Life In LC

Tag archive


The Extraction Is Better at Lawyering Than It Is at Owning Coffee Shops

It’s hard to forecast what effect the high winds from Stormy Daniels might have on Washington D.C., although the sun would seem to be shining either way for her very…

Keep Reading

Forge Your Own Path: Five Keys to a Successful Career in Coffee

(Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the March/April issue of Roast magazine. Click here for more information on Roast.) What does a lifelong career in specialty coffee look like?…

Keep Reading

Freezing Green Coffee: A Tale of Infestation, Treatment and Consequences

Despite the fact that coffee comes equipped with a natural insecticide (caffeine), it is still susceptible to sporadic insect infestation. Royal Coffee experienced a pest-related incident that affected thousands of…

Keep Reading

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain In Coffee, Part 2: At Origin

In the specialty coffee industry, maintaining traceability and integrity throughout the supply chain can be an uphill battle. This is true not necessarily because of flaws in character, but because…

Keep Reading

Unpacking Coffee with Kandace and Ray: Onyx Coffee Labs

On this week’s episode of Unpacking Coffee, Kandace and Ray chat with Jon Allen of Onyx Coffee Lab, which has been building a world-class coffee operation based in Northwest Arkansas….

Keep Reading

Celebrity Coffee Commercials

Recently, I was feeling a little nostalgic and trying to remember the jingle from the Chock full o’ Nuts coffee commercial from the 1970’s. My mom used to add coffee to my milk when I was a kid because I loved the taste so much. My love affair with coffee still continues today. I love the taste, and in moderation, I love how it makes me feel.

Thanks to YouTube, I was able to find the Chock full o’ Nuts “Heavenly Coffee” jingle as well as a bunch of unusual, sexist, and entertaining coffee commercials featuring various celebrities, across several decades, and shot in different countries.

Chock full o’Nuts 23rd St. Store Front Loop Proof

This is a commercial for Instant Maxwell House with Andy Griffith and Ron Howard from the 1960’s. This reminded me of a time when there were only seven channels to watch. “The Andy Griffith Show” was one of my regular programs, but mostly because there was nothing else on.


Here’s a sexist Folger’s commercial from the 1970’s starring Stephen Collins very early in his acting career. Quite the different persona from his “Seventh Heaven” t.v. show from the 90’s.

Folger’s coffee commercial

This 1970’s commercial for MJB coffee, a regional brand, features a young Teri Garr. She gave entertainment value to an otherwise incredibly boring commercial.

Teri Garr doing a Coffee Commercial – 1970s!!!

Here’s a youthful Scott Bakula for Decaffeinated (ugh!) Folger’s coffee. I’m hoping that he was able to “Quantum Leap” to a real cup of coffee after shooting this commercial.

Scott Bakula Folgers Coffee Commercial

A refined Edward G. Robinson added his cache to this Instant Maxwell House commercial.


These celebrity coffee commercials were shot in other countries, where well-known American actors could hopefully avoid public scrutiny and potential nicks to their careers.

Paul Newman for Maxwell House (Japan)

Maxwell House Commercial Paul Newman 1980

Tommy Lee Jones for Boss Coffee (Japan)

Ping Pong Master Tommy Lee Jones Boss Coffee Commercial

George Clooney and John Malkovich for Nespresso (Switzerland/France)

Nespresso Taxi Driver John Malkovich George Clooney

The road to stardom for many successful actors seems to have been paved with hard work, humbling resume-building jobs, and lots of coffee grinds!

YouTube surfing down memory lane satisfied my nostalgia, cured my mental block for the “Heavenly Coffee” jingle, and provided me with a small cup o’ caffeinated entertainment.

Keep Reading

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain In Coffee, Part 1: Retail

As media coverage of the cryptocurrency craze careens across categories from tech to finance, business to politics, and even occasionally crime, a slowly growing number of specialty coffee people are…

Keep Reading

The Naked Portafilter and Diagnosing Espresso Extraction Problems

You may have been wondering if there are any cool new coffee toys to improve your Barista skills. Oh sure, there are the ubiquitous click tamper thingies, and of course, the ever so sexy bathroom scale to measure your tamp pressure. One word – BORING! But if you want something that says “I know Starbucks is evil, now Pimp my Espresso Machine!!!”, then read on.

