It has been a few days since my last post. From the pile of empty bags behind my espresso machine, I think I have tried a few.

How many of these coffees have you tried?

Beans, Machines, and Human Beings

There is a big difference in Espresso drinks from one shop to the next (or from one house to the next).  I am generalizing that there are 3 variables:

  1. Beans (source, blend, roast)
  2. Machines (not just the espresso machine, but also the grinder)
  3. Human Beings (timing, settings on the grind, tamp, pull, the pour, temperature, ….)

On a trip out to Vancouver (visiting a Brother-in-Law and his lovely wife) we visited a lot of independent coffee shops (between 2 and 4 a day;-).   After one spectacular cappuccino, we bought some beans so I could try that at home. Later that morning, we were in another coffee shop where the cappuccino was rather bland and mediocre.  The shocker was that the bland coffee-house was the bean roaster/supplier to the spectacular coffee shop.

The difference: the bland shop was mostly about image.  The spectacular shop was all about the product.  They were asking specifics about how we wanted our drinks done, and followed up asking what we liked about it.  It may have helped that I was noticing the very high-end machines they had.

Note that I have been into shops with the same machines, and had mediocre cups as well.  I believe the Human Beans are the most important link in making a great cappuccino.

Could I make a cup as good as the better shop? No, but I did make cappuccino (and straight espresso) as good as my best home-brewed cups with these beans as with my other preferred beans.

hmmm…. the people are most important.  The beans are extremely important.  The machines are key.  I guess I better go do some more research.  Care to join me for an espresso, cappuccino or latte?

Coffee to go…

My wife says I have a bad coffee habit. I am always making detours to get a cappuccino. At least for my travels, I don’t have to use heavy engineering to design my own coffee cup.

On the space station, zero gravity means drinking from a straw in a bag. One coffee addict figured out how to use a cup with surface tension and capillary action (or some fancy engineering). The Coffee Cup video was beamed from the space station to NASA.

Now, for those of us facing scorn for the price of our beverages, astronauts are over the top. At $10,000/kg to put anything into low earth orbit, those are some expensive beans. (, as of 2000. The price per launch is way higher today.)

Relative to those prices, I feel better about spending $15 on some good fair trade espresso beans tomorrow. Look for another review soon.

Costco (Kirkland) Espresso Beans

I made a commitment to try new beans in my Espresso machine. A recent trip to Costco was when I was reminded. Reasonably inexpensive beans, and a chance to try what I had thought of for a while. These Kirkland-branded beans are supplied by Starbucks.

The beans themselves looked very oily, and smelled very roasted. Perhaps over-roasted, but I am not able to decide that from looking at beans. Let’s brew!

First reaction was that I must have over-extracted. It was bitter, but weak at the same time.

Fortunately, I am willing to make the sacrifice and keep drinking cappuccino. Pulling a shorter shot seemed to be the solution to the weaker brew, but the bitterness seemed to remain. I was also left with the feeling that I was using a double-shot of grounds to make a single-shot of espresso.

When I got back to the William Spartivento,, I was reminded that my first thoughts on this espresso were correct.

House Beans

Many people seem to have their “standard” beans.  I buy beans from several local places, but seem to go through a lot of William Spartivento Barista beans that I pick up from Costco.  These beans have a very full flavour.  I think I am spoiled after this.  I am making a “blog resolution” to try out at least one different bean source every month or two, and report in here.

From William Spartivento, I prefer the Barista over the La Crema. 

Let me know what your preferences are for making Cappuccino and Latte.

Seize your coffee before you seize this blog

The Blog name is consistent with our company name – Two Old Beans.  We drink a cappuccino or latté before starting anything. 

I consume a lot of espresso drinks.  I have a decent espresso machine (Breville Cafe Roma), and a conical burr grinder.  Add in some good beans, and too many mornings of figuring out what works or me.  Some people will downplay my espresso machine, but I am happy with the results for the price.

For me, I also have 2 stove-top espresso machines, a couple manual frothers, too many Bodum (French Press) to count, and I think there is a filter-based coffee maker in the basement somewhere.

This blog will be about life, focusing on coffee since each day starts with feeding my coffee addiction.