Soup’d Up Mistral

7 01 2010

That’s no minestrone. It’s one of two custom La Marzocco Mistrals destined for Stumptown Portland. Under the hood specs:

  • Mechanical Paddle – for variable pressure soft preinfusion
  • Individual boilers
  • Individual pumps
  • Independent PID controllers
  • Preheater – controlled preheating of incoming water

FYI, all La Marzocco machines can be customized via LM Works.





Heart <3 Wood Mistral

23 12 2009

This is SOOOOO seXy! So much so that it puts the “X” in sexy.

Heart Roasters fancies tasty coffees, understated cool decor, and sexy espresso machines. To fulfill their hearts, they have custom fabricated wood side panels and group caps on their La Marzocco Mistral. See below for drool inducing wood+metal goodness.

Heart's custom Mistral

Heart's wood Mistral

Oh yeah, they roast coffee, too. Did I mention the man behind Heart is “the” Wille Yli-Luoma?

Roasting hearts.

A badass bar featuring a custom Mistral and a custom painted Synesso.





Bon Appetit’s Top 10 Boutique Coffee Shops

18 12 2009

Four Barrel Coffee in SF (photo from Bon Appetit)

Link to article.

In alphabetical order:

Abraco

The Coffee Studio

Four Barrel Coffee

Kopplin’s Coffee

Lamill Coffee

Little T American Baker

Novo Coffee

Octane Coffee Bar & Lounge

Peregrine Espresso

Progress Coffee





GQ Ranks Top Cafes

20 10 2009
GQ magazine showcases the top 10 places to get your daily fix in the U.S.

GQ magazine showcases the top 10 places to get your daily fix in the U.S.

In “The Most Important Drink of Your Day“, GQ magazine hits home with the point that, “why pay $4.79 for a watery latte that was lovelessly made on a push-button machine that could be safely operated by a 4 year old?” (They’re referring to a superautomatic espresso machine, by the way)

In the “Golden Age of Coffee” (as they call it) that we now live in, “there’s now a wealth of coffee in America so rich and flavorful it’ll remind you why you originally fell in love with the stuff.”

Other than killer coffee and quality, what else do these featured coffee roasters have in common? They’re all customers of La Marzocco, of course.

Alterra
Blue Bottle
Caffe Vita
Intelligentsia
Kaldi’s
Ninth Street Espresso
Ritual
Stumptown
Verve
Zoka





Stumptown Producers Panel

12 10 2009
Aleco and famers/exporters from Costa Rica, Kenya, and Colombia sitting across from baristas, shop owners, and consumers. Can the supply chain be any shorter than this?

Aleco and famers/exporters from Colombia, Kenya, and Costa Rica sitting across from baristas, shop owners, and consumers. Can the supply chain be any shorter than this?

Over the weekend, Stumptown Coffee Roasters hosted the Producers Panel, a presentation and discussion on the state of the coffee industry on the producers side. For those who have not had the opportunity to visit origin, this was a fantastic way to meet those responsible for their dedication and hard work on the other end of the supply chain. The panel took place at Seattle University, which was followed by a tasting of the coffee represented by the panelists at Stumptown’s nearby cafe & roastery. Coffees were enjoyed on the espresso machine (as single origin espressos), chemex, and pourover.

Even if you have been in the industry for some time (but haven’t visited origin yet), this has to be a sobering experience. In his own words, Ngatia, a coffee farmer from Karatina, Nyeri in Kenya, passionately spoke of how Stumptown and a small handful of other progressive coffee roasters are purchasing their coffees through the “second window” in Kenya’s coffee exchange. This enables him and his coop to receive up to twice as much for their above par quality coffees. Through their collaboration with Stumptown, Ngatia’s coop was able to increase their production by about 40% in the past couple years and is on track to almost double their current level in the coming year.

The farmers were very grateful for such progressive roasters to work with them via the direct trade model, and just as so for this opportunity to visit Portland and Seattle and meet those who enjoy their work. In fact, for most of them, this was their first trip outside of their respective countries.

This event has become an annual tradition at Stumptown. Hopefully, this will also be commonplace at other roasters as well.





What’s Next?

8 10 2009

It’s been almost 3 years since Stumptown has opened their beautiful roasting facility and cafes in Seattle. No matter which roaster you work for or which coffee you prefer, it’s undeniable that Stumptown has had a profound influence over Seattle’s coffee scene. Without getting into who’s coffee is better and whatnot, it’s fair to say that everybody has been upping their game for sure. To that, more power to them all.

Stumptown Seattle's Mistral.

Stumptown Seattle's Mistral.

This brings up an interesting question – with the proliferation of 3rd wave coffee, what’s next? 4th wave? What are the parameters of this next stage of evolution?

With the way things are brewing (bada bing!), direct trade and ultra attentive sourcing will result in brewing methods that highlight such extensive work. These may include single origin espresso and single origin coffees by the cup via various methods e.g. pourover, chemex, press pot, etc. Equipment-wise, this means new coffee brewers and espresso machines that enable greater control over soft preinfusion and pressure profiling. Though there has not been an entire industry consensus on merits or standards of soft preinfusion and pressure profiling (whether on a Mechanical Paddle La Marzocco, Synesso, or Slayer), things are trickling in.

Advanced soft preinfusion (soft preinfusion with pressure manipulation) in its various forms have shown what’s possible to date. It doesn’t necessarily work on all coffees and, in the end, it’s still in the tongue of the beholder. In words, it’s hella debatable! The results have been impressive for us – espressos tend to be much more softer and rounded, without sacrificing its core delicacies e.g. brightness, acidity, etc. Hopefully, as more advanced soft preinfusion machines (Mechanical Paddle La Marzoccos and Slayer) find their way onto coffee bars, a better consensus can result.

However, advanced soft preinfusion is but only an incremental step towards total control a.k.a. true pressure profiling (that is, infinitely variable pressure from zero to your desired maximum brew pressure throughout the extraction process). Whatever the technology (or the lack thereof) that will get an espresso machine there, more power to it. After all, it’s all about what’s in the cup that truly matters. Well, it’s also about reproducibility as well. It’s rather difficult to use either advanced soft preinfusion or pressure profiling to make every espresso shot in a busy cafe. It’s just not practical!

To date, no production machine has been able to truly enable true pressure profiling. To that end, La Marzocco is working on a brand new, true pressure profile machine. A prototype was shown at this year’s SCAA on a down low basis and there’s field tests/feedback going on to get maximum input and feedback from those that will ultimately use it. All we can say is, watch out for it in 2010!