Difficult Espresso is Difficult

The other day I visited a new coffee place (Avid, in Almaden Valley – highly recommended). I bought a ludicrously expensive 12oz bag of Verve beans, and had the barista make me an espresso just to see what it was supposed to taste like. Let me tell ya, it was spectacular, with all kinds of weird fruity and chocolaty overtones, and I resolved to reproduce it at home.

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Easier said than done.

My first try was a complete failure, but this is expected with new beans. Each bean requires a different grind setting, and the first shot is usually way off. In this case, the grind was too coarse, resulting in a fast extraction and a sour shot. I gave it to my mother-in-law, who loved it.

I immediately tried again, this time with a much finer grind. It was still too fast, but drinkable. Unfortunately, it was nothing like the stuff I tried at Avid. I tried one more time, this time with an even finer grind. Very drinkable, but no fruit, no chocolate.

At this point it was time to give up and go to work. While there, I googled ‘verve sermon’, and found that the roaster had recommended parameters (20g of coffee, 202F, 26s pour, 1.75oz shot). Really, I had to google my fucking coffee. On the other hand, “aha”, I thought, I knew where I was going wrong (I was doing my usual 17g, and pouring my usual 2.5oz almost-lungo).

The next morning I tried again, updosing to 20g and pouring 1.5oz. Disaster, since I didn’t adjust the grind. My shot was way to fast.

This went on for a few days.

Finally, at 6am this morning, after blearily tamping 20g into my triple basket, *then* doing my cooling flush, then waiting about 15 seconds, then pulling my shot, I finally replicated Avid’s shot. It was divine, more from the sense of achievement than from the momentary pleasure of drinking a 1.75oz beverage on the way to work.

And it only took me half my precious bag of coffee. In a few days, I get to start over again with a new set of beans. Sigh.

 

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