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Jason Panella

Coffee

217 posts in this topic

I posted in the "What We're Reading" thread about Starbucked. Has anyone here read it? I'm breezing through it, about 90 pages in. Learning nothing, but not minding.

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Jason, or anyone else familiar with the physics of coffee-bean roasting: Two questions.

1. I've been roasting my beans to "third crack" (by my count, as best I can tell) rather than second lately, and have discovered the batches roasted a longer time have less chaff! I would've thought more cracks would mean more chaff. What gives? Is it just my imagination that there's less chaff after longer roasting? Is the oil released by the beans adhering the chaff to the beans, so that it doesn't blow away as I cool the beans?

2. The decaf beans come in a darker color in their raw form than the caffeinated beans. Is that because of the decaf process, whether it be chemical or water-based, or whatever? Have the beans already been treated with heat, making them appear darker in their "raw" form? Also, these beans feature little to no chaff. I thought this might be because of whatever treatment they'd received before I received them, but given point "1" above, I'm thinking maybe I just roasted them longer, and whatever priciple is causing less chaff among the other beans also applies to these beans.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

Christian, sorry I didn't spot this 'til now! I'm actually going to pass the question on to someone way more knowledgeable with roasting, and hopefully get back to you.

On a related note, I was instructed by a doctor to not drink any coffee for the next six weeks. And this is after getting tons of great coffee for Christmas :/

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SHOCKED.gif AAAAAAUUUUUUUGH!!!!! Not good at all. What is your proposed strategy for preserving some of it for that long, or is regifting the plan? Why the draconian measures?

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SHOCKED.gif AAAAAAUUUUUUUGH!!!!! Not good at all. What is your proposed strategy for preserving some of it for that long, or is regifting the plan? Why the draconian measures?

Easiest way to preserve it: don't open all of it! My wife can still drink it, so I'm making a travel mug worth each morning for her via pour-over. It should be fine in a few months. As far as the draconian measures, well, I'd rather not say here, but it's for a good cause.

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Tom Owen of Sweet Maria's was on The Splendid Table this weekend to talk about home roasting.

Also, my bean vendor of choice has some good prices on various peaberry coffees. I don't know anything about peaberry beans, other than what Wikipedia tells me (these beans supposedly roast easier because they don't have the "sharp edges" of the flatter beans). Does anyone have a working knowledge of peaberry beans? Any big advantage to them?

Edited by Christian

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Got some Cameroon peaberry beans, as well as some Costa Rica and Papau New Guinea beans. Plus, a pound of Sumatra decaf.

Time to roast!

I have a different type of roaster on loan. I'm not sure how to describe it, but it costs about $100 and is sort of like an air popper in that I don't have to crank a handle manually. I hope it works out.

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Jason, or anyone else familiar with the physics of coffee-bean roasting: Two questions.

1. I've been roasting my beans to "third crack" (by my count, as best I can tell) rather than second lately

Turns out I was roasting to second crack, not third. Apparently my earlier roasts, which were usually 8 or 9 oz. of beans at at time, drew out each "crack" to the point where I counted an extra crack. Roasting just 3 or 4 oz. at a time in the French Roast device I've had on loan has helped me discern that there are just two cracks to a darker roast.

Jason: Are you back to drinking coffee? How was your six-week sabbatical from the stuff?

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Jason: Are you back to drinking coffee? How was your six-week sabbatical from the stuff?

It ended up being a bit longer, actually, but I survived. And I'm back to drinking it! I actually seem to like coffee (any coffee, even not-so-good stuff) even more now. My wife and I discovered a roaster close to her family (in Syracuse, NY) called Recession Coffee. Awesome stuff. In addition to supporting our friends here in Beaver Falls, we stock up on Recession every few months when we head north.

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You know how some people say Starbucks coffee tastes "burned"? Well, I burned a batch of home-roasted beans over the weekend, and thinking that the "burned" Starbucks flavor appeals to me, saved the batch and even mixed it in with some other non-burned beans.

That was a mistake. Burned coffee tastes bad. Give me "Char-bucks" over my burned home-roasted beans any day. Please.

Edited by Christian

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These might be around A&F somewhere else, but might as well throw them here too.

Don't forget this one:

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You know how some people say Starbucks coffee tastes "burned"? Well, I burned a batch of home-roasted beans over the weekend, and thinking that the "burned" Starbucks flavor appeals to me, saved the batch and even mixed it in with some other non-burned beans.

That was a mistake. Burned coffee tastes bad. Give me "Char-bucks" over my burned home-roasted beans any day. Please.

Yes indeed. Early in my real, brewed coffee days, I began to notice a burned quality in much of instant and freeze dried coffee (oh, jeez. I can't say "freeze dried" without summoning Peter Falk in the original The Inlaws). And also in any attempt to re-warm coffee including double boilers. And right now, Starbucks French Roast is my usual cup. There's a difference.

