Thursday, March 31, 2005

My first crotchless attempt!

Scott coffee 002
Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
Easter monday is a day that will remain with me forever. The day I learned what difference is made by having a crothchless/naked/bottomless portafilter. Jimmy let me come round and try my hand at the 3-group Rancilio they operate at the Keating Cafe. Under the watchful eye of John, Geir's business partner, I prepared and pulled a shot of Mexican Malinal. (The coffee of choice at John's other cafe) I was totally amazed not only at the amount of crema, the colours, the tiger striping, the specking, how much more impressive the mouthfeel is but at the fact that my distribution was so even. It was so weird and challenging to go from a 48mm portafilter to a 58mm and to get it right was a very rewarding feeling. Jimmy took me through the flavour wheel and helped me vocalise what I could taste. This is a great step for espresso tasting. It made the few days a lot more interesting in terms of espresso. I haven't even considered making a latte since Monday.

I'll post my latte attempt next. Sorry about the flash in this pic, they used to have a light behind the counter which made watching the shots easy but Jimmy blew that one up when flushing the portafilter. A story that is not mine to tell, apparently it was like gunshot. Wish I had have been there when it happened; it would have felt like home!


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Check this out...

Scott coffee 005
Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
Today I ended up at the work place of Master Barista Jimmy Oneschuk. What a great day! After tring some single origin Mexican Malinal Jimmy let me try my hand at the Rancilio 3 group they have up there! WOW! Talk about an amazing crotchless experience! (glad my mum doesn't read this page, she would be thoroughly confused!) Compared to the normal standard of my espresso, this was awesome. Nothing on Jimmy's but hey, I only work at home!

This pic is of a latte he poured for my host family's son Peter. (Sadly not my roommate Peter, hopefully he can come up some time too though.)

Still totally high on caffeine, probably dehydrated so I'm gonna go to bed now!

Hope everyone had a great easter and gained 20lbs due to excessive chocolate consumption or beer drinking! I will post my feeble attempts from today later on.


Monday, March 28, 2005

Gaggia MDF grinder

Gaggia MDF grinder
Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
The grinder of choice at the moment is the Gaggia MDF. This will be the weapon until I can reasonably afford a Mazzer or anything else that can be highly recommended. Spec:

Disc/burr Grinder
100 watt
35 settings

It seems to be pretty good and I have only heard reasonale to very good reviews. Any feedback out there would be greatly appreciated. I really like how it looks as well as the cost at under $400, and it produces a very consistent grind. I am sure it will be great for one of the gaggia machines and if I upgrade machine later to something like a Silvia then I wiil upgrade the grinder as well.

Peter roasted some malabar on saturday night, not sure how far he went as I am off campus but we had great results at light/med roast with it so I think we are waiting util day three of degasing which is tuesday before consuming! Can't wait!


Sunday, March 27, 2005

The other one

Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
SO the other machine I am looking at is the gaggia cubika. Here's the spec:

Traditional Frother
Side Filling removable Water Tank
Aluminium Alloy Filter Holder
750 Watt Power
15 bar Pump
Large Cup Warmer
Brushed Stainless Steel Body

It has a smaller boiler than the Carezza, and has an aluminium filter holder as opposed to a brass one. However the body is metal making it a bit more sturdy. It also looks a hell of a lot better and proably doesn't make espresso much differently to the Carezza. Plus I won't need to modify the steam wand. Any thoughts would be welcomed or other recommended machines that would be less than $700 or 350pounds!

Gonna go here just watched a sad movie now i'm off to watch a thriller!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Carezza

Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
This is one of the machines I have been looking at as being my first espresso machine that I will have at home.

The run down:
Brass Chrome Plated Filter Holder
1425W Boiler
No Cup warmer
Plastic Body
A traditional frother, (that I would need to modify)
Side load water tank

It has better inner workings than some machines by gaggia but the casing is plastic which really puts me off, however this will not be the machine I have for the rest of my life so the long term benefits arn't all that important.

My other option is the cubika. WHich I'll talk about tomorrow.

