I've been talking with various people about the need for more communication and transparency between roasters and baristas.

I think there are so many grey areas in our understanding - so many unfounded myths and misguided assumptions. These are holding us back and doing us damage.

I strongly believe that baristas can learn a huge amount from better communication with roasters. But at the same time, I think roasters can learn an immense amount from listening to baristas.

It's rare that any baristas even know what the components of their espresso blends are. It's rare that they understand the implications of those coffees, the flavour profiles of those coffees. And it's at least as rare for roasters to understand the results of their blending decisions, the results of changes to extraction parameters... there is no feedback loop. As a result... progression is mostly imitative and in most cases the result of blind luck.

So few people seem to be exploring the interplay between all the variables and taking advantage of the opportunities available to them from manipulating all those variables.

I would love to see the development of some sort of independent espresso research "lab".
It could be funded by a consortium of coffee companies and wouldn't have to be that expensive to anyone as a result.
Imagine being able to send roast samples (with comprehensive details on coffees, roast, etc) and get back results including tasting notes, optimal extraction parameters (on various machines) and feedback and suggestions.
Imagine being able to provide green samples (with details) and get back results.
Imagine being able to provide equipment and get back results.
It could be totally independent and totally confidential. Samples could be packaged blind with details and this way only someone "administrative" would even know the sources.

I could even see different "tiers" of membership with associated costs.
Some could be tied to number of tests run.
Some could be unlimited.
Some could be a la carte.
Others would just get aggregated reports ("Extraction Parameters for Pulped Natural Coffees with E61-based Espresso Machines", "The Use of Washed Coffees as Espresso Bases", "A Hydrophilic Evaluation of Coffee Types," etc.).

Now that would push things forward.



OK... so we have more positive thoughts about the Briccoletta... Kyle came over and we pulled shots of the Zoka Yirgacheffe ("really floral, not citric, nice chocolate") and the Zoka Col. Fitzroy ("too dark for my taste, good in milk") a couple other coffees and then the Olympia Big Truck ("nice, interesting").

After a little playing with milk, we decided to swap to a new tip and discovered it was a big improvement. Both Kyle and I were able to produce really pretty prototypical microfoam right away.

I'm hoping to source a couple other tip options (including the LM "acorn" tip) to try out.

The Briccoletta is sweet. I'm digging it so far.

It totally shocks me how good the espresso from these newer, high-end home machines can be. Honestly, I think that pretty much any skilled professional barista would be blown away by the quality of the coffee from this machine. For the very, very top baristas there are going to be things about the machine that would become limiting factors - but for the other 99.9% of us the gating item will be barista skill.


Next Home-Barista.com review

So Terry from Espresso Parts came down to help me do the set-up and install for the machine I'm reviewing for Home-Barista.com.

It was quick, painless and quite non-eventful (thanks Terry!!).

I've got some coffees from Olympia Coffee Roasting, some coffees from Stumptown and some coffees from Zoka. Very cool!

The Cimbali Junior grinder is sweet. I far prefer it to the Mazzer Mini so far. I mean, I really dislike the plastic portafilter fork, but I don't have any other complaints and it seems superior in all other ways to the competition.

And as for the Briccoletta... what can I say?
I'm already impressed.
Real rotary pump, plumbed-in, gorgeous looking... and it pulls great shots.
I've got almost a month to see if I find issues, but right now I think this could be a winner.
oh... also i'm about to being my next "pro's perspective" review for Home-Barista.com

this time i'll be reviewing the Briccoletta (thanks to 1st-Line).

pretty damn cool!


I've been thinking a lot about the hydrophilic nature of coffee. I'm sure that research has been done, but I cannot (so far) find anything that evaluates various different types of coffee to determine if there is variance in how hydrophilic each is, how great the differences are and what patterns emerge.

I would hypothesize (purely from experience) that (when it comes to Arabica beans) high-grown washed coffees are the least hydrophilic, semi-washed (or pulped naturals) are more hydrophilic, naturals are even more hydrophilic and aged (or monsooned) coffees are the most hydrophilic.

The hydrophilic nature of each type of coffee, each method of coffee processing and perhaps even the varietals and origins is actually quite critical. It has huge implications when it comes to behavior in an espresso machine; it will affect optimal dose and thus technique and even brew temp and pressure; and as a result will dramatically affect blending decisions.

I'm very curious about this and really want to understand more.