Espresso! My Espresso!
est. 10/22/2000

An Ongoing Internet Novelette
Documenting one man's journey into and through
the world of coffee.
E-mail me at - ©2000-2022 - All rights reserved

Celebrating Our
* 22nd YEAR! *
Oct 22, 2000 - Oct 22, 2022

My Personal Coffee Journal

    I began these chapters before the term "blog" was being used as it is now. The chapters listed below document my personal journey in the World of Coffee. Personal experiences, mistakes, coffee shows, opinions, rants and raves, and more are documented.

Chapters one through sixteen below document my quest for my first espresso machine including learning about espresso, how to make it, what I bought, and a lot more.

  i - Introduction, Disclaimer, and Warning
    1 - Coffee in the Soul
    2 - My Quest Begins - The Motivation
    3 - The Grail After Which We Quest
    4 - How To Make Perfect Espresso
    5 - The Quest Takes It's First Steps
    6 - Let's Go Shopping
    7 - Machines, Machines, Machines...
    8 - Yes, Virginia, There's More
        (or, "Can I have the Checkbook Dear?")
    9 - Are You Anal Enough For Espresso?
  10 - Give Me More! More!
  11 - We're Done.. Wanna Bet? I'm Roasted!
  12 - Yes, You Can Roast! Who Knew?
  13 - No- It's Still Not Over
  14 - How to Maintain Your Bank Account
  15 - Try Brewing it This Way
  16 - It's Almost Here!
Beginning with chapter seventeen I document my post-purchase experiences with roasting, blending, various methods for making coffee, and much more.

