blog from the ceo & superbarista of phoenix coffee, home of the best baristas in cleveland, ohio

Friday, October 07, 2005

naked espresso update & workshop

We have finally procured a naked espresso portafilter (which is simply a portafilter with the bottom cut off) and begun experimenting with it, thanks to our friends at Astra (Richard and Alba) who have now added naked portafilters to their parts list. Hooray! So far the taste results have been mixed but the presentation results are consistently great in terms of visual interest. Watching the shot come out of each hole of the portafilter basket is fascinating! Dennis, our resident espresso wizard, feels that it is necessary for the brewed espresso to hit some sort of mass in order to lose some temperature before it hits the cup. He says the bottom of the portafilter acts as a necessary heat sink. And, to prove his point, we have brewed some really nasty tasting shots of espresso using this naked portafilter. However some of them have also tasted pretty good, so I am not giving up hope yet. It's such a gorgeous presentation I figure it's worth finding out how difficult it will be to use it on a regular basis.

In the sport of diving, each dive has a degree of difficulty. A forward one and a half somersault in pike position (straight legs) is more difficult than a front dive. Espresso has different degrees of difficulty as well. Superautomatic machines, like the Saecos we sell as well as the Astra 2000 and Supermega have a relatively low degree of difficulty. Making good espresso out of these machines is pretty easy. A traditional machine, like we have in our shops, where you use a separate grinder to grind the coffee, and then manually pack and tamp the shot, has a higher degree of difficulty. Lots more room for error. And these naked espresso shots seem to have the highest degree of difficulty yet. The brewing process is the same as for a traditional machine, where you are grinding, packing and tamping manually. And on top of that, all the imperfections become visible to both the eye since you can see exactly what is going on as the shot brews as well as to the tongue, since the imperfections definitely translate into the cup.

On Monday October 10th, we will be watching Latte Art and Espresso videos and experimenting with both naked espresso and latte art at the new espresso/coffee classroom at the roastery (1728 St. Clair, parking lot around back off Rockwell). It will be an informal get together, some of our baristas are coming, as well as my children who are beginning their training for the International Barista Competition next decade. The goal is to produce a good shot of naked espresso (or many good shots) as well as at least one Rosetta Latte. We'll be starting by 9 AM and will probably go as late as 2 PM. Espresso and Latte Art enthusiasts are welcome, just email me to let me know you are coming ( I'm sure it will be educational and should be fun as well.


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