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Yes indeed. Early in my real, brewed coffee days, I began to notice a burned quality in much of instant and freeze dried coffee (oh, jeez. I can't say "freeze dried" without summoning Peter Falk in the original The Inlaws). And also in any attempt to re-warm coffee including double boilers. And right now, Starbucks French Roast is my usual cup. There's a difference.

There definitely is a difference. Despite my general dislike of Starbucks in general, we've been making more at home — usually because we can get a 3 lb. bag of SB's house blend at Marshall's for $17. I actually dig Starbucks's house blend, if only because they don't apply their typical "French roast or darker!" philosophy here. Anyway, I'd rather drink one of Starbucks' darker roasts any day over something that's been sitting on a heating element for an hour. The former tastes a bit bitter, but the latter tastes awful.

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After home-roasting for a couple of years, I've finally found the bean above all beans: Brazil Sierra Negra:

Brazil now produces some of the best coffee in the world. A soft, nutty, low acid coffee with nice bittersweet chocolate tastes. This is a great blender for that perfect espresso. Known for its ability to produce rich thick crema on the top of your shot.

This natural coffee has a wonderful smooth and round body, sweet acidity, and a clean aftertaste.

I've tended to roast beans dark because lighter roasting, which many advocate for better discerning a bean's flavors and nuaces, hasn't proved compelling enough for me. I prefer darker roasts, in general. But I happened to roast my first batch of Brazil beans light -- can't remember why, but think I was running out of time and had to cut off the roast early. Turned out to be fortuitous! The coffee was wonderful. And now, on the linked page, I just noticed this:

Soft bean - roast lighter for the best balance. Vienna or Full City Roast.

I really should read more thoroughly before diving in to roasting a new bean.

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Sweet! That sounds like a great cup of coffee.

I haven't kept up on coffee news in the past couple of years as much as I used to (being out of the business will do that), but it's good to see Brazil is surging back. Brazil and Vietnam were two of the largest countries for mass robusta cultivation, which isn't itself a bad thing. It's just that most robusta beans are of poor quality, and are usually just used as filler in supermarket coffee (the vacuum-packed or canned stuff).

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This exists. And I want to try it. But I'm not willing to pay almost $7 in shipping.

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I posted within the last hour on Facebook that, starting yesterday, I was trying to have coffee with only cream -- no more sweetener.

The comments thread lit up immediately (it's funny what strikes a chord on Facebook). Jason Panella commented that getting rid of sweetener, and maybe cream eventually, helps one to better appreciate the nuances of the actual coffee bean -- something that I've always wanted to better understand, considering my frequent consumption of the stuff. I like to think that I've learned to discern nuances of each bean through the cream and sweetener, if that makes sense, but aiming for a more "pure" cup just feels right at this time in my life.

I've tried this before, and the attempts have been short-lived. I'm not sure I care about this enough to do it long enough to where my taste buds get "retrained," but part of me wants to move away from sweets generally (I have a bit of a sweet tooth, I'm afraid), and this seems like a reasonable step in that direction.

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I've tried this before, and the attempts have been short-lived. I'm not sure I care about this enough to do it long enough to where my taste buds get "retrained," but part of me wants to move away from sweets generally (I have a bit of a sweet tooth, I'm afraid), and this seems like a reasonable step in that direction.

Sounds real familiar! Sometimes I'll give up sugar in an attempt to be "healthy". In the end I find being "happy" more compelling.

My big change was finally giving in and getting a "real" coffee maker, the new Bonavita. After over 20 years of blissful coffee making ignorance I gave in and experimented with my daughter's french press. I've been roasting my own beans for almost a year (first with a popcorn popper and now with a Behmor) and constantly reading posts from these guys who spend hundreds (some even thousands) of dollars on brewers and grinders. I've travelled around the world and had coffee at some really great local roasters, often buying coffee from them. I never thought my home coffee was all that bad. Boy was I wrong.

The good news is, good coffee tastes good black or light and sweet, so I wouldn't get too worked up over it. Good coffee and good brewing just plain make a difference, especially if you are moving _from_ sweeteners. My refurbed Baratza grinder should get here Monday. I never thought I would spend $200 to make coffee. Criminy.

If you are roasting your own beans and really getting into single origin stuff, might as well make sure you are taking full advantage of the different flavours possible.

Joe

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Anyone out there have a Breville espresso maker? I got one (the Infuser--#840XL) a couple of months back, and am batting .100 at getting good shots. My morning coffee routine is a Bunn drip maker, but for weekends I'd break out a cheap Krups espresso maker. Kids would like it--cappucinos and decaf espresso. I could put anything in it. But now, making espresso is like a finely tuned science experiment and I have to order everyone to be silent while I work the arcane magic necessary to get a shot that falls in the "espresso zone" reading on the pressure gauge. I've given up on grinding beans--too fine and consistent a grind required for this block of cold, mocking steel. I only get a good shot with the most expensive Illy cafe--Lavazza is lotsa sour and astringent ounces of bad coffee.

