Espresso, milk frothing sequence on HX espresso machine? - Page 2

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BradyButler
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Postby BradyButler » Sun Jul 04, 2010 8:44 am

Agreed with Dan and Jim on overall sequence, as well as what Malachi said about the benefits of having the milk wait a bit. However I don't see a big deal in having the shot wait 10-15 seconds for the milk... when's the last time you even began consuming an espresso within 10 seconds of it being pulled at a cafe? It takes longer than that to pick up the cup, get a good sniff, and give a quick stir. If your crema is dissipating in 10-15 seconds, you have some work to do.

The sequence wouldn't change if making 2 single capps - just do like they do at competition and steam 2x the milk, then split it between two pitchers before pouring. If making 2x double capps, I'd probably do them 1 at a time.
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Postby malachi » Sun Jul 04, 2010 1:51 pm

Not about crema dissipation - about cooling and chemical change. See this.
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Postby cafeIKE » Sun Jul 04, 2010 2:37 pm

BradyButler wrote:when's the last time you even began consuming an espresso within 10 seconds of it being pulled at a cafe?
The cup is sat upon the saucer, picked up, swirled, inhaled and tasted in little more than 10 seconds. Been known to ask "You don't expect me to drink that now, do you?" when some dipso leaves my shot 'aging' on the tray... :evil:

Start shot, start steaming, pour drink as soon as the shot ends, then clean and purge the wand.

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Postby BradyButler » Mon Jul 05, 2010 9:18 pm

Neat discussion, thanks for the link. Kinda makes the case for letting the espresso cool quickly to body temperature before drinking though, no?

Extreme temperatures attenuate taste buds (lent my copy of McGee or I'd reference - not a food scientist, just a very interested hobbyist). Drink bad beer ice cold, bad coffee ripping hot - burned or frozen taste buds tell no tales :). I drink good beer cool, good coffee very warm.

Are we concerned about the nominal change in the temperature of an espresso pulled into a preheated ceramic cup over the span of 15 seconds? Even if said espresso is about to be combined with a much greater volume of 140-150 degree milk? Are we convinced that there is a difference in flavor in the resulting drink?

You may be, I'm not.
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Postby malachi » Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:58 pm

The Lingle Brewing Handbook has some good information that is worth checking out. Especially important are the parts about how quickly small quantities of coffee cool and the chemical reactions that occur as a coffee cools (and by cools I'm talking at temps as high as 85C or so).

But if you don't want to do the research or don't trust the science - just do a taste experiment (and while you're at it time yourself on how long it sits.... it's unlikely that we're actually talking 10-15 seconds).
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Postby another_jim » Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:43 pm

When cupping, it is SOP not to taste and rate the coffee until it cools off for around 10 minutes (the baby bottle test of cool enough to hold against the wrist work), around 115F to 120F. For triangle cupping, the best discrimination occurs after 20 minutes or so of cooling, when the coffee is at body temperature, around 100F. George Howell of Terroir scores the coffee for taste and finish when at 100F, while most average their impressions at 120F and 100F, using an arrow on the scale markers to show the direction of change.

If you drink regular brewed coffee, 100F to 120F is also at its best drinking range. But this rule does not apply to espresso, since the crema and emulsified oil in the liquid part are integral parts of the experience. On the other hand, once the cappa is poured, I find for many blends, a ten minute wait improves the flavor, even though by then the latte art is no longer pretty.

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Postby BradyButler » Tue Jul 06, 2010 10:46 am

malachi wrote:The Lingle Brewing Handbook has some good information that is worth checking out. Especially important are the parts about how quickly small quantities of coffee cool and the chemical reactions that occur as a coffee cools (and by cools I'm talking at temps as high as 85C or so).

But if you don't want to do the research or don't trust the science - just do a taste experiment (and while you're at it time yourself on how long it sits.... it's unlikely that we're actually talking 10-15 seconds).


The beauty of communities like this one is that, collectively, we have access to all kinds of research and publications. Discussions like these generate reading lists for anyone interested in learning more about the subject... and we can help each other digest the info that is available.

Agreed that science is great, and can shed all kinds of light on subjects like this. We should absolutely be aware of the real science behind what is happening to help us understand our objective observations.

Also agreed that objective taste experiments are really useful for questions like this. Keep a clear mind and be a skeptic. A grain of salt is a healthy thing.

