bread coffee chocolate yoga

most searched

p-stat on carlos expobar
french press how-to
coffee crisis whitepaper
brewing chart
coffee flavors glossary
coffee taints glossary
ziti recipe
chocolate chip cookie recipe
brownie recipe
pizza crust recipe
pizza sauce recipe
pain de campagne starter
eddie stern
mark whitwell

current influence

richard einhorn
cat power
harold budd
alexia admor
love & desire by beverly feldman
kd dance
gerda spillmann
alexandre de paris
eric meyer
mark inman
oren bloostein
ted lingle


nyc bloggers


at bloglines
at google
at yahoo
at aol

Saturday, November 04, 2006

the vibiemme: dialing in the dancing goat

to pick up from yesterday with the vibiemme domobar super electronic -- a.k.a. caesar -- i woke up this morning determined to dial in the grind for jessica's dancing goat, her holiday blend, and also don schoenholt's gillies deluxe dark 2.

as espressohounds know, my ailing italian princess the rancilio silvia -- like all silvias -- is fanatically picky about grind. dear carlos expobar isn't quite so particular.

how would caesar be? after blowing thru 1/2 my pound of dancing goat, i can tell you that to pull a "good" caesar double shot, one where the pump gauge stays between 8.6 and 9.2 bar, and where the boiler pressure gauge hovers at 0.9 to 1 bar, and in which you get 1.5 oz espresso in 25-30 seconds, takes some work on the dial-in.

all quality espresso machines have learning curves. this is to be expected: i think it took me 2 weeks to learn to pull decent shots on silvia.

anyway, in the end, i had to move my mazzer mini grinder 3 notches finer for the goat, and lighten my tamp. normally i grind my espresso on the mazzer where most people do, right at the notch indicated by the arrow decal.

but for caesar i had to go finer, to the left of the arrow decal. jessica's holiday blend ground at about the same place. don's deluxe dark 2 -- as is usual with his coffees -- had to go much, much finer, 7 notches to the left.

btw, i think jessica's holiday blend makes a better americano than an espresso. and this was a good test, because it allowed me to open caesar's hot water wand for the first time.

on most espresso machines of my acquaintance, you open the hot water wand, and out comes, well, a stream of hot water. on caesar the water wand has a very fine screen on its head, so you get a cloud of hot steamy mist that condenses to water in the cup.

anyway, pulling the goat this morning as i said above, took some time. the best shot i got didn't pull quite as smoothly as i would like.

let me describe what happened: i ran 3 oz. of water into my cup thru an empty double portafilter. the heating lamp was off; the pressure gauge read 1 bar; and after the water came through, the pump gauge hovered at 4.

and at 4 it stayed when it came time to pull the shot. i pressed the manual pour button and caesar's pump started to work.

coffee began to flow at 7 seconds, and until then the pump stayed at 4. as the coffee ran into the cup, the pump gauge suddenly swung up to 12!

it stayed at 12 for about 3 seconds, and then settled to 10. at 15 seconds, it began to fall to about 8.5.

the heating lamp came on at 17 seconds, and suddenly the pump gauge fell to 6. what was that about?

caesar, what are you trying to tell me? i stopped the shot at 25 seconds.

the heat lamp turned itself off. the coffee wasn?t great, but it was drinkable.

and the puck in the portafilter was only barely soupy. i think i may still be grinding a tad too fine.

but what caused the pump gauge to fall to 6? i?ll have to research that. . .

in the meantime, i'll drink my holiday blend americano and return to writing applescripts for my macbook pro's speech application.

my husband thinks it's dorky to talk to your computer, but i'm very lazy, so i myself love saying "open itunes!" and having it actually pop up! "play cd!" and lo, it plays.

complete ease of use is simply telling the macbook pro "minimize firefox! switch to finder." maybe i?ve completely lost it, but i even like the knock knock joke the machine knows. . .

