Category Archives: La Marzocco

Time to say goodbye to the coffee world

Well, if you didn’t already figure it out.  I have to C O N C E N T R A T E on some things that makes it so that I can’t be focused as I would prefer on the “Bean Chaser Blog.”

I appreciate friends like Jason Dominy, Jim Hoffman and crew, Mark Prince, Dan at HB, Chemically Imbalanced, Tonx, Shannon Hudgens, Kevin & Regina @ Crema Roasters,  Geoff Corey, Scott Conary, and I will even thank Nick Cho, and I can’t leave out the team at Octane and by name Tony.  The home roasting ability of George Holt.  Finally, I thank, the professional roasting of Intelligensia Roasters and Counter Culture Coffee.

There is no certian order to that list.  Some listed had a HUGE impact on my life and I will be forever thankful.  And there is some there that taught me a huge lesson on what not to do (I mean that good and bad).  I will have forgotten some, I guess.  It’s is unavoidable.  Some people I have there faces in my head and I can’t remember their names.

If I hadn’t found Mark Prince in a Google search for “French Press” this would have never been started and I hadn’t have ever messaged Tonx, I would have never found Hudge, and thus, I would have never had my first INCREDIBLE shot of espresso (single origin, mind you).  If I hadn’t found Hudge I wouldn’t have this massive two group Faema in my kitchen, which in the words of my brother-in-law “is the first and last thing you see in that house.”

Continue reading


Espresso Test: This is a test

A friend of mine and I travelled yesterday up to Cary, NC to Crema Roasters to get a couple pounds of espresso.

Kevin gladly responded by saying, “You want some espresso I am working on?” Meaning it was going to be a test.

“Sure thing.  You got my attention”

  • Ethiopian Guji
  • Costa Rica La Pastora
  • Columbian Hvila
  • Brazil Pedre Grande
  • Sumatra Mandilin

Well if this is a test, please let me grade this with a “Oh, my word!

Look, I am not trying to toot my own horn, either.  But, Mark said the espresso tasted better out of my machine (Faema).  Kevin’s is a temp stable La Marzocco FB/80.  This almost has to be a temprature issue – IMHO.  I know that machine runs hot, almost 205.  I am running in the 199-201 range, according to everything Shannon and I discussed.  Ahh, alas I need a Scace of my own with a data logger.

Running into Helios Cafe in Raliegh and end up meeting important peeps!

rich_futrell_s Hmmm, I quickly with a rush blow into Helios Cafe in Raleigh to grab some Counter Culture whole bean for the press and some espresso to tide us over until the Square Mile comes in and “lo and behold” Rich Futrell is sitting there getting wired up on espresso Aficionado.

I had never met Rich, but dude was there and with the very limited time we had we were able to talk shop!! I wish I had much more time, but I had my sister’s family and mine in the Excursion waiting!

Good to meet you Rich and I hope we can run into each other again very soon!

While I was there I got a pound of Counter Culture’s Espresso Aficionado, Ada’s Finca Mauritania, & Kenya Kangocho (a personal CCC fav).

Can’t wait until the morning when I can get into this stuff.

WBC announces espresso machine and grinder sponsors

I will leave this with you for the Labor Day Weekend, here in the states.  OMG, this is ridicules.

Read up on this over at Andrew Hetzel’s site, as I don’t have time to get all the sources and everything and do a “full report.”  Looks like he did a great job, anyway.


LONDON (August 29, 2008) – The world’s top baristas will test their coffee making skills in competition using the Nuova Simonelli Aurelia espresso machine and MAHLKÖNIG K30 espresso grinders at World Barista Championship events in 2009 – 2011.

Look, I am one to proclaim the following about both of the brands:

  • Nuova Simonelli – Every single place, without any exception, I go and see these machines has the worst coffee one can imagine.  Especially their grinders.  IMHO, these are the machines people buy when they can’t or won’t afford for a real piece of equipment.
  • MAHLKÖNIG – I know of two places that uses this in their bar and they do a great job.  I honestly don’t know anything more than that.  It doesn’t bother me at all one way or another  on the grinder.  MAHLKÖNIG or the current sponsor the Compak K-10.

Now that I have pissed everybody off, I am off on holiday.  G’day!

