The Daily Double Shot – Obama is Smokey and Sweet

On Sam’s last business trip to Seattle, she set out to buy some new beans from the Seattle Coffee Works cafe to try some Seattle roasted coffees. As we all know, Seattle is known for a few famous and popular coffee brands, but we wanted to try something uniquely Seattle. I had caught wind of a special coffee blend that is made exclusively at SCW. It had a presidential quality to it. One that was equal parts funny and creative. It was the Obama blend, Indonesian origin beans mixed with East African to create a blend that was similar to the blend of our president.

When we finally ground the coffee, it had a darker roasted smell to the beans. One would instantly realize this was no trendy San Francisco espresso roast. (It seems like the trend in San Francisco tends to be on the lighter roast side when it comes to espresso.)  I tamped the grinds into the portafilter, and pulled some shots.

The first straight espresso sip, was very bold, with that darker roasted taste (like the smell, duh!).  As I let the taste linger in my mouth a bit, it started to fill my buds with a smokey-sour taste.  A little too sour for my personal liking.  Instantly, we realized this was a roast for drip coffee methods and not for espresso.  I suppose some may like their espresso in this format, but the Ritual Nine Darling Road has spoiled my senses and is still my favorite, because of it’s lighter, floral (and campfire) taste.

I eventually decided to try the beans in a French Press.  This time, I set the grinder to a coarser setting and poured in about 5 tablespoons of coffee into the cylinder. I poured about a 14 ounce mug of boiling water and let it steep (percolate? coffee experts correct me on the terminology) for about 4 minutes.  Around the 4 minute mark, I pressed down, and poured the coffee.  The flavor of Obama was different, than with the espresso.  It was still dark and smokey, but the coffee tasted sweet, with only a hint of the sour note.  Definitely a lot better as a coffee than as an espresso.


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The Daily Double Shot – June 5, 2012

Crossover event: Wolverine Vs. The Invisible Man

Today, I had a few new things to look forward to. A new bag o’ beans, and now I have some help with frothing the milk with a new stainless steel pitcher and thermometer.  The bag of beans was actually a trade I made with one of my coworkers, who I shall call Jetting Judy. I was asking her about the beans she liked to use for espresso at home, and she mentioned that her favorite was the Espresso from New York called The Laughing Man, bub. It’s a coffee source started by Hugh Jackman, aka Wolverine. So awesome! From the About Us page over at Laughing Man, Wolverine was in Ethiopia and made a promise to a coffee farmer to help produce and sell coffee to consumers with no middle men.

So, this morning, I ground the beans with the “Tornado Claw” grinder and pretty much did everything the same. I made one double shot of espresso and it came out too watery. I tasted it straight, it had a little more sour note than the Ritual and Blue Bottle varieties and more chocolatey. Once I finished that, I decided to increase the fineness of the grind and try an extra double shot. This time it was a tad too fine (tomorrow I’ll get it right). The pull was really hard and there was some grinds that filtered through, with what appeared to be some healthy crema. I’m starting to think the beans have something to do with producing crema. Any experts out there want to verify?

Once the espresso was pulled, I decided to test out the new pitcher. I filled some 1% milk into the pitcher, and started with frothing. The small diameter makes it a lot easier to have the milk swirl around, but I still need to work on that nozzle positioning. I’m still creating medium sized bubbles, ruining the goal of getting that nice consistent froth. The amount of time frothing increased, since it seems like the stainless steel didn’t heat up as fast as the glass. Banging the pitcher on the counter to bring the bubbles to the surface wasn’t as scary as well.

The taste with the milk completely transformed it for me. For some reason, I’m getting a spice taste to it (possibly from the sour notes earlier.) It almost reminds me of a mellow chai tea with a rich chocolate taste.

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The Daily Double Shot – June 1, 2012

It’s Friday!  Today, I’m going to try something new.  Well, everything is still new for me at this point.  I’m going to turn on some Kenny G while I pull some shots.  Oh, and remember when I mentioned  S’ coworkers that love coffee?  Well, one of them, I will call him “The Coffee Enabler”, gave us a tip on minimizing big bubbles while frothing the milk.  Well, I’m going to give it a shot.  It can’t get any worse for me in the frothing department, I’d say.

I woke up this morning, with that old Folger’s jingle, “The best part of waking up…”, but it finished with “is communist coffee in your cup.” Yeh, left a bad taste in my mouth, so let’s put a good espresso taste there!