Tags: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

posted by fortune | 12:49 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Friday, November 03, 2006

and the white horses appear on the horizon

it?s certainly been a shame to welcome caesar vibiemme into my kitchen with nothing to greet him but "desperation illy." luckily, the light horse came charging to my rescue today!

david schoenholt, son of don, actually appeared this evening at my local yoga studio bearing a pound of 3-day-old deluxe dark 2, the classic gillies espresso! thank you don and david.

the ever-awesome jessica marshall of batdorf also sent re-inforcements, all roast-dated the 31st:

  • the household-staple dancing goats
  • the brand-new holiday blend
  • the latest in the wonderful latitudes line, an el salvador c.o.e. winner, the santa julia

hooray! saved by the specialty coffee family! thank you all.

a very interesting thing about caesar -- devoted readers may recall that when i took his default temperature, it turned out the nice people at the vibiemme factory had set him to 200 degrees. and guess what the suggested brewing temperature for the dancing goat is?

yuppers, dear readers, 200 +/- 1. caesar is the dancing goats machine par excellence!

i can?t wait to start dialing in the grind tomorrow morning first thing. and i intend to try to pull the holiday blend as espresso too!

most of all, i?ll be really interested in seeing how one of my oldest favorites, the ever-friendly deluxe dark pulls on the caesar. remember, don's coffee is very picky: it wants a very fine grind, even by espresso standards.

how caesar handles that. . .hmm.

Tags: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

posted by fortune | 9:40 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

the vibiemme: adding a water cartridge

i talked yesterday about re-filling the vibiemme domobar super electronic -- a.k.a. caesar. he's a thirsty guy with a big boiler.

so i'm taking this opportunity again to harp a tad on the water situation. caesar's a heat-exchanger (hx) machine, which means among other things, most people will lack the handyman skills to descale him at home.

as i've said before, if limescale from your brewing water builds up in him, he can become nonfunctional. the best idea here is pure prevention: don't let him scale in the first place.

since caesar's a pour-over machine, we have the choice of waters to put in him: if you don't know the qualities of your own water, you should buy test strips to check it out.

you may live in a place with naturally soft water. in that case you're in luck -- you probably won't suffer a scale problem.

but as i've also discussed before, you might have soft tap water, but also a bad balance of trace stuffs. maybe you have too much iron, or sulfur, or something else that will harm the taste and brewing quality of the coffee -- if so you're probably already using a brita or something like that too.

commercial bottled waters can be a good solution, but they tend to be expensive. distilled and reverse-osmosis water are often quite cheap at the local store.

for example even here in pricey nyc, i can get distilled water for just US$1 a gallon. but you can't use this perfectly mineral-free water in caesar!

interestingly, caesar's autofill mechanism depends on having some minerals in the water. so a useful compromise that works for many people is to use distilled water, and mix it with a little water from the tap.

this allows the machine to get enough stuff so caesar's autofill will work correctly but should also prevent scale problems at an affordable price. the usual recommendation is 80% distilled, 20% tap.

with this mixture you can also add a rechargeable water cartridge to the tank to further improve your water situation. and this i did tonight.

if you're into super-safety, you can put your 20% tap water through a brita pitcher as well if you don't already.

adding the cartridge to caesar's simple. it looks like a tight fit when you first examine the top hole in the water tank, but the cartridge does slip through easily.

removing the tank's plastic cap, you can reach in and draw out both of caesar's hoses. one hose draws water into the boiler, and the other is a discharge hose.

the boiler hose is the one equipped with the little round screen thingie -- of course this is to keep particles out of the boiler, just in case anything should fall into the tank. here's a quick snap:vibiemme water hosesthe little round screen thingie slides right off with a gentle tug. then all you have to do is fit the nozzle of the cartridge right into the boiler hose:
vibiemme with water cartridgeit's a fairly nice fit and usually stays on without any problem. just be a little careful slipping the cartridge down into the tank.

if the hose comes off it can be a tad hard to fish the cartridge out of the tank. now this cartridge isn't permanent. the golden crystals you see inside need recharging on a regular basis, which certainly isn't hard or expensive to do.

notice in the picture that the cartridge has a removable bottom. so you can see it's easy to refill.

you just have to remember to do it and follow through! all these steps should greatly minimize if not completely eliminate the need for an expensive trip to your local commercial espresso machine shop for descaling.

so after attaching the water cartridge, i tried to pull a shot. i press caesar's manual pour button and pump gauge stayed at 0.

he wouldn't pump. his pump wasn't turning on!

yikes! what had happened?

i fished the cartridge out of the tank and looked at it. the holes at the end were blocked with swollen crystals -- the middle of the cartridge tube was dry and filled with dry crystals.

for some reason water wasn't flowing thru the cartridge. hmm, better talk to jim p. at 1st-line about that.

so i just swapped off the water cartridge, put the little round screen back on, and bingo!

caesar's in business. cappuccino for breakfast.

