One final plea

This is one last humble request on a topic I know I’ve ranted on about before.

It would be really good, when talking about how we are brewing espresso amongst professionals, to start by talking about the weight of the espresso.  We need to stop using volume.  It is useless. Utterly useless.  Saying 1.5oz is like saying “about a basket full of coffee”.  It gets me in the vague ballpark, but it doesn’t really help if I am trying to dial a coffee in.

I’ve been really enjoying the reviews of various blends over on Home Barista, but I’d have really loved to know how much people’s great/amazings shots weighed (especially with Vivace’s Dolce where unusual crema volume is reported) – it would have made the reviews a lot more interesting and transparent.  I am sure it would also have been useful for people following along with those coffees and similar machines at home.

I know Andy Schecter posted about this on Portafilter less than two months ago – and now I just sound like a broken, whining, complaining record.  But weighing espresso is just so useful.

Alright.  That was it, no more posts about it.  This was the last (hopeful!) try.  We shall now return to normal service….

UPDATE: It was in error that I used the Home Barista thread as an example as some of the reviewers were indeed using both mass and brew ratios.  Apologies!

Cappuccino as conflict

Competition season often leaves me with an uneasy relationship with a drink I usually find very enjoyable.  I should add that my own view is in no way representative of competition judges, or competitions or anything like that – just a thought rolling around my head.

Generally, it seems, we treat milk as an enemy.  People talk as if steamed milk is trying to hold a pillow over the face of coffee flavour.  We talk about whether or not a coffee “cuts through” the milk.  I’ve never really been thrilled with that phrase or way of thinking about coffee but I have to accept that I am in the minority here. Continue reading “Cappuccino as conflict”

How much coffee do you drink?

As I mentioned in a previous post – I get asked this question quite a lot.  So for the month of January I logged every cup of coffee I drank, using a splendid website called Daytum.

So – how many coffees? In January I drank 126 cups, so on average a daily consumption of 4. 1

Below is a quick breakdown of my consumption, as well as an explanation of what was logged, and what wasn’t.

Continue reading “How much coffee do you drink?”

  1. Well, 4.06 on average, but 4 is neater I suppose!  ↩︎

A few videos worth watching

You may well have seen these videos – but just in case I thought I’d post a few up that I’ve enjoyed recently:

First up a fun video from the Norwegian crew who came to visit London and did the whole Disloyalty Card in a day.  Epic, heroic quantities of caffeine consumed!  Quite how they managed to cup with us halfway through the day remains a mystery.  I’m almost jealous of their coffee constitutions: Continue reading “A few videos worth watching”

Talking About Pressure Profiling

Is it me or is everyone else a little surprised at the lack of discussion of pressure profiling?

Most of the interesting discussion, if not just about all of it, has been over at home barista where various people are building pressure profiling units for their one group machines.  Still much of that discussion remains more about how to build it, than about desirable profiles.

Pressure profiling is undoubtedly going to become more readily available.  Though the capacities of the Slayer, the Strada and Cimbali’s new machine are all different, they are all chasing the ability to manipulate pump pressure to improve espresso.  A lot of this desire comes from the profile of espresso produced by lever machines, which have a very different pressure profile compared to a pump driven machine.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, given my own experiences with pressure profiling.  I was asked, a little while back, about why I hadn’t posted anything about it and I thought I would take this opportunity to explain:

Continue reading “Talking About Pressure Profiling”

Recommended Coffee Reading List – Part 1


Back in 2006 I published a recommended reading list. Since that time my collection of books has (worryingly) increased so I thought I should probably update it. I could easily write a list of coffee books that one should avoid (having learned the hard way) but I suspect that would get me into rather a lot of trouble, so I shall leave that for now. I’ve broken it down into two parts and then down into sections, and have indicated which are nice to have, and which I would consider are essential on that subject.

I will try and keep this one updated – if you think I’ve missed something obvious then let me know.  I haven’t recommended books I don’t own, so this means some books may be missing that you would expect to see here.

Continue reading “Recommended Coffee Reading List – Part 1”

One title doesn’t fit all


This is going to be a bit of a mish mash post, a composite of a few different things.  Originally I had planned to follow up the previous post on brew temperature and conduct a few experiments but the comments quickly reminded me I need to go and do some serious reading before attempting anything serious.

Instead this post is a collection of a few different thoughts rolling around like tumbleweed in my brain. Continue reading “One title doesn’t fit all”

Espresso Poll: Results and Analysis

First off a big thank you to everyone who contributed to the espresso poll.  It closed out at just under 100 people giving their data.  Out of this some data had to be ignored as it was clearly entered in error, leaving just over 90 espressos worth of information.

I am not a massive statistics expert – and I am grateful to Vince Fedele for taking the data and cleaning it up and doing some analysis on it.

To start with the easy stuff:

Continue reading “Espresso Poll: Results and Analysis”

A quick espresso survey


Brew recipes have been on my mind again recently, so I thought I’d post up this quick poll.  I’d love if it people could give me some data on this.  If enough people respond then I will post up the results, and any trends that occur.

A few quick things.  Please dial your espresso in to the point that you are happy.  It doesn’t need to be godshot territory, but something you’d serve to a customer or friend who you liked.

Secondly – please weigh things properly.  A lot of people speculate the weight of ground coffee they use, and very few people are accurate with it.  The more accurate the measurement the better.

Just to emphasize this because it is important – I need the weight of your shot not the volume.

Once you’ve weighed the shot feel free to drink it, to make sure it tasted good.

Here’s the poll:

Continue reading “A quick espresso survey”