Today's News

Ethical Journalism - Personally, I think the cronyism, condoned conflicts of interest and unprofessionalism that has plagued the coffee industry needs to end. Now. This one case is just the straw - the problem is in no way limited to this one case, this one publication or any one person.

Downsides of free Wi-Fi - This has been a problem for so many coffee bars for so long. And it has been getting steadily worse. I'm really glad that someone has finally taken a stand. Regardless of the outcome, regardless of solutions - now at the very least people are aware that there is a problem. As always, Victrola rocks.

Another Blog - Coffee industry insiders talk about various things of interest to pros in the business. Will include a 'podcast' thingie. Full disclosure - I'm one of the people posting to this.


I've been watching the El Bulli episode of Tony Bourdain's show over and over again (thanks Alistair). If you've not seen it - you need to. It's incredible. It's eye-opening.

The concept of transformation.
The grounding in tradition.
The exploration.
The team mentality.

While I'm excited about the implications for cooking (of course) I also think there is so much to learn from the approach when it comes to coffee.

What I wouldn't give for a think-tank coffee laboratory half the year and a coffee bar to share and test the results for the other half....

morning sunshine in portland

Is anything sweeter than a Hairbender Cappuccino on a sunny SE PDX morning?



While there is no way to know without tasting - and on that you'll just have to trust me - I thought I'd show some photos of some extractions.

The point?

1 - these shots are from a blend that has no dry processed coffees and no robusta.
2 - these shots are from beans that are about 48 hours past their peak.
3 - these shots are produced on an unmodified home espresso machine.
4 - these shots were incredibly good.




A Morning of Mia

On-going review notes


Out of curiousity, I decided to do a quick comparison between the Astoria and the Mia.
This was mostly motivated by my steaming frustrations when it comes to the Mia.

The Astoria is dramatically (I mean dramatically) better when it comes to texturing milk. In fact, it is pretty much on par with most commercial machines. First milk - velvet chrome. First pour - perfect latte art.

On the other hand... I actually think that the Mia is easier (for me) to use when it comes to pulling shots. The Astoria is an automatic (which I find far harder to use), I don't like the control pad buttons at all and the portafilter is non-standard. In addition, I find I have to significantly under-dose due to the portafilter and group design if I want to leave a sufficient gap.

That being said... the shots from the Astoria were, in fact, better than the shots from the Mia. They're closer to what I'd get from a commercial machine when it comes to mouthfeel and have better clarity.

The cappuccino I just had... glorious!! A good to very good shot of Hairbender and wonderfully thick, sweet milk. That perfect mix of flavours and textures.... fabulous.

I'm figuring that there is almost certainly a machine out there that combines the portafilter/group design of the Mia with the steam/shot quality of the Astoria and that is a semi-auto.

Does this mean I'm starting to grasp the so-called 'upgrade fever'?


Another fun day with the home machines!

First... one okay shot of the Hairbender and then one really nice shot of it. Sweet, dried fruit, some beautiful high-toned aromatics and a super-beautiful sweet brown sugar chocolate finish. Honestly, while the shots out of this machine are not in the same league as what I can get out of a Mistral, they're close to what I was able to get from a bone-stock Linea.

Second... a double capp for Valerie. This was actually lovely. While I'm still finding it to be a serious challenge to get really high-quality milk with this machine - it's still possible with work to get satisfactory taste and texture.

Third... a switch over the the mighty Stumptown El Salvador CoE Las Nubitas. Honestly, this might well be my favorite single origin espresso of all time. And the second shot I pulled... just lovely. Top three shots of Las Nubitas ever. Not only the usual caramel roasted apple sweet fruit vanilla but with a finish rich in dutch processed cocoa. Wonderful.

And then some more ninja training time.
She is progressing well.
Her kung fu is strong.
Two of her shots of Las Nubitas were good and one was very good indeed.