Tags: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

posted by fortune | 7:04 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Thursday, November 02, 2006

the vibiemme: more water and oops, he chokes

to continue from yesterday's micofoaming on the vibiemme domobar super electronic -- a.k.a. caesar -- this morning i had to rush outta the door to an early meeting and i just needed to pull a quick shot.

vibiemme thirsty lightso i dashed into the kitchen and turned caesar's half-moon knob to I. immediately the red "help! i'm thirsty!" light next to his "right-eye" pump gauge flicked on; sorry this isn't the greatest pic right now. . .

so i gave him an emergency quart of water and his forehead lights returned to a normal pattern while he filled himself. i then let him warm up for 20 minutes.

i'm near the tail end of my "desperation illy," so i wanted to use that up. this coffee is a tad old by now, and it was raining heavily this morning -- both factors that are definitely going to require you to adjust the grinder.

but i didn't have time for an intricate dialing-in-the-grind process today. so i just nudged my mazzer mini 2 notches finer and went for it.

sigh. not 5 seconds after i pushed caesar's manual pour button, the right-eye pump gauge swept up to 12 bar! oh no!

remember, for good coffee, caesar's gauge should read between 8.6 and 9.2. the coffee was ground waaay too fine.

and indeed, barely a dribble emerged from the spout. i'd choked him, poor thing.

so i tried moving the grinder back a notch; the gauge still flew to 10.

welcome to the joys of brewing espresso. . . with some fresh dancing goats i wouldn't be having this problem, now would i?

Tags: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

posted by fortune | 7:55 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

the vibiemme: steaming milk

vibiemme steam wandto continue from yesterday's real shot on the vibiemme domobar super electronic -- a.k.a. caesar -- this morning i wanted to make my first effort at steaming milk. let's take it back to the hilarious italian manual.

the manual tells you only 4 useful items in passing:

  1. after pulling the shot, wait until caesar's boiler pressure gauge -- his "left eye" -- floats up to 1.1 bar before opening the steam wand
  2. taking the steam wand by the rubber sleeve (if you love your fingerprints; caesar is hot!), move it over the drip tray and open the valve for a couple of seconds to blow off any trapped water and/or air
  3. then place the steam head parallel (flat) to the surface of the milk at 4 o'clock in the milk jug
  4. after steaming, again move the wand over the drip tray and again release some steam to clear the steam holes of any clogged milk

bingo. so here we go.

when i turn caesar on and let him come up to heat, he sits squarely at 1 bar. it's very difficult to get him to budge from 1 bar; he holds his temperature like money: tight.

honestly, i've never seen him at less than .9. after i pull a shot, if i wait about 2 seconds, the heat light goes back on, and his gauge goes back up to 1.1 for about 3 seconds before it floats down to 1 bar.

since i want 2 cappuccini, i put 6 oz. cold milk in my chilled metal pitcher.

since the manual says to open the steam at 1.1, i watched the gauge like a hawk and opened the steam tap as soon as it said 1.1. as the air/water came outta the steam tap, the gauge fell back to 1.

then i close the steam tap, put the wand level at the top of the milk, open the tap half-way and boom! the sweet hissing sound of tearing cotton sheets.

no sucking, gurgling, bubbling, or rude noises. i peered down into my little 12 oz. metal latte art pitcher to find it full to the top.

instant perfect microfoam -- like in 7 seconds. it's scary how well caesar steams.

by the end of steaming, the gauge is back down to about .9. i closed the tap, and a second or two later it's back to 1.

