My Espresso Machine

Profitec 700

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll probably know that I start my day of with a daily cappuccino, which means that I need to start with a great espresso, which means that a great espresso machine is a must – after all, this is from coffee with love and with anything in life, if you don’t invest time and money (sometimes), you won’t get anything serious and long lasting back in return, so back to coffee.

Daily cappuccino

The journey to a great espresso machine

When I was on the lookout for an espresso machine a few years back, after my Isomac went bust, I did a lot of research and decided that within my budget, I would buy a Rocket R58, which was available at one espresso shop in Vienna, where I lived back in 2014. 

So, I made my way to the shop, funnily called Taste It, fully determined to walk away with a new espresso machine, having not had espresso coffee for about 2 weeks. I walked in and proudly announced my intentions, which I thought would bring a smile to the retailer – we are after all talking about a machine that would cost around EUR2,000 (AED8,000). I expressed that I wanted a machine that I wouldn’t have to replace for several years and that I felt that the Rocket R58 fitted my desires in this sense.

After walking over to the machine and showing me what I had only previously seen on websites, the retailer turned to me and said it was sold out and wouldn’t be available for about 1-2 months. I asked why and he mentioned China’s thirst for espresso had meant that the manufacturer, who made about 200 every month, sent about 1-2 to Vienna and the remaining to China. Before I burst out into tears like a child at a candy store being told you can look at the sweets but you can’t have any, the owner of the shop walked over to me and offered me a deal on a machine he believed was better than the Rocket R58.

Initially sceptical for 2 reasons – why is he trying to sell me a more expensive machine and why is he selling me a German machine (most are made in Italy). After carefully explaining some of the aesthetics of this new machine, I was tempted. To sweeten the offer he offered me a new espresso grinder, the Macap M4D – an electric grinder on demand machine and told me I could have the machine in 2-3 days, mentioning that I could return it in one month if I didn’t like it. BAM, I was sold or should I say, “sold to the lover of espresso”. He offered me some sort of brewing lesson but after my friend who accompanied me told him I used to own a coffee shop using a La Marzocco Linea 3 group, a few years back, he said I didn’t need it. Well ! I would hope so, after all I had already been writing about coffee for well over 10 years.

Espresso machine

So, what espresso machine did I buy and have owned for almost 8 years now? (time flies when you’re brewing great espresso on a great machine) Here’s a snapshot from the manufacturer’s website – 

  • Dual boiler
  • PID-display for the individual temperature adjustment of both boilers
  • PID-display indicates the brewing time in seconds
  • E61 brew-group
  • Rotary pump (it means that when you brew espresso, the noise isn’t loud)
  • Wear-free rotary valves
  • High-end steam and hot water wands
  • Boiler and pump pressure gauges
  • Stainless steel boiler with 0.75 liter volume for espresso preparation
  • Steam and hot water boiler in stainless steel with a 2.0 litre volume
  • Steam boiler with separate on/off switch
  • Boiler insulation

In short, I wanted a dual boiler rotary pump machine with PID. A dual boiler means that I have a separate boiler for espresso and one for steaming milk.

Steam wand

Technically a PID means Proportional-Integral-Derivative but this really means you can control the temperature of the boiler. So, if you want to brew your espresso at 92-93C, ie. fruitier, more acidity, you can and if you want to brew it at 95C, more chocolatey/nuts, you can, of course depending on other variables like roast profile, water texture, acidity in the water, brew pressures, etc, but it helps.

On rotary pump; generally it is a lot quieter and from what I was told, would last longer than a vibration pump – in fact that’s what happened with my old machine, the vibration pump was kaput (German for spoilt). 

Also, the machine had brass and copper parts inside, which help to preserve heat and the outside is made with stainless steel, which last longer than normal steel.

So, I bought a Profitec Pro 700, which is a German made prosumer machine – suitable for consumers with a professional bias, I guess. It’s their top of the range machine with all the pro cons but they now offer other variations, Pro 600, Pro 500 and very recently a Pro 400 and it’s baby, Pro 300.

Pro 700

What was the price you may still be asking… well let’s say that I didn’t tell my wife for a few years, But let’s say I saved about EUR400. 

After the purchase

I must confess, the first few days back then were a bit painstaking and a word of advice – you will encounter this with any new machine. I was used to ordering coffee from some of the best coffee roasters in the World but the coffee I was given to start from the shop, albeit good to look at, was not up there on the taste notes. I found that the specialty coffee I was used to, was not pulling as good and at one point longed for my old machine, which I was so used to. I thought simple is sometimes just best. 

