Thursday, March 30, 2006

sweet jesus I'm a blogger

Hello reader. It was a matter of time till this happened. I'm a bloody blogger. I feel like its a swear word. However I spend enough time reading other peoples I took the jump and presumed people would want to hear what I have to say. I hate myself already. The reason it didn't happen sooner is that I strongly suspect I have very little to offer in terms of interesting narrative. While I reckon I know an awful lot about coffee, this can only be declared if if I compare myself to the neighbour's dog Anakin. (yes, I think it has to be a star wars reference too, but you should see his multi art!) But I do like coffee, and I am trying very hard to learn more. In fact I might as well make that the subject of my first post. I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon covering espresso technique with my friend Deaton and the current Irish Barista Champion Karl Purdy. We were experimenting with different dosing and tamping techniques as well as trying to understand the taste difference in the cup between a flat and a convex tamper. In addition to this we were using three different espresso blends which ranged from 3 hours to 10 days old. So here's the problem. Too many bloody variables. Despite working off a machine I'm very familiar with (3 group linea), so many of the shots just weren't playing by the books.

  • The shots that ought to have sucked were ok and vice versa.
  • I got depressed when I couldn't distinguish the flavour profiles in the shot despite having the scaa flavour wheel in front of me.
  • We were trying to prove certain 'truths' in espresso technique but kept getting differing results, especially regarding tamping.
  • As I spent time judging the Irish regional competitions recently I was that bit more attentive to things like crema appearence, which yesterday went from a melted butter to woody golden red.

I just felt that the whole time, I needed somebody to walk in and point out the faults in my technique. I need to humble myself and get a battering off a greater espresso mind. I know it the beauty and the beast and all that but I wish I could hold my hand up and say I can consistently make great espresso. I hate not knowing exactly how a shot will taste when I make one for somebody. I'm so aware and increasingly terrified of all the factors involved, that I recently considered the idea of doing what cocktail barmen do when they stick a small strw into the drink to sample. I tried it with a few shots but I'm not sure if you can discern enough from it. Perhaps when I get some practice on temperature stable machines I'll become a little more at ease. Doubt it though.


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