Seattle part 1

At six thirty on a rainy Sunday morning, four barista’s and three of their relative girlfriends (all coffee enthusiasts themselves) set off for the three hour drive to Seattle. Our mission was to check out the much hyped coffee scene in Seattle and see if it lived up to our expectations.

After a short interrogation at customs and the driving compilation cd to end all others (midlake, al stewart, hot chip,sufjan and knife to name a few), we arrived at David Schomer’s Vivace cafe on Denny. I had visited the cafe a year before when I went to the 2005 WBC, and so wasn’t suprised to see the que of people leading onto the street. We ordered all our drinks and huddled around the serving point, trying hopelessly to blend into the non barista customers as we gauked at the barista’s every move.




One of Schomer’s cooling fans built onto the back of one of his DRM belt driven grinder. I’m told that these grinders are sadly now unavailable.

The walls were all adorned with framed latte art pictures and the bar looked very barista friendly. They had two three group synesso’s, both set up at different bar heights with shorter staff on the lower one. Although quite tasty, the shots were all low volume and extremely bubbly and it was also really interesting too see his barista’s pull the drinks away without stopping the shot. Apparently they believe the cup should contain only espresso brewed under pressure, and not any last drops. I’m yet to test this but I know I definitely didn’t like the spillage on the side of each demitasse.

The other odd thing was watching the barista’s take the pf out after a shot, place a cloth to the spent puck, and then re insert the pf. I suppose they wanted to ensure temp stability in the pf and maybe avoid an overly dry puck that might be difficult to knock out??, but this seems unlikely. Any ideas?

I will post again tomorrow about the other cafe’s. I’m off now to do some wedding shopping and then later I’m hosting a private screening of Black Gold in my apartment. I would gladly have all of you over but sadly tickets are sold out for this gourmet, cinematic event.

More tomorrow!

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4 thoughts on “Seattle part 1

  1. i do the “pull the cup before you stop the shot” for a couple of reasons. the main being that it’s quicker than stopping the flow, and when you see blonding, it’s already too late to push the button. the other being that the last little spurt from the basket gets all bubbly and disturbs the surface of the crema, making it harder to do pretty things with milk.

    as for the spent puck thing, i have heard that schomer believes that the puck keeps valuable thermal mass in the grouphead.

    my guess for the cloth would be to keep stale, spent coffee out of the screen. i don’t think it’s to get the puck out easier, because all you have to do is start the flow again for a couple seconds, and the puck will drop right out, the same as if you’d just pulled a shot.

  2. have you noticed a different in the taste?

    personally I prefer a little blondness in the cup.

    I thought the same thing about getting the puck out easier.

    thanks for the comments though

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