However, before you gasp in horror and bring out the tissues, you’d be happy to know that as I got more used to the machine and the grinder settings, as well as the ability to adjust the brew pressure to between 9 and 11, the espresso began to improve.

First time

One thing straight up that was much better was definitely the ease of steaming milk – it was bliss compared to my old machine – no regrets there. I caught myself in the typical dilemma of good micro foam for latte art poured on top of sub-standard espresso – I was close to depresso on most shots during the first few months. But things changed, if not I wouldn’t be writing this and I no longer regret my purchase, yay! After all it’s been 8 years with this machine baby.

Brewing espresso

After I bought the machine, I did some more research and Profitec have expanded, offering their products in the US especially, where if you visit youtube, you can learn how to use the machine and study what it’s made off. Their new model is also on offer in the UAE too. I have pimped my machine though, using La Marzocco portafilter holders.

Espresso love

So, if you are in the market for a new espresso machine that you want to last for 10+ years and don’t want to pay $5,000, check this brand out and no, I don’t get any kind of sponsorship from them.

THREE CAUTIONS 

COST

Espresso is the most expensive way of making coffee and even world experts like James Hoffmann have said that they don’t even own one – that’s fine if you own a world-renowned coffee roasting company, Square Mile Coffee, so I guess he can go to work and pull as many shots as he likes. You must love espresso because if you are going to spend this type of money, then please use the machine at least once a day. Better if you have more people in your house that love espresso-based drinks, then it would be cheaper than drinking coffee outside your home. 

TIME & WASTE

It follows too, that making espresso is also expensive in terms of wasting coffee to get the right grind when you buy different coffees, not to mention the change in temperature and more. But also time. Sometimes it can take a few minutes to make an espresso. For me, it’s a part of my daily ritual in the morning, so I don’t rush it. 

MAINTENANCE

Anything more expensive, means that the maintenance will also be expensive too. So, you need to buy the right gadgets to clean it regularly, use filtered water or a filter to minimise the worst damage, limescale. Read more about cleaning an espresso machine here For me, in the last few years since I bought the machine, it’s been serviced twice, had a few parts changed and a bit more, BUT it’s still worth it.

BUT

If you love espresso coffee and are willing to give it time, then it’s one of the best ways to express your love ❤️ for coffee.

Espresso using my blend

Coffee of the Week Video

Coffee of the week 5 April video

Here’s my first video of my new series, coffee of the week, in which I share with you which of the coffees I had during my week that impressed me the most, whether as a filter brew or as an espresso.

My first video celebrating the impressive Kenyan coffee I got at Nightjar, Dubai. Here, I’m using Hario V60, based loosely on the James Hoffmann’s method;

  • 15g freshly grinded coffee
  • 245ml 95C water
  • Hario V60 with filter paper made wet with some hot water

See methodology in my video and let me know your Hario V60 method.

With this method, the coffee was really fruity with dark berries, citrus acidity and full bodied, with a long aftertaste round the middle of my tongue. 

 

 

 

 

 

I was @ Kaffeine II


Lucky me, it seems like I just travel the World visiting cafes and sampling good coffees, BUT, it’s really not like that, trust me. It’s just that whenever I get the opportunity to try something out involving the bean and new cafes, then I try and make the effort. So, I’ve got 7 hours in London on a beautiful war spring day in London and if you know my coffee fix programme, that means at least 2 cafes have to be visited in between my other passion, men’s fashion and food. So, my final stop this time, was literally like “saving the best for last”. Just opened in 2015, is the London renowned Kaffeine, who won best cafe in Europe a few years back – see my first post on them here. In any case, after all these years, they’ve now opened another shop, a lot closer to the shopping nirvana of Oxford Street, near the Tottenham Court Road End/Soho on 15 Eastcastle Street to be precise.


The first thing you notice is that it’s bigger than the first one – famous for great coffee, light bites and delicate sweet offerings, the first shop was always jam packed and you literally wanted to get in, drink up and get out, unless it was a Saturday morning – so here we have space, space for books, gadgets and coffee on sale, notably Square Mile Coffee Roasters, whom Kaffeine have been very loyal since their inception). The offerings are the same – deliciously named sandwiches, light bites and sweet treats – I was tempted by the latter… and of course great coffee, prepared with care, but wait for it, there’s more…
I unusually ordered a piccolo (similar to an espresso macchiato but with more milk and latte art). Sat down and went through the recent coffee books by James Hoffman and Anette Moldvaer of Square Mile Coffee Roasters.


