Zeke’s Festivus Roast Pourover

  • Beans: “Festivus Roast” (Indonesia/Central America/South America)
    • Dark roast (7/8)
    • Roaster: Zeke’s Coffee (Baltimore, MD)
    • Roast date: 11/27/2023
  • 18g coffee / 250g water (1:13.9)
  • JX: 2 rotations + 9 clicks (23 on the grind chart / 69 total clicks)
  • Bloom water at 99°C, brew water between 81°C and 85°C
  • Recipe: A Better 1 Cup V60 Technique (see below)
  1. Heat water; preheat V60 and mug
  2. Pre-moisten filter, add coffee, and tare scale
  3. Shake V60 to level coffee bed; make small indentation in center of grounds
  4. Start timer and do the following, finishing between 0:45 and 1:15:
    • Pour 50g of water to bloom
    • Return kettle to base
    • Lower kettle temperature by 20° or so by adding room temperature water
    • Bring kettle water back up to 81°-85°C
  5. Reset timer
  6. 0:00 – 0:10: Pour up to 100g total (40% total weight)
    • Hold kettle for the remainder of the brewing process
  7. 0:20 – 0:30: Pour up to 150g total (60% total weight)
  8. 0:40 – 0:50: Pour up to 200g total (80% total weight)
  9. 1:00 – 1:10: Pour up to 250g total (100% total weight)
  10. Wait for drawdown (30-60 seconds)

I’ve been buying mostly light- to medium-roasted beans for the past several months, and I decided that it was time to try something dark again. This was my first time brewing a dark roast using the pourover method, and I used the same recipe that I used with Zeke’s Market Blend (actually a medium roast, but on the darker side of medium). The result was a perfectly drinkable cup, but it could have been a little bit stronger. Tomorrow, I think I am going to try 20 grams of coffee, which will give me a ratio of 1:12.5. I may also try making the grind finer little by little, until I notice any unpleasant flavors. At some point, I’ll also likely try brewing the beans with the AeroPress and/or the French Press.

12/1: Grind setting 22 with 20g (1:12.5) was an improvement over yesterday. The beans don’t seem to visibly out-gas during the initial high-temperature bloom step, so I may try skipping that tomorrow and doing the entire brew at 80-82°. I’m curious if I’ll notice any difference.

12/3: Didn’t seem like much difference doing the entire brew at either 82° or 84° at grind setting 22. Might go back to blooming one more time just to confirm… otherwise, I think I’ve got a baseline recipe dialed in. Next up will be to try AeroPress or French press.

12/21: I started brewing these beans with the AeroPress a couple of weeks ago, and I feel like once I dialed it in, it’s been easier to get consistently good cups using that method. I predict that going forward, I’ll end up brewing most light to medium roasts using the pourover method, and medium to dark roasts with the AeroPress. I’m curious to check back in a year or so and see if I was correct.

Cold Commute Notes

Very cold day today for November. It felt kind of like January. I remember one year back in the late ’80s or early ’90s when we had a November cold snap and temperatures stayed below freezing for several days. Today started out in the low 20s, and looks like it’s going to max out at around 40, which pales in comparison, but is very cold by recent standards. Being a Wednesday, it’s my usual day to go in to the office. While I used to bike in cold weather all the time (and still do occasionally), and I have biked in colder temperatures than today’s and lived to tell the tale, I have to admit that nowadays, it’s no longer my first choice. I considered going to the office tomorrow (Thursday) instead, as it’s supposed to be a little bit milder (upper 20s). Ultimately, though, I opted to stay with today because it fit my schedule better.

The ride was not bad. I could tell the temperature was above 20, because the condensation from my breath was not freezing inside my nose. The wind was fairly calm when I left the house at 7:30, but it picked up during the second half of the ride. I wore three layers on top, and tried out a new REI brand PolarTec hinged balaclava. Although the fit is snug with my current helmet, I think it’s a winner. I have another fleecy balaclava that I’ve frequently worn on sub-20º mornings, but it doesn’t do the greatest job wicking perspiration, and as a result, gets quite damp over the course of a ride, which is not something you want on a frigid day. The PolarTec seems to do a better job. Although I got the sense that my head was beginning to sweat towards the end of the ride, the balaclava was mostly dry when I took it off. My feet got a little bit cold, as they always do, but warmed up as I climbed out of the Patapsco River valley. My trusty Gore-Tex winter cycling gloves, combined with Bar Mitts, kept my hands reasonably comfortable for most of the ride. I rode a shade under 14 miles, which is shorter than my usual morning commute, but not bad for a cold day. The afternoon commute home promises to be about 15º warmer, so I’ll shed at least one layer, and switch to lighter gloves and a lighter balaclava.

