What’s Your Water Profile?

We’ve talked a little bit about the water mineral content for great espresso, specifically in terms of descaling vs. using distilled water, but we didn’t have a great understanding of how the water can effect coffee and tea brewing — until now.

In this informative article, Joshua Lurie of Food GPS introduces us to Cirqua, a customized water company employed by Starbucks, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Intelligentsia, among others, to create a water profile specific to enhancing the flavor of the brew. He walks us through a taste test of both coffee and tea, with the only variable being the type of water used. The results? Low mineral content water produced a more bitter taste, high mineral content yielded a muted taste and the customized water…well, it was delicious.

While Cirqua’s products have been available only to commercial groups until now, they will be launching a kit for you to use at home in April at the Specialty Coffee Association of America. We’re excited to try it out and compare the difference!

Crew Review: 4-Hole Steaming Tip

One of the best things about investing in a higher-end semi-automatic espresso machine, such as the Rocket Giotto Premium Plus or Rocket Cellini Premium Plus, is the improved steaming functionality. Larger boilers and professional-grade steam wands make producing velvety microfoam the standard in your home or office — but you can always improve on a good thing, can’t you?

Check out the steam tip upgrade available for any of the Rocket Espresso machines including the Rocket Cellini Classic. This 4 tip set features different hole patterns that will improve the aeration of your milk while steaming, allowing you to easily make creamy steamed milk, every time. We love the ability to experiment above and beyond the factory-provided steam tip and think it’s an excellent accessory to your already excellent machine.

Jura Ena5 Wins Good Design 2008 Award

This is cool!

One of our favorite machines, the Jura Ena 5, recently received a 2008 Good Design award from the Chicago Athenaeum. It’s one of the most prestigious design awards and focus on a high quality blend of form, function and aesthetic. Judging was performed by a panel of design specialists, who based their selections on concept, materials, utility, energy-efficiency, cutting-edge design, construction and sensitivity to the environment.

Winners of this award become a permanent part of the Chicago Athenaeum’s exhibit, touring around the US and abroad. We also honored Jura in this video on all the awesome features and functionality.

Recipe: Soft-Centered Chocolate Pudding with Espresso

OK, this recipe for Soft-Centered Chocolate Pudding with Espresso sounds ridiculously awesome and we’ll definitely have to try it very, very soon.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dark (bittersweet) chocolate, such as Valrhona 65 percent, coarsely chopped or shaved
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, preferably at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup hot espresso

Directions

  1. Heat 1 to 2 inches of water in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Combine the chocolate and butter in a metal bowl just big enough to fit over the saucepan without touching the water. Place the bowl over the saucepan; when the chocolate has softened, stir to incorporate it with the melted butter, then add the milk, cream and pepper to taste, mixing well.
  3. Pour into 4- to 6-ounce ramekins or coffee cups. Place in the freezer, spaced well apart. Check after 45 minutes to see whether the puddings are set. When their edges are firm (which can take from 45 to 90 minutes) but the puddings are still somewhat soft in the middle, they are ready for the next step or can be transferred to the
    refrigerator to keep cold until just before serving.
  4. When ready to serve, dissolve the sugar in the hot espresso. Fill a (clean) turkey baster or large syringe with the hot liquid and inject it into the middle of each cold chocolate pudding, or make room with a spoon and pour the espresso in. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

One Touch Lattes with the Jura Impressa S9

If simplicity is key, you may be interested in the one touch functionality of the Jura Impressa S9 superautomatic espresso machine. Setup your cappuccinotore with your favorite milk, fill up your hopper with your preferred beans and then, at the touch of a button, you’ll be enjoying a delicious and frothy latte or cappuccino.

Check out Gail as she shows us how easy it is to use this awesome machine!

Coffee: The World in Your Cup

Beginning this weekend and extending through June 7, 2009, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington will be holding the exhibit Coffee: The World in Your Cup. With the intention of illustrating the broad influence that coffee has on the cultures, economies and societies the world over, this exhibit will feature photography, coffee plants, regular tastings, coffee bag displays, videos and a lecture series beginning in April.

Warm up this opening weekend with a series of special events — including guided tours, cuppings, tastings and talks led by coffee experts. If you don’t live in the Seattle area but may travel here sometime over the next few months, this exhibit is definitely worth checking out — and you can hit up the museum for a tasting every weekend from January 31st – March 29th!

We’re really looking forward to the lecture series (kicked off by one of our favorites, Uncommon Grounds‘ Mark Pendergrast). This is an excellent opportunity to deepen your relationship with where your favorite bean comes from and we hope to see you there!