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ChiarasDad

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About ChiarasDad

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  • Location
    Windsor
  • Interests
    Headphone hi-fi, espresso, software, business, child-raising
  • Occupation
    Technologist / software guy / business guy

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  1. Congratulations! I think I spent something like 80 minutes installing mine. I took it all very slow, checking everything over and over - with mains current running all over, I did not want to get electrocuted even once.
  2. I'm very interested in making singles but I've had terrible luck trying to make singles in my Gaggia Classic with Gaggia's single basket. I'm going to get one of the VST 7g baskets, which looks to have steeper sides which I imagine will help me at least get a more consistent tamp.
  3. A nice little corner! It looks like you have everything you need.
  4. It's hard to get lower than that with P&P charges. But do follow @hands_on_coffee on Twitter; from time to time they offer promotional specials with free or reduced P&P. Their selection is modest, but I've enjoyed what I've had from them.
  5. Most weekends lately I drink Londinium's decaf Costa Rican, as espresso -- it's very good and very satisfying. This past weekend I tried it for the first time as Aeropress, and it's really excellent: deep, rich, very flavourful, and again very satisfying. Highly recommended. (I've never previously been pleased with my Aeropress, but this weekend I tried Sweet Maria's instructions, and I remembered I had a Thermapen in a drawer to give me no-guessing temperatures, and between the two I've become much happier with my results.)
  6. I've been using Durgol as my descaler, mainly just because it's what I'm accustomed to. It's awfully expensive, but seems to work brilliantly -- I justify the expense by catching it as it runs out of the machine and using it over again to get the scale off other things around the house. It's so effective that a few wipes with a soaked paper towel is often all that's needed. (I also don't descale very often, as I now exclusively use Volvic water in my machine.)
  7. Today it's Coffee Real's Salvation decaf blend. I'm about three days into it and I think I have my shot parameters about as well dialed in as they're going to be. My shots are perfectly fine - I don't see anything I can do better on them technically anyway, and the flavour and texture are nice enough - but I'm just not loving/savouring this coffee. So far, Londinium's decaf Costa Rican is still my go-to when I'm in decaf mode*. *I have a relatively low caffeine tolerance, so this year I've been experimenting with going decaf for periods of time so I don't build up sleep debt. I will probably post a little bit about this separately if anyone's interested.
  8. I have 18g and 20g VSTs and I'm finding I really don't use the 20g. I've just ordered a 15g, which I think will suit a few blends (I'm mainly thinking HasBean Kicker) better. I must say I'm curious about that 7g basket.
  9. For the last few days it's been Vertical Break from Coffee Real. I'm pulling it as a short shot, maybe 19-21s to get ~3/4 oz of smooth rich velvety crema with almost no pure liquid beneath it. It's absolutely wonderful. What I want from my espresso is a tiny little morning demitasse of optimism, and this fits the bill exactly. I've been finding it difficult to stop at one, or even two. I suspect I've found my new 'house espresso' for those times when I'm relaxing a bit from my usual habit of trying something new all the time. I've been so transfixed by its results as this type of ristretto (and have been going through the bag so fast) that I really have no idea what it's capable of as a more conventional sort of shot. It's well worth experimenting with, I will confidently assert that. ---- As for Black Chough which has been mentioned a few times recently: I have not tried to make it as espresso; to me it's a very nice filter coffee for those times when you want something dark, strong, hot, and just plain good, and aren't on a quest for subtlety, fruity varietal character, or the like (but of course you don't want to feel you're drinking paint stripper either). It's a style I do like in general, and it makes a particularly fine winter coffee to be sure. I corresponded a little with Paul at Hands-On when it first came out, as my wife and I are in fact expats from California and now and then we do miss a certain "west coast" style of coffee* that Black Chough is described as trying to emulate. In my judgment he's hit the mark very well (in fact we both referred to a blend that it turned out he and we both know). Success with it as a filter coffee seems to depend pretty heavily on sufficiency of both temperature and contact time. I wasn't getting really satisfying results with it in my filter drip machine nor other cone-filter methods until I got a SwissGold filter which to my surprise really does give a different, and superior, extraction to the machine's supplied permanent filter or the paper ones I was using. I'm useless at AeroPress, but I suspect that people who can use it successfully would be able to make fine Black Chough with it; and from what I know of Chemex I imagine it could work successfully there. But it did seem to be a coffee that could yield weak and uninteresting results unless handled properly. *Also reminiscent of the strong, dark coffee my wife's relatives in Oslo drink throughout the day -- evidence that you don't have to be American to like this sort of thing
  10. ChiarasDad

    decaff beans?

    I'm drinking Londinium's decaf Costa Rican, and it's extremely good, and very easy to work with.
  11. Re the tampers (off topic a little, I know), I'm using a Reg Barber 58.4mm flat, and no problems whatsoever with channeling at the edges. Not that I know of anything wrong with getting a fancier base, but the flat one seems to work fine when the size is a good fit.
  12. This week I've been drinking Lusty Glaze, after two weeks on Londinium's excellent Costa Rican decaf. I'm a bit caffeine-sensitive, and taking a two-week break has been good - good enough that I'm going to experiment for a little while with alternating a bag of decaf with a bag of regular. So tomorrow it's back to decaf for me.
  13. I use a Grindenstein, which Bella Barista sell for £15. It is not shiny and polished, but dark (other colours available), small and unobtrusive which suits me just as well. It's dishwasher-safe, too.
  14. However the case of the PID itself will not be earthed, if you attach it only with the supplied velcro. You'd have to supply your own earthing lead from PID case back to the main unit for that. So I think the suggestion of an RCD seems well-considered.
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