Archive for November, 2007

Tulip, Tulip, Hurray! (…sorry, that’s terrible)

November 23, 2007

It’s been a while since I’ve taken any photos of my latte art, and I’ve been giving tulips some attention over the last few weeks, so I thought it was high time to take some pictures. I poured these four 6oz lattes in a row one afternoon this week, and snapped each one.


    nov-tulip1.jpg       nov-tulip3.jpg       nov-tulip2.jpg 

I’ve invested so much dedication and devotion in an attempt to master great, single rosettas over the last two years (an ongoing process!), and I recently decided that I needed to get to get to grips with tulips as well. They are probably just as hard as rosettas, but if you can pour nice hearts (easy!) and good rosettas – you can pour tulips. I still think great rosettas are the most challenging and rewarding though – somehow the balance and symmetry is of the utmost importance for them to work really perfectly. My tulips are still not great – they need a lot of fine-tuning – but after a little practice, I think I’ve cracked the basics.

Recently though, I’ve been becoming increasingly aware that good latte art is easy compared to making consistently good espresso, and that the former is not necessarily indicative of the latter. My espresso ability is constantly (if slowly!) improving, and I’m increasingly mindful of the overall quality in the cup – especially the most difficult, complex and important element – the espresso itself.

Taking the Rocky road…

November 13, 2007

With Christmas approaching, I’ve decided to take the plunge and treat myself to decent grinder to use at home with the Europiccola – and I’m poised ready to place an order for a Rancilio Rocky doserless version any day now!

What started out as a 5.oo bargain for the Pavoni is now escalating out of control! 45.00 for parts, 200.00 for the Rocky – and I’ll still need a pitcher (or two!), a new tamper base from RB (49.6mm, I reckon), and, presumably, some coffee beans!

I have quickly realised that to get the best (or even something acceptable) out of the Europiccola, I really need to invest in the quality accessories to go with it. But I think I’m in for the long haul, and I think the Europiccola can potentially make great coffee, so it should be worth it. After extensive research, I feel that the Rocky is a good bet; although more expensive than I would like, it sounds like it should provide the sort of grind consistency that I think I need, and seems to be the most highly rated grinder that’s anywhere near my budget – without going crazy and opting for a Mazzer Mini or a Mahlkonig! I’ve read about a problem with the housing or the top burr not being secure enough for a great grind on some models, but I’ve also found a fix for this issue at Sweet Maria’s, and hope it won’t be a problem. I just need to worry about surfing the direct lever Pavoni well enough so that water at up to 250F degrees doesn’t ruin my lovely grounds!

I think I’ve settled my fears about the steamer on the Europiccola; I’ve tried it a couple more times, and feel confident the pressure, tip, etc, will be able to make some reasonable microfoam once I get a proper pitcher. Also, the pressure-release valve on the machine does infact seem to be working properly, after reviewing it. Knowing that I  should be able to get nice milk with the machine has made me decide to go the whole hog.

In other equipment related news: huzzah!! My boss is tentatively beginning to seriously entertain the idea of getting a new machine for work! The ancient Ducale that we use at the moment is actually a dear old thing – a solid and uncomplaining workhorse – and with a few replacement parts and some expert TLC, it would probably be fine. But there are all manner of problems with it that need resolving to get the coffee really good consistently, and because parts for it seem non-existent, we are going to have to work it until it finally drops dead from some terminal complaint …which is a shame, really; I’m not sure how much I trust these new machines – nothing is built to last these days. But, senile suspicions aside, a new machine will be sweet! It won’t be anything super fancy like a suped-up La Marzocco or a Synesso (we’re looking at a new La San Marco 85, or possibly a La Spaziale s5), but it should be an immense improvement!