso and where the craft is going, is this the sort of competition that 2006/2007 should be producing? How does it all fit in? Is etching really an integral part of this competition? Here in the U.S., are we gonna have to hear chants of, "Zoka-Zoka-Zoka, oy! oy! oy!?"

Interesting stuff. What are your thoughts?

EDIT NOV 30: The video has been removed by the user from YouTube. The plot thickens. . .

EDIT DEC 4: The video is BACK... now with the intro from Instaurator removed. Makes you wonder. . .

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

   from Nick

Podcast 56 - Black Gold The Movie

An insightful conversation with the directors, cinematographers, and producers of the documentary film, "Black Gold - The Movie," Mr. Nick Francis and Mr. Marc Francis, along with Counter Culture Coffee Director of Coffee, Mr. Peter Giuliano. Check out their website at The best part of this chat is that it becomes a true dialogue, not just an interview.

1 hour 21 minutes and 45 seconds - MP3 format, 37.5 MB

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

Monday, November 13, 2006

   from Nick

How much do baristas need to know about home machines?

From the Toronto Star, "Espresso Yourself." November 11, 2006. (link via Dwelltime)

I've been thinking about this for a while, and would be interested to hear folks' opinions.

How much do baristas need to know about home espresso machines?

I'll confess: the only machines that I really know ANYTHING about and the Rancilio Silvia and the Expobar Brewtus (and Brewtus 2). I've played around on a few Silvias, and though I've never even seen a Brewtus in person, I understand it to be a solid machine, with PID, dual-boilers, and a modified E-61 group (which is antithetical to being a dedicated-boiler machine, but whatever). Even then, I admitted that I haven't seen one. I'm just assuming based on positive reports out there.

However, I get asked about home machine recommendations all the time, and I suspect I'm not the only one. I don't like the fact that though I can wax poetic about hybridized groups and 83mm conical burrs and 0.6mm flow restrictors and 6000-watt heating elements, I don't know the first thing about a LaPavoni lever home-machine, or a Solis SL-70, or a Rancilio Rocky.

I remember the first time that someone asked me to make coffee at their house (after dinner), knowing that I'm a "coffee-guy" and feeling insecure about making coffee in my presence. I remember asking, "Do you have a scale?" while suddenly realizing that because our brew-portions for drip coffee had been set and established long ago, I had little to no clue how much coffee I needed for this dude's Mr. Coffee. Some "professional" I turned out to be!

If we claim to want to be coffee sommeliers, aren't we then compelled to familiarize ourselves with the home coffee and espresso equipment?

Whether with CoffeeGeek or Home-Barista or EspressoParts or whoever... I'd like to see some sort of "Home Equipment 101 - What Every Professional Should Know" seminar someday. At SCAA, a Barista Guild Jam, or... perhaps at Portafilter 2007?


By the way, I know that folks are chompin' at the bits for some more info on the PF2007 event, including sponsorship info. We'll have a solid run-down of info within the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

   from Nick

Podcast #55 - NYC Got You SERVED

A shorter-than-normal show, but a definite eye-opener... and I certainly don't mean the political and tabloid jibber-jabber at the beginning. The highlight of this show is an illuminating call with Ken Nye, of Ninth Street Espresso in New York City, on the NY coffee scene, real estate, Martha Stewart, and the most bad-ass, ass-backwards way to grow a coffee business. FYI, I almost called this show "Our penises are small."

1 hour 14 minutes and 28 seconds - MP3 format, 34.1 MB

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

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

   from Nick


There are a lot of "A vs. B" battles in our industry. All arabica vs. some robusta? Updosing vs. not-Updosing? Feel like a nut vs. don't?

The ones that can get contentious are the brand wars. La Marzocco vs. La Cimbali? Bunn vs. Fetco? Mahlkonig vs. Ditting? Intelligentsia vs. Starbucks? (just kidding Doug)

Here's a heated debate: VitaMix vs. Blendtec?

Well, there's a CLEAR WINNER. Not because of the quality of their products, not because of reliability, but because someone over there is obviously a f-ing marketing genius!!!

Winner: BLENDTEC. Put that in your book.
For more, check out

BRILLIANT!!! Don't miss the DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME section.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

   from Nick

What's with the attitude?

I've been asking myself this question for a while: What is it about the barista craft that seems to breed the primadonna bullshit that I see sometimes?

Well, maybe I can take some solace in the fact that it isn't just an American thing.