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Saturday, August 09, 2003


cooler carlos

success!

to recap: the expobar office control -- aka carlos -- born in valencia, spain on april 2003, has a pressurestat in the front right of the case, 1/3 of the way up off the floor.

it is shaped like a squat cylinder, or as i said before for a skirt-friendly analogy, like a pot of lip balm (kiehls, carmex, you get the idea.) the p-stat has a yellow face with a red cap.

in some models, this face smiles forward to the front of the case, in others upwards to the top of the machine. mine faces upwards.

other expobar models or those built at different times have different shaped and sized p-stats that are located elsewhere and that are adjusted differently. you must know your model and your birthdate. . .

my carlos was clearly too hot. the coffee tasted bitter and burnt; the milk scalded and evaporated before it foamed; all this even after running 4-6 oz. water outta the group.

so to adjust carlos' p-stat to lower his temperature: start with a cold, unplugged machine. tools required: phillips head screwdriver, needlenose pliers, 3.5mm computer screwdriver, a small flashlight.

a third hand helps to hold the p-stat so it doesn't twist during adjustment; it's on a flexible pipe. remove the 4 screws in the lid. remove the drip tray. remove the 2 screws of the faceplate.

on mine, i had to recruit husband, mr. right, because the red cap is on tight and is a little slippery. he had to slide the needlenose pliers in from the left to avoid the wire bundle that hangs in front of the p-stat.

i held the p-stat in place from below. he tugged gently, gently, gently. did i say gently? the cap comes off.

the cap conceals a little "well." the lip of the well has notches around it, and on the face of the p-stat, covered by the cap, are the curved adjustment scale arrows with a plus and minus at each end.

they are hard to see. use your flashlight.

the tiny adjustment screw is sunk into the well. to lower pressurestat, turn clockwise with computer screwdriver. the p-stat in its housing may sink a tad when you press on it, gently, gently.

mr. right adjusted the screw about 1-1/2 notches clockwise. i put the faceplate on and heated up the machine. 10 mins. later i ran my 6 oz. water, then measured the temp of the group water with the instant-read-stick-thermometer-stuck-in-the-base-of-a-foam-cup method.

resulting water temp: about 185 degrees. too low, i thought. since before adjustment i had water readings of 202, it was a big change. i was aiming for about 194-195 in the cup.

so i tried steaming. ah-a! i actually got some foam before the milk scalded! improvement! tried making some espresso, both batdorf's dancing goat and gillies deluxe dark 2.

i was sure it was going to be sour. actually, the batdorf was pretty good -- it's a darker roast than the gillies. it was drinkable without sugar. i didn't find it sour, and while the crema was more toasted-almond-brown than deep hazelnut skin/pompeii red, it seemed fine.

the gillies is a lighter roast coffee and it did suffer in the crema more. but again, it didn't need sugar and didn't seem sour. this puzzles me. 185 is waaay cold, right?

my silvia is the old 110 degree thermostat model. if i heat silvia for 20 mins., draw off 2oz. water, then surf by waiting 20 seconds, i get 192-194 on the water test. if i heat carlos for 10 mins., draw off 2oz. water, wait for 10 seconds, then test, i also get 192-194 degree water.

running off 4-6oz. of that volvic (and here) for every shot on carlos is expensive. . . so, i'm tempted to try leaving carlos where he is for a week or 2.

also, i have to publicly thank todd of wholelattelove, who was nice enough to talk to me this morning on his weekend. what a sweetie!

posted by fortune elkins | 11:07 AM | top | link to this |


Friday, August 08, 2003


when relationships go sour

sometimes you meet people who promise you things. and then they betray you. when it gets back to you -- it always does, doesn't it? -- you're hurt.

and furious! how could you have been so stupid as to trust them?

long-time readers know that one piece in the proposed solution to the world-price depression known as the coffee crisis is a new buying model called "relationship coffee."

