Wednesday, December 23, 2009

just in: koffee kosmo coretto coffee roaster (beta version)! it might not look like much at first glance but I have it on very good authority that this 'home built' coretto coffee roaster is capable of producing very good coffee indeed

First impressions out of the box are that it is well built using first rate and sturdy materials - and it came well packed too - which is just as well as I managed to catch a glance inside the back of the courier truck and everything was all akimbo!

Still... the driver went out of his way to deliver to me at home as opposed to my cafe (which is now closed for a couple of weeks over the break) - which I amvery grateful for...

So... out of the box..

Bearing in mind that this unit is a 'pre release' prototype - a work in progress if you will - I'm going to rate it as if it were the real thing - ready to be released to the Australian public, and presumably the world at large!

Now this may seem a tad unfair as I am one of only twenty select few to be putting this machine through its paces prior to commercial release - so I'm going to be a bit harsher than is perhaps necessary considering the machine is in the 'pre-production' and final stages of development

The product itself is the end result of a lot of hard work on the part of Paul aka "Koffee Kosmo" from the Crema and CoffeeSnobs websites, in collaboration with Bazzari Bezzera as the Australian agent and distributors...

First off the machine itself as mentioned was well packed albeit with the 'o ring' for the heating element packed upside down for safe storage - but annoyingly no mention of this in the instructions anywhere?

Anyway... it didn't take rocket science to figure out how to pop same off and to position it the right way! Although while we're at it an appropriately sized Allen key in the packaging to do the job wouldn't have gone astray, and one of the screws for fastening same had fallen off and was located in the bottom of the box

The actual instructions themselves that accompanied the machine are very limited - and I take it that the end user is assumed to already has a firm handle on the home-roasting process - which, thankfully, I do

So a bit of playing around and a few minutes later the machine is assembled and ready to go - and its a very straight forward assembly!

Except of course to a technophobe like me - who couldn't figure out how to keep the machine running without keeping my finger down on the manual on / off switch on the back of the heating element!

Still, one quick post on the CS website and I'm up and running in minutes - how's that for service!

Turns out you need to lock the handle in place to keep the element and the timer running - sort of a fail-safe safety mechanism!

Can't say I've done much roasting at home recently what with having two kids under five years of age and having recently opened a new cafe - but I do have at least 20kg of green beans on hand just waiting for me to say the word!

And considering that I'm going camping with around 100 mates over the new year's period - and that I traditionally provide both the coffee machine and the home roast coffee that goes with that - I suppose I had better get roasting!

Just waiting for the temperature to drop from the dreaded 38C that it was today (its still 31C at midnight as I write!) - which is NOT ideal conditions for roasting!

Still... time is short and life is sweet and there is no time like the present for giving it a whirl - so maybe I'll whack on the aircon and get cracking!

Watch this space...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

'new' azkoyen bravo compact two group!

Well... it was inevitable really - it had to happen - Foxy is just too darned busy especially on the weekends to run with a single machine!

So given the space limitations I've installed a second, compact two group, to manage the flow and to help with takeaway coffees etc, on the weekends, but also for busy service times during the week - it means that floor staff can prep their own teas / chai etc - which is one less thing for the barista to have to concentrate on, leaving the guy (or girl!) behind the machine to focus on what they do best!

Also, given the way that we craft our coffees (i.e. one at a time or 3 max pouring at once from a double ristretto base) - having the additional two groups should enable us to get the coffees out quicker when the pressure is on! In theory as well a second barista could be working this machine which will be a god send on Saturday and Sunday mornings around 10.30am - when the place fills to capacity in around half an hour!

The machine itself is probably around four years old, as it has the new volumetric touchpads and wiring and seams in reasonable condition - save for the fact that it has been garaged for awhile so the water in the tank was in need of a good purge - we've drained the tank around a dz times until the steam from the steam wand smells 'sweet'

If necessary we will descale the boiler but I'm hoping it doesn't have to come to that as that means taking the machine off site...

I've certainly used higher-speck'd machines before but the thing I love about the Azkoyen is that they are solidly built and made to last!

