Why single espresso should be dead!

14462990_1272392329447129_4630066434678992350_n.jpgStraight of the bat I am gonna say that this will piss off a lot of people.

We all know that espresso is a very, very old drink. Most coffee shops still work with the standard espresso recipe: 7g/ 25 ml/ 25 s. That is the classic, Italian standard, that works well in the commodity coffee industry cause of reasons I can’t be asked to share at the moment. We wont be talking about them but mainly about how single espresso is perceived in specialty coffee.

Specialty coffee “workers” understand that coffee is a tad more complex than we might of initially thought.

People recently started (past couple of years) to really challenge the concept of an espresso.

One of the first steps  was to stop brewing coffees at the mythical 9 bars. People have covered low pressure profiling already, so I won’t upset you even more. You can read about it here, here and here. I do want to share the fact that we brew espresso at 5.1 bars but I do think you should find the same reasoning behind the death of the single espresso even when brewing at 9 bars.

Single espresso is long dead and it is about time we face it. I started monitoring espresso shots to see what TDS margins they have about 6 months ago. I am talking about well distributed, individually weighed single espresso. I have always had a hunch that even with an even extraction and equal amounts of coffee in the two shots of espresso, we yield from a double spouted portafilter, there was always a noticeable difference between the pair of single espressos. So to follow that hunch and gather some hard, objective numbers, I made it my daily chore, for the past 6-7 months, to measure as many paired single espresso extractions as possible.

Too put this in perspective a bit, I need to explain how our shop works. We serve 3 different single origin espressos and change coffees on a weekly basis, working with some of the best roasteries in Europe. In the past 6 months we actually had around 30 different coffees to use and test.

We went and selected random paired single espressos, and when I say paired I mean 2 single espresso that came out of a double spouted portafilter, and we took TDS readings to be able to quantify the variance between the pair of single espressos.

For the sake of the test, any shots that weren’t extracted equally and weighed the same (+0.1/0.1) weren’t taken in account.

Even with equal weight and a well distributed shot, the TDS readings variance was between 0.3 – 0.6 for the two single espresso pair.

After all this was done and dusted, we decided to switch to double espresso and kill the single espresso for good.

One of the things people kept asking me when I talked about the death of the single espresso is why we didn’t change the milky drinks as well (latte/cap).

The reason behind this decision is the fact that the difference in TDS when adding milk to the single spro is unnoticeable, whilst in the single espresso case, the difference was not negligible, and we believe it didn’t fully represent the coffees we were serving.

I don’t want to delve too much into the matter but if you have had any doubts about it in the past and/or want to prove me wrong you are welcome to pick up your friendly VST III and spend the next weeks taking numbers and tasting spros.

*We checked each TDS reading for 15 times per sample and around the 10 mark we saw that the readings became stable. We did this so there is no room for error, and the coffee reaches optimum temp for a stable TDS reading.

**In the shop we use portafilters with the standard double stout and VST 18 g baskets.

Behavioural patterns

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With time we start to have a better understanding of our customer’s needs and their behavioural patterns. As we mature from baristas and/or roasters to a more knowledgeable specialty coffee professional, we all dream of owning a coffee shop at some point.

I recently opened my own shop, alongside my business partner who has shed new light on what the administrative needs of a shop are. Her admin skills are easily rubbing off on me, and together with our shop manager, we are building our own little empire, fueled by the brown liquid we call specialty coffee. We have always focused on the quality of the coffee and the sensory experience of the customer.

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The 4th wave! Are we there yet? – Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood

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        Image via Sprudge.com

This week we are serving you another side of awesome with our newest coffee professional that took time to talk to us about his newest projects and give us their take on the 4th wave.

His name is Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood and has recently released a book called Water for Coffee, alongside Christopher H Hendon (computational chemist).

I first heard of Maxwell’s coffee mad skills while I was a young barista, around 4-5 years ago, when the famous Colonna and Small’s, was just opening, it was the Mecca of coffee shops to every aspiring barista.

This feature was designed to approach the coffee professional that lead this industry and inspire us to become better and more knowledgeable. I also felt the need to gather several leading opinions to create a better understanding of where the industry is and it’s heading.

So here is Maxwell’s take on the 4th wave. Continue reading

The 4th wave! Are we there yet? – Tim Wendelboe

tim-wendleboePhoto via http://www.litfest.ie

This week we will have another specialty coffee professional tell us about their newest projects and their own personal take on the 4th wave.

As many of our guest, be they future or past, Tim has been a great inspiration to me and all of us, and it was a great opportunity to be able to talk about his current and future projects

Tim Wendelboe is a hell of a roaster and a down to earth guy. His work has always had a positive influence on the specialty coffee industry. As you will see today, we try to find a wide spectrum of opinions when it comes to finding out what the 4th wave might be,

Let us immerse in this week’s subject, just like an even grounded coffee, brewing in our favourite Clever Drip. Continue reading

EK43 and the 7 steps

poolside-slightly-tiltedphoto via Sprudge.com

I have been wanting to write-up a guide for using the EK43 as an espresso grinder on a daily basis, but I got caught up and forgot. I do apologise for making you “wait”.

I started working on the EK43, when I was at Colonna & Small’s, one of the busiest shops I have seen. Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, triple UK WBC finalist and National Coordinator SCAE UK, managed to create a system that didn’t compromise the quality or consistency of the extractions and could withstand a high volume of drinks prepared.

When I decided to open my own shop, I wanted the flag-ship grinder to be the EK43 due to its versatility and grind evenness. After visiting the Mahlkoenig factory in Hamburg, I felt that I had all of the pieces of the puzzle to fully comprehend the data behind the results in the cup.

I wanna firstly say that the EK43 won’t produce magic espresso shots… wait for it… unless you put a bit of brains and elbow grease into it.

Think of it as a ” Build-a-Bear” experience, every step leads you to hitting that sexy sweet spot, while also achieving a higher extraction. Continue reading

The 4th wave! Are we there yet? – Matt Perger

matt-perger-3via Sprudge.com

The specialty coffee world is ever changing and is evolving at a fast pace.To give us a better understanding of where it is heading, I have enlisted the help of some of the most awesome coffee professionals to tell us about their current projects and give us their take on what the 4th wave of coffee might be. Matt Perger, Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood and Tim Wendelboe will be featured in the first part of our weekly journey into their specialty coffee worlds, fueled by knowledge, innovation, ambition and perseverance.

DRUM ROLLS, PLEASE!

First one up will be the amazing MATT PERGER. You might have heard of him, he is really good at making coffee really small and has changed the way we brew espressos. Continue reading