Skip to main content

The Search for Coffee Nirvana – Part Two

espressoThe internet can be a bad thing.  In trying to get the best coffee possible, I think that the next step is getting an espresso machine.  I’ve had espresso machines before – the smaller consumer steam machines – and was satisfied – but they shots were never even close to the those that I’ve been served at various coffee shops. Research on the various coffee forums and websites seems to suggest that what I need to look at are professional consumer, or smaller commercial-grade machines.  There are a lot of machines to choose from, and the price range is pretty broad.

Over and over again, recommendations stressed the importance of a grinder as well – making the research task even more daunting.

A very popular entry level espresso machine that is often recommended is the Rancilio Silvia.  Then I read about the brew group heads – specifically the E61 – with its reliability and temperature stability.  The more I read, the more I was sold on getting a machine with the E61 brew group.  I also decided it might be best to list out what sort of features I wanted to try and narrow down my choices.  Here’s my list:

  • E-61 brew group
  • ability to produce consistent shots – 2 or 3 in a row
  • aesthetically pleasing to look at (yes, very subjective!)
  • easy to use and adjust
  • good steam wand
  • hot water dispenser
  • ability to plumb in (but could be used without being plumbed in)

Some other features that helped narrow my selection were things like cool-touch steam wands, size of the warming tray (basically, the top of the machine where cups can be stored and warmed up), drip tray size, and local product/service availability.

Andreja Premium espresso machineThe espresso machine I ended up going with was the Andreja Premium.  I was able to get it from a local supplier (Caffetech).

The grinder I chose was the La Cimbali Jr., also purchased from Caffetech.  My criteria for a grinder was consistency of grind, stepless grind adjustment, size and appearance, and durability.  The La Cimbali Jr. has a large 64mm conical burr, and grinds fast – a double shot takes about 10 seconds.  The machine is pretty quiet, and looks great!  I don’t see myself ever needing to replace it.  One modification I did make to the grinder was removing the front tamper – as it just blocked visibility of seeing how much coffee was going into the portafilter – and I have a Reg Barber tamper that I use instead.  I did have one of those Espro tampers that clicked when you were applying 30lbs of pressure – it was great when first learning, but after a while, it became unnecessary, so I sold it.La Cimbali Jr. coffee grinder

In hindsight, I would probably have eliminated the ability to use without being plumbed in.  The convenience of having a machine that you don’t have to keep refilling a reservoir is  huge to me.  In fact, it was less than a month after getting my machine when I started getting things together to plumb it in.  The reservoir refilling got old real fast!  The other criteria I would have added would be for a relatively quiet machine. The Andreja Premium is kind of noisy.  The next model up from Quick Mill is the Vetrano – which has a quiet rotary pump instead of the noisy vibe pump used in the Andreja.

 

Aeropress

I finally picked up an Aerobie Aeropress coffee maker today from St. City Roasters.

aeropress_setupI’ve been wanting something to make a single cup of coffee for a while… I’m finding that with the heat lately, I haven’t always been finishing the coffee I make in the morning… and it doesn’t feel right dumping coffee down the drain.

Anyway, I tried it out this evening for the first time… putting a couple spoonfuls of fresh ground Organic Timor Maubesse beans into the coffee maker. I boiled up some water, then waited a couple minutes for the temperature to drop down a bit. Poured a little in to moisten the grounds as recommended, then poured in the rest and gave it the 10 second stir before putting in the plunger and pressing out a mug full of coffee.

The results were VERY pleasing 🙂 It was an excellent cup of coffee, and unlike my normal coffee from my Starbucks Grande Barista coffee maker, there was no coffee silt at the bottom of the mug. The coffee was very rich in flavour, no bitterness whatsoever. Absolutely delicious !

I ended up picking up another one for the office… and there will likely be more than one purchased as Christmas gifts for a few relatives that I know enjoy a good cup of coffee. Will also be awesome when away camping or fishing!

The Search for Coffee Nirvana

Well, just in case anyone is wondering why the heck is this guy posting coffee stuff… my enjoyment of coffee has been rekindled. I finally got totally pissed off at the lukewarm toiletwater that our old Braun coffee maker was producing. So, after some fairly extensive searching on Google, I found coffeegeek.com. I was looking for a replacement coffee maker that would meet 3 requirements:

  • 10+ cups
  • Thermal carafe
  • Proper brewing temperature

Starbucks_Barista_Aroma_Grande_Thermal_CoffeemakerI found a number of posts about the Starbucks coffee makers on coffeegeek.com, and a couple other review sites. No really adverse opinions, and in general, a good solid machine that met the three requirements, and I could actually go to a store and see one. So, popped into a Starbucks and they happened to have a deal on a Barista Aroma Grande coffeemaker.

pc-grinderI’ve known that freshly ground coffee was the best, and learnt that those little blade grinders are not the ideal – and discovered a great deal at Superstore for a little ceramic burr grinder for only $30. Picked it up and went by St. City Roasters for some more beans to test out the new little grinder.

After a month or so, I’ve put about 5lbs of coffee through the grinder and coffeemaker, and have been very pleased pot after pot. I had to pick up a Thermos to empty the carafe into in the morning, so that I could enjoy the coffee at work instead of wasting anything from my morning pot.