I think that the meat of this discussion (or at least where it's headed) is how long are you comfortable letting a shot sit before pouring the capp? Why?

Executing a good capp can be a real challenge. Getting the sequence and execution right for both shots and milk is not easy at first. Understanding the tradeoffs involved with different approaches, "the rules" of coffee and milk behavior, what we really need to be worried about, is good useful info. Exaggeration is counterproductive, makes the bar higher than it needs to be, and distracts us from focusing on what is really important.

Me? I let the state of the crema tell me when a shot has expired. Clearly, the best situation is to have perfect milk ready to pour as soon as the cup is out from under the spouts. However, if it takes 30 seconds to get the milk into the espresso, I'm not going to dump it and start over. That's what I do, and my capps are very good.
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Postby ptrck2184 » Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:08 am

Sorry to revive an old thread, but I have been reading a lot of older threads on steaming and brewing at the same time with prosumer HX machines. The one question that I have after all of this reading is how the HX cooling flush is affected if you decide to steam the milk before the shot?

For those that steam their milk before brewing:

1. Do you build your shot, run your cooling flush, steam, and then brew?

OR

2. Do you steam, run your cooling flush, build your shot and then brew? If that is the case, does steaming before lengthen or shorten the cooling flush?

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Postby allon » Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:33 am

If I did the cooling flush on my machine and waited long enough to steam a pitcher of milk before I pulled the shot, the temps would be back up too high again.

My HX machine is a dragon - it heats the HX pretty quickly. When I pull a shot, I do a flush and go, not a flush and wait.

The decision on how to flush should be based on what the thermal properties of your machine dictate, not on what someone else may do on a machine that behaves differently.

Do a flush, observing how long it takes for the flash boiling to subside. Then steam a pitcher of milk, then flush again, and observe again how long until the flash boiling subsides.

Draw your own conclusions.
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Postby boar_d_laze » Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:51 am

I suppose temping immediately after steaming can be machine dependent; it's been forever since using an HX with a too small boiler. It was very much a non-issue in my old Livia 90; and still is in my current machine.

First, try to remember that the brew water in an HX's HX, and the water/steam in the boiler are two different things; and that the boiler water isn't all there is to temping. Things like mass and design of the brewpath; volume and design of the HX; where the HX is placed, whether you have a thermosyphon group or not, play a big role in when and how best to do your cooling flush/temping rituals.

If you're working with a very small, slow boiler, and have some religious need to steam before brewing, I suppose you might want to wait until the boiler pressure is up to whatever you consider appropriate before starting the cooling flush and temping ritual; but... Please don't take my word for it, and don't enslave yourself to what someone -- anyone -- tells you is the theoretical best. The real answer to this stuff is to try everything and see what works best for you.

And really! Doesn't common sense dictate that if your machine won't comfortably do steam before shot that you ought to brew before frothing?

In my opinion -- which is just an opinion -- the whole milk before pull thing is misguided anyway. If the quality of a cappa or latte suffers greatly while the shot waits 40 seconds (for a very slow-steamer), I sure as heck can't taste it. Remember that no matter how hot and fresh the coffee, you're going to dilute it with milk -- milk which has its own temperature. On the other hand, when milk sits around for more than 20 seconds or so it loses its perfect texture and becomes decidedly lesser.

The shot before milk sequence works best with my stable temp/fast steam machine; and was also what was taught in "Barista Training Class." Whether it's best for your La Valentina is another matter. Given its combination of an E-61 group and adequate boiler size, I think it will be.

One last thing. The barista's rule is "basket to gasket, finger to ringer." That is, the amount of time from grinding to drawing the shot should be minimized as much as possible. However, reality trumps theory. My best results with the Casa come with doing the cooling flush after dosing and tamping the pf, so that's what I do; but do it as quickly and smoothly as possible. Getting to your specific proposed steam-first sequences, you should probably either (1) flush, build, pull and steam; or (2) build, flush, pull and steam.

The decision on how to flush should be based on what the thermal properties of your machine dictate, not on what someone else may do on a machine that behaves differently.

Absofrikkinlutely!

As already said, I build, flush, pull and steam; but guess -- after trying everything -- because of your E-61 group, you'll probably flush, build, pull and steam.

Let us know,
BDL