In Search of the Golden Cappuccino

You might think that after an extensive tour of the US I'd have more to talk about than coffee. I do, but I'm saving it for another post. The tour was a truly incredible experience and we had a blast playing for new audiences, seeing old friends and making new ones… oh, and we had cupcakes. But on to the coffee.

Three to go from 9th St. Espresso, NYC

Three to go from 9th St. Espresso, NYC

Obviously I love coffee. But with the exception of rare cases, I only have two servings of caffeine a day. So I place a lot of value on each of these daily experiences. It might seem silly, but that's how I roll. Continue reading »

Steaming, an epiphany

Yesterday, while I was making my morning cappuccino when I was feeling a little frustrated that even after my lesson I could not attain the density and texture I needed to make the holy grail of cappuccinos. I know, with all the madness going on in the world it is a trivial thing to fret about. And yet, I fret nonetheless. In a way, it keeps me sane. Some people go fishing. I make coffee.

Anyway, I'm feeling frustrated over my lame milk skills and without really thinking about it I put the jug under the steam wand again and open it full-throttle for a few seconds. The milk swirled around a bit and, blammo!… the perfect texture.

I was sure I could not recreate this, but I'll be a monkey's uncle, I'm consistently pulling it off. It seems like what happens is when I steam it the first time it runs out of pressure, so then when I close the valve the pressure builds up again and then I can get the much sought-after swirling action. Every machine is different and maybe this is just a quirk of mine, or maybe I'm doing something wrong to allow it to lose pressure. Whatever it is, I'm glad to have found a workaround.

Now some designs are actually starting to emerge and I'm trying to get the hang of jiggling the pour and controlling the speed of the pour. It's crazy, I know.

Again with the texturizing…

I'll admit it, my fascination with milk frothing/texturizing is excessive. My lovey wife gave me a lesson with a genuine accredited barista for our anniversary, and I thought I'd prepare a little… you know, study up. I decided to do more research on YouTube, and I found this video:

I think I'm getting a better feel for it, but do you notice how quick the actual texturizing is? I can't seem to get that same result that quick. I'm wondering if I just don't have as much power in my steam-wand. They seem to be using a slightly better machine than what I have at home. Ahem.

When I steam longer I get more volume, but not the density that I'm looking for. And then from time to time I get lucky and it's amazing. However, I think this video has put my more on track, and I feel ready for my barista lesson. Bring it on!

Steamin'

No. This is not a post about Miles Davis, although that is a great album if you haven't heard it. No this is about coffee. I'm very happy to announce that I've finally figured out how to properly steam milk, I think. Either that or I've gotten incredibly lucky… twice. Turns out the secret's in the swirl.

I found a video on YouTube (of all places) that clearly showed the barista creating a whirlpool of milk at the beginning of the process. I'd read comments previously about trying to tilt the pitcher to create a swirling effect, but it never hit me that this was the key. What struck me was that the YouTube barista had a high-end machine (which I do not) and his steam-wand was very adjustable. Whereas mine only moves side-to-side, his could tilt out. This allowed him to hold the pitcher flat while directing the steam at an angle. It took me a little experimentation to get the pitcher at the right angle without spilling milk all over the place, but I did it! Continue reading »

Totally Buzzed

Let me preface this, my first post in the "Espresso" category, by saying that I'm really not an expert on espresso. Although, some in my family might like to convince you otherwise, I'm just a guy who spent an unusual amount of time obsessing over how to extract the best espresso from his Saeco Espresso Classico machine. That's all.

It's interesting how often the subject of caffeine content comes up in conversation. When I tell people that I typically drink two (sometimes three) espressos in a day, their reaction is usually something like "Oh, I couldn't handle all that caffeine." Whereas, if I said I drank 2-3 cups of coffee a day that would seem normal to most coffee drinkers. Continue reading »