The Keating Kafe is opening on Monday, I can't wait to get down there!!! Hopefully I'm still up here to visit. Maybe Jimmy will have made some progress on his latest quest for a new espresso blend that I can get the low down on...(what beans? why? choice of roast? process of mixing? aah there are so many questions...) I may be running a risk with Ninja Barista Oneschuk so if I don't return, it's because I got a "JUDO CHOP, Baby yeah!"

Stay tuned

Friday, March 25, 2005

I gotta get me one of these!

Reg Barber Tamper
Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
What a weapon! Jimmy's collection is ever growing and diversifying into every colour of the rainbow. I need to decide on my potential machine purchase for when I get home so that I can get a reggie tamper!

I'll discuss my two favourite options for machines over the next few days!


Funny Stuff

Today has been packed with funniness. (If that's a word!) I opened Jimmy Oneschuk's site ( ) to read that I am a "Krups Master", the kind words set me off in a fit of the giggles as I have a long way to go tp produce anything close to Jimmy's! After this I got further accpetences to universities, to be topped off with a job offer from Subway, as the Store Manager! Possibilities are endless! Should I go to Uni? Should I not? Well I have accepted the offer and start on the 29th of May, 3 days after returning home to NI from Pearson!!! The benefits is that I have accpeted the Job for a year so if I decide I want to go to uni I can go next year, I don't see any major urgency.

The main factor is... when I go home and work I can buy a really nice espresso machine! Investment is key, as I don't want to be scrimping and saving during uni for this obsession when I can fund it before so that I survuve.

Peter and Jon have gone off with a larger group for a 19-23km run in Tofino. I hope they have a great time. Hopefully Jon will bring back some very nice pictures with his DigiCam that I can share here. he is a very talented photographer.

I feel the need for a double right now and feel inspried after watching numerous latter art vid's and learning about Stockfleth's move. I'll decide if it's latte or double time when I see the shot!


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Under Pressure

Life is getting busier and busier as the days go on. So I have taken three minutes to update and have a break from life. If it isn't the heavy worload from being at Pearson it's the childishness of some of our departments that really aggravate people. Take our maintenance department for example. A student played a joke on them so they cut down a swing that was built on to a tree by students. They claimed it was damaging the tree but it hadn't even succeeded in cutting the bark full circle! There's nothing worse than environmentalism that is uneducated and naive!

I've just finished reocrding my CD for my IB music. It contains 8 songs, one of which I wrote. I am doing Voice for my IB, after hearing myself on CD I can't understand why anyone would want to listen! People keep telling me I can sing, but I would argue differently... maybe someone can throw in an opinion either way...

A group of girls performed some of the Vagina Monologues here on Sunday. A very moving and humorous series of exerpts! Congratulations to them for producing such an amazing performance.

The Cafe was a blast last night. We started out with one of the machines packing in. SO we had our one for espresso and the other one we used for steaming stopped steaming. It turned out to be a line blockage which Peter tended to while I tried to keep up with demands for our coffee, which might I add is impressing some Italian students at the college. Students that are accustomed to quality, I love customer feedback! Anyway, the steam wand got repaired and is even better than when Pete got the machine! Steaming time has gone from nearly 3 minutes to about 30-45 seconds. It seems comparitivly hard to control and we were getting rather big bubbles, but after a few tries we're back pouring art again.

Gonna go here, should have some new latte art pics soon.
The sun is splitting the trees here, I hope it's like this everywhere and you can all enjoy!

Human for Sale...

Apprently there are places to go if you want to know how much you are worth, if you were to sell yourself today. Here are my results from this rather amusing quest for self worth:

I am worth $2,217,562.00 on

Cafe tonight again!!! I've printed out a flavour wheel for our customers to try and use, can't wait to see what crazy tastes come out of tonight as we are using Kicking Horse Grizzly Claw and Three Sisters blends.


Saturday, March 19, 2005


Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
I poured this heart on Tuesday for a friend at our cafe. The picture is a bit blurry cos I forgot the macro function! oops...

