Author Archives: Kat
If you never had the personal joy of working as a barista during your halcyon days of youth, Discovery Bay Games has developed a close second: Barista - The Game. Well, okay, it's not that close to the real thing, but it is a lot of fun.
You and up to four of your friends can battle it out, trying to match orders and messing with your opponents' ability to complete them before you do. It's fast paced, compact and fun -- plus, you don't have to deal with any cranky customers!
American coffee drinkers are often looked down upon because of their proclivity for adulterating their coffee drinks with a healthy dose of milk. Sometimes attributed to the fact that the coffee itself is inferior to coffee you might find in, say, Italy, the practice actually extends throughout northern Europe as well.
So why do you find heavily dairy-dependent drinks in France, Austria or Switzerland and virtually none in Italy or Turkey? It might not actually be due to the coffee itself, but more related to evolutionary genetics.
It has been measured that lactose intolerance is high among Mediterranean peoples, specifically Italians, who have centered most of their dairy intake around mature cheeses -- a process which virtually removes the offending sugar, lactose. At birth and through the first years of our life, we produce an enzyme called lactase, which helps break down and metabolize this sugar in our digestive system. Theoretically, through sustained non-human milk drinking well into adulthood generation after generation, a genetic mutation developed which resulted in the continued production of lactase as adults. There are several different regions around the world that exhibit this type of mutation, and each of them have documented cultural drivers that would have required them to ingest raw or unprocessed non-human milk as an important part of their caloric intake as adults.
If a latte or cafe au lait is your caffeinated drink of choice, don't let anyone make you think your preference is the result of an undeveloped palette. Your taste may instead be the result of thousands of years of evolution, so drink up!
This month's Grind includes expert advice on how to produce microfoam, information on our new Tune-Up service and a recipe for our new favorite drink: The Pumpkin Spice White Chocolate Mocha!
When you've started up your espresso machine for the first time in the morning, it's important that you thoroughly warm it up -- from the inside out -- before you pull any shots. The easiest way to do this is to pull a 'blind shot' through the portafilter once your machine's boiler has reached proper brewing temperature.
What's a 'blind shot'? It sounds fancier than it is: Just insert your empty portafilter into the brew group, then initiate your shot. Let the hot water run through to heat up the internal pipes, the brew group head and the portafilter. Incidentally, this is also something you should do if you have machine with an E61 brew group that has been on and sitting unattended for more than 10 minutes.
Remember: Temperature regulation is probably one of the most important aspects of espresso brewing, so take the time to make sure brewing temperature is up to snuff. Otherwise, you'll end up with poorly extracted, cool, pale shots with little crema.
An intriguing new study from the University of Colorado indicates that warm drinks lend themselves to more friendly feelings. Participants in the study were randomly given hot cups of coffee or glasses of iced coffee, then asked to assess the relative warmth of a series of fictional characters. The result was that they were 11% more likely to rate a complete stranger as welcoming or trustworthy if the participant had been holding a warm beverage versus a cold beverage.
Psychologists attribute this to possible early conditioning in infancy, when bonding and trust building with our parents could have been in an environment of warm bodily temperature -- just think of all those baby blankets! -- so that we are more likely to associate the actual physical temperature with the relative warmth and openness of someone's personality.
Whatever the root cause, it's clear that the age old practice of socializing over a hot cup of coffee helps build and expand on the warm bonds of friendship -- so why not invite your friends (or someone new) over for an espresso today?
Today marks one of the most historic general elections in American history and we hope you've taken the time to make your voice heard by voting!
Afterward, you might want to get together with some of your favorite people to either celebrate or drown your sorrows, depending on your political perspective and the election's outcome. An election party/commiseration wouldn't be complete without a delicious espresso martini!
- 1 1/2 fluid ounces Kahlua
- 1 1/2 fluid ounces brewed espresso
- 3 fluid ounces vanilla vodka
- 1 1/2 fluid ounces Creme de Cacao
- heavy cream or half-and-half (optional)
- Fill a cocktail shaker 2/3 full with ice.
- Add ingredients and shake well until very cold.
- Strain into a martini glass.
- In a plastic bottle with a narrow tip, add some heavy cream.
- Starting from the center of the drink, start a spiral and cirle to the outside of the glass.
- Then take a stirrer or a toothpick and starting in the center of the drink, drag the stirrer to the edge of the glass.
- Return to center of the drink, and repeat procedure in 'pie segments' to make a 'web' with the heavy cream (or make any design that you'd like).
Get back to espresso's roots with these gorgeous and easy-to-use manual espresso machines by La Pavoni!
Featuring a variety of beautiful finishes - from chrome with wood accents to gold-plated brass -- La Pavoni's traditional lever-style espresso extraction is an espresso purist's (and an esthete's!) dream. We have expanded our selection of these strikingly designed espresso machines, so you can choose from different boiler capacities, frothing functionality and finishes. Providing the most control over every aspect of espresso shot extraction, La Pavoni's manual machines are perfect for the espresso perfectionist or budding enthusiast alike.
The practice of topping off your hot beverage with beautiful milk foam art shouldn't be limited to just espresso drinks! We often get asked how to do 'cocoa art' in a similar manner to latte art, so here's how we express our cocoa side:
First, mix your preferred amount of chocolate with a few tablespoons of milk to create a dark mixture with which your foamed milk can be integrated. After you've steamed your milk, pour it similarly to how you pour when you make latte art. A simple leaf, for example, starts with pouring the milk in the middle of the mug, then slowly moving outward to the side, eventually working your way slowly back into the middle while shaking the pitcher from side to side. You should have a kind of leaf-like design, pulling back at the last moment to form the stem.
Regular maintenance of all your espresso or coffee related apparatus is essential to extending their longevity in your home or office. We talk a lot about how to keep your espresso machine healthy, but grinders need a little love, too!
One easy way to do this is, once a week, adjust your grinder to the coarsest setting possible, then run it for a few minutes to flush out any fine grinds that may be stuck around the blades, etc. This regular maintenance will decrease the likelihood of clogs and ensure evenness in grind. We recommend doing this on all stand-alone grinders and also if you have an espresso machine or coffee maker that features an internal grinder.
If you have an espresso machine which features a panarello tip on the steam wand (such as a those from Saeco or DeLonghi), learning how to steam milk to your preference can take a few tries. Here are some tips on how to produce different kinds of milk textures using this type of steam wand:
- Super Fluffy Foam: If you keep the air intake (hole or slit) above the surface of the milk, you'll create big foam and bubbles.
- Steamed Only: Fully submerge the air intake in the milk to produce steamed milk with no foam.
- Microfoam: Keep the air intake level with the milk, drawing in equal amounts of milk and air.
- Overflow Watch: If your foamed milk is about to overflow from the pitcher but it's not up to your preferred temperature, simply submerge the wand completely (up above the air intake) and continue to steam.