Exhibiting Your Treasures: The "Presentation" Part 1
In this series I'd like to focus on factors that might enhance a presentation especially if one wishes to have their own "cinema cafe" experience at home. You might want to have guests over, making it important to provide the most enjoyable demonstration possible. In the future I (or perhaps a guest blogger) will discuss various audio/video equipment and set ups designed to best present one's movie treasures. Additionally, we will offer some food recipes, nutritional "easy to eat in the dark" delights, designed to spice things up while keeping you healthy enough to enjoy cinematic gems and treasures for many years to come. For this first entry I'd like to offer some tips on how to make the best coffee whether it be for your home cinema cafe, or while sitting by the computer reading this blog.
The following recommendations are applicable to home machines. Most will not be suitable for professional units. The idea is to produce a coffee with maximum flavour without any bitterness.
- An espresso machine (Note: This should come with a 'portafilter' plus single and double shot baskets which fit inside)
- A "burr" type grinder
- A sturdy "knock box" for disposing used coffee grounds
- A stainless steel container for steaming milk
- A shot glass
- A sturdy non-plastic tamper
- A plastic storage container for coffee beans with a rubber stopper in its lid, plus a plastic pump to remove the air inside
- Cleaning wipes and sponges
- (optional) A well calibrated thermometer
- Whole, recently roasted, (perhaps The Cinema Cafe) coffee beans
- Fresh whole milk, preferably organic or bio-dynamic
- Carbon block filtered or (preferably glass) bottled spring water
1. When your equipment has been previously used, run the grinder with nothing inside to remove the excess grounds left in the machine. Thoroughly clean the group head of your espresso machine running some hot water through it afterwards. The portafilter with the double shot basket and the steam wand (after removing its foaming sleeve) should be cleaned as well.
2. Make sure there's plenty of fresh water in your coffee machine. There should only be enough beans in the grinder and cold milk in your container, for 1 coffee. (For maximum results on home equipment make 1 coffee at a time). Set your grinder to its finest grind position available.
3. Remove the outer sleeve from the steam wand, and steam your milk. Keep the tip of the wand positioned in the centre, at the very surface of the milk, with with one hand underneath the container. As the milk starts to rise, carefully move the wand up, maintaining its tip at the very top of the milk and occasionally dipping the wand ever so slightly. Continue to "raise" the milk to the upper part of the container. Ideally finish "stretching" the milk about 1/2 - 3/4 of the way to the top as the temperature reaches 65 C. Then stop the steaming process and set the milk aside. Quickly wipe the wand. Alternatively if you haven't a thermometer: When the bottom of the container becomes too hot to touch, allow 20-25 additional "beats" of the machine to transpire before ending the steaming process.
4. While the beans are grinding, steam the group's double shot basket (fitted inside the portafilter) moving it around the wand. (This will bring up any excess grounds that have lodged in the basket's holes).
5. When the beans have finished grinding, vigorously shake out all of the excess water in the portafilter. Start emptying the grounds into the basket but only about 25% of the basket's capacity each time before tamping. Increase your tamping pressure as you start to fill the basket, (4-5 more times), tamping most firmly when it's full. Try to leave an ever so slight recess of tamped coffee in the basket's centre. Then with your finger wipe the excess grounds from the outer ring of the portafilter's basket into your "knock box".
6. Run water through the coffee machine for about 3-4 seconds just before loading the portafilter into the group head. (This purges the hottest water to keep it from burning the coffee).
7. Draw your coffee but only 20-25 millilitres. In other words only fill your shot glass a quarter full before stopping the draw. (Any more will just add that bitter taste we're trying to avoid). In technical terms, you've just produced a double ristretto.
8. Briefly steam your serving cup before adding your coffee shot, then add the steamed milk to taste.
Some of these techniques will require practice. Adjustments may have to be made depending on the brand of home equipment used. Please experiment with different methods, coffee beans, etc. I think you'll find that the above suggestions will ultimately assist in producing as sensational a coffee as you can purchase anywhere... even those made by the best baristas on professional equipment!