Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Moon Tower Ride Particulars

Just finished the route for Friday night:

18 miles, as advertised. A few brief hills, less than a thousand total feet of climb. In other words, less than 1/5th of a mile's worth of hill action, way spread out. So, no excuses.

...And did we mention free beer and FRS?

Hope to see you there!

VM Project Teaser Video

Bikes and Coffee go hand in hand so I thought I would post this great teaser video on an upcoming bike movie/video. The cinematography is pretty sweet in this video.



VMP/Birght move plan TEASER#1 from VMP on Vimeo.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Our Next Ride!

Announcing our Second Ever Moon Tower Ride!

The first one offered free coffee and had about 80 people at the start. This time there's free FRS and free beer at the end. So we'll see what that does.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Austin's Moon Towers, which are 120-year-old municipal arc lamps, here's a great article from Low-tech Magazine on their use and origins.

My first deep encounter with Austin's towers was two and half years ago, when I wrote about them for

We'll meet at 8pm this Friday the 18th, under the Moon Tower in Zilker Park (yes, Austin's perennial 'Christmas Tree'). We'll hit the road at quarter past, cruising under each tower as they glare through the night. Then back to the cafe for beer, coffee, and good times.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Coffee Enema

One of our customers this morning illuminated me and Brenna: coffee enemas are real.


"The most important difference between a saline enema and a coffee enema is the presence of caffeine in the coffee. Caffeine, theophylline and theobromine, combine to stimulate the relaxation of smooth muscles causing dilatation of blood vessels and bile ducts. The effects of having a coffee enema are not the same as drinking coffee. The veins of the anus are very close to the surface of the tissue. The caffeine is therefore absorbed more quickly (and in higher concentration) than it is in when coffee is drunk."

Okay, kids. You have fun with that.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Better Late Than Never...

An overview of Austin Allergies, from the fine folks at Austin Regional Clinic:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Curse

So, this is spooky:

Last October our lovable Italian barista Hannie spilled on his Madone on his way home. Actually, he was only about 30 meters from his front door. The result was a complete break of both his radius and ulna. He had to have the bones repaired with a metal plate and screws (below).

(note: this is the only known picture of Hannie where he's not beaming and/or holding a cocktail)

Then, last March, he touched wheels with Chris (one of two 'civilian' contributors to Pelotaville) and crashed, bending the plate, thinking he'd re-broken his left forearm. Ted Arnold benevolently drove us to have X-rays conducted by the swift and competent staff at the ARC on Far West, who discovered that only one of the two bones had ever re-fused from the original accident. The other had been stymied in a "non-union" connection. Hannie had to have a new plate installed, this time by our friends at Austin Sports Medicine (whom we highly recommend), who by then needed to graft more bone material to fix the original complaint (below).

(note: this is gross)

But wait. It continues:

Last month, our newest barista Mason fractured his left wrist after trimming his seat post and neglecting to re-sink it to an adequate depth (and he was clipped-in when they oversight became known). With 2/3 of the cafe's male staff having injured left wings, things were starting to get odd behind the counter (below).

(note: the mirror reverses the image; M. did indeed injure his left wrist)

But wait. It gets weirder still:

Yesterday, on my day off -- while replacing the decaying subfloor in what shall soon be our new nursery -- after about eight hours of ripping up floorboards and dancing across bare joists and floor beams like a spider monkey filming an audition tape for Cirque du Soleil, I misstepped with a little mud on my shoe and slipped from my purchase, fell, and hit the the floor beams hard on my way to the earth below my house. The kicker: the parts of my body that hit the beams were my shin, my ribs and my left wrist, which is now in a splint (below).

(note: my head isn't quite this big; we were doing 'funny hat' poses directly beforehand)

No foolin'. All male employees of Juan Pelota Cafe have broken, fractured, or sprained their left wrist (at least once) in the last eight months. Even though none of these injuries happened at work, I'm a little scared the place is haunted, or cursed, or both.

But really, I'm just happy to escape with a few bruised ribs, and the fact that I can at least boast -- unlike Mason and Hannie -- that nothing in my arm was completely broken. My bones are tough. I guess that's what they mean by 'management material.'

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pictures from the Coffee Cruise

Our coffee cruise was a success, if on a minor note. Our party of five consisted of shop regulars and one lone Briton in town for a triathlon (pictured below, ad nauseum -- Sorry, Brett!). So we ended up manipulating the route to include a few local photo op spots (The new riverfront park, the capitol, etc.) and finished the night with a dinner at Frank.

The coffee was all fantastic. We hit Once Over, the Cafe Medici in Clarksville (who both vend from Cuvee), and finally Frank, which caries Intelligentsia, as well as open (or 'naked') portafilters.

Murph reviews the espresso at Frank.

Frank brews Intelligentsia. Rare for Austin, and duly appreciated.

Good ol' GB-5. (There's is better than ours, but only 'cause it's five feet from a full bar that serves bacon-infused bloody marys.)

