Benchmarks

Posted in Questions on April 5, 2010 by Chris Dodson

No matter what industry you’re in, there’s a “benchmark” something. Benchmarks can be specific to a company, or an entire industry. In the coffee industry, I feel people avoid using the term “benchmark” because they’re too afraid of change – which honestly might be the intelligent standpoint. Things in coffee have changed a lot even since I got into industry in late 2006. I might be shooting myself in the foot here, but I feel like there *are*/might be a few consistent benchmarks in specialty coffee.

I’ll start by asking about brew methods.

Do you think there’s a benchmark brew method? – a brew method that you always use, or refer to other people? A brew method that can establish a very diverse group of points about a coffee.

So, are there any other benchmarks? Whatcha think? Are there benchmarks at all?

*item in the photo does not imply an opinion on the matter =)

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Riding the Aeropress Wave

Posted in Experiments on April 2, 2010 by Chris Dodson

Today, my partner in crime and I did some Aeropress exploration (Aero..ration?)
The goal was to refine our skill, and hopefully find something that confused us past the point of sanity. The result? Well, I can certainly share with you some of the experiences, but much to our surprise, we have a secret that we won’t tell you.

We used 2 coffees (both CCC): Michicha, Sidama, and Peru, Valle del Santuario. Both coffees are awesome, and I recommend them  =)

I hadn’t been able to spend much time on Aeropress until today. Any previous attempts were at somebody else’s house, or with too-old coffee. I did my research on brewmethods.com to see what other people were doing with theirs’. I knew already that I was going to do the “inverted method”. I also knew that I was going to be dealing with some variables, that I don’t particularly like:

First off, with the Aeropress, I can’t maintain temperature as well as I’d like to. I’m not  certain that it matters *too* much, but I am a syphon fanatic – which means that I am used not worrying about  constant brew temperature.

I was having an issue trying to figure out how much to stir the coffee before plunging. I feel like there’s a bit more agitation during a Aeropress plunge, than the end part of a syphon brew. If my memory serves me, all I had to do was stir so that I knew all the grounds were saturated. I quickly secured the filter and was sure to not rush the plunge process. I think there was around a minute of contact time from water added to finishing the plunge. Alex took a video of the whole thing – I’ll make sure to get it edited and posted as soon as possible.

Lastly, I feel silly for (finally) purchasing a Aeropress as it has recently gained much due press. I suppose I should just say that I hope I don’t fall into a category by writing about this right now..

I can’t complain too much further than that. You can make multiple kinds of cups with the Aeropress! I haven’t even scratched the surface, as it were. This all makes me really want syphon coffee right now..

Please feel free to scrutinize my article. Please also give me advice =) Think of this as a giant question!

Tasting Fer Duh Weeen!

Posted in 1 on March 31, 2010 by Chris Dodson

You know at the end of tv shows when the producers write in “No animals were harmed in the making of this film.”? Well, just to be clear from the BEGINNING, I agree that all brew methods have something special about them. Even if I am biased toward one brew method, trust that I have curiosity for all of them =).         Except for the French Press…

I was deemed the “brew master” for a brew-fest at my friend, Fillipo’s a little while back. While it was certainly an honor to be put in charge, I was also anxious to keep everything organized (Imagine 6 coffee addicts in one room with 72 oz. of beans.) There’s a lot of added pressure when you’re using someone else’s kitchen to make coffee!
I feel like there’s such a thing as “home field advantage” when making coffee. I was nearly out of my element at my friend’s house (even though I’ve brewed there before.) I brought all of my own equipment, even bottled water (I always use bottled). It was definitely a lot harder to do everything right with an extra 6 people hovering around the kitchen!

After dialing in the coffees, I felt like products being produced from Clever Dripper, Siphon, and Chemex were all being scrutinized by each and every person. I enjoy these opportunities because it helps me see what kind of product people expect from a “Coffee Geek”. Much to my surprise, I was 1 of 2 people attending who enjoyed the Siphon coffee. Everyone else seemed to be enamored by the Chemex and Clever Dripper’s (due credit given) result. I am somewhat biased toward Siphon, but I was thinking to myself during the event “What is it about pour-over coffee that appeals to a wider audience?” Now, take into consideration that there were 6 guys in attendance: a mad coffee scientist, a former barista/coffee fanatic, a genuine coffee connoisseur, a Dunkin’ Donuts fan, myself, and a complete maniac (we love you, Gabe.. Your affection for coffee is unparalleled!) So, the demographic, in my opinion, was awesome. Time-after-time people would gravitate toward the taste that the Clever Dripper and Chemex had to offer! Eventually we were sitting around talking about this topic..  Fortunately, Filippo made a comment about how Siphon tends to take all of the flavors and compress them to where they are all on the same plane. Now, don’t take this the wrong way- he wasn’t saying that it holds flavors at bay, rather, he was saying that they all tend to move “forward” in the cup. I never thought of it that way, but I was over-joyed by Filippo’s statement. Not only did I have a fellow in Siphon allegiance, but he described Siphon coffee in a way that I never would have thought of.