  17 - Nectar of the Gods (The Goods Arrive)
  18 - Some Things I Learned
          During the First Few Hours
  19 - Roast Away!
  20 - Acidic Vs. Bitter
  21 - Closer and Closer
  22 - I'm Starting to Look Like
          I Know What I'm Doing
  23 - Biscotti, Knock Boxes, and Crema- Oh My!
  24 - Good Days and Basket Days
  25 - Cleaning, Frothing, and a Visit From Mom
  26 - Espresso or Express'o?
          Where are we Going?
  27 - Mocha Ice Cream and More
  28 - Steaming Soymilk
  29 - Frustrations and Solutions
  30 - "An Americano, Please."
  31 - I Score(y) a Cory!
  32 - Measuring Espresso in a Cappa Cup
  33 - Too Much Vacuum Can Be A Bad Thing
  34 - Getting Serious About Roasting
  35 - Our First French Press Coffee Arrives
  36 - More Roasting and Steaming
  37 - Grinding by Hand
  38 - Striving for Consistency
  39 - Roasting for Blending
  40 - Creating House Blends
  41 - The Blending Continues
  42 - Third Crack
  43 - Visiting a Commercial Roaster
  44 - Odds and Ends
  45 - Fun With Coffee
  46 - What Do You Mean, You don't like coffee?
  47 - I think I am there!
  48 - Roof Coffee
  49 - More Guests and a Test
  50 - Guests Again and Another Test
  51 - It Can Always Get Worse
  52 - It Can Always Get Better
  53 - How Hot is Too Hot? This Hot!
  54 - SCAA 2002 Convention and Exhibition
  55 - Always Room For Improvement
  56 - It Just Gets To Me Sometimes - a rant
  57 - You Want Me To Drink That?
  58 - Temp Surf or Time Surf?
  59 - You Served Me WHAT?!
  60 - A Lot Of Great Espresso
  61 - A Nice Pair of Bunns
  62 - A 38 Regular Cappuccino
  63 - Me Be PID
  64 - Early Observations Of A PID In Use
  65 - PID Taste Test
  66 - Thank You!
  67 - Lighter on Accident and Purpose
  68 - Everyone Has A First Time
  69 - Three Years Ago Today
  70 - Another Satisfied Customer
  71 - How To Make Bad Coffee
  72 - Another Turned from the Dark Side
  73 - Happy Accident, or Accidentally Happy?
  74 - Poor Planning, Good Coffee
  75 - The New Non-Sense-Eo!
  76 - What I Have Become
  77 - The Organic Thermometer
  78 - Missed it by That Much
  79 - The Cost of Grinder Frugality
  80 - Starting the New Year - 1/1/2006
  81 - Fresh Counts!
  82 - The Highest Compliment
  83 - Danger! Coffee Ahead!
  84 - Injection Molded Coffee
  85 - When the Cat's Away
  86 - Old Ground
  87 - Every End Has A Beginning
  88 - Under Dose (It's Not a Superhero!)
  89 - Grindmaster Commercial Grinder - Model 500
  90 - It's Coffee and Water, but Mostly Coffee
  91 - A Great Local Coffee Shop!
  92 - The Secret to Espresso... There is No Secret
  93 - Coffee as a Spectator Sport
  94 - A Visit to Great Infusions
  95 - Blues Harp and Espresso
  96 - SCAA 2008 Minneapolis Convention
  97 - A Visit to Chocolate Mystique CafĂ©, Chico, CA
  98 - Famous From Coast to Coast
  99 - One Year With Sr. D. S. Vibiemme
100 - The Myth of the Golden Rule
101 - A Business Proposition
102 - Espresso! My Espresso! Eight Year Anniversary
103 - If and When and Why to Upgrade
104 - My First Single Shot
105 - Diagnosing and Solving Bad Extractions - One More Example
106 - SCAA Exhibition - Atlanta, Georgia - 2009
107 - K-Cups - How Old is Too Old? This Old!
108 - Three Guests for Coffee - Eight Legs - Do the Math
109 - A Therapeutic Gift of Coffee
110 - SCAA Exhibition - Anaheim, CA - 2010
111 - My First Pour Over Expereince
112 - A Scrabble Coffee Moment
113 - 10th anniversary
114 - Weighing the Dose
115 - The Best Coffee for the Least Amount of Money
116 - is Dead - Long Live alt-coffee-moderated
117 - Custom Coffee Cabinet
118 - Dose, Distribution, Plumbing, Steaming, (and more)
119 - SCAA Exhibition - Houston, Texas - 2011
120 - Can You Learn and Benefit from Using "Entry Level" Equipment?
121 - Yes, Freshness Matters!
122 - Miscela, Macinazione, Macchina, Mano - A re-examination
123 - Preinfusion and Learning To Get The Best From My Equipment
124 - "The Best Coffee I Ever Had."
125 - How Bad Can Coffee Advice Get?
126 - Happy Birthday E-61
127 - Double French Roast
128 - Internet Shopping Information - Consider the Source
129 - Sampling a Commercial Roaster's Espresso Beans
130 - False Authority - Teaching How To Make Bad Espresso
131 - C.S. Bell Company - No. 1½ Corn Mill
132 - Electrical Safety and Consequences of Ignoring It
133 - SCAA Exhibition - Portland, Oregon - 2012
134 - Coffee in Literature - Chandler's "Philip Marlowe"
135 - Cold Weather Roasting
136 - 2013 SCAA Exhibition - Boston, MA
137 - Miracle Maid Cookware coffee maker by Advance Aluminum Casting Corp.
138 - A New Bistro Table for Our Morning Coffee
139 - Once Again Variables Are King
140 - 2014 SCAA Exhibition, Seattle, Washington - Part 1
141 - 2014 SCAA Exhibition, Seattle, Washington - Part 2
142 - Pay Attention to the Roast. No, the Puppy. No, the Roast
143 - It Could have Been Worse – Roasting Accident
144 - Fourteen Years - October 22, 2000 – October 22, 2014
145 - Kony Doser Bottomless Portafilter Holder
146 - 2016 SCAA Exhibition Atlanta, Ga, World Congress Center - Part 1
146 - 2016 SCAA Exhibition Atlanta, Ga, World Congress Center - Part 2
147 - The Best Espresso I Ever Needed
148 - The $1000 Espresso Question
149 - 2017 SCA Exhibition - Seattle Washington
150 - Cold Brew Homemade Kahlua
151 - How Much Would You Pay For Coffee?
152 - Ristretto for a Change of Pace
153 - Cafe Cubano - Making Cuban Coffee
154 - So... Where Have I Been?
155 - Cherry Keyboards and Coffee
156 - A Major Award
157 - 1973 La Pavoni Europicola
158 - Sneak Peek
159 - On Choosing A New Espresso Machine – Part One
160 - On Choosing A New Espresso Machine – Part Two
161 - Consistency, Control, Technology, and the March of Time
162 - Celebrating 20 years of Coffee Information!
163 - A Little Sneak Preview of My New Coffee Bar
164 - Robert Lee Merriam M.D. - 1941 – 2020
165 - Santoker Revolution 500, My First Roast in 29 Months!
166 - Plumbing the Decent DE1XL
167 - My Life (so far) With the Decent DE1XL v1.3
168 - A “Decent” Request For a Chapter
169 - I Learned Something Today (about roasting)
170 - A Hottop Roaster Comes Home
171 - Sometimes Knowledge is Cumulative. Sometimes
172 - All Quiet On This Front - or - Goodby SCA
173 - 'Decent DE1' Fanboy (Mostly) But..
174 - You Spent How Much on a Grinder!?
175 - Lowering Rate of Rise (in importance)
176 - Keeping it Simple or Following my Own Advice

Recent Updates of this Site (in chronological order, newest first)

3/7/23 - Added Chapter 176 - Keeping it Simple - or - Following my Own Advice
1/26/23 - Added Chapter 175 - Lowering Rate of Rise (in importance)
11/26/22 - Added Chapter 174 - You Spent How Much on a Grinder!?

