Posts Tagged ‘michael barrett’

Every time I travel by car, I remember why I like really good coffee…

Gas station road coffee sucks for the most part… Let me ask you a question:

Don’t you drink it when you are driving long distance? I think we all do.

Really Good Coffee - my espresso

The kind of delicious coffee you never find driving long distance…

One thing about a road trip…

It always reminds you how much you like your favorite coffee. A road trip is like a refresher course in really good coffee appreciation.

By contrast, whatever you drink at home is probably better than the coffee you drink at C-Stores along the highway as you drive long distance.

Isn’t it always true that we appreciate things by contrast? By comparing one experience against another? By measuring how the “thing” we are trying out compares against the “control” – our old standby, the one we always use or do?

Coffee is the same way.

Somewhere along the road of life, we learn to appreciate our “own” version of really good coffee. And our decision – our choice – may be triggered by a great experience of how good the coffee tasted with dessert at a really good restaurant that our Dad took us to on Mother’s day when we were 15.  And the reality is that maybe that coffee was not the best that Mother’s day, but the memory of that experience is a joyful one – a very pleasant memory of the ones we loved that day.

Or maybe we decided we loved the coffee grandma used to make because it reminds us of the smell of it brewing in her house and how much love there was in that place and how much grandmothers seem to understand children better that parents do. It reminds us of sitting by the fire, having a cup of joe with our granddaddy as he told us stories about growing up in the northwest and being friends with the Lakota and how he learned to speak their language. Maybe it reminds us how warm and good “our favorite” coffee – the way our Dad made it – made us feel during a freezing cold day of skiing at Donner Summit when we got back to the cabin and built a fire and Dad made us coffee.

It’s amazing how our olfactory system is so closely connected to memory and emotion. And – for each of us – how our version of really good coffee is such an individual experience. Someone told me one day (and I can not remember who it was about 30 years ago) that a smell is something that we never forget because the experience goes directly up the nose and gets recorded into the brain. It is both a physical and an emotional memory – with direct circuitry to the brain. It’s not a matter of interpolation or filtering through a thinking process to get into our memory.

As I took the first sip of my second cup of coffee this morning, I thought and then said out loud to myself:

“Damn that tastes good. That is a delicious cup of coffee.”

Immediately I was reminded how each cup of coffee we drank two days ago on a 900 mile road trip tasted. And it became clear to me how much better “my favorite cup in the morning” tastes than the very best cup I had traveling the other day. This is where the comparative (created by my mentor Dr Ed Carlson) “less worse” comes into play.

What’s Your First Memory of Really Good Coffee?

My first memory of really good coffee is standing in line at Peet’s coffee in 1967 in Berkeley California as a teenage customer. When I take a taste of good coffee, I often remember the wonderful aromas, the murmur of people talking, the sounds of high speed grinders whirring and a smiling face taking my order at the original Walnut Square Peets. What is your first memory of really good coffee?

I Am Michael Barrett and I love really good coffee.

Our thanks to this how to get good espresso in North America blog for this lovely coffee picture…

Really Good Coffee: How to Make Good Coffee with a French Press…

Really Good Coffee:  Video Making Good Coffee Using a French Press.

Really Good Coffee is always looking for ways to make good coffee and as far as flavor goes, the French press is one of the best lo-tech ways to do that.  The video here is one from YouTube and it’s a very good video. We’ll make our own in the near future.  A discussion about french press coffee follows the video.

French press is a great way to prepare a single varietal coffee because it highlights the flavors so well. As an example if you love to drink Columbian Supremo, the French press tastes excellent when you grind it course and let it brew for 4 minutes in the press. In fact, that is my very favorite way to drink Columbian Supremo – in terms of flavor. Although, you can use any type of varietal or blend you prefer in a French Press.

Most hot water brewing methods expose the bean to the water for less than a minute.

Bodum french press

Bodum French Press

Most traditional brewing methods use heat and gravity – exposing the coffee bean to water for considerably less time than the French Press method. In a melitta style pour through and most traditional coffee machines, the coffee grounds are exposed to the water for about 30-45 seconds – maybe a minute – depending on how fine you grind the beans.

