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Author Topic: Coffee things I've learned in 2017  (Read 1419 times)

Simon

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Coffee things I've learned in 2017
« on: 12/02/2018, 09:37 PM »
Hi all, yes I was supposed to post this a month ago haha.. but thought I'd share some observations and things I've learned into coffee I've had over the past year, just for fun. Nothing groundbreaking hehe, and keeping in mind, they're not universal truths or anything, but just things specific to me that I've realised, so if it helps anyone else in the process that's a bonus :).

Here we go!


-Keeping it simple: I got very wrapped up in and obsessed with the process and lost sight of outcome. Moreso relating to what you're trying to do with coffee. ENJOY it! Letting taste be my guide was pivotal. I got very caught up in the best distribution method, timing, ratios, whilst all very important for sure, but sometimes it can lead to overanalysing how something looks rather than the actual end product. Sometimes even mentally dismissing a shot because it wasn't 'perfect-looking' (whatever that means..), and whilst sipping it even thinking of how the pour 'should' have looked. Ridiculous haha..

Of course guidelines are great to go by, but it makes sense to let taste be the guide as to what variables should change. I've had funky looking shots that tasted just incredible!

Better to find a distribution method that makes sense, understand what its purpose is, and keep things consistent with that while altering other variables like grind/flow rate, timing etc. Finding something that has repeatability and consistency led me to focus more on taste.


-Latte art: stretching the milk slightly less than what I was doing got muuuuuch better results. Also relaxing whilst steaming and pouring helped a great deal.


-I get the feeling that ground coffee stales or changes in structure/molecule-bond-adhesiveness/SOMEthing potentially much quicker than I thought... The second shot of the day always ran quicker, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why.. even within 10-20 minutes after the first. I get the feeling ground coffee oxidized faster than I thought, and only a slight amount of older grounds mixed with the new can cause confusing results... (up for discussion though ;D ). Quick sweep out the chute of old grounds and purging about 2 grams of new coffee before my next shot seemed to sort that out.

This also goes with beans.. I'm putting less in my hopper, only enough for the total amount of shots roughly (plus bit more so that it has a bit of weight pressing down), and also any leftover beans from the morning's usage I put into their own separate zip lock bag to use first before the others.


-Resting roasted beans has become more and more important! Sure they can be tried early, but for consistency sake it definitely helps to rest them. Still great to note the changes over each day.


-Roasting: measuring temp and temp changes is seeming to be quite important! I'm only just starting to get into measuring temp (fiiiinally) after years and years of using sights, sounds and timing as my guide, so looking forward to this part of the journey.



That's it haha, but feel free to share any insights or anything you've learned the past year, this was good reminder and reflection for me personally, but others may get something out of it too :). So feel free to add your own, would love to hear them!


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Coffee things I've learned in 2017
« Reply #1 on: 12/02/2018, 11:11 PM »
Great insights thanks simon

I'm sure I'll have a more detailed reply another time

Re second shot not pouring as well are you purging the group head between extractions?

I always do a good purge just before each extraction especially first thing in the morning when the machine seems to run quite hot - that is unless you have one of those new fandangled machines with incredible temperature stability!

Even then I still do a small purge for good measure

Best

Pat
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Simon

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« Reply #2 on: 13/02/2018, 07:38 AM »
Ah thanks Pat, I know my machine has been calibrated so that it doesn't require the infamous cooling flush that many HX machines can need, and I do flush a bit earlier on before each shot (but before I dose into the basket, just to get some water flow through there), but you may have a point, I may give that a go right before I pull the shot. Cheers for that, will see how it goes! :)
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Coffee things I've learned in 2017
« Reply #3 on: 20/02/2018, 12:43 PM »
For me some of the things that Ive learned about coffee in the last year are:

