Daily Archives: February 10, 2010

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.