Espresso extraction uses heat and boiler pressure to force hot water through a specific volume area containing a very finely ground coffee bean that is packed firmly. Actual extraction time is usually less than 30 seconds.

How the French press brewing method is different.

When you grind the coffee beans for brewing in the French press, you grind them very coarse. This factor, combined with the longer brewing time of 4 minutes, creates a very rich, satisfying flavor.

Coarse Grind for French Press - source: www.ineedcoffee.com/03/coffeegrind

Fine Grind Coffee

Fine Grind Coffee

Looking at the grind on the left, you can see how coarse it is compared to the grind on the right.

The coarse grind actually provides more surface area for the water to come in contact with the ground beans. This allows more access – in a sense – to the flavor from the bean.

The French press brewing method (as you saw in the video) basically just allows the coffee grind to sit in the hot water for four minutes.

The net result is that since there is more surface area of the coffee grinds exposed to the water for 2-3 minutes longer than other gravity brewing methods, it results in a deeper, richer flavor.

It also results in a higher concentration of caffeine per serving because you are leaving the grinds in the water longer.

Caffeine Misconceptions

There are a lot of misconceptions about caffeine in most cases simply due to a lack of knowledge.

One of the lowest portions of caffeine per serving is from properly extracted dark roast espresso. It takes 20-30 seconds per extraction depending on the beans, barista, equipment and style.

On the other side of the caffeine continuum is French press. If you want flavor and are not caffeine sensitive, it’s awesome coffee. If you are caffeine sensitive and you can find a swiss water processed decaf that you like, this might be a good application for it.

You can reduce the caffeine concentration by the adding hot water to the finished French press coffee.

It takes some experimentation to find out exactly how you like it the best. Flavor is a very personal thing.

Be sure to write down what you are trying while you are experimenting so you can duplicate what you did when you find what you like. Copious notes will eliminate frustration.

One other bummer about French Press. The glass cylinders are easy to break. Replacements are available and in stock at stores like Sur La Table. If you really like the flavor, you’ll probably want a spare at all times in case you break the original.

Properly ground and brewed French Press produces really good coffee.

Enjoy your French Press brewing and experimentation and the FLAVOR…

I AM Michael Barrett and I Love Really Good Coffee and French Press Columbian Supremo.

Really Good Coffee in Costa Rica…

Looking for really good coffee in Costa Rica.

Recently we spent three months in Costa Rica and looked for really good coffee whereever we went. There were two better than average coffee experiences during that three months – once at a restuarant in San Jose and another at a small cafe in Parita where they serve and sell their own label of coffee.

The people are lovely in Costa Rica – there is an elegance and a natural grace that permeates the culture and the peoples’ attitude and demeanor. It is not contrived or put-on. It is authentic. There is a beauty in their smiles and in the twinkle in their eyes when they get that YOU are for real too.

Over the years I have had excellent Costa Rican coffee. When I had my own espresso shop, Costa Rican arabica was part of the 6 bean mix the roaster and I chose to create our Morning Shot Blend. It was an integral part of the overall flavor profile in that blend and a necessary one. I have always likened the flavor of a medium roast cup of Costa Rican to a glass of dry white wine, in contrast to a dark roast French or Italian blend or a rich burgundy. All good at the right time and with the right food.

I love the aftertaste of a dry white and a cup of Costa Rican coffee when properly roasted and brewed. I prefer the rich flavor of a dark roast blend as opposed to a single varietal because it is more interesting in the pallate and offers a greater variety of flavor experiences within the same cup.

Perhaps it was that we stayed in the same location most of our time in Costa Rica that limited the opportunity to properly experience the nuances of Costa Rican coffee. Perhaps it was the indigenous brewing methods available. We were unable to find a melita style system, for example – anywhere – to make one-off cups of coffee.

Coffee in Costa Rica is a matter of national pride like ice hockey in Canada and Vodka in Russia, or soccer in Brazil. Truly the country grows beautiful quality Arabica coffee beans in a beautiful country.

