Thursday, November 30, 2006
Today we celebrate the resurrection, yes what was once dead now is alive, sing praises to the almighty Coffee Parts for they are truly providers of good things. In this case an element, 4 seals, some sealing gunk and sundry supplies. They got here yesterday and today I was finally able to rebuild the Faema.
The shower screen got a good clean out - its first ever by me and once I'd tested for leaks I ran the boiler up to full.
Hooray, hooray it lives again!
Once I had flushed everything a bit I trialled a few shots. Bear in mind it is months since I last pulled a shot on anything but my Presso (and a big happy link out to Cameron for that one - it is a lifesaver!).
During that time though I have been a member of Coffee Snobs and have had the opportunity to read a lot about pulling good shots.
I had something to aim for and I knew what I was looking at when the pour started.
Much too fast, underextracted and a pale crema - a little taste confirmed that it was not a great shot. And here is how it looked 30 seconds after the pour:
The puck was nice and firm but on closer inspection the coffee did not seem fine enough to deliver what I wanted from the shot. I took photos of everything tonight, including the pucks.
In the spirit of progress I tried a second shot, with the same grind but paying more attention to the tamping. It was better but still extracting way too fast. The shot still lacked any real qualities and was thin with little mouthfeel. The colour was better but obviously the grind needs to be finer.
I went back to the grinder, and using the last of my coffee stock I managed to get enough for one last shot:
"And he looked upon the coffee he had made and saw that it was good, not great mind you, but a damn sight better than his earlier efforts".
For the final shot I pulled it early as I felt like a ristretto. I knew it was going to be much better because what you see in the shot glass to 30 seconds to pull. Really good stuff and better than anything I have managed before on the Faema. A little education goes a long way with coffee!
The crema was a much richer colour and the mouthfeel of the shot was excellent.
Now I just need to roast some more beans!
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Still, it was a very successful test of the load capacity of the corretto. I reckon that is about the limit for this model of breadmaker but it did work well.
I am close to figuring out the optimum load, my guess is around 550 to 600 grams, depending on the bean. In this case optimum load will be the mass of beans that can trap sufficient heat to get the roast rolling along while still being moved by the paddle.
Round and round they go, with an alfoil hat to protect them from the alien cosmic rays. . .
On the scales after the fight.
I wanted a medium roast to highlight those nice Bali beans!
Little Grendel Number one is the official archivist of the roasting process and likes to make sure he gets a photo of me. I'll have to find a way to repay him, perhaps baby photos at his 21st?
Sunday, November 26, 2006
When you read some of the descriptions of roasting you'll here references to 'first crack' and 'second crack'. That's fine, its the sound the beans make at two stages of the roasting process. But what is it? Literally first crack is when the moisture level of the bean drops so low that the bean cracks. The photo to the left shows some pretty decent cracks.
This crack is reasonably loud and should be able to be heard by most roasting methods. Its never the same for any bean though and I have found that my Monsooned Malabar beans have a very loud first crack, but the Panamaria beans were relatively quiet.
If you are trying for a darker roast and leave the process a little longer the beans will reach a point where small circles break off from the surface of the bean. This is called the second crack and is generally quieter but still noticeable with most roasting methods. Little divots can be seen on the surface of beans roasted to second crack. The photo below shows a divot on the surface of a bean below and to the left of the immediate centre of the image - see if you can spot it!
Presso - yes my humble Presso. Not only does it look good but it can extract coffee better than many of the domestic espresso machines, and certainly you can get a better result than from many cafes. Not yet available in Perth but you can order via their website - or get in touch with me. If you want to read more or see photos of the Presso in action then go to my prior entries here and again here.
Faema Family Espresso Machine. Very simple, steams milk really well - and the shots are great - its in pieces at the moment for a major service before Christmas.
Black and Decker popcorn Popper & Breville Crazy Popper - OK, these are not being used as per manufacturers recommendations but they have taken everything that I have thrown at them and more - what a pair of champion machines. (Disclaimer - I use mine for roasting coffee but this practice may be dangerous and will void any warranty on the machines).
That will do for a first 3!
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Today was green bean buying day and I bought enough to get me through to about february - barring lots of extra visitors!
I also got some of the great tea that was on offer. I am using it as a Christmas present because it is one of the best Tea's available. I finally managed to get my hands on ethiopian coffee beans - not the yirga though - I got Limu which I have been wanting to try so I am looking forward to that.
