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          Archive for February, 2012

          Sunday, February 26th, 2012

          Miguel and Guillermo Menendez brought samples of green (unroasted) coffee seeds this week, from their family’s farms in El Salvador. ?These were roasted in Joel’s garage (not our Hawthorne workshop). Currently this coffee is being loaded into a short container, from where it will be shipped to the Port of Portland. The lots are all Bourbon varietal, all very consistent, and each a little different. Tyler and I tasted them while working bar Saturday. We definitely will be purchasing some of their family’s coffee, but still have not settled. The other roasters in Portland were also brought samples, we will see who has purchased what in a few months.

          Cold Brew Coffee is being made in increasing amounts at our bar. The amount of bakery has also increased, and with it chances for an afternoon Canelé, or Chocolate Chip Cookie.

          This Thursday we open late to welcome the artwork of Carla, another printmaker whose poster artwork for her DJ shows have been quiet lovely. She will bring with her two girls who have a bike powered taco stand for Thursday evening. We will be serving coffee later than normal. You are invited (expected time 6-8pm).

          Sunday, February 19th, 2012

          New coffees-
          Indonesia Flores Bajawa Ngura, Rain Forest Alliance certified, organically grown, jan crop arrival
          Colombia Huila Valencia, January crop arrival
          Papua New Guinea Kimel, January crop arrival, peaberry seed type.
          Decaf Ethiopia Sidamo, January crop arrival, natural process, organically grown, water process decaf Mexico
          Ethiopia Oromia Guji, Moremora Dev. of Org. Coffee Sole Enterprise,Jan crop arrival, natural process, org. grown

          Espresso on currently- Ethiopia Limu Nigussie Lemma, Dry hulled cherry, November crop arrival Oakland. Drink pictured a 5.5 oz little friend.

          Friday, February 17th, 2012

          We now have Canelé forms, brushed with beeswax and canola oil. They are lovely.

          Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

          Made Canelés at the bar. Used a recept from Andrew McConnells new cookbook ‘Cumulus’ (fantastic book, beautiful). Our first day and we sold fourteen (ate four). We made them nontraditional, in muffin tins, but there is just something about them that entrigues. We definitely are picking up traditional molds asap.

          Not on bar-making tonic of young pine needles and soju, an idea that sprang from Jen of Picnic’s personal cookbook ‘Shunju,’ three month steep time. Pine needles are good for your heart, and make wonderful tea.

          Friday we receive new coffee from Royal Coffee in Oakland, a large brokerage we much respect. There will be three new coffees, most likely on bar at the start of next week.

          Reviewing the previous post, it may have been a little too text book. An espresso machine produces steam at pressure (for milk steaming) and hot water at pressure (to make espresso). There are two different things happening with the water, but in both cases water is lead into hot pressurized environments. Water is kept moving in (and not out of) each boiler with a one way valve (check valve). As water heats it expands and in a system with no air to take up the expansion we have a valve to bleed this excess (expansion valve). In a system with air the air acts as a cushion, but we have a valve just in case something goes wrong to bleed off pressure. There is a simple yet mechanically beautiful and well thought out machine. We will try to get some pictorals to follow this. xo from courier.


          Sunday, February 12th, 2012

          Yesterday evening we made some very satisfying adjustments on our friends three group Hydra espresso machine (made by Synesso). It helped much to be served a little buddy prior to engaging the work. The issue was a bleeding expansion valve (they all bleed, but this one was doing it too much). The expansion valve is somewhat a beast to open in place. it is perhaps the Largest brass valve in the entire machine, with the strongest spring. Each of the four tanks in a three group hydra have their own water inlet. On all inlets that lead to a grouphead there is a check valve followed by an expansion valve. Check valves only allow water movement in one direction. We want water going into the espresso machine, not back out of it (check valves are also found in all bicycle pumps and on all bicycle inner tube stems). Inside the checkvalve is either a ball or piston that seals up when pressure is applied in the direction the valve is supposed to check (this is also what keeps beer taps closed- pressure, these are check valves as well).

          There are two kinds of tanks in an espresso machine- those completely full of water lead to the groupheads (where espresso is made), and those partially full of water (to create steam). Both of these systems need a way to safely release pressure and each has a valve that opens. These valves keep closed with a spring pressing a seal against an opening. A check valve operates in line with the flow of water, an expansion valve (or pressure release, or safety valve) is connected in line, but allows excess pressure to exit or escape the line. Air is a much better absorber of pressure than water. If we had a column of water and we tried to press that column from two ends and make it smaller we would have a very hard time, but with air there would be some give (why those fancy shoes use air instead of water as a cushion). Air has better cushioning effects versus water because it is a gas. Air and other gasses may pressurize to a much higher level because their molecules are loosely spaced and not as rigid. When one pressurizes a a super soaker it is air, not water that one is compacting. Think about pressurizing a solid on the other hand, like a rock (much harder to do). So the two different types of tanks in an espresso machine are very different. One is completely full of water, and the other half full of water and half full of gas (air, steam). The Expansion valve is named such because as cold water enters the hotter environment it expands, and there is not any air to cushion its expansion (it cannot move backwards past the check valve), so we release it from the system. There is a continual drip from this valve that is usually infrequent when not in use, and more frequent in use. The water is directed to a hidden drip pan that also collects water from the drip tray before sending it down a tube to a drain. Some people freak out when they look into their machine and see water dripping, this is a natural feeling to have, but everything is all right.

          In our case the other night water was dripping very frequently, so we looked further. The water shut off, excess pressure released from the line, Expansion valve removed, we simply tightened the pressure of the spring and re installed. The sealing part is a disc of teflon held against an orifice (the exit hole to our closed system). Our goal is to have the teflon seat properly with pressure against the orifice. We only had to remove the valve completely because there were a few things in our way from getting a wrench in there to make adjustments. That this worked at all was a crapshoot, it often takes a little more to get a problem disc to seat well, and the brass could have pitted or fractured due to a casting or production issue (in this case we would install a new valve).

          The beautiful part was that it was easy to access. In the end we did not open up the expansion valve, because it looked like we could just tighten it a little and have it seat. We were treated to a glass of Yamazaki 12 year after the work was done.

          Monday, February 6th, 2012

          Roasting samples in the garage tonight (my personal garage, not 4019 se Hawthorne). The wind is awesome because it is easier to breath with smoke carried away. The garage keeps wind from interfering with the propane flames, that and a brick and some tin foil.