More blithering about aweful espresso. It is making me physically ill

Remember my post about Mickey’s Pastries in Goldsboro taking an add out in the paper for an experienced barista?  Well, what a bunch of crapola.

Look, gloves off.  I have been nice the past few weeks about going into places and getting espresso, capps and coffee that just sucks.  It would be different if I was going into a Starbucks or some cracked up truckstop, but I am going into places that should know better, but they don’t. After reading a post on the Barista Exchange entitled “you serve bad espresso… you should be ashamed…..igot razors in my car if you want” and then replying, I am just sick of bad espresso and coffee.  It isn’t that bad when it is some cracked up joint that doesn’t care (or doesn’t have a history of caring) for the products they sell, they just want to sell’em (like a convenience store: no reason to care if the coffee sucks or not).  But, it is sick, absolutely gut wrenching, when you go into a place historically renown nationwide as being a stalwart and essence of quality.  Mickey’s Pastry has two people that are Certified Master Baker’s, which it is a rarity to have two CMBs on staff.  She has been in Cooking Light Magazine and I have read the article.  There are only a few CMBs in the United States, period.

So, with the CMB background I would figure that Melanie Daniels (CMB) and Mickey’s Pastries would take the same care and effort and funnel that into espresso and coffee.  Of course I know there is a learning curve.  Of course I understand that it will not be perfect at first.  But, there are few essentials I truly figured they would have taken care of first and foremost.

I walked in and a young lady came up to the counter asking if she could help me.  I asked “Did you fill the barista position?”  She said, “What is that?”  And I pointed to the LM Linea.  She said, “Oh, no, Melanie does it.”  So, I said, “I can order an espresso then?”  She replied, “Yes.”

Melanie came out about two minutes later never making eye contact, never saying “hi.”  She ground the shot, never wiping the portafilter after coming out of the group and tamped it with an RB.  Never flushing the Linea.  Pulled the shot which “went blond” immediately and poured in about 12 seconds.  That Espresso Toscano was just literally massacred.  Then, to completely finish whacking any tendons that may have been holding the skull to the upper vertebrae she poured it into a Styrofoam cup.  Yeah, that is right…Styrofoam, not even a paper cup.  Because she didn’t bleed the temperature off of the machine it was surely boiling and I didn’t taste a thing but hot, muddy water.

After she pulled it, she never looked at me and put it up on the counter, starting to walk off I said, “Hey, Melanie!  Have you had a hard time finding a barista?  I saw your ad in the paper.”  She finally made eye contact with me and said the following twice, “No, we really don’t have a need.”  She then, turned about face and walked off.  Weird.  Just weird.

So, what did a walk in on here?  A tax write off?  I know she had at least $7,000 (if used) if not $12,000 (if new) worth of equipment.

Melanie, if your reading this?  Don’t get mad, get better.  Get some cups from and find out as much about Espresso Toscano and coffee, how precious it is and how hard people work to make it spectacular, as you found out about the rest of your fantastic products in your bakery.  That bench with the coffee equipment is a black eye in that shop.  It is just as bad as having tray after tray of baked goods in your display and then on the end having some cakes that a three year old made with mommy. Another thing, about the equipment, there hardly any better equipment that can be purchased; There are a couple machines better and a few grinders better, but they are rarely chosen.  You have a La Marzocco Linea, a Mazzer Super Jolly and a Reg Barber Tamper.  You have the tools of about 80% (my number) of  the best professionals in the world.  Whether it is Murky Coffee in D.C, Octane in ATL, and the list just goes on and on, the LM Linea and the Mazzer SJ are the workhorses of fantastic coffee the world over.

And I am going to ask a serious question here: Where in HADES is Counter Culture Coffee here?  All that talk about espresso, coffee integrity and sustainability and all that.  Look guys, her whole bean on the shelf was roasted in mid-June.  I know you trained her, I could tell she had some practice.  But, what gives?  Are things so bad your salesmen have to talk people into purchasing the equipment that have no education in coffee, no compass to work off of regarding quality?  I know you sold her the drip blend for the walk-ins for years and that is fantastic.  It probably should have stayed right there.  I wonder how long it took you to talk her into the idea of buying $7k to $12k of equipment (or was it a write off).  You (CCC & Melanie) may say “is this any of your business?”  Yes, yes it is.  It becomes my business when I see somebody continuing the thought process in their customer’s mind that espresso is nasty and cappuccinos and lattes need two shots of syrup to hide the coffee.

