purist snobbism: going way too far

August 31, 2005 – 12:16 pm



that would be the espresso puck from hell, a fissured slice of sonoma floor in your belching portafilter. as mentioned before, the brother came down for espresso bar tomfoolery and brought with him the kind of ghetto gear you might expect to find in the militarily-appointed caffe del abu ghraib. in his carry-on: a hand-woven drum roaster entailing 600 FEET of galvanized wire (the kind you might use to hang a recessed ceiling). frame, handle and drum — all made of wire, twisted, woven, mangled into shape. in fact, let’s see some video of the device, operating genially under the lid of nate’s propane mini-grill (click the image).


the pocket probat, i call it. this is the same fellow who concocted a horse saddle over the course of multiple weeks, wove the rope, stitched the leather, etc., only to offer it as a tribal sacrifice to the spirit of his spooked equine. thing bolted, tore the saddle to shreds, left my brother in a ghastly blubbering mess.

well, not quite. this brother doesn’t blubber. he just honks discreetly into his leather forearm cuffs. the point is that potentially fruitless toil is nothing to this dude. when i think of all the additive-laced macchiatos i would need to execute such a project, well … let’s just say lesser men would rather curl up in a ball and hum frou frou’s ‘let go’ to their barista sock puppets. carry-on luggage item no. 2: a slab of granite. no kidding. this is the sort of thing you joke about when you pick up a visitor’s bag and note its inordinate heft: “whatcha got in here dude, a grande mortar and pestle hewn of bedrock?” well, yes, actually. he did. cue the bean-grinding footage (click the pic):


toward the end of the clip you might have noticed the pounding motion. and then you might have shuddered a deep, frigid shudder as you realized the kind of espresso paste this might produce. indeed. the mortared grounds are on the left, my isomac-ground beans on the right:


a bit pulpy, you might say. so the act of brewing was, of course, merely an exercise in grotesque spectacle (witness the after-puck pictured above). the first shot, we utterly choked mother isomac. never have i shut her down so badly. there was a scant halo of espresso after, oh, a small legion of baited seconds. video here.

it was like backflushing with canal sludge. i came to severely regret the move, given the rigorous care normally taken with said isomac ladye. a later shot actually produced brew, though predictably uneven in its emanation:


the actionable resulting caricature: grind consistency, of course, matters to distribution and shot evenness. this is an easy, extreme way of showing that. the most fascinating slice of our inebriated experimentation, to me, was the bizarre TASTE of the espresso that came from a pestel-pounded puck. amazing how it didn’t even taste or feel like espresso … even typically BAD espresso tastes different. this was more like sipping a chocolate mulch cup o’ silt. it wasn’t good, but it was fascinatingly apart.

UPDATE: if you’re having trouble viewing the clips, e-mail me (address to the right) or leave a comment. the ultimate answer is that you all, of course, should get macs.