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#161 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 02:49 PM

But aren't you worried its a gift that will expose you to cancer causing phenylkinetics*?




*when added in doses of 3 to 5 times the mass of the test subject.

#162 Christian

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 03:59 PM

Oh, you're worried about cancer, not the actual taste?

No, no worries about that. Saccharine was removed from the carcinogen list long ago.

Still, you raise a good point. I've wanted to move away from the stuff simply because it's artificial, and I like to avoid sugar, which is natural but so ubiquitous as to be a constant threat. That's why I tried to wean myself off Sweet N Low, but I've regressed recently. I can take Splenda, too, but don't prefer it to Sweet N Low. Equal has a clear, negative effect on me, so I try to avoid aspartame.

#163 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 05 March 2010 - 06:08 PM

I think this is a me-thing as I bought this coffee from a well-considered restauranteur/grocer after having had a brew of it on his premises. It was by far the best coffee I have tasted in the UK, not at all bitter, and in fact rated well alongside a mind-blowing espresso I had on San Marco Piazza in Venice. Granted they had the big old coffee machine and I have one of those pressure stove-top kind.

"The pressure stovetop kind"? Are you trying to make espresso, or the simple cuppajoe with that thing? Stovetop, you have to be careful. It depends entirely on boiling the water and most systems try to avoid that. I defer to Jason on how those large espresso machines develop pressure for espresso at coffeeshops. He ran one. Coffeeshop I mean. I'd try a simple drip system for home brewing of coffee. Either a "Mr. Coffee" type all in one coffee maker, or a simple hourglass type beaker into which you can put a funnel-shaped filter and your grounds and pour slightly off-boiled water yourself. As a fellow amateur, I say that you'll get WAY better results with even somewhat mundane roasts and brands of coffee!

Edited by Rich Kennedy, 05 March 2010 - 06:08 PM.


#164 Jason Panella

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 01:22 AM

"The pressure stovetop kind"? Are you trying to make espresso, or the simple cuppajoe with that thing? Stovetop, you have to be careful. It depends entirely on boiling the water and most systems try to avoid that. I defer to Jason on how those large espresso machines develop pressure for espresso at coffeeshops. He ran one. Coffeeshop I mean. I'd try a simple drip system for home brewing of coffee. Either a "Mr. Coffee" type all in one coffee maker, or a simple hourglass type beaker into which you can put a funnel-shaped filter and your grounds and pour slightly off-boiled water yourself. As a fellow amateur, I say that you'll get WAY better results with even somewhat mundane roasts and brands of coffee!


If you're using a Moka pot...er, get something else. Seriously! I don't even use a drip maker these days; I use a simple 'pour over' method, a cone-shaped deal that you put a filter in, put the grounds, and pour the ~205 degree F (almost boiling) water in, stir, let sit for three minutes, put on top of cup and let gravity do the trick. Cost me $10, US. Makes great cups. There are other cheap-ish devices out there (vacuum pot is a person favorite, and the Aeropress, which you might have to order, is just killer). Regular drip makers work fine too, in a pinch.

Industry standard espresso machines build pressure with a motor-driven pump inside of the thing (and it's usually hooked up to the buildings plumbing). That, plus the fact that there are (no joke) almost as many parts in an espresso machine as in an automobile, is why they usually retail at around $20K.

#165 Christian

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 03:56 PM

If you're using a Moka pot...er, get something else. Seriously!


Jason will be pained, but the Atlantic is asking, "Will Moka Be America's Next Coffee Tradition?"

While the process is simple to understand, knowing some finer points makes all the difference. First and foremost is grind. If you have a home grinder, go for medium. Too fine of a grind, like you'd use for espresso, results in a burnt and bitter taste from water passing through the ground coffee too slowly, causing over-extraction. Beans ground too coarsely, as for French press, produces an overly light body and sour taste, as water passing through the grounds too quickly leads to under-extraction.

Important: do not press (tamp) the coffee in the filter. If you do, the pressure won't be sufficient for the rest of the process to work properly, leading once again to over-extraction. If you prefer a stronger flavor profile, fill up the filter just up to its capacity, not more and not less. Fill the lower chamber with cold water up to the valve or marked line—read the manual carefully—and set it on a low flame, properly extracting the coffee slowly at a lower temperature.

