Monday, January 28, 2013

Cyclocross Worlds is coming. It's in the US and it's kind of a big deal.

totally unrelated, here's me, cowbell in the foreground, running up at Alpinerose.
It's all happening between January 31st and February 3rd in Louisville Kentucky at Eva Bandman park and Cylcocross venue. Details here.

A lot of people are headed out to spectate and it's going to be cold. 30's and potentially snowing.  I thought I'd put together some coffee tips to help you keep warm and caffeinated while you ring cowbells, screaming at Katie Compton and Jonathon Page.

Quills Coffee - Just a couple miles from the Worlds venue, Quills downtown location is a short bike ride away and known for their pourover coffee program. (which you know I love) 930 Baxter Avenue (502) 742-6129 Quills is a multi-location joint, so, depending on where you're staying, look em' up.

Sunergos Coffee - The newest downtown location of Sunergos is within walking distance of the Cylocross park.  231 South 5th Street (502) 589-3222 This location features Seattle's fabled Slayer espresso machine and multiple espresso offerings. A while back this nice blog about them popped up: 
Also a multi-location business so look for the one that's on your way to the park in the morning.

Cafe Classico - For a delicious espresso.

Looking into eat and drink around Louisville I came across a couple other things you should know about. Here some more places within minutes of Bandman park.

For breakfast and snacks check out:
Please & Thank You
North End Cafe
Baby D's (for bagel sandwiches, and right around the corner from Quills coffee)
Nancy's Bagel Grounds

And if you get a little farther from the park,
Wild Eggs.
Blue Dog Bakery and Cafe

Got other good tips? Groups rides, bourbon tours? email tom[at]pouredover[dot]com and we'll get em' up here.
Thanks to Tom from Vanilla Workshop for contributing to this post.  

Friday, January 04, 2013

5oz cappuccino

Spent my day with John and the Franke Evolution ASP. Of course most of my peer group are ultimately skeptical of this type of automated equipment. On top of that, most know the story of La Marzocco USA and Franke in Seattle. It seems like everyone has their own version of that story. No matter what happened, it helped shape the industry as we know it.

In the past I've had limited exposure to this kind of espresso machine. I worked at Visions in Seattle and they were always working on these things. It's a kind of Rube Goldberg device on the inside.

Tightly assembled and complex

In the lower right you can see the main inlet manifold. All this is cold. You can also see the same Pro-Con pump we use on any other commercially viable espresso machine on the left.

Valves from left to right control; hot water tap cold mix, auto milk dispenser (not installed) and auto boiler fill.

Everything hot is centralized on another manifold. There are multiple steam valves, depending on much steam you want. The stainless boiler is small, but has a relatively large heating element. From the install, the initial heat up was around 4.5 minutes. These machines are also available as dual boiler. There is easy access to the fill probe here too.

Behind the tubes you can see the Ditting grinder. 

Tubes from top to bottom; steam, steam, more steam and the hot water including the mix (up from the bottom)

The brewing chamber is vertical, not true on all super automatic espresso machines. That big obvious orange O-ring seals up the brew and the tube above it leads the coffee to the dispensing port. The finished coffee travels 8-10 inches in rubber tube. That tube also holds left over coffee. After 5 idle minutes the system automatically flushes the brew chamber and delivery tube.

Birds eye view on the brewing chamber

dose calibration
The first espressos we're very sour. We found the dose to be really high, 21.5 grams. The Water Avenue Coffee we used is lighter roasted than your typical Super Auto users (read McCafe), and therefore more dense. The dose was set to 18.5g (3.4 seconds) and the volume at 70ml.

Because of the length of the delivery tube, shot timing isn't what you're used to. You can hear the brew valve open so we timed from there.

dialing in
Espressos were right around 30 seconds. Another side effect of the deliver tube is, espresso isn't as hot as normal. The flavor was more than acceptable. I drank several.

 Here's a video of espresso brewing action. Yeah, yeah, I'll hold the phone sideways next time. 
Franke Evolution espresso from pouredover on Vimeo.

I was very interested in the milk steaming functions. The steam wand is a giant double walled stainless and teflon thing, it's about triple the normal diameter. It has a temp probe sticking straight out the bottom of the tip. The holes in the tip are huge. The holes in the tip turn out not to matter during autosteam because air is induced upstream, via another valve, and a Venturi effect. So, during autosteam, the holes on the tip are covered by liquid all the time.

We turned all the autosteam functions off so I could try to steam old-fashion style. My hypothesis was that I'd prefer the steam turned all the way up. After several test runs, I was right. I made the cappuccino in the first photo with this technique. I then expanded my hypothesis and added that I thought maximum steam would be best in all conditions.

Programming with the technicians card
From there we worked backwards to configure the autosteam to perform as close as possible. It's very configurable. A few significant settings include the temp at which the air valve closes and the ending milk temperature.  So, for example, typical users of this thing would differentiate "latte" and "cappuccino" by leaving the air valve open to a higher temp (longer) to make more foam for cappuccinos.

Right away I noted that the air valve was open until a much higher temp than I would teach a Barista. Turning it down below 38C (100F) yielded really great results. I ended up turning it down to 24C. One downside is that if the starting milk (or pitcher) change temp, it will impact the foam quality.

Maximum steam volume provided better milk in all my tests. 

 For me, the lesson is almost the same as always: people make coffee, machines do not. After John and I set it up and dialed in, the drinks we're great. The key to great coffees will always be great people.

A big thanks to John.