Monday, November 23, 2015

EK 43 Espresso's on the Menu

Finally, - since the 5th of November -, after 5 months of testing, we have the new menu running.

2 weeks later we may say it is a big hit.

Getting the EK (as we call the grinder) in the line up for all clean espresso shots - we mean as a coffee to drink pure - is the biggest change in our bar for the last 3 or 4 years.

A small look on the history of espresso making at Caffenation, or elsewhere.

2003 We start at Caffenation with an old Gaggia machines and 2 Santos grinders.
We didn't know much about how espresso should taste like.

In the years 2004-2008 we get our game plan enrolled along as how a Barista pulls his/her shots in a competition :
Cleaning of the portafilters shot after shot.
Flushing of the group heads every time again
Clean machines and work stations
Grinding on demand
Tamping the grounds
and (not in Championships) Using Teflon Portafilters

Every step was a big step forward. And every step again my Barista's were wondering what the gain was. I have to admit that it wasn't always so easy to measure. Also because our coffee's in those days were not as clean as they are today, and for sure roasted a whole lot darker.

In November 2008 we bought our first La Marzocco. Finally we paired our technique to a supreme coffee machine and with the newly bought Anfim on demand grinders we were heading bit by bit to coffee nirvana.
In 2010 we started roasting ourself. We roasted lighter, brought the water temperature lower and started to experiment more and more with naked portafilters.

In May 2012 we moved our main bar to the current location - Mechelsesteenweg - and changed the coffee menu seriously.
Before this we made 2,5 to 3 cl espresso and had a separate grinder for ristretto's.

At the Mechelsesteenweg we only served 4cl doubles made with a naked portafilter.
When we had combined orders of a ristretto, espresso and a doppio espresso, we served 3 times the same drink, as discribed above.
Most espresso lovers understood the system and bit by bit we even reduced them towards 3-3,5cl or appr 33grams of weight espresso - crema included. This was sometimes very complex and even a bit too ristricted for espresso but surely gave better 'milk drinks'.

And here's where the problem is situated in most of the bars. There's a grinder and a machine for espresso making, but it needs to grind and extracts for two different type of beverages - the black ones and the ones with milk.
Of course it's possible some type of espresso is perfect for both goals - drinking clean or with milk, but most often it's a stradlle we can't make.

When reading about the EK 43 experiments and with particular enthusiasm about the higher TDS compared to traditional coffee grinders, which resulted in a higher and better tasting extraction yield, we started to research this for ourself.
Here an interesting post about this subject. (m perger)
And here. (m colonna)

The whole idea : You can extract more, without getting over-extracted flavours when using a Mahlkonig EK 43 grinder. 
In total it took 3 different versions with all different burrs and settings and in total 2,5 years (with intervals of course) of research.
In a later post we talk more about settings and techniques
Today our menu and the new way of serving espresso.

Since 8,5 years we serve single origin espresso's, but always as some kind of back up for the main blend(s).
We respected early adaptors of the concept with only SOE coffee a lot - think, for Belgium, Kolonel Koffie, Broer Bretel, Viggo's, Superette, etc - but not all of them succeeded. Sometimes it didn't work for the milk drinks or sometimes the clients did not understand the concept. But now in 2015 i guess people are more and more aware that it is much more interesting to drink a single origin espresso in stead of a blend. See it as a Single Malt Whisky vs a Blended/Normal Whisky. Or a bottle of specific wine from a specific farm vs a 'table wine'. Or a single origin chocolate vs a plain chocolate bar. If you give people the choice between something specific with a story or something generic; people prefer the first one.
In the 3 comparisons above you can argue that the single is much more expensive than the blend, but in coffee it doesn't have to be like that. Or at least it should't make a big difference.
We sell singles a bit more expensive, but that's because we do 40+ different onces a year and there's a lot of work involved in the finding, investing, stocking, roasting and then communications and techniques to get all the flavours out. Plus we push hard to get our hands on exclusive specialty lots, which isn't always easy.

Briefly we changed the menu and when you come in and ask for an espresso or a double espresso we serve you the single origin coffee of the moment. And that one is prepared - this is the whole point of this post - with a Mahlkonig EK 43 grinder.
For best results we increased the volume towards 45 grams for a double and serve it in an open (cappuccino) cup. There's a lot of drinking here, but where i had problems finishing a double ristretto pulled with a naked portafilter, i have no problems finishing this one.
The mouthfeel is smoother, we taste more details and the cooling down is a whole lot better.
And most of all we have way less problems with these typical 'metalic' tastes you sometimes encounter when making espresso's with light roasted beans.

Of course this way of making coffee is showing all nuances so perfectly that a less clean coffee is sacked very quickly. So high cupped clean cut beans needed.

The Limu Burka Gudina we have on the grinder since today is such a coffee. It sometimes takes a while to dial in the grinder (and machine) when a new coffee has landed, but once we found the recipe - 2 barista's start 15' earlier every day to focus on this - we can't believe why it took so long to make these changes.

Oh yes, to finish of i want to tell the fans of our Mr LGB blend (or Roast ED) that they don't have to panic. We use them for our caps and flat whites, so when politely asked we still serve you this great cup of joe, no worries. It's not that there's something wrong with these kind of coffee's, we just think those new 'EK shots' are something more tasty and spectacular.

ps : don't confuse these type of espresso's with coffee shots. These last type of coffees is something different and probably on our summer menu of 2016.

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