Define: Pressure Profiling

Note that given the current early adoption phase of pressure profiling technology, everybody is still learning what is possible, us included. We have, for the past year, extensively used and experimented with pressure profiling capable prototypes and modified espresso machines and thought it is time to “go on the record” with what we have learned.

What Pressure Profiling IS:

  • Provides the ability to vary and/or manipulate brewing pressure (between 0 and 9 bars, static or progressive) during the extraction process
  • An additional espresso preparation variable that, in itself, has a high degree of possible brewing parameters

What Pressure Profiling is NOT:

  • Necessarily a new machine
  • Necessarily going to make EVERY coffee taste good*
  • Capable of making bad coffee good
  • The Holy Grail

What Pressure Profiling DOES:

  • Allows you to change the “volume” (or “expression”) of different flavor components to effect the balance and body of the shot*
  • Tends to produce a rounder, softer espresso that highlights brightness, sweetness, and delicate notes to emerge from the body of the shot*

What Pressure Profiling REQUIRES:

  • A very attentive, well trained barista
  • Good palate
  • LOTS of experimentation to subject your coffee to various pressure profile curves to determine the best fit, as there is no right or wrong
  • Objective and careful reconsideration of classic espresso extraction parameters (e.g. dosage, preinfusion time, total dwell time, etc.) in conjunction with open mindedness*

*Experiments reveal that even the same pressure profile has dramatically different effects on different coffees. Some espressos do taste better when subjected to pressure profiling. Some don’t.

In summary, this post is only meant to put some thoughts on pressure profiling, given some of the questions out there. If anything, this hopes to serve to get more discussion (and experimentation) going to further espresso quality and appreciation.

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Dedicated French Press Grinder Hits The Streets

Malykke grinder first made its debut over two years ago but adoption in the U.S. has been somewhat slow. Part of it is the proliferation of pourover as the main brewed coffee method of choice but perhaps the main reason is the lack of understanding of how it works.

The main thing to understand is that it is a french press pot grinder, nothing more, nothing less. It is not designed for portion grinding for pourover, Chemex, or auto drip (though there is a “bag mode” for bulk grinding). It is designed for good looks (think Danish) and ease of use. As such, its canister hopper is meant to hold one type of coffee only.

Well, this is sorta strange, especially given how the typical coffee grinders work? What Malykke is trying to do is to present a whole new paradigm in french press preparation, a more elegant one at that.

Ninety Plus Coffee understands exactly that.  Knowing that french press has its place in particular hospitality applications, they have been working with uber quality focused clients such as Intercontinental Hotel on dedicated french press program:


Tuesday Night – Barista Round Table – Be There

Visions Espresso‘s Coffee Enhancement Lounge will be hosting round 3 of Barista Round Table, an interactive and highly involved forum for coffee professionals – managers, baristas, roasters, techs, et al. Wonderfully hosted by Sarah Dooley and Jared Mockli, the BRT is a means for all to come together, unencumbered, and simply geek out on all things coffee.

While some may argue that Seattle’s coffee scene has been lagging behind other progressive specialty coffee markets such as SF, NYC, and Portland, it does not necessarily represent all of us here in Seattle. Granted, there are indeed plenty of people (consumers and professionals alike) ok with the status quo of dark(er) roasted coffees or mysterious blends and defend tirelessly of Seattle’s “coffee city” repute. At the same time, however, there are also many of us that are actively working to further our understanding and appreciation of specialty coffee, collaborating with each other as well as many other leading establishments elsewhere. BRT is such a place where these people come together.

Perhaps it is a confluence of the economy, bad public policy, stagnant demand, a dash of complacency, and Seattle’s passive aggressive culture that have discouraged many progressive Third Wave cafes from opening up. Nonetheless, there are a handful of relatively new (within the past 1-2 years or so) and excellent places that are worthy of at least a visit by the most discerning amongst us.

  • Urban Coffee Lounge – Baristas Andrew and Laila came in 2nd and 3rd at 2010 NWRBC. Features Stumptown coffee prepared with care and precision.
  • Zoka Kirkland – Their new cafe is a daring departure, with two machines (one dedicated to single origin espressos) in a sexy urban setting.
  • Tougo Coffee – Serves Stumptown and Ritual (only place in Seattle!).
  • Dubsea Coffee – New cafe serving Stumptown coffee, bringing specialty coffee to an area of town (White Center) not previously accustomed to specialty coffee.
  • Stumptown Seattle – Always pushing the quality above all else, of course.
  • Makeda Coffee – Little shop in a sleepy neighborhood of Phinney Ridge, serving Seven Roasters coffee

This is not a comprehensive list of course (let’s not forget Aster, Trabant, and many more but keeping it short here to get to the point). Perhaps it is due to Seattle’s inherent culture of understatedness and avoidance of attracting attention to oneself that most of these establishments are not very well known (Zoka and Stumptown notwithstanding).

The point is, the BRT is a manifestation of the kind of progressive efforts a dedicated group of us in Seattle are actively pursuing. If you’re in town, this is your chance to geek out.