The Cafe

student store/cafe
Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
This is our Student Store/ Cafe. It was created years ago by students to give students an option of being able to buy some form of food in the evenings and the profits would all lgo to student aid. This year Peter and I added to the store by introducing a Cafe on Tuesday nights. Our profits are even higher on the nights we open as the profit margin for a pound of coffee is huge. These are Peter's two espresso machines. The blue one is used for the espresso as it does not have a presurrized portafiler and the black one is used for steam, so if Peter does the espresso I do the milk and art and vice versa.


The Mountains of Mourne

One of the most beautiful places in the whole of Ireland is the Mourne Mountain range:

I'm not sure how they came about being where they are but one thing is for certain; they need an espresso bar in he vacinity. Who knows what the future might hold.

I plan to roast some Malabar today, it's been a while from I've roasted my own. Hopefully I can hold out till monday before using it! Photos from the cafe will follow.


Friday, March 18, 2005

Me holding some freshly roasted Bolivian

One of my first tries with home roasting, these are Bolivian beans that I took just short of a dark roast. I think freshly roasted beans are possibly the one of the most beautiful objects in the world. They are so shiny with the oils and they make nice "snap, crackle and pop" sounds like rice cripsies as Jimmy put it and they smell incredible. A new delicousy could be BBQ Coffee bean burgers... just a thought!


Peter holding fresh roasted beans

These are some beans about 3 minutes after Peter had roasted them, I believe they are Ethiopian.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Watch out Luigi...

luigi style
Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
About two weeks ago I got some cocoa as I had just found out Mr Lupi's secret. (Call me dumb but I had thought the dark patches on his crema was just specking!) So after a few tries this is the result.

We are opening our Cafe tonight again! WooHoo!!! Can't wait, hopefully we'll have another great ristretto pulling, latte art pouring session! I just hope I remember to take my camera.

I have some nice shot's I've justu uploaded of the beans I have home-roasted over the last couple of week, I'll throw one or two up soon.

Look out for the results of tonights cafe...

Saturday, March 12, 2005


Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
This is one that I poured at my host families place a few eeks ago. I really like it when you pour a rosetta or heart but you know you will never do the same one again, no matter how similar they all are. I really like the slight almost S-shaped kink in this one.

My Best Heart

best heart ever
Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
Apologies for the crappy picture but this is a heart I poured for a dutch gguy on Tuesday night at our cafe. He was touched and told me he loved me too! Crazy dutch: "he's from holland isn't that weird!" (Sorry couldn't resist an Austin Powers moment!)

Nasty and Nice

Salsa dancing is sooo much fun. I can barely move my legs today but thats fine. You can't beat hip swinging with members of the opposite sex from all around the world! After speaking spanish for about 7 hours I feel a lot more confident but I still don't feel any more pprepared for my orals next week!

We started off by going to Los Taquitos (The small tacos) for dinner. I had tortillas con Bisteck (Steak Tortillas.) It was very god. We then left for the mall when Joe, Ashwin, Felipe and I headed staight for McDonalds where Joe kindly offered a Hot Fudge Sundae, Yum! We then decided to go to Serious Coffee as it is better than *$'s and Blenz. However I left extremely disappointed. The last time I was there I had some very enjoyable espresso poured by a guy from London (England not Ontario!) But this time what I got was a double eXpresso poured into a TAKE-AWAY CUP! It was the most unreal experience. I was almost angry but could only feel pity for the girl after she conseutively gave me then Joe our EXpresso's. Poor girl couldn't even read the menu properly! I can only ask myself: "How would Serious Coffeee be today if Geir Oglend (the creator) hadn't sold it?"

Oh well, setting that aside we went to the Salsa Palace on Broad St. which was very entertaining. There were all kinds of people here from Pro's to absolute beginners. After much toe stepping, hip banging and knocking other couples out of the way I retired back to Pearson arriving shortly after midnight then crashed. A great night despite only being allowed to communicate in Spanish and feeling guilty every time I burst into English.