1    Short pours are still a 'thing'
      Cant for the life of me imagine why anyone would only want to put 22ml of coffee in a cup, but, apparently this is still a 'thing' and taste tests at numerous ventures would seem to bear this out. Ok, I can understand in theory at least the idea behind setting up a 'tasting culture' in a coffee venue, where its possible to try a variety of coffees say a flat white, and an espresso, and a pour over, in which case I suppose it makes sense to cut the pours short so as not to max out the caffeine, and to encourage repeat sales.  But to me this is just tantamount to dumbing down the palate, and if I wanted a coffee with the taste, strength, and consistency of dishwater, there are any number of places who provide this option already, so Im not sold on the need to 'showcase' it

2    Fine grind and down dosing
      I mean I know its supposed to work for lighter roasted blends and single origins, and I can see how this could be the case, but some baristas insist on applying this same maxim across the board for all coffees that they make (I mean if you're only putting 22ml in the cup does it even matter how much coffee that you're using?) - but it doesnt work with dark(er) roasts or in hot climates when the oils are starting to come to the surface of the bean more quickly that their 'cooler' counterparts - slowing the whole shebang down to draw out the extraction may work with lighter roasts in cool or air conditioned climates, but its not as effective (IMHO) for darker roasts, and by darker I don't necessarily mean that you've hit second crack already, just that its got more colour on it than some of the grape coloured beans that pass for roast coffee in some places (but I digress).  Slowing down the extraction to concentrate the flavours then cutting the pout short just seems counterintuitive and like double handling to me

3     Timed and weighted shots are not a substitute for flavour
Whilst I agree that these are important diagnostic tools to me they work best to help identify the 'sweet spot' of how and where a coffee is pouring at its best, this sweet spot then provides a reference spot for the coffee to revolve around, with only minor adjustments necessary to improve pouring times, and their impact on flavour etc Sometimes keeping an eye on the diagnostics, however, seems to takes precedence over tasting the coffee itself, and when that happens the result in the cup can suffer

4    Coffee roasted just past green
Melbourne seems to have gotten over this some time ago by temperature dropping at the end of first crack, and the 'coasting' to increase the flavour development of the bean without necessarily having to go too much darker in the roast, but other regional areas seem to have been a bit slow on the uptake, as sour fruit and overly 'biscuit' like flavours still seem to be the norm - cant say Im a big fan

5    Its nice to be surprised sometimes
As a bit of a coffee snob Im prone to being quite judgmental when it comes to coffee out, but hey, sometimes when you need a cup of Joe, what are you going to do? A few times recently Ive been very pleasantly surprised by places where Ive had great coffee which would usually slip beneath my coffee radar - so its good to go out on a limb sometimes and this is where magic can happen

6    I still like to roast my own
Usually I get it right, sometimes it goes terribly wrong, but sometimes I get a really exceptional result, and when this happens I log it and try to repeat it

7     Knowledge is king
And finally I dont for a moment imagine that I know it all if anything its far from it - and its through tasting and testing, trial and error, and through informative discussion boards like this one that my knowledge increases incrementally each day!

What do others think?

Any new revelations in the last 12 months?

Pat


"The crema which dissipates is not the lasting crema..."

Simon

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Coffee things I've learned in 2017
« Reply #4 on: 20/02/2018, 08:25 PM »


For me some of the things that Ive learned about coffee in the last year are:

1    Short pours are still a 'thing'
      Cant for the life of me imagine why anyone would only want to put 22ml of coffee in a cup, but, apparently this is still a 'thing' and taste tests at numerous ventures would seem to bear this out. Ok, I can understand in theory at least the idea behind setting up a 'tasting culture' in a coffee venue, where its possible to try a variety of coffees say a flat white, and an espresso, and a pour over, in which case I suppose it makes sense to cut the pours short so as not to max out the caffeine, and to encourage repeat sales.  But to me this is just tantamount to dumbing down the palate, and if I wanted a coffee with the taste, strength, and consistency of dishwater, there are any number of places who provide this option already, so Im not sold on the need to 'showcase' it