If this doesn't make you laugh, you're not from Texas. (And if you're not, click here.)

Pour-Over coffee is it. I've been hooked since my first trip to Blue Bottle in San Francisco. (Our own p.o. rack is still under construction.)

Mr. B at the Capitol, under the Six Seals that represent the Six Flags Over Texas. (That's where he learned that Texas is the only U.S. state that was previously a nation.)

The La Marzocco at Medici. Straight out of The Jetsons.

Murph using cookies to bait Eileen into playing incredibly difficult memory games.

Texas sunset from the south bank of Lady Bird Lake.

Brett, illustrating the UK's relative size to Texas.

Obligatory South Austin photo stop. (We actually interrupted a photo shoot for a couple's engagement announcements.)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

2 Secondes

Found this intriguing Quebecois mountain bike film at I Luv Video last night, and put it on in the shop this morning. 2 Secondes is about a pro mountain bike rider who screws around for two seconds on the starting line, then loses by two seconds, and gets kicked off her team. Well, that's the opening sequence, anyway. I guess the premise is her fight back into the club. Looks cool. Like a French-Canadian, mountain-biking Rocky. Can't wait to take it home and play it with sound...

Monday, April 5, 2010


Last week my grinder stopped working all of sudden and it made me realize that I never have: A. changed out the burrs and B. Never have cleaned the burrs. Blasphemy! Especially after I talked about cleaning out your portafilters on a consistent basis. The funny thing, unless cleaning out burrs on a monthly basis is part of your job cleaning out the burrs on your home grinder (probably the same as most grinders in coffee shops) is something most people forget about or overlook. I'm obviously guilty of that. Dirty burr blades are harder to notice at first because you physically can't see the build up on the blades unless you take it apart. The first sign that your grinder needs cleaning should be the consistency of the espresso. I was noticing that some of my shots were not coming out evenly and that one side would draw out before the other. So I would adjust my grinder assuming it was the humidity that was affecting my shots and sometimes that would work. Other times I would assume I was tampening my shot too hard so I would draw another. Again sometimes this would work but recently both of these things weren't doing the trick. I found a useful link (thank goodness for YouTube) that walks you through on how to clean out your burrs on Rancilio grinders. Depending on how often you use your grinder will depend on how often you should clean out your burrs but I'm going to make it a habit to clean mine every 6 months. It's easy to do and if you don't wait too long then the build up shouldn't be that bad and the cleaning process should be relatively quick. After I cleaned mine the grinder started to work immediately. The only thing I had to do was adjust my grinder since the burrs were clean. Shots draw evenly now and the espresso has never tasted better.

Happy grinding! (no not that kind of grinding).

Here's the YouTube video that shows you how to clean your Rancilio grinder.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

To an espresso devotee there is nothing more beautiful than a perfectly tamped, well pulled shot of espresso, but most of us have only been privy to the finished product in our cup. No more my friends, for I give you espresso porn: And no, it won't get you fired at work. ~Nicole

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

And the Big Winner is...

Belated congratulations are due to Brent Holt (pictured), from the nearby offices of Beast Editorial, who won the Schwinn Coffee 3-Speed in our most recent coffee card drawing.

We will have a new prize and drawing soon, but for now we're employing a new series of punch cards (also pictured) that simply offer a free cup of our wonderful coffee (make sure our baristi get y'all punched-out with each visit).

The next ride is slowly coming together...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

So I've been in the barista business for a long time. How long, I'm not saying. But as I've gotten older I've started to question the things I thought I knew as facts concerning all aspects of coffee from serving it to drinking it. Not question as in questioning the existence of god, but more of a curiosity as to the whys and hows of coffee rituals. Recently it was the serving of a lemon wedge with espresso. Where I learned this I cannot say and it started me wondering if it was an established practice or something I accepted as fact in my younger, less questioning, days. So doing a little research (i.e. googling, my favorite pastime) I come across a forum of my fellow baristas with a whole lot to say on the matter. The general consensus seems to be using lemon may have come about as a way to soften too bitter espresso or possibly as a cleaning agent in the less than sanitary days of yore. Whatever its original purpose, it has now become an accepted practice amongst some if not all baristas. Not every time, mind you, but as another way to serve an espresso; just the rind either crushed in the cup or possibly rubbed along the rim. So there we are, another question answered. Maybe having a child is to blame for this quest for knowledge as I'm sure soon enough I'll be answering all kinds of inquiries concerningthings I've taken for granted. On that note, can someone please explain to me why the sky is blue and what keeps planes from falling? You know, for the kids.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Well, i just opened an email from my manager in which a picture of Homer, head hung low at the kitchen table with a large yellow palm to the forehead, was included to emphasize the disparaging level of disappointment in him by the complete lack of blog posts by us fellow baristas here at Juan Pelota. I figured the inclusion of a picture probably indicated something much more serious, but I'm not quite sure what...perhaps we'd all have to wear flower print aprons as beautiful as Nicole's.