So my english teacher has decided that he won't lend us his blade grinder, for various reasons, and we are stuck with 3 batches of beans that are in day 4 and 5 after roasting. I hope he changes his mind soon! I haen't really poured anything worth showing recently anyway. But I'll post some pics across from flickr in another post.


This is the Giants Causeway in N. Ireland. Myths say that it was created by giants that wanted to walk across to Scotland but in actual fact it is a volcanic formation of thousands of rocks that are all perfect hexagons. Very Cool!

God Shot

God Shot
Originally uploaded by i_got_art.
This is the God Shot from Wednesday's Monsooned Malabar Gold. (Courtesy of Master Barista Jimmy Oneschuk!) It was definately the best shot of espresso I have made at home. Thie was at 21 second, I stopped at 25. Not really sure why it only comes out one hole though!


Friday, March 11, 2005

Busy Times...and God Shots!

I haven't actually had a moment to downlaod my pics from digicam as life is so busy. If you don't know much about Pearson College, there's always something to do, from school work to hefty shifts of procrastination. (Well needed)

Take today for example. I will have classes until 2:15pm then at 4:30 I depart for Victoria for an 8 Hours spanish emmersion in preparation for my oral exams next week. About 25 of us are going out for dinner then salsa dancing so it looks like I need to loosen my hips! Nosotros solo hablamos espanol para la noche!!! oh no...

I just poured a half assed rosetta. Didn't even waste space on the memory card. Here's one from a few weeks ago. I actually like it because of its deformaties on the left side. The little defaults add character to the look.

Wednesday was the day. We pushed our patience to the max and waited the full three days before trying the latest batch of malabar gold, and it was well worth the wait. My shot was absolutely divine. I didn't think I could ever make an espresso so good with limited facilities. It tasted spicy and slightly nutty. The mouth feel was incredibly smooth and the crema was about 3/4 of the cup initially. Unfortunately Peter's wasn't quite the ristretto he was getting on tuesday night but we were using a $10 blade grinder that we borrowed from our fantastic English teacher and 'Mentor': Theo Dombrowski. I can say that my shot honestly was a "God Shot."

gotta run to music class.... to be continued:

It's 4:05pm and I have just gotten to grips with flicker so hopefully the pics I upload from now on will be of better quality. I've posted the God Shot above. Next there will be some from the cafe night, I promise!


Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Cafe!

So, Peter and I opened the cafe again this week. Joe helped us transport the equipment and set everything up in our student-run store. We had cool lights, nice tunes (Peter's new LCD Soundsystem album...very cool!) and a great crowd. We had Kicking horse dark roast espresso blend for the evening and an addition of Affagato to our menu. (Ice-cream topped with a double espresso... absolutely divine.)

The demand was high and we were well pushed to keep up. Peter pulled shots on his blue machine and by half way he was nailing consistent ristretto's, which were superb. I was steaming milk on Peter's black machine and managed to pour my best full cup heart ever and some decent macchiato art. Pictures will follow once I get them off the camera. (i'm not sure how good the quality is though)

A normal night in student store usually makes about $15-$45 but we raise the bar to $132, a little less than our previous best which was $146. All profits from this venture go directly to student aid. This helps students, that get selected to Pearson, with financial difficulties. (Helping with transport costs, spending money during college breaks etc.) It is very worth while.

I'll add my photos to this post once they're available.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The moment of truth!

As promised here is some of my art! Apologies for the quality of the photos not being great i've been using Joe's camera and am now using Jon's as they are better than my mine!

This is probably one of my best lattes but again is let done by the photo:

It's amazing how it takes the right combination of variables to make the perfect shot or latte. This one was poured in the company of Joseph Charles Bernard Miller, the night before we had a weeks holiday from school. There was sweet music playing, good conversation, nice shot, nice milk and a little cocoa for effect. All came together for a great drink with nice art on top!

This one I made for Alison a few weeks ago, it's not bad:

As Will Ferell says in Anchor Man:

"Stay classy San Diego" or wherever you are!


