Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Hibiscus Latte Recipe- Perfect for Spring!

By Lacy O'Brien for Chris' Coffee Service

Spring is finally showing up here, in upstate NY!  As May rolls in with its wavering rainy days and sun flooded afternoons, this comforting sweet and floral recipe is the perfect last hot drink to curl up with as we wait for summer.  Hibiscus makes a great compliment to many coffees because, as you may have noticed, many varieties of beans naturally carry the subtle floral tea-like undertones in their flavor profile.  We chose our Machristay Guatemalan for this pairing.  This Fair-Trade, organic bean from Huehuetenango has a bright snap of acidity and a berry wine-like flavor, that compliments the lightly acidic flower.

For this recipe, we used a hibiscus syrup to taste.  To make a homemade version of the simple syrup, and the perfect treat for Mother's Day, follow the instructions below.


2 cups water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup dried hibiscus flowers
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 piece of ginger root (1/2 in), thinly sliced
1 lemon, zested


  1. 1. Bring water, white sugar, hibiscus, brown sugar, ginger, and lemon zest to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until sugars dissolve and flowers soften about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and steep syrup until flavors combine, about 5 minutes. 2. Strain syrup into a container through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing solids with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. 3. Add 1-2 tablespoons of this syrup to espresso in your regular latte brew method.
    This delicious drink will be sure to not only delight on Mother's Day but all spring.  Enjoy and tag us in posts to let us know how it came out! @chriscoffeeservice

Friday, April 13, 2018

Weight Vs. Volume

The best metric for pouring a great shot

By Lacy O'Brien for Chris' Coffee Service
This is a widely talked about conversation in the barista world, and as many home baristas start to dial in their recipes, this question will often come up. Let's say they have used 17g of grinds and are pulling a 2oz shot, but something is off in the profile?  The barista may start investigating using a 1:2 weight ratio for the recipe, and dialing in their espresso shot from that starting point. In the coffee world, the widely accepted answer is that using the weight of the output, in grams, versus ounces, yields more accurate and consistent results.  

The volume of a pulled shot can very for many reasons, but the biggest variable is the crema.  There are many factors that produce different amounts of crema in a pulled shot. Some of the factors include the origin, specific blend, freshness, and amount of time it has sat in the cup are all elements that can produce more or less crema in the shot. The crema will cause more disparity in measurement when using volume, however the weight will stay consistent.

A 1:2 ratio is a great starting point, or 17g of grinds to 34g of espresso pulled.  However recipes vary widely and depend on the coffee and preferences of the barista.  Some recipes can vary as much as 1:1-2:2, depending on the roast and the drink. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

 The perfect recipe for St. Patty’s Day

By Lacy O’Brien for Chris’ Coffee Service

St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to whip up a bright green Matcha Latte at home. If you’ve seen the vivid green hues showing up in lattes, and want to try a recipe that is naturally flavorful and packed with antioxidants, then a matcha latte is the way to go.

If you’re unfamiliar with Matcha, it is a type of green tea, considered a “superfood” for all of the great health benefits associated with the tea.  Matcha is a high-grade, baby green tea leaf that is grown in the shade for about three weeks before it’s hand picked, dried and ground into a fine powder.  

During the time it's grown in the shade, the plant produces very high levels of chlorophyll which is a plant based pigment that is not only responsible for matcha's prominent bright green color, but also  for the nutrient rich leaves.  With matcha tea, you are actually consuming the whole leaf which is part of the reason why it's such a nutritional powerhouse and considered a superfood!  (From the Clean & Delicious blog)

How To Make A Matcha Latte

For an 8oz cup:

  • Prepare 1 teaspoon of matcha powder.  You can run it through a fine mesh sifter to remove clumps creating a creamier, frothier base.
  • Add a couple ounces of hot water at 175f.
  • Whisk the mixture in a W pattern, whipping the matcha into a thick green paste until it becomes frothy (about 2 minutes).
  • Add a teaspoon of honey
  • Add 6oz of steamed milk

Enjoy!  If you go the extra mile and pour a shamrock to top off your latte art, tag us in a pic to let us know!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

What's Next?2018 Trends in Coffee

By Lacy O'Brien for Chris' Coffee Service

The coffee industry as a whole operates as a microcosm of trends circulating through current zeitgeist.   From economic shifts like craft-culture, sustainability, and global commerce, to more random popular trends in aesthetics, like bright colors, and glitter... if it's popular, it can also be found in the world of coffee.

We've seen a lot over the past ten years, in terms of consumer interest in origin, and sustainably sourced beans, to brew methodology, and new coffee based drinks.  What do we have to look forward to as we move through 2018?

Coffee consumption and specialty coffee consumption in youth on the rise

2017 saw a turn around in overall coffee consumption for consumers across all ages.  62% of consumers reported drinking coffee in the past day, according to an NCA (National Coffee Association) report, which is up 5 points from their last report in 2013. Data also suggests that specialty coffee will continue to rise in popularity, especially among millennials and the 13 to 18 demographic.

