Aaron N. Tubbs bio photo

Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn Github

So my experiment has been interesting thus far. I got up early again today, but I found myself getting to work almost an hour later than normal. I may have my espresso hardware to blame for that, or maybe it was a life-changing decision I made last night, but I’m going to have to kick that habit at least for the short-term.

In any event, I’ve brought up espresso again. I’ll try to keep this sort of blabbering to a minimum, as I know my coffee banter isn’t interesting, but…

You know, I read that this thing weighed 46 pounds. I read that the grinder weighed 25. I don’t think I really grasped the dimensions of this equipment. I opened the Mazzer box first, and realized quickly that the thing was huge. The base alone of this tiny little grinder was bigger than any grinder I’ve ever used. It came with a piece of paper written in Italian, with a rough translation on the other side: “Warning! This appliance is intended for skilled personnel ONLY for commercial use, NOT for household use.” I think that has something to do with the fact that this thing could grind an arm through to the elbow without a second though. I put it together, and quickly realized that while the grinder fits under our cupboards (which are generous in being an inch taller than standard, probably because the original anchor points were no good when they fell off the wall), this makes the bean hopper inaccessible, which wouldn’t be bad if I wasn’t only filling it with about 15g of beans each session. I suppose once I get the hang of the trap door I can leave a little more in, but my need to switch daily from decaf to regular (I’m not so silly that I would buy two of these things) doesn’t leave much opportunity for that.

I know the tamper said it weighed a pound, but it is a heavy block of metal. Everything is a lot bigger and heavier than I expected. The machine itself takes up the entire depth of the counter top, and that nine-pound chunk of brass grouphead is about 50% larger than I imagined. I’m still getting the hang of the E-61 group; my pull times are all over the map, and I’m dumping water and grounds everywhere while getting used to backflushing, HX flush cooling, portafilter cleaning, and so forth. After about five pulls, two flushes, and a bit of cleaning, I’d already managed to fill the generous drip tray this morning, which I promptly managed to dump all over the floor and my pajamas. That said, being able to dump a dry puck right after a pull is a real treat. I’ll never go back to steam-operated machines again.

I was having some serious morning-after feelings after ordering this stuff, telling myself this was silly; I could buy a nice powerbook for this. I still have some of those thoughts, but I’m coming to realize those Italians at Quick Mill and Mazzer know their shit. Having never used commercial espresso equipment before, I’m already pulling espresso that is so much richer and thicker than anything for which I’ve paid money. While it’s still going to take about two years of pulling shots every day to make it cost-effective compared to drinking at Starbucks, I’m starting to see why people get excited about the stuff; it’s sort of like when I discovered single malt scotch, except that my cost per pull is an awful lot cheaper than a dram of whiskey while being just as interesting.

On the downside, now that I have a portafilter that can actually accommodate 14g of grounds, I’m burning through my micro roast batches really fast; once I get my new chaff collector base, I’m going to have to be in the habit of roasting a decaf and regular batch roughly every day, and it won’t be long before I need another 10 pounds of green beans. On the other hand, even at this rate we’re still talking shots on the order of cents. Not as cheap as tea, but way cheaper than soda and liquor.

Enough about the technicals. What I thought was full Crema and rich espresso before has been replaced with a syrupy beverage with the consistency of whole milk, with a smooth and thick crema, and a gorgeous red-brown cast. I had a can of pre-ground Illy that came with my Pen Tests, and for the first time I’ve had a pull of Illy (pre-ground, no less!) that was palatable. Not my preference, but still better than Starbucks. Crazy stuff. I’ll say it again; those Italians know their shit.

All of that said, after three doubles and a double cap this morning, I think I may have overdone it. I don’t think I could remember a time where I felt that giddy off caffeine. This might be because I’m running nearly twice as many grounds per double than when I was pulling on the Briel, and it might be because the espresso is actually being extracted, but damn… I’m going to start having to pull ristrettos for my health.