The next time we visit Costa Rica, we will seek far and wee for the best preparations and presentations Costa Rican coffee we can find. With our limited exposure to variations available during our three month stay, it may not be fair to conclude that the best Costa Rican coffee we have ever had was in the United States.

Be it fair or not, for now this is our conclusion.

 

Really Good Coffee in Seattle Was Torrefazione in 1990

In 1990, Torrefazione was synonymous with really good coffee in Seattle.

In particular, it was the old Perugia blend that was the biggie. I used to love that coffee. Smooth and sweet on the front end, a snap on the back end with a great finish and after taste.

Perugia was not only really good coffee, it was excellent.

When I first moved to Seattle in 1990, I had not yet acquired a taste for a good doppio. That development was still a couple of years out and when I opened my espresso bar, I chose to use Torrefazione Italia, Perugia blend as my house espresso blend. Although I had not learned the palate nuances in espresso at that point in time, I loved Perugia every time I drank it.

Only there was a problem…

Torrefazione Italia was the ultimate coffee snob as far as wholesale coffee went. At least that was what it seemed like from my perspective and in my personal experience as a retail operator in the espresso business.Torrefazione had become the only game in town and they knew it – in terms of quality – and the company itself had developed an attitude towards newcomers in the business.

The specialty coffee business in 1990 was a very political WHO KNOWS WHO “micro-niche” that was hugely profitable and successful. And in retrospect, Seattle itself was that way when it came to outsiders. Second and third generation money was acceptable – not broke newbie entrepreneurs with lots of drive and creativity and no contacts.

When I took over an existing shop that had been run into the ground by an incompetent operator, it was hard to get a return call from Torrefazione – much less a visit from a sales rep. So after numerous attempts to place an order and speak with a rep, I finally gave up and called SBC.

As I have matured and live in a completely different business environment than the one that existed in Seattle, I have often wondered if I would have developed a personal friendship with Umberto Bizzari – the founder and original roaster of Torrefazione Italia – given the opportunity.

I think so because of my passion for coffee and ultimately a very defined and developed palate. It occurs to me occasionally (when I ponder the past) that Umberto would have appreciated my understanding and love of coffee and would have mentored me because of it – in some capacity. He also would have grown to know how much I admired his expertise as a coffee man and roaster.

The specialty coffee world in Seattle subsequently shrank, contorted, shifted, expanded and was in an overall state of flux for a number of years while I played coffee there. Starbucks emerged as a marketing powerhouse who tipped the odds in the coffee card game.

After Umberto quit roasting for Torrefazione, the coffee was never the same. It must have been difficult for him – on some level – to watch his brand and quality deteriorate. It certainly was for me.

In the mid 80’s Umberto Bizzari and Jim Stewart (the founder of SBC – formerly Stewart Bros coffee) formed a mini Puget Sound coffee conglomerate and later made a bunch of money and spun off various labels to P and G for the retail grocery distribution business and ultimately sold the Torrefazione label to Starbucks.

In the chain of events that followed, Unberto’s son Emanuele Bizarri started his own espresso business Cafe Umbria – with the anchor store in the very same location as his father’s original Torrefazione location.

Fondly and with respect, I will always remember and savor (in my mind) the wonderful flavors of the original Perugia and Torrfazione Italia.

I AM Michael Barrett and I Love Really Good Coffee

Really Good Coffee in Seattle Was Torrefazione in 1990

In 1990, Torrefazione was synonymous with really good coffee in Seattle.

In particular, it was the old Perugia blend that was the biggie. I used to love that coffee. Smooth and sweet on the front end, a snap on the back end with a great finish and after taste.

Perugia was not only really good coffee, it was excellent.

When I first moved to Seattle in 1990, I had not yet acquired a taste for a good doppio. That development was still a couple of years out and when I opened my espresso bar, I chose to use Torrefazione Italia, Perugia blend as my house espresso blend. Although I had not learned the palate nuances in espresso at that point in time, I loved Perugia every time I drank it.

