The Grind Really Does Make the Coffee

One basic tenet of coffee or espresso brewing is that the grind makes the coffee.  It is not difficult to understand that if you put a fine espresso grind into a french press the coffee will come out sludgy and over-extracted.  Likewise, if you try to use a coarse press grind for espresso the water will rush through, barely extracting the coffee’s delicious flavors.  Until recently I did not understand the subtleties in grind, however.

A few weeks ago I became the proud owner of a Rancilio Silvia with a PID (temperature control).  I immediately set up the machine and went to pull my first triple with the Rancilio’s flat-bottomed portafilter (unlike traditional portafilters, this one has no “ears” on the bottom, and instead is perforated.  As the espresso pulls through the portafilter it coalesces into a single stream in the middle… at least in theory).  I turned on the machine, let it warm up, ground my coffee to my usual espresso grind, and pressed the pull button… espresso spurted everywhere.

I tried a finer grind, I tried a coarser grind, I tried a traditional portafilter, I tamped with all my might, but still every time I tried to pull a shot my kitchen ended up covered in espresso.  Even on the finest grind my burr grinder could manage, this high-pressured machine blasted water through the portafilter like I had forgotten to pack the espresso.

Continue reading The Grind Really Does Make the Coffee

Topless Follow-Up

Remember the new topless coffee shop we discused back at the beginning of March?

Apparently it was burnt to the ground this week.  Police and the owner, Donald Crabtreet, both  suspect arson.

Crabtree, whose whole family lived in rooms attached to the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop, said he had no insurance on the shop, but will try to open again soon, even if it is based out of a trailer.  He always claimed the shop was just an innocent place putting smiles on peoples’ faces, but apparently not . . . → Read More: Topless Follow-Up

Robusta Coffee Prices Fall… Who Cares

According to Bloomberg this morning robusta coffee prices have fallen since the anticipated shortage in Brazilian robusta supply is not as deep as originally intended.

I have seen articles about this shortage for weeks, but the real question is “who cares?”  Most coffee we drink is Arabica.  Occassionally people use some amount of robusta as filler or instant coffee, but there really is no international scope to the story.  Even Bloomberg acknowledges at the end of the article “Most of Brazil’s robusta is used within the country.”

Unfortunate for Brazilians, but even there the effect will not be drastic.

Bloomberg, please include more than a footnote on the skyrocketing . . . → Read More: Robusta Coffee Prices Fall… Who Cares

Back in June!

We apologize for a May absense on the site.  Real life caught up with ManhattanRoasts a little, but we are back in June and excited to bring you discussing of iced coffee and coffee ice cream throughout the summer!

Just as a short update on the Roaster’s life, there is a new lady in his life – the Rancilio Silvia with built in PID (temperature control)!  This just arrived recently, so we will let you know how the machine unfolds.

As for the old Starbucks machine, well, she is still in our life, but has moved locations.  As of this morning she has been snuck to a place where we can enjoy fresh espresso all . . . → Read More: Back in June!

ManhattanRoasts Goes to Boston

Apologies for the time between posts.  Lots in the works.  We expect to have reviews of at least one, if not more, Boston coffee shops over the next few days, so . . . → Read More: ManhattanRoasts Goes to Boston

Manhattan Roasts is Now Twittering

We are trying to keep up with twitter these days, so if you feel like knowing everything that is going on in the world of the Roaster join as over there under username: ManhattanRoasts.  . . . → Read More: Manhattan Roasts is Now Twittering

Illy, A Classic Reviewed

On another break from work last week (thank you recession), a coffee loving coworker and I decided to head over to a classic in the world of coffee.  Most people who have either drunk coffee, purchased coffee equipment, or even heard of coffee know the name Illy.  In fact, this Italian coffee company is undoubtedly the first name in coffee.

Both of us were surprised to find there was only one Illy near our midtown office, but it was close, a stand in a mall-like atrium just a few blocks away, so we made the trek.

I have to admit, I was excited.  Granted, I get excited about coffee a lot, particularly reviewing coffee shops, but this was different.  It was like the difference between visiting the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) and the Louvre.  The MoMA is cool, but it does not have the same panache as the Louvre.

Continue reading Illy, A Classic Reviewed

It’s a Flying Rhino Kind of Day

Today at Manhattan Roasts we are trying out a new kind of coffee.  In fact, we almost ground our own PNG before we remembered some Flying Rhino came in the mail.  Looking forward to it!

If you have a coffee you think Manhattan Roasts should try, email us . . . → Read More: It’s a Flying Rhino Kind of Day

Johnny Espressobean

At Manhattan Roasts we are always on the lookout for ways to improve coffee around our city and around the world.  A few weeks ago, after a delicious French bistro dinner we had some of the most boring espresso we have ever tasted.  After complimenting the owner on a great dinner we also discussed the espresso and gave some recommendations on local coffees that could make a far superior cup.  Some might call this snobby or insulting, but hey, it is in our genes.

You see, the Roaster’s father has been threatening, for almost a year, to take a temperature gauge to all the local coffee shops and ensure that cafes and restaurants are all brewing at the best temperature possible.  He will call himself “The Johnny Appleseed of Espresso.”  Personally I prefer Johnny Espressobean.

There is one place Johnny Espressobean will not be needed anymore.  The European Commission.  Last year the EC purchased 21 espresso machines at the staggering cost of $7500 per machine.  The La Cimbala M1 grinds beans and brews espresso at high quality and high speed.  Now, this story first came to prominence as a symbol of government excess in a time of economic woe.  More recently, however, the story gained fame as it came out that employees at the EC from high ranking to staffers found the espresso brewed from these machines nearly undrinkable.

Continue reading Johnny Espressobean

Volcanic Smog May Make Hawaiian Coffee More Common

According to the Associated Press, the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has been spewing a record volume of fumes over the last twelve months, levels not seen since data was first collected in 1979.  The volcanic smog (or “vog”) has had a large detrimental effect on almost all agriculture in the area.  In a strange twist, however, farmers have realized that while most crops grow poorly surrounded by the vog, coffee plants seem almost unaffected.  Many flower and fruit farmers have begun switching at least a portion of their crop over to coffee.

Perhaps as these coffee trees mature over the next 3 to 5 years we will see new varieties of lower cost Hawaiian coffee on the market.  At Manhattan Roasts we are more than a little intriged about what the vog will do to . . . → Read More: Volcanic Smog May Make Hawaiian Coffee More Common