It could also be that Matt is just awesome at Chemex. Because he totally is..

In my opinion, one should try the same coffee through as many brew methods as possible. I like to start with Siphon because of what Filippo said- it really does make every flavor apparent in the cup. Near the end of the coffee-fest, we brewed a coffee, Siphon vs. Clever Dripper to see which method liked the coffee the most. I didn’t *not* like what the Clever Dripper did- it was truly awesome! I feel like it gave a more round cup than the Siphon, but was not as complete flavor-wise.

So, to sum up why I wrote about this in the first place…

The event gave me a bit of perspective as to why our taste buds are our own. I went in to brew-fest, being all confident in my Siphon, only to learn that I need to wake up! I have a goal to make money doing what I love most. I have a goal to educate people who want to learn about coffee. I have a goal to brighten people’s lives to the best of my ability. I am glad to have been put in a situation where people didn’t like the same thing as me, where I wasn’t asking for their money first! I wasn’t disappointed that people weren’t as impressed by Siphon as I thought- I was simply confused… Much better to mentalize this sooner, rather than later!

PNG Battle Update

Posted in 1 on March 21, 2010 by Chris Dodson

I made another Siphon/Clever Dripper of the PNG today, and I must say the result has absolutely blown me away.

The Siphon, this time around, was completely different from yesterday. It was absolutely the smoothest cup of coffee I’ve had in a long time. Very sweet and pleasant. The only thing I changed was the grind setting (understanding that it would most likely change the cup a lot.) I was afraid it would over-extract, but it seemed to hold up okay. I don’t like to deviate from my recipe too much, but I can’t help but feel like this morning’s brew has made me want to dig deeper! The amount of consistency I’ve found has been great, but I feel like at this point I’m willing to waste a few batches to refine what I just drank.

As for the Clever Dripper, not too much changed. It was still nice and round, with a sweet, and pleasant tartness at the end. Even a little buttery! If anything, it’s a little more laid back and perhaps sweeter. I can’t help but feel like the coffee needed to sit for another day to reach it’s potential.

The lesson learned?

Continue to make judgments off what are tasting, but know there are no absolute consistencies with coffee.

Sound fair?

Pic unrelated

PNG Tambul: Siphon vs. Clever Dripper!

Posted in Experiments on March 21, 2010 by Chris Dodson

Presenting! PNG Tambul in: Siphon vs. Clever Dripper!!

This morning I elected to break from the ordinary, and do two brew methods. I wanted to see how substantial of a difference there would be. My theory was that using Siphon would make a bright, eccentric cup, and Clever Dripper would create a more round result. I used Counter Culture’s Tambul, which I had just received in the mail (USPS $5 flat rate from CCC arrives in 2 days! Woot!)

The goal was to find the most balanced cup.

Let the games begin!

Upon first taste, the Siphon is very straight to the point. PNG produces a clarity that I very much enjoy. It’s crisp, with a nice cherry-like after-taste. It’s full-bodied, but there’s nothing that truly stands out other than the fact that I was puckering from the freshness of the coffee (3 days off roast). I also tasted a bit of  cane sugar as the cup cooled down more.

After trying to cleanse my mouth of the Clever Dripper’d Tambul, I had that squeaky clean feeling, created by the coffee not wanting to give up. It was a very crisp, fruit-forward, sweet cup. I wasn’t getting any chocolate, or caramel. I could most definitely *feel* cocoa.

The absolute difference between the two coffees was the roundness: The Siphon’d was tart, where as the Clever Dripper’d was rounder, and more sweet. Both methods gave the same basic cherry, sugared, sweet taste, but they were worlds different in the initial delivery!

To check out Counter Culture Coffee’s PNG Tambul, go here!
http://preview.tinyurl.com/ydbx2d3

Giant Bean in my CCC

Posted in General with tags on March 19, 2010 by Chris Dodson

This is a random giant bean I found in my PNG Tambul:

Siphon Video

Posted in General on March 17, 2010 by Chris Dodson

This is a short video I put together a few months back. I hope to make a better one soon!

Let me know what you think.