Unpredictability and variety in my espresso

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#1: Post by armindillo »

It is clear to me that while I spend a lot of time and thought on my espresso, I have a different outlook on it than most people on this forum.
I don't even try for consistency or repeatability. While I try to make espresso that is good, I'm never sure if my next cup is going to be exquisite or just ok, and I know I won't be able to repeat what I just made.

I buy green coffee in 1 pound bags typically 13 varieties per order. Then I roast a half pound at a time in my non-instrumented Hottop roaster. Each time a different bean. Sometimes it's hot outside on the deck where I roast, sometimes cold and windy. I just keep the roaster power at the maximum and stop when it seems about right. Contrary to current fashion, I roast fairly dark. I've managed to roast both darker and lighter than I like but usually I manage to stay in a range that I like, but it varies each time I do it.

Once in a while I get really adventurous, such as roasting over the gas stove in a hand-held ceramic gizmo from Korea.

My grinder is manual, the "burrs" are stone and it grinds into a wooden drawer. Nevertheless, the grounds are fluffy and it is easy to adjust exactly to the fineness that my machine needs. The machine is a VAM from 1961 and I know the water and brew head can never get too hot because it's not pressurized, but the thermostat is mechanical and kicks in at perhaps 85C and shuts off at 95C My portafilter still has its pants on and I need 3 cranks of the lever to get 40ml of espresso. (Plus a few more half cranks afterward to end up with a dry puck instead of a basket of soup.)

There might be tons of crema when the coffee was roasted 2 days ago or much less crema when it was roasted a week ago.
Once in a while I get a cup that seems like one of the best I ever made, like the other day when I blended my Hottop roast with the "nasty stuff" I roasted in the ceramic aladdin's lamp. But I certainly wasn't expecting that one to be particularly good and can't hope to repeat that.

The rare times that I want foamed milk I pull out my old Europiccola and instead of the steam wand I use the plastic and rubber hose contraption.

So what's my point? The novelty and unpredictability of it all is what keeps me excited about espresso. Since I don't worry about keeping up with the superstar baristas, I never feel like I'm making inadequate espresso for myself. Certainly I like my own products better than anything I've gotten elsewhere, but maybe I'm just a bit biased in that respect. For myself at least, I've managed to keep frustration away from coffee.
LMWDP #667


#2: Post by Coffcarl »

I love it!

I am roasting in much the same way with a Poppery 1. I do have a modern e61, and I do strive for repeatability within a roast, but some of my shots take 12 seconds and some take 30, and I never sink them, because I know I will learn something new from drinking them. Also coffee is a luxury commodity that is difficult enough to grow, cultivate, age, and ship half way around the world to warrant tossing just because the result in the cup is slightly sub par.