On an unrelated note, 7:30 seems to be a good time to leave the house when I’m commuting via road bike on school days. While there’s still occasional foot traffic for the middle school, it’s not really a problem. The biggest issue this year has been dealing with school bus traffic on Lawyers Hill Road, but by 7:30, they all seem to have finished running their routes. It’s also early enough that I don’t have to deal with a lot of traffic for the elementary school in Relay.

Climbing notes

Interesting evening of climbing last night. By the way it started, I figured I might be done after two climbs. I started out leading a 5.8 and a 5.10-, and just felt really awkward/hesitant/rusty on the wall. The “problem nerve” in my right foot wasn’t really happy after the first climb, which makes me suspect that my footwork wasn’t great, either. It had all the makings of an “off” day. However, as I warmed up, my climbing improved significantly, and after climbing my third route, I felt much more confident. I ended up leading 5 routes and top-roping 1. I even climbed on the lead wall for only the second time ever. I think the moral of the story is that I need to spend a little bit more time warming up before starting to climb. I used to be pretty good about it, but lately, I’ve been falling off, partly due to timing of when I get to the gym, when my climbing friends arrive, etc. When I’m rushed or on a tight schedule, the temptation is high to skip warm-ups and just jump right into climbing.

I have found that I really like climbing lead on overhung routes. Part of that has come out of improvements in my technique, as I’m able to do it without killing my forearms now. Also, for some reason, the fear of falling doesn’t seem quite as intense. It might be because the routes are more physically challenging, and take more concentration, which leaves fewer brain cells to think about falling. Also, I think there’s less risk of injury from falls on overhangs vs vertical/slabby routes, as you’re falling into space, and there are no holds, volumes, walls, etc. to potentially hit on the way down. Lastly, overhung routes put less stress on the feet than slabs, because the weight is distributed to different parts of the body. In fact, I occasionally find it challenging to keep my feet from falling off the wall. I think the trick there is to engage the core muscles to keep the hips close to the wall, something I probably need to improve at. Footwork (e.g. heel hooks vs toe hooks) and shoe choice also likely play a role.

Run Notes

I ran 10 miles this morning, in spite of not feeling quite 100%. My pesky (but productive) cough returned yesterday, as well as some sort of weird acid reflux that started during yesterday’s bike ride, although the latter seems to have abated. This morning, I woke up with a mild sinus headache, which went away after I got moving. I felt fine for most of the run, and managed a pace of 10:43/mile and cadence of 183 steps/minute, both of which are about normal for me for a run of this distance. I was my first 10-mile run in just over 3 weeks, and I was definitely dragging a little bit for the final 2.5 miles or so, although overall, I felt like I finished strongly. Hoping I can get back into running this distance on a weekly basis.

Ride Notes

I had originally planned to run this morning and ride tomorrow (Sunday), but a slight chance of rain tomorrow prompted me to switch things up. Looks like the weather is going to end up being a non-factor, though. I had not taken a 30+ mile biking/geocaching trek in quite a long time, mainly because I’ve been doing more kayaking on the weekends this fall. It’s finally starting to get too cold for that (for this season, at least) so in its place, I’ll be getting back to more hiking and biking, and by extension, caching. Today, I rode out to Columbia and Clarksville and back, for a round-trip of just over 33 miles. I found 3 caches along the way, and failed to find one. The temperature started out a little bit below freezing, and warmed up to the upper 30s while I was out. I wore my trusty REI convertible cycling jacket over a long-sleeve cycling jersey and 32° long-sleeve synthetic base layer, as well as Garneau cycling pants, wool socks, Altra Lone Peaks with warming insoles, lightweight balaclava, and liner gloves underneath open-finger cycling gloves. I rode my Surly Disc Trucker, and broke out the Bar Mitts handlebar pogies for the first time this season. They’re a bit of a pain to take on and off the bars, but they make cold-weather riding much more enjoyable. I’ll probably leave them on the Surly all winter and just use a different bike on warmer days. I was pretty comfortable for most of the ride, including a couple of brief excursions into the woods to look for caches. It was great to get out for a longer ride. Tomorrow morning’s weather looks very similar to today’s, and the plan is to shoot for a 10-mile run. Wish me luck…

Rise Up Maryland Pourover

  • Beans: “Organic Maryland Coffee” medium roast (Guatemala/Honduras)
    • Roaster: Rise Up Coffee Roasters (Easton, MD)
    • Roast date: 11/8/2023
  • 17g coffee / 250g water (1:14.7)
  • JX: 2 rotations (20 on the grind chart / 60 total clicks)
  • Water at 95°C
  • Recipe: A Better 1 Cup V60 Technique (see below)
  1. Preheat V60, pre-moisten filter, add coffee, and tare scale
  2. Make small indentation in center of coffee grounds
  3. 0:00: Pour 50g of water to bloom, then return kettle to base
  4. 0:10 – 0:15: Gently Swirl
  5. 0:45 – 1:00: Pour up to 100g total (40% total weight)
    • Hold kettle for the remainder of the brewing process
  6. 1:10 – 1:20: Pour up to 150g total (60% total weight)
  7. 1:30 – 1:40: Pour up to 200g total (80% total weight)
  8. 1:50 – 2:00: Pour up to 250g total (100% total weight)
  9. 2:00 – 2:05: Gently swirl
  10. Drawdown finished around 2:45

