first thoughts

so the break-in period is coming to an end for the 5 group. i've been drinking 3 to 4 doubles a day out of the machine. checking, tuning, evaluating, tracking... it's been illuminating.

first of all - i'm starting to think that this machine may produce coffee with a different profile and mouthfeel than our 3 group Mistrals. it seems like the profile is a bit rounder and that the mouthfeel is a bit denser. this makes me very happy (to say the least).

secondly - the milk from this machine is both better and easier to pull off. this obviously makes the baristas really happy.

third - have i mentioned that it's gorgeous? and impressive? and enormous? when i walk in each time it stops me in my tracks.


the beast

As many of you know, Stumptown commissioned Kees to build us a one-of-a-kind 5 Group Mistral last year. Over the last few months I have posted the periodic teaser photo now and then.

A couple weeks back, the machine was finally delivered to ESI in Seattle. Duane drove up there, cracked a big old bottle of Chimay with the ESI folks to celebrate and then brought it home.

Monday night Lizz, Ken and Garth prepared the space, the electrical systems and the plumbing for it. From what I gather - it was a long night.

And then last night Ken, Lizz, Wendy and Garth pulled an epic all-nighter doing the install.

Needless to say, I didn't sleep well last night.
So, early this morning I ran over to check it out.

One word... GLORIOUS.

So here, without further ado, I present the mighty 5 group Mistral.

I'll post some thoughts on using it, drink quality, etc after a few days "shake down."


San Francisco

just back from my birthday weekend in San Francisco. it was an incredible experience. the highlight was dinner at the French Laundry which is, in my opinion, the best restaurant in the US by a rather significant margin. incredible. i had been warned and, as a result, i did not ruin my meal with coffee.

but this is not about my food experiences, so...

San Francisco has long deserved good coffee - but has really never had it.
that seems to finally be changing.
first Frog Hollow started doing a decent job down in the Ferry Building.
and now Blue Bottle has expanded and has a cart at the Saturday Ferry Building market as well as a little storefront operation over in Hayes Valley.
the market cart was insane. honestly, i've never seen a more difficult environment for making good coffee. it was totally crazy. i watched James and Steve at work and could not imagine how they could do it. huge crowds, outdoors by the bay, weather changes, a lever machine, no kitchen or prep area to speak of. nuts.
the Hayes St location, on the other hand, is super cool. it's a very funky setup in the front of a garage space on an alley. they have tons of regulars and are doing good drinks. if i was living in SF i'd be one of the regulars for sure.
and now Ritual will be opening as well.

i met up with a bunch of coffee folks at Blue Bottle. i'd planned to meet Steve (who was working) and Andrew Barnett there - and then Keith (roaster from Mt Shasta) and Eileen from Ritual showed up as well. you want a good sign? there you go. nice work James, Steve et al.

and Steve gave me a little of their new Yemen which is really really lovely. great aromas, wonderful sweet fruit, slightly milky but still quite clean and defined. one of the best Yemens i've tasted in the last 2 years.