Only there was a problem…

Torrefazione Italia was the ultimate coffee snob as far as wholesale coffee went. At least that was what it seemed like from my perspective and in my personal experience as a retail operator in the espresso business.Torrefazione had become the only game in town and they knew it – in terms of quality – and the company itself had developed an attitude towards newcomers in the business.

The specialty coffee business in 1990 was a very political WHO KNOWS WHO “micro-niche” that was hugely profitable and successful. And in retrospect, Seattle itself was that way when it came to outsiders. Second and third generation money was acceptable – not broke newbie entrepreneurs with lots of drive and creativity and no contacts.

When I took over an existing shop that had been run into the ground by an incompetent operator, it was hard to get a return call from Torrefazione – much less a visit from a sales rep. So after numerous attempts to place an order and speak with a rep, I finally gave up and called SBC.

As I have matured and live in a completely different business environment than the one that existed in Seattle, I have often wondered if I would have developed a personal friendship with Umberto Bizzari – the founder and original roaster of Torrefazione Italia – given the opportunity.

I think so because of my passion for coffee and ultimately a very defined and developed palate. It occurs to me occasionally (when I ponder the past) that Umberto would have appreciated my understanding and love of coffee and would have mentored me because of it – in some capacity. He also would have grown to know how much I admired his expertise as a coffee man and roaster.

The specialty coffee world in Seattle subsequently shrank, contorted, shifted, expanded and was in an overall state of flux for a number of years while I played coffee there. Starbucks emerged as a marketing powerhouse who tipped the odds in the coffee card game.

After Umberto quit roasting for Torrefazione, the coffee was never the same. It must have been difficult for him – on some level – to watch his brand and quality deteriorate. It certainly was for me.

In the mid 80’s Umberto Bizzari and Jim Stewart (the founder of SBC – formerly Stewart Bros coffee) formed a mini Puget Sound coffee conglomerate and later made a bunch of money and spun off various labels to P and G for the retail grocery distribution business and ultimately sold the Torrefazione label to Starbucks.

In the chain of events that followed, Unberto’s son Emanuele Bizarri started his own espresso business Cafe Umbria – with the anchor store in the very same location as his father’s original Torrefazione location.

Fondly and with respect, I will always remember and savor (in my mind) the wonderful flavors of the original Perugia and Torrfazione Italia.

I AM Michael Barrett and I Love Really Good Coffee

What Is Your Favorite Place for Really Good Coffee?

It’s been two years since the post Where Do You Go For Really Good Coffee

That’s almost hard to believe – yet, alas, it has been…

Maybe you’re like me. It seems as if things have changed so much since then – that sometimes there is a sense of being disoriented – or out of phase, somehow. Yet throughout it all, amidst all the transition, the movement, changes in life, the economy and the world, there remains at least one constant – one anchor that keeps us connected to a sense of belonging, of comfort, and something familiar amidst so many things that are un-familiar.

There has been really good coffee everyday.

Remembering really good coffee moments, maybe you can relate…

Peets Coffee and Tea – Seattle

Enjoying that hot, fresh doppio at Peets in the Seattle Fremont district looking out the window from the mezannine – watching the traffic go by – silently – in the world outside, hearing the sounds of milk being steamed for lattes and the grinder – consistently, intermittently running – filling the room with the luscious smell of freshly ground beans, hearing the soothing, gentle murmering sounds of voices and coffee language from the counter at the espresso bar – the way we used to hear our parents voices talking as we fell asleep as children…

Lighthouse Roasters – Seattle

Sitting down to a fantastic, freshly drawn espresso – extracted consciously by the expert barista crew at Lighthouse Roasters on Phinny Ridge (one of my personal favorite micro-roasters in the whole country) – creating palate magic before my very eyes and then being able to verify that coffee resonance AGAIN – as with every other time before this one – and fully enjoy the essence of the bean with every living tastebud – on the front of the tongue, at the back near the throat followed by the burst of lingering, condensed after taste that permeates its way throughout all the coffee sensing tools within the human body for at least a half an hour afterwards…

Homemade French Roast

Perhaps it is the time, grabbing a deep rich cup of melita drip Fresh Roast – in the favorite procelain cup – on the way to a very important discussion, pondering the outcome and experience of the meeting to come and fully taking the time to enjoy that cup of really good coffee – from start to finish in the privacy of the car while driving to the meeting – without interference, or interuption and in spite of any time considerations.

