The 80 bean shot of espresso…

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Espresso coffee

Freshly brewed espresso shot

Have you ever wondered how many coffee beans it takes to make one shot of espresso? Yea, well me neither until that one Saturday morning in the beginning of October.

The website had just launched and the restaurant was jamming. Kitchen was in its usual controlled state of chaos, food for the dining room, the pool bar and the outside dining area. Servers shuffling their feet to keep pace with their already hurried minds. Guests sipping wine, grazing on their steaks and the dull hum of over 50 different conversations set this night apart. We had just opened “offically” and it seems that the word is out.

The days, weeks and months leading up to this point has been a journey only the heartiest of souls would even think of embarking on. Rising at 6 am, to bed by midnight or soon thereafter. Experiencing the outside world day in and day out through the rear door glass of whatever taxi cab you can hail in the morning or night. The snapshot views of the distant skyline through the clouds of construction dust and moisture from the ever failing ventilation system only adds to the allure of the experience. Days blend seamlessly into weeks, weeks into months and begin to blur like the city rushing by in my taxi cab commute.

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I arrive at the restaurant early in the am, after a not so fruitful night of sleep and awaking to the fact that I need some more. The strain of going full bore for 3+ months is beginning to take its toll. Leaving the office I grab the keys and make my way upstairs, hoping not to find any issues with the property, the restaurant, the staff and to find my little black bag intact from where I left it the evening before. Once full of organic coffee beans, it now was on its last and dying days, maybe 3 to 4 shots of espresso left and I am in need of something very, very strong to get this day going.

With the espresso machine already warmed up I opened the bag and pulled a long draw of the aroma into my nose. The scent of roasted chocolate, dark and mystifying sent my brain into a whirl. Yes, its that time again my friend, the time to truly start the day. I pour some of the beans into my hand, roll them between my fingers and drop them, 2 at a time into the grinder. “ I wonder how many beans it takes to make a stellar cup of espresso” I thought to myself and then the count begins. Two, four, six, eight starts the experiment, eighty ends it. Beans big and small, round and not so round make it into the mix as one can neither be too picky or discriminate when your in need of that morning bump.

With a flick of the switch the grinder is sent into action. Making quick work of the beans I hurriedly reach for the tamp and pack the grinds into the filter, mount it to the machine and begin the draw. A slow but steady stream of black liquor effortlessly pours from the spout, slowly filling the little porcelain cup with some of the best coffee I have ever had. Close to a minute and it is all but over, the cup of espresso finished, topped off with a dark brown crema. One sip and I know that it is as close to perfection as it is going to get today, and I made it there one bean at a time…

chefRob

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