I am just tired of seeing the same senario over and over and over with no “letting up.”  And on top of that, this time they dropped it right in my backyard.  I sit here looking at places where I would DIE to setup shop and create a fantastic product and atmosphere for people.  I sit here with no money and nobody with to develop a business.  Mrs. Daniels and CCC, if you desire, call me, write me, respond here or whatever.  Just Google me and get my address and phone number.  I am not hard at all to find.  Now, rip me.  Respond here and tell me what you were thinking.  Defend yourself.  Or just blow steam off on me.  Call me the idiot.  Call me the “coffee snob.”  Or you could call me (or somebody) up and ask for some advice.  You DO have a market.  And you CAN “have a need.”

Quality Barista Job Opening in Goldsboro! This makes me sweat!

I was just going through the classified ads in my local paper (Goldsboro News Argus) and I found this:

BARISTA – Full-time position. 7am-3pm, 5 days a week. Must have experience. References required. Apply in person. 2704 Graves Drive. No phone calls!!!

Well, doing a little research, like Google mapping the address, and deductive reasoning tells me that is Mickey’s Pastries. Let me tell you something right now about MIckey’s: Mickey isn’t even alive anymore (I don’t think) but his grand daughter runs the business. She is a “Master Baker” (some type of top of the line cert) and this place has served Counter Culture Coffee in drip form for a few years. In the Goldsboro area, if you say pastry, people just logically expect your about to talk about Mickey’s Pastry. It is top of the line and nobody else can compare. For crying out loud, how hard would it be for her to have been offering some coffee service crap? Real easy, but she chose to deal with (IMHO) one of the best in the business – Counter Culture.

I called today, just being nosey and asked, “Hey, do you guys have some Counter Culture Coffee? The lady said “Yes, we do.” I replied, “Maam, do you have any bags of Espresso Toscano available?” She said, “Not right now, but we will shortly. CCC will be our supplier and you will be able to get espresso, cappuccino, Lattes and bags of coffee in just a little while.”

Folks, whoever gets this job will be taught by CCC staff and will practice proper preparation practices. So, if your in the area and looking a good job as a barista, with the possibility of having direct influence on the quality and such, I suggest giving these folks a call.

There is three $B within a stones throw and that isn’t bothering Mickey’s, either.

This is fantastic.

Good grief I wish I was 19 and had a head on my shoulders.

Watch some stupid yuts that says, “Well I really don’t even like the taste of coffee… (blah, freak’n blah)” wind up with that job.  That would be stupid and rediculas.  I am hoping that the advice given to them by CCC includes the “what not to hire” spill!

Oh my word, I bet she is going to get a hot La Marzocco!  OMW!  And a Robur, OMW!

Helios Cafe & Aficionado by Counter Culture

The family and I were in Raleigh yesterday looking bunk beds for the kids, it is Emma’s fourth birthday that is coming up on the 25th (the fact that it is the fourth is INSANE). We stopped by Helios Cafe in downtown Raleigh. Helios has a brand new two group La Marzocco GB/5 that they purchased from Counter Culture (I remember that thing sitting in the crate last time I was there). What a sweet machine! They were producing some sweet espresso and the capps had incredible texture on the milk. The wife even commented that the GB/5 was just flat out keeping up with the demand (they were “off the hook” busy in there).

I got a double shot of Aficionado and a cappuccino. The wife had a cappuccino as well and Anna had a decaf double shot of Aficionado. She loves espresso. I brought home a pound of Ethiopian Yirg and a pound of Aficionado to feed the beast!

This morning was great. I made Nikki a press of Ethiopian Yirg to take to the office (she is working with Daddy this week while our Secretary is on vacation) and a cappuccino “to-go.” Anna and I had a ball making double shots and capps. And let me tell you, the Aficionado was smokey as ever and right on target. Almost as good as Tuscano, but not quite.

We really enjoyed a quite morning shook up by the Mazzer and the Faema. A little whining, grinding and swirling noise is good first thing in the morning!