Video: Me Making coffee

So this is my routine for making coffee. I have a Rancilio Silvia and a Rancilio Rocky. I roast my own beans from time to time, but most of the time I can’t be bothered and ended up buying some from a local roaster. This little clip is not a single continuous scene… unfortunately I’m not coordinated enough to do the whole thing perfectly as well as one handed in one take. So it’s from a few different sessions of me finding ways to occupy myself that don’t involve actual work.

Feel free to laugh or cringe, whichever takes your fancy.

Coffee for Unity

meanwhile in Italy...

A great shot of coffee I pulled at home recently on my trusty Rancilio Silvia, after grinding on my Rancilio Rocky. The blend was half Brazilian Reserve Daterra, as roasted by 5 Senses, and half Nicaraguan as roasted by Fiori. A tasty blend to unite two of the premier coffee roasters operating in Perth at the moment, and a good excuse to apply some overly stylised editing. I’m calling the blend “Sensori” for now… which I’m sure will get me into some kind of legal trouble, but seeing as I’m not selling it I think I might be ok.

More coffee posts on their way. Drink up.

Catching Up on Coffee

Yes, I know… I’ve been neglecting this blog terribly. So here are a few posts to keep the faithful going. A little old school latte art action, intermingled with some fancy new photography courtesy of the new camera.

brown on black

First off, some new arrivals to my roasting efforts. A bag of Ethiopian Harrar, and a bag of Colombian Valle del Cauca Supremo (which is the photo above).

The harrar is sweet fruity bean, along the lines of the Yirgacheffe, but without as much of the winey aftertaste. The Valle del Cauca is a big full bodied coffee, and they accidently made a very tasty little espresso blend for me.

Liquidity Ethiopian Harrar

Other things to note of late is that my latte art still sucks the big one, although the photos look infinitely prettier.

Latte Art x 2 Back at it

I need to get my Silvia serviced again because I’ve gone and completely stripped the top of the screw that holds the shower screen in. It seems that its made of a pretty soft metal that expands a lot when it gets hot, and so even though I don’t screw it in tight at all, it’s near impossible to get loose after a while. Hence my mauling it with all manner of stubby screwdrivers and swear words. I will be warily treading back to the coffee machine shop I went to last time, to see if they can get the screw out, and give me a new one, without rorting me out of my life savings.

Watch this space for exciting coffee related photo’s soon.

More Espresso Videos

Another quick post of a short video I took of an extraction on my Rancilio Silvia espresso machine.

The shot is a little fast, basically because it was the first shot I pulled with a new blend of coffee that I roasted myself. So I’m still dialling in my grinder for the right length of shot for this blend.

Still it tastes quite nice… a sweet fruity front palate, good body, and a slightly winey lingering taste.

The blend was:

Panamaria Special A – 60%
PNG Serehini AX – 30%
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe – 10%

The coffee is about 3 days old at this point…and has very nice solid crema.

Latte are once again sucks… But I added it in because I’m filming them all these days anyway. I have no doubt whatsoever that the minute I put the camera down and try to pour another rosetta it will come out perfectly.

My Sweet Silvia…

Miss Silvia (on my cameraphone)

My Sweet Rancilio Miss Silvia…Has died. I think i left the steam switch on without realising and now the boiler has run dry and fizzled out. All I get is cold (so very very cold) water running out of my group head, and that makes for pretty dire espresso (or rather, no espresso at all). I’m too distraught for a more eloquent account of the situation, but trust me when I say that having anthropomorphised her into an actual being, its quite distressing to see her so sick. I’ve rung a couple of service companies, one of them can’t even look at her until next week, and the other I’m slightly dubious of due to past experience, but seem to know what they are doing. It’s times like this that I wish I hadn’t gotten 8% in my first year electrical engineering exam at Uni. They were confusing times, damn you Kirchoff!

If anything I guess it does give me an excuse to try out French Press coffee on a more than passing interest level. Which also gives me an excuse to start roasting again as well. Single origin coffee is not generally designed for espresso. This depends on the bean of course, but most espresso nuts are of the opinion that a single type of bean does not have the compexity required to make a well rounded shot of espresso, however in a French Press, you can really bring out some of those unique origin qualities that make coffee from different countries taste so good.