Good News: Peter and I are opening our on-campus cafe tonight. It's been a while since our premises we're closed temporarily after the plantation of a dead raccoon inside! What some people do for attention... We got some Kicking Horse Cliffhanger which we just tried. I found it very strong and acidic with a heavy smokieness. I think it'll be easier to take in a latte. We'll take some pictures of whatever comes out of tonight and hopefully I'll be able to throw some up here tomorrow. (Mine and Peter's all being well)

Technology... and first installment of N.I.

So I have FINALLY got the capabilities to upload images! YIPPEE!!!

Now comes the fun of not being able to upload any of my images as I need to compress all the files. Luckily Peter knows how to do it! We should be able to get 5 mins to do it over the next few days.

Also over the next few days I want to share some of Northern Ireland with everyone. I'll start now with a picture of a Basking shark. They are found in our local waters. Here are some common facts and a photo of the magnificent creature:

1. The basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is the second largest fish in the sea, second only to the whale shark (Rhincodon typus).

2. It's closest relative is the renowned great white shark.

3. The Basking Shark is a harmless and gentle creature which feeds only on plankton. It has 6 rows of teeth on the upper jaw and 9 on the lower each approximately 5mm long.

4. Basking sharks have been reported from all the oceans of the world.

5. Sharks of 12m are not uncommon and reports of 18m specimens have been received, however basking sharks of 4-6m are probably most common in British waters.

6. The sharks, some of which may weigh 2-3 tons, frequently make spectacular leaps clear of the water.

7. Basking Sharks are ovoviparous giving birth to live young rather than laying eggs like some other sharks.

8. It is commonly reported that a 12m specimen weighs 3 tons, It's dorsal fin approaches 2m, approximately the same length as each of it's pectorals.

9. A Basking Shark swims at 2-3 knots with its mouth (1m across) wide open filtering plankton through gill rakers on it’s 5 enormous pairs of gill arches. A water volume equivalent to a 50m swimming pool is filtered every hour.

10. Basking Sharks like many other sharks are hunted for their livers (approx. one third of their body weight) which contain the oil squalene. This was used for engine lubrication and in the manufacture of cosmetics such as skin creams. Japan has historically been one of the most important squalene producers. While export data is not available for Japan after 1980 South Korea is quoted as importing an average of 52 tonnes annually from Japan during 1987 to 1994. It is estimated that 1 tonne of squalene would require the livers of 2500-3000 sharks.

11. The most recent reports suggest that they are now killed solely for their fins which are sold to the Far East to be used in shark fin soup.

12. In several areas they have already been hunted to extinction.

It's one amazing animal!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Nice Smells...

So Jimmy's advice with home roasting was that during the degasing stage of the beans open the bag after a while in the room. I must admit that our room has never smelled so good. Walking into a room that smells like medium roasted malabar is just incredible. The temptation is killing me, we are going to wait until wednesday before trying these ones hopefully.

To delay the temptation Peter and I dark roasted some Ethiopian for thursday. Then we went to our next class, smelling like fresh roasted coffee, this could replace the use of cologne in my life! I find it really effective roasting as a team and gaining feedback from each other to try and get a result that is pleasing for us, as we all have different tastes.

The latte art situation is becoming depressing, I've only had two 'presentable' rosettas today. I can finally upload images. Here is the latte Jimmy Oneschuk poured for Joe on fridays expidition to the Keathing Kafe:

I'm too embarrassed to show my own yet!

Patience is a virtue...

So, I wasn't able to wait for the de-gasing process to finish with the beans we roasted... But boy did they taste good.

Peter, Jon Joe and I had a little spare time today and so we embarked on a session of espresso drinking with the beans I roasted yesterday. We had a mild roast Malabar, dark roast ethiopian and dark roast bolivian. We were all quite impressed as this was our first attempt at home roasting. Despite being a light roast the malabar proved to be extremely flavourful. I found it spicy and sweet at the same time. Peter summed it up with an interesting comparison to Tandoori Chicken, it seemed about right. I found it slightly weird but there it was i was drinking tandoori chicken. Apparently, just after the malabar was harvested it was monsoon season, during which the green beans are stored in a ware house. The effect of the humidity and moisture in the air enables the beans to absord a spicyness and what felt to me like a complete bouquet of aromas i would normally associate with darker roasted blends before a light raosted single origin espresso. It didn't have a very thick consistency which made it easier to drink.

