Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Quiet coffee

So I'm a freak.

Not that's out of the way, we can get to it. We all know the espresso machine at the Community Cafe is pretty nice. It is, however, a bit noisy. It also has one issue that under high load, it can run out of water. So there I am entertaining and I've got to refill the thing. Sure this only takes 2 -3 minutes but it breaks the rhythm and flow of it all. I'm trying to bang out drinks and the last thing I need is to have to stop everything. The milk gets cold, the shot is ruined. Don't even ASK if I can reheat the milk. Yes I can but I won't. We have standards here at the cafe.

So those issues are all going away. I'm investing in a proper installation for the machine. Currently what we have is a plastic reservour and a thing called a vibration pump. That little vp can crank out the 9 bar of pressure but it does this by ... well... vibrating as frantically and noisily as possible. The vibe pump and the reservour will be retired, to be replaced by some heavy hardware. Enter the rotary pump and hard plumbed system.

The nearly silent pump will hide under the sink and connect directly to the house water supply. In line filtering will also be added. This stuff aint cheap and the cost for this conversion alone is well more than a decent home espresso machine but the overall effect will be fantastic. Oh and we'll be connecting a drain system as well.

The end solution will be a simplification of the process, a quieter operation, and an ability to build drinks one after the other. So what drives this insanity? Well insanity of course but the real thing is the desire to legitimize the cafe. If one were to walk into 1000 home kitchens they'd probably find pretty much the same core items: Frig, range, dishwasher, sink. The only other items tend to be toys. Plastic toaster, crappy coffee maker, blender, etc. Everybody seems to put the appliances in their home based on unwritten code. The code says you must do things in a certain way and here are your priorities. I've never seen anyone with a, for example, separate wok burner with 30,000 btu's. It's not because it's a bad idea, it just goes against the code. For some people that would be a pointless thing but for others, it might be positively ideal. I may come across as a nut-job. Not only have I blown some serious coin for the cafe setup, I'm now taking it to another level. I may be insane but I'm happy to have broken the code.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The photo is not technically good {exposure, focus} but there's something I like about the overexposure & the boy's expression. It reminds me of the cult of Holga photographers. ((If you have no idea what I'm talking about, throw "Holga" into google.)) Posted by Hello

We've cooked *nothing* for many weeks. After nearly dying from overexposure to tater tots and pizza....Finally, I put something together. And in the nick of time. Who's Nick? Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 19, 2005

This thing is INSANE. Even with this photo it is hard to grasp how tiny it actually is. Within this tiny case are 107 songs (& it is not maxed out) an amplifier that produces impressive sound and power for 10 hours of music. It doesn't seem real. truly sweet. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

May the Farm be with you

Good stuff
Turn your sound up

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

the right thing to do

i have little choice but to post a blog entry now. You see I'm sitting at a superb Portland cafe doing work (ok not at this exact second). So in the name of being hip and connected and dialed into the scene... here I am. The magic moment happened as I paused to think and my eyes landed on a poster on the wall. Some local musical folk acoustic artist. That wasn't super cool but what I did next was kinda dialed. I keyed her web address {http://www.brendaweiler.com} and had a quick look.

It's good to get out every once in a while. Running on battery so I'll be working for 64%, or for an additional 2 hours 14 minutes. No wires.

Monday, May 16, 2005

I'm IN

So this world of media technology... it's all destined for the landfill so I avoid much of it. Plus the cutting edge stuff is always expensive and rarely worth it. We're less than three year vetarans of the DVD player and it is a modest system at that.

So I've touched my toe into another world of technology with the smallest cheapest unit: the iPod shuffle. The purpuse was to replace the skipping CD player that allows us to ride around with Benjamin in the sidecar bike trailer. Without music, his endurance drops and we can't get to where we want to go.

But before the iPod actually arrives, I'm transitioning from the old cd based paradigm and entering an entirely more fluid way of considering music. Most technically savvy people have already uploaded their music library but here I am getting on board in short order. I can't wait to begin building up the playlists. Even without the little player, the movement of music from physical media to computer is liberating. I've already bought and downloaded the latest from Cake & Dave Matthews without anything physical. No paper for the transaction and nothing but a data stream to show for it. I finally enter the new century... five years late.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

like a lion

Benjamin says that a thunderstorm sounds like a lion. Ben likes thunderstorms. The weather radar shows a thunderstorm heading towards Portland right now. Ben's happy about that.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


This is a statement directed at all manufacturers who spec crappy hardware. Hey I paid a lot of money for product X, please... PLEASE throw down the extra 7c to put in a decent set of screws and such. Stripped broken screws, hollow tin wing-nuts, it's all just sad and wrong and turns installation into a frustrating pain.

Props to IKEA... those guys throw in solid machined pieces and everything is a joy to construct. OK joy may be a stretch but for the rest of you... be more like IKEA.

ok then.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

bad coffee part II

This rant will be {kinda} brief. So one obvious reason that espresso is, on the whole, not made very well is because the staff doesn't know what they're doing. To mitigate this, the owner needs to either hire better staff or take the intelligence out of the equation. Hence Starbucks move to full automatic machines. A machine made coffee is like a machine built bicycle wheel. It works but the handmade is much nicer in the right hands.

So I decide to get an espresso with my gelato last pm and they have semi automatic machines. This means that the flow of water handled by pressing a button with an icon for one cup, two cups, etc. I order a double and she puts a cappucino cup {error #1, cup way too big} under the spouts. She grinds and hits the #2 button. All is well and what's coming out actually looks quite good. She peers into the cup and then....

... presses the button again.

"Noooooooooo" I say frantically, "that's good. That's good. I'll take it as is." She's not happy but it's hard to care. They dumbed down the system so the staff wouldn't make errors and then staff goes out of their way to make a huge error. She would have turned a decent drink into a puddle of nasty bitter dreck.

[Footnote] One might call me extremely particular (not a compliment) that I would notice or care about the cup size but, hey... it does. An espresso is a delicate fleeting thing. It tastes decidedly better within the first 45 seconds of its life and degrades rapidly. It's best to finish it inside of 3-4 minutes. To speed up its death, put it in a cold big cup and it's already sub optimal and not nearly as hot even before you get it. So there it is. If you go to a top notch cafe, you'll notice that they preheat the tiny cup with hot water and you tend to get your espresso without even a moment's delay. As the last dribble lands, they're handing it to you. That's because they get it.

So much for this being short. :^S

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Everybody's been asking about them so here they are roosting for the evening. The old expression is true, they *always* come back to roost. 2-1/2 months old, aka eggs minus 3-1/2...tick tock. Posted by Hello

The office. Garage opening a bit more civilized. Total cost < $300 Posted by Hello

good coffee

amen to being home again. of course it's the family that I miss most. we crept up to peek at the boy sleeping.

The chilly garage-office has never looked so sweet. But now, it's sporting sophisticated heating with remote control! Fancy

We're in "oh crap, guests are coming" mode. Which translates loosely into, "Clean this room and that room and the other room. Move this furniture, rearrange that furniture. Oh we'll need to vacuum there again." Projects and guests don't mix that well. Fortunately the big one is mostly done and the tools can be stashed. This is what is known as perfect timing. The visit itself will be fabulous.