green mountain coffee roasters, peets, starbucks, and others have begun experimenting with this model. often this method has produced great results for both sides.

but here's a cautionary tale of how it can all go awry: mayan winds and the 200 mexican coffee farmers of the el azotal cooperative.

posted by fortune elkins | 12:56 PM | top | link to this |


Thursday, August 07, 2003


carlos expobar's pressurestat found

once again proving the intimate psychological and synchronistic -- here or here; long-time readers know which one i prefer -- connection between women and coffee, that bit shaped exactly like a pot of kiehls lip balm turned out to be carlos expobar's missing pressurestat.

i guess this makes him a so-called metrosexual. (on that front i have to say i always thought high-class guys had a serious interest in immaculate grooming. good hair, perfect suit, perfect manicure.

but this may just be my experience in new york's financial district and working for a european company, where the serious big money guys do most of their combat via neckware. if you come to the meeting with a lesser tie, you've already lost. . . )

but seriously, once you've removed the 4 screws to take off carlos' top, and the 2 that hold on his faceplate, you'll see in the right front, about 1/3 of the way off the floor, a lip-gloss-pot-sized bit with a yellow face.

sometimes the face is forward; in my case, it smiles straight up to the ceiling. on the face is a red "button." this button is a cap to protect the screw.

to get at the cap, you have to slice the sturdy plastic wire tie holding the metal stair that supports the water reservoir. later, you'll hold this back in place with an ordinary twist tie.

now how to get the cap off? the marvelous todd of wholelattelove is frank: he suggests just taking a pair of needle-nose pliers to it and yankin'.

once the cap is off, there should be a screw that you can adjust with a smallish computer-type screwdriver. twist one way to increase pressure; the other to decrease.

todd points out: "as for it being awkward: yes it is a little but not to bad once you get the cap off. they design it for service people not home owners."

good point todd! when you bring the commercial machine into the home you need a little mind shift, some tools, and a willingness to tinker.

with this new info, i'm going to get some fresh coffee and fiddle with carlos on saturday afternoon before my eyebrow appointment. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 10:00 AM | top | link to this |


Wednesday, August 06, 2003


friendship & honor; barbie's pizza hut

an office colleague puckishly mentioned that this was just what i truly needed -- barbie's pizza hut play set.

the long-blonde-hair barbie jokes aside -- this is what my office is like dear readers! -- i was disappointed because of course i had hoped barbie would skip the nasty pah-lastic-y fast food stuff and go for the quality ingredients.

but such is life, or at least the ways of american marketing. it's really hot here lately and i've been fooling about with carlos expobar so i haven't been making my new pizza dough recipe the past 2 weeks.

but i hope that will change soon, and i know mr. right fervently hopes so. . .(unusual and assertive summer yellow tomato pizza sauce recipe here -- now you can use fresh tomatoes!)

long-time readers know that i am a loyal friend. if you're a great friend of mine, you're always a great friend of mine, and you'll never become a small friend of mine. ever.

my heart doesn't change that way. it's as solid as christofle silver. . .but never tarnishes. . .

so it's with pride that i can thank my great friends at coffeekids for mentioning me in their recent summer newsletter! i will always be honored to be associated with them.

posted by fortune elkins | 10:43 AM | top | link to this |


Tuesday, August 05, 2003


coffee as grounds for divorce

while not all the facts in this cute little piece seem true to me, i must say i was deeply charmed by 2: the coffee as grounds for a turkish divorce, and its use as a face scrub with pineapple in japan.

in yoga news, lately i've been working on pressing up into handstand from down dog in the center of the room. none of this jumping or hopping, and certainly, no walls.

just press your weight into your hands and walk your feet in. at a certain point there is much more weight in the hands than in the feet.

that's when your feet naturally start to rise from the floor. from that moment on it's just a question of abs and balance to gracefully lift the legs into handstand.