REVIEWS (in chronological order, newest first)

The "Flair Espresso Maker" is an affordable, portable, manual lever espresso maker that is for real! In my experience, it is the most affordable device that makes espresso that can rival some of the very best espresso machines available. (9/20/17)
The "Osaka Cold Brew Dripper" is a very affordable, well-made, cold, slow-brew dripper that makes it easy to get into cold brewing coffee at home. (8/11017)
The "Handground" manual coffee grinder is an affordable, high-quality hand grinder. (7/20/17)
"The Force Tamper" is a unique and very effective espresso coffee tamper. (7/1/17)
"Slow Bruer" cold brew coffee maker from Bruer is my entry into the cold brewing movement. If you have not tried cold brew coffee, all I can say is that you are missing out! Take a look. (5/15/17)
Staresso manual espresso maker - There are a number of so-called portable, manual espresso makers. Some take pressurized gas cartridges and some rely on various pump systems to compress air for brewing force. The Staresso uses a built in pump. Portable and affordable, this might just make a nice gift, or even a travel device. Small, light, and easy to pack. (4/27/17)
notNeutral Lino Coffee cups - Like all of notNeutral's wares, these cups are a joy to hold as well as visually stunning in their simplicity. A lesson in form and function. (12/8/16)
Cafflano All In One Brewer - Is an affordable travel pour over that comes with everything except water and coffee beans. It includes a high qualtiy hand grinder and all the parts assemble into an easy-to-transport unit. (6/3/16)
Espro P5, Glass Coffee and Tea Press - Espro's first glass press reflects their attention to detail and comittment to quality. (5/16)
Espro Coffee and Tea Travel Press - Espro's newest creation is an improvement, if not the perfection of the press pot travel cup. Their products will change your opinion of press pot coffee! (4/16)
The Eazy Tamp 5 Star Pro tamper is a well designed tamper that makes it nearly impossible to tamp any other way except level. It also comes with two different springs that allow a choice of tamping force feedback. (2016)
Orphan Espresso 58mm Dosing Funnel is a simple, effective, and elegant way to improve your dosing and distribution when making espresso as well as keeping your work area nearly free from stray coffee grounds.
Bonavita BV4000ID Immersion Dripper is a porcelain drip brewer with a manual valve that allows full-immersion steeping of coffee or tea.
Beko Automatic Turkish Coffee Maker is imported and sold in the USA by Kafette. Add water, sugar, and ground, insert the carafe into the machine, and push a button. Delicious, real Turkish coffee in about three minutes or less!
Smart-Tamp from MG Coffee Tools is the most unique tamper you have likely ever seen. With an electronic display of the tamping force in real-time it supplies the user instant feedback and the ability to easily vary their tamp with the only added effort being that to give the tamper a gentle shake to turn it on when compared to a "regular" tamper.
Behmor Brazen Plus - Behmor has improved the original Brazen drip brewer which is now called the "Brazen Plus." Can the best be better? I think so. Read the review and decide for yourself.
Friis Coffee Vault - My first product review for an item I have not used. Why? This company makes claims (up to this point, unproven and unsupported claims) that the presence of CO2 damages the flavor of coffee. My research indicates the opposite. Read the review and decide for yourself.
Coffee Joulies - Stainless steel coffee beans? Read my review of "Coffee Joulies" which bring your coffee down to a drinjkable temperature sooner and keep it there longer.
Vibiemme Domobar Double - Vibiemme's Double Domobar ("DD") double boiler is the flagship of their home line of espresso machines. Now in its third generation, and benefitting from countless hours of R+D, this PID-controlled, dual boiler machine is definitely worth considering if you are thinking seriously about a serious espresso machine.
Sowden SoftBrew Coffee Maker - A coffee maker with three parts, and one is the lid! A simple and elegant design using a high-tech filter design.
Espro Calibrated Tamper - Most of us think of the tamper as just another tool, or possibly a piece of espresso bling. Some espresso machine companies think even less of it, supplying us with plastic tampers that do not even fit their own baskets!The Espro Calibrated Tamper might change your mind. It did mine, and it sure beats having a bathroom scale on your kitchen counter!
Espro Press - Espro's newest creation is an improvement, if not the perfection of the press pot. It changed my opinion of press pot coffee!
Cafelat Barista Tools - Cafelat sells a selection of espresso-related items. Here is a review of three Cafelat barista tools that I think you will find useful.
Espro Toroid Latte Art Pitcher - Two sizes of these pitchers are available, and their special shape really does help even a novice stretch milk effectively.
Mazzer Kony Grinder - The Mazzer Kony is a massive commercial espresso grinder with very large conical burrs. Do you need one? No. Will you want one after you read this? Maybe!
Vibiemme Domobar Super - The Vibiemme is a well-built machine capable of years of superior performance. It was a giant step-up from my Silvia for a lot of reasons.
Gene Cafe CBR-101 - The Gene Cafe coffee roaster is an excellent roaster in this price range, and hard to beat for the money. Although it lacks after-roast cooling, it makes an excellent cup.
Aerobie Aeropress - This is a, favorite method of brewing coffee for a lot of folks. At less than $30 I consider it the best device for the money. It is our travel brewer of choice.
Urnex Grindz - All Urnex products perform as advertised, and these grinder cleaning pellets are no exception. See the before and after images in the review and decide for yourself.