Took some pics, ate my sweet treat and drank my coffee, but wait, what’s that in the corner – what kind of espresso machine is that ?

Ever curious, I walked over to the barista and he was so keen that someone came up to him to ask about the machine that he gave me a very quick run down and I must say, I don’t think his colleagues appreciated it (hope he doesn’t get into trouble). In any case I recognised the machine from the Vienna screen showing of “a film about coffee”, the Nuova Simoneli Black Eagle VA388. After some brief reading, the machine was designed in collaboration with James Hoffmann and as stated on the Nuova Simoneli website, it’s the first espresso machine to have;

both “T3” and “Gravimetric” technologies. The first ensures thermal stability, the second always provides the right amount of coffee in the cup. The combination of these two technologies means the barista can ensure a consistently excellent espresso, personalized by enhancing the features and aromas of each type of coffee

The gravimetric one really got me – the ability of the machine to weigh the coffee and extract the right brew weight all in one – Wow! that is really taking it to the future and it comes as no surprise that this espresso machine is the most expensive in the World, as the barista proudly told me.


So, in summary, Kaffeine have upped the game – they’ve got a new site, nearer to more people, bigger than the first, with an expanded menu and the best espresso machine in the World, so why go, I think you have the answer, GO get your self some great coffee and more.

London Coffee Scene 2012: My Diary

Not the ideal time to pop to London in the middle of winter 2012, but I was tempted by a few opportunities just a couple of weeks back to visit London again – my fave city and my fave city for coffee of course. If you know me by now, you won’t be surprised to learn that my first stop was at Prufrock Coffee Shop on Leather Lane again, – well ! I had to take a look at the new Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machine and drink coffee from it didn’t I ? Sadly, I forgot my camera at the hotel, so no pics of this beauty from me, but I can say, surprise, surprise that the flat white I had was good as usual. After my staple of Prufrock coffee, I went almost around the corner to St Ali, Clerkenwell, for lunch and coffee (again). The beetroot salad was delicious but I decided to spoil myself by ordering the Colombian Gaitania on an aeropress – naturally sweet, medium acidity and very pleasant to drink.

I decided to finish my day with a place that I’d dreamed about visiting, Tapped and Packed on 26 Rathbone Place in Central London. The vibe was English cool and although there were only two staff at the time, Louise, the main barista, managed to handle the small crowd that was pouring in at about 4pm. I sat down on a bench inside the cafe, flicked through the British newspapers, dug into my double stacked very English Victorian Sandwich Cake, spilling icing sugar onto the floor, washed down with some water, before savouring my 3rd Wave coffee, an El Salvador Finca La Fany, prepared on the Hario V60, roasted by Has Bean Roasters. I enjoyed my caramel sweet coffee.

Day 2 was a bit of a disaster on the coffee side, as after almost 4 hours of 1 interview, I didn’t get to taste coffee until 4pm – ahhhh ! now that’s a long time for me, but my coffee pangs were satisfied with a 150ml flat white at Speakeasy Espresso & Brew Bar, Coffee Smiths second shop, on 3 Lowndes Court, just off Carnaby Street in Central London. I also had the pleasure of having a nice Brazilian coffee (forgot the name), using the Filtro Brewer offered by the owners, Chris and Tim – thanks! Speakeasy decor is similar to most of the new coffee shops, but they’ve tried to arrange the seating in a manner that allows you to “speak easy – ily”, so most of the customers appear to be having meetings in hush hush tones – for a quieter meeting, there’s a downstairs seating area in the basement, airy and not stuffy at all. As with all the new age cafes, they’ve got a selection of coffees for you try to go with a handsome selection of cakes and pastries – all the lunch sarnies had gone.

From then on, I was kind off free to visit and sample coffees from different cafes, but I must confess, I confined myself to places that I had missed on my last coffee tour in April 2011.

Day 3, I headed off to unknown territory, Canary Wharf – Yes! after so many years of living and visiting London, I had never been to Canary Wharf. I must admit,it seemed a bit surreal – like Dubai in a way – new and straight roads with new buildings and skyscapers, BUT tucked in there was a superb coffee shop, who never compromise on quality and who seem to be raising the standard, in a tough city like London, for the expansion of high quality coffee and this can only be….

