Quick hit here, coffee kids. Just like with an automobile, keep your coffee equipment happy and it’ll keep you happy. With cars it’s tires and oil changes (and other, less regular maintenance as needed). The espresso machine equivalent to that is changing out “gaskets and baskets,” meaning, the gaskets that go up into the top of your espresso machine grouphead and portafilter brew baskets. These days of laser etching means baskets are more sturdy than they used to be and have a bit more life in them. But gaskets, by virtue of the fact that they are made of rubber–necessarily need to be changed out regularly so that they don’t get brittle and begin to leak all over your beautifully pulled espresso shots. The frequency of gasket changes will vary with your use. We change our about once a quarter, before gaskets have had a chance to hardify.
Below are two gaskets. The top one is obviously the older one. Some of that warping around the edges is actually the pull of the awl used to get them out, as well as the little dimples that are part of the gasket design. But there are indeed signs of warp and wane on what should otherwise be smooth edges, as in the new gasket toward the bottom of the picture.
For the price of a couple good shots of espresso you can ensure that all the espresso shots you serve with be consistent in that your equipment will remain in good working order. So keep ’em clean, folks, and they’ll return the favor.
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The workshop is back. Oh, is it back.
Turning this into liquid gold on Tuesday, 27 March.
We have had so many requests for an espresso workshop lately we have carved out an evening of caffeinated fun for you. Seriously, we say this every time because it’s true every time: space is extremely limited so don’t delay if you want to participate in this fun workshop.
All the deets are below the fold here.
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As I broke yet another portafilter brush yesterday (snapped clean off) I was reminded of the importance of keeping a clean set of tools. We talk a lot about consistatizing the coffee experience here at The Brown Coffee Company — taking the necessary steps to ensure that one espresso shot, one pourover, one ColdBrew is as consistently delicious as the last…and the next.
If we’re serious about taking espresso seriously we need to grapple carefully with the “known knowns” we can control that contribute to shot inconsistency. Among those are the usual suspects: consistent weight; high incidence of uniform grounds particle size; water temperature stability; and so forth. One of the basic considerations everyone knows about but gets surprisingly overlooked intraday is the massive importance of keeping one’s portafilters clean. And it’s understandable to a point. Even the most careful baristas who find themselves in high traffic espresso bars all find themselves in the same predicament: If I’m busy cleaning a portafilter I’m not serving customers. You might guess the easiest response to that: If you’re serving customers with dirty portafilters, are you really serving customers?
Known Knowns. Coffee buildup makes the parts we can't see look gross over time. The worst of it is, rancid coffee oil buildup is largely invisible
Some best practices. First, schedule daily and intradaily chemical and non-chemical cleaning. Intraday, even if it’s busy, one still can generally find the time to give a non-chemical scrubby scrub utilizing said cleaning brushes and the easy access one has to very hot water. This can take a little as 30 seconds but can help boost the flavor of your espresso back closer to its intended taste.
Second, if you are in a higher traffic location that has a full time back bar to do your dirty work for you, have them do the deeper chemical cleaning for you (including a good soaking in near boiling water). Since this will necessarily mean the loss of one or more of your portafilters (read: you will be slower on the line), consider purchasing a second set of portafilters. Then it’s just a matter of bing, bang, boom, switcharoo, and you’re back in business with a fractional loss of time.
The longer I do coffee the more I realize that so much of what we can control in brewing better coffee is simply mitigating as many variables as possible that cause us to make a divine shot one time, and simply a pretty good one the next. Control what you can control to the best of your ability and you’ll go a long way to making the next customer as happy as the last.
It’s a small part of the larger mosaic of minimizing variables in the good fight for better and better espresso.
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YOU guessed it. Brown is in the process of a total facial makeover. The website will have a new, cleaner, more integrated look and feel with easier navigation options and a seamless cooperation between the main site and our online shopping cart. We don’t expect much of any down time for you the customer and expect our first live changes to take effect this month.
What you shouldn’t expect is any change in amazingness when it comes to our coffees, which, it should be pointed out, are all still on sale for $9.99 each with no limit, including our espresso.
So we hope you’ll stay tuned and enjoy the changes we’re bringing to the face of Brown.
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