It looks like this means a rise in interest amongst local roasters, boutique independent coffee chains, and innovative specialty coffee products hitting the shelves of local grocers.

Presentation is everything

Craft coffee and espresso based drinks captivate the educated consumer, but colorful and unique presentation styles are garnering the attention of the average, every-day coffee connoisseur. Last year we saw lots of colorful latte art popping up, including artisanal drink styles with intriguing ingredients that made for interesting flavor combinations as well as surprisingly dramatic presentations. From bright green matcha lattes, to ruby hued red lattes, brightly colored latte art dominated the scene. 

Artful presentation will surely continue to bewitch the coffee crowd in 2018, but we will start to see a crossover with the foodie side of pro coffee aficionados, with more attention placed on carefully chosen ingredients work to delight the palette as well as the eye.  This momentum will be seen as baristas start to transition into the likes of the upscale bartenders who put as much thought into their specially designed cocktails as the food on the menu at high end establishments.

Non-espresso based drinks take an official seat on the scene

In the 2017 NCTD (National Coffee Drinking Trendsreport by the NCA, the "Non-espresso-based beverages" category appeared for the first time. Right now we are seeing this category dominated by Cold Brew and Nitro-brew coffee drinks, but 2018 is sure to fascinate us with unique innovations in specialty coffee products.

We look forward to these and many other trends coming to the forefront of the coffee industry this year.  If you have predictions for other trends or new products let us know by commenting below!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Linea Mini Vs. GS3

A comparison of two of La Marzocco's best selling home machines

By Lacy O'Brien for Chris' Coffee Service

La Marzocco is known for their handmade, quality home and commercial espresso machines. They have been building machines since 1927, and introduced us to the double-boiler machine, amongst other industry innovations that they have pioneered. If you've been in the market for a home espresso machine, you have definitely come across these two popular machines, loved by home baristas everywhere.


Both the Linea Mini and the GS3 are handmade in Florence, Italy using many of the same materials and parts as the La Marzocco commercial counterparts. They are full-performance, dual-boiler machines which feature PID control, internal rotary pump, and consistency across all major brewing variables.

There are two versions of the GS3: The GS3 (AV) or Auto-Volumetric, which offers programmable dosage for water volume, including the ability to save brew measurements for different types of shots being pulled. While much of the AV is automatic, you can also use the GS3 AV as a manual machine, simply by pressing the continuous flow button to start and stop the pump. The second version is the GS3 (MP) or Manual-Paddle. The MP is a non-volumetric machine, but offers other digital controls (that are also found on the AV) which allows the barista to adjust anything from the coffee boiler temperature, steam boiler temperature, PID settings and gives the user complete manual control over pre-infusion, pressure, and brewing times with paddle valve control. Both machines also have convenient digital settings like auto on/off, and half mode.

Time from off to full brew temperature:
The GS3 is ready to brew and steam in about 30 minutes. 

Coffee Boiler:
1.5 liters

Steam Boiler:
3.5 liters

120V of electricity

Water Reservoir:
2.5 liter water reservoir

16” x 14” x 21” 

Saturated grouphead

Steam Wand:
Both versions of the GS3 are equipped with the Performance Touch steam wand. A double-walled steel cool touch wand which allows for a higher flow of steam, resulting in faster, more powerful milk steaming.

Customizable, black body, white body, and wood panel options

Volumetric Control (AV):
The GS3 AV is a programmable espresso machine, allowing the barista to dial in a shot, and use the controls to consistently repeat a shot. It uses an electronically-controlled espresso system that actuates the pump and the grouphead’s solenoid valve to create the appropriate pressure to extract coffee. This electronic control is what actually enables the volumetric functions of the GS3. Using a small wheel (called a flowmeter), the AV is able to count how many times the flowmeter spins when water flows past it, measuring the precise amount of water that passes through the grouphead, and locking it in once the barista is ready to lock it in. From there, all it takes is a push of a button to repeat the same volume out each and every time.

Pre-Infusion (AV):
Beyond programming shot volumes, the AV gives you the ability to program pre-infusion times into each of the four buttons. Say you’d like to program pre-infusion into your shot, the AV allows you to tell the machine, for example, to pre-infuse for 3 seconds, rest for 4 seconds, then begin brewing. 

Cleaning Cycle (AV):
One final feature of the AV is an automated cleaning cycle. This allows a barista to simply place a portafilter basket with detergent in the machine and engage the cleaning cycle digitally. The system handles the entire backflush cycle from there.

Manual Control (MP):
The GS3 MP was designed to place control back into the hands of the barista. The paddle places the function of starting and stopping the pre-infusion, pressure, and brewing stages of the espresso shot solely in the hands of the barista. To brew a shot traditionally at 9-bars of pressure, simply turn the paddle to the left. Or, maybe you’d like to pre-infuse at 3-bars, ramp up to 5, then 9, and back down as the shot winds down.  You can even emulate a lever espresso machine—ramp up to 3-bars for preinfusion, blast it with 9 bars and slowly trickle down from 9-8-7-6, etc. bars to 0, ending the shot at your desired volume. 

