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Oily's Adventures in the Artic!
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Senior Member

Joined: 27 Sep 2013
Posts: 17
Location: Alaska
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Nov 11, 2013, 9:27am
Subject: Oily's Adventures in the Artic!

Hey everyone!

Allow me to introduce myself properly to the community.

I'm Oily! An Alaskan Petroleum Operator. I work way above the Arctic circle in a place called Deadhorse. I'm outside a lot of the time in a bitter cold, extremely harsh climate. For half the year, my kind are surrounded by darkness with nothing but the cold sodium lights and process emergency flares to keep us sane.

If it weren't for the oil, there wouldn't be anything where we are, and there is very little to do besides work, eat, sleep, and drink coffee.

So as a new hire, it was part of my job to "make coffee" and I took my job very seriously, making some of "the best drip coffee" some guys had ever tasted. Now, I've moved beyond the initation phase, I still love making people coffee. It's one of the few pleasures we are really allowed up here.

Coffee. That hot, bitter, lively elixir that empowers us to get out of bed in the morning. Nothing can change a bad day into a bearable day like a nice pot of smooth, black, rich kaladi bros coffee. Separated from our families, friends, and sunlight for nearly half the year, it is one of the few vices they permit on the lease.

A key ingredient to helping moral in any place so inhospitable and alien is to bring warmth and comfort... so when I have the opportunity I make a good pot of coffee, cook fine meals, I even have plans to bring a sour dough starter up so I can make bread for the team. It's just something I love to do.

So when I found an old Bezzera HX machine in our break room, I wanted to try it... and I started to make myself lattes. At first they were horrible, so I watched some youtube videos and read some stuff at websites like coffee geek. After a week or so of practice I started sharing my craft with my friends and co-workers.

I started with a lot of sugar and milk, gradually my taste for sugar lessened. Pretty soon, I made espresso without any sugar or flavoring.

Eventually, one of the guys, while sipping a particularly nicely made cappuccino, looked down at it and frowned, looked back up at me with a small smile and said, "Now you've done it. I'm never going to be able to go to a coffee stand again.  You've ruined me. I'll have to wait to drink a cup when I get back to work."

and the best part? I'm still a newbie at this! It's going to keep getting better and better!

So I figured I'd start a little thread to share some of my unique problems I run into in an place where the temp, humidity, and pressure can change rapidly. A place so cold and so strange... but where I have found that coffee culture actually thrives!

Hope you can help me understand a few of the things I run into, I'll post a few crazy things I've found soon.
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Senior Member
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Posts: 1,832
Location: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Expobar Office Control
Grinder: Cimbali 6/S
Posted Mon Nov 11, 2013, 2:05pm
Subject: Re: Oily's Adventures in the Artic!

Randy..er...oily dude,

WELCOME to Coffee Geek and the never-ending pursuit of the "perfect cup"!

After reading your post, I googled Deadhorse and seems to be quite desolate...but, maybe, a really good place for practicing solitude and catching up on your reading. If you don't appreciate reading, give it a try. It is a great way to spend time in such circumstances.

Wikipedia says that the permanent population is only 25 to 50 persons with temporary residents (such as you) adding ~3000.

Click Here (upload.wikimedia.org)
After six months up there, you will probably be an expert barista!

Len's Espresso Blends
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Senior Member

Joined: 27 Sep 2013
Posts: 17
Location: Alaska
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Wed Nov 20, 2013, 11:47pm
Subject: Re: Oily's Adventures in the Artic!

Back again!

I was given a week off from my job to fly home, regroup and rest. On the way back I picked up a Nuova Simonelli Mac V from a reputable coffee house known for producing high quality coffee... everything from espresso shots, drip, and french press are made at this place. The machine came with a pretty good story, as it was the original start-up to this particular business and had been very well cared for, the owner seemed almost sad to let the machine go.

My first impression of this machine was in lifting it to load it up in my truck.

