–The Tower from Avantasia: The Metal Opera
–The Black and the Purple Chapter II: The Black Network (0.01%)
-Checking/Recording Quizzes: 50%
–Nightwatch by Sergei Lukyanenko: 66% (planning to continue since Arghs said he’d lend me Battle Royale when I’m done.
Coffee should be as black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love. –Turkish proverb
Tried my hand at using the new stovetop espresso maker that Dad brought me from Singapore. It was a mix of disappointment and satisfaction.
True espresso is made by sending sub-boiling water at high pressure through a firmly-pressed puck of finely-ground coffee, as opposed to brewed or drip coffee that simply uses gravity to draw the water through the coarsely-ground grains. The pressure makes the coffee brew a lot faster–the industrial-use espresso machines used in Starbucks, for example, have the water at sub-boiling temperature already, so it just takes about 20 seconds to brew that single shot of espresso. This makes espresso is a lot more concentrated than typical brewed coffee. The perfect shot is a rich, dark brown with a layer of crema (foam) floating on top. At the right temperature, the shot will be sweet–too cold and it turns sour, too hot and it turns bitter.
The contraption that Dad got me is not a true espresso machine, but it tries to approximate the conditions in which espresso is made. It’s based on the Moka Express[link], which has the water in a boiler compartment below the coffee instead of above it. As the water heats up, the container raises the pressure to a level at which it begins to rise up through a funnel where the coffee is placed. The pressure forces the brewed “espresso” through a small, fountain-like spout in the upper compartment from which the coffee can be poured.
Apart from the obvious differences in the operation of a stovetop espresso maker and a true espresso machine, the coffee in a true espresso machine is tamped down with a tool to compress it into a firm puck before brewing. In a stovetop, the tamping is automatically done when you screw the upper compartment onto the boiler.
I was a bit excited as I washed and prepared my little contraption. It didn’t take very long for the coffee to brew–I just had to wait for the water in the boiler to run out. Since the espresso maker brews exactly six shots of espresso, I had to make sure that both Mom and Vince would want to share the coffee.
Due to the forced boiling, it seems that the water ended up being far too hot. The coffee was strong, alright–and incredibly bitter. (Perhaps the Turkish proverb I quoted could be modified to say it’s “as bitter as love,” but that would be a bit too pessimistic, wouldn’t it? ) The brew was thinner than I had expected, and contained loose grains that settled on the bottom of the cup. As Dad had told me, there was no crema (he tried his own hand at stovetop brewing).
Since it’s not real espresso, maybe I should just call it “espresto” in honor of this OOTS strip[link].
Since the espresto was about as bitter as a jilted lover, I had to find a way to make it more pleasing to the palate. This was accomplished by dumping the espresto into a larger coffee mug and filling it with chocolate milk.
The result was sweet, fulfilling and a lot more pleasant than the horribly bitter brew that came straight out of the espresso maker.
As I drank the cup, I noticed that a lot of residue had settled on the bottom of the cup. Usually one would be afraid to drink this part, as it might be bitter. However, I was surprised to discover that the sediment was actually far sweeter than the liquid.
For Next Time
I think the bitterness was mostly caused by having the fire on too high–the brew was continuously exposed to high temperatures even after it came out of the spout, leading to undesirable chemical changes. This was a big mistake.
Comments on Dad’s Flickr entry about trying out a stovetop maker said that learning how to use one is a trial-and-error process and will probably involve several disappointments before attaining perfection. Of course, this isn’t something I can do every morning (I don’t want to risk permanent insomnia) so I guess the next attempt will have to wait. I’m happy to hear, however, that satisfaction is at least, in this case, attainable.
Being used to Starbucks frappuccinos (which are full of water and are thus very diluted), I’m currently shaking as the caffeine works its black magic on my nerves. A few nights ago my Y!M status message was:
There’s too much blood in my caffeine system. –“Jack n’ Joe,” a card from the defunct TCG Netrunner.
Now it’s something closer to “I HAVE THE POWAAAAAAA!”
Wired for the next 48 hours,
Your Black Lion
PS: More awesome videos from OGs:
Formation-R. The new Variable Formation BGM sounds fantastic, and so is the added touch of Ryusei skewering the enemy with the T-Link Sword.
Axel owning stuff with his attacks. The first two missile attacks are status missiles. The energy projectile is
Hadouken Seiryuuin , 青龍鱗(Blue Dragon Scale), the flying arm attack is Genbu Goudan , 玄武剛弾(Dark Warrior’s Mighty Shot), and the combo+energy ball grinder is Rasengan Byakko Kou , 白虎咬. (White Tiger Bite) His missing attack is Mai Suzaku , 舞朱雀 (Dancing Phoenix)
Axel in Soulgain doing his finisher, Kirin 麒麟. The new DARK KNIGHT BGM is also awesome, and so is the animation sequence.
Ryuune in Valsione. In order, the attacks are Divine Arm, Psycho Blaster, Hyper Beam Cannon and Cross Smasher. The final clip is Wodan Ymir’s Thrudgelmir pwning Kyosuke’s Alteisen for massive damage with Zankantou: Inazuma Juuryoku Otoshi. (Ship-cleaver: Lightning Gravity Drop)