I'm the (self-proclaimed) "Espresso Guy." I created this website to educate the home espresso making newbie and to provide recipes, tips, and troubleshooting steps for those already pulling their own espresso shots. If you're having trouble deciding what to buy, there's guides on buying beans and equipment.

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In space, no one can smell their espresso

Imagine living for months without being able to smell your espresso. This horror isn’t just imaginary — it’s everyday life for astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).

As mentioned previously on this website, ISS astronauts finally got an espresso machine recently. But what they didn’t get was the ability to smell their espresso.

Why? Because in zero gravity you can’t pour liquids into cups. And even if you managed to get the liquid into a cup, it wouldn’t stay there for long. So in order to avoid getting liquid bubbles all over the place (and damaging expensive equipment) all liquids have to be consumed from a sealed bag with a straw. This means there’s no opportunity for your nose to smell the delicious liquid within.

So scientists have finally started working on 3d printing a special type of cup that lets the liquid pass by the astronaut’s nose. And while they might tell you this is about experimenting with fluid dynamics in zero gravity, I think we all know that it’s really about letting astronauts sip the perfect espresso in space.

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The millionaire’s home espresso setup

Max Levchin is no ordinary espresso geek; as the co-founder of several companies including PayPal, he’s an espresso geek with a few hundred million dollars in the bank. So what’s his home setup like?

Forbes brings us the answer. Levchin’s equipment includes:

  • La Marzocco Custom GS3 ($7,000)
  • Naked portafilter ($95)
  • Versalab M3 Grinder ($2,285)
  • Reg Barber tamper ($69)
  • Reg Barber knox box ($150)
  • Acaia Pearl Black Scale ($150)
  • Espresso Parts Scace 2 Espresso Machine Thermofilter ($600)
  • Set of six Espresso Parts cups and saucers ($38.64)

Total: $10,387.64

Now for most of us, spending over ten grand on espresso equipment seems a little questionable. After all, that would buy you a shot of espresso at an expensive cafe every day for about a decade!

But for some of us making espresso at home is more of a hobby than a cost saving measure. I’m sure that’s true in Levchin’s case. Still, even if I had millions of dollars, I don’t think I’d spend $150 on a knock box. That’s just silly.

(All prices are in USD.)

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Espresso and health: How much is too much?

Sometimes too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing — such is the case with espresso. If you’ve ever used caffeine to stay up late, you know that unhealthy jittery feeling you get after a while. So when should you stop?

The European Food Safety Authority recently released a study stating that for healthy, non-pregnant adults, 400 milligrams of caffeine per day is perfectly safe. That works out to somewhere between four and five espresso shots.

Keep in mind though that these are standard shot sizes. Many American cafes serve only double shots; if you’re concerned about your health, remember to factor that into account.

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Open source espresso machine company goes bust

A few years ago I reported news of a crowdfunded, open source espresso machine right here on this very blog. While the details weren’t very clear, it sounded promising — a PID controller, a reasonable price, and the design looked very slick.

But like many Kickstarter projects before it, the ZPM Espresso machine has gone bust. The downfall is profiled in a lengthy NY Times article.

If nothing else, failed crowdfunding projects like this should serve as a reminder that you have to be careful with crowdfunding. Manufacturing a custom design is complex. If the people behind the project don’t have experience it’s best to stay away — no matter how good the espresso might be.

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If you want to make good espresso, you need a good grinder

The Globe and Mail had a particularly good article last week about making espresso at home. Food writer John Sufrin recommends focusing on buying a good grinder for your espresso setup, an important point many folks seem to ignore.

After using pre-ground coffee for his espresso — a major no-no — Sufrin describes the massive improvement in his espresso after switching to a Mazzer burr grinder:

Immediately my espresso was exponentially better, and after a bit of tweaking, it became great. It was complex and slightly viscous, with crema as rich as the head on a pint of Guinness.

My own experience is not unlike Sufrin’s. The first high end grinder I had was a hand-me-down from a local grocery store. Immediately the quality of the espresso on my cheap Krups machine went from a nasty brown sludge to an almost cafe quality drink.

If you want to improve your espresso it’s absolutely true; a good burr grinder is a worthwhile investment.

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