As for the rest? well the tasting notes are Andy's (from Coffee Snobs) but I should have the coffee in a week or two then start creating my own notes. I's starting to have a bit of fun blending the beans now - the corretto allows pre-blending rather than roasting each variety like I was with the popper.
Tea - Indian Darjeeling SFTGFOP-1
Indian Darjeeling SFTGFOP-1 (Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe - grade 1) which is the highest grading of Darjeeling tea.
Ethiopian Limu, think good bodied, low acid, sweet aromatic with a cocoa aftertaste.
Colombian 'Caracolito' (Peaberry)
Colombian Caracolito has a surprisingly good body with peach like sweetness and a grinding aroma with the “WOW factor”.
Indonesian Sulawesi Torajah Kalossi Gr.1
Indonesian Sulawesi Torajah Kalossi Gr.1 is all body, earth and heavy unsweetened dark chocolate. This makes for a great single origin espresso. Could also be used to introduce chocolate and body into a blend or add other fruity, floral, acidic or spicy beans to this to create a rounder blend to suit your own tastes.
The CS'ers set a new record for online today with 69 and the server struggled but we all got something. I'll have to go buy some tins tomorrow and then start doing labels for the Christmas presents.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Ahh, but this is special tea, this is Darjeeling SFTGFOP-1 (Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe - grade 1). This tea is named by some as the champagne of teas and I reckon I can distribute at least a couple of kilos at Christmas time.
I also found some nifty tea sticks to serve it with! Epic has been using these and there is an Australian supplier. I think they'll make a nice present this year.
They'd also make a great 'corporate gift' and I'll have to check that out!
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I like to see home roasting get coverage - more people roasting means better green bean supplies and cheaper roasting gear - in theory anyway.
I wonder if TAFE would be interested in a home coffee roasting course?
Friday, November 17, 2006
I apologise in advance to all those who have their favourite brand, and I empathise also because I have been there, but it is all dross.
Nothing like it - seriously! There is really nothing like freshly roasted beans.
The smell is divine and the flavour and mouth feel exquisite.
Its a great hobby as well - conducive to conversation and relatively inexpensive.
A great antidote to the horrible joke that is Australian politics.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
When we first moved to Perth we lived in Subiaco so each day Mrs Grendel would wait for me at the railway station and we'd have a coffee, buy the daily groceries and walk home.
Then Came Little Grendel Number One, we moved to the suburbs, bought a car, a duplex and a mortgage. Grendel Number two prompted the purchase of a block of land, and we sold the duplex and built a new house.
Each of these moves took us further and further away from the cafes we were so fond of, but we still took both the little grendels out for coffee on a regular basis.
Both love cafes - and both would drink coffee if we let them (often they'll drain our cups).
When they play 'cafe' they even replicated the sound of the espresso coming out of the machine.
These photos are from when Little Grendel Number Two was only 16 months old and are the reason we restrict his coffee intake:
Then there is his older brother - Little Grendel Number One. Also likes coffee and will even tolerate segafredo if that is all that is on offer:
<----- this is why LGNo.1 also is no longer allowed more than a sip
And this is the reaction of Little Grendel Number Two to Segafredo:
And what was big Grendel doing during all this? Taking photos and drinking water!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
A friend of mine, Hamo, who blogs here, posted today about living tribally. Now Hamo was writing about this from a Christian context, but it is something that I have also thought a lot about over the last few years from a secular context.
One thing I have noticed is that the ‘emerging church’ as represented by Hamo, is a lot closer to much of the intentional community and sustainable community and social structures than much of the established church, and thus there are natural synergies with what Hamo writes and what I think and talk about.
It did occur to me that I actually write very little about this. Possibly because to a large extent I am ‘uneducated’ in the sense that I have read very little about social structures in recent times. But it can’t hurt to throw my own untutored thoughts out into the abyss now can it?
Well regardless of the risks I think I’ll make the occasional post on this topic – with a coffee flavour when that is relevant.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Just for Hamo – and my apologies to whoever wrote the original ‘Emergent’ article on Wikipedia.
The emerging or emergent coffee movement is a controversial, 20th century caffeine based movement seeking to engage people living in postmodern or postcolonial cultures. Proponents call the movement an emerging "conversation" to emphasize its developing and decentralized nature. A common characteristic is the concept of missional living where adherents are sent out into the world to be a source of inspiration and good coffee to others wherever they are. Narrative presentations of roasting and brewing of coffee as well as the use of multimedia, the internet and blogs are popular with this predominantly younger generation of coffee lovers. An emphasis on dialogue allows for a generous openness to a plurality of interpretation with an avoidance of a dogmatic approach to espresso only drinking found in traditional cafés.
