How to find zen in espresso? - Page 3

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
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#21: Post by yakster »

Practice and mindfulness helps, as does having a lever.
Nunas wrote:BTW, you can hit a zen mind when roasting beans too if you eschew the computer (after using it to learn, of course). I call it seat-of-the-pants roasting, where I rely on manually operating the machine according to sight, smell and sound, using only BT and ET thermometers. The foregoing takes a lot of practice. :wink:
My laptop died and I went without having a computer for roasting on my Bullet for a while until I replaced it. There's enough instrumentation on the front panel and I felt like I was getting as good a roasts as when I was logging them, but I am usually paying a lot of attention to the sights, sounds, and smells of roasting anyway but I felt like I was enjoying roasting just a bit more.

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#22: Post by jandrew »

Trite zen comment:
You won't find zen in espresso.
You can practice zen while practicing espresso.

In truth, the exploration of espresso is more Zork-like than Zen-like. To wit:

You are in a kitchen ... it is pitch black ... you are likely to be eaten by a grue.

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#23: Post by EddyQ »

Try changing your beans more often. For example, when I step away from having a bright Kenyan espresso for a months time, I come back and it is usually amazing. Alternating origins on a by-daily basis increases the challenge and makes me really appreciate my espresso. Especially when I don't get a bad shot in over a few weeks!
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#24: Post by DamianWarS »

henri wrote:There was a time when espresso was a treat. At home, I'd drink generally awful, stale preground filter coffee, out of a habit that goes back generations, and mainly to satisfy a physiological dependence. But in a nice café you could get something different: this concentrated small drink of pure chocolatey goodness. It was always good; sometimes excellent; a few times, otherworldly.

Now that I've been making espresso at home for two years, I struggle to connect with that earlier emotional state. I regularly get frustrated over how difficult it is to brew consistently excellent espresso. I'm detecting an almost cyclical pattern: I can be making consistently delicious shots for weeks on end and be happy, only to then fall into another sequence of weeks during which nothing I do seems to improve a string of consistently disappointing shots.

I suppose isolating variables is the standard piece of advice here. It is definitely easy to get lost in the multidimensional parameter space of espresso by tweaking one parameter one way, then thinking tweaking another parameter will solve the problem (and so on and so forth with third, fourth and fifth parameter) - when in fact tweaking the first parameter the other way would have been the correct course of action. But while I could standardize my routine to the point of always using the same coffee the same number of days after roasting, at the same brew ratio, ground using the same grinder and brewed in the same basket in the same machine, I feel this will ultimately only contribute to boredom. Will not anything excellent degrade in subjectively perceived quality with repeated exposure over an extended period of time? Is there such a thing as having too much of a good thing? Is there "absolute" goodness in coffee, or just perceptions that are judged relative to other perceptions? Will I need to drink more bad coffee in order to be reminded of what good coffee is?

But if regularization risks boredom, then going in the other direction - the direction of less regularity, more exploration - risks frustration. (I have plenty of stressors in my life; I don't want my hobby to become another.) To this can be added the psychological effects of Gear Acquisition Syndrome and upgraditis - the expectation that acquiring this or that piece of machinery will result in this or that improvement in the cup, often without any real scientific backing.

How do you navigate this? Are you able to make consistently good espresso and not get overly frustrated in the process? Are you still enjoying your hobby?
I always taste the shot to determine if I should make a latte or not... I make lots of lattes.

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#25: Post by mkane »

^^^^^^^^^^^^sounds like ie;tastes like, my attempts at a good shot.

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#26: Post by pizzaman383 »

I started my zen transformation many years ago to deal with job-related stress so that helps me find the zen in making espresso.

Having said that, what helps me the most is finding a set of roasters and blends that I really like and rotating through them. Familiarity helps bring consistency which helps maintain zen.

Also, I find that there seems to be a pocket dose/grind for each blend that is fairly consistent so I try to find it and stay in it. Freezing beans helps stay in the pocket until the roaster changes the blend significantly.

Sticking to making only one change at a time and not being concerned about how long it takes to find the pocket also helps a lot.

And as is necessary for all good zen is trying to release my expectations and try to be satisfied letting results reveal themselves.
LMWDP #551
“Taste every shot before adding milk!”
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#27: Post by Maolo »

Your post made me join the forum, thanks! A year ago I bought a Flair Signature espresso maker and started the journey down the rabbit hole of espresso. I gave up after the first month of sour, bitter, undrinkable expressos. I discovered that I could tell when espresso was bad but not why - I was unable to discriminate between sour and bitter. Fast forward to today. About 2 months ago I decided to give it another go. Somehow, something has shifted and I found myself making good, even great espresso more often. I started going to coffee shops and asking for "the best espresso you can make" and discovered that my own espresso beats most coffee shops handsdown. Probably my unique taste, but who cares, I love the espresso I make. I am continuing the journey - just two months of making drinkable espresso. I find zen in slowing down the motion. creating a ritual every saturday and sunday, being mindful of every step in the process, trusing my gutfeel to adjust by taste when I don't like what I get in the cup and savouring the taste of the espresso I make. Noticing differences in taste as the espresso cools down. I've recently ventured into single origin medium roasts. Trying to make a "plesantly sour" tasting espresso. Following the zen process above I found that I actually enjoy the taste of well balanced ligher roasts. My the Froth be with you!