Moka pot. Microwave. Espresso pods. Three things I would never recommend for improving your coffee experience. However, two German brothers decided to combine all three and team up with San Francisco-based Lunar design to create the Piamo—an inverted, microwavable moka pot. Sigh. At least it’s not disposable.
It’s lovely, it’s iconic, it fits in the palm of your hand. But that’s about the only thing going for it. If you’re into espresso pods and nuking your water, this might just be your thing, otherwise ignore all the design and tech blogs this will be most likely be posted on in the coming weeks (guilty). But whether or not it makes good coffee, it will look just as nice on the shelf next to the other moka pot I own and never use.
So you got that new espresso machine you wanted for Chrismukkah, but have no idea how to use it? Are you pouring out your shots and wishing you just asked for a Nespresso machine? If so, Clive Coffee is here to help you get a grip on your portafilter and understand the basics of pulling better shots.
Portland, Oregon-based Clive Coffee (a proud DCILY sponsor) has published this beautiful printed primer to making espresso at home, called “The Craft of Espresso. The book is artfully written by Hanna Neuschwander (author of Left Coast Roast) lovingly illustrated by Ben Blake (creator of Draw Coffee and current Sprudge intern) and elegantly designed by Jenn Lawrence.
Coffee is either nothing—a brackish fuel, a necessary accomplice—or it is something: an education in taste, a way to be playful, a daily sacrement…this book is a primer for those who want to tap into the somethingness of coffee through its most exalted method: the art of making espresso.
The book’s letter pressed cover and hand-stitched binding gives it that tactile quality you just don’t get from a blog post and it’s ripe for the reading while sitting in your kitchen or lounging in your den. With no pretension and lots of great information, the book covers a brief history of the drink and explains the core principles of grinding, pulling shots, steaming milk and clean-up.
The Craft of Espresso illustrates and defines the different types of grinders and espresso machines available, while gently making suggestions towards certain preferences without making definitive claims or assertions.
There’s step-by-step instructions and a few troubleshooting tips as well to help solve the common problems you’re bound to run into. If you plan to take the time and craft your espresso by hand, it’s nice to have a companion book that you can read with them.
Another day, another beautiful video from Coffee Circle. This one takes a look at espresso, one simple step at a time. Very zen. I think I’ll have another.
The perfect shot of espresso is one of the greatest gifts you can enjoy in your day. It’s hard to describe unless you taste it. However, in this video you find the most important steps of preparation to follow on your way to achieve a great espresso. Enjoy! - Coffee Circle
Taking their love for cycling, sustainability and espresso to a new level, Amos Reid and Lasse Oiva, two product design students from the Royal College of Art in London have built a belt driven, mobile espresso bar dubbed “Velopresso.”
The three wheeled bike uses a carbon belt drive system (grease free) to not only power the bike, but also a custom made grinder that shares a slight resemblance to the HG-1 hand grinder. With the change of a gear, five seconds of pedaling will grind enough coffee for a double shot—three if you’re doping.
Currently the Velopresso uses a camp stove to heat water and steam to power its leva espresso machine, but the designers have been experimenting with various ways of creating their own fuel from spent coffee grounds. The goal of making it even less dependent on carbon fuels—aside from the belts used everywhere else—would add to its sustainable caché. The project was recently bestowed the 2012 Deutsche Bank Award in Design and the creators are currently looking for ways to produce them commercially.
“Velopresso was conceived against the backdrop of a global renaissance in cycling culture that is being driven by the desire for more sustainable cities and lifestyles,” says co-creator Amos Field Reid, pictured below kneeling behind the machine. “The urban coffee scene is also expanding and diversifying, including a convergence with cycling culture. Velopresso engages directly with these cutting-edge urban cultures.” -Carbon Drive
Velopresso isn’t the first coffee bike that’s been featured on DCILY (Trailhead, Kickstand Coffee), but this is the first that takes advantage of the bicycles efficiency for powering heavy-duty equipment. This would be an appreciated addition to bike paths everywhere.
Smithsonian Magazine recently published a great article about the history of the espresso machine that’s definitely worth reading. While it doesn’t cover every minute detail, it mentions the key points that led to the creation of a commercial espresso industry and highlights the most important elements of quality espresso.
