While our espresso machine is undergoing some maintenance, I’ve pulled out the Hario V-60 and an old electric President’s Choice (PC) burr grinder (about 20 years old). I don’t like changing the grind setting much on my espresso grinder – a La Cimbali Jr. grinder, since the adjustment from espresso to a grind setting suitable for pour over requires a couple minutes of spinning the adjustment dial.
The PC grinder was a bargain at only $19.99, but was fragile, and created a huge amount of static resulting in a mess every time it was used. It does still work, but alignment pins in the hopper have broken, and the lids to hopper and the grinder prompted me to find an inexpensive non-manual replacement. Main requirements were price (< $100 CDN), little to no static, and uses a burr grinder.
After some Googling, grinders such as the Baratza Encore come up – here that’s around $200 – so scratch that. I ended up on Amazon, reading through reviews, and perhaps tossing the dice a bit, but ended up choosing this one – a Shardor Conical Burr Grinder (CG855B). Thousands of ratings with an overall score of 4.4/5 stars.
It was only $79, and a $10 coupon was available on top of that! There are a couple even less expensive ones, but I liked the grind adjustment setting, and the fact this model specifically includes mention of being anti-static.
Once I received it, I was amazed. It’s noticeably quieter than my old one, was easy to adjust, and no static at all! And the uniformity of the grind was a huge surprise. For fun I even tried grinding for espresso – and while it did the job and worked, it did bog down a bit while grinding.
We will see how long the grinder lasts, but so far it’s a winner. Nice and uniform grind, easy to clean, and no static!
Well, I had to try it. James Hoffman’s recent video was interesting. I ended up making 2 batches after a visit to the Silk Road Spice Merchant on Whyte Avenue.
The first one I followed his direction and recipe as closely and exact as possible. After measuring everything out, I ground it all up into a Krups Coffee & Spice grinder. One step I added was to heat the spice blend up on the stove prior to adding the water and pumpkin juice. I also used a light brown sugar instead of Demarra.
This initial batch ended up much thicker than what his seemed, so I made a second batch, which I combined with the first one. I made the second batch without pumpkin, and added green cardamom.
The syrup is definitely very flavorful, and makes a delicious latte! The biggest challenge I found was in trying to strain the syrup. I used a couple different sieves and also a muslin filter bag, and it took a long time – must have taken almost an hour! I’ll have to find a better strainer.
Here’s are the ingredients I used for my second batch of pumpkin spice:
Vietnamese Cassia Bark: 14g
Indonesian Cinnamon Quills: 14g
Powdered Ginger: 8g
Whole Cloves: 2g
Whole Nutmeg: 7g
Green Cardamom: 3g
For the syrup, I used a light brown sugar – 350g, and 175g of water, and 25g of the pumpkin spice.
I also made the coffee infused whipping cream to top the latte – it was fantastic, and much easier to make! Will definitely make the whipping cream again, as well as the pumpkin spice. I think that I’ll like skip the syrup.
My espresso machine has been working well, but I think I was getting lazy in spending time to properly dial in my beans – but after spending a little time this weekend doing just that – I realized what a difference it really makes!
I was motivated after taking apart the grouphead trying to resolve some excessive water dripping from it – I was going to take the parts into a local shop and basically rebuild and re-gasket the entire grouphead. Once I had all the parts out, and cleaned everything up, I realized it would be a couple days before I could get to the shop – and I didn’t want to be without my morning espresso’s, leaky machine or not!
So back together it went – and shockingly, the leaking went away, and I also found that the shot lever actually moved with little resistance – much like it did when I first got the machine over a decade ago!
Dialing in my shots didn’t take long at all I found – don’t know why I thought it was such a chore. I have the machine dispensing about 2 oz. of espresso in 29 seconds, with the portafilter dosed with 19-20 grams of beans.
Amazing how time goes by. It’s almost a year since we began a Keto way of eating – not 100% clean, but making an honest effort for the most part. It has proven to be a very positive change, not only in weight loss, but also been very helpful for my wife in managing diabetes.
We used to go through a fair bit of milk, and now we use none. We do go through whipping cream – perhaps a litre a week. Much of that was being used making lattes. Recently, after our blender broke down and I replaced it with a Vitamix, I’ve been making almond milk, and discovered that it is awesome steamed up and used for lattes.
Making the almond milk is so simple. I almost fill a 4 oz mason jar with almonds (unsalted), then fill the jar with water. After putting lid on the jar, I put it in the fridge. The next day, 12 – 24 hours later, I empty the mason jar into a sieve, and rinse the almonds under running water, then dump the almonds into the Vitamix. I add 2 cups of cold water, pop the lid onto the blender and run it at full power for about a minute or so if using blanched almonds, and maybe 30 seconds longer if using almonds with the skins still on them. I then pour the milk through a mesh bag. I’ve been saving the filtered almond pulp in the freezer, and will try using it like almond flour at some point :).
When making a latte, the almond milk steams up very nicely, and get’s slightly thicker and more cream-like. I’m able to get some very good microfoam and pour some pretty decent rosettes. The almond milk has a very mild flavour that doesn’t get in the way of the coffee flavours, unlike some of the commercial almond milks, that have various additives for stabilizers etc.
Just discovered NXT Roasters a couple weeks ago, and I’m pleased with their coffee so far, and their roaster is pretty cool too!
I’ve only tried their Brazilian Yellow Catuai beans – I prefer the medium roast of these beans, perhaps in future I’ll try some of their darker roasts.
I just picked up a couple more bags today, beans were roasted yesterday 🙂 I really like the bloom of the coffee when brewing, and the crema in the espresso shots is so rich and tasty.
Their roaster is very interesting, in that it recirculates the heated air, and through a special process, the air is cleaned before being exhausted. It has operated indoors without any chimney, and no burnt smell typical of other roasters I’ve seen, and is very efficient, using far less energy than conventional roasters. There’s some pretty detailed information on their roasting profiles for the different beans they use, and more information on the roaster itself in the NXT Roasters Blog.