In any case it seems like we're starting off sharing websites, helpful hints, and personal experiences related to that incredible, wonderful bean we all keep returning to the store for time and time again. So here are two resources full of helpful hints and tips (it seems more so for the beginner, as yours truly is) that have helped me: (type 'latte' into the search bar) but if you need tips on how to groom your nails, you can find that there as well. And,


Monday, February 15, 2010

To clean or not to clean...that is the question

Instead of reinventing the wheel I ran across this great article that discusses cleaning tips for your espresso machine and parts.

I highly recommend reading this especially if you just recently purchased a new home espresso machine.

Happy cleaning!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Coffee Fun Worldwide

Steve Sackmary, whom we had the pleasure of meeting at our tasting last weekend, just started a coffee-related website, Coffee Fun Worldwide, which can be found here:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rise of the machines

To say that I'm a coffee junkie would be an understatement. I have gone through my fair share of espresso machines over the years and none of them come close to my current machine by Nuova Simonelli. I'm currently using the Nuova Simonelli Oscar and love it! This is a rock solid machine that's easy to use and easy to maintain. Weighing in just under 40lbs it's perfect for any home barista. Some of the features that I like are:

1. easy to use

2. easy to clean
3. large boiler 2.3 liters
4. comes with 2 portafilters, yes 2!

I've had mine for over 2 years now and the only thing that I have had to replace is the gasket under the group head, which btw is extremely easy to do. If I had a complaint about this machine it would be that there's no easy way to determine the water levels without opening up the lid and looking down into it. For some this may not be an issue especially if you're running it through a water filtration system. I plan on doing that soon. With the depth measuring in at 16" it's the perfect size to store you espresso glasses, coffee cups, milk frother and tamper. This machine gets 2 thumbs up from me and I highly recommend it if you're looking for a great home espresso machine.

My previous machine that I owned was the Expobar Brewtus III. Talk abo
ut a beautiful Italian machine. This machine has 2 large double boilers, a large drip pan, 2 pressure gauges, 1 for steaming and 1 for brewing. Another nice feature that you don't see on most machines is that it has a hot water tap. The digital temperature displays is another nice feature about this machine. The steam wand on this machine is larger than most steam wands you see on home espresso machines as well, so it will froth your milk in seconds. Keep in mind since this machine has 2 boilers it will take a little longer for the machine to warm up. It takes about 18-20 minutes for the machine to warm up but trust me you won't be disappointed for the wait. Like the Oscar there's no easy way to visually see the water levels but again this won't be an issue if you have it attached to a water filtration system. Also it uses an Electronic Boiler Refill Control which uses probes mounted inside the boiler to detect the water level. It will also turn the boilers off for safety if the reservoir or boilers run out of water.

If the Oscar and Brewtus are out of your price range then I would recom
mend the Gagia Baby Twin. This is a nice home system that's compact in size but also has double boilers. One boiler is for brewing and the other boiler is for steaming. I use this machine for when I travel (road trips/camping) because it's so small and light weight so it's pretty easy to move around. Like the Oscar and Brewtus the Baby Twin comes with a commercial size portafilter with a nice size handle. One very nice feature that the Gagia has are the 2 programmable buttons on the front of the machine. These buttons are easy to program and are used to dispense the desired amount of espresso. Like the Oscar and Brewtus the top of the Gagia gives you plenty of room for all of your supplies; not as much room as the Brewtus and Oscar but then again it's a much smaller machine, hence the name Baby Twin. A couple of things that I don't like about this machine compared to others are:

1. Power button is on the back of the machine. Can be an issue depending upon where you have your machine placed.

2. The steam wand is quite small compared to the Brewtus and Oscar.

These are the 3 machines I recommend depending upon your budget. You really can't go wrong with any of them and it really just depends on your preference and features that you consider "must haves". My recommendation to you is to test these machines out if you can find a local dealer that stocks them. If you're in Austin, Texas Coffee Traders carries these brands. Texas Coffee Traders will also walk you through on how to use the machine and will show you how to draw shots correctly with your machine. How cool is that?

Happy brewing!

There is Nothing Coffee Cannot Do

This just blew my mind:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pictures from our Tasting

The lovable Chris Gomez has posted his photos of our cupping last Sunday. Check 'em out!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Yes, we have a blog now.

Here at Juan Pelota Cafe, we're rockin' it like it's 1999.

Ah, 1999. Lance had just come back to win his first Tour, the world has about to be destroyed in an unspecified millennial cataclysm, and the masses had newly become infatuated with a trend called "blogging," wherein people shared personal information online, ostensibly with more than 140 characters.

Our new blog won't be too much different. Here the happy, healthy and informationally-wealthy baristas of Juan Pelota Cafe will log in to share their coffee knowledge and the latest cafe news.

Our first dispatch: Nicole is back!

After a long hiatus in the Pacific Northwest, our very first barista is back behind the Juan Pelota counter. (I'm sure the flowered apron is soon to follow.)