There is a relatively new phenomenon among coffee enthusiasts that is not only a great Barista training tool but is also beautiful. It is commonly referred to as a Bottomless Portafilter. Usually, a bottomless portafilter is “chopped”, or cut off, so that the entire bottom is visible and nakedly exposed for the peeping toms in all of us. This also allows the Barista in training to see the bottom of the portafilter basket, since this is where the coffee will start its journey into the little espresso cup. It will allow said Barista to see some other cool (and often beautiful) stuff whilst pulling a shot; more on that later.

Bottomless Portafilter and Standard Portafilter
Bottomless Portafilter & Standard Portafilter

The Naked Portafilter as it is also known is a novel concept at first glance. But how can it help the aspiring barista? Well, the holy grail of all baristas is, of course, an espresso shot that not only looks good but tastes good too. The perfect extraction is a black-magic melange of the perfect grind, dose, and tamp. Let’s not even talk about the roasted beans, water temperature, machine pressure, or water pH. We will save your brain cells for another article – GEEK ALERT!

Ideally, every particle of the ground espresso should be of the same size, and when compressed or tamped into the portafilter basket, it should likewise have no differences in how tightly or loosely it is compressed from side to side or top to bottom. Although perfection in this regard is impossible, a Crotchless Portafilter can help identify things such as channeling, blonding, tiger striping, among other things.


Channeling is when the water finds its way through cracks or small inconsistencies in the coffee “puck”. This means that the coffee gets an uneven extraction, producing an inferior shot of espresso. Common causes are an uneven tamp, or too much coffee (referred to as overdosing).

Espresso Side Channeling
Espresso with Side Channeling


Blonding in the shot can happen when the coffee is being under extracted, causing an off-taste. Although this is expected near the last part of the shot (and a cue to think about ending the shot), blonding should not occur during the majority of the shot.

Blonding Espresso
Blonding espresso shot, among other problems

Tiger Stripes

Tiger Stripes that are uniform are usually a good sign, as long as most of the stripes are medium to dark in color and the pour time is not too quick or slow; most agree a 2 ounce double should run about 22-30 seconds. Always let taste be your ultimate authority.

Tiger Striping
Decent Tiger Striping. Can you pick out any problems?

The Bottomless Portafilter can let the Barista see exactly what is happening under the hood. Channeling can be identified by “spurters” and “geysers”. This is where the espresso sprays out in small (or large) jet-like streams at varying angles.

Multiple Streams

Also having multiple smaller streams coming straight down instead of one unified stream can also be a sign of channeling. And assuming your machine is perfectly level, even a unified stream that is off to one side can indicate side-channeling. A perfect extraction will not exhibit any of this behavior. And of course, the perfect looking shot can tell the Barista that his technique is probably fine. Of course, we all know no matter how good the shot looks, it still has to taste good.

Spurter Espresso with Blonding
Spurter Espresso with Blonding

Espresso Multiple Streams
Espresso with Multiple Streams

Perfect Shot

But when the perfect shot is captured in a photo, it is a beautiful thing – Espresso Porn as many call it. The coffee drips somewhat slowly, evenly, just like honey into the demitasse cup. The rich, even color bands are followed down as they converge into that perfectly centered columned stream of goodness. The result in the cup should be a thick and persistent head of “crema”, which is all of the good stuff in the coffee, and none of the bad.

God Shot - Espresso
Outstanding looking espresso shot!

Since espresso machine makers love to invent their own sizes, shapes, and molecular structures, check with your favorite espresso parts supplier for a Bottomless Portafilter matched perfectly to your machine. Then you can really laugh at those people who Starbucks would label baristas. They should really be called assembly-line automatons. Do they even know what a portafilter is anymore? I don’t think so.


E61 Bottomless Portafilter (Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada

Espresso Tamping Visual Tutorial – Having a good tamp is a major factor in pulling excellent espresso shots.

Keep Reading

Things I’ll Never Do Again (Or, My Failures in Coffee Sustainability)

It is a bit cliché to say that we learn the most from our failures. But, of course, like most clichés, we repeat it because bears some truth. Presuming we do…

Keep Reading

The Extraction Deserves Better Pay If You Want to Keep Drinking Your Cold Brew

While most coffee drinkers will never experience a working coffee farm firsthand, it is also true that many farmers will live their entire lives without ever having witnessed the culture…

Keep Reading

1 2 3 5
Go to Top