company - education - coffee

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

About a machine

Yellow, originally uploaded by jaminsky.

I love having a good lab machine. Ours is a GB5 and it is really giving me a go around. Being able to dial in different temps and work different extractions with nominal turnaround time between roats is a blessing.

Having started on an old Rancilio and some burnt out SM90s with some pretty questionable training if you could call it that (sorry Angry Andy), I appreciate this newer equipment. That was several years ago and I am not interested in going back or ever working with those who insist on keeping the dirty dull blades and uncontrolled HX machines in service. That shop now has an FB80 and some Majors, so it's safe to say things have changed.

Looking forward though, there is something we were aware of for some time. The equipment has caught up with our needs and no longer presents an issue or in the very least, the obstacle it once was.

That brings us to a new stage for a section of the community where there is some change happening. The move to manual methods. It can either be seen as a reaction to Clover now being unavailable or it could be a new focus for our endless tinkering and fidgety energy. The perpetual modding of our machines has come to the realization that the equipment exists in (nearly) finished form for the right price. A gicleur. a few new baskets, nice tamper, solid grinder, and go. That leaves us to spend some time practicing our pourover method and tweaking our syphon skills. A return to the simple art of manual method for a community so fascinated on technical mods and hacks.

I'm not really endorsing this movement but merely acknowleding it as a cranky forebearer. For long enough, the focus has been everything but the cup character with the misleading sermon on 'letting the coffee speak for itself.'

Self indulgence. Beautiful and incredibly fun, but indulgence still. Dog and pony shows where barista behave like ego driven rock stars and the coffees are accredited to the counter on which served and not the farm which bore them.

It is perhaps best expressed in the simple irony of how we obtained our site moniker back in the day when we had a more ideaoligical tint in coffee. Being criticized for being overly technical barista in a multi page diatribe by a famous figurehead of the coffee cognisceti where he offered this term up to put us down. It stuck and yet we are reinventing it as we go.

It is great having a wonderful beast of a machine that can jump through flaming hoops (figuratively) but the real beauty is that it helps take one more piece out of the equation towards better coffee. That just means more work on the coffee itself and less time alloted for excuses about the equipment.