Extreme coffee geekery: St ALi put man v machine to the test

I’m a big fan of the manual brew button on all my machines – even if they claim to have volumetric pours – normally that just hasn’t been calibrated properly, and though I’m sure I could find an Expobar and Rancilio manual online – I like to think that the man is more important than the machine in the 4 Ms of coffee (the Ms are Italian – Macinazione=grind, Miscela=blend, Macchina=machine, and Mano=man).

Anyway. I believed the hype – pulling shots when you see them turn a blond colour has always been my cup of tea… Turns out you can trust the machine, and you should… Unless your eyes work like scales, or you’ve built scales into your machines – this produces consistency. Which if there was an Italian M word for consistency would be the 5th M. I have no idea if there’s an Italian M word for consistency…

Check out this video from St. ALi’s Matt Perger… who wins competitions and stuff so you should totally listen to him.

Man vs Volumetric – by Matt Perger for St Ali from St Ali on Vimeo.

There’s a huge amount of info in the description. But here are some quick facts – TDS = Total disolved solids – it’s a measure of how efficient the extraction is, brew ratio is shot mass/dose mass – so a 51% ratio on a 21g dose is a 41mL double shot.

This video hitting the interwebs when it did was pretty funny – James Hoffman, who’s another guy who won competitions, just toured Australia and said this about the coffee scene here:

“What pleased me, inspired me, on this trip was the number of people who were dissatisfied. Their frustration with everything from raw coffee, to roasting methods, to equipment, to service; this will drive things forward and potentially do so at quite a pace. This is awesome. While this dissatisfaction is necessarily hugely widespread, I have high expectations of seeing things being pushed forward by a small group of passionate people.”

Coffee Video Friday: Stovetop Brewing with James Hoffman

Good stove top coffee is almost impossible. Not impossible. Just almost impossible. Another video guide from James Hoffman. The man is a prodigious maker of worthwhile video guides…

Videocast #4 – Stove top/Moka Pot from James Hoffmann on Vimeo.

Preheating the water (even preboiling) before tipping it in the stovetop chamber is the top tip. He also uses a much coarser grind than I have in the past.

Coffee Video Friday: Magical Crema

Please be warned, it was watching this that led me to upgrading my coffee equipment a few years back. I wanted Crema that looked like this.

A question of crema from James Hoffmann on Vimeo.

Crema is important, but not the be all and end all of coffee making. It is quite bitter. Try scooping some off the top of your next shot, but it also contributes so much to a well rounded cup.

Coffee Video Friday: Plunger, or French Press with James Hoffman

Everybody has a plunger somewhere. Mine has a big crack down the side. I don’t use it. Plunger coffee is underrated because most people just follow the instructions on the box. You can have it so much better though, simply by following these instructions from former world barista champion James Hoffman.

Videocast #2 – French Press Technique from James Hoffmann on Vimeo.

The big take home tip, if you don’t want to watch the video, is to first have a ratio you like (coffee to water) and second to scoop the sludge off the top of the coffee before you plunge.

James Hoffman pretty much follows the procedure put together by another former World Barista Champion, Tim Wendelboe.

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