The Ten Minute Challenge
I frequently get questions from potential café customers asking "will the decent be fast enough?"
My response is usually two-fold:
- plan on about 1 minute to make an espresso drink, and 2 minutes for a milk drink
and what is their forecasted max drinks/hour, during the morning rush?
But while those "1 minute espresso, 2 minute latte" timings are estimates that I think are honest, I haven't actually tried it and timed myself.
So recently, each Friday afternoon, I've been making espresso at full speed, on my two-DE1XL coffee cart, for about ten minutes. It's taking me an average of 45 seconds to make a Londinium-recipe espresso. I made 16 of them in 12 minutes, this past Friday. This my setup:
I'm fairly happy with this speed, as I'm doing a bunch of "specialty coffee things" that a normal cafe would say they don't have time for, such as:
- weighing every dose as I go, to 15g, +/-0.2g
- use a slow, single dose grinder (the Niche) so I have no bean aging from a hopper
- using a funnel on the portafilter, while I grind.
- grooming the puck with WDT, then tap the portafilter, then tamp
- Yet still, I'm at 45 seconds on average. There are two "tricks", though:
- I have a 3rd portafilter, that allows me to have a portafilter prepped when the espresso ends. I can swap the portafilter and hit start, right away.
- Or to grind while espresso is keeping the two machines busy.
- Espresso making is the slowest process, especially with the Londinium recipe, which is a fairly long and slow one, with about 20s of preinfusion. But it tastes great.
- The pitcher rinser makes portafilter cleaning much faster, about 5 seconds total to knock the puck out, rinse the portafilter and dry it.
- A portafilter stand so I don't have to mind the portafilter during grinding.
My goal is to have a workflow where:
The Ten Minute Challenge
- I never stop working, thus I'm never waiting
- Both DE1XL machines are making espresso virtually without pause. As soon as an espresso cycle ends, I start the next espresso quickly.
- On Friday, there were two times where I had to wait about 20s each time, for the espressos to finish. I wondered if a 4th portafilter would have been useful, to keep me busy.
Over the next few months, I'm going to be making videos where I see how many drinks I can make, with a certain setup, in ten minutes. I'll be trying each setup with an all-espresso menu, and again with an all-latte menu. Here are the setups I'm testing.
- 1 DE1XL, 1 Niche
- 2 DE1XL, 1 Niche (both with a without a portioning milk dispenser for making lattes)
- 4 DE1XL, 1 Niche, just for latte making. 2 DE1XL will make espresso, 2 will steam 200ml/8oz lattes "hands free".
Besides getting an overall feel for average time per drink, I feel that this process will also show us where time is being wasted. For example, if we can portion milk into a jug quickly and accurately, that will save 20s from having to:
- remove milk thermometer from the pitcher
- rinser the pitcher
- put thermometer back
- and there's a 5 second time savings in using a warm pitcher, which is lost if you rinse. Steam time on the DE1XXL goes from 23s to 18s for an 8os drink.
I've also realized that the "small bror" table is a bit too small, and slows me down, so we just designed and had made, a prototype DE1XL big-bror table. I had previously design this table for two DE1XL, but that's *really* crammed. With only 1 DE1XL on it's it a pleasure to use. It's amazing how much 60cm of additional width helps. Here's what that top looks like.
Next we'll be making a 3 DE1XL big-BROR table top, which can go at a right angle to this table, giving the barista easy access to 4 DE1XLs. That'll be fun to use!
I think we're a long way from 10 milk drinks in 4.5 minutes, like Dritan does. I'll be happy if we can get to half as fast as him.