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Postby Maurice on Sat Sep 25, 2004 10:49 am

OK, so I went ahead and got this machine and went for this burr grinder. Unfortunately, the place I ordered it all from, 1stincoffee.com, sent me a grinder with rusty burrs. WTF with that? So I haven't been able to test various grinds as such.

What I have found is that the old blade grinder just isn't up to the job--it produces a mix of chunks and dust. The holes in the sieve of my new pump machine are significantly smaller than those in the old boiler, and therefore more easily clogged. The result is weak espresso that nonetheless clogs up the sieve, because of the dust. So it turns out that dust is a negative, and the most important thing is the consistency of the grind.

I'd been worried that the new machine's pump was too weak, but my neighbor gave me some very finely-pre-ground espresso, and with it, the machine does exactly what I want. So yeah, the burr grinder seems to be the way to go...but make sure the burrs are clean.
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Re: coffee

Postby TheMilford on Sun Sep 30, 2007 1:11 am

steve wrote:...I will occcasionally, when there is only skim milk, enrich it by melting a pat of butter in the milk. This is met with universal disgust by my co-workers, whose tastes are as plain and conservative as they come. Just be thankful my puree of foie-gras experiment didn't amount to anything.


I recently thought of this old post when I saw this:

YAHOO! wrote:A Coffee Less Ordinary
Posted Fri, Aug 31, 2007, 12:00 am PDT
Thanks to Starbucks and its many competitors, we all know there's more than one way to drink coffee. But during my recent visit to Ethiopia, I experienced a whole new preparation of coffee that's different from anything I ever imagined.
Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, so as you can imagine there are numerous rituals built around its preparation and service. Most intriguing was the way coffee, known as bunna, is served in Guarage, the region my girlfriend is from. First, the coffee beans are roasted, and guests are given a whiff to see how nice they smell. Then the beans are brewed and poured into an espresso-sized cup. Then, instead of topping it off with milk, a dollop of spiced butter is stirred in. It sounds weird to us, but my Ethiopian friends thought it was just as weird to have a latte loaded with milk and sugar.

I must admit the first time I tried the coffee it seemed weird to me, but I was trying to make a good impression on my girlfriend's family, so I pretended to like it. The second time, I liked it a little more, and after the third time, I started to crave it. The flavor was so different from the coffee I'm used to, with delicate spices like ginger and cardamom, and a richer, fuller mouth-feel.

Coffee is now grown in many regions of the world, and I'm sure that all regions have their own unique customs and rituals for its preparation. I'd love to hear from readers -- what's the most unusual way you've ever had coffee, and how do you like it best?
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Postby dontfeartheringo on Wed Nov 28, 2007 10:17 am

You guys are missing it if you're not drinking coffee from these guys.

I'll send you a can/bag. (They have their own canning machine on the premises.) It comes out of the roaster and goes into the cans warm. It's still outgassing 24 hours later, so they ship the cans with the edge of the lid up just a bit to allow gas to escape.

Their espresso roast only ships as a whole bean. Give me the particulars, I'll make sure you get one for XMas.

Your first one's on me.
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Postby Justin Foley on Fri Dec 28, 2007 11:52 pm

tmidgett wrote:>>Can you, tmidgett of SKWM fame (btw, Little Grizzly's 4-letter band acronym is LGRZ), tell me what the heck "illy espresso" is?

illy is probably the best widely available coffee in the world


they are incredibly, scientifically picky--new york times had a good article on mr.illy, but i can't find in on the web just now

i agree with the person who said grind is very important

in fact, until i get a burr grinder, i've resorted to buying GROUND illy

it is very very finely ground, yet you can pack it tight w/o choking off the water thru the coffee

my theory: blade grinders cut the beans into little slices. even if they then slice the slices up, they still make little platelets that, when compacted, become like a little shale formation, which makes the passage of H2O difficult.

BURR grinders grind the beans into fucking DUST. you can pack dust real tight and still push water through it.

but it's just a theory

time to put some clothes on


I got a good coffee machine for Christmas and have been drinking Illy with it. Tim's post here got me interested in the stuff.

Here's a Times article that has me thinking it's good stuff.

For those who don't care to read the whole thing, the key word here is science.

R. W. Apple Jr. of The New York Times wrote:Discovering La Dolce Vita in a Cup
Published: October 24, 2001

WE had arrived in this evocative old port city at the head of the Adriatic only a few minutes earlier, and we hadn't even opened our suitcases when the telephone started ringing.

''Dr. Illy is waiting for you in the lobby,'' the voice at the other end of the line said, in a commanding tone that made it clear that one must not keep such an eminent personage waiting.

So I held my ablutions to a minimum and hustled downstairs, expecting to meet a formal, formidable captain of industry, not quite an Agnelli, perhaps, but close enough. Instead, I encountered a bald, long-nosed whippet of a man -- 76 years old, I learned later -- as tightly coiled as a sprinter, wearing gold-rimmed aviator glasses, running shoes, tan trousers, a blue blazer and a smile that lit up the room.

This was Ernesto Illy, chemist, chairman of Illycaffe and espresso evangelist extraordinaire.

He led me at a trot to his waiting car, and we set off, past block after block of handsome Hapsburgian buildings, many of them restored during the mayoral administration of one of Dr. Illy's sons, Riccardo, now a member of the Italian Parliament. Our destination was the new Caffe Illy, a sleek, minimalist establishment in the Via della Torre, a pedestrian precinct in the heart of the city. The cafe is painted all the shades of coffee, from the green of the bean through the deep brown of espresso to the paler tan of cappuccino.

On the way, I remarked upon Trieste's many political, economic and military vicissitudes, which have given it a rich heritage. It is an Italian city but a little Slovenian, Croatian and Austro-Hungarian as well.

''Just like me,'' Dr. Illy exclaimed. ''I'm a pure bastard: by ancestry, I'm Hungarian, Austrian, Irish and German -- Swabian, to be precise -- but I was born here in Trieste, and of course I'm an Italian by citizenship.''

Trieste became a coffee center, he explained as we tucked into some superlative cherrywood-smoked, hand-sliced raw ham at a table in the front of the cafe, because it was the most convenient transshipment point for beans arriving by sea from Africa, Brazil and elsewhere, bound not only for Italy but also for Vienna, one of the world's great coffee-drinking cities.

In addition to Illy, which has had its headquarters here since its founding in 1933 by Dr. Illy's father, Francesco, there are many smaller roasters here, like Hausbrandt and Cremcaffe, each of which has a devoted following. The Italian espresso trade is fragmented; Illy has only 6 percent of the hotel, bar and restaurant market. With annual sales of about $150 million in 70 countries, Illy is dwarfed not only by the international giants like Kraft and Nestlé but also by big Italian companies like Lavazza, which is based in Turin.

Nevertheless, more than two million Illy espressos are served every day in Italy alone. Italy has a king-size caffeine habit. In this country, coffee is not only one of life's daily joys; drinking it is also a social occasion and a ritual, and the ''barrista'' who pulls a fine cup of espresso is considered a craftsman worthy of respect.

Among Italian connoisseurs, Illy is deemed the elite brand. Illy goes to much greater lengths than most firms to promote quality and consistency.

It sponsors an annual competition in Brazil for the grower of the best green coffee, with a prize of $30,000. It maintains a laboratory equipped with sophisticated instruments like gas chromatographs, infrared emission pyrometers and flame ionization detectors. Coffee beans are cut into slices eight microns thick for analysis in an electron microscope. Every step of the manufacturing process is monitored by computers, and there are 114 quality-control checks between the time bags of raw beans arrive on the loading docks to the time roasted beans are shipped in sealed cans.

''Quality is a consequence of control, control and more control,'' Dr. Illy told me. ''That's why we have only one plant, here, where we can keep any eye on everything, and that's why I taste every lot of beans that we are thinking about buying, along with 15 other people, all of whom I have trained.''

Such obsessive attention to detail comes at a stiff price.

''Our coffee is twice as expensive as the run-of-the-mill stuff, at least,'' Dr. Illy conceded. ''So we had better deliver something of value. Our goal is perfect beans, zero defects, and we think we get close to that. I think that most people buy coffee because it's good, not because it's cheap.''

''Fine espresso,'' Dr. Illy often says, ''paints the tongue.''

That is one of his simpler dicta. Simple enough for my wife, Betsey, and even for me to grasp. We understood what he meant when he said that ''espresso is beautiful because it is so complex.'' But he lost us both when he added, ''Espresso, you know, is a colloidal dispersion, not a suspension.'' And we were utterly bewildered when he began discussing chains of sugars with proteins at the end, and their profound impact on the way coffee emulsifies.

The scientist is never very far below the surface, either with Ernesto Illy or with his son Andrea, 37, the company president, who is also a chemist. Dr. Illy got his Ph.D. in chemistry with work on synthetic morphines, then switched to microbiology. He talks at Gatling-gun speed (in German, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese) about quarks and chaos theory, and he has hobnobbed at international conferences with the likes of Murray Gell-Mann, the American theoretician who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1969.

But there is nothing theoretical about the science practiced at Illycaffe. The family has worked out the parameters of an ideal cup of espresso, and Andrea can rattle them off at a moment's notice, including the amount of coffee needed (about a quarter of an ounce for a standard espresso cup), the pressure required to tamp the coffee down (45 pounds), the temperature of the water (200 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take a degree) and the fineness of the grind (too coarse and the coffee will be watery and insipid, too fine and it will burn).

All the beans roasted by Illy are arabica, the more subtle and aromatic variety, which has more oil than robusta. Dr. Illy dismisses robusta coffees as ''truck-tire consommé.''

The arabica beans come from many countries, including Brazil, whose coffee has a high sugar content, which lends body to the finished product; Guatemala, whose coffee has taste overtones of chocolate and flowers; and Ethiopia, where the coffee is noted for its fruitlike flavors.

Not a single Illy bean comes from Vietnam, whose surging production of cheap robusta coffee has led to a worldwide glut in the last decade.

When I met Dr. Illy later for a tour of the factory, the first thing I noticed was its color scheme, red and white, like the Illy logo. (The logo was designed by the pop artist James Rosenquist; along with Jeff Koons, Robert Rauschenberg and others, he also designed one of the espresso cup and saucer sets that Illy sells. These scientists are businessmen and not at all above the shrewd marketing ploy.)

The second thing I noticed were the words ''hydrocarbon-free,'' which were stenciled on every hemp bag, along with the name of the country of origin.

Because the highest-quality beans are available only from September to March or April, Illy does its buying then, storing what it cannot use immediately in its warehouses near Trieste's harbor. The warehouses can hold almost 16 million pounds of coffee beans -- 120,000 60-kilogram bags.

When they are needed, the beans pass first through a patented sorting machine that measures red and green wavelengths, rejecting 1.5 percent of the beans, chiefly those that are mottled, which means they are too fermented, or those that are not dark enough. They are sold to other roasters.

Every shipment is also subjected to testing by an outside laboratory for such contaminants as insects, lead, cadmium and biological toxins.

''It takes 50 beans to make a one-ounce cup of espresso,'' Dr. Illy said, shouting to be heard over the din of the machine. ''One bad one, and I guarantee that you'll taste it. It's like one rotten egg in an omelet.''

Illy makes only one brand of coffee and only one blend. Properly brewed, it produces an espresso that is appropriately dense, robust but not aggressive in flavor, with an unusual amount of oil and a strong, foamy cap. This is espresso as Dr. Illy likes it, without the slightly bitter taste common in dark roasts -- ''overroasted coffees,'' he calls them -- that are popular in Naples, among many other places.

Using a wide, rounded silver spoon called a goûte-café, which resembles the tastevin used by sommeliers, Dr. Illy and his fellow tasters take note first of the aroma. Is it chocolatey, floral, toasty? Then they note the components of flavor, drawing on a list of terms on a tasting chart. Is it earthy, nutty, sweet? Good. Or acid, chemical, ''animale'' (like a wet dog) or ''stinker'' (too deeply fermented)? Bad.

So how do you get the most out of the best beans? How long the coffee is brewed matters a lot, Dr. Illy said; the optimal time is 25 to 30 seconds. But how much you raise the temperature of the bean in roasting is the key, he said, and the optimal temperature is 428 degrees Fahrenheit. Any less produces a slightly acid flavor, he added, any more and you get ''that awful bitterness, which is a complete travesty that sends the authentic flavor up the chimney.''

Like anyone who has dedicated his entire life to a single, specialized pursuit, Dr. Illy is a man of pronounced views. Among his pet peeves, in addition to overroasted coffee, are big cups and additives. He disdains everything that people put into their coffee, whether milk, which he sees as a cover-up for the charred flavors of badly roasted beans, or sugar or flavored syrups or lemon peel, which he describes as ''a local anesthetic to block out unpleasant tastes.''

He is far too courtly to dismiss these as Anglo-Saxon perversions of a noble brew.

Andrea Illy is equally polite. When I asked him about Starbucks, the American Johnny-come-lately to the coffee business, he said he thought the United States chain, which measures its sales in billions of dollars, not millions, overroasted its coffee and concentrated too heavily on takeout trade. But he also voiced admiration for what Starbucks had achieved.

''They piggybacked on the Italian concept of the bar,'' he said, ''and they were able to internationalize espresso as no one else has done. We see them as an opportunity for us, not a threat. After they're educated about coffee by Starbucks and others, we think they'll want the real thing. Us.''

In a few decades, Andrea Illy predicted, his company's sales will be four or five times what they are now are. He sees the United States as the primary region for growth.

Dr. Illy, espresso supersalesman, will no doubt help lead the charge. The company already has an American office in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Caffe Illy's signature dessert, a coffee bavaroise, is an adaptation of a dish that Dr. Illy, an indefatigable traveler and restaurantgoer, once tasted in Phoenix at Christopher Gross's restaurant, Christopher's Fermier Brasserie.

As we talked after dinner one evening about Mr. Gross and chefs whom we admired in Arizona and elsewhere around the world, Dr. Illy waxed eloquent about his beloved espresso -- its inky color, its vibrant aroma, the 800 different components of its flavor and its velvety, hazel-colored head, which is known as ''crema'' in Italian. But he let me in on a secret.

Ernesto Illy starts his day, every day, with a big cup of tea.

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Postby tmidgett on Sat Dec 29, 2007 3:22 pm

That's the article. It's funny.

I still like Illy a lot, but I drink Intelligentsia pretty much exclusively at home.

Their Black Cat espresso roast is terrific. Having them pull one in the shop for you is going to get you the best espresso you can get on this side of the Atlantic. It's on par with decent espresso in Italy, which is really saying something.

A friend got us this coffee of the month thing from Intelligentsia, so I've tried a ton of their specialty roasts lately. All good and all different.

I got a Rancilio Rocky burr grinder as well, which has transformed the quality of coffee (it's not really quite 'espresso' on a Starbucks Barista...) I can make. So much better. Everyone says the grinder is half the battle, and it's true.
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Postby Justin Foley on Sat Dec 29, 2007 7:48 pm

Will you please stop telling me about more expensive ways that I can enjoy my coffee?

You're killing me over here.

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Postby Justin Foley on Fri Jan 11, 2008 10:38 am

tmidgett wrote:I still like Illy a lot, but I drink Intelligentsia pretty much exclusively at home.

I picked up a medium cup of their house blend this morning. Much darker and stronger than I was expecting. This is good, but I am a jittery fella right now. I'll report back on the espresso this afternoon.

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Re: coffee

Postby JeffreySchroeck on Sat Aug 01, 2009 9:02 am

I've never been to Electrical, so I can't comment on or compare the coffee, but related to the studio coffee thing. The best coffee I think I've ever had, in terms of good flavor, and also being brain scrambling within the first 2 or 3 sips, was at Egg in Seattle. It probably did more damage to my kidneys and liver and heart the week we were there than 30 years of drinking would.
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Postby chumpchange on Sat Aug 01, 2009 9:49 am

tmidgett wrote:That's the article. It's funny.

I still like Illy a lot, but I drink Intelligentsia pretty much exclusively at home.

Their Black Cat espresso roast is terrific. Having them pull one in the shop for you is going to get you the best espresso you can get on this side of the Atlantic. It's on par with decent espresso in Italy, which is really saying something.

A friend got us this coffee of the month thing from Intelligentsia, so I've tried a ton of their specialty roasts lately. All good and all different.

After noticing the occasional mention and recommendation of Intelligentsia here in the forum, I found myself in Los Angeles for work a little over a year ago and to my surprise I drove past one of their bars in the Silverlake neighborhood. I had not realized that they had spread beyond Chicago. I ended up going there every day even though I was working in Woodland Hills - not a short drive.

I echo everything tmidgett says about Black Cat. I was pretty stoked to discover, on my return to Vancouver, that a few local cafes stock and serve Intelligentsia.

Thanks PRF!
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Re: coffee

Postby Aili on Mon Aug 24, 2009 12:16 pm

I was never a big coffee drinker, aside from the cold coffee milkshakes like frappachinos and the like, but then I started this job at a gelato shop that serves coffee, and I'm hooked. We have this giant piece of machinery that grinds the beans, does espresso shots, lattes and cappuccinos, along with other things. It's just great, and I start off most working days now with a little bit of milk, frothed and with an espresso shot. The owners tell me it cost close to ten thousand dollars. I'm sure it was at least five thousand.
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