Critical final step: turn off the flame when the upper section is half full, to avoid overheating and burning the coffee. As the water approaches boiling, which you don't want to happen, the process rapidly accelerates, extracting bitter, unpleasant flavors—creating a burnt taste—and upsetting the beautifully balanced aromatic equilibrium the Moka method is known for. That hiss my grandmother took as "coffee's done" signal comes from steam, and steam burns coffee.

Bottom line: Moka preparation is simple, but it takes attention and time. It's not a "set it and forget it" method.


#166 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 06:37 PM

I use one of these and have just now learned I have been using it incorrectly. I will try to remedy that tonight, albeit with decaf.

#167 Jason Panella

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 08:35 AM

Yeah, I think I might've been way off here. For years, lots of places like the Coffee Beanery have been selling (cheap) Moka pots and telling people how to use them (poorly), so I've just brushed them off. They seem to work like a vacuum brewer, which I prefer, but hey — looks like you can make a good brew if you're careful and patient :-)

Speaking of good brews, the fiancee and I put a killer home drip maker (by Bunn) on our wedding registry, and — behold! — her grandmother got it for us! I've been enjoying using it the past few weeks (and I'm pretty excited for us to get married next week so Jenny can enjoy it too!) Anyway, it keeps a heated reservoir of water in the back at all times, so you just pour in the amount of water you're using and it draws the same amount from the heated area. It'll brew ~60oz in about two minutes. It's impressive. And, as a plus, the owners manual was clearly written by huge coffee dorks, because there are lots of in-the-know tips. I feel like I'm in good hands!

#168 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 09 July 2010 - 05:10 PM

Ahh, newly weds and the about-to-be-married.

Lemme understand here: her grandmother buys this humdinger coffeemaker (no problem so far) and you open it BEFORE the reception (I'm not done) and YOU use the thing. Huh. I suppose you should deserve props for barely containing the anticipation of the opportunity for your bride to enjoy the wondrous gift from her Grandmamma.
Nice. Posted Image Posted Image

#169 Jason Panella

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 07:16 AM

Her grandmother got it for the bridal shower, and — considering that I've been living by myself in the new apartment for over a month — not opening any of the bridal shower gifts would've made for a mostly bare apartment with no appliances and dishes/silverware. Plus, she opened it :)

#170 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 07:44 AM

OK, didn't know about the Bridal Shower thing. Makes sense now. Still, it was fun taking a poke.

#171 Jason Panella

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 08:08 AM

OK, didn't know about the Bridal Shower thing. Makes sense now. Still, it was fun taking a poke.


Sure is!

For what it's worth, this is the brewer. I love how the burner doesn't turn on automatically, and how they DON'T give you a scooper that doesn't correspond with traditional coffee measuring rations (Mr. Coffee, etc. all fall victim to this problem).

#172 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 12:42 PM

I'm fascinated by the engineering. However, I can't seem to see the difference (other than thermal caraffe) of the various resevoir coffeemakers at the linked site. They all seem the same.

I'm particularly curious of the "sprinkler system" of water distribution, as opposed to everyone elses drain unit that bores a ctater into the grounds.

#173 Buckeye Jones

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 01:23 PM

Tried the techniques for the Moka pot--wow! what a difference. Tasted like I was in Europe.

#174 Christian

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 02:24 PM

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!

#175 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 04:55 PM

You guys are way ahead of me on roasting, something I am intending to start up soon. However, the first thing that entered my mind apon reading the preceding post is this: if by chaff, you mean skins and shell and other "non-bean" materials adhering to the bean, then it might be that longer roasting might burn off dried membrane and such? Just a thought.

#176 Christian

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 03:55 PM

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.

#177 Jason Panella

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 12:43 PM

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 :/

#178 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 04:44 PM

Posted Image 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?

#179 Jason Panella

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 04:46 PM

Posted Image 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.

#180 Christian

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 10:33 PM

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, 16 January 2011 - 10:40 PM.