How-To Pages
1 -Backflushing - Backflushing is a method to clear inaccessible areas of the brewing path of coffee debris and oils. Here are step-by step instructions on how to accomplish this.
2 - Brew-Temperature Control - Small, single boiler machines have poor control over the brew temperature because of the thermostats that are used. Here is a work-around that gives better control.
3 - Rocky Doser Modification - The Rocky doser can leave a mess. Here is a simple modification that helps a lot.
4 - Your First Roast - Thinking about roasting coffee? Here's what to watch and listen for so that even your first roast can be successful. Educational, even if you do not intend to roast.
5 - Changing the Portafilter Gasket - A portafilter gasket can be difficult to remove if left to long before being changed. Here are some tips to help get it out.
6 - Permanent Filter Replacement for Hottop - I prefer to avoid disposable items when I can, and so I came up with this method to create a permanent main filter replacement that fits all the KN-8828 models.
7 - Brew-Temperature Check - Don't know what the temperature is when making espresso with your machine? here is a simple way to estimate the brewing temperature.
8 - Descaling Espresso Machine Boilers - If you use tap water, minerals will build up in your espresso machine. here are the instructions to descale a single-boiler machine.
9 - Add Bean Temperature Monitoring to the Hottop - Some like to roast to a specific bean temperature. Here is a relatively easy way to add a thermocouple probe to the Hottop coffee roasters. Includes link to printable cutting pattern.>
10 - Stretching Milk and Pouring Latte Art- I am getting better at this, but it takes practice. Here are detailed instructions with photos and lots of tips I learned along the way that will help you out. Completely rewritten 2/2009.
11 - Disassembling Rocky for Cleaning - Disassembling the Rocky gives access to areas deep in the grinding chamber and allows inspection of the burrs. Here's how to do just that.
12 - EASY GUIDE TO BETTER ESPRESSO AT HOME -[updated 1/10/2017] - If you are beginning to make espresso, this guide will be invaluable in helping to avoid many pitfalls and will help build good habits right from the start. If you are having problems with your espresso, the solution is probably in this very complete guide to making espresso. Nw with linked "Table of Contents" for easier navigation
13 - How to Remove and Replace an E-61 Shower Screen and Group Gasket - E-61 brewheads are different from other brewheads. The shower screen has no screw in the center and cannot be removed without also removing the brewhead gasket. Here are detailed instructions on how to do that.
14 - How to Profile a Roast With the Hottop KN-8828B Coffee Roaster - If you are interested in the best possible coffee, there is a lot more to roasting than "heat and beans." This "How To" documents, step-by-step, how I control my KN-8828B for the best possible coffee.
15 - Placing your Espresso Machine on a Timer - Having your espresso machine hot and waiting every morning is enticing, but not for every machine nor every situation. This article will help you decide if a timer is a good choice for you.
16 - The Four M's of Espresso - Understanding the Factors that Affect the Espresso - Shopping to avoid disappointment - This article centers on you, your coffee, your espresso machine, and your grinder. It is aimed at new home baristas shopping for their first espresso setup. Beginning to shop? Having problems making drinkable espresso? Is it you or your equipment? Here is a good place to begin figuring it out.
17 - Kony and Other Commercial Mazzer Grinder Modifications - I was asked to document all that I have done to turn my "commercial" Mazzer Kony grinder into a more firendly "Home Kony." Here it is, all in one place.
18 - Simple Lubrication of the E-61 Group - When all you need is a quick lubrication of the E-61 cam due to a stiff or squeaky lever, here is the simple, step-by-step, illustrated procedure.
19 - Overhauling and Lubricating the E-61 Group - When your E-61 group neeeds more than a simple lube, this How-To covers complete disassembly, lubrication, and repair of the E-61 from top to bottom, and all points in between. Everything but removing the group from the machine is covered here. Includes valve seal replacement. All done step-by-step with plenty of photos.

