Friday, March 14, 2014

How Important can One Cup of Coffee Be?

Whilst the Yute was preparing to depart for school this morning, expecting the usual chorus from those that are optimistically half awake, I asked how the coffee was just as I normally do.  For those of you that don’t know, I roast my own coffee and think of myself as having some modicum of ability to turn out a nice roast and then parlay that into a delectable cup of coffee.

Soberingly, I was snatched from my half-awake stupor by the words clearly and authoritatively proffered by the Yute who normally bestows accolades upon my coffee,

“I didn’t think it was that good.”

For those old enough, can you hear the needle being dragged across the LP?

After he departed, I took him at his word, poured another cup and partook with an analytical and critical palate as opposed to gulping for the sake of caffeine injection.  The Yute was absolutely correct; the coffee roasted just 5 days ago is “muddy” and by all rights should be at its zenith.  The pondering begins ...

Knowing that the coffee brewing equipment was thoroughly clean (Krups Moka Brew) and that the Mazzer Mini coffee grinder had been completely disassembled and thoroughly cleaned just two days prior, I recalled the way the grounds looked in the filter assembly prior to discarding.  Surmising that the grind was incorrect, I setup the Krups Moka Brew exactly as I had for brewing earlier, changed the grind of the coffee to be coarser by a factor of 1.2 on the grinder, started the brewer and impatiently waited.

The first hint of the sweetness from the aromatics indicated that this pot of coffee was going to be much better than the previous.  Oh, yeah!  Cascading layers of sweetness induced pure palatal pleasure and ushered the return of exquisite elixir.

Other than Heaven’s Hollow Coffee tasting so good, one may wonder why this whole scenario is even worth noting.  Well, I’ll tell you.  To me, one of the most important things I attempt to teach, bestow, impart, impress upon the Yute is just how important it is for him to be him, for him to think for himself and to speak up and be heard.  Not who or what I think he should be, nor his mother, nor his friends or teachers, etc.  He constantly hears from me statements like:

    “God created you for a purpose.  Be who you are.”

    “Only you can be a brilliant you and you can only be a second rate someone else.”

    “Like what you like because you like it, not because someone else likes it.”

    “Speak up and be heard.  You and your thoughts are just as important as anyone else.”

and so on …

Well, this morning, he who is in the very early stages of his second decade of life clearly demonstrated that he was thinking for himself, had his own opinion and without fear of reprisal stated such directly to me on a subject I take very seriously ... and I improved.  I cannot wait to see him this afternoon to tell him that he was absolutely correct and just how proud I am of him.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Now I Remember ...

For the last couple of years the coffee has been getting roasted in the RK Drum due to the volume of coffee that gets roasted on a weekly basis. However, I recently had surgery on my ankle, which makes using the RK Drum impossible. As a result, there is a shortage of fresh coffee – unacceptable!

There was finally a break in the weather and it has cooled down considerably; there is no desire to suffer in the heat and perspire whilst in a cast. Given that it was in he mid 60's, my darling wife retrieved the Gene Cafe and placed in the spot on my workbench that she had cleared. The varietals were selected, batches were weighed and utensils were placed such that everything was within reach including a strategically positioned coffee roaster box that would serve as an ottoman for the encapsulated ankle.

After reviewing some roasting logs that were recorded a couple years ago, a profile was decided upon for the Mexico Oaxaca that had just arrived courtesy of a fellow home coffee roaster; thanks, Bill! Which profile was chosen? None. A new profile was was decided upon in hopes of making the most of those precursors to exquisite elixir.

All the while the Gene Cafe was being put through it's paces on a dry run since it hadn't really been used in a couple of years. Just as in the past the Gene Cafe was up to maximum temperature in just under five minutes and it executed the cooling cycle flawlessly. Time to roast!

After a preheat to 300ºF, the first 227 gram batch of Mexico Oaxaca was placed into the roaster. After a bit, the aroma of fresh-baked bread wafted through the workshop – delightful! After another few minutes, a spicy fragrance demanded the attention of the olfactory – amazing! Just as first crack arrived, the heat was dialed back. As the roast progressed toward the predetermined Full City, the spice was accompanied by dark chocolate. Right on queue the cooling cycle was initiated and when completed yielded a very nice Full City roast. Set up for the another batch of Mexico Oaxaca, hit the same marks and was reminded of just how consistent the Gene Cafe is. An Ethiopian varietal was placed into the roaster for its journey to a light City / City+ roast and again a new profile was chosen to accentuate the fruited notes. Upon reaching the precipice of 1st crack there was an overwhelming aroma of a freshly opened Orange Pekoe tea bag and a freshly cut Meyer lemon – wow! As the roast progressed through 1st crack there was a cornucopia of fruited and floral aromas emitted with the most notable being apricot. A post roast bean munch with my son confirmed the apricot.

Now I remember why I loved roasting with the Gene Cafe! With this roaster one has variable control of the roast throughout the entire roasting process and all of the great feedback available to the individual that is roasting:

1. Sight – one can see the beans whilst they roast, but I trust this
sensory input the least.

2. Sound – it might take some time to become familiar with the roaster,
but 1st and 2nd crack can definitely be heard.

3. Aromas – the aromas (and smoke) are vented through the port of the
chaff collector; aromas make for excellent feedback during
the roasting process.

These are also some of the reasons why I think the Gene Cafe is such a great roaster on which to learn roasting. And, the Mexico Oaxaca has been excellent two days in a row!