The emerging coffee movement arose to some extent, as a response to the perceived influence of consumerism in Western Society. With the paradigm shift towards slow food taking effect throughout the 21st Century, the coffee scene came under criticism. Critics of consumerism began to challenge the coffee scene on its use of institutional structures, mass production, slick marketing propositional sales methods, reliance on buildings, attractional understanding of markets, embrace of professional managers, and an ‘all staff are baristas’ approach to behind-the-counter work, largely uniform nature of product development, and the proud posture which maintained that their coffee was superior to other coffee.
Instead, proponents of emerging coffee embrace postmodern coffeology and values. They seek to deconstruct and reconstruct coffee roasting and drinking in order to meaningfully engage with Western society which is now pre-dominantly post-real coffee.
Key features of emergent coffee:
- Narrative teachings
- Generous Orthodoxy
- Broad Interpretation of acceptable brewing techniques
- Rejection of poor quality
Critics of the movement are often nescafe or ‘instant coffee’ drinkers who see the embrace of postmodern values leading to an elite or ‘coffee snob’ coffeology. Other critics include larger coffee franchises who accuse the emerging movement of intruding upon their traditional market. Critics often associate emergent coffee with the boutique and home brew beer movement that has historically been in conflict with larger commercial breweries.
Some members of the emerging coffee do not identify with the label "emergent" which they associate with coffeological positions attributed to Coffeegeek.com and the organization Emergent Coffee.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
It was given to me by my in-laws as a Christmas present a couple of years ago and it is a great domestic machine. Unfortunately it stopped working recently and turning it on was tripping the power circuits for the house. I asked around coffee snobs and the collective wisdom was that the element was the most likely cause. A few phone call with coffee machine repair guys confirmed that, and yesterday I took it to the only place that was prepared to look at it - they estimated $300 to fix.
Well I don't have $300 to fix my coffee machine, so I took it home again.
Last night I commence dismantling the good old Faema:
Once I had the back plate off I inspected the boiler cover before removing it.
Now I could easily see all the components and I took a few photos and sought advice on what was what.
THe next step was to open the boiler and remove the element and its seals - now that I have got this fat I can clean the boiler and then order my new parts.
Hopefully within the fortnight I should have it working again.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
And Jacob went unto Laban and said to him "Thy daughter Rachel has eyelashes better than the sheep of your flocks, and smooth skin. I thinks she's hot - can I marry her?"
And Laban said unto him "Bloody hell, a man has to watch his daughters round you - bugger off, she's only 12, if you want to marry her you are going to have to wait. You can have Leah though - she's old enough.
So Jacob took Leah as wife, then Rachel, the Rachel's maid Bilhah, then Leah's maid Zilpah. He though Rachel was better, and Leah was always getting pregnant so the maids came in handy there. They had many sons and daughters between them all and the lack of a nappy service was no doubt a problem. Food was also pretty tight so he went to Laban and said:
"let me go apart from thee and I shall take some of the flock as my hire, and also some of the coffee beans and seeds thererof so that my family may have its own coffee. I shall take only the small round beans from the end of the bushes and leave the biggest for you"
Then Jacob went around and took the prized peaberrys for himself and left all the rest for Laban and took his family, his flocks, the coffee, his servents and their big asses back towards the land of Canaan.
One night as he was drinking a coffee a man approached and offered to wrestle him for the coffee. Jacob agreed and they wrestled all night and many times Jacob did think that he was about to be gourded but he managed to prevail. The man revealed that he was in fact God so Jacob said:
"Lord you are welcome to the coffee, even though it is probably cold by now and more than a little stale, but since you are, after all, the almighty I'm sure you can remedy that."
And the Lord took the coffee and drank it and withheld the gourd of chatisement from Jacob (who was quite relieved) and the Lord said:
"Thou art no longer Jacob but Israel for thou art a prince for giving my such a good cuppa. We shall call this place Peniel for here was the gourd withheld from you".
Jacob was mystified about the relevance of the name but didn't argue for the gourd was ever present in the Lord's hand.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Walking to work this morning I closed my eyes for a minute and the damp air and honeysuckle blossoms took me away to another place a long way away and a long time ago.
It sure didn't feel like Perth.
I had a meeting a bit later in the morning - we all strolled up to Epic for a brief planning session. I had another blow-me-away affogato and met another coffee snob who had popped in. It was good to see Epic pretty flat out even on a rainy morning and I reckon word has got around.