Coffee Making Methods

INTRODUCTION - The source and inspiration for the articles in this section.
Percolator - Remember those ubiquitous aluminum pots sitting on the stove? Many are still in use, but read here why this method should be on the bottom of the list if you want the best coffee you can make.
Drip - The quality of coffee varies because of the wide range of quality of these devices, but the better ones can make a good cup every time.
Press Pot - A favored method of many because of the rich tasting, full bodied coffee from these devices.
Vacuum Pot - For those special occasions a vacuum brewer is only fun to watch, but can make excellent coffee as well.
Espresso - The king of coffee-making methods. Difficult to master, but once you taste really good espresso it is difficult to go back. Cappuccino, latte, Americanos, and more all start with espresso.
Pour-Over - The most simple method of making coffee and highly recommended by many for the ease of which you can make excellent coffee. Think of it as a highly portable, easy-to-clean manual drip machine. They come in many different sizes from one cup to a full pot.

assorted educational pages

"All About Coffee" by William H. Ukers" - If you have not seen this wonderful book from 1922, it is available as a free e-book through the Gutenbeg Project. For the illustrations alone it is worth the time to download.
The "Espresso Star of Variables" - I wanted to create a visual representation of the major variables that affect the creation of espresso. Here it is - The "Star of Espresso!"
Plumbing in an Espresso Machine - Part 1 - Many upper-end espresso machines are designed to be connected to a watrer system ("Plumbed In"). Part 1 of this multi-part article deals with planning a system to safely plumb in an espresso machine.
Plumbing in an Espresso Machine - Part 2 - This portion covers the installation and p0lumbing of teh rest of teh soft water system begun in Part 1.
3-Way Valve How and Why - This detailed and illustrated article will teach you how a 3-way valve works and why any machine with a traditional 3-way valve needs to be backflushed.
How a Rancilio Silvia Works - Various detailed schematic illustrations showing all functions of a stock Rancilio Silvia as well as illustrations of PID wiring, all with full explanations.
Rancilio Silvia Wiring Diagram in COLOR! - A One page color electrical schematic.
A Beginners' Guide to tasting Espresso - Bad espresso is an insult to the palate, but good espresso is a real delight. Here's how to enjoy it to its fullest.
See a Pull From Silvia- An animated GIF showing the possibilities using a simple machine like Silvia when it is operated properly with fresh, properly-roasted coffee.
How a Pressurestat Works - A simplified explanation of how a pressurestat controls temperature in many espresso machines.
How a Pressure Relief Valve Works - A simplified explanation of how a pressure relief valve (sometimes called an over pressure valve or "OPV") operates.
How a Heat Exchanger ("HX") Works - A simplified explanation of how a heat exchanger works.
How a Double Boiler ("DB") Works- A simplified explanation of how a doiuble boiler espresso machine works.
Understanding and Preventing Thermosyphon Stall - Thermosyphon stall can be a frustrating event. This article explains what it is and how to prevent it.
How a Pressurized or Enhanced Portafilter Works - Some entry-level machines come equipped with a crema-enhancing device built into the portafilter. Here is an explanation of what they are, how they work, and why you may or may not want one.
Improved Roast Profiling - It is easy to get into a rut when roasting with appliances that are pre-programmed. Here are generic instructions to achieve a more advanced roast profile that should work with any roaster that allows the user to control the roasting temperature throughout the roast.


Espresso & Coffee Links - A couple of hundred links, categorized and alphabetized
Espresso & Coffee Forums - Various places online where you can talk coffee with others
Biscotti Recipe - A recipe we tried and found delicious. Homemade biscotti is amazing with coffee!
Ice Cream a la me! Recipe - A delicious ice cream treat... with coffee as an ingredient, of course!
iRoast2 Owners Manual - A PDF copy of the owners manual that came with the iRoast and (I believe) the iRoast2 as well.
Vibiemme Black-Framed Espresso Machines - Rust Prevention and Solutions
How I Named This Website - The title of this site came from another of my interests- the American Civil War
Tribute to Madeleine Page - The most delightful person I never met, but knew so well. I still miss her