Over the last, five years we’ve had really good coffee in West Vancouver – BC, Scranton – PA, Sarsota – FL, Dallas – TX, Atlanta – GA, Palo Alto – CA, Berkeley – CA, Los Angeles, Whistler – BC, Morley – Alberta, Hamilton – MT, Richmond – VA, Plymouth Meeting – PA, Egg Harbor Township – NJ, Goochland – VA, Portland – OR, Spokane – WA, Missoula – MT, Sedona – AZ, Siesta Key – FL, Boca Grande, Fl… and many other places.

Somehow a good cup of coffee always brings me back to a moment – a memory or feeling – of unshakeable warmth and safety and connectedness. Each of us coffee lovers relates to coffee in our own way.  Share your experiences with us and let us know about your favorite coffee places – and why you like them. We want to share this with other people who don’t know where to get a cup of really good coffee when they travel. Share your favorite spot, or your favorite baristas – or blend or style of coffee with us.

What is your favorite place for really good coffee?

Have a fabulous day…

I AM Michael Barrett and I love coffee…

What Is Your Favorite Place for Really Good Coffee?

It’s been two years since the post Where Do You Go For Really Good Coffee

That’s almost hard to believe – yet, alas, it has been…

Maybe you’re like me. It seems as if things have changed so much since then – that sometimes there is a sense of being disoriented – or out of phase, somehow. Yet throughout it all, amidst all the transition, the movement, changes in life, the economy and the world, there remains at least one constant – one anchor that keeps us connected to a sense of belonging, of comfort, and something familiar amidst so many things that are un-familiar.

There has been really good coffee everyday.

Remembering really good coffee moments, maybe you can relate…

Peets Coffee and Tea – Seattle

Enjoying that hot, fresh doppio at Peets in the Seattle Fremont district looking out the window from the mezannine – watching the traffic go by – silently – in the world outside, hearing the sounds of milk being steamed for lattes and the grinder – consistently, intermittently running – filling the room with the luscious smell of freshly ground beans, hearing the soothing, gentle murmering sounds of voices and coffee language from the counter at the espresso bar – the way we used to hear our parents voices talking as we fell asleep as children…

Lighthouse Roasters – Seattle

Sitting down to a fantastic, freshly drawn espresso – extracted consciously by the expert barista crew at Lighthouse Roasters on Phinny Ridge (one of my personal favorite micro-roasters in the whole country) – creating palate magic before my very eyes and then being able to verify that coffee resonance AGAIN – as with every other time before this one – and fully enjoy the essence of the bean with every living tastebud – on the front of the tongue, at the back near the throat followed by the burst of lingering, condensed after taste that permeates its way throughout all the coffee sensing tools within the human body for at least a half an hour afterwards…

Homemade French Roast

Perhaps it is the time, grabbing a deep rich cup of melita drip Fresh Roast – in the favorite procelain cup – on the way to a very important discussion, pondering the outcome and experience of the meeting to come and fully taking the time to enjoy that cup of really good coffee – from start to finish in the privacy of the car while driving to the meeting – without interference, or interuption and in spite of any time considerations.

Over the last, five years we’ve had really good coffee in West Vancouver – BC, Scranton – PA, Sarsota – FL, Dallas – TX, Atlanta – GA, Palo Alto – CA, Berkeley – CA, Los Angeles, Whistler – BC, Morley – Alberta, Hamilton – MT, Richmond – VA, Plymouth Meeting – PA, Egg Harbor Township – NJ, Goochland – VA, Portland – OR, Spokane – WA, Missoula – MT, Sedona – AZ, Siesta Key – FL, Boca Grande, Fl… and many other places.