2    Fine grind and down dosing
      I mean I know its supposed to work for lighter roasted blends and single origins, and I can see how this could be the case, but some baristas insist on applying this same maxim across the board for all coffees that they make (I mean if you're only putting 22ml in the cup does it even matter how much coffee that you're using?) - but it doesnt work with dark(er) roasts or in hot climates when the oils are starting to come to the surface of the bean more quickly that their 'cooler' counterparts - slowing the whole shebang down to draw out the extraction may work with lighter roasts in cool or air conditioned climates, but its not as effective (IMHO) for darker roasts, and by darker I don't necessarily mean that you've hit second crack already, just that its got more colour on it than some of the grape coloured beans that pass for roast coffee in some places (but I digress).  Slowing down the extraction to concentrate the flavours then cutting the pout short just seems counterintuitive and like double handling to me

3     Timed and weighted shots are not a substitute for flavour
Whilst I agree that these are important diagnostic tools to me they work best to help identify the 'sweet spot' of how and where a coffee is pouring at its best, this sweet spot then provides a reference spot for the coffee to revolve around, with only minor adjustments necessary to improve pouring times, and their impact on flavour etc Sometimes keeping an eye on the diagnostics, however, seems to takes precedence over tasting the coffee itself, and when that happens the result in the cup can suffer

4    Coffee roasted just past green
Melbourne seems to have gotten over this some time ago by temperature dropping at the end of first crack, and the 'coasting' to increase the flavour development of the bean without necessarily having to go too much darker in the roast, but other regional areas seem to have been a bit slow on the uptake, as sour fruit and overly 'biscuit' like flavours still seem to be the norm - cant say Im a big fan

5    Its nice to be surprised sometimes
As a bit of a coffee snob Im prone to being quite judgmental when it comes to coffee out, but hey, sometimes when you need a cup of Joe, what are you going to do? A few times recently Ive been very pleasantly surprised by places where Ive had great coffee which would usually slip beneath my coffee radar - so its good to go out on a limb sometimes and this is where magic can happen

6    I still like to roast my own
Usually I get it right, sometimes it goes terribly wrong, but sometimes I get a really exceptional result, and when this happens I log it and try to repeat it

7     Knowledge is king
And finally I dont for a moment imagine that I know it all if anything its far from it - and its through tasting and testing, trial and error, and through informative discussion boards like this one that my knowledge increases incrementally each day!

What do others think?

Any new revelations in the last 12 months?

Pat

Ah great input Pat! Thanks for chiming in, I love hearing other people's insights!


1. Yeah I have noticed that, the tendency to pull only double ristrettos for all drinks in a few cafes.. I actually love them, even if it's a miniscule amount, it forces me to really hone in and be immersed in it, as fleeting as it is. Really rivets you in the present, and can help relieve the tendency/attachment to want more and more. But that's me haha! I honestly don't understand though how it can be used for all coffees they rotate through though, and I don't think it suits all beans. That's what confuses me!
But I know what you mean about dumbing down the palette yeah..


2. Ah that's really interesting, I'll take all that on board! I haven't seen that trend yet, but I remember at one MICE, I was speaking to one guy at a stand and he was ADAMANT and even preacher-like about using lower doses and finer grind. Even called those who updosed stupid! I couldn't take him seriously, but I took on board what was useful. It was just bizarre how worked up he got about this haha. And I didn't actually realise about using lower doses for lighter roasts (and its vice-versa).. I wonder why that is? I'll have to experiment with that!


3. Yes! Absolutely :D


4. Hehe yeah it's a strange thing.. seems to be swung to an extreme, and the coffee is just so underdeveloped. I really love the trend of going lighter, but only if it's to explore the full potential of the bean and optimise and bring out its best flavours. I actually don't mind a bit of sourness, I mean, some fruits are naturally sour and that's their prime characteristic, but when it's unbearable it just ain't pleasant..


5. Yeah it's nice when that happens! Especially if it's a brand/roaster that's not known it's easy to dismiss, but yeah I've definitely been surprised.. to be honest I still check out a few things before I make the call (like a checklist haha):

- whether the group handle is locked in or just sitting on the drip tray
- steam wand covered in old milk or clean
- if they have a doser grinder, if it's full to the brink even when they're quiet
- a big one: barista technique and care.

Oh and of course to make sure the barista has a beard, tattoos, and maybe glasses!


6. Yeah same, it's such a cool thing to explore, and I just think how much has gone into just the green bean getting to this point, it's nice to prepare it for the rest of the journey :)


7. Booyeah
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askthe coffeeguy

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« Reply #5 on: 20/02/2018, 08:47 PM »
hey Simon thanks for your feedback!

I'm all for sourness if the acidity is balanced by the fruit and I've had some sensational espresso coffee that I think would be completely lost if milk were added

and yes there are some exceptional roasters out there doing great things with lighter roasts, and when they get it right it's truly amazing!

I also think lighter roasts need more time post roast to degas and to come into their own in terms of their flavour profile

and I'm always on the lookout for new and exciting developments in the world of coffee especially if the reader me results align with my personal flavour profile and taste preferences !

best,

Pat
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West Village

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Coffee things I've learned in 2017
« Reply #6 on: 21/02/2018, 06:08 AM »
Some great insights and learnings guys. Some very sensible points on cutting shots short which I agree w Th your points of not allowing the drinker to enjoy the shot to its fullest expression. I feel almost cheated hahahah

For me:

1. Getting bit by the lever bug is awesome

2. Explored some new origins. For me the highlight was  (Myanmar/Burmese ) beans as they are only really starting to come into the market of late with any decent quality.

3. Learned a fair bit about extractions and distributions affecting taste through solid use of the naked portafilter

4. How to repair a few things in my machine

For me it was a nicely rounded year of learning touching on , roasting, origin exploration, machine learning and repairs and process improvements. Above all, plenty of good coffee!
I love it how coffee tricks me into thinking I'm in a good mood for exactly 27 minutes.

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« Reply #7 on: 22/02/2018, 04:38 PM »
Forgive me if this sounds salesy or self promotional as it’s not meant to.

I have leaned that I can train anyone, even a complete “pod” novice, to make decent espresso in under an hour.

That’s seriously rewarding stuff.

I have even trained people using Skype and FaceTime with this online guide as the backbone:
https://www.kbean.com.au/training/

Cheers :)
Paul



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Simon

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« Reply #8 on: 23/02/2018, 08:32 AM »


Some great insights and learnings guys. Some very sensible points on cutting shots short which I agree w Th your points of not allowing the drinker to enjoy the shot to its fullest expression. I feel almost cheated hahahah

For me:

1. Getting bit by the lever bug is awesome

2. Explored some new origins. For me the highlight was  (Myanmar/Burmese ) beans as they are only really starting to come into the market of late with any decent quality.

3. Learned a fair bit about extractions and distributions affecting taste through solid use of the naked portafilter

4. How to repair a few things in my machine

For me it was a nicely rounded year of learning touching on , roasting, origin exploration, machine learning and repairs and process improvements. Above all, plenty of good coffee!

Ah nice West Village! Yeah I definitely get a lot out of exploring other origins, tends to help not only roasting practice but extraction too! That's a good year ;)

Forgive me if this sounds salesy or self promotional as it’s not meant to.

I have leaned that I can train anyone, even a complete “pod” novice, to make decent espresso in under an hour.

That’s seriously rewarding stuff.

I have even trained people using Skype and FaceTime with this online guide as the backbone:
https://www.kbean.com.au/training/

Cheers :)
Paul



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That's awesome Paul, and yeah for sure very encouraging and rewarding I reckon :). Especially knowing how much people can struggle with making espresso, it'd be such a relief for people to have someone show them the ropes, it only speaks highly of your knowledge and ability to teach :)
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« Reply #9 on: 23/02/2018, 07:11 PM »
Thanks for the kind words Simon. *blush* :)

Brett H

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« Reply #10 on: 23/02/2018, 10:47 PM »
I've learned something new....

