Fresh back from Memorial Day weekend, get yourself ready for summer with some interesting things I've come across in the last month.
I should take my own advice on this one and pull the trigger. I almost did a few times, but I've had a lot of other purchases come up this month, so I'm going to hold off until the first production run is caught up, because in this case, the hype is very real. Paul Pratt, owner of Cafelat, the same Cafelat that makes these great silicone group gaskets, just launched a completely manual, real, espresso machine called the Robot. Cafelat is the kind of company that really takes the time to think things through and do it right, as evidenced by the many prototypes and iterations that have been very open and transparent on the Robot, and in this case, I do feel it's not like you're giving a startup money for an unknown quality, Cafelat knows what they're doing and Paul didn't release this product until it was right. Anyhow, you get a full, real 58 mm portafilter and basket, with a portafilter than can run spouted or bottomless, and the option for a pressure gauge as well. All you do is add coffee, and you can even use preground with a pressurized basket, and hot water. Everything else you need is included, and this satisfies the basic coffee drinker wanting to improve quality and ditch the pod machine to the pro barista that wants a very hands on, manually controlled experience.
It looks like for either (approximately) $238 or $286 you can get this machine without or with the pressure gauge, respectively, and that represents just about the lowest barrier to entry for legit espresso. This is hot water being pushed through coffee in pressurized chamber, in maybe one of the purest forms there is. There aren't any plastic parts, you get their excellent covertable portafilter, and even an extra piston seal. The Robot is super cool, and I'm looking forward to playing around with one at some point, if not as a permanent staple on my coffee bar. Back it on Kickstarter Here.
The textured or pebbled "French" calfskin with contrast stitching watch strap is very in right now, often dubbed "Hermes Style", and they're typically not cheap. Combine the price factor of some vendors selling them for $200 or more with my goal of only purchasing straps in short lengths, and the B&R Elegante collection is a winner. This "line" of straps has textured and smooth calf skin, racing or rally style, Barenia leather, and suede options that look great and won't break you bank at $60-$80, and the best part is that you can specify one of three different lengths. They're all available in a variety of common lug widths (18, 19, 20, and sometimes 22mm) and varying lengths, and the overall quality, feel, and finishing is really good at this price point, plus mine shipped the same day, and I received it two days later. I'm finding myself opting for the Seiko Skyliner I currently have it on every chance I get, because this strap just complements a lot of different watches so well.
My two minor quibbles with the strap are the first stitch down from the lugs is double threaded, but it's not like it's sloppy or anything, and that the floating keeper tends to slide up the strap from time to time, but that could be due to the watch I have it on and how it's sitting on my wrist. Worst case scenario here, I ditch the floating keeper, since it's not totally necessary anyways since I was able to order a strap sized to my wrist, which is huge to me. It's so nice, not having to look down and see a ton of extra strap wrapping around your wrist to the top lugs. I give the B&R Elegante collection a big high five, for bang for the buck.
Thou Mayest has been on my list off roaters to try for awhile now, mainly because their bags and artwork and awesome, and they run a pretty solid Instagram account, I know, very basic. But, this proved to be the perfect time to give them a shot, with $5 off all bags of coffee, plus free shipping, this is a pretty low price to pay for specialty coffee. I picked up a bag of their "Wild Child" which is their more wild, lightly roasted, coffee, this particular one being a washed Ethiopian coffee from the Guji, Sidamo region. I'll probably be cracking into it later this week or this weekend, so pick up a bag before the month's out, (it's the "Thou May" promotion) and taste along!.
Last but not least is what might be my new favorite coffee soda, or coffee cocktail or sorts, the Bee's Knees from Paper Plane Coffee. I came across this recipe on Instagram and have since tried it twice, and it's great. Much more refreshing than the common espresso tonic options, but still a great mixture of bitter, sweet, citrus, and effervescence. I added the juice of about half a fresh lemon, a tablespoon of honey (I used some coffee blossom honey I had that worked excellent), 6-9 ounces of Lemon LaCroix or sparkling water, and a double shot of espresso. Stir and enjoy.
Thanks for reading. If you come across anything interesting, are interested in having something featured, or just have a question, please feel free to comment below, or reach out via the contact page.