Somehow a good cup of coffee always brings me back to a moment – a memory or feeling – of unshakeable warmth and safety and connectedness. Each of us coffee lovers relates to coffee in our own way.  Share your experiences with us and let us know about your favorite coffee places – and why you like them. We want to share this with other people who don’t know where to get a cup of really good coffee when they travel. Share your favorite spot, or your favorite baristas – or blend or style of coffee with us.

What is your favorite place for really good coffee?

Have a fabulous day…

I AM Michael Barrett and I love coffee…

Really Good Coffee – Lelu’s Coffee Lounge – Siesta Key

Really Good Coffee at Lelu’s Coffee Lounge in Siesta Key Florida…

After a good workout – some qigong and Tibetan Rites, a 3 mile walk and a swim at Siesta Key, we love to go to Lelu’s – a cyber cafe in Siesta Village – and grab an awesome cinnamon roll and a cup of French roast Java. In a former life, I sold a bakery line commercially to the foodservice industry for about 5 years. During that time I prepped, proofed and baked thousands of cinnamon rolls.Lelu’s cinnamon rolls are tender and delicious and the cream cheese icing has great flavor but is not excessively sweet, like many.And without a doubt, Lelu’s are the best we’ve had in many years…The coffee is always really good and Lelu’s has a pleasant, beachy ambiance. The decor is comfortable and welcoming and the staff is upbeat and glad you’re there. It is an ecclectic mix – a cross between Jimmy Buffet, American Graffiti and the laissez-faire lifestyle of a well established beach community. If you’re not familiar with the beach lifestyle it’s almost tribal in it’s own way.The slogan under the Lelu’s Coffee Lounge sign is:

“Caffeine and Cocktails.”and on the outside of the building the sign reads:“Sleep Later – Drink Coffee Now.”

There’s always some awesome music playing in the background with comfortable couches to lounge in if you prefer. There is free WIFI with tables inside or out on the patio/deck (in front) if you’re in the people watching mood and the sun isn’t too hot yet.Lelu’s is part of the Siesta Key Village culture and it’s great place to grab a cup of really good coffee and catch up on your email.When you come to the west coast of Florida, visit this place. You’ll like it.

I AM Michael Barrett and I love Really Good Coffee.”

Really Good Coffee – Lelu’s Coffee Lounge – Siesta Key

Really Good Coffee at Lelu’s Coffee Lounge in Siesta Key Florida…

After a good workout – some qigong and Tibetan Rites, a 3 mile walk and a swim at Siesta Key, we love to go to Lelu’s – a cyber cafe in Siesta Village – and grab an awesome cinnamon roll and a cup of French roast Java. In a former life, I sold a bakery line commercially to the foodservice industry for about 5 years. During that time I prepped, proofed and baked thousands of cinnamon rolls.Lelu’s cinnamon rolls are tender and delicious and the cream cheese icing has great flavor but is not excessively sweet, like many.And without a doubt, Lelu’s are the best we’ve had in many years…The coffee is always really good and Lelu’s has a pleasant, beachy ambiance. The decor is comfortable and welcoming and the staff is upbeat and glad you’re there. It is an ecclectic mix – a cross between Jimmy Buffet, American Graffiti and the laissez-faire lifestyle of a well established beach community. If you’re not familiar with the beach lifestyle it’s almost tribal in it’s own way.The slogan under the Lelu’s Coffee Lounge sign is:

“Caffeine and Cocktails.”and on the outside of the building the sign reads:“Sleep Later – Drink Coffee Now.”

There’s always some awesome music playing in the background with comfortable couches to lounge in if you prefer. There is free WIFI with tables inside or out on the patio/deck (in front) if you’re in the people watching mood and the sun isn’t too hot yet.Lelu’s is part of the Siesta Key Village culture and it’s great place to grab a cup of really good coffee and catch up on your email.When you come to the west coast of Florida, visit this place. You’ll like it.

I AM Michael Barrett and I love Really Good Coffee.”