The MP grouphead comes standard with a new conical valve and a grouphead manometer that allows for full-range pressure manipulation with a reservoir or plumbed-in GS3. As the paddle is moved to the left the microswitch is activated, engaging the pump. As the conical valve opens, more water is allowed to pass through, thus changing the pressure in the group.


The Linea Mini is a completely analog machine, leaving the only variables up to the refined skills of the barista. The simplicity of the Linea Mini is what makes it a favorite of the espresso purist.

Time from off to full brew temperature:
15 Minutes

Steam Boiler:
3.5 liters

120V of electricity

Water Reservoir:
2 liter water reservoir

14” x 15” x 21” 

Integrated Grouphead and boiler heats only what it needs

For coffee brewing, the Linea Mini utilizes an EE paddle—the paddle activates a microswitch which engages the pump and begins the brewing process—a simple on/off action. Once you turn the paddle, the switch engages, and the brewing process begins. Built into the brewing process on the Linea Mini is a two second pre-infusion—so, once you pull the paddle, your puck will receive a quick splash of water just before the pressure builds. While pump pressure can be adjusted for on the inside of the machine using a few tools and a little know-how, pre-infusion cannot be adjusted for. 

Two indicator lights next to the Paddle show water level (blue) and heating (red). A solid blue light indicates the water level in the reservoir is sufficient, while a flashing blue light indicates that water needs to be added. If the water level drops below the required level during the brewing process, the Linea Mini will continue to brew up to 30 seconds. So, you don’t have to worry about it stopping mid-shot. A solid red light indicates the coffee boiler is up to temperature, and a flashing red light means the coffee boiler is heating up.

Left of the paddle and Indicator Lights, the Linea Mini has a hot water knob that dispenses 212 F water directly from the steam boiler. Right of the paddle is a matching knob that controls the steam wand directly below it. With a progressive steam valve, steaming on the Linea Mini is almost identical to steaming on the Linea Classic; high-powered and fast.  As you turn the knob, the valve opens more and more, which means easy and quick steam power control without having to get into the boiler or change boiler temperature.Between the large boiler, progressive valve, and steam wand, steaming milk on the Linea Mini is incredibly fast and easy—producing silky-smooth milk in about 7 seconds.

To control temperature, the Linea Mini has a stepped, analog temperature wheel on the left side of the machine that allows for a range of 185F – 221F. Each click of the wheel raises or lowers the temperature in the boiler by .3 degrees F. Because of the efficient boiler system in the Linea Mini and a digital PID, reasonable changes to temperature happen almost instantly.

The Linea Mini comes in four colors, red, white, stainless, and black, and can be customized with custom paddles, steam knobs, paddle cover, legs, and portafilter handles.

The final decision you make ultimately rests in your preference for control over the variables in the brew process.  If you are a home barista looking for simple and consistent results, the Linea Mini might be best for you.  If you are interested in experimenting with parameters like pressure, pre-infusion and timing than the digital controls of the GS3 AV may suite you well, and if you are a barista looking for the craftsmanship of old-school espresso brewing, with the ability to manually change parameters with every shot, then the GS3 MP is for you.  Happy brewing espresso lovers!

For more helpful blog entries for everyday barista, click the link to a look at our Coffee Chronicles series!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Guide for the Home Barista

By Lacy O’Brien for Chris’ Coffee

You’ve got great beans, from a great roaster, who sourced the beans from an excellent farmer.  That’s an ideal beginning for brewing a cup of coffee or espresso that will delight your palette, but a weak brew method can easily sour your hopes and dreams of brewing a great cup.

To perfect the process, it helps to understand all of the variables.  We have the grind (solid particles) and hot water which extracts the essential solubles as the water flows over grind bed.  The solubles are what makes coffee, coffee: flavor compounds, solids, and oils.  The right brew method maximizes flavor.  This has to do with how much water, at the right temperature, runs over the grind, and for how long.

Every coffee has an ideal water to grind ration, or brew ratio, that will deliver the best results, however, each barista also develops their own preference. The ideal temperature for brewing coffee is between 195F (91C) and 205F (96C).  Getting as close to 205F without going over yields the best extraction, but be careful not to use boiling (212F/100C) because this will burn the grind particles.

Once the coffee beans are weighed they should be ground to the appropriate particle size.  The smaller the grind, the more surface area the water covers for extraction.  Though, if the grind is too small, too many of the undesirable compounds are extracted resulting in a bitter, or over-extracted end result.  Once the grind is ready, its time to percolate which means the water is flowing through the grind-bed to extract the solubles. 

It is important to use an exact brew time to get the most extraction of favorable solubles and not too much of the unfavorable solubles.  Too quick of a brew time lessens the extraction of the flavor compounds that were meticulously crafted during the roasting process.  Too long, and the bitter-tasting compounds start to dissolve and tarnish the flavor profile.  Once you practice, you will be able to adjust your brew ratio every time depending on the coffee and brew method you are using.  For example, a shorter extraction time might warrant adding more coffee at a slightly smaller grind size to increase the surface area, extracting the favorable compounds without the bitters.