Nail the PERFECT Espresso Shot

We are coffee geeks. We aren’t ashamed to admit it. And one of the things that really suits are intellectual fancy is perfecting all things coffee! Recently we have been toying with creating the perfect espresso shot and we thought it would be cool with you to share our findings! There are a couple of different coffees that we have been using recently, but our favorite is probably Caveman Coffee. They have a convenient subscription service where you choose what kind of coffee you want, and then send it to you every month. You can sign up here (we swear they don’t pay us!)

The art of espresso making revolves around perfecting the grind of the coffee powder, the dose of the coffee shot, the tampering of the coffee on the portafilter and the temperature at which the coffee should be heated to get that perfect brewing espresso shot. Let’s take a look at the basic steps involved in getting that espresso shot right to the t.

Grind the coffee beans

finely ground espressoIn order to get the consistency of the coffee powder correct, the coffee beans should be ground neither too fine nor too coarse. When ground too fine, the espresso takes longer to brew giving it a bitter burnt taste and when ground coarsely, the water runs through the powder too fast not being able to capture the flavor making the espresso shot weak. Thus, ensure that the coffee is ground to consistency similar to granulated sugar. You can either use an espresso grinder or get the coffee ground at the coffee shop.

Nailing the dose for the espresso shot

The dose of the espresso depends on whether you are preparing a single or a double espresso shot. A single espresso shot typically requires 7 grams of coffee powder while the double espresso shot requires double of that which is 14 grams. This is usually the standard measurements used for the above two types of espresso shots.

Tamper the powder nicely and evenly through the portafilter

espresso portafilterFirstly, ensure that you clean the portafilter by running a shot of water through it for a consistent temperature. Then distribute the coffee powder evenly over the portafilter by wiping off any excess powder. Then comes tampering of the coffee. For all the espresso beginners out there, tamper is the tool used to compress the coffee into the portafilter. Tamping is a vital process in the espresso world as it ensures that the coffee grind is levelled rightly in the portafilter so that when water hits it, extraction of the coffee that comes out of it is slow, uniform and consistent. When tamping the powder, place your arm ideally at a 90 degree angle to your body with the portafilter on a level surface and apply around 30 lb pressure to ensure that the coffee grind is compact on the portafilter.

Pour the espresso shot

pouring espressoEnsure to run hot water through the drophead of the machine before brewing the espresso so as not to suddenly overwhelm the grind on the portafilter with high temperatures. For one shot of espresso, the volume of water should typically be 1 ounce. The entire brewing process of an espresso shot should normally take around 20 to 30 seconds from the second you turn on the machine. Once you place the portafilter into the machine, the brew will start to pour down in 5 seconds in the form of a uniform continuous stream for about 7 to 9 seconds. The initial rain is a thick rich brown honey like consistency in the bottom which then changes to a golden lighter creamier brew on the top. Also, make sure to use a standard espresso mug to serve justice to that delightful concoction.
Well, hopefully the above steps prove helpful enough to master the art of making espresso. Happy espresso making!

New Zealand Lags Behind in the Technology Workforce

New Zealand’s Digital Economy

Farmland, Mount Taranaki (Egmont), North Island, New Zealand - stock photo, canvas, fine art print

Over the past 10 years, the fastest growing sector is New Zealand has been in tech. This industry along supports tens of thousands of jobs and the exports that these produce has doubled in the last decade, now worth over $6 billion. Specifically, the digital economy that makes up the framework of this industry is worth $1.3 billion. Only behind dairy and tourism, this industry is growing at a rapid clip

In 2016, technology has redefined what productivity is. Engineers 100 years ago could not possibly imagine what we can accomplish in an hour on today’s scale, let alone in a year. While New Zealand has attempted to stay current, they are seriously under-invested and are at risk of falling behind the rest of the world. Only in the area of medical research do we stand a chance in leading on a global level.

When viewed as a whole, technology is not affecting different sizes of the sector evenly. Research shows that amongst small and medium sized businesses, the technology rush has yet to make any appreciable difference in productivity or profitability. Businesses simply are adapting their structure fast enough, and their competitors overseas are gaining ground faster than ever.

The problem comes down to this: As a whole, New Zealand doesn’t have vision. We have a hard time coming to terms with how tech can support a stronger and more efficient economy that benefits everyone. There is no unifying thought process about the changes that need to be made, the future landscape of work, or how society as a whole should adopt large technological advances. Additionally, there is no guidance from our leadership about policy choices that will help us realize our true potential. Up until this point, the discussion has been almost non-existent.

