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

Saturday, February 17, 2007

We clean our grinders!

I was reading an article today in the most recent edition of Barista magazine about "spring cleaning" that other coffee professionals recommend be conducted on the espresso machine and grinder. More than one of the folks quoted in the article mention that cleaning out the grinders is something that should be done once a month or once every few months or even less frequently. One of them even said that it "took so long" that they don't do it very often.

At Phoenix, we have now educated all of our baristas on how to completely take apart both espresso grinders, vacuum it out, inspect and clean the grinding burrs and the grinding chamber, wire brush the grinding collar threads, and reassemble (re-adjusting the grind in the process), being sure to switch the regular and the decaf grinders (this ensures that the burrs wear more evenly). This process is completed at all four cafes at least once a week. We have found that it only takes about 10 minutes to complete the process, once you're proficient at it. Furthermore, this maintenance procedure noticeably contributes to espresso quality, since the grinder doesn't have to work as hard to pulverize the beans when it is nice and clean inside. And this cleaning process also removes any stale coffee-oil build up that might also adversely affect flavor.

Wes Johansen, a barista at our Lee Road store, even carried his new-found knowledge a step further and when our regular grocery store style coffee bean grinder malfunctioned, he dismantled and un-clogged it, and reassembled with great results! Fantastic job, Wes!

So it made me quite proud of our well-educated staff when I read the article in Barista magazine. Yet again, we are exceeding our competitors standards and constantly raising our coffee and espresso standards. Go Team Phoenix!

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I am getting ready for our Costa Rica slide show, which has been rescheduled for Tuesday February 27th at 7 pm at the Heights Arts space in the west wing of the Cleveland Heights Public Library. I have been going through all of our pictures and trying to organize them into something cohesive. I am going through Caitlin's pictures right now, which are so gorgeous. She has a great eye for close-ups, and managed to capture some images that are so striking. For example, here is the picture she took of a bag of coffee cherries. The pickers had several bags of firewood and cherries collected on a slope near where they were picking. There was a barbed wire fence nearby, and the image of the barbed wire in front of the bag of cherries is so interesting. The texture created by the multiple layers is fascinating.

Just for contrast, here is a picture I took of the same scene, I focused on the colors.

Here is another delightful picture, this time of Veronica lying in a bed of parchment coffee that is being patio dried. And of a row of workers turning the coffee.