wow. as i still pour about 1 "monkey butt" for every 2 nice apples (obviously i try to specialize in latte art apples -- it's nyc after all!), i'm not going to go on and on about this. because that would be lying: i'm not a latte artist and i can't play one on the internet.

but i will say caesar gave me excellent foam on the first try. maybe i just got lucky, you never know.

certainly i will say that steaming is much easier on caesar than silvia or carlos expobar. clean up is too.

look at the steam wand detail above (i cut this pic onto white because otherwise caesar's mirror-bright body just reflects too madly). one of the things you'll notice is the joint where the steam head meets the arm.

can you see how nicely they're put together? unlike silvia, there's no little groove there for pesky milk to get stuck in.

i can't tell you how hard it can be to get out the tiny wedge of burnt milk that often seemed to get stuck in that joint where the diamond-shaped head met silvia's steam arm. carlos wasn't nearly that hard to clean, i must say.

but caesar is the easiest. one wipe gets all the milk residue off, no secret niches for milk to hide in.

but again, caesar is hot! be careful not to burn yourself wiping the milk off; and wipe the wand instantly, or else it will immediately burn and bond onto the steam head.

Tags: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

posted by fortune | 7:49 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

the vibiemme: real shot

to continue from yesterday's test shot on the vibiemme domobar super electronic -- a.k.a. caesar -- this morning i wanted to pull a real shot. being out of real espresso, i fell back on my "desperation" illy.

i flushed 3 oz. water out the grouphead to try to get the temperature where i wanted it; as i ran water into the empty cup through and empty portafilter, caesar's pump gauge rose to 4 and hung there for a moment before slowing falling back to 0. his boiler pressure gauge stayed solid at 1 bar.

then i ground the coffee at the usual setting on the mazzer mini, dosed, tamped, and just went for a double.

as soon as i pressed caesar's manual pour button, the pump started moving. about 5 seconds into the shot, it registered at 6 -- and there it stayed.

uh-uh. either i had a channel problem, had ground waaaay to coarse, tamped too lightly, or had seriously stale coffee.

with canned illy, guess which it was? (sigh) needless to say, i tossed that shot.

i need to get some high-quality fresh espresso fast! but by grinding the illy much finer, i did get a minimally acceptable shot for breakfast this morning.

i'm finding that the gauges really help making a good espresso. there's no temp surfing -- in fact i bet i probably don't even have to flush water thru the grouphead since caesar holds his temperature so well.

so while some might look at caesar and think "wow, it'll be hard to pull shots on that fancy thing," i think it's easier. the gauges take so much of the guesswork out of it.

you can start your shots in the correct zones for good brewing, and if your coffee or anything isn't right, you can know by 10 seconds or so into the pull.

no surfing, no flushing, and i don't have to wait for steam, of course. in fact after i pull a shot, i can look at caesar's boiler gauge and watch it in about 2 seconds leap to 1.1, perfect to start steaming.

i just grab caesar's steam wand by its rubber sleeve (this could be thicker, by the way! even the rubber gets a tad warm after 40 mins!), move it swiftly over the drip tray, open the valve to blow out any air for a second or two, and he's good to go.

doing this today i found that caesar gives off the finest, quietest, driest steam i've seen in a home machine. this could bode well for excellent microfoam!

more on steaming milk tomorrow. as soon as i can get some great coffee, i'll post my own "espresso porn" pix.

previous reviews blandly stated that caesar is capable of the so-called god shot. on this score let me simply remind everyone that a barista goddess like sherri johns or a champ like paul bassett can pull god shots from a toy piano.

it's in the mad skillz, yogis and yoginis. no matter what machine and grinder you have, you will only get the best results using great fresh coffee -- and developing your barista abilities!

Tags: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

posted by fortune | 8:36 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

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!

