The Grind – November 2008

Seattle Coffee Gear’s monthly newsletter, The Grind, provides readers with tips, expert advice, recipes, article highlights and a Grind-only special coupon!

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!

Read this month’s edition and sign up for future editions of The Grind here!

Brew Tip: Pour One Out

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.

Health Watch: Coffee & Relationships

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?

Recipe: Espresso Martini

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!

Ingredients

  • 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)

Directions

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker 2/3 full with ice.
  2. Add ingredients and shake well until very cold.
  3. Strain into a martini glass.
  4. In a plastic bottle with a narrow tip, add some heavy cream.
  5. Starting from the center of the drink, start a spiral and cirle to the outside of the glass.
  6. Then take a stirrer or a toothpick and starting in the center of the drink, drag the stirrer to the edge of the glass.
  7. 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).

New! La Pavoni Manual Espresso Machines

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.

How To: Hot Cocoa Art

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.