I spent a lot of time today with a mix of good personalities in shop. Saturdays in the lab are often like this and that was a big part of why we wanted to be open to the public. A&E is confirmed(and registered) as sending Ethan down to compete in the NERBC and the other more barismo specific news is that we will have some representation in Harvard Sq. soon. That last bit is for another day though and represents a lot more hard work to do before we can pat ourselves on the back just yet.
Later in the day I was pulling our L. St. blend at competition specs trying to get my head wrapped around exactly how robust that espresso is. A lot of home users have been consistently getting shots of this shorter and at hotter temps than we have been pulling it in shop and I decided to put this to the test. I ran the gamut of temps and then I found myself actually enjoying the punch of a shorter but hotter shot. Interesting, though I will keep tuning it at our stock temps. Simon's has this as a guest but ask for Simon if you are having a shot(and ask for it ristretto!).
Current incarnations of this blend have been more friendly to milk and for what it's worth, I have been happy that it was coming out well in a cappuccino. By no means should that be the measure of a good espresso though. Poker Face comes out particularly robustly in milk but that is a different animal entirely and yet it's prowess is still in it's complexity as a straight shot. In my biased opinion, it's consistently the best shot in town regardless of the milk. I think that's how it should be, a focus on the coffees and not the dairy.
For chuckles today, I was playing around with pouring latte art in the 5.5oz cups to see if I could keep the portions right and still get the ring of crema judges tend to look for. Moderate success at best with some old Garelick milk. It's not quite as easy as you would think to pull off without any milk waste AND pull off two cups in a row. It's something that I am thinking about as we head off to competitions.
I am not personally very found of the dark ring around a cappuccino any more than I am one of those who decries the existence of the decorated cappa. My personal opinion is that the more layered the surface is, the smoother the experience is. Folding the milk into the cup in such a way that the crema is textured into the surface in expanding layers always seemed more pleasant than the intense burst of reddened foam at the ring of the cup. Maybe I am contradicting the larger coffee community who may desire a bit more contrast in the cappa but that's how I feel.
After the competition gigs are over, we will resume hosting popular events. From this point on though, we will have more formal sessions and avoid the general open house situations. We are open to the public 5 days a week so we think it's time to have more brewing focused classes. If good coffee ended with perfect green or a fabulous roast, we could all enjoy coffee easily but it doesn't come bottled like wine so we have to put in a little more effort when we get the coffee home. That's where the classes will be focused. New sessions begin after February 9th so stay tuned.