There is an art to the espresso as well. The talent of the barista is as important as the quality of the beans and the efficiency of the machine. Indeed, it is said that a good espresso depends on the four M’s: Macchina, the espresso machine; Macinazione, the proper grinding of a beans –a uniform grind between fine and powdery– which is ideally done moments brewing the drink; Miscela, the coffee blend and the roast, and Mano is the skilled hand of the barista, because even with the finest beans and the most advanced equipment, the shot depends on the touch and style of the barista. When combined properly, these four Ms yield a drink that is at once bold and elegant, with a light, sweet foam crema floating over the coffee. A complex drink with a complex history. -Jimmy Stamp
ST.ALi, one of the newer additions to the London coffee scene, is going through a bit of a change. They announced yesterday that they are parting ways with their sibling in Australia to blaze their own trail in London. I’m excited to have worked with Tim to help create the new face of Workshop Coffee Co., who will continue adding great value to specialty coffee in London at both their Clerkenwell and Marylebone locations.
Yesterday, the following announcement was shared on the ST.ALi website:
Friends, there are some changes a-foot.
In April 2011, we opened our Clerkenwell cafe under the same banner as some friends in Australia. Following shortly after, we opened our Marylebone coffeebar under the same arrangement.
The response from local customers and visitors alike has been wonderful, overwhelming and humbling, due in no small part to our fantastic team, and the guests we take care of everyday.
However, due largely to the constraints of an arrangement stretched across 10,000 miles, the time has come to blaze the trail on our own. On April 16th, the London operations of ‘ST. ALi’ and ‘Sensory Lab’ will undergo a name change, becoming Workshop Coffee Co.
So, aside from the name, what changes? Well, nothing else changes. The same friendly staff and the same dedicated owners continuing to develop, refine and improve what we do. The same great food, and the same delicious coffee.
We look forward to seeing you soon,
I’ve visited both locations in the past year and wrote about one of them last August. Both shops are a must visit when coffee touring though London, and Clerkenwell is great for a meal as well. All my best to the team at Workshop as they begin writing their new story.
I don’t brew espresso at home, and I’m not in the market to begin doing so anytime soon. However, once the ZP Machines start shipping, there will probably be a lot of people making espresso for their first time—or in need of a refresher course.
For anyone looking to improve their espresso technique, the guys at MadCap Coffee and Hybrid Media Co. have teamed up again to produce a follow up to their popular V60 tutorial. So grab your favorite tamper and take some notes from Sensei Knapp.
[UPDATE IV:A new post on the ZP Machines Kickstarter page outlines an adjustment to the manufacturing schedule do to the overwhelming response this project has received. Also news later tonight about a dedicated 240v model of the Nocturn!]
[UPDATE III: Jason Dominy met with ZP Machines yesterday and Skyped with Igor to look at and talk about the machines thermoblock. Read Jason's thoughts here.]
[UPDATE II: In under 48 hours, the project has reached it's initial goal. Congrats to the team for attempting to answer the unmet demand for an affordable, high-quality espresso machine. Also, Jason Dominy, the current chair of the Barista Guild of America, will be meeting up with ZP Machines in Atlanta to talk about and test drive the prototype. More info as it arrives.]
[UPDATE I: Conversation with the creators on Reddit, answering questions]
This latest coffee-themed Kickstarter project is one with much more potential than a handful of metal beans—as long as it works as described. Two coffee lovers, one who studied physics and the other a roboticist, have been working to build a quality espresso machine that’s more affordable and accesible to the home barista.
Most coffee professionals won’t recommend many options for home espresso for less than the Rancilio Silvia, which costs about $700. So the effort by ZP Machines to create a machine of better quality and consistency—with a custom engineered thermal block and group head, as well as integrated PID temperature and pressure control—for just $300 could really shake up the market.
No other machine at this price point offers high-end quality, PID-controlled customizable temperature and pressure, pre-infusion, or shot-time —we do.
The team also spent time with their prototype at Octane and Land of a Thousand Hills in Atlanta, comparing shots and getting barista feedback. According to their pitch, their shots were comparable in quality to those pulled on the commercial espresso machines every time. A very bold claim, but fantastic if its true.
The proposed design reminds me of a Dieter Rams stereo, with an all metal body and clean geometric lines. It looks industrial and sturdy, yet modern and approachable—characteristics that I would appreciate in my kitchen.
With an estimated delivery date of March 2012 and a pre-order price of just $200, this sounds too good to be true. Let’s hope it’s not!
This may just be the cutest coffee video ever made. Watch as Ellanie and Ethan pull up a chair to demonstrate that anyone can learn to make espresso. I think Ellanie should be participating in the next Portland area TNT event, and Callum Thompson may need to reliquish the title of “Young Barista.” Enjoy.
Barcelona based design firm cunicode, tasked themselves with designing and creating a new espresso cup every day for 30 days. The results are pretty incredible. From the clever, to the impossible, there’s a great range of creativity. The cups are made with white glazed ceramic and each demitasse can be purchased and manufactured to order—one of the benefits of 3D printing.