Just before I ordered my first coffee roaster, I decided to splurge and see what real freshly-roasted coffee was all about. I visited a local coffee shop here in Baton Rouge, Highland Coffee, which is near LSU. They roast a number of different coffees for serving at their shop. They also sell freshly roasted coffee beans and green beans.
If I recall correctly, I purchased some "Columbian Tarrazu" one Saturday about noon. It was labelled as having been roasted that morning. Whoopee! I went home, ground some, brewed it in my Krups Pro-Aroma, and was amazed at the truly sweet taste of this unflavored coffee.
So, I did it. In August, 2001, I ordered my Home Innovations Precision coffee roaster from Sweet Maria's, along with an eight half-pound green coffee samples and three pounds of other green coffees. I've never looked back. My last unopened package of Community Coffee is still on the shelf three years later. The H.I. Precision was my roaster until June, 2003, when I ordered and received my Hottop Bean Roaster.
It's not a commercial espresso coffee machine - it's one of the best home espresso machines you can buy.
I love my Rancilio Silvia. The espresso from this machine has been tremendously better than that at almost any commercial coffee shop that I've visited.
The current setup is my Silvia, with the green beans I purchase from Sweet Maria's, roasted in my my RK Drum roaster, and ground with my Rancilio Rocky grinder immediately before brewing. I added a PID process controller to take over control of the boiler temperature from the "brew thermostat."
The Silvia can make a lot of steam for cappucinos and lattes. Around my house, it also is the number one milk steamer for Hot Chocolate on weekend mornings.
My Espresso page discusses my Silvia experiences in more detail.
The more I read, the more I learned. One thing that I kept reading was that the grinder was a significant part of the equation.
With a whirly-bird blade grinder, sure, I could break up the coffee beans into little pieces, but I also made a lot of fine dust and irregular particles. With a burr grinder, I could get a much more consistent particle size to the coffee grinds. This should result in a better tasting, and more repeatable, cup of coffee. Even more important, the blade grinder just is not adequate for grinding beans for espresso. The Briel Java that I bought with my Briel Vilamoura was a burr grinder. I used it a while, but it could not grind fine enough to make espresso properly in my Silvia.
So, I upgraded to a Solis Maestro burr grinder to use with my Silvia for more consistency. This was my "everything" grinder for all methods of coffee brewing for the next year -- drip coffee, espresso-based drinks, and French press coffee. I learned that many of the things I had read about the Maestro were correct. Most importantly, while it was great for French press and for drip coffee, it just couldn't cut it long term for a serious espresso machine like the Silvia.
Well, I tried for a year; then I bought a Rancilio Rocky to match my Silvia. The Solis Maestro continues to give good daily service for drip coffee, vacuum pot coffee and/or French press coffee.
Copyright © 2002-2005 Terry A. Stockdale