When the subject of coffee is raised among acquaintances most people will tell you happily that they are copffee sknobs!! In reality however, they actually have very little interest in the bean, the brew or the method. What they mean is that they have a favourite cafe such as Glorias Genes and a favourite barista like sultry Raoul from Venetzbratislavia.  I've struggled for some time now workshopping methods to save myself from wasting precious earth-minutes on fruitless conversations. We all know the ones... end with you being told in no uncertain terms that you either need to seek help for your addiction; or worse, 'well that's just not fun is it!?"

Now, when folks tell me they're Koffie Snobjs I say... and you may borrow it:

"Oh, good for you.  I personally hate their web layout and the commercial constraints of their operation, but each to their own!"

*Short-circuit*

Good reader, the trick here is to now walk away, take a pretend phone call or fake acute gastroenteritis.  Problem solved!  My focus-group has tested for you all this alternative to listening to yet another three minute treatise on why putting the milk in first on top of the Moccona before the 6 million degree water makes one a Kophie Shnog.

My pleasure!
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Simon

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« Reply #11 on: 23/02/2018, 11:30 PM »
I've learned something new....

When the subject of coffee is raised among acquaintances most people will tell you happily that they are copffee sknobs!! In reality however, they actually have very little interest in the bean, the brew or the method. What they mean is that they have a favourite cafe such as Glorias Genes and a favourite barista like sultry Raoul from Venetzbratislavia.  I've struggled for some time now workshopping methods to save myself from wasting precious earth-minutes on fruitless conversations. We all know the ones... end with you being told in no uncertain terms that you either need to seek help for your addiction; or worse, 'well that's just not fun is it!?"

Now, when folks tell me they're Koffie Snobjs I say... and you may borrow it:

"Oh, good for you.  I personally hate their web layout and the commercial constraints of their operation, but each to their own!"

*Short-circuit*

Good reader, the trick here is to now walk away, take a pretend phone call or fake acute gastroenteritis.  Problem solved!  My focus-group has tested for you all this alternative to listening to yet another three minute treatise on why putting the milk in first on top of the Moccona before the 6 million degree water makes one a Kophie Shnog.

My pleasure!
Hahahaha ah that's hilarious Brett.. serious chuckles XD. So true, people will often say they're a bit of snob or they're very picky about their coffee, making out as they know alot about coffee cos they've been drinking 'coffee' for the past 40 years, so they would know right?? And then mention in the next breath that Moccona is their fave...

It sorta annoys me a bit when people find out you're into coffee, and then treat you like you're an absolute a**hole who would send back all your coffees and spit on the baristas making them... I didn't say THAT'S what we were about! XD We just love coffee, we're not judgemental elitists!
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« Reply #12 on: 24/02/2018, 07:33 AM »
Finally got around to reading this thread. What a great read, thanks for sharing everyone. I’ll add my personal observations, but keep it fairly short.

1. I still know bugger all about coffee.

2. It’s important to try not to forget point #1.

3. Regarding roasting - don’t dismiss a coffee or origin that you’ve struggled with in the past. It can be very rewarding to revisit something with a bit more experience under your belt as you might be surprised by the results.

4. Sunbeam EM6910s are ridiculously underrated. They are actually a lot more readily reparable than lower end Brevilles and Sunbeams and can be tweaked and modified fairly easily and simply to give you a very capable coffee machine. They still have their faults and limitations, but they are possibly one of the best options for people who want to buy their first home espresso machine.

5. People rarely clean their coffee machines as much as they should. Home users are probably the worst, but my goodness some cafes need to sort their stuff out.
I love coffee. It's as simple as that.

Simon

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« Reply #13 on: 24/02/2018, 09:32 AM »
Great points Leroy :). Yeah to always be open to learning is key. And yeah there are beans o wanna go back to trying, and I've never really explored Indonesian beans much and would like to (would love to give the Monsoon Malabar a go, your posts on it intrigued me!).

Definitely am finding a clean machine to be so important too
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