So I've pulled a couple dozen shots already today. And on all where I did my part (i.e. the grind was right, the temp surf was right, dose and distribution were right) I got the desired and previously elusive "clarity of flavours."
Now... I'm very happy about this. Don't get me wrong. I had one of the best shots I've had in a very very long time this morning as well as a truly amazing cappuccino.
But I've learned something along the way.
Sometimes you don't want clarity.
While the shots I've had of Hairbender and some other coffees have been amazing and brilliant and beautiful - the shots of a couple other coffees have been far inferior to what I'm used to getting on this machine. With the clarity of flavour, unfortunately, has come a lack of balance and the sudden emergence of flavours in the coffee that are not amazing and brilliant and beautiful. With these coffees, the resulting espresso has been jarring and jagged on the palate.
I think it might be a great thing to have clarity of flavour in a coffee where all of the component beans are very good tasting and very high quality. If, however, the blend is "hiding" an inferior bean or two in the mix (perhaps to provide enhanced crema or improved colour or the like), even if the blend is incredibly carefully constructed so as to emphasize only the positive attributes of that bean and to obscure the negatives... once you get the sort of definition and transparency I'm talking about those hidden traits pop right out into the open.
Now this is an interesting discovery and a compelling concept!! And it might fit into some of my theories about Italian espresso, natural coffees, fine grind/light tamp, the pre-infusion on E61 based machines and the default declining brew temp of such machines. Hmmm...
I'm starting to see a potential diverging evolutionary path here. And in the future of the one I want to move down is a espresso machine with some sort of computer controlled linear hydraulic piston instead of the traditional rotary pump. Couple this with computer control of brew temp and temp profile as well as a bunch of the other innovations of late... Anyone listening out there in techie world?
The newest Portafilter.net podcast is up and I'm interviewed on it. It was fun but damn do I sound like a seriously wacky mad scientist. Sigh... Oh, for those who've heard it, my eye has some discoloration but it's not actually black as it turns out.
Oh... and finally, I did not "invent" this whole water pressure/brew pressure thing and I'm not the first person by a long shot to come up with the idea that it is of importance. Folks like David Schomer figured that out years and years ago.