Just recently I acquired the opportunity to take part in breaking in a new espresso machine! The parents of one of my friends decided to indulge their inner-kid and buy themselves a late Christmas present. Knowing that I would be very interested, my friend invited me over for the virgin voyage of the machine. What really interested me in this instance was that fact that the machine was a super automatic espresso machine; something I had never seen in action, nor tasted the coffee it produced.
Because this machine was new to them, I wanted to make sure that they had good beans to test the machine. They took my advice and chose to go with Cupper’s Espresso Zilla espresso blend (this is an amazing coffee shop in Lethbridge, and we are very privileged to have the opportunity to access such high quality coffee and high quality knowledge from owner and staff. Please visit their site!), what this also provided me was a good background for how the coffee should taste. I’ve been running Cupper’s coffee for a long time, experimented with different blends, done tastings with the owners, so I know how the coffee should turn out.
When the time came down to tasting the coffee (something I will be mentioning in a later post), the shot just was not up to par… We did a number of runs with the machine (we had to! they just got it! it’s exciting!), adjusted the grind settings, and we got it to produce a reallly good shot, but still fell short. The shot was bitter, and a bit weak… I thought that it was due to a build up of excess coffee left in the machine between the shots (I’ve read about things like that happening before).
I guess what I’m trying to get at is that sometimes less is more. Having the ability to change little variables such as the tamp pressure, amount of coffee in the portafilter, warming the system, and really nailing down the grind for the roast can add such a difference in the espresso shot. Of course, you must take into consideration that economically the super automatic is fantastic! and produces a very substantial shot of espresso! This is perfect for many individuals, but for the purpose of linking this to music, I’m going to maintain my point by elaborating on the fact that less is more.
Being a percussionist, and constantly listening and applauding/criticizing others work, a pretty hard thing to not notice is the fact that a lot of the time…less is definitely more. A local jazz musician, and a very good friend, would always emphasis the dynamics of music and notion of musical time by saying “it’s not always the notes themselves that count, but the spaces in between the notes that you have to pay attention to.” I’ve always took this to heart, and after you take the time to consider it, and reeaaally start to pay attention to it, it’s a very powerful idea. I’ve listened to many drum solo’s, and I find myself noticing more and more that the ones that I really enjoy, ones that make you smile, are the ones where the drummer has total control over every dynamic point during the solo. I’ll post some good examples, and I hope you’ll enjoy them!
This guys got the best facial expressions ever!
So ‘in the pocket’ it’s not even funny!
Dave Weckl looks like a dink. But fabulous dynamics!