I made myself angry tonight by going over to read Andrew Bolt's blog. For a journalist he doesn't dig far on some of the issues he addresses - and only seems to dig as far as his bias allows.
It is desperately sad to see people damaging a good cause by lame attempts to support it. I really hoped his site was satirical, but no such luck. Looks like he's a tosser after all.
The 'old media' has been launching into blogging in a big way, but their in-house efforts are shocking, with a few exceptions. I guess that is why they are picking notable bloggers to blog for them. I hope it improves the quality somewhat.
That's enough of a ramble eh? Too long between me and a coffee.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
It was no surprise to many yesterday, when the tide of public sentiment turned against Bush’s Texas Cafe and installed a freshly roasted coffee regime. Deputy Barista Donald Rumsfeld resigned, but remained defiant about his decision to introduce fully automated ‘pod’ coffee systems to the administration.
“People just don’t understand the complexity” he said with the President looking on. “There are so many variables, and I just needed to make it a lot simpler for us all. We knew Saddam was working on a new coffee blend to destroy our business and we had to take him down. I’m not sorry for the decisions I made and I stand by them.”
“Donald Rumfeld has my thanks” murmured the President “and he leaves us with a legacy of drinkable coffee, but it is time we moved in a new direction”.
The leader of the Democoffeecrats was positive about the future “The citizens of our great nation have spoken” she said jubilantly. “They have rejected the cheap, stale coffee propping up the Bush administration and demanded a fresh bean, roasted with care and brewed to perfection - and we are going to give it to them.”
The reaction around the world was one of quiet approbation for the changes and an expressed desire to see a return of the America of the past where great coffee was the right of all.
The electoral defeat has been blamed partly of Rumfeld’s flawed adventurism, but much of the collapse also resulted from recent scandals within the Republicannedcoffee ranks, most notably the inappropriate invitations by former congressman Foley (Rep. Fl.) to house pages to have a cup of instant coffee with him.
“It is totally sick” said one of the pages who declined to be named “who would want to drink instant coffee with a congressman when I can get a real coffee at dozens of places around the Capitol?”
Regardless of the outcome of the likely recount for the Senate race in Virginia, we can be certain that there will be a strong push for legislation banning the sale of ‘instant coffee’ and it is even conceivable that the United States might sign the Kyoto coffee protocol for sustainable coffee production.
Whispers about closet Democoffeecrat ‘instant’ drinkers persist, and the next two years will be a critical time for them to demonstrate their committment to fresh coffee and that they are capable of leadership, pouring espressos and latte art. Failure to do so will cost them the White House in 2008 and a place in the world barista championships at the UN.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
I, like many people I know in Australia watch politics in the USA almost as closely as Australian politics. Decisions made in Washington reverbrate around the world, even when it is not intended that they do so.
America is a friend and ally to Australia but the last 6 years have been very difficult as we see the friend we know so well lose some of what we loved most about it.
Laws enacted in response to terrorist threats removed freedoms, and those laws were echoed by similar legislation in Australia. I don't suggest that we should 'give in' to terrorism but I do suggest that we have blundered badly in the nature of our collective response to it. It seems that only the 'chosen' path is acceptable, all else, all other philosophical and ideological approaches are heresy or treason.
We know that is not the truth, and tonight, the citizens of the United States have acted, in the way only citizens of democratic systems can, and replaced the checks and balances of their government by denying the Executive the easy access it has had to the Legislature - If only Australia had mid-terms!
I don't expect a radical change of direction from the Democrats - I do hope to see a softening and a genuine 'compassion' return to some of the policy decisions.
On behalf of myself, and I guess a few other people in Australia, a heartfelt 'Thank You' to the citizens of the United States of America for your continued friendship, and your responsible decision in the 2006 mid-term elections. May your union remain strong and may you restore all that is best about your country and become once again a beacon of liberty for the oppressed.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Here at Cafe Grendel we'll be roasting coffee.
The difference between the two events is that I am pretty sure that I'll be happy with whatever variety of beans I end up with.
I reckon if there were more thinking coffee drinkers in the USA right now they'd be doing just a little better than they are.
Good luck USA - remember you are voting for the rest of us poor fools too because whover you elect has a vast influence on our world.
Monday, November 06, 2006
“allow me to treat with your husband, perhaps I can convince him to take a bath that he might be appealing to you and you might bear a son unto him.”
And Sarah said unto Abram, “Behold now, it is just not happening between us, I pray thee, go in unto my maid do what she says and then we’ll see later tonight.”
