Parable: The Short Shot
• Mark Eschbach
This isn’t about making easy shots in sports because we’re trying to deliver value in the agile sense. No. This is a tale of coffee, explosions, and trouble shooting.
I make coffee on my little espresso machine every morning. A double shot latte. For those who know me, Mochas are still on the table but I need to solve the melt chip problem first. Might do that with a nice ground chocolate in the future! Anyway, I digress about chocolately goodness of the mocha.
Lattes are pretty simple: a bit of steamed milk, and some shots of espresso. Well, easy to summarize. It took me weeks to get the perfect techniques down for the right mixture of foam and milk. To figure out the secrets of the various shades of carmel and sludge dripping from the port-a-filters. Ah, the good times of slinging coffe a the “E”.
My home device is awesome at getting it’s job done. For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to dial in my grinder. Press the shot and it comes out with the perfect trickle of the light carmel, moves into the dark carmel, and finally as it’s about to turn to sludge 30 seconds have ellapsed. Next time it’s like a gentle scolding hot rain of acidy sludge so thick I’m not sure washing the little shot glass will clean it. Might need to try some elbo grease.
If the nice grinder is the same then perhaps it’s the human’s fault? Makes more sense than deterministic machines goofing. My variable part is tamping down to keep the 19 bars slowly perkilating through grinds. Perhaps I pushed too hard? I try a littler pack, crossing my fingers.
It takes a few seconds. I hear the pump strain hard to keep pressure. Then it happens. Two drops start to form. One on each nozzel of the port-a-filter. Hmm. At this point it should be a stream of sweet (for coffee) carmel goodness. Quickly flip the machine to off as the pump stops making sounds. Stratch my head. Maybe in my tired haze of pre-caffinate elightenment I pressed down hard then I thought?
A loud “POP!” explodes from the port-a-filter as I unlock the device. Hot burnt sludge extrudes everywhere trying to run from the pressure. Some gets on my hand. OUCH! But not that bad. Great, now I have a mess to clean before I can consume the nectar of the gods.
Dump the remaining grinds. Grab the tray to wash it down. Now comes time to clean off the steam extruder into the port-a-filter. Lock it in, seating well with the familair smooth metal gasket seal. Turn it on and the pump whirres into action! Then just stops. I look down. No stream of really hot water and steam at the bottom. oh no! Not the pump!
Quickly trying to sooth my growing dread of having to use a french press I realize the steam wand has been functioning perfectly. I unlock the port-a-filter. Noticing a great deal of water within the filter I turn on the steam nozzel for the the port-a-filter and it works fine. Remove the …[interrupted]