Bronwen sent me down some of a fresh batch of the Hines
Espresso. Time to go with a known quantity (plus Bronwen told me that this was a "really good" batch).
Dial the temp to 200F. Adjust the grind. Gorgeous shot... hmmm... Tastes a little wrong. Maybe I mis-remembered the temp for this blend. Take it down 0.5F and another shot. Ahhh... that's more like it. A little fresh still but quite tasty. Very dense, rich... fruity and "tight" on the palate. Valerie describes it as "high volume" (in the musical sense).
Let's make that morning cappuccino now.
It's just like doing milk on a Linea. This is a good thing - but I was not thinking that way. Throw the pitcher of BAB milk away and try again.
Ahh... that's how I remember it. Less than 10 seconds and I've got perfect milk.
Heh Heh. Very very cool!!
So I pull some shots... lovely. Wonderful drinks.
Wow wow wow.
- I'm pulling shots (so far) using the "continuous brew" button. i.e. I'm using the machine as if it were a semi-auto machine. I'll program the volumes for the auto settings and move to that soon. I'd not planned on really using those settings, but for some reason you cannot program pre-infusion for the continuous brew button. Hmmm... this might be an issue for me.
- In general, I'm rediscovering why I don't like automatic machines. I don't like keypads at all. In particular, I hate the lack of feedback and I think they are anti-sexy.
- Calling this a "home machine" is really, really misleading. My impression is that this machine is more accurately called a catering and light commercial machine. As such, it can (in fact) be used at home and is pretty ideal (if overkill) for such a use.
- The quality of the shots coming out of this machine is extraordinary. I'm sure I'm going to get more used to it and improve quality and consistency - and this is a frightening prospect.
- If this machine were a semi-auto I would have serious, serious machine lust right now. More to follow.
Just had a dozen outrigger paddling team folks over - a really good test of the machine. And, not shockingly, it performed like a champ. Espressos, Americanos, Cappuccinos, soy Cappuccinos... one after another after another. Without a whimper without a complaint... brilliant.
I'm starting to get the hang of the steam control lever. It's still a little weird to use - and I'm still not a huge fan of the location (I'm afraid I'm going to bump the cup as a shot is pulling). But the milk quality is really good, ease of use is pretty good and steaming time... well, let's just say that it's a La Marzocco in all senses of the word.
I would tend to expect that a lot of home baristas who buy this machine are in for a shock. When I said it was not really a home machine - I meant it. Folks who have learned to make espresso drinks on good home machines are going to have an "interesting" time transitioning to the GS3. For your average pro barista, the transition is going to be very easy. It's really just like working on a GB5, but with a weird steam lever control and only one group. But it's nothing at all like home machines. All the things you focus on with home machines tend to be irrelevant or at least unimportant with this machine. You have all the same requirements when it comes to general barista skills (grind, dose, distribute, etc) but all the machine skills that home baristas have had to develop (temp surfing, temp management, sequencing, etc) are simply transparent to you on this machine. At the same time, now all of a sudden you have steaming that is professional in style and strength - steaming 6oz of milk takes less than 10 seconds.
I switched over to using auto mode - though with a small modification. I set the machine up to pre-infuse for 0.6 seconds and then calibrated it for a 2.25oz double. This way I can terminate the shot manually when done. This worked quite well with the volume that I was working at. The shots taste a little different due to the pre-infusion. I don't know yet if I can conclusively say they taste better (or worse) - but rather different. I'll have to experiment more to know for sure. It's a little more "concentrated" in taste is all I can say right now.
I'm really loving the general quality of the espresso I'm producing from the machine. It's so dense, so focused and yet with such great clarity and balance in the cup. It tastes so much like what I'm used to getting from temp stabilized commercial machines like a Synesso. It's a great thing.