We have such potential as a small, but strong country. These are conversations we need to be having.

The Work and the Workers Who Perform It

When looking at wages and salaries in tech, the averages are double what New Zealander’s will typically take home. However, when it comes to people having the necessary skills, we again fall short. Training and education need to become a priority if we are to advance. There are about 10,000 jobs that need toco-working space be created in order to fulfill the needs that have been created.

Workers young and old all went the flexible hours and conditions that the industry provides. In fact, when surveyed, young workers stated that the flexible hours are more important than any other factor. Yet, the standards within companies lag behind other parts of the world that have already adopted a looser structure. Companies are more concerned about how this all affects the bottom line, instead of how it can create change and ultimately large growth.

There has been some growth in digital work hubs. These co-working spaces in NZ are in major parts of the city and focus on highly collaborative environments. We need these kinds of things in our provinces too to really drive progression.

Big Data in the Hotel Industry Misses the Mark

There are few industries that have much as an opportunity to gather information about their guests than the hotel industry. Each guest creates a multitude of transactions in the hotel’s computer system that can be analyzed to better understand guest needs, behavior and willingness to pay. The analysis is the basis for effective marketing to get visitors to come and to acquire new guests with similar needs, behavior and willingness to pay. The hotels’ guest information becomes after a few years of collecting an invaluable source of information. This is the beginning of what the technology language trend is “Big Data.” By analyzing large volumes of data, companies can now discover new patterns that they previously could not see, and thus opens a new world of knowledge on how best to allocate their marketing and sales budget to maximize revenues.

Lack of Systems Create Missed Opportunity

hotel_bristol_w_warszawieMost hotels have no order at all in their systems. I spoke with a large well-known hotel that books fiji resorts vacations that wanted to create a campaign by sending an e-newsletter to all its former guests. It turned out that only 15% of the visitors’ email addresses were registered in the hotel system. It might be worth doing a mailing, but there should have been e-mail addresses for at least 80% of the guests.

If the hotel has a high quality of their data in their systems, i.e. that all the data is entered, the data is correct, they are available for  a mailing, and they are current, the hotel has a high value on their data. This value may even be higher than any other individual part in the hotel.

Let’s do a comparison over time. Once upon a time were the major booking systems (GDS), which was started by the airlines worth more on the stock market than the airlines. Today they are worth more on the stock market than the big mega hotel chains. What’s in the GDS, and what are the systems? The answer is that the only available info in systems have no value, the information is mostly on reservations, which in turn is data on travelers or guests. All this information is used to acquire more customers and bookings. That is how to develop their business and their income regardless of the industry.

For me, it is completely incomprehensible that hotels do not think it is important to gather the right information about their guests and to ensure that everything is stored in the hotels’ system correctly.

How to Install Linux – A Step By Step Guide

The Steps

  1. Choose and download a Linux distribution. Which one you choose to go with will ultimately be up to your liking, but the most popular are: Ubuntu, Open Suse, Fedora and Debian. Once you have decided which distribution to join, go to the dealer’s website and download the software onto your hard drive. Distributors offer their programs for download as an image file. An image is a digital copy of a CD / DVD.
  2. Burn the image file that you downloaded from the distributor to a blank CD / DVD. The file you downloaded is A ISO file. It is an image file and must be burned to a CD / DVD to work. All programs come with an image burning option, so that’s the option you need to choose when you burn the CD. Do not create a data CD as this can’t be used for installation.
  3. Insert the CD with Linux distribution in the CD drive and restart the computer. Depending on your laptop, you may be asked if you want to boot from the CD, select “Yes”. You will be taken to the login screen.
  4. Select “Install Linux” and you will get a series of questions about your system. Before initiating install procedure will install the software detect that Windows is on your computer. From here you will be given two options: Install Linux on Windows, delete all your old files or install Linux alongside Windows. This will create a duel-boot option when your computer starts and you will keep all your old Windows files.
  5. Start Linux. When the installation is complete, restart your computer. Depending on which option you select, install next to or across Windows, the computer will boot either Linux or ask you if you want to start Windows or Linux.

Tips & Warnings

After loading the boot disk, you can try Linux without installing it. Most distributions won’t use the CD option. No changes will be made to your hard disk. Linux will automatically identify the drivers that are needed to properly run your computer. Further work should not be necessary. If you choose to install Linux instead of the Windows option be sure to back up all your files first, otherwise they will be deleted.