And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarah and laid aside the gourd of chastisement. and went unto Hagar saying “She says I don’t get any until I do whatever it is you tell me to do – so lets get on with it, I’m pretty bloody horny and the sheep are looking like a good prospect."
With a grimace, Hagar set about her task, first shaving Abram, the washing him in the only thing that would remove the grime and the smell – coffee.
Once Abram was cleansed Hagar looked upon him and said “You scrub up pretty good, lie back and I’ll give you a massage to relax you”
Well one thing led to another and 9 months later there was Ishmail, plain evidence of the effectiveness of a good coffee on improving your prospects for getting laid.
Sarah was pretty pissed at this and told Hagar to take the baby and go. They departed and headed down to Arabia where Ishmail became a coffee farmer of great renown and his descendents became wealthy on the profits from an entirely different ‘black gold’.
Sarah had profited from her maid’s experience however and learned the seductive arts of coffee preparation and Abram had learned to take a bath. In no time at all they were the parents of a bouncing baby boy.
All kinds of weird mystical things happened, and Isaac managed to beget a couple of boys of his own, Esau, a tea drinker and Jacob, a coffee snob. Jacob got his father’s blessing and Esau took his wives and children and went west. They travelled for many many months and eventually settled on two damp and green islands far from the Mediterranean, where even to this day his descendants drink leaves of the tea plant stewed in hot water.
Jacob of course got married – more than once and had a huge clan of coffee-loving kids, 12 in all.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Time: 5 minutes
Cost: Under $10
1 42°100mm PVC pipe elbow at Bunnings for $3.06
1 100mm pipe cap for $2.59.
1 piece of 19mm tasmainian oak dowel - $4.02
I fixed the cap to the bottom of the pipe, then using a 19mm spade bit I bored two holes in the top of the pipe (the wider end). You can see from the photos how I positioned it far enough down so that the coffee grounds wouldn't spill out when I tap the portafilter.
And the side aspect allows you to see the PVC pipe parts I used:
It works really well - might even pretty it up with some paint but it is very functional.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Roasting coffee at home is the most satisfying way to get good fresh coffee beans. Like any skill you learn over time and there are a growing number of people who are teaching themselves and learning from others. The sole purpose of this post is to show you a few places where you can start looking.
- Googling "Roasting green coffee beans at home" Is not a bad start.
- Sweet Marias is where I learned that you could use a popcorn popper.
- Wikipedia has a growing series of articles including one on
- Home Coffee Roasting
- The Corretto (Bread maker and heat gun combo I use) and;
- Coffee Snobs - which I am, and you will be too once you learn to follow the path of coffee righteousness.
Finally, inexpert as I am, I am willing to answer any and all questions that are asked as fall within my capacity to respond to - any that I can't answer I can pass along to those with a deeper understanding of coffee lore.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
I was, of course, roasting it in the corretto, and while my datalogging may still leave something to be desired, my corretto roasting skills are growing nicely.
And thus, I have this to show:
And the Corretto in action:
The heat gun and paddle action. . .
The Cooler was covered by about a centimetre and a half of hot beans - but still had them all to ambient in around one minute.
Needless to say I am impressed with this roasting method - Thanks Belinda, Nice one.
Now the whole world had one type of coffee bean and a common way of preparing it.
As men moved eastward, they found a plain beside the slopes of Mount Mocha and settled there.
They said to each other, "Come, let's roast coffee and store it for trade to those who have none”. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a silo, a tower named ‘Buck’ that reaches to the heavens, so that we may store much roasted coffee and make a name for ourselves and grow rich from trading in that which we roast."
And they built the silo ‘Buck’ using brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar and marked it with a star so that all might know that their coffee aspired to the heavens.
But the LORD came down to see the silo that the men were building. The LORD said, "If as roasters of this single origin coffee one people roast so much coffee that they store it for great lengths of time then it will grow stale and dull and the people of the earth will forsake that which I have given them. Again. I chucked Adam and Eve out of the garden for serving instant, banished cain for spilling the coffee of his brother then I wiped clean the face of the earth with a mighty flood so that they might grow coffee again according to my commandments and now look what they are up to!”
And the Lord went down and scattered the Star’d Buck silo and the stale coffee beans and demanded that no more shall men store roasted coffee and he scattered the beans across the earth and made each one different so that they could not come together as a single origin any more.
I suppose it is coffee related in the sense that I drank coffee then wrote it - but I could say that about most writing I do.
Hmmmm Absinthe blogging is the logical next step!