Monthly Archives: February 2010

My mypressi – Day 4

Extraction #6

Variables:

  • Coffee: 14 grams (2 Tbsp)
  • Water: double shot marker

Results:

  • Extraction: ~27 seconds (*)
  • Color: Light
  • #3 (http://www.sweetmarias.com/espresso-crema.php)
  • (*) Technical Failure: I ran out of nitrous on the first pull, so I had to reload twice.  The first reload seemed like a dud (but it might have been the very first cartridge I used on my first attempt that never went anywhere.

 

Taste Evaluation:

  • MER: 2 out of 5
  • Slightly weak latte

Next Time:

  • ~25g of coffee (2.5 Tbsp)

My mypressi – Day 3

Extraction #4
 
Variables:
  • Mechanical: Pre-heated basket
  • Coffee: 21 g (3 Tbsp) – double tamped (once at 14g and again at 21g)
  • Water: double shot marker
Results:
  • Extraction Time: ~50 sec. (over-extracted)
  • Color: Light golden
 
Taste Evaluation:
  • MER (My Espresso Rating): 2 out of 5
  • very VERY bitter
Next time:
  • 14g of coffee (single tamp)
 
My setup:
+ elements are preheating
+ watching Farscape on Netflix
+ Rocky drinking is ready-made water 🙂
 

My mypressi – Day 2

Results from pull #3 and #4 (Should have taken a picture of #1 and #2 but oh well.)
 
This morning                                     This evening
14 mins – total prep and clean-up       7-8 mins – basically the time to boil the water
 
 
 
Extraction #3
   – Lowest "Fine" grind (same from first 2 extractions)
   – Double shot basket
   – barely has any crema at all, so not even on the chart.
 
Extraction #4
   – Middle setting between "Extra Fine" and "Fine"
   – Single shot basket
   – Light crema (the first image) = either I need finer grind or harder tamp.  hopefully it’s not a matter of low temperature because sadly, that’s just the reality of the mypressi.  I’m pre-heating 2 of 3 elements – filter handle and water bowl.  I haven’t been preheating the filter basket but I might need to move towards doing that.  It increases the potential of burning myself since I’d need to pick it up and place it into the filter handle.  I’m doing a fresh boil after everything is assembled, so everything is almost as hot as it can possibly get.
 
A couple of things I learned / need to try out tomorrow:
 
  • I’m filling too much water in the bowl
  • I’m going to preheat the basket
  • More careful measurement of coffee — 7 grams (1 tbsp) for single and 14 grams (2 tbsp) for double
  • Need to practice teh 30-40lb tamp.  I’m getting a clean, dry puck and a steady stream during extraction, so I think I’m tamping correctly, but I should probably use a scale and measure it
  • I should start timing my extraction times to see if I’m in the 20-30 sec range – I think I’m in the neighborhood w/ #4.

Next opportunity for another trial run will be tomorrow am.  I think I might be at the end of the life of one N2O cartridge… no way to tell though.

My mypressi – Day 1

After weeks of deliberation and a very long week of waiting for delivery, my mypressi hand espresso maker and burmill grinder arrived today and I pulled my very first espresso at home.
 
Here are my new toys:
 
 
You can read a really good review of the mypressi here: http://www.home-barista.com/reviews/mypressi-twist-second-look-t12595.html. It along with many other reviews convinced me that despite the price tag, it was the right espresso maker for me.
 
These were the main convincing features:
  • Small and unobtrusive — less clutter
  • Simple construction means less things that can break, go wrong, need replacing, etc. with extended use
  • Easy to use but capable of producing high quality espresso rivaling machines that are 2-10x the cost
  • Less mess/clean-up than a larger machine
  • Portable.  I *might* consider flying it to nova when I visit my family (but since I can’t bring N2O cartridges on a plane I’m not sure how realistically I’ll do this) but more likely, I’ll bring it to work, or bring to my non-coffee making/drinking friends’ houses so I can make my own lattes
  • It’s so freakin’ cool looking!

The more I read on the mypressi, the more it was impressed upon me the importance of a top notch grinder.  I read a lot of recommendations to put your money into a quality (burr mill) grinder over the espresso maker if you have to choose. Most places were recommending investing $1-300 in a grinder, which honestly feels a bit absurd to me since I’m pretty sure my palette isn’t sensitive or tuned well enough to tell the difference between the minute difference in grind settings.  So, I compromised and spent more than I would have (i.e. I actually bought one as opposed to going w/ pre-ground) but a lot less than what was recommended.

Ok, so how did my virgin pull go?  It started with the grind.  I cranked the thing as far left as it could go — extra fine.  I watched the beans disappear from the funnel and spit out espresso dust.  Next, I disassemble mypressi and line everything up.  Time for assembly:

  1. load N2O cartridge into handle.
  2. start kettle for boiling water.
  3. Fill the filter "basket" with espresso.
  4. Tamp.
  5. pre-heat portafilter.
  6. pre-heat water pod.
  7. load basket into portafilter.
  8. dump water from pod.
  9. reboil water in kettle.
  10. secure water pod onto portafilter.
  11. fill water pod with fresh boiling water.
  12. secure top of water pod.
  13. pull the trigger.

And voila! One drip of espresso.  Um… yeah… that fell sort of flat.

So, I’m thinking… did I load the N2O cartridge right? Maybe it’s a dud.  So I change that out and pull the trigger… 2 drips of espresso. Ok… the 13 steps above was already a lot of work and this whole operation was supposed to be "easy". what was encouraging was the few drips that were eeked out, I could see the coffee oils, which is what the crema of a good espresso is. So… I figure, I’ll just dump everything out and start over.  I guess my virgin expresso pull isn’t too unsimilar to any other virgin "experience"… you’re not sure what you’re doing, you stumble around a little, you hope for the best and ultimately end up confused, disoriented and not completely sure if you did it right, why you went into it in the first place, what the hype was all about and whether you really want to try again.

