Cool Barista Stuff

If there is one thing I admire, it is the ingenuity with which trail blazing practitioners of any given craft carv their way through the less trodden path. I have myself built various home made devices to meet my needs in times when tools were either outside of my financial reaches or outside of mainstream retail outlets. These things include, but are not limited to, tattoo guns, acoustic guitar side bending irons, and batik waxing frames. In my teenage years I amazed my father with the ability to create smoking devices from a wide variety of otherwise mundane house hold items.

I recently returned from my first vacation in 4 years. My family and I spent a week in the Poconos, and we made a couple of day trips to visit some of Pennsylvania’s most progressive coffee shops. While in Scranton, I stopped by Northern Lights Espresso, where they employ this creative tamping bar.

Adjustable tamping bar is installed below the counter.

Adjustable tamping bar is installed below the counter.

I have seen short Baristas stand on empty milk crates in order to get leverage when they tamp. Sometimes they struggle with awkward arm and body positions and they just take the stress. This device at Northern Lights is a steel pole mounted below the counter. There is an adjustable arm that can be raised or lowered to the Barista’s preferred hight, and swivels under the counter when not in use. The white cup is lathed from high density polyethylene and is designed to fit the portafilter perfectly. Pictured above is Sarah using the device. After an initial press with the tamper, she bumps the white cup gently to knock lose any grinds that cling to rim of the basket, saving both the tamper and portafilter from any damage. I love this thing.

Across town is another great coffee shop called Electric City Roasting. They are also known as Zumo’s, since that is painted in the window. It was formerly a candy shop and shoe cobbler operated by the Zumo brothers. They had an interesting piece of electronic equipment on the counter. I noticed that both grinders were plugged into it, and I assumed that it was a timer of some sort.

This electronic timer can run two grinders.

This electronic timer can run two grinders.

The let me get behind the counter to examine it and the owner, Mary, was eager to share information after first asking me if I was a spy.  While this timer will only grind to the second, and not to a fraction of a second, you can connect it to a stepless grinder. It also has a pulse button, so you can set it to get you close to your desired dose, and then give it a half second burst if you wish. This is great from a waste control point of view. There was one also in use at Northern Lights. There seemed to be a swap of both ideas and employees between the two shops. While I was at Electric City, there were two Baristas from N. L. getting coffee there. Fun stuff.

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