Archive for September, 2010

In-cone temps

September 26, 2010

For quite a while now I’ve been measuring the water temperature in the kettle before I brew a V60, etc, at home (as well as grounds weight, time, and brew weight), and I usually start with a reading of somewhere between 92-93C, and adjust from there if needed. I’m using a relatively cheap but quite effective Comark PDT300 probe thermometer that reacts in under 6 seconds, and measures to 0.1C. Today I thought It’d be interesting to know the actual in-cone brewing temp that this starting temp in the pouring kettle translates to. I measured two brews in my one cup V60. The first brew read 86-88C throughout the main part of brewing, and the second read 85-86C. The first cup was delicious (the best cup of La Fany I’ve had this year – great sweetness and fruit too, along with the usual chocolate, and the second cup was also good (I used 15g per cup @ 60g per litre, and brewed for 2 mins 30 each). I had expected some temp drop-off, but was still a little surprised at how low the temps where…  But, the cups where good (which is what matters!), the temps where reassuringly stable throughout the whole of the main part of the brew, and I’ve had lots of other successful cups using these sort of start temperatures. The placement of the thermometer in the cone was not great (especially in the small V60 when keeping the brew quite low in the cone), and I’m not convinced it was able to give an accurate reading. I’d like to get a thermocouple and meter in there instead at some point, and get a better idea of whether these readings are ‘true’ or not. Perhaps this temp is right and good though – I guess if you measured the temperature in a cafetiere over 4-5 minutes it would get quite low as well… Or should I be using a higher start temp..? More tests!

8th September 2010

September 8, 2010

We have a guest..! A guest espresso from Origin Coffee Roasters – I had their current ‘In Season’ blend in the grinder today, and will have it there again tomorrow.

Gloria (our espresso machine!) needed sprucing up a little after her first year (despite being a contender for the most well cared for espresso machine in Wales!) with a few replacement parts from Origin who supply the Plus4You, to keep her functioning in perfect condition, and so I took the opportunity to try some great coffee from a different roaster at the same time. We are normally spoilt for choice for amazing coffee from our usual roaster James’ Gourmet, but it’s fun, educational, and downright tasty, to try different coffees from other respected sources who are also passionate about sourcing and roasting great, seasonal coffees. It helps our baristas to a gain a slightly wider sense and appreciation of the speciality coffee world as well …even if it’s simply the ‘sexy bags!‘ which initiates that for some, it’s all good!

The blend’s delicious – with just enough depth, but also crisp, clean fruit notes. The coffee came with a couple of pages of info about the farms along with tantalising flavour descriptors, which was a nice touch; and despite not being able to taste much right now after a recent bout of plan-flu, the sparkly ‘aromatic pear drops’ flavour was evident in the cup. It’s nice to see some familiar farms and cooperatives in the blend as well: Fazenda Santa Alina natural also features in the Bold Red blend we have enjoyed so much in recent weeks (and its flavour is recognisable in the blend, albeit in a different light), and I used some coffee from the Sidamo Shoye Coop (a different lot) in my blend in the finals of the UKBC earlier this year.

A curious thing is the roast date and relative behaviour of the espresso… I was a little disappointed with ’23rd August’ initially (although it’s great to have the date on the bag). But, at least for a while after first opening each bag, the shots seem to me to behave as if they’re actually super fresh (even too fresh!). Don’t know how or why this is (packaging methods?) – it’s a puzzle, and a pleasant surprise!

2nd Sept 2010

September 2, 2010

The last day of Kenyan Miroroma as an espresso was …today, so if you didn’t get to try this fantastic coffee, sorry, but it’s gone – there is no more! But have no fear – Naturelle will be in the house!

It’s wonderful when… a regular couple who love the flat whites bring their visiting Australian friends in (who also love their coffee and who introduced the regulars to flat whites initially over in Oz), and their friends say afterwards ”we’ve just been travelling in Canada, USA and Italy – and you beat them hands down – it was great”. Frequent comments like this are so humbling, appreciated, and reassuring – they help to counteract my own almost constant dissatisfaction (partly coffee-paranoia!) with all but the sweetest, most successful shots. I’ve said it before, but hopefully this level of expectation (whilst emotionally crippling ;)) is part of what helps to achieve high standards, keep them there as often as possible, and sustain the desire to strive to raise them ever higher…

Another more curious phenomenon I’ve also noticed happening more frequently lately, is just how distressed people can occasionally be when I don’t have their personal favorite coffee on for the espresso that day, or worse, when it’s gone forever. And I don’t just mean disappointed; these folks get upset – even angry!! Naturally I try to explain about seasonality, freshness, offering variety, and that all the coffees are equally delicious in different ways, etc, but sometimes this just doesn’t get through – they MUST HAVE Miroroma (for instance)!! It can make for some awkward moments, but I think it’s actually a good sign: This IS part of the beauty of great, seasonal, artisan-roasted coffee, and part of why the coffees can taste so fantastic, whether people understand and accept that or not. And, if people can get so particular about their cup, I/we must be doing something right!

Other News:

New replacement BestMax water filter/purifier on the way for the ‘spro machine – to keep water supply for the shots at its very best! 🙂

Guest espresso from Origin coffee roasters due to land for a few days next week! 🙂

I have bitten the (admittedly rather small!) bullet, and arranged for our spouted single handle to be machined to a naked – so now, singles can be naked as well as doubles (alongside spouted split doubles in the mix where needed too)! 🙂

Lenny, resident Kiwi and my best, most accomplished trainee ever, has left to go travelling. 😦 But best wishes!

Some shots …and some shots – all from today: