It's been a busy couple of weeks.
I've burned through a whole
lot of coffee.
To say the least!
The results have been incredibly illuminating. I'm learning a ton about the Briccoletta, about heat exchanger machines, about coffee - and about the relationships between all the above. I've had some amazing espresso. I've had a couple of the best cappuccinos of my life. I've consumed a ton of coffee.
Where do I start?
I guess that I should talk about the feedback from other baristas. All the usual suspects have stopped by (Bronwen, Stephen, Kyle et al) and I've had a few new guests, including a visit from Duane. The concensus opinion is that the Briccoletta is a really nice machine. People have some quibbles with it (the lack of range of articulation on the hot water spout, the fact that the drip tray doesn't stick far enough forward, the fact that it's an HX machine and that you have to temp surf it) but no-one has felt that the coffee has been less than excellent from the machine. People find it usable and intuitive.
I spent a long time trying to increase the experience of "clarity" that I talk about periodically. Today I may have had a breakthrough.
I've learned to be quite accurate with my brew temp management. In addition (thanks to Dan et al) I've become quite good at managing the temp profile during extraction. This has taken a lot of work and practice. But even so, the clarity wasn't what I wanted. Better... yes. But not there.
I was lazy in the beginning. I checked brew pressure on the machine and it was higher than I like (10.25BAR). But I didn't really want to bother with it. Today I decided to suck it up and dial the brew pressure in to where I like it (right between 9BAR and 9.25BAR). I figured it would be no big deal. I mean, it's a Procon rotary pump and believe me, I've dialed brew pressure in on Procon pumps a few times (grin). So I popped off the top of the machine and discovered (much to my dismay) that the pump was installed in such a way that I did not have access to the adjustment "screw" on the pump. (view of pump from above with top of machine removed)
I could not figure out how to get at the damn thing!!
Thanks to some quick action from Jim at 1st-Line and from the mighty Dan, I was given some quick instructions for how to remove the casing on the Briccoletta. This turns out to be a really easy task. All you need are a flathead screwdriver and the correct size allen wrench (you'll need one of the L shaped ones in order to fit). It's useful to also have a needle-nose pliers in order to grasp the little allen bolts. First you undo the brass screw on the back of the machine. Then you remove the two allen bolts that hold the top front of the casing to the frame. The whole casing then lifts up from its aligning slots and off.(view of pump from left side of machine with casing removed)
At this point, adjusting the pressure was quick and easy.
While I was at it, however, I decided to take a couple of additional shots of the guts of the machine (I figured someone out there would be excited by this stuff). To be honest - all of this made me miss the days when I could just call up Ken and have him take care of the mechanical details. It's not that I don't understand this stuff, it's just that it's not fun
for me.(guts of machine from left side with casing removed)(guts of machine from right side with casing removed)
A quick re-assembly (my piece of advice - be careful with those allen bolts or they will drop somewhere in the machine that is both remote, hard to access and incredibly hot and/or carries live current) and we're back on the road.
And here was the breakthrough.
The first couple shots were not right at all. My temp surf timing was suddenly slightly off. Damn those dependent variables!! heh.
Then I got it dialed in and pulled a shot of the Hairbender that was all I wanted it to be. Dense, rich, heavy in chocolate but with all the fruit and acidity desirable. Layered and complex but with great definition of flavour.
After some more work I had an idea. I did a quick re-plumb to get rid of the FloJet and the water filtration unit. Clarity gone. I then hooked up the FloJet without the water filtration unity. Ah Hah!!! Clarity still gone!! Excited now, I replumbed with no FloJet and no filtration and logged brew pressure. Flutter!! Same with the FloJet and no filtration!! And then with the FloJet and the filtration unit... No Flutter
!!!! And clarity!!!
So... new theory (just waiting for Jim or Barry or someone to disprove it) is that it's the combination
of brew temp profile and consistent brew pressure profile that creates this clarity.