I have given up on roasting for a while now, as I find my beans aren’t up to scratch compared to some of the commercial blends I get to try out, so whilst it’s an interesting learning experience, why try to reinvent the wheel basically.

Hopefully Silvia will be back up and running soon though, ready to greet me each morning with a warm smile and a hearty puff from her steam wand, and this madness will all come to an end.

Your thoughts and prayers for her are appreciated in this troubling time.

Just got her back from the repair place, turns out that she had overloaded somehow, and all that needed to happen was to reset some overload switch/circuit inside. Which is kind of annoying in a way because thats something I should have looked for myself. Ahh well… I cleaned her off, removed the obligatory “serviced by some company” sticker that I had asked not to be put on, and cranked her up. All good, lovely espresso and great steam for milk. Gives me a chance to use some of my new Australian Fine China cups that I picked up cheap at their recent stocktake sale at Claremont Showgrounds, where I was manhandled by numerous old ladies stirred up into a bargain hunting frenzy by irresponsible spruikers wanting to clear an entire warehouse full of ceramics. It was like giving matches to a pyromaniac.

Anyway… situation is back to normal. Please return your seat to it’s original upright position.

Espresso lessons.

Knowing people is a good thing.

Having recently popped in to see Ben at the Barista Academy I got to borrow his La Marzocco naked portafilter. Unfortunately it didn’t fit my Silvia, but the LM double basket does fit into my Silvia portafilter. So I’ve been pulling a few practice shots with the LM basket instead. It’s a little deeper than the standard Rancilio double basket, and the walls are straighter, and the holes in the bottom go right out to the edge of the basket, as opposed to the Silvia which has a little gap around the edge where there is no extraction.

Baskets side by side

Having said all that you’d think i’d be getting better shots with the LM basket, but so far that hasn’t been the case. I assume it must be because of my dosing/tamping method and the amount of coffee I’m putting in each shot, because each shot I’ve pulled with the LM basket has been soggy on top (a sign of under dosing), and a lot faster than normal.

I think the additional holes in the LM basket, as well as the increased size, all add up to there being less resistance in the puck, which means fast/under extracted shots.

So to test this I kept the grind at exactly the same level and repeated my procedure with my standard Rancilio double basket, and immediately got a much nicer, properly extracted shot.

The lesson in all of this. Better equipment does not add up to better espresso if you don’t know how to use it properly :)
I’ll keep playing with the LM basket and try adjusting my technique to see if I can compensate for the differences i’m seeing.
It could also have a lot to do with the beans I’m using, which are a couple of weeks old now… Not having a roaster is causing me much pain.

Also, here’s a couple of latte art shots I’ve taken in the last couple of days. Still not getting them how I’d like despite getting Ben to show me… More practice required :)

Take away art

Lost it on the dismount

Hello Miss Silvia & Mr Rocky

Miss Silvia

Yesterday i welcomed two new friends into the household. They were Miss Silvia and Rocky, both of the Rancilio family.

After a long time reading reviews and searching through websites for information about espresso machines, grinders, and all the assorted paraphenalia that goes along with using and maintaining them, i finally decided to jump in.

I found the Silvia and the Rocky both on ebay, via a private seller. The photo’s looked good, the price was reasonable compared to what i’ve seen and the dealer seemed reputable and so i went for it. I dropped my bids in with a week left to go, and lo and behold if a week later i had won both auctions !

So yesterday they arrived and after a quick check to ensure they were in good working order Sharon and I got them working.

The first few shots left a lot to be desired, and after some grind level changes on Rocky and a few back flushes on Silvia we
were back in business. I won’t say the espresso is great yet… but it’s definitely on its way.


Update: Got some great info from Dan the seller, and done a lot more reading on how to get the Silvia setup right for consistently good shots. Sharon is kicking my butt so far… She made an awesome short macchiato for me last night, don’t think i’ve tasted one as good in recent memory.

Check out the photos if you want the real deal :)