It started like any old Man vs. Food challenge.  I take my first “bite”: grind, tamp, pull.  That first bite was easy, my inner narrative would say. Take a look at it today.

This is when it gets a little more difficult.  So, the new tip that The Coffee Enabler gave us was to try releasing the initial pressure in the milk frothing valve for 5 seconds.  I had initially done it for a second to release any excess water that was trapped in there, but I guess that’s not enough time.  The idea is that the initial pressure in the valve will be very high, which is likely to be the cause of the huge bubbles.

Yeh, I know, what a man, right?  Turning on that pressure with a towel.  I’m not going to mention that I burned myself 3 times, oh, wait… I guess I did. But, I won’t mention that I let out an ‘eek’ the first time.  This is when Adam Richman says, “And then the wall…”

Yes, it did minimize the larger bubbles, but I didn’t froth enough of the milk.  I usually see the milk double in size, this time it was only 50%.  Going to have to try this a few more times to get the hang of it.  Also, a thermometer is becoming more and more of a necessity for this frothing business.

I call this one, “The One that Defeated Me.”  Tip for myself tomorrow morning: Get in your frothing zone.  I noticed that I was keeping the wand deep in the milk rather than placing it near the top.  Tomorrow is another day!

Happy Friday everyone!

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The Daily Double Shot – May 31, 2012

This weekend, I noticed that we were running out of Blue Bottle’s Roman Espresso. That small bag only yielded us ~15 double shots, which is close to the proper amount from an 8 ounce bag. (I’ll show you the math down below in the mini-Appendix.) So, while we were running our weekend errands, we picked up some Ritual beans from the Ritual Roasters stand over in Hayes Valley.  The barista’s description of their normal espresso sounded really delicious: sweet, caramal-y, peach-y.  And then, she started talking about the seasonal espresso, “Nine Darling Road” : sweet, light, caramal-y, apple, brown sugar.  S’s eyes lit up, and I knew which one we needed to get.

I went about my new morning ritual (see what I did there?).  Wake up at 7am, turn on the machine, grind the coffee, pour the milk in the stand-in glass pitcher, put the glass pitcher in the fridge, Navy shower.  At this point (~10 minutes from turning on the machine) the sight glass should be around the green zone, which I’ve read is a good time to start frothing milk.  So, this morning, I tried that.  The froth looked more or less the same as before, except with more foam.   I did notice that I was frothing for a longer period.  After I have the froth ready, pour the grinds into the filter, tamp, turn, tap out excess grinds, tamp, turn again.  Now we’re ready for the pull.

There’s the good stuff.

See?  More foam!

For the taste, I didn’t taste apples, but now that it’s in my head, I tasted the brown sugar.  Not sure if that was what I really tasted or if that’s what I wanted to taste.  Anyway, the way I would describe the taste of this one, it’s like you are sixteen, it’s a morning where you wake up from camping, and you can smell the fire from the night before, still having that taste of burnt marshmallows in your mind.  Hard to explain, but that’s what I’m experiencing right now.


How many cups of lattes should I be able to make with my 8 ounce bag of espresso beans?

Let’s do some lazy man math.  One Double shot should hold from 14-16 grams of coffee.  So I’m going to say on average 15 grams.  One ounce is roughly 28 grams. So, 8 ounces should be about 228 grams.  Divide that by 15, and we get 14.93.  Eh, close enough.




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The Daily Double Shot – May 29, 2012

Good morning! Here’s a shot of the latest milk-based coffee drink I made.  At this point in my career in amateur professional coffee making, it’s hard to tell what I made, I’m leaning towards a latte.  Critical point from the image: too many gosh darn large bubbles.  As for latte art… erm… uhh… it’s becoming more and more like finding familiar shapes in the clouds.  (Cow face above a koala in this one, see it?).

Lessons learned today. The drip was leaking too early this time. Which means I need to either grind a bit more fine or tamper harder.  Another factor may be the amount of grinds I’m using. I’m using a 14g double shot filter, but I’m kind of eyeballing it. To get a scale or not. That is the question.  Still too many bubbles in the milk, which can mean that i’m not frothing in the best zone and/or I’m not watching the temperatures right.  I will get this!



Man… so many splatters.  Who is going to clean it up? Oh.. me.



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