"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2009 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at email@example.com
SCAA Annual Exhibition
2009 - Atlanta Georgia
April 17 - 19
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
As the dates above suggest, I wrote this the day after I returned from the show, and how good it is to be home after a long, long weekend. I look forward to the SCAA exhibition each year, but this one started on a rough note. While I was driving to the airport for my flight east, my wife was driving one of our German Shepherds to the vet to be put down. She was a month short of 13 years old and had a great life with us as we had with her, so the mood on the way out was somber. Every morning as my wife and I enjoyed a cappuccino and some homemade muffins, the doggies got to enjoy some treats which were usually homemade dog biscuits.
My room overlooked Baker Street, up into the heart of the downtown district. Right there outside the room was the Atlanta Aquarium (stated as the largest in the country), and the Coca Cola museum. To the right is Centennial Park, part of the Atlanta Olympic venue, infamous for the bombing that took place there. On a happier note, there was a concert there on Saturday night along with a spectacular fireworks display. It made for quite an eye-level show being that I was on the 10th floor!
The show itself for me is mostly all work. While I would like to make use of some of the educational opportunities offered at these exhibitions, time and finances are major hindrances to that. My time is spent about 75% assisting Hottop by working their booth and 25% walking the floor and meeting up with friends. I got to see Dr. Johns, Alan Freu from Australia, Barry, June and Maddy Jerrett, Kyra and Kyle of Baratza, Greg Scace, Paul Pratt, Marshall Fuss, Jim from 1st Line, and Michael from Hottop of course. I hope my memory serves well enough that I have not left anyone out, and if that is the case I do apologize. For some reason the jet lag hit me hard this year. While the time difference is only three hours I never really adjusted and only got about five good hours of sleep each night. But enough about me....
Part of my goal each year is to try to find some products to review that would be of interest to my readers. This is a far more difficult task than you might expect. Some of the booths are manned by representatives of advertising firms and not actual employees of the company. On the surface that would not seem to matter, but for an example I can offer my relationship with the Krups company (who were not even represented this year). For four years I have tired to get a couple of coffee appliances to review, and all I ever received from them were promises and an occasionally answered E-mail and no more than that. One year I actually said to them, "If you are not interested in having your products reviewed on my website, a polite 'Go to Hell,' would be appreciated." I never even got that from them. But there were some interesting things that caught my eye this year. Let's take a look at a few of them: *SCAA’s 2009 Best New Product Award - Packaging – Cafelat, for its entire line of products 2. Food – Coffeebark, Inc., for its candy product 3. Open Class – CSC Scientific, for its color track bench top roast analyzer 4.
(photo from advertising material)
*SCAA's 2009 Best New Product Award
Coffee or Tea Preparation and Serving Equipment / Consumer
Espressi, for the Espressi Twist
There have been a number of portable espresso makers made to operate without a power source with varying levels of success. One was powered by a bicycle-style pump [another of the products promised to be sent to me for review that never was supplied]. The Mypressi Twist is different from the others I have seen. It is powered by nitrous oxide cartridges. It works with ground coffee as well as ESE pods.
The top half unscrews and you pour in hot water. There is a closure that has a one-way valve that keeps the water from spilling when assembling. This has a patented one-way valve that open when the water chamber is pressurized. The bottom half holds a filter basket. In the handle is the cartridge holder that incorporates a pressure regulator.
Once assembled, the user pulls a trigger under the handle and the pressurized gas forces the water through the coffee. The units they were demonstrating at the show were two custom CNC machined working prototypes as the actual units are just now going into production. These are so new that their website launched about the same time the show opened.
The espresso? While it was brewed with water that was just a bit too cool, it was drinkable, and the flow seemed very much like that which would come from an espresso machine. They rate it at about 4 double shots and 8 single pulls per cartridge. A compact and elegant solution to portable espresso creation.
*SCAA's 2009 Best New Product Award
Cafelat, for its entire line of products
A new name and new designs from an old friend in the coffee business. Paul Pratt of Hong Kong is well known in coffee and espresso circles, being a warehouse of knowledge when it comes to repair and refurbishment of espresso machines, but he is also known for his line of espresso accessories including tamping mats tampers, knock boxes and more. He was at the show introducing his new line called "Cafelat." This includes many products from his previous previous line ("Bumper") which includes stainless steel knock boxes and tampers, some of which have been redesigned and updated, a new products including a line of elegant cups, and more.
