Advancing your enjoyment of espresso

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
Dogshot

#1: Post by Dogshot »

Sometimes, especially when I am very busy, I fall into a pattern of buying my beans and making espresso the same way every time. I don't really have the time to experiment with coffees, roasting, dosing, temp, etc. (all the stuff I enjoy doing when I have more time); I just want to make an outstanding espresso using what I know. During these periods I reflect on what single thing I could do to really further my enjoyment of coffee. The one thing I keep coming back to is that I would like to start regularly cupping and taking notes on all the coffees I drink.

If you had more time and/or more resources, what is the one thing that you would like to do to further your enjoyment of coffee?

Mark
LMWDP #106

Ken Fox

#2: Post by Ken Fox »

Dogshot wrote:
If you had more time and/or more resources, what is the one thing that you would like to do to further your enjoyment of coffee?

Mark
assuming a reasonable level of equipment and skill, the only thing that is going to greatly improve one's espresso is to use better coffee. Whether you buy it or roast it yourself, this is where improvement in quantum leaps comes from.

ken
What, me worry?

Alfred E. Neuman, 1955

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cannonfodder
Team HB

#3: Post by cannonfodder »

Practice, practice practice. That is the only way you get better at anything. The difference between an amateur and a professional, an amateur practices until he gets it right, a professional practices until he cannot get it wrong.

Try new coffees, try new techniques, challenge conventional wisdom and you may surprise yourself now and then. To put a spin on another popular saying, Stop and smell the crema now and then.
Dave Stephens

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HB
Admin

#4: Post by HB »

Dogshot wrote:If you had more time and/or more resources, what is the one thing that you would like to do to further your enjoyment of coffee?
Oh, good question!

Like you, I would like to spend more time learning the ins-and-outs of great coffees around a cupping table. That's something I've managed to do a few times last year. One thing I've never put my mind to is espresso blending. My lazy half says "Why bother when there's guys who do it better?", but my thoughtful half says "Relying on others to do the discovery work of blending limits ones understanding and appreciation of the nuances of a fine espresso."
Dan Kehn

Dogshot

#5: Post by Dogshot »

cannonfodder wrote:Practice, practice practice. That is the only way you get better at anything. The difference between an amateur and a professional, an amateur practices until he gets it right, a professional practices until he cannot get it wrong.

Try new coffees, try new techniques, challenge conventional wisdom and you my surprise yourself now and then. To put a spin on another popular saying, Stop and smell the crema now and then.
As a former professional classical musician, I know what you mean about the value of practice! Practice can be greatly enhanced by some knowledgeable feedback. I was fortunate enough to study with a great pedagogue (Lorand Fenyves), who used to say that repetition leads to inattention and bad habits. The trick to learning a technical skill is to do it right every time. And so, my take on the difference between an amateur and a professional is that the pro has fewer bad habits. To that end, I would love to brew some shots for another really knowledgeable H-Ber or a great barista. Some constructive criticism could probably help me to shake a few unconscious habits, and improve things very quickly and dramatically.


Ken, I cannot disagree with you. Great coffees are available to us all right now, so this must be a golden age for H-Bers. I really should be taking more advantage of the best lots possible before someone figures out how to make money on them, and they become outrageously priced or totally unavailable.

Mark
LMWDP #106

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another_jim
Team HB

#6: Post by another_jim »

As a musician, you may understand this; even though it probably doesn't make a whole lot of sense for coffee.

I like to switch between two sorts of blends or SOs. The first are complicated ones with challenging high or low notes, that one has to pay attention to; these are usually roasted quite light and get the "wow, that's really interesting" reaction the first time I try them. The second are out and out comfort food blends that are just plain yummy. Finding a coffee that is both is quite rare; last year's Bale Kara and Klatsh's WBC blend are the only ones that readily come to mind; so it'll be unlikely that you'll be drinking only coffees like this.

Too much comfort food coffee gets cloying, and too much challenging coffee gets strenuous. I love the slightly guilty rush of pleasure of going to a big sweet chocolate blend after a few weeks of light roasted gourmet fruit and flowers; and then I equally enjoy the vast taste spaces that open up when I go in the other direction.

So my advice is this: always keep it varied, and every month or so, try something completely new and off the wall.
Jim Schulman

pauljolly65

#7: Post by pauljolly65 »

Dogshot wrote:As a former professional classical musician, I know what you mean about the value of practice! Practice can be greatly enhanced by some knowledgeable feedback. I was fortunate enough to study with a great pedagogue (Lorand Fenyves), who used to say that repetition leads to inattention and bad habits. The trick to learning a technical skill is to do it right every time.
Well said. I recall reading an interview with Earl Weaver, the late great manager of the Baltimore Orioles, who insisted on having his team practice until the players did not have to think about how to react to 99% of the plays that would happen on the field.

That kind of practice, with that kind of goal, isn't what we're about in specialty coffee. Sure, we should practice, but we should do so with our full attention (or as much of it as we can muster!). There's a lot of variability in making good espresso: from the beans to the grind to the tamp to the machine, small variations can result in noticeable changes...and sometimes those changes are for the better, even after we think we've nailed the 'best' way to pour a shot from our particular machines. In baseball, there is only one right thing for a second baseman to do when a ground ball is hit to him and no one is on base. The more he practices it until he no longer thinks about it, the better ballplayer he will be. In espresso, there is more than one right thing to do. Devoting our attention to that is the key.

That said, I too would want to cup more, had I the time. That's where the "Fifth M" (mtaster...and that's a silent "m") can really be developed, and ultimately the tasting is what it's all about.

My two cents...perhaps I run at a bit of a tangent, but that's the espresso working!

Paul

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Stuggi

#8: Post by Stuggi »

I would probably get my roaster setup finished so I could get serious with this homeroasting. Currently things are moving a bit slowly since I'm low on cash and it takes time building a 1kg probat knockoff.
Sebastian "Stuggi" Storholm
LMWDP #136

Momma

#9: Post by Momma »

"Mommy, when you get your coffee house are you going to make these and sell them?"

No............ not of my lovely espressos..... The PUCKS! They fascinate them! I just think if I keep that level of marvel, imagine what I could be inspired to be! (towards the espresso, though!)

When I explained the pucks were only trash, they were bereft!

Momma
Momma Hale