Monday, October 30, 2006


the vibiemme: test shot

i leapt outta bed this morning, no doubt, eager to finally pull a test shot of coffee from the vibiemme domobar super electronic -- a.k.a. caesar -- since i've already unpacked him as well as filled him and tested his default temperature.

so i turned his half-moon knob to II and wandered away for another 30 mins., returning once during that time to open the steam wand and let any air out. i used this time to set up my mazzer mini grinder, set to the usual point, right at the arrow on the decal.

since i like doubles, i pried the single basket outta the single spout portafilter (remember caesar comes with 3 portafilters!) and popped the double basket in. alas, due to the depth of the vibiemme portafilter, my triple basket doesn't quite fit. . .

for this task i recruited my husband (that manicure thing again) and a classic church key. since this was test shot, and not to be drunk, i didn't worry to much about using the greatest coffee, just one that wasn't stale.

so i ground, dosed, tamped, ran 3 oz. water thru the group to flush it, and locked the portafilter in. unlike either silvia or carlos expobar, caesar is heavy enough that you don't have to hold him on one side while you slide the portafilter into place.

and that's good, 'cuz he's so hot it's hard to find a place to touch him without an ouch! now let's step back for a moment and review what caesar's hilarious italian manual says about how to pull a shot:

"remove the filter holder from the grouphead and fill the filter with ground coffee according to the filter in use and slightly press the coffee in the filter. put the filter holder back in place making sure handle is in the center position.

the pump manometer (13) is a good quality indicator for diffusion screen of coffee. when coffee starts going out from handled [sic], look at pressure gauge, the perfect diffusion screen is when the pressure gauge indicates between 8.6-9.2 bar.

if the value is higher means that coffee is too much dense while if the [sic] is lower means coffee has been ground too much thin."

i hope the first graph of those instructions is obvious to all. but let's talk about the remaining 2 graphs, which actually contain useful information. sort of.

let's take a moment and remind ourselves of what caesar's forehead control panel looks like:vibiemme electronic control panel lit

his right "eye" or gauge is his pump pressure. since in this photo, i'd just turned him on (as you can see by the fact his green power light is on, his red heating lamp is on, and his tiny green dot "let's pull" light over his manual pour button is on), neither of his gauges has started to rise yet. (i'll talk about the rest of his buttons later.)

after 30 mins., his left "eye" or boiler pressure gauge will rise to 1 bar, as he's heated himself up. until we push his manual pour button to start his pump, his right "eye" or pump gauge will stay at 0.

what we are looking for in a good pull from caesar is for his left eye to stay between 0.9 and 1 bar during the shot, while his right eye should hover between 8.6 and 9.2. even as we're driving with the gauges, of course, we also need to look at the pour as we'd do on silvia or carlos expobar -- we need to make sure visually it doesn't go blonde, and we need to check the time for a 25-30 second shot.

in my first test pour, i pressed the manual pour button and caesar's right-eye pump gauge rose to 10(!) at about 20 seconds. this told me the coffee had been ground too fine and/or tamped too hard; i would expect to see a slightly soupy puck.

i poured a very nice looking 27-second shot, but i knew it probably wasn't going to be ideal. and when i stopped the pour and removed the portafilter, i did in fact see a slightly swampy puck.

i tasted the coffee and it wasn't so great. so! this is how we learn to use the gauges to help us become better baristi and make better espressi!

now i could go back and adjust my grinder a tad coarser, or tamp more lightly. in this way caesar helps me dial in my coffee more quickly as opposed to the total trial-and-error process i've spent years dealing with on silvia or carlos. . .

now i need to get some good coffee and tomorrow try pulling shots for real!

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posted by fortune | 7:57 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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