Really Good Coffee at Northern Light Espresso in Scranton, Pennsylvania…

Who would have thought – really good coffee in Scranton?  Go figure….Northern Light Espresso is awesome.My wife – Alexandra – my closest and most diligent coffee apprentice – found Northern Light and took me there last weekend. She gets the prize this week.A blue ribbon…Here’s a view from the loft – looking down on Mandy Doria – a barista at Northern Light Espresso.Northern Light Espresso upstairsIf the ‘coffee snobs’ I know were going to talk about places to get really good coffee, more than likely they wouldn’t talk about  Scranton, Pennsylvania.But they would be wrong – and I know this because that was my impression too – and I stand corrected.By the way, when I use the term coffee snobs, I am using poetic license – kind of tongue in cheek. If you’re not familiar with real coffee snobs this is my definition:

A “real” coffee snob has a palate that is more developed than the average coffee drinker. In spite of  a more complete understanding and more experience, they do not belittle people who have less coffee knowledge. They just move on quietly to a better cup elsewhere, without saying anything about it. An intolerant or unkind coffee snob is not a true coffee snob. People like that are just wanna-be coffee snobs.

alexandra_upstairs300x338.jpgHere’s a picture of Alexandra – upstairs at Northern Light.First, the ambiance…The place has an eclectic sense to it – kind of reminiscent of a campus coffee house in Berkeley in the 60’s. But it also has a modern flare with a  well designed use of space, light and color. Nice coffee house. If you want to tuck away quietly upstairs with your laptop or watch unnoticed from above you can.The staff…is young but well schooled in the art of espresso. They are attentive first and foremost to quality not speed – and they are meticulous in the preparation with an unusual mechanical set up.Here’s a picture of Alexandra and Mandy.Mandy_and_Alexandra2.jpgPositioned in front of the Mazzer grinder – on the counter – is a circular machined piece of white plastic.There is some type of a locating pin recessed in the counter to keep this plastic from moving. Michael and MandyHere’s a picture of me and Mandy.It’s function is to hold the portafilter while the barista tamps the freshly ground espresso prior to extraction. I like the concept because it stabalizes the portafilter to get a really consistent and even tamp without requiring a lot of strength or force. My guess is that it also provides for consistency in the extraction. Cool idea I haven’t seen before.Whomever thought that one up really knew what they were doing.The counter is designed for flow and easy positioning for the staff. The espresso machine is a Mirage 2 Group Semi-automatic. To quote www.visionsespresso.com:

The absence of group-solenoids, pump and most electronic controls makes this a very reliable and easy to service espresso machine.

I was a Visions customer for several years and they have been in the espresso machine game for a long time. This is further evidence to me that the owner who set up the Northern Light coffee bar really knew what they were doing. The key here is not high volume – more like medium volume with a high quality focus.

The coffee…

Yummo.Northern Light gets their coffee from Gimme Coffee in Ithaca, NY and they use the Levitation Blend. I don’t know Gimme Coffee, but they are awesome roasters. Here is a description of their blend from their packaging and Alexandra (who says – “her favorite”):

  • deep cherry aroma
  • fully developed ripest cherry taste
  • buttery smooth body
  • sweet tobacco aftertaste

To me, the flavor is rich, sweet and complex – with a delightful and lingering aftertaste.The Extraction…The standard extraction is a a “triple ristretto”. The grind is calibrated to pull a 36 second shot.This a full bodied medium dark roast, similar to a “full city roast” in Seattle.Personally, I am not a latte drinker – I prefer doppios. However, I have to say that the dark extraction and the rich, deep blend is absolutely perfectly fomulated and extracted for lattes. I think that is one of the finest lattes I have ever tasted.And I have had a few over forty years.I loved the straight espresso too. Very thick and full of body. Excellent actually.If I were working the bar – at Northern Light – I would modify the grind for straight espresso so that it poured about 25 seconds – a bit lighter, to tweak the tastebuds a bit more for my own taste preference.But in all fairness, this espresso shop is a quality operation and they produce a quality product.If you ever get to Scranton, you have to stop and have a latte. And if you do, tell them we sent you.See you next time.

I AM Michael Barrett

Categories

 

 

Worthwhile Links
December 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jan    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031