Advice to Newbies from a Newbie - Page 2

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
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lberg

#11: Post by lberg »

Yes, I DID get a digital scale, but when it arrived, I found out it was only accurate to 1 gram. :? . I think it was advertised for 0.05 gram... So a better scale will be in the future for me.

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Marshall

#12: Post by Marshall » replying to lberg »

If it's just for espresso, you don't need a more accurate scale. And you won't need it at all after a few days, because you will know from visual cues how much coffee you are putting in your basket. Remember, it's a home espresso bar, not a chemical laboratory (my wife's a chemist).
Marshall
Los Angeles

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lberg

#13: Post by lberg »

Thanks, Marshall. I'm glad to hear that.

neilCC

#14: Post by neilCC »

Marshall wrote:For a long time, I have encouraged people to calibrate their home espresso (and their home roasts) by measuring it against a top-quality artisan shop. They are often shocked to find that the bar is much higher than they thought it was (but still reachable with some effort).
As a 5 month newbie myself with a Mazzer Mini and an Izzo Alex, I appreciate Marshall's advice there.
For my first month, my espressos were decent. I thought they were great, they were the best I'd ever had, but week after week, month after month, they kept getting better. Before I got the machines, I'd already read most of this whole site :D and I was constantly improving my techniques, gradually getting more consistent. Now I realise what I'd started with was barely ok and what I can do now is actually really decent.
Then I read about a place here in Dublin that are probably the best in town, so I went to check them out. Sure enough, they do great espresso. And latte art. I bought a bag of their blend and went home to try and recreate what they'd served me there and I was very close. I had maybe two shots that I thought were better, but generally I was getting similar results. Although, that's just for the double espressos that I drink, I rarely do any milk steaming, so I can't get anywhere near their latte art, but for the straight espresso I found it very informative to check the quality of my results against what a top pro serves up.

After 5 months now, I believe I'm really getting close to consistently great espresso. And it has taken 5 months of pulling 5 shots a day (typically 3 doubles and 2 singles) to get a technique that is steady, consistent and repeatable enough to be able to make small changes to one aspect of the whole procedure in an effort to improve further. Between the impressive array of comprehensive articles and discussions on this great site and some visits to a top-quality espresso shop, a newbie should be able to get all the information they need to set their bar to the right level.
For me, my bar has been constantly going up. The one I started at is long gone and I'm still learning with my sights always set just a little higher than my reach. Can one ever really reach it anyway? I don't know, but I'll keep trying. And I'll keep checking that I'm still on the right track by comparing my results to what is served up from a high class pro barista. I think it is time for another visit there...

FC+

#15: Post by FC+ »

lberg wrote:Did you try it with "half of the wand" still attached to the bare metal wand? I mean, without the black "covering," but still with that little nozzle thing? I've read that some people do that. I'm definitely going to experiment with all three options for myself: red band moved down a notch (but entire wand on there), just that black nubby thing, and bare metal wand.
I have a Baby Class, I tried the wand with nothing on, the thingamajiggy on, and ended up with just the upper portion of the nozzle, as mentioned, on it. Does a pretty good job.

Good thread. I've had a lot of sink shots, but we're getting better at it.

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lberg

#16: Post by lberg »

FC+ wrote: just the upper portion of the nozzle... Does a pretty good job.

Good thread.
I second that last part...this thread has been especially helpful to me. And thanks for the tip, FC+.

oconee (original poster)

#17: Post by oconee (original poster) »

I also wish to thank Marshall for his comments. As I really thought about what he said, I realized that I needed to continue to sample good espresso as well as professionally roasted coffees to compare with what I am pulling on my machine as well as what I am roasting. I admit that I am a rank amateur, but I do wish to improve. as Neilcc states, this site provides a wonderful source of help in my quest.
At the risk of hijacking my own thread, I am traveling to Chicago soon and was wondering where I might access a list of recommended espresso shops that I might visit to continue my quest to learn what really good shots taste like?

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Marshall

#18: Post by Marshall »

oconee wrote:At the risk of hijacking my own thread, I am traveling to Chicago soon and was wondering where I might access a list of recommended espresso shops that I might visit to continue my quest to learn what really good shots taste like?
You're welcome.

In Chicago, Intelligentsia and Metropolis are famous around the country (for good reason).

For a national tour, here's a current article with slide show from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/lifestyle/2008/04 ... 8food.html
Marshall
Los Angeles

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lberg

#19: Post by lberg »

oconee wrote:I am traveling to Chicago soon and was wondering where I might access a list of recommended espresso shops that I might visit to continue my quest to learn what really good shots taste like?
Have you run across espressomap.com? It's been mentioned on H-B before. It only returns 4 shops in Chicago, 3 of them being Intelligentsia cafés. So, for Chicago it might not help immensely, but it has already helped me quite a bit when I'm planning on going on long trips. In fact, just last weekend I had my first REAL espresso at one of PT's Coffee coffeeshops, and found the shop using that site. (yes, I work at a coffeeshop, no, the owner does not see the point in ordering fresh beans :( :( . But it's the only coffeeshop in my town, so I have to put up with it.).

Also, I'll join in saying, "Thanks, Marshall!"

oconee (original poster)

#20: Post by oconee (original poster) »

I just checked and will be fairly close to one of the Intelligentsia locations, I'll certainly try to drop by. lberg, I was looking for that web site you posted and could not find it, thanks a lot.