Coming soon is the first of the Pro's Perspective
series of reviews.
As some of you know - I'm a professional barista and Dan has asked me to do a series of reviews of home espresso equipment - from a pro's point of view. This is an interesting challenge for me - I've never actually worked with a home machine before the last couple months when I played around with a La Pavoni Lever machine. So this is all a first for me.
As some background - while I know a lot about the technology of espresso machines, fundamentally I'm all about the taste of the coffee in the cup. And that is the perspective I'll be bringing to my reviews.
As I go along I'm going to post up little reports and teasers before we get to the actual review. And this, well... this is the first such teaser.
Today I drove up to Olympia, WA to the world headquarters of the mighty Espresso Parts NW
to pick up the . When I got there I found that Terry had a surprise in store for me. Not only was there a Grimac Mia
waiting for me... there was also an Astoria Compact CKXE
machine. I think that when it came right down to it, Terry was a little nervous about my going from working on custom Mistral machines to the little Mia and wanted me to have a little more perspective. Regardless of the motivation, I was pretty excited to have a couple nice machines to play with (grin).On the left... the Astoria. On the right... the Grimac.
This review is going to focus on the Grimac and will pretty much mention the Astoria as a benchmark of comparison for the Grimac.First impressions...
As you can see, the Mia has the classic E61 group. To be honest, in my humble opinion this is no real guarantee of anything but it seems to matter to a lot of people so I thought I'd mention it. You'll also notice that this is a semi-auto machine. Personally, this is of great importance to me. I've really never worked on an auto machine and am not super comfortable with them. In addition, I tend to think that auto machines (because of the flowmeter) are less capable of creating great espresso.
The Mia is a hefty machine. I had the idea that these would be lightweight little "toy" machines... nothing is further from the truth. While the Mia is lighter than the beast that is the Astoria, none the less it was a real challenge for someone with a recently healed broken leg.
Setting it up and getting it ready to pull shots is obvious. Throw a bunch of Crystal Geyser water in the reservoir, turn it on, let it heat up, bleed off some pressure from the steam wand... ready to go.
Took me a couple shots to get the grind right but now it's ready for tomorrow morning's espresso.First thoughts?
1) It's funny what you don't think of needing. I forgot to get some cleanser and had to beg some Puro Caff off a friend.
2) I've always scoffed about people whining about how messy espresso is. Now I get it. It's one thing when it's work. It's another thing when it's your home.
3) I'm sure I'll get used to it in time... but the whole not plumbed-in thing is already frustrating. Especially the drain tray. I've already spilled water everywhere after not noticing it filling up.
4) The whole temp-surfing thing doesn't seem that hard.
5) Shots seem quite good actually. Tomorrow will be the true test, but I'm actually pretty confident after these first couple shots.
6) The Mia comes with a one hole (that's right one
hole) steam wand tip. I've dropped Terry at EPNW an email to see if I can get a real tip. One hole?
I'm actually really excited. This is going to be cool. Plus... I'm looking forward to sitting around home and drinking espresso in the morning.
And I've got a candidate for my sacrificial victim (grin). I'm not only going to play with these machines and review them - I'm going to teach a total beginner how to be a barista on these machines. I will do my best to replicate the secret mountaintop ninja training methods that I followed when first learning about espresso. In the end... her Kung Fu will
be the greatest.