Allegria Espresso Bar

The Perfect Cappuccino
September 23, 2007, 6:56 pm
Filed under: Coffee – A documentary film about coffee, consumerism, and being American.

As far as I can tell, the film is still being made, so there isn’t anything more to watch than the trailer, but that’s enough to get you interested.  


Espresso Ice Cream
September 16, 2007, 11:10 am
Filed under: Espresso, Food

Tried my hand at making some espresso ice cream, but used lactose-free milk so a friend could have some. Didn’t turn out so well. I blame the lactose-free milk. The consistency turned out to be something equivalent to wet sand. The taste was good, but I’m using real cream and milk next time.  

Wet Sand

At least I know how to make edible wet sand now. It could be useful some day?

Ice Cream Machine It looked promising…

More books I’m afraid.
September 16, 2007, 10:58 am
Filed under: Books

Glass, Paper, Beans: Revelations on the Nature and Value of Ordinary Things by Leah Hager Cohen. Cohen takes these three “things” from her table at a coffee shop and offers glimpses of three individual lives while adding bits of information concerning the history of glass, paper, and coffee.

There’s nothing new concerning coffee, it’s a basic history lesson and journey to origin in Mexico, but it’s a book, and I’ll read it (already have actually). Cohen makes a point to write that glass, paper, and beans could easily be anything else she takes for granted in a day, so the purpose isn’t really to focus on those three, but rather the fact that there’s a story behind them, behind everything, and it’s disappointing that in a world where we feel like information flows freely, we’ve lost the ability to easily trace where so much of the things in our lives begin. 

Cover Image

I think everyone who’s even had a slightly elevated interest in coffee at one point or another in their lives has picked up The Devil’s Cup: A History of the World According to Coffee by Stewart Lee Allen.

Cover Image 

Feeling left out, I picked it up and gave it a go, and like the other reviews I read, I too did not like the last chapter where the author takes a cross-country trip in search of the best of the worst. That chapter wasn’t terribly focused on coffee in the US, but rather caffeine as a drug, making coffee sound like an epidemic that’s about to send us all into delusional states of hyperactivity. I was surprised by this turn, as it didn’t seem like a fitting end nor complimenting to the previous chapters of overseas travel and history. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s a perfect end, and I just don’t like the angle he took on coffee in the US.

And with a passion for coffee, an accompanying passion for food develops, or grows in my case, so I’ve picked up various tales of the kitchen life. Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and The Nasty Bits, Heat by Bill Buford, Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell, and Hotel Bemelmans by Ludwig Bemelmans. All enjoyable and recommended. There’s a couple others you can see in the photo: Pour Your Heart into It (a good history on the giant), Don’t Try This at Home (nice, quick reading of short stories from various chefs), and The Divine Comedy (see, I have other interests).   


The state of hoppers
September 8, 2007, 5:51 pm
Filed under: Espresso, Grinders

Considering the amount of effort we take to properly seal and store beans, I’m wondering why that same amount of care isn’t used in hoppers? 

We know that light is a catalyst for the degradation of coffee, and to toss them into a clear hopper seems silly. The high-traffic stores needn’t worry about this as much as the slower places, but it’s still time left exposed. Just make the hopper black. And don’t worry about not knowing how much is left in the hopper (since you obviously can’t see the beans now), because something could be created to turn on or beep when near empty. Maybe a sensor that monitors the hopper’s weight.

The air-tight problem is a bit more complicated. Maybe not the lid, but the bottom of the hopper certainly.  I’m not an engineer by any stretch of the imagination, so I’m not even going to attempt to offer a solution, but I can’t imagine that something couldn’t be created to seal a hopper when not in use, either manually or automatically.

It just strikes me as odd that we’ve made such ridiculous (good ridiculous) advancements over equally anal aspects in this espresso game but ignore this. Have I missed something?

   Hopper Hopper Lid Hopper Base

“Espresso Coffee” is dense.
September 3, 2007, 6:43 pm
Filed under: Books, Espresso

“The carboxyatractyloglycosides are decarboxylated quantitatively and the so generated atractylogolycosides are degraded about 50% under ‘normal’ roasting conditions (Bradbury, 2001).”

That’s my favorite sentence in Espresso Coffee. No, I don’t really understand it, but that’s the point. Coffee isn’t simple, and it’ll take a lifetime to comprehend. I did read the entire book, never skipping a page, and for that, I’m proud. The thing is dense.

I plan to purchase my own copy, so I can reference chapters and sub-chapters from time to time, which will more than justify the price. That and the fact that it pushes me to consider many, many aspects of coffee that I might not normally consider.

It’s worth looking through. My next book is All About Coffee. It’ll be read for its historical points.