You haven't had bad coffee until you've had an overextracted espresso.

Anyway, I'm down to my last week or so before I put this up for resale. My wife is convinced we've got a bum unit, I'm thinking its all in the operator. Breville won't help because we purchased from Dealdash, an online semi-legal bidding site. I have not idea if I got a returned unit, an overrun, a stolen one, or something legit. But if anyone has one, and has advice for getting theirs to work, or can share how long it took to learn it, or even what "20-30 lbs of pressure" looks like, I'd appreciate it!

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Sounds real familiar! Sometimes I'll give up sugar in an attempt to be "healthy". In the end I find being "happy" more compelling. ...

The good news is, good coffee tastes good black or light and sweet, so I wouldn't get too worked up over it.

Just noticed this, Joe, and yes, I agree all around. I spent six months drinking coffee black, except on Sundays, when I'd allow some sweetener. But I found that I liked the coffee black just fine -- as long as it was good coffee. The Starbucks stuff I was drinking qualified.

However, once the Starbucks card ran out, I was back to office coffee and home brew. My home brew is pretty good, but the office coffee needs help. After a while, I started adding sweetener back in regularly. Now when I drink coffee black, it's the exception, not the rule. And that's OK. Fine. I like knowing that I can drink it black, even if, given the choice, I'll usually doctor the stuff.

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Anyone out there have a Breville espresso maker? I got one (the Infuser--#840XL) a couple of months back, and am batting .100 at getting good shots. My morning coffee routine is a Bunn drip maker, but for weekends I'd break out a cheap Krups espresso maker. Kids would like it--cappucinos and decaf espresso. I could put anything in it. But now, making espresso is like a finely tuned science experiment and I have to order everyone to be silent while I work the arcane magic necessary to get a shot that falls in the "espresso zone" reading on the pressure gauge. I've given up on grinding beans--too fine and consistent a grind required for this block of cold, mocking steel. I only get a good shot with the most expensive Illy cafe--Lavazza is lotsa sour and astringent ounces of bad coffee.

You haven't had bad coffee until you've had an overextracted espresso.

Anyway, I'm down to my last week or so before I put this up for resale. My wife is convinced we've got a bum unit, I'm thinking its all in the operator. Breville won't help because we purchased from Dealdash, an online semi-legal bidding site. I have not idea if I got a returned unit, an overrun, a stolen one, or something legit. But if anyone has one, and has advice for getting theirs to work, or can share how long it took to learn it, or even what "20-30 lbs of pressure" looks like, I'd appreciate it!

Have you checked out any threads on Coffee geek? It's often a treasure trove of answers. I'm going to send this to a friend, too — he might have an answer.

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Also check out home-barista.com. Pretty good balance of professionals, serious coffee nerds, and DIYers. Many people there who think $500 for an espresso machine is a guarantee of failure (not that this is the case, just a comment on some of the people who frequent through there). Weed out the snobbery and there is usually good advice and conversations.

Joe

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Thanks, I figured there'd be some pointers here. I've watched a couple of videos and checked out a few sites, but sifting through all that info is daunting (probably analogous to a new visitor to Arts and Faith wanting to find conversation about Transformers 2: Rise of the Dark Side of the Moon.)

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I've given up on grinding beans--too fine and consistent a grind required for this block of cold, mocking steel.

Forgot to add this before. You pretty much need a medium-high to higher-end grinder to get a consistent enough grind at home. Which, in reality, is why I've seen a lot of people just buy beans from a good place and have them grind there. Cheaper (good) home models are going to cost $150 or more. I know some folks who tend to prioritize the grinder over the actual espresso machine.

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Who wants to explain K-Cups to me? My in-laws recently bought a Keurig coffee maker, with a variety of different K-Cups. I've had a couple of K-Cups over the years while waiting for my car to be serviced, etc. -- Green Mountain coffee, IIRC. Didn't make a big impression on me at the time, and when I've investigated the per-cup cost, I've ruled out K-Cups.

But my in-laws are quite taken with the simplicity of the Keurig system, and because I reacted positively to my first two cups -- last night I had Folgers (!!) decaf, this morning Starbucks Breakfast Blend -- I can see the wheels turning in my mother-in-law's head, and in my wife's head. I sense that I very well could end up with a Keurig later this year, even though I'm content with my French press at home.

My in-laws are Greatest Generation penny-pinchers, so their move toward a per-cup coffee system, given the cost per cup, is a landmark of sorts. They buy packs at the PX that are on sale, and we calculated that the per-cup cost, on the low end, was 40 cents. It goes up from there. The K-Cups I've seen on sale at Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks run about $1 a cup -- no bargain, but the coffee does taste pretty good to me for "home-brewed." Not AS good as French press, mind you, but better than my coffee maker.

Anyone want to go to bat for K-Cups? Give reasons to avoid them?

Edited by Christian

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