I really enjoyed pulling shots on my old Expobar G10 multiple boiler machine - and I loved the automated pre-infusion on the G10 but the machine itself did not seem well equipped to sustain the punishment of the 800 or more coffees that we were pulling per day at my old joint! (Although admittedly the workload was split between several machines)

Still, Joshua Bailey, my roaster and machine tech extraordinare, is a whizz at getting the most out of coffee equipment, and I'm hoping that by the time we whack some oversized Synesso baskets on the Azkoyen, combined with tweaking the boiler capacity - we should end up with pretty decent coffee from this machine!

Watch this space for further updates!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

tables and chairs n other stuff!

well... after our first decent sized group booking went well during the week - where we maximized the use of the rear courtyard by putting an additional long table out there - we decided to leave the table (which had been previously left inside servicing the communal room at the back of the restaurant) out there permanently!

thus creating a vacancy where it had been! So once again it was off to the Salvation Army superstore in Abbotsford for me - where I picked up a collapsable ten seater table which (I was told) retailed in the latest Ikea catalogue for around a grand!

combine this with ten 'new' (think 1970's original dining room furniture) padded ad wooden chairs - all loaded into the back and on top of my faithful station wagon - and what you have is some seriously increased seating capacity!

the Murray River red gum picnic table which adorns the back yard is also a recent purchase - and this table comfortable seats around ten people - so that means that we have effectively increased our seating capacity by around 20pax - or around 30 per cent - in the last week!

this led to a bumper trade today (Saturday) with just about every seat in the house full all morning and over lunch (thank goodness the weather held) - and Alicia and I crafting some wicked coffees on the coffee machine!

was well pleased today not only with how well but how swiftly the coffees came out today - which in itself is no mean feet as we use a double ristretto as the basis for all our shots and given the setup we can run such shots for 50sec or more - meaning that at present we can only craft three coffees at a time, and that these coffees can take up to three minutes combined just to pour from the machine!

Try telling that to the customer - the don't want to know!

anyway - we were all over it today like white on rice - which hasn't stopped me from investing in a new two group compact espresso machine - which I hope to have installed by the end of the week

this will seriously bring our capacity up and give us added fire power and flexibility especially on the weekends - when we need it most

it also frees up the second barista to pull shots and craft their own milk if they need to do so - rather than just waiting on their buddy to do so - exciting times indeed!

Peace Out - Pat x

Friday, December 4, 2009

evaporative cooling the order of the day!

What can I say? I'm in aircon heaven! Actually to be technically correct its evaporative cooling heaven - which is very different from aircon. On Tuesday we had a new system installed which is basically a massive vented (brown, of course) box which goes on the roof, and four vents inserted in the ceiling - one for the barista, two for the chefs (one each!) and one for the customers!

Well... that's only partially true as you want to have your vents close together as this aids circulation, and having them near to the heat source means that they soak up the heat and expel it out the door!

I kid you not! Water is passed over some giant sponges in the box on the roof, then an industrial fan pushes that water cooled air through the building - the way to go is to have a door open at either end of our long space to create a current of air that runs through the building - which effectively gathers the heat generated from the oven, coffee machine, body heat etc, and rushes it out the door - this only work well in the Southern States if Australia - as we mostly have an intense dry heat - and is less effective in areas of high humidity

Even so on humid days we just cut the water to create a current of air which is way better than no circulation at all and heat building up

But the really good news is that its great for coffee as it produces a moisture rich environment which the beans love - they soak up the moisture in the air instead of drying out - and this is then captured in the cup as dark and rich (but hopefully not over extracted) flavours that retain more of the good oils from the bean!

It also means that we can run our shots for longer which leads to longer (say 20sec) pre-infusion before the shot runs, and 50sec to a minute extractions - without blonding or scolding the coffee - are not unusual

Its great for producing espresso and espresso based coffee!

And just as rewarding is the fact that its no longer 45C plus in the kitchen and behind the coffee machine on those sweltering Melbourne summer (and late spring - thank climate change for that one oh ye of little faith) days!

Cool climate conditions is cool staff and cool coffee - gotta be lovin that!