That is long for Taylor Street Baristas and NOT Taylor Saint Baristas (I thought it was the latter when I first saw the name). A very short history – Taylor St Baristas is made up off siblings, Nick, Laura and Andrew and have been operational for 7 years. Their first shop was in Richmond and they have just have opened their 8th shop (Exchange Tower in South Quays, about 10 minutes walk from their 7th shop in Canary Wharf). I was lucky enough to meet all three of them and I must say they were really friendly and warm – naturals. I think their characters together with their knack (English for talent/gift) for getting excellent locations, serving great coffee and their vision means that they have a long way to go on the road to more success. I promise a separate post on their Canary Wharf branch, which I went to twice.

I finished off Day 3 with a visit to Notes, Music & Coffee second shop, 36 Wellington Street in Covent Garden (I went to shop 1 in April 2011). The decor and ambience was reminiscent of a Parisian cafe and I told the owner Fabio that, whom I met for the first time – call it Continental cool. Well, they’ve been consistent with the gear here as they also have a La Marzocco Strada together with all the other stuff you’d expect as well as a selection of coffees. I could resist the temptation to order the Brazilian Capao (my favourite coffee of 2010), roasted by Square Mile Coffee Roasters, prepared on the V60. Although I enjoyed my coffee, I detected that this seasons’ harvest (probably from 2011), wasn’t on the same level as the 2009/2010 one, which completely blew my mind. I got an added bonus by bumping into Mr London Coffee Celebrity himself, James Hoffmann (Square Mile Coffee) after meeting with the UK operators of New Zealand outift, Ozone Coffee Roasters (Liz Bain and James). Slight digression, but Ozone Coffee Roasters are quite big in New Zealand and are planning on opening their first international shop this March in London, located at Leonard Street, just off the Old Street Circus bordering Shoreditch/Clerkenwell/the City.

For Day 4, it was off to the West End in Central London to do some shopping for the family and for my palate, so I stopped off at newbie Sensory Lab – sister shop of St Ali. Sensory Lab is on 75 Wigmore Street, just off St Christophers Place in the direction of Selfridges Department Store.

Sensory Lab is well kitted out with a Synesso Cyncra espresso machine, Uber Bolier to help accurately prepare aeropress, V60 coffees et al. They have a coffee menu with a selection of coffees. It is easy to be intimated by the decor as you enter the coffee shop with the rows of coffees, coffee equipment and blue grey walls, but all this will be softened by the attendant, friendly and knowledgeable staff. I went for my usual milk based morning drink, Cappuccino, made with St Ali’s Cult of Done Espresso.

With a nicely laid out stash of coffees, I couldn’t but, grab a bag of the Colombian Gaitania, that I had had earlier in the week.

took some pics and left for lunch on Australia Day at…

Kaffeine – where I enjoyed my scrumptious lunch “bufala mozzarella, spinach and chimichurri retro baguette (this was my second attempt, as it was sold out the day before), finished off with my best espresso of my trip, Square Mile Coffee Red Brick Espresso Blend – yum, full on. I really wanted to take a pic but Kaffeine was so packed, I barely got enough arm room to eat my sandwich. The staff, including Peter Dore-Smith (the owner), were completely swamped with customers queing and pouring in and out of the cafe.

After all the pics I’ve seen of the place, I had to make the trek to finish off my London cafe expedition with a visit to finally meet, Sang Ho (aka Korean Barista) at Tapped and Packed 114 Tottenham Court Road. Full as ever, from what I read, there was no space to sit down. The decor is brown, with a mirror used to list their coffees and prices. As you enter, all the seating area is along the windows dotted like a square shape. Next to the till, they have a coffee recipe for third wave coffee, where I was treated to an “on the house” Brazilian Capim Branco prepared on the Hario V60 by Sang Ho himself (a day before he was crowned barista champion in the South East England heats).

Next to the V60 station, there’s the uber cool, copper water tank, where regulars know this is where you get your water from. The pic at the top of this post is located just outside their shop, but I couldn’t resist snapping away at these flat whites, waiting on the side, prepared by their custom made Nuova Simonelli, with wooden porta-filters and trimmings.

After a brief chat with Sang Ho about coffee I realised that it was the end of my coffee tour. As I walked down Tottenham Court Road towards Oxford Street, I noticed lots of coffee shops, but if people knew about Tapped and Packed, near Warren Street Station, I don’t think they’ll compromise on their taste buds to buy coffee at the coffee chains and pretenders nearby.

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