CI designs the bar, constructs it, then works the par-tay

October 30, 2006 – 2:23 am

let’s pen a strenuous, over-earnest paean to the working barista, shall we?

let’s make it all about cracked, dry fingertips and indelible brown oil stains on the lower right side of the jeans buttock. let’s marvel at people who stand for eight hours, pulling spot-on espresso shots and making endless conversation while staying uncannily in tune with espresso machine behavior. let’s make it about menu juggling and sweet-talking people out of decaf beverages.

worked a bar this weekend. an ordination party for my cohort the bursch-head, at the spacious estate of the bioluminescent cypriot. turned a kitchen island into our bar, we did, which involved drilling holes in the floor. removing cabinetry. testing electrical loads. and such. slammed two identical isomac teas together for our own gleaming e61 “two group.” newly scrubbed and upgraded of innards, they were. and then: four grinders, bearing some of the best single-origin-as-espresso we’ve done in some time. three menu options — maccs, capps and a signature developed for the occasion called “the rev.”

the day after, revelations assault the brain like flying tampers, sharpened to a evil point. such as: doing that for hours on end is a feat of mental stamina akin to popping a dirt-bike wheelie and riding it to the next state. you already knew this? of course you did. but there’s nothing like doing it — and upping the ante, complexity-wise — to unleash the exhausted musings-over-late-night-brewskis. best we can recollect, the orders were three-deep for three straight hours, maybe four. we dumped three heaping commercial puck receptacles, pulled shots in the far dozens — maybe the hundreds — and generally pleased ourselves with the overall, shot-to-shot consistency. latte art on every capp. a brief speech with every coffee choice. a t-shirt for the occasion, a menu board and grinder placards. also, we faced up to the reality that this blog would have a long way to go to do this for a high-volume commercial establishment. no bones about it.

still, what we had was not a temp-stable commercial two-group and a single espresso with which to stay in tune. we had two asynchronous prosumer boxes, which operated about three degrees apart. we used this to our advantage, keeping the temperature flushing routine constant and pulling shots of 201-degree harar green stripe (scroll down) on the cypriot’s group head, and the 198-degree panama organic on my own. we had four different grinders — a mazzer major, a mazzer mini, a rocky and the new quick mill doserless. each, mind you, with a different coffee. keeping them dialed in, remembering dosing for each one, and adjusting the portafilter handling between the ones with dosers and ones without was, ah, taxing. mind-addling. schizophrenia-inducing. palate-stretching. to the doubters, we say: we don’t blame you. this blog is fortunate to have been serving some schooled tasters, however, in addition to ignoramus masses. we’re pleased with the results.

more on “the rev” later. let’s just say it was an accidential fusion of elitist mellifluity and consumer-friendly flava flav. a rare drink that meets people where they are. an experience that reminded me of how little i do in the construction of compatible ingredients. it was like a surprise chemical greeting to an unsuspecting foodie.

the event was well documented, photographically. but the man with the pics is on the road to new york. meanwhile, we’ve got a blistered finger or two. and the larynx, she is completely fried. we could get into this.