Friday, November 28, 2008

In the Cup: Java Kajumas Curah Tatal

Today I am enjoying a fine cup of Java Kajumas Curah Tatal; my first since I ran out of the Java Government Estate Djampit. This cup reminds me of just how much I missed the Java!

On three days rest, there is enough spice to tickle the olfactory and excite the senses with anticipation. There is a fleeting, darkly fruited note, perhaps black cherry, ensconced in the ubiquitous chocolates and spice that subdue the clean earthiness to the bottom of the cup. The mouthfeel is just a bit more than that given by a butterscotch candy.

As the cup cools, the butterscotch flavors accompany the oily body as it descends on the cup and the chocolates lift and give way to the lingering, clean foresty notes reminiscent of a good Timor.

An excellent cup!

---------- Brewing and Roasting Details ----------

Coffee: Java Kajumas Curah Tatal (Sweet Maria's - October 2008 Arrival)
Roaster: 4 lb RK Drum
Date & Time: 11/23/2008 @ ~1:00 PM
Ambient Temperature: 68°F
Batch Size: 1.25 pounds
Roast Level: Full City+ (just a few snaps of 2nd crack)

Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Grind: 7.3 above relative zero
Brewer: Technivorm Moccamaster CD
Filter: Swissgold

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Gene Cafe: How to Disassemble for Cleaning and Repairs

Most repairs on the Gene Cafe are very simple and can be accomplished with just a few screwdrivers. The presentation below is take some of the mystery out of it and help folks make repairs and be able to clean the inside of the roaster. Please do let me know if this is helpful and how I might improve it. (NOTE: It is a large file and might take a bit to load.)

Link: Gene Cafe How to Disassemble for Cleaning and Repairs

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Now That Hits the Spot

This morning, again, my angelic bride woke me up with some Technivorm & Swissgold brewed Colombia Antioquia - Jardin Cerulean Warbler that was roasted last Sunday. It is a great way to wake up, and although I thoroughly enjoy this coffee, it just wasn't hitting the spot.

After church, I opened to coffee cabinet to see if there might be some scraps left. A-Ha! Just enough Ethiopia Organic - "Menno's Misty Valley" to brew another pot of coffee, It was roasted to Full City (no 2nd crack) two weeks ago, but a sniff of the jar indicated it was still good; perhaps this will suffice.

The ground and brewed coffee emitted an intense blueberry aroma. The aromatics of the cup rouse excitement and anticipation; orange and blueberry dominate, but there is the slightest tease of lemon and pepper to evoke curiosity. In the cup, at its hottest, the orange and blueberry are ensconced in a nicely-bodied chocolate with a subtle note of black pepper in the finish. As the cup cools, in balance with the orange and blueberry, the chocolate and pepper intensify and is reminiscent of the chocolate that I have had on ice cream in Mexican restaurants. A little cooler and a sweet lemon comes to life in just the right balance that whole experience seems to evoke an emotional response.

Spot hit.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sometimes, Being Ill Isn't So Bad

Last Friday I was home, lying on the sofa, practicing being ill; practice does indeed make perfect.

Camille and Wyatt had gone somewhere ... ahhhh, peace and delirium ...the doorbell rings, "son-a-ma- ... " Open the door ... its the pastor from next door ... "OH, HEY!" ("Hey" is southern for "So nice to see you!")"

Eddie, I know you really don't feel well, but I really want you to come somewhere with me. I think it will really lift your spirits." If you can't trust the pastor ...

We arrive at a coffee shop in the bustling downtown metropolis of Long Beach, MS that is not yet open for the day. It is in a building that at some time in the past was a bank.

I don't feel well, it's hot as hell ... what now, stale coffee that's just like mine? I follow and stumble along to an entrance toward the back and I am now in a busy beauty salon ... maybe this is just an out-of-body experience.

Eventually, I was led to the front, the café part. As we entered, my eyes became wide as saucers as a lucid moment came over me. There in the corner was a just-delivered, fully-restored, beautiful Royal No. 6 Coffee Roaster complete with cooling car and new U.S. Roaster controls. Absolutely beautiful! I had never seen one before, but since the pastor and the other gentleman were asking, I explained what everything was and how it worked.

Spirits lifted ...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Vacation Salvation in Statesboro

A couple Fridays ago my wife, 5-year-old son and I began driving across the country for a 10-day family vacation. A few hours into the journey my wife nearly caused the car to implode with a huge gasp, "THE COFFEE!" Those precursors to exquisite elixir were still in stasis … in the freezer … at home!

While upsetting, all was not lost because we planned on stopping by to see Scott. When we arrived, not only did we have a great lunch break and awesome customer service by both Scott and Josh, we picked up nine bags of different coffees to share with the rest of the family. Amongst the packages was some freshly roasted Malawi. I had never had it before, but it was a great coffee. We also procured some spectacular Nicaragua Matagalpa. When we got in to the car to continue our trek, I poured some into the Dale Earnhardt ceramic travel mug from the Thermos full that we had purchased from Scott. The car was instantly filled with a wonderful aroma and the first taste evoked and audible, "WOW!"

If any of you folks ever happen to be in or around the Statesboro, Georgia area, I highly recommend stopping by Scott Miller’s, Ogeechee River Coffee Company. He has a really nice place with wonderful staff and great food and coffee; the flags of coffee-origin countries that hang from the ceiling are a really nice touch.

During vacation, I would get up and make a few pots of coffee in the Chemex, and then some more when that was gone. On our way home, my wife told me that after I had gone outside, my brother had brought his wife a cup of that coffee. Upon indulging in the first sip, she looked at him and said, “Now that’s a good cup of coffee.” Thanks Scott!!!