Tags: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

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

Sunday, October 29, 2006

the vibiemme: fill him up

ok! after unpacking and assembling the vibiemme domobar electronic espresso machine yesterday -- remember we?re calling him caesar for short -- it?s time to fill 'im up with water, prime his vibration pump, and pull some blank shots to see his default temperature.

let?s be honest: after living with my beloved steamy latin, carlos expobar, caesar's a big deal.

carlos was, well, rather like harvey keitel -- masculine, helpful, somewhat vulnerable once you managed to get to know him, endearing but also somewhat mysteriously remote, with boxy shoulders, sexy in his off-beat low-key way, but not a pretty boy, not anything like conventionally handsome.

whereas caesar -- that's like waking up and having george clooney in your kitchen. you feel more glamorous just looking at him. you and your kitchen both have somehow lost 10 years and 10 pounds.

your drawers are suddenly full of la perla everything, and all carpets are red. but how does he work?

i've never had a machine with useful, functional gauges before, so learning to use them to help me pull good shots will be very exciting.

long-time bccy readers don't need to be reminded how important temperature is when pulling great espresso shots. everyone knows by now that coffee has many different taste compounds that occur naturally in it.

and all the different compounds dissolve into the coffee at different amounts at different temperatures. when we pull a shot we want to make sure we have a water temperature that extracts all the good tasting things into the cup, while leaving as much of the not-so-good stuff behind as possible.

let's start with filling caesar up with water. because he?s not plumbed in, i can't just pop a water treatment unit under my sink and call it a day.
i have to be careful what kind of water i pour into him. very hard water will not only make bad coffee, but also gum up his elaborate insides with limescale.

over time, limescale can destroy the machine. since descaling an hx (heat exchanger) machine like caesar isn't so easy at home -- certainly not as easy as mixing up some cleancaf for silvia -- i want from the very beginning to ensure that i try to prevent scale buildup at all, as much as possible.

dr. illy informs us that the best water for good espresso taste is about 3 grains of hardness, with a certain mineral content of about 100 ppm. this means many people can?t just put their tap water into their hx machines.

it's too hard and/or has the wrong mineral balance (for example, too much iron in your water will come into the coffee, and give it a noticeably ghoulish-green quality when you add milk). if you have doubts, use test strips to check your home water out.

altho' i live in nyc, with its famous water, for this first fill i used volvic, a reliable bottled water that is pretty close to the illy requirements. i think supermarkets everywhere sell it.

depending on what region of the country you live in, there might be local bottled waters that will also do; some people i know swear by poland spring, even!

so now i've got my water. let?s fill 'im up.

caesar?s water tank is the back underneath his top warming plate. just use the handles to lift off the warming plate, and there it is:vibiemme water tank(i darkened the photo a bit because otherwise caesar is so beautifully reflective you can barely seem him sometimes in pictures! notice also on the edge, how the slightest fingerprint stands out like a gash; joeglo wipes to the rescue here.)

the tank has a little clear plastic cap that has to be levered off: it doesn?t really have a pull tab. this is where you can break a nail, if you're not careful, so i used the point of my butter knife.

i'd recommend a funnel to help avoid spilling while you fill, if you can get one underneath your cabinets.

his tank holds about 3.5 qts, or 3 liters. honestly, i do wish that the tank could be placed farther forward, and have a larger hole for filling -- this is one thing i loved about carlos expobar, his easily accessible and easy-to-fill water tank.

but it's not unmanageable with a liter bottle of volvic under my own cabinets. now that he's got water, we need to plug him in, fill his boiler and prime his pump.

let's turn to the hilarious italian manual; actually, shaking the manual, caesar comes with 3 sets of instructions. all of which sort of agree, but which also sort of differ as the correct procedure.

let's start with the big manual; it's not as completely useless as usual here, just 90% useless. turning to the domobar super with water tank section, here?s what we learn -- "put the commutator (2) in position 1, the on/off indicator lamp (3) will light and the boiler water inlet will automatically start."

no one new to espresso equipment would have any idea what that meant; i barely do myself. so don't freak out!

if you turn to the back of the big manual, you'll see 4 really bad color pix, one of which shows caesar with his row of buttons on his forehead.

the picture doesn?t label the indicator lamp, and in fact, it can be barely discerned in the grainy photo. but it's the little green light outside the right-hand pump gauge over the hot water wand.

the little light on the inside of the right-hand gauge should be his "help! i'm thirsty!" light. that should come on red when he needs water; caesar has a little weight scale inside that turns this light on if the water tank gets too light (that is, if he's about to run dry.)