H-E-A-V-Y, rock solid, back-breaking, lots of weight in an awkward package, but a little back pain was a small price to pay for a lot of fun experimenting!

Upon arriving home, I plumbed in the machine with an ionic filter. (A few questions will be coming shortly, a little advice would be well served).

I checked the hardness of my water and found it to be about 5 grains, the water supplier suggested it should be below 3 for taste but preferably zero for scale build-up, at this point I plumbed in an ionic water softening system that should keep it below 1 grain.

After finally getting everything lined up, flushing some water through my filter, and checking the fittings for leaks I fired my machine up and walked away, determined to not pull a shot until she was completely up to temp.

Several hours later, I came back, checked her for leaks, weeps, and potential issues... then went for my first shot.

Immediately I noticed a major difference between my machine at work (a Strong Espresso's Bezzera) and my NS Mac.

  1. Temp seems way more stable on the NS Mac, I can't tell a differnce between a pre-flushed shot and one I don't flush.

  2. Steaming on the NS Mac is pretty tricky, occasionally it will cough just a drop of wet steam out... I've found touching off a little steam until the boiler kicks on, then waiting until just before it would normally turn off seems to get me drier steam. The old style tip on the NS Mac also requires a lot more finesse, but I have been able to get a pretty good micro foam out of it.

  3. I suspect my home grinder has pretty dull blades as I get quite a bit of clumping and the clumps seem to stick together a little... also, on a 23 second shot it just doesn't have the body and fullness that I was getting from a similar shot from my espresso machine at work, and the channeling has been horrible. This said, it seems like the flavors are more preserved on the NS Mac as it's currently set up, I'm wondering when I put a new set of burrs on that Jolly if it will make a major change.

Anyways, that's that so far. I'm back at work now pulling shots on the Bezzera. I don't feel brave enough to do much adjusting on this equipment, but I'm looking forward to getting the perfect flavor from my home machine soon.

If you guys have suggestions on adjustments to make to the machine, weither it be adjusting the pressure stats ect... I'm all ears! I'd like to know what you guys do to produce a perfect taste.
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Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 8,265
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Mon Nov 25, 2013, 12:04pm
Subject: Re: Oily's Adventures in the Artic!

Congrats on the pickup!
Yes, commercial = HEAVY!

Warmup time should be OK in an hour, longer is really not needed and half an hour to 45 minutes can work in a pinch.

If possible you do not want to use over temp water so do flush to clear the over temp water, steam in the coffee grounds is not a good thing.

As the boiler is controlled by a Pstat, any loss of pressure will cause the heater to kick on, this is why letting a little steam out first turns the heater on, the Pstat sensed the drop in pressure and is responding.

It would be nice if you took a few minutes to fill out your bio so we can see what equipment you have. This is very helpful when offering advice about things you might ask.

In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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Senior Member
Joined: 16 Nov 2007
Posts: 1,163
Location: Yardley, PA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Vetrano, Arrarex Caravel, La...
Grinder: Mazzer SJ, OE Pharos
Drip: Bunn Trifecta MB
Roaster: Poppery II
Posted Tue Nov 26, 2013, 7:23pm
Subject: Re: Oily's Adventures in the Artic!

I just ordered a custom t-shirt with this logo:

Click Here (upload.wikimedia.org)

I had to do it!

“Coffee - the favorite drink of the civilized world.”
Thomas Jefferson
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Senior Member

Joined: 29 Aug 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Oslo, NO
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Appia
Grinder: Nuova Simonelli
Drip: Very very simple electric
Posted Thu Nov 28, 2013, 5:07am
Subject: Re: Oily's Adventures in the Artic!

Oh wow, that's quite a unique story you got there!
I love reading life stories like yours, and the fact that you share our love for coffee (and make other people happy with it, too) only makes it better.
So yeah, welcome to the forums, and be sure to send us some updates from up there every now and then! :)
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Senior Member
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,083
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sun Dec 1, 2013, 12:03pm
Subject: Re: Oily's Adventures in the Artic!

great stories keep posting them!


Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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