how to get there? in yoga, the prep makes the pose; that is, practice the prep pose patiently and the full pose will soon come. a big help is the big ball!

this is great. put the ball under your ankles and get into plank pose.

then with your feet on the ball, walk/roll up to the correct position, hips over shoulders. your feet are already halfway up, so you can more easily practice lifting one leg at a time.

or just stay there in this sort of high down dog until you get better at your balance. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 9:26 AM | top | link to this |


Monday, August 04, 2003


regional coffee cultures, part viii

i can't make this stuff up. it's not to good to be true.

drinking even 1 cup of coffee around the time you exercise apparently helps your body perform better and burn more fat.

australian researchers find that caffeine triggers the muscles to start using fat as an energy source rather than carbohydrate sugars.

and here's another one for the regional coffee culture files: it's a tiny, nearly dying, town in north dakota. yet the people love the community feeling formed by drinking coffee together so much that after the local coffeehouse closed, they organized their own free-form coffee-drinking gathering at the local firehall.

which is actually abandoned and unmanned. these people are one with the hartwell coffee club.

they missed their coffee, and their time together; now they hold their own coffee party. how to decide who covers the cost? they throw dice among themselves. . .

these people are the true coffee lovers. they probably have never had a perfectly made espresso in their lives.

i doubt they own anything but a battered cheap chinese-made drip machine. and yet they perfectly embody everything that is beautiful about our favorite social and intellectual beverage.

we here at bccy adore you, coffee-loving residents of niagara, north dakota! our loves goes out to you this day.

do we upscale caffénauts with our commercial espresso machines, rare ultra-premium specialty coffees, commercial grinders, and exquisite taste actually deserve to nurse a simple mug o' joe at the same table with these lovely folks? i wonder. . .

on a more somber note, a nice analysis of the state of the coffee market. . .the roots of the world-price depression known as the coffee crisis are revealed.

i've heard of rain dances, but who knows a frost dance? the problem with articles like this is that they seldom explain the depths of human suffering the crisis causes. . .for that info, and how to help, you have to go to coffeekids.

posted by fortune elkins | 10:15 AM | top | link to this |


Sunday, August 03, 2003


volvic is the answer

regular readers know that recently i have been using an expobar automatic espresso machine nicknamed carlos.

since this is a heat exhanger (hx) machine, it's difficult to descale -- that is, lime deposits in the water can build up on the inside and ruin it.

with the rancilio silvia, it's easy to remove these lime deposits by just running some cleancaf through. this isn't possible on an hx machine.

so water quality and hardness is a concern. i have been using a variety of very soft, very low mineral bottled waters.

and the entire time my husband, mr. right, has been complaining that the coffee tasted "watery." i myself disliked the coffee, believing the machine to be too hot.

(this lead me to partially disassemble the machine last night in a failed search for the pressurestat. . .more on that later. . )

this morning i reached for some water and found all i had about was bottle of volvic. so i popped it in carlos' water reservoir.

then i made italian-size cappucinos with batdorf's dancing goat as usual. and wa-llah!

mr. right turns to me and says, the coffee's better today. what did you do differently?

nothing! to make sure this wasn't a dream, i broke out don schoenholt's gillies lovely deluxe dark 2 espresso, an amiable comfort cup for the perfect double espresso. it was better, despite my continuing temperature concerns.

water does make a huge difference in coffee flavor. it's noticeable to the average person, no doubt.

let's just hope the volvic doesn't destroy the machine with scale! what's volvic got?

a "total dissolved solids" mineral count of about 110. remember that illy sez 80-100 is best for espresso; cirqua sez 125; doug zell of intelligentsia in chicago prefers 150.

but 150 is probably mega-scale! that might be too much to be safe to use at home, unless you're committed to taking the boiler apart every so often and cleaning it with citric acid. . .even the volvic worries me. . .

not mention it costs an arm and a leg!

posted by fortune elkins | 3:25 PM | top | link to this |

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