The last two entries focused on the mechanics and construction of the mypressi TWIST. With those details out of the way, our attention turns to the all-important question: How well does it make espresso?
To answer this question, I enlisted the opinion of the attendees of Counter Culture Coffee's regular Friday espresso lab. The first session was very much a "getting to know you" experience. Having never used the TWIST before, I skimmed the owner's manual and then starting making espresso. The second session was more practiced, but like the first, focused on polishing technique rather than critiquing the quality of its espressos. The third session introduced a formal blind taste test using a Counter Culture espresso blend which was very familiar to all of the tasters. The final session is planned for this Friday and will feature an unfamiliar single origin espresso.
Below are my notes from these three sessions; the following post
documents the fourth and final session.SESSION 1:
My very first impressions of the mypressi's shots were reminiscent of those I would expect from a spring-powered lever espresso machine: Smooth, rounded, and simple. The two shots of Counter Culture Forte, which is their darker milk espresso base, usually has some edge to it, yet they were "fluffy" in texture with a mellow flavor profile.
As I narrowed in the proper grind setting, subsequent espressos showed slight tiger striping, greater body, richer texture, and longer pours before blonding. Definite espresso characteristics of body, oiliness, etc. As the TWIST heated up, its espressos gained the slight bite on the finish I expected for this blend and roast. If this were competition, the espressos in the first session would be 2's (see What does your typical espresso rate?
for explanation of scoring). Others pulled from the resident La Marzocco FB-80 outscored the TWIST by at least a full point, consistently hitting the 3.0 to 3.5 range. Despite its defeat by the former WBC equipment, there's no arguing that the TWIST's espressos were not "real" espressos.SESSION 2:
This time around, we chose a more challenging single origin, Counter Culture's 21st de Septiembre. Unlike the espresso blend in the first session, this single origin will zig more markedly when the temperature zags. Also keep in mind that single origin espressos are prized for the varietal character versus the crowd-pleasing "chocolate bar" blends that dominate mainstream roasters' signature offerings. As in the first session, the TWIST performed respectably in two rounds, but lost to the home team by a similar spread. However, thanks to our practice, it moved up in consistency, so we agreed to do a blind taste the following week.SESSION 3:
Below is a video from this session showing the simultaneous extractions for the blind taste test. Sorry about the poor quality of the video, I didn't realize until after the fact that the camera was in low-res mode; however, it gives you an idea of how we did the test:Note: The La Marzocco pulled tighter than expected for this pair, so the dose was reduced slightly in subsequent rounds for a closer brew ratio.
Protocol: We used identical cups and presented them to a taster for evaluation. There were asked not
to look for any visual clues since the TWIST espressos had greater volume with less striping than the La Marzocco's. The TWIST's portafilter ring was preheated in a pitcher of hot water; the brew chamber was filled with boiling water, dumped, and filled again.
This session was by far the best showing for the TWIST. Below are participant comments (paraphrased):
Tim wrote:Both espressos were good. The TWIST espresso is slightly brighter. The La Marzocco edged it out on creaminess. I picked the TWIST's espresso as my preference one time and the La Marzocco the other; overall I would place them within 0.5 point of each other in both rounds.
Lem wrote:Very good! [look of surprise] Nice body, chocolates. Balanced with a smooth finish. They're within 0.5 point.
Bob wrote:Overall, I agree that they were within 0.5 points. Depending on preference for brightness, one may actually prefer the TWIST. I think it would be a great solution for vacationers in a cabin or cottage setting (versus a motel and on the road a lot).
Dan wrote:This coffee would be better after another day or two of rest, but for this test, it was basically a draw. Last time we used the brighter and more demanding single-origin 21st de Septiembre. The TWIST lost every round in that case by a full point. It's too early to draw conclusions, but I wonder if the temperature tolerance of mainstream blends leveled the playing field for the mypressi.
HINTS AND TIPS:
Nathan wrote:The TWIST espresso was brighter in both rounds. It was a good espresso, but I don't understand who is the target audience. Campers who want an espresso in the woods? A cheap alternative to an entry-level espresso machine? Office workers? [interesting discussion of market followed]
The handle soaking trick may help in spaced shots, but heating the chamber with it in the ring seems to accomplish the same end if you wait a bit longer than the recommended 20 seconds.
TIP 1 (experimental): Assemble the chamber/ring without the basket and place the grouphead in an inverted Mazzer doser lid or similar shallow plastic container. Then fill to overflowing to preheat the dispersion screen and
water chamber. Loosely place the lid on. Prepare the basket as usual. Empty and refill shy of the top of the chamber before pulling the shot.
TIP 2: I found it helpful to slowly pour the water out by tilting the chamber over with it engaged in the portafilter ring. But be careful! Double-check that the chamber is engaged by confirming the tiny "notch" is aligned with the lock-in position since the chamber is not snugly held to the ring unless the basket is in place.