They now offer four different tamper designs, all in various sizes, colors and materials, a tamper hanger that can be mountd to virtually any flat surface with your choice of screws or 3M double-stick tape, a tamping stand which works with standard or bottomless portafilters, their familar knockbox as well as a new one designed to be used in a counter cut-out, three new milk steaming pitchers, and their new ceramic cups in three sizes. The cups have rounded bottoms inside which should make cleaning a lot easier while adding a bit of mass to keep hot beverages hot when the cups are pre-heated.
One new additions is a new tamping mat which has a wrap-around design to protect the counter edge.
I look forward to receiving some samples for review in the near future, so watch for it here on Espresso! My Espresso!
Kikoman Pearl Soymilk
(Photo from advertising material)
Another discovery was made while I meandered the floor in what little free time I had. The Kikoman company, long known for their soysauce (a food product also made from soybeans) has a line of organic soymilks that impressed me.
I have long been using soymilk at home. Most adults are lactose intolerant to some extreme and soymilk can be an alternative, but many lack a milk-like flavor or texture which is a hindrance to the use of soymilk by some people. At the other extreme, some are too sweet to be palatable. Few react like milk when steamed for use in cappuccini or lattes. The best that I had found was the Kirkland.. until now.
I had a straight sample, chilled, of the original Pearl and it was remarkably "milk-like." It had the texture and body of "real" milk and none of the aftertaste that accompanies some soymilks. For those who like stiff foam it will hold the stiffness for many minutes- far longer than it normally takes to consume a latte. Once again, I await some samples for my own testing purposes, but it looks like this product is a real winner. Click HERE to find a store near you which sells Pearl.
Urnex Full Circle
Malykke Coffee Grinder
As you can see, the exterior of the two-pound model is elegantly designed and compact. The drum motor is mounted vertically at the rear of the roaster and drives the drum through a gear system.
Beyond these smaller, tabletop roasters they make two commercial roasters with capacities of 33 and 100 pounds as well as a professional sample roaster. While some of the control systems and user interfaces is somewhat dated compared to what some advanced hobbyists are doing here is the States, the design of their roasters is interesting enough to deserve a look.
I had some time this year to take a look at the Vibiemme Domobar Dual boiler, rotary pump machine at the 1st Line booth. It's always great to take some time to visit with Jim, and seeing this machine makes me think how far the home espresso machine market has changed since I started in this pursuit in late 2000.
It would have been great to bring a few coffee samples over to play with, and to spend some time pulling a few dozen shots, but life is short and so was many time, but I did get to pull and sample a shot. Hmmm.. Tasted a bit under-extracted form a low temperature situation. Easy- just up the temp a degree or two with the built in PID.
Of course, with a dual boiler, this machine has the ability to steam and pull shots at the same time. The power switch on this machine allows the user to have just the brew boiler on alone, so if you don't often steam milk this can help save a bit of electricity.
The rotary pump in this machine makes it so very quiet. They even had the machine set up to draw water up from a bucket located at floor level and while not the best solution, it seemed to be doing a good job even handling that.
I told him that I don't want to bother people inside. He replied, "It is very good. You should play more." Very cool!
These shows, to me, are about the people as much as the products. And if you talk to enough people you learn things. I met one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable people at this show that it has been my pleasure to speak with in all the years I have been involved in this obsession. Carlos Gonzalez de Cosio Vargas of Garcomex. He is the national Sales manager of this very large company in Mexico, roasting and selling coffee, a line of teas, placing coffee displays with a grinder in many major store chains in Mexico, they manufacture "NutraLight" sugar replacement, manufacture their own line of paper filters, and more.
He is a certified instructor and since espresso instruction is a job I will soon be doing locally I picked his brain for a bit, and he was more than willing to share his knowledge- the mark of a true teacher. The one area we spent the most time on was stretching milk. We spoke not only of methodology but he shared quite a bit of science behind it that I did not know. His parents were dairy farmers and so he has a great background in milk. I will share the details of this in my How-To section of my website at a later date, so watch for that! Let me just say that if I could get in on a class he taught in English, I would fly to Mexico to take it if I could!
Another year come and gone, marked by my annual pilgrimage to the SCAA Exhibition. Next year's show will be back in Anaheim. See you there.