In honor of Valentine’s day – heartbreak and how to overcome one!

In honor of Valentine’s day – heartbreak and how to overcome one!

I woke up this morning and stumbled to the coffee maker.  I had been looking forward to this coffee since before I went to bed last night.  With a big machine like the T1 conventional wisdom is that you need to have it up and running an hour and a half before you start pulling shots.  At first this seems crazy because it simply cannot take 90 minutes to heat up a boiler.  This is, of course, true.  The boiler can come up to temp in a matter of minutes (I have not timed it, but it is less than 15 minutes and probably around 10).  So what is the deal?   Well, these large machines have a lot of mass beyond the boiler – almost 90 pounds in fact.  To get the machine to operate the way it is supposed to all that mass has to be heated up to its equilibrium temperature.  My guess is that you could get lucky and pull a good shot with a machine that has not heated up that long, but it would be hard to predict the shot you were going to produce because the machine would be in a state of flux and therefore the temperature would be hard to control – a little like trying to throw a ball at a target while spinning in circles and blindfolded.

When I got to my machine this morning it was cold.  There was the heartbreak.  (Not to mention the fact that my wife was waiting patiently for her coffee that I was going to make her – potentially creating a double heartbreak).  The GFI had gone off in the night and so there was no power to the machine.  Alas I did not want to wait 90 minutes for coffee – I wanted some in around 30 minutes tops.

I crossed my fingers and hoped that I could accelerate the process.  I periodically flushed large quantities of water through the group head figuring that would draw heat to the group and cut the time to equilibrium down dramatically.  It probably took 2 liters of water, but in 30 minutes I was able to pull a fine shot of coffee.  The blend I used was on its way down (perhaps a week past its prime), so it was not perfect but it was not bad either.

Does anyone else have any other tricks for speeding up the path to equilibrium?  (I have heard tossing a towel over the group works, but I have never tested it and was always a little skeptical that it would help much).  What misfortune has left you without the coffee you expected?

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