The Ethiopian and Bolivian were definately very smoky and earthy. They hinted strongly of charcoal to me with strong tobacco flavours that the other picked out. The bolivian was a little easier on the palate than the ethiopian which was overwhelming to an extent with amount of flavour it released.

We did make a bit of a blend with the three beans which I quite enjoyed as it made me twitch for a second, Jon's facial expressions summed up the experince for him. A conclusion was made that the three did not go too well together.

So to finish the afternoon off we got out the popcorn popper again and roasted some malabar to a medium roast this time. Hopefully we can wait until at least tuesday or wednesday before consuming it to get the full effects after they degas. Hopefully giving us an even more enjoyable experience than todays

We'll find out soon enough!
Cheers for now

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Latte Art...and now home roasting!!!

My last week has been a real dry spot for latte art in that I ain't really had any. I'm in the process of trying to upload pictures here but it may take time as there are a few hoops I need to jump through such as network firewalls. Hopefully I can get some pics up soon.

So after a disappointing failure at pouring rosettas I poured some Luigi lupi style sideways swirl art and then decided to try out this home roasting business. Oh my God... fun or what! and the smell is absolutely incredible. I light/med roasted some malabar and then dark roasted some ethiopian and bolivian. The Bolivian is may favourite for smell and looks. I haven't tried any of them yet as I am letting them de-gas for a while. I took some very nice photos of them with Jon and hopefully Joe will have some spare time to let me get the software I need to upload pictures here! I made a blend out of the three I am naming it 'The Jimmy' lol!

Take it easy for now

The Beginning

After starting to make "espresso" based drinks from a stove-top machine and a french press for foaming milk, my taste in espresso has expanded immensely. From my first real "kick in the nuts" double at 2% Jazz in Victoria, BC, Canada to my adventures of up to 6 doubles at Geir Oglend's new place on the Keating Crossroads, I can more or less say I'm hooked! (I think addicted is too strong a word sometimes!)

I have banished sugar and syrups from most of my drinks unless my sweet-tooth cries out for some attention and have adopted the label of "Purist" thanks to Jimmy Oneschuk of Sam Jones, Geir Oglend and Jimmy Oneschuk are all great role-models and inspirations for my pursuit of this passion. Jimmy for his willingness to share his passion, especially with our age group and his desire go the extra mile to help me expand my knowledge with respect to espresso, latte art and also home roasting. (which I am yet to start. Thanks for the green beans Jimmy, can't wait to start!) Geir is and should be a role-model to all of us that want our own cafe. With his passion for coffee, vast knowledge on the subject and business skills that show years of experience in this field I have learned a lot from Geir after the few long conversations we have had. Sam Jones shows utter determination in the pursuit of having an espresso bar. He is constantly making changes to 2% Jazz which shows a continual learning that even the best out there go through. There's always something different everytime I go through the door.

My great friend and roommate (in my second year at Pearson College, Peter Van De Reep has been the key to this world of coffee for which I am deeply greatful. Peter's passion for coffee and desire for furthering his knowledge and learn new techniques has driven both of us to push each others boundaries and up the mark with the quality of our coffee on his Krup Nova 2300. (Our ability to produce latte art from this machine has impressed and puzzled both Jimmy and Sam as no-one else seems to do it!)

Some wesites i recommend are:

The full list is much longer but these are some of my favourites!

That's enough for now, I will continue to update with some past stories, new knowledge that rocks my world, the uncovering of new abilities, the equipment I get and quests for good espresso based beverages around the world (mainly canada and Northern Ireland though, as I am studying in Canada and am from Northern Ireland)

Hope you can follow my journey and contribute with your comments and own experiences.