Greetings all. Not so much a question, just wanting to let you all know what I’m up too and get any advice or questions you may have. My apologies if this post is in the wrong place.
I live in a very small community (pop. 90 or so) in the Oregon Cascades called Breitenbush Hot Springs. Given that we live far away from… well, everything, we generate our own power from the river, and thus heating elements and large electrical loads are frowned upon. I moved here 14 years ago and have since been pursuing a growing obsession with reliably producing human-powered espresso shots and lattés that will take me to my happy place. About a year ago, I discovered BH, and that has seriously changed my game. Many hours of reading, research and practice, as well as several hundred USD later, I feel I may soon be ready to start making some worthy contributions to this site. Presently, I’m still working on consistency, but here’s what I’ve got so far:
Please see the attached pics. This is my kit:
-Rossa HC-P hand extractor w/4 naked heads
-IMS 55mm 20g competition baskets (I’d have gotten VST, but they don’t make a 55mm)
-Rosco hand grinder
-Acaia Lunar Barista Scale
-Espro calibrated tamper (flat)
-Anchor hocking graduated shot measure
-Stainless graduated steamer pitcher w/rattleware thermometer
-Vintage Vesubio stovetop steamer (best I’ve ever found)
-Stainless steel kettle w/built-in thermometer (a frankenkettle - modded myself)
-Vita vac containers for freezing/storage
A note on the vita vac containers: I just acquired these after reading a post from Matt wherein he extolled the virtues of grinding frozen beans, and suggested one might pre-weigh and freeze one’s dose -if only one could find appropriate single-dose vacuum container. Behold! These tiny vacuum-sealed containers are a perfect fit for my 21g dose - and could comfortably fit up to 23g. Their vacuum seal is not perfect, but I expect it will be good enough for a week’s worth of single doses. I also found some Avery write on/wipe off labels so I can document the roast date. Currently brewing Nossa Familia Full Cycle.
With this kit I can monitor and control grind, tamp pressure, extraction temperature, pressure, and time, dose, yield (gravimetric or volumetric), bean temp, grinder temp, milk temp, and milk volume, and all done by hand - no electricity needed (except for my freezer, of course). Heat for water comes from propane.
My current targets;
Yield: 42g (which about equals a 50ml shot)
I typically extract at 90ºc and 9 Bar pressure - though I have been playing around with pressure profiles. Current favorite is the “Short Stop” profile - see Ross’s posts at the portapresso site for more info.
I buy my beans once per week when I go into town (about 120 miles away). Up until now I’ve needed to adjust grind size a good bit from the start of the week till the end, and my current theory is I’m dealing with oxidization. I’m hoping the new Vita Vac containers and freezing ASAP will reduce that variability. Currently grind size is between .55mm-.70mm (according to the registration marks on the Rosco).
We also draw our water from the river and treat it ourselves - as minimally as the state will allow - and keep PH reliably close to 7. We are the first user (nothing but wildlife upriver from us all the way to the source about 12 miles away). This is some of the purest water in the world.
I can’t really justify the cost of a refractometer, but oooooohhh I’m so tempted ;-). Really.
Although I’ve been building this kit for the last year or so, I still consider myself a novice - or at least I still haven’t yet mastered consistency. Once I feel I’ve got a firm handle on all the variables, I hope to start formalizing my tastings, tracking my results and sharing what I learn. I’d like to give a shout out to Ross over at Portapresso. These hand-powered machines are both beautiful and technically superb.
Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or advice.
Oh, and if you happen to be coming to Breitenbush - or even if you’re in the area - feel free to ping me and stop by to talk shop and share a shot or two.
Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center
Detroit, OR USA