But again, I did try.  So as I was dumping out the puck (def. the espresso beans in the filter after an espresso has been pulled), I realized something… it was inpenetrable!  I could barely dislodge all the grounds even scraping and digging. It’s no wonder only a couple drips of espresso could be eeked out of it.  Way to go burr mill grinder! Already, I know my grinder out performs the needs of my espresso maker, which is a good thing.  It means I’ll get the most out of my espresso maker and it won’t be the grounds that are holding back the quality of my espresso… just me.  So, I dialed back from extra fine to fine and let the burrs work their magic.

I pack my filter basket with another 2 heaping tbsp of coffee grounds. tamp. pre-heat. fill with water and pulled the trigger!  WHOOSH! "espresso" showers into my cup and splatters all over (Oh, I forgot to mention I’m pulling naked shots… and before you let your imagination go wild, a naked shot is when your portafilter isn’t covered, meaning the spout that directs your espresso to flow perfectly into two little shot glasses is removed).  The extraction was fast… it was all of 7 seconds (give or take) when a full extraction should take 25-ish seconds. The result was kind of watery. It tasted bitter. And most notably lacking was there was no blonde (in the crema of the espresso). 

Ok, so the second time was a little better.  It felt like I knew what I was doing.  I had obviously created espresso… or something close to espresso.  But I didn’t hit the pinnacle of espresso-making… the blonde… crema.  And so… third time’s the charm!  I knock out my puck — which was dry and came cleanly out (just like at a real cafe).  This time, since the extraction happened too fast (as opposed to too slow/nonexistent) I loaded 2 tbsps of coffee, tamped, and loaded an extra tablespoon or so and tamped again.  I would have readjusted my burr mill to give me a finer grind. There are 4 settings between attempt #1 and attempt #2 so there was room for adjustment, but I’d accidentally ground too much at "fine", so I wanted to use it up.  So the only other way to extend the extraction time that I could think of with using the same grounds was to pack in more of it.

Round #3. Pack. Preheat. Fill. Pulled the trigger… et voila! espresso!!!  There was some slight blonding during extraction and a little crema in the end product.  Definitely room for improvement, but a solid extraction of what I’d feel comfortable calling espresso.  My next attempt probably needs a finer grind and/or more grounds packed into the basket.  It was 8:30pm… after a long day attending a conference trying to soak in relevant information for my new job, on an empty stomach and I didn’t have another pull in me.  So I heated up some milk, dumped my espresso in and took a sip of my first latte… it was delicious!!

It took about an hour to pull my first real shot of espresso… let’s hope I get speedier at this.  I’m hoping I can get the routine down to 10 mins or less.  If so, it’s more realistic I can work in a homemade latte to go before work. Rough, back of the envelope math reveals I have to make ~65 double-shot espresso drinks to break even on this investment.  On-going costs will just be coffee grounds and N2O cartridges (which are about .60 a cartridge = .15 per double-shot… so pretty cheap).

I’ll check-in in a month and we’ll see how many grande lattes I’ve got under my belt. 

 

 

 

 

I’m an auntie…

Ok, probably not much of a surprise for those of you who know I have 4 nieces and nephews and a fifth one on the way this year.  But it’s one thing when you’re brothers and sisters make you an auntie. If the circumstances are right, that could happen when  you’re way young and doesn’t have any relation to how old you really are.  It’s another when the general public at large recognizes you as old enough to be an auntie. 
 
I volunteered to help run the VNSF booth at Tet in Seattle and this year we did temporary tattoos for the kids.  So parents would bring their kids over and the more shy kids would need a little coaxing.  All day long, all I heard was moms telling their tots to let auntie (in vietnamese) put the tattoo on for them or "don’t you want a pretty tattoo like the one auntie has" (heart and cross bones).  Geez, when did I get elevated to auntie status?  It’s the equivalent of getting ma’am’ed and I feel far too young for that moniker.  Two years ago when I did this, I was "big sister".  I feel like I have to check a different age bracket box now.  My whole station in life has shifted and with it the vietnamese vernacular.  I’m now too old to be these kids’ sister; I’m old enough to be their mom!  Yikes! 
 
At least one woman thought I was still in school.  Probably thanks to the scrubby t-shirt and jeans. =)

Transition

Well, yesterday was my last day in the office.  I extended my stay there for a week but took two personal days, so really only worked 3 days this week (somehow I think I still managed to put in 40 hrs tho).  It’s pretty hard to leave a good gig.  When I think about my previous career shifts, they’ve had the mix of leaving behind something dysfunctional (for my own self anyhow) and moving towards something shiny, new and healthy.  I’ve never left a job a truly loved, so it’s been a bit difficult to check myself out.  I was conscious of my use of the word "we" as I discussed the future of my project… there I go again, it’s no longer my project anymore.  I guess everything has to end some time, and my next gig is going to be nothing short of… wait for it… AWESOME.
 
I’ve got a healthy dose of excitement, fear and anxiousness all rolled up in a tiny knot just dying to get unraveled.  As soon as I can sink my teeth into my new project (whatever it ends up being – a button or a menu – big or small I’ll take it!), I’ll feel more at ease. My first week, I’ll be spending 2 days at Gamefest learning up on Natal.  It’ll be my 101 crash course on the mystery that is Natal.  I can’t wait! 
 
But for today (pretty much my only day off what w/ Tet in Seattle this weekend and having to work the VNSF booth all day Saturday), I veg on my couch and I catch up on Farscape. =)