Monday, March 29, 2010

Quest for the best espresso Pt. 2

Once everything was disassembled, I had a good idea how all the parts worked together. Next was the fun part. I got to design all the extras that I wanted to to have in addition to the normal function of an espresso machine. The only thing that limited the imagination was physics and the budget, so I decided to design a three phase system to separate the major jobs of an espresso machine. I designed a specially heated reservoir to feed a finely controlled hot water boiler for the espresso shot and a secondary boiler for isolated steam production so that both functions can be run without interfering or adding wait time to heat or cool the system. Implementing these designs would be the tricky part.

With David Schomer's ideal espresso machine in mind, I started by adding the first of three PIDs to the Rancilio, which is a common enough mod. RTD rather then a thermocouple This provides the +/- 1 degree control and instant water temperature read out that I needed for this project. I also knew I wanted to be able to see the pressure within the Boiler to be able to adjust the overpressure valve to allow the pressure to be constant throughout the entire shot. A short time and a few bucks later, and two pressure gauges solved that.
Stay tuned for next week as I continue to unveil each step taken to making this machine reach its full potential!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Quest for the best espresso Pt. 1

Happy Monday to you all! I will be taking the blog from Luke for a couple of Monday entry to detail the transformation of a common household Rancilio Silvia into a double boiler machine. This all started when Luke and I were reading David Schomer's book. We have always approached our coffee with the strictest of procedures, but when it comes to espresso the tolerance for error is practically non existent. Our goal was to create a machine that could be used at home or in a small commercial environment, and to do it on the cheap. At the end of all of this you will see our total cost for all the parts, but for starters the Rancilio cost about $350 used.

Once we got to looking around at the machine we realized something, espresso machines are far less complicated then most people would like to think. The whole machine can be broken down into 3 parts: the pump, the boiler, and the head group. So staying true to the tinkerer ways, the next step was to totally disassemble the Rancilio and make it better, faster, stro.... hehe, sorry wrong project...

The Rancilio Silvia espresso machine is commonly modded (granted its usually minor mods), so we did the first thing that every modder does at the start and voided the warranty.

With the pieces that were in front of us, we were able to start planning the extras that were going to be added, how all the wiring and plumbing was going to work out, and how not to turn this pressurized boiler into a steam bomb(editors note: I was not happy about the odds I was given that my garage may have a hole in it, so caution, do not try this at home!!). After having all of this layed out in front of us, we knew that this was going to be an exciting project.

Stay tuned for week two as the project comes together, wrong parts come in, and circuits are broken!

Keep up to date with us here and at

Monday, March 15, 2010

It is monday, and our first 5 pics here!

The Old Wwworld Cafe

This week there are some images from our French press experiment, as well as some other recent images. The experiment pictured here was us deteremining if there was a relation to brewing time in a press and volume.

I think this will be my last week for 5 pic Monday for a while, I kept in going without missing a week since August, but now its time for something new. Starting next Monday watch for either images or videos of Dan's espresso machine project. To give you some brief details, we stripped apart a Rancilio Silvia and rebuilt it into a new machine, the end result will make it "commerical ready."

Stay tuned...:)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

This Battle Stat...err Roaster is now Fully Operational!

Tonight we are up and running smooth. One week ago, it took me several days to produce roughly 12 lbs of coffee for an event. Tonight, I did 8lbs with 3 batches in under and hour, and those are HALF BATCHES. It is quite exciting to see it all come together.

I owe a thanks to Sindy and Dom for helping see us through to this point, <3 you guys!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Roaster is needs a propane line!

So our 6 lb roaster arrived in today, after moving it multiple times (it weighs a few hundred pounds...that was not fun), we got it in place. With everything ready, we find that no where around here sells a line for us to feed in the tomorrow brings another challenge. Here are some pics for you all in the meantime!

It's Here!!

Special update with teaser pic!


Well our power supply for our modem went bad yesterday, and today we finally have net again!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Coffee in the Workplace

Interesting Article^2977961

Our First Event

Yesterday we partook in our first event as Old Wwworld Cafe roastery, and it was amazing!

