Hi there, and welcome to the Coffee Corner

So much espresso related stuff was piling up on my site that it seemed best to devote a page to it. There are some /graphics: my design of the King Crimson touring valet, photos of the finished item, and some other machines. I've got some links to interesting coffee related sites I've found, there's a hysterical essay on coffee by Balzac, and if you've got RealAudio, you can play "Espresso & the Bed of Nails," a track from my cd World Diary, which begins with a sample of an espresso machine.

The 'Crim Valet' or 'Café Crim'

Blueprint of "Crim Valet"

The "Crim Valet": the original design, and the final product which - in its 'road case' -
accompanied the recent King Crimson European Tour as "Café Crim".
Excerpts from "Espresso Coffee - Professional Techniques"
by David C. Schomer

"When adjusting your grind, think of yourself as a musician tuning your violin as its delicately balanced wood frame changes ever so slightly in response to increases and decreases in temperature and humidity."

"There is a golden rate of water flow, corresponding to about a 25 second extraction for a total shot, single or double, that maximizes flavor release and minimizes the amount of nasty acids and excessive caffeine that get into the final cup."

"Remember, coffee flavors are very volatile and more than a little cranky. Pre-grinding the coffee, even for a few moments, exposes the coffee oils to the air, which immediately, through the process of oxidation, begins to destroy flavor compounds."

"There is wide agreement that the pump for espresso making should be set between 8.2 and 9 atmospheres of pressure."

"Temperature control is the reason that the porta-filter is always kept in the head of the machine. These critical brewing baskets should never rest on the counter during business hours. If you see the group handles lying on the counter in an espresso shop, forget it. Go somewhere else for an espresso."


This is the "Coffee Station" device, built by my friend Ed Doyle


Here is "Espresso & the Bed of Nails", a track from WORLD DIARY, featuring the percussion group Nexus. It begins with a sample of my trusty (well, not too trusty) Gaggia, which was a major presence in the studio during the mix. (RealAudio 28.8 stream)

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download it (Version 5+) now from Real Audio.


My trusty road machine is an Estro Profi, which has held up very well to constant travel. (I also have an identical Italian version, for some reason called 'Saeco' Rio Profi.)

Balzac on Coffee
  Coffee is a great power in my life; I have observed its effects on an epic scale. Coffee roasts your insides. Many people claim coffee inspires them, but, as everybody knows, coffee only makes boring people even more boring. ...as Brillat-Savarin has correctly observed, coffee sets the blood in motion and stimulates the muscles; it accelerates the digestive processes, chases away sleep, and gives us the capacity to engage a little longer in the exercise of our intellects. ...Coffee changes over time. Rossini has personally experienced some of these effects as, of course, have I. "Coffee," Rossini told me, "is an affair of fifteen or twenty days; just the right amount of time, fortunately, to write an opera." This is true. But the length of time during which one can enjoy the benefits of coffee can be extended. For a while - for a week or two at most - you can obtain the right amount of stimulation with one, then two cups of coffee brewed from beans that have been crushed with gradually increasing force and infused with hot water. For another week, by decreasing the amount of water used, by pulverizing the coffee even more finely, and by infusing the grounds with cold water, you can continue to obtain the same cerebral power. When you have produced the finest grind with the least water possible, you double the dose by drinking two cups at a time; particularly vigorous constitutions can tolerate three cups. In this manner one can continue working for several more days. Finally, I have discovered a horrible, rather brutal method that I recommend only to men of excessive vigor, men with thick black hair and skin covered with liver spots, men with big square hands and legs shaped like bowling pins. It is a question of using finely pulverized, dense coffee, cold and anhydrous, consumed on an empty stomach. ...this coffee falls into your stomach ... it brutalizes these beautiful stomach linings as a wagon master abuses ponies; the plexus becomes inflamed; sparks shoot all the way up to the brain. From that moment on, everything becomes agitated. Ideas quick-march into motion like battalions of a grand army to its legendary fighting ground, and the battle rages. Memories charge in, bright flags on high; the cavalry of metaphor deploys with a magnificent gallop; the artillery of logic rushes up with clattering wagons and cartridges; on imagination's orders, sharpshooters sight and fire; forms and shapes and characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink - for the nightly labor begins and ends with torrents of this black water, as a battle opens and concludes with black powder. ...When you have reached the point of consuming this kind of coffee, then become exhausted and decide that you really must have more,... you will fall into horrible sweats, suffer feebleness of the nerves, and undergo episodes of severe drowsiness. I don't know what would happen if you kept at it then: a sensible nature counseled me to stop at this point, seeing that immediate death was not otherwise my fate. To be restored, one must begin with recipes made with milk and chicken and other white meats: finally the tension on the harp strings eases, and one returns to the relaxed, meandering, simple-minded, and cryptogamous life of the retired bourgeoisie. The state coffee puts one in when it is drunk on an empty stomach under these magisterial conditions produces a kind of animation that looks like anger: one's voice rises, one's gestures suggest unhealthy impatience: one wants everything to proceed with the speed of ideas; one becomes brusque, ill-tempered about nothing... One assumes that everyone is equally lucid. A man of spirit must therefore avoid going out in public. I discovered this singular state ... some friends, with whom I had gone out to the country, witnessed me arguing about everything, haranguing with monumental bad faith. ... We found the problem soon enough: coffee wanted its victim.  

Last modified: 4-19-00