I haven’t had time to write much that’s not software or software-related lately. That continues today. But here’s a link I don’t want to forget: SM’s Clever Coffee Dripper. The espresso machine needs some maintenance right now, and the press pot is starting to annoy me when it comes time to clean it up. Also, once the whole “no time” problem eases, I’m planning to try my hand at roasting. While I’d like it to be so, I doubt everything I roast will be good in the espresso machine, and the french press will still be annoying to clean.

And I still haven’t tried all the ones from my last list. I am glad I got through a couple of bags of Lifesaver before Ritual discontinued it.

Word is, Caffe Ladro’s espresso blend is worth trying. Linking it here so I won’t forget it.

For the past week, I’ve been working with a pound of Vita’s espresso blend, from Boccato Gelato on Wilson Blvd., across from Whole Foods near Revolution Cycles. My verdict is mixed. It’s the same stuff they serve in their shop, and I’ve never had a bad shot there. And the beans were certainly fresh. On my equipment, though, I find that it’s very tweaky. One shot will be fantastic and the next will be bitter. It seems to be “wet,” for lack of a better descriptor. It’s clumpy, and minor inconsistencies in grind, dose and distribution are punished severely. On the whole, it’s a fantastic blend when it works for me. It’s not in the same league as the Toscano or the Life Saver, though, because I’ve pulled a half dozen sinkers out of this bag. That’s simply not a concern with either of those once I calibrate the grinder. There were even a couple shots that were completely unsuitable for consumption in a latte. Still, the good shots were good enough that I’ll definitely try it again and post if my results improve.

I’m currently at the end of my pound of Ritual Life Saver. This is one of the smoothest, sweetest blends I’ve tasted. When it first arrived (3 days off roast) it was too bright for me, almost sour. After degassing a few days more, it really came into its own. Shots have been consistently milk chocolate-y with a whiff of berries. The blend holds up well in lattes also, though in mine the milk overpowered any fruit flavor. These were easily the best milky drinks I’ve produced since bringing the machine into the house.

If it were obtainable locally, Life Saver would likely unseat CC Toscano as the house favorite. It’s definitely every bit as tolerant of my still-uneven technique; I think I’ve only pulled two sinkers on the pound. This one will most definitely be reordered.

Also, a hat-tip goes to Dillon @Ritual for taking a phone order manually when I couldn’t get their online shopping cart for some reason. I called it in Monday and had it on my doorstep Thursday.

Just some links so I don’t lose them over the next few months:

I just got my latest Boca shipment yesterday. This time around, I stuck with the espresso and the peaberry. I opened the espresso this morning for a couple of shots, and the change seems to go beyond the packaging. I’m not sure if they’ve changed the blend, roasted darker, or what, but so far the difference is not good. The only flavors I’m getting this morning are charcoal and tires. There’s no way this can be the whole story. I’ll have to update after playing with the grind and temperature a bit.

Update: No amount of fiddling got this batch to not taste like tires. Blech.

Today I drank entirely too much espresso because I was having fun watching the shots. I also learned how to get Molly’s camera to take video and how to get that from camera->YouTube.

Just dug into the new batch of Peaberry from Boca. After the lessons learned with the August batch, I wasted much less coffee getting a nice shot. The trick seems to be keep the grind just a little too fine, then back off the tamp a little. I think I may want to lower the temperature on the PID just a couple degrees, though, and see how that changes it.

So tonight, finding myself home alone without a good grocery supply in the house and knowing that Hard Times has a special on Chili Mac this week, I decided to walk down to Clarendon to grab a bite and watch people for a while. It turned out to be a much better evening than I expected.

I went to Hard Times for the vegetarian chili mac 3-way with tomatoes and jalapeños. It was stellar, as expected. Then I decided to roam the neighborhood a bit and grab a coffee. On my way to Boccato gelato, I passed Iota. Outside Iota, there was a woman standing around in a Halloween costume playing the fiddle. Naturally, I had to stop and listen, then ask why she was there.


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