Places and Faces

Bogotá Day 1 & Overdue Thoughts

Barack may have come and gone amidst a touchy-feely fuzzy whirlwind tour, but I guess he did not have to subject himself to the horrors of the US Customs Preclearance at Dublin airport. Great friendship between our nations? Me bollix.
Since joining Marco in January I have spent ever increasing time in the air, going somewhere. This time it is to Bogotá, Colombia, again to the World Barista Championships. As I wrote on the Über Project blog, the main purpose for my trip is to help install and make sure all our kit is working on the Brew Bar. Aside from that, I’m looking forward to meeting some old friends, and offering a helping hand to Monika, who works with Colin Harmon/3FE, the Slovakian barista champion, and dark horse at the WBC.
So that’s where all that is at, and now sitting on this continental flight to Newark, I have something which I have not had a chance to do in a while, write a blog post. So here we go – stream of consciousness self-indulgent splurge.
There are a few things I think are worth a bit of prose in the last few months. The first, and foremost – the VST baskets. I’ve been following the development of these for some time (about 12-18 months maybe?). The theory always made sense, and the analysis of the quality of baskets out there was quite damning… on paper. I always worry with paper logic, no matter how well thought out, and how much considered research goes into them, whether they will play out into a real, discernible advantage. Having spent several weeks with the baskets, I have no hesitations in concluding the advantage is not only tangible, but obvious, and it would be very difficult for me to revert to using baskets without a comparable level of quality control (well, actually it would be easy but my coffee would taste worse). Kudos to Vincent Fedele (and La Marzocco) for once again making a significant contribution to the progress of coffee brewing standards.
While I’m on the subject of espresso, I have also been living with a Nuova Simonelli Musica for a little while, and have found it to be a nice bit of kit, well built, consistent in delivery, lots of nice little touches. It is the best espresso machine I’ve owned. I reckon it will deserve more prose at a later point.
We got some Kalitta wave and Kantan droppers from Nick Cho a while back. These fall into the paper logic category once more, suggesting more even brews because of flat and suspended/floating beds. Nick makes a persuasive argument on his blog. I have found little evidence in terms of taste to support the Kalitta Wave dripper being appreciably better than a V60 in terms of taste (nor worse). Yes, it has a flat bottom, but it is a small flat bottom, and we are still in essence talking about a truncated cone. I won’t speculate on why / why not I have come to this conclusion, perhaps there is some flaw in my technique… The Kantan on the other hand is far and away my favourite dripper. Again it might be premature to speculate why, but the results have been constantly excellent. One observation I have is that the paper used is rather unique, very thin, semi-translucent, it imparts practically no flavour. In terms of geometry it does seem to have a truly flat bed (roughly rectangular cuboid shape), and would seem to lose little heat through conduction/radiation (the Wave seems to lose plenty of heat through the dripper itself). The Kantan seemed like a gimmick, a curiosity, but it would be foolish to dismiss it.
Tamper Tantrum Live came and went, and was a privilege to both take part in, and observe. Much credit primarily to Colin and Steve, for putting together a great event and getting the tone, importantly, right. I hope that the format can find some regular spaces on the calendar to build on this success.
My last stream of consciousness topic relates to blogging itself. I’ve written this blog for a while now, learned a lot I think in the process. It has mostly been for fun and developing ideas (you can’t beat actually writing something down to ascertain the level of inherent bullshit). Since actually beginning to work in the coffee industry I have struggled a little though. My thought process has shifted. I guess in general I am also busier, but for whatever reason, I have found worthwhile topics more elusive than ever (ok the wet grinding would probably have been a blog post had it not been for TTlive). I guess this is just an observation, rather than a conclusion. This process remains strangely cathartic (and happily distracting from the plane full of aul wans), though I’m not sure I know how to most effectively balance this forum with my new role.
Epilogue: well I landed. More to follow tomorrow. Now – beer.

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One thought on “Bogotá Day 1 & Overdue Thoughts

  1. Joe Griffin says:

    Speaking of TTLive, your presentation was very intriguing. I cant wait to try it. My question is by what means did you eliminate the wobble? I’ve seen a lower bearing “upgrade” from Orphan Espresso. I this similar to your approach.
    Joe

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