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Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by Flambeur, Dec 2, 2009.
Y what books would you recommend on coffee?
Nice! I'm going to start experimenting with this soon. The Sweet Maria's site mentioned in the article has great resources for home roasters. Apparently home roasting was the normal thing back in the day (turn of the 19th century).
I like the Professional Barista's Handbook because it's pretty technical, but explains many things in plain English. You can get it from http://www.professionalbaristashandbook.com/.
And it's important to do a lot of your own experimentation too. The book will tell you some basic things like when over- and underextraction happens, but those things really came alive for me when I started trying to figure out how to fix my own brews. It's good to get a good burr grinder, a good thermometer, and a good scale, if for nothing else than to give you consistency in what you're doing. FWIW, I use a Capresso Infinity grinder and a Hario hand grinder, a Thermapen thermometer, and an American Weigh SC-2KG scale.
Drink a lot of coffee, and try to notice what you like or don't like about a particular cup of coffee. If you have a good coffee shop near you, make friends with the baristas, and see if you can catch them dialing in an espresso (usually at the start of a day or when they just changed beans) and ask them what they're tasting and how they're adjusting their process to compensate for it. Obviously, don't do this when they're super busy --- I've had good luck going in near closing time (for reasons explained below). If they never dial in their espressos, then they're not a good coffee shop.
What's a good coffee shop? Beyond just the obvious things like having the portafilters mounted on the heads of their espresso machines when they're not in use (keeps them at warm temperatures so the espresso doesn't cool suddenly when they're pulling a shot) and preflushing their heads before a pull (they'll flush some water through the head before attaching the portafilter to get rid of the water that cooled in the pipes outside of the boiler), IME the best indicator of a shop's dedication to quality is their cleaning regime for their espresso machines and grinders. The espresso machine should be cleaned out every night, and this takes quite a while if you do it properly, so only the dedicated shops will do this. This is also why closing time can be a pretty good time to hang out and talk to them. Obviously, don't be a pest, and be considerate of their time and patience.
I've kind of described things only in terms of espresso, but that's a pretty finicky drink, so if they do that right, everything else will tend to be done right, too.
the things is for me to be able to fix my brews i need to know what's wrong with it. i can taste differences in coffee brewing methods and beans but for the most part it's not unpleasant enough for me to want to fix it.
i have outposts of gimmee coffee nearby, but definitely would not be able to say whether or not the coffee i get is out of season, whether the flavor is typical of the region, over or under roasted, over or under extracted,
it's odd because what i produce now is delicious enough (i use the hario hand grinder and a plunger pot. i have thermometers and scales but i don't really use them), but hearing about all these things makes me wonder if i'm doing things right
thanks for the rec
You know, if you enjoy it, then that's all that matters. But if you want to characterize your coffeemaking, the basic spectrum is from sour to bitter. Sour is underextraction, and bitter is overextraction. Almost everything else is out of your direct control: the beans and roasting style determine them.
He said he used a Hario, which is the grinder. It is a burr grinder, but manually operated. You can see it here: http://prima-coffee.com/grinder/hario-coffee-hand-grinder-skerton
While better than a whirly blade grinder there are some issues where when you are grinding with the handle the motion causes the burrs to "wobble" a bit, which varies the grind size. I met a guy at a cafe who actually did a mod to his so this doesnt happen. It was way more trouble than it was worth, imo. I just opt for a decent electric grinder. I used the Hario at work for a long time so I wouldn't bother people too much, but the variation in the grind, which you do see here clearly in the photo caused me to say fuck it and I brought my Virtuoso to work. Not the best, but much better and easier to use.
Also, for pourover, which is what it looks like, that grind seems too large.
Something that I have noticed that I discussed with Chris Despos as well was gimme has great coffee, but they tend to leave their beans on the shelf at their shops waaay too long. I have three gimme coffee's relatively near me and they are all the same, old beans on the shelf. It seems ridiculous but Mr. Despos informed me that if you buy online they ship the day it was roasted. So rather than buying in the shop order it online and you will get it within two days of the roast date. If you subscribe to their email list they send out frequent online discount codes so the shipping becomes more or less irrelevant.
I know, I know, I have been lazy and havent gotten around to buying a new grinder, I need one of those hand crank burr machines. I am indeed using one of those old whirly-blade grinders. I know this is not considered kosher but what are the actual implications to the coffee?
Blade grinders do a number of things that is bad for coffee. They cut the beans rather than grind the beans, cut them all up into different sized grinds which makes the flavors extract at different levels, and they have the tendency to cause a lot of friction and heat which removes a lot of the aromas that should end up in your cup.
All in all, larger grinds take longer to extract when in contact with hot water, smaller grind extract quicker so when they are all different sizes you have a cup full of over and under extracted coffee.
Coffee Mill Review
i live in ithaca and every time i walk in the bags are no more than a few days old
That is because that is where they are roasted. NYC, different story.
i've actually been to the roastery. it's kinda cute. farmhouse operation, but they sell some pretty damn beans.
Sorry, should have clarified, I am using the Hario v60 for pourover, the grinder is one of those old whirly-blade ones. Will probably cop the Hario hand-grinder. Good to know that the grind should be smaller for pourover.
Good Real Talk here:
The Hario does take a bit of elbow grease to use. There are some relatively inexpensive electric burr grinders near the Hario's price that will do a fine job for pourovers. They won't work too well for espresso because they can't grind to a fine size, but OK for other methods.
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