Hardcore Livietta

This is yet another Pasquini Livietta.  I think this will be my 4th one excluding the Maximatic that is soon to be on its way to has found a new home.  It’s a 49mm group, which I have been looking for a while.  It’s in decent shape over all, although the boiler is encased in asbestos, the group’s chrome is flaking, and the tank is a strange yellow color.  The funny part is how and from whom I acquired it…

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Espresso 101 Charrette – Wrap up

As usual, I would like that everyone who came to the Charrette.  It’s great to see some familiar CoffeeGeek/Home-Bartista faces and some repeat Charrette attendees.  I’d like to give a special thanks to several 1st time participants, and to extend an warm invitation to the next Coffee Charrette whenever it may be.  Bobby from Demitasse deserves a special thank you for not only open up his shop to us but for jumping in and helping us make some espresso.  I would also like to give a shout out to Peter for saving at least %50 of the day by bringing his own Livia 90, that was pretty clutch.  One last thank you goes out to Richard at Astra for lending us an Astra Pro, quite a curious “little” machine but a very capable one none the less (and a serious steamer, as some participants got to see hands on).

I certainly had fun…but I always do.  I felt a little bad having to encourage people to taste some really sour and some really bitter shots, but it was all in the name of enjoying those good shots even more.  I hand’t really planned on being the one to deliver the actual “Espresso 101” talk, my professional barista career is limited to a few months.  I hope that everything I said was helpful and accurate.  For me the emphasis when making Espresso, or any other kind of coffee, is on making something that’s enjoyable to both make and drink.  It’s easy to get lost in the metrics and technical details behind pulling a good shot, but I think that doing a little bit of espresso making out in the wild with some other people is a healthy reminder of what really matters and why coffee is more than just a beverage.

If anyone has ideas on how the whole experience could be improved I would love to hear them.  I would of course also like to know what was really working, that stuff is always nice to hear.

See y’all at the next Charrette.



Espresso 101 Charrette – Sunday November 4th, 10:00am @ Cafe Demitasse

After a few months hiatus I have finally had the energy to put together another Coffee Charrette.  This one’s a little different.  We are doing a full on public Espresso 101 workshop Sunday November 4th @ Cafe Demitasse.  Cafe Demitasse baristas will be on hand to teach all comers how to pull shots from start to finish.  There will a vintage Pasquini Livietta (provided by me) and a prosumer HX machine graciously provided by Astra, and of course grinders for each. Some of the Demitasse baristas will be there to provide practical tips and guidance. There will be some instruction and presentation at the beginning (and handouts for late comers) and then from there on out we will be pulling shots, experimenting, and hopefully helping out people relatively new to making espresso with some supportive hands-on-a-portafilter experience. The emphasis will be heavy on actually pulling shots. Lots of shots. Demitasse will be providing the beans and the baristas. I’ll be arranging the gear and accessories. All you have to do is show up, hopefully having had a bit to eat and some extra water. If you know anyone in the LA just starting out making espresso at home and looking for some support, this is the Charrette for them. If you really like explaining the importance of consistance dose weights and why an HX needs to be flushed, please drop by and help some less experienced shot pullers out. If you want to let loose and do all sorts of blind tasting and triangulating and whatever else you can think of doing with a huge hopper full of beans that you didn’t pay for, we want you to come and share in the spro-love.

Espresso 101 Charrette @ Cafe Demitasse
Sunday, November 4th
10:00am to 12:00pm

Special thanks go to Cafe Demitasse and Astra.

saying good bye to the Maximatic

A few days ago I sold my much loved ’96 Olympia Maximatic to a good coffee loving friend.  I know well it’s going to a better home where it will be both used and appreciated more, but it’s still sad to see so special a machine depart.  If you are familiar with the Maximatic then you can stop reading here, you know what I’m passing along and just how special it is.  If not, then keep reading…

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La Home Roasting Charrette – wrap up

As usual, I would first like to thank everyone who came to the Home Roasting Charrette.  I would like to give some extra thanks to those who brought their personal roasting equipement, as well as to Bobby and Cafe Demitasse, Greg from Trystero Coffee, and AJ at The Conservatory for Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa.

I think we managed to roast about ten 1/2lb batches of green coffee and there was more than enough for everyone to take some home.  By now that coffee should be more than ready to open up and start grinding.  I hope that it’s making some tasty cups.

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LA Home Roasting Charrette: More greens & a new supporter!

Today I picked up 10 packages of green coffee beans for this Sunday’s Home Roasting Charrette, happily donated by AJ at The Conservatory for Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa.  I’ve beed looking around for a while, trying to drum up more local support for the Charrettes, and it feels great to find a business that recognizes their value.  The Charrettes offer free consumer coffee education to anyone who cares to show up.  It’s the same stuff that some well established cafes and DIY learning centers charge for.  I think that LA’s dedicated coffee community can offer these experiences, can do so in a more engaging and meaning way, and can make them accessible to all by doing so free of charge. So thank you AJ!

I’m going to do my best to get all of this roasted before the Charrette winds down.  That means there is going to be a lot of free freshly roasted coffee for everyone to take home.  Come and roast some with us!.

LA Home Roasting Charrette – Sunday September 9th, 9:00am @ Cafe Demitasse

I’m a little late in posting this, but the Home Roasting Charrette is on for Sunday September 9th, 9:00am @ Cafe Demitasse.  I’m really excited.  Roasting my own green coffee was my introduction to specialty coffee.  I started because we were (and still are) trying to live off of my wife’s grad student funding and my night job as a very part time RIA developer.  Good green coffee  beans can be had for $4-$5 a pound and it doesn’t take much to out do coffee that’s twice the price at the grocery store.  Top quality roasted coffee is usually $15 – $20 a pound, and a home roaster can get somewhat close.  So I really like home roasting.  It saved us money, increased the quality of what we were drinking, and increased the global sustainability and  socioeconomic responsibility of our coffee consumption all at the same time.

The plan is to gather home-roasters and non-roasting-but-still-interested parties on the porch at Demitasse and roast some greens.  Greg from Trystero Coffee is going to be there to provide some professional insight and guidance, and also generously kick in some greens.  We will be playing with a Poppery II, some Behmor 1600s, I think a Hottop, and whatever else can be wrangled up.  I know a lot of the home roasters I’ve talked to are really excited about this, but I’m also hoping that some people who just have a budding interest will stop by and share the burn-toast smelling coffee roasting fun.

I’m working on getting some local green sellers to bring some of their wares to the party..

La Brew Charrette – wrap up

I have to give a huge shout out to Cafe Demitasse and all the staff that participated in the Brew Charrette.  It says a lot about their commitment to the LA coffee community and about their love of coffee that they took the time to share their personal experiences and insights into various methods of preparing coffee in the home with just about anyone who cared to be there.  Thank you Cafe Demitasse.

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Hacienda La Esmeralda Geisha @ Cafe Demitasse = palate FAIL!

Last Friday I drove myself through the mess that is downtown LA traffic to Cafe Demitasse to have my reserved cup of Hacienda La Esmeralda Geisha from Equator brewed in a siphon.  It was an epic fail on my part.  I was reminded that not only are my brew skills wanting, but so is my palate’s ability to separate brew notes and even basic flavors.  It was an excellent cup of coffee, but at this point I can’t put into words what my palate is tasting without some prodding.  As soon as Jack mentioned what he tasted in it I could feel my palate getting slapped in the face and opening its eyes to what had been sloshing around it for the last 10 minutes.  Did I find a subtle hint of Jasmin?  No, I am certainly not that perceptive, but  I wish I did becuase that sounds like a delicious flavor to find in a cup of coffee.  I did find an abundance of orange citrus flavors, I’d say satsuma if I thought that sounded even the tinniest bit not ridiculous.

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one ’79 La Pavoni Europiccola to rule them all!

I purchased this guy on eBay looking for a machine that I could test out my idea for achieving better group head temperature stability using a custom cpu style heat-sink that attaches to the group head.  What I got was a ’79 Europiccola in such good condition that I don’t really understand where it has been for the last 30 years.  It’s like someone purchased it and then sealed it in a time capsule to that some 2009 version of its owners could all get a good laugh at the old fashion way they used to make espresso (actually, given the meteoric rise of single serving coffee, things have changed a lot for a lot of people, but not for the better when compared to the Europiccola, which is still going strong today after 50 years(1)).  It’s one thing to leave one of these in storage and pull it out again later, but there a lots of rubber parts that age no matter how you store it.  This one is fresh fresh fresh, with shiny internal brass and pliable seals all over.

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