regarding Lavazza (as i do, occasionally, when it’s on sale). you really don’t need me to tell you this, because it’s all on their website. of the three roasts you’re likely to find here – red package, blue, black, all are considered a appropriately ground for stovetop espresso makers, although daily i feel less comfortable calling what comes out of these contraptions espresso. apparently the extraction ratio is similar to what you might find with a -real- espresso machine, but i’ve always been disappointed by the comparative thinness and lack of crema.
Lo! HOWEVER, just as i was typing this up, i did some research*, and apparently depending on the machine, bean, and grind, it is possible to produce a respectable crema with one of these little bastards. (aka moka pots, and machinetta [“little machines”], which i would absolutely start calling it if it wouldn’t so irrevocably tar me as an affected, pretentious d~bag.)
anyway, Lavazza, let me break it down like this:
red – “qualita rossa” good for all purposes (macchinetta, espresso, drip, french press), a little more evenly balanced, medium roast, 30% robusta**, 70% arabica
blue – “crema e gusto” specifically for machinetta, stronger, more robust taste, darker roast, 70% robusta, 30% arabica, beanwise. probably i’ll start buying this, on account of the above is how i roll.
black/gold – “oro” all purpose, a little smoother and sweeter, 100% arabica
there’s also a drip roast i never buy, and three other espresso roasts that i never see anywhere (espresso, espresso perfetto, and espresso crema e gusto), but for some reason they don’t even all have full organoleptic profiles for them on the site. (i ~love~, btw, that they had the audacity to use the term “organoleptic profile” on the website, since really all it means is “how it looks, feels, tastes, smells”)
Café Myriade. i walked through its doors excited, because everybody and their coffee-drinking dog has been effusively heaping praise on the place since it opened back in whenever. that said, being the fun-hating curmudgeon that i am, don’t think i had dangerously high expectations, i had just heard the place had great coffee, and i like great coffee, so i went for a coffee, and was unfortunately disappointed.
TWICE. different baristas both times, neither time their much celebrated owner/head barista/coffee superhero Anthony, as far as i can tell, but still, a place with such a reputation shouldn’t fail to impress twice. honestly (i had a short espresso both times) it wasn’t bad, per se, but it really wasn’t even what i’d call “good”. really acidic off the top and not much body at all. my companion, a more educated and experienced coffee snobs, was further disappointed, and the second time even got an allongé because he didn’t want to “risk” a short espresso again.
so it goes. hate and gloom and death: 1, high expectations: 0.
btw, i have had much more positive experiences as lili & oli, (admittedly, still a café, so you’ll have to try to excuse the mandatory nauseating cuteness of the website) without the hauteur.
*there was an interesting bit about just this kind of “research” on Ideas last night. the show was called The Great Library 2.0 (which will be available as a podcast from aug 24th-sept 24th, if you’s interested) and was about (in part) Google and (in general) the project(s) of trying to digitize all the books in the world, to create an ethereal, universally accessible compendium of written knowledge, and the attendant issues and debates. near the end they were talking to a few naysayers, and those who were wary of the project as a whole (rather than just specifically to the monopolization/breach of copyright [also a good article here at NY Review of Books] involved in Google Books), had lamentably little of interest to say – much of it boiling down to the “thrill of the hunt” for rare books and research material, one asshole even talking about the incomparable experience of flying to France or Turin or somewhere and navigating the labyrinthine libraries in order to get special permission to open up some ancient book that probably nobody has bothered to look at for 700 years, basically elevating that devotion and massive disposable income to something of moral weight. yeah, -that- is why we shouldn’t digitize all the books in the world so anybody with internet access can read them. so you can play Indiana Jones? fuck off. but so anyway the one interesting thing someone said in that orgy of romanticism and snobbery was that our relationship to research and referencing has been changed substantially, he had a word for it, which i unfortunately can’t recall (flash research? soft research), which basically described the tendency to claim things you know generally to be true, flag them in your drafts, and then go back and wiki around until you’ve found substantiation. contrast this with a pre-internet (or even, man alive, pre-photocopier!) relationship to scholarly writing, where unless you have a ginormous personal library, you end up with reams and reams of notes and basically pages of transcribed material from various sources. his point basically being that we develop a much more thorough and nuanced relationship to material by a. having to invest time and energy in tracking it down, and b. then having a prolonged physical relationship to it, by adding the whole further processing stage of running it through the fabric of the brain and translating it back into words again by writing it down, instead of just reading it and “remembering” it, or gleaning the primary points, or still worse, scanning it, then copying and pasting some part of it.
if i had had to go to the library for every one of these posts – such as today, to look up books on coffee beans, roasts, various espresso machines and their names, i’d probably end up knowing wayyyy more about the whole world of coffee than i do now, just by virtue of justifying the caloric investment i had made in the endeavour. on the flip side, i wouldn’t have done that, and in such a world this blog clearly would not exist, because the delicate balance of public-writing-as-ego-stroke to actual-amount-of-effort-required-to-achieve-that would be totally thrown off. which is why 1940s essay writers were just plain better people than bloggers, and ALWAYS WILL BE. yeah, i’m total scum and i know it. give me a book deal, pleeease.
oh, and there’s also a part (in the Ideas program) about Google’s work on trying to create algorithms that allow semantic searches and pattern recognition so that one could effectively search for ideas, and thereby also trace their historical evolution short of any explicitly shared vocabulary. i wish they had devoted an entire program to this kind of thing because it is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S interesting.
**robusta being consider the “lower grade” of the two, i’ve noted that it is often added to espresso blends to encourage crema formation. does anyone know why this is? i would assume that perhaps they are roasted longer, therefore oilier, and thus have more to contribute to the crema-forming emulsion process?