We were putting in 14 hours days the whole week

leading up to the event to be sure we had more than enough coffee to supply. After a late night Saturday finishing all the last details, we still were full of energy and ready to go on Sunday morning.

We hit a few rough patches in the morning which made me worrisome about how the day would go, but things started to turn up shortly after setting up. From 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm our booth was never quiet. We had a line forming before we even had coffee brewed. Once it was all ready, we could barely keep our pots filled.

Luke took on our organization, advertising, and making our whipped cream. Dan was our brewer. Due to earlier complication (another vendor may have blown our fuse....), he was running between two stations to get our coffee ground and actually brew it.

Then my role was barista/greeter and I didn't stop serving the whole day.

To our surprise, our Irish coffee was our big seller of the day (thank you Sweetbird!). Since we couldn't serve a true Irish coffee with whiskey, we figured we it wouldn't sell as well, but we couldn't have been happier that it was selling and more importantly that people were loving it. It felt great to be serving our product that we had put our heart and soul into and to see peoples' reactions. Actually getting to watch people drink our coffee and hear their feedback is rewarding more than words can describe.

We each had our own highlights of the day whether it was just the experience in general, serving the perfect cup to someone and having them come back to take our whole beans home with them, or getting to talk to people about the process coffee goes through. Overall, the festival was a success for so many reasons. This was definitely an experience none of us will forget, and we appreciate everyone's support.

Well, tomorrow is another big day with us. You'll be hearing from us soon! Be sure to stop by and check us out at

Photoblogers Welcome!

In the interest of keeping things simple, we are combining into one blog. For those who are coming from photoblog, WELCOME! For those who have never seen our old blog, check it out:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Return to the Green proves successful!

Just getting back home from the return to the green festival, and what a day to end a week of nonstop work! I could not have imagined how many people would love our Irish coffee, or how many would be upset when we sold out of our Irish mugs. I will keep this brief, but great job to Mark, Ashley, and Dan today, I am proud of what we managed to do together!
Greetings from Greenville. Return to the green was a great success. Thanks to all the people who came to visit us. We appreciate your support

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Another day full of roasting

Well, it's another day and we are still roasting up a storm. Since our San Franciscan roaster is in transit at the moment, we can only roast 1/2 a pound at a time, but that won't stop us. We have already finished our Brazil, Costa Rica, Decaf, and one of our blends. We are finishing out Sumatra as we speak and then will be on to our last blend. So things are going well, but we still have lots more to do today so we are ready for tomorrow.

Roasting aside, we need to pick up a few more supplies and to set up a mock booth to ensure we have everything we need packed and ready to go. Plus, the website is having its finally touches done. So, there is much going on and we are striving ahead the best we can. We are quite excited for "Return to the Green" tomorrow. Not only is it a great experience, it's our first event. So, here's hoping we finish everything up and the event goes fantastic.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Braving the smoke for another night.

There is a saying that Sweet Maria's uses, brave the smoke. For those unfamiliar with coffee roasting, it produces a considerable amount of smoke, so much so that a vent is needed. In the cold of winter while roasting out of a modified garage, you get a feel for why this phrase was coined. I am just now shutting down the equipment for the night, after a long evening (preceded by a long day)of roasting and blending and tasting. One would think this is not that big of a deal, after all its our job, and to an extent its not. The issue is our downtime and production capability at the moment. Producing 1/2 lb an hour is not sufficient for our current demand, but that all changes this Tuesday!

So with that short little rant, I get to brave the smoke (and the weather) for a few more late nights. It is all worth it for the end result, and I hope everyone enjoys the fruits of our labor on Sunday!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Blog update update!

Blog is looking a bit nicer now, thanks to one Dom Dematteis!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Up Late Roasting

I am up late another night finishing out roasting and blending for Sunday's Return to the Green! So far, things have been pretty tense around here as we prepare for our first public event AND get our last bit of inventory in. Each day is exhausting and exhilarating, and we cannot wait for this weekend to come! Expect to see me panhandling coffee around the festival ground AND preparing Irish coffee for everyone who wants some shamrock flavor!