never let caesar run dry. he will break. please always give him water when he asks for it, right away!

the "commutator" (isn't that the guy who gives the play-by-play during a soccer match?) is the half-moon shaped knob/lever on the bottom right underneath the hot water wand:vibiemme levetta, half-moon knob, commutator, whateverusually italian machines of this quality have a little lever here, called, duh, a "levetta." so call it a commutator, a levetta, or a half-moon knob, there it is.

notice the knob has 3 settings:

  • 0 for off
  • I for fill
  • II for heat & brew

so we want to turn the half-moon to I and let caesar fill himself up.

the half-moon turns like a dream. and caesar leaps to life with a little click: his small green light comes on, showing that caesar is alive and has voltage.

you hear a medium br-rr-ruurr-ing sound as he draws water from the tank into his boiler. it's not nearly as loud and obnoxious as carlos expobar's autofill noise, which frankly always caused the cat to hit the ceiling.

and that?s saying something since i live in a loft-ish apartment with very high ceilings. my husband also always had, um, a deeply negative reaction; "what the *$%#!"

caesar is much more polite, but still far from quiet. and certainly not silent.

still, by semi-commercial espresso machine standards, i'm calling him acceptable.

now of the 3 manuals, one piece of paper suggests this autofill should continue for 60 seconds. i timed it with my espresso timer, and found this very first time that it lasted for 2 minutes, 10 seconds.

then caesar stopped, meaning he was happy and full of water. great! his little light stayed green because of course all it means is that he?s awake and has power.

so now to heat 'em up and pull some blank shots to see his default temperature. i turned the half-moon to II.

caesar's third lamp lit red. this lamp sits on the left-hand side, over the steam wand, outside the boiler pressure gauge.

this light comes on and off as caesar manipulates his heating element to bring himself up to brewing temperature and keep himself there. as caesar heats you'll also notice his left-hand boiler gauge slowly rising.

it should generally hang out around between .9 and 1.1 bar.

i let caesar heat for 30 minutes as i went about eating chocolate, etc., and he quietly clicked every now and then. after a couple of minutes i carefully moved the steam wand over the drip tray and opened it to let out any air in there; once the steam came out, i closed the knob.

it's crucial to remember that he gets very very hot. don't casually touch the exposed e-61 grouphead or the metal portions of the wands; be careful also of his face.

caesar's amazing, but he's not for those with toddlers. if you're used to a machine like silvia or carlos, which you can touch as they heat, and almost have to to get the portafilter on, be extra wary.

once his boiler light went out, and his boiler gauge read 1 bar, i decided to take his temperature. some people have fancy electronic thermometers, but really, for this basic step all you need's a paper cup and your instant-read thermometer:easy temperature readingi then put on an oven mitt and held the paper cup-n-thermometer-stuck-sideways up tight against the dispersion screen.

i pressed caesar's manual pour button, which the rightmost button on his forehead. his pump gur-ru-rured, and he there he was, working away!

after 10 seconds i pushed the same button again to turn his pump off. there was some water in the cup, as expected.

i waited about 30 seconds so the instant read could give me a good temperature: 200 degrees. notice i didn't flush him, or run any water beforehand.

i then measured the amount of water he?d pumped: exactly 50 ml or about 1.7 oz. the whole time i ran him, caesar's gauge stayed at 1 bar, which i would expect.

i had thought that before doing any test brewing, i would have to open him up and do some adjustment. but actually, these numbers are pretty great.

i think caesar has a good default water debit and temperature out of the box. in short, he's not bad as he is.

since i prefer the italian inei standards for espresso, i might after some test brewing lower his pressure a bit. what i'd be after then is 190-195 degree exit water, for a temperature of 152-157 degrees coffee in the cup.

if i flush him a bit by running about 2-4 oz. water thru him first, i might get that 190ish degrees right away, no adjustment. more on that as i continue. . .

Tags: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

posted by fortune | 8:56 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 3 comments | leave a voicemail

| ©2000-2006 frelkins. all rights reserved.