Espresso String Theory

Origin of the universe complicated!
What makes or breaks an espresso shot?
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String Theory:Primer

In the never ending quest to understand the basic fundamentals of the universe, something called String Theory popped up decades ago.

Just as we experience a three dimensional reality of width-X-height-X-depth with a 4th dimension of time  added,  a height-X-width-X-depth-X-time, so it is theorized that there are 7 more  dimensions making a :

No matter how much of a headache you get attempting to understand this (as all physicists get), you can feel the complexity of such a system, a complexity that is approximated by Espresso.

Next we deal with what those 11 Espresso dimensions.

When we get done you should appreciate what SwampSlurry provides, a reduction of that complexity to a stellar product for your home, business or event.

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Fresh matters.

No one wants stale bread or sour milk or limp lettuce.

Things have a shelf life.

Coffee has a shelf life.

While diligence and some forethought can mitigate the problem (as when coffee icon George Howell says to freeze the beans as they hold up well if frozen when fresh), failure to procure and use fresh beans is almost always fatal to excellence.

When you taste a Starbucks latte just be aware that they don't always get fresh beans and over compensate by over roasting such that the subtle flavors that are the core of  third wave coffee are drowned in a sea of burnt and bitter that is solvable only by copious amounts of milk and sweetener.

Quality of Beans matters.

Neck and Neck with the prerequisite of fresh beans is the additional need for good beans.

It would seem to go without saying that cheap input product usually leads to lesser quality product output.

It is also incumbent on the roaster to know what makes a bad bean or to never source beans that are not properly grown and prepared for roasting.

This is an arduous task and the core of the value that roasters provide.

At SwampSlurry we do not pretend to  control that area  of the art of espresso.  Instead, we highlight the roasters that nail it.

We take what roasters provide and serve up the best of the products available

Here are a few of the things roasters must control in order to make a worthy roast.

  • Small beans affect the taste
  • Withered beans affect the taste.
  • Large beans affect the taste.
  • Mixed bean sizes will affect the taste.
  • Elevation will affect the taste.
  • ...

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What is the temperature at which you draw your espresso?

What is the humidity when you grind?

Too hot or too cold, or just different from production session to production session will cause you to adjust on the fly constantly.


More or less humidity from production session to production session will cause you to adjust on the fly.


Significant differences in height of production facility necessitate changes to production parameters.

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Too Coarse

... and you get under extracted espresso (more sour).

Too fine

... and you get over-extracted (more bitter).

While roasters may have hints of bitter and hints of sour  in their flavor profiles, too course and too sour are just like too much salt.

This is really not where you want to spend your time ina busy setup or in a Sisyphean home setup process.

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Not hot enough

... results in sour coffee.

Too hot

... results in bitter coffee

Temperature changes for each roast.  It is not constant across all roasts.

And, sadly, the temperature is largely not constant on any espresso machine, even those with double boilers.

Again, not a good place to adjust in a busy setup or, especially, at home.

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Too long

... more bitter

Not long enough

... more sour.

We do enough in one setting to eliminate this as a driving factor as the temperature is more constant than you can ever expect in a cafe or at home.

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Distribute and pressurize grounds such that grounds are evenly distributed and evenly packed.

Failure to do so will ruin any shot and any possible consistency shot to shot.

This is where the most errors are made. Tamping isn't mostly about pressure, it is about providing an evenly pressureed set of grinds for the hot water to come into contact. As simple as it seems, far too much is written about how hard to tamp instead of the tamping's purpose, to make sure the watre gets no soft spots to channel.

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Destroys  everything.


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Single source beans or a mix to drive home the taste the roaster desires.

This is where the artisanshp of the roaster comes into play. They get the good beans and do the craft roast. We convert that roast into a convenient quality product above which most cafes never reach.

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If the barista is not all in, your espresso drinks will suffer greatly.

It is our mission to care more than any public facing, speed challenged barista can hope to match.

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Proper PH values ... minimum.

Spring water ... good

Filtered water ... bett

Variations in water source/qualities makes for unmanageable espresso.

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Once you get a good roast, espresso is a harsh science that does not suffer fools well.

Once you get things together, consistency is the key. That is where we come in.

We are more consistent than any barista has a hope to be.

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The roast is one half of the equation of espresso excellence.

The other half is the factors described herein.

One cannot hope to nail it, except as a hobby, unless these factors are controlled, like any other experiment.

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Can you nail all 11 live better than SwampSlurry can do for you in advance?

Probably not.

  1. Beans
  2. Environment
  3. Grind
  4. Temperature
  5. Time
  6. Tamp
  7. Cleanliness
  8. Mix
  9. Passion
  10. H2O
  11. Consistency

Let SwampSlurry take care of these.

You take care of the rest.