I bought this bag at the grocery store. Initially tried grind setting 21 with 18g coffee (1:13.8) but seemed a tiny bit under-extracted, so I tried today at grind setting 20. This seems like a reasonable starting point, but I can’t guarantee that I won’t try tweaking it further. Guessing these beans are roasted on the lighter end of medium, as the cup tasted kind of like a light roast in terms of body and flavors. I may even try pushing the water temperature up closer to boiling, as today’s cup had no hints of bitterness at all.

12/3: The last couple of single-cup brews I’ve done have been on the sour/acidic side. I am going to try making the grind a little bit finer the next time I brew these beans. Also, 1:13.8 seems a tad on the strong side, so I may try 16-17g coffee instead of 18g. Not sure if I’ll adjust both at the same time. I only have enough beans for 4-5 more cups, but as these beans are readily available at the grocery store, and there’s a good chance I’ll buy them again, it’s probably worth my while to dial the recipe in as much as I can. (Followup- realized later on that I had accidentally used grind setting 22 for this cup. Still think I’m going to try a little bit finer than my starting point next time; maybe 19.)

12/5: Grind setting: 19; water: 250g at 95°; coffee: 16g (1:15.6). Pretty good cup that tasted better extracted than 12/3’s. I only have 4 or 5 cups’ worth of beans left, but might try the next couple a little bit finer, just to see how far I can go before it starts tasting bitter.

12/8: Kept everything the same as 12/5, except with a grind setting of 18. Nice, smooth cup, still with no hint of bitterness.

12/12: It seems that the ideal grind setting for this recipe is 18 or 19. I’ve tried going finer (17 on Sunday and 16 today) and the cups are starting to taste sour (not bitter, surprisingly). I have 29g of beans left, so I’ll probably brew one more pourover at 18 or 19, and then maybe try a smaller cup in the AeroPress.

This, that, and the other

I finally felt like I was back at 100% for this morning’s run. I covered 8.7 miles at 10:35/mile and 183 steps/minute. My energy felt good throughout the run, and unlike my past couple of times out, did not feel tired or lethargic afterwards. I believe that the lethargy may have partially been a hydration issue. I have not been carrying water with me recently, because of the cooler temperatures, but today, I’ve been making an effort to drink a bunch of water over several hours following the run. There’s a nor’easter blowing through today, but I got out ahead of the rain, and only had to deal with some sprinkles. I’ll probably take a shorter run on Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) and then, if all goes well, I’ll shoot for a 10-miler on Saturday.

As I alluded to several weeks ago, I’ve converted Monday into a telecommute day during the winter months (likely until March, when we go back on Daylight Saving Time). It works out well with my Monday evening climbing, and also gives me an opportunity to do something other than running or bike commuting one morning per week. Yesterday, I took a mountain bike ride ahead of today’s rain. I was out for a while longer than I had planned, but I did check out the new Bloede Dam Trail, which runs from Garrett’s Pass out to Ilchester Road on the Howard County side of PVSP, with a shortcut down to the River Road Trail at about the midway point. The second half, past the shortcut, has some incredible views, but some of it is well above my skill level. I’ll be happy if I can eventually get to the point where I can ride most of it, but it’ll take some practice.

Running Improvement

I felt much more like myself running today than I had in the past couple of weeks. It was my first run in 4 days, mainly due to my schedule. I still have a nagging cough, but it has kind of gotten to where it’s more of a nuisance than an impediment to activity. Today’s weather was in the upper 40s with a slight breeze, and I wore long running pants, a long sleeve light wool running shirt, a windbreaker, calf compression sleeves, crew-height wool Injinji toe socks, a fleecy headband, and Vibram V-Runs. I did not wear gloves, and did not miss them today (they’re usually the first thing I end up taking off in this kind of weather). I ran 7.5 miles at a pace of around 10:50/mile and average cadence of 182spm. I felt like I could finally take deep breaths again without tripping my cough reflex, and I had more energy and was able to get my average heart rate up a little bit higher. It’s obvious that I’ve lost some conditioning over the past two weeks, but I feel like I now have the energy to start work on building that back up. I stopped a little bit shy of the end of my route, because I was starting to tire, and felt like I had already gone far enough. In spite of that, I was really happy with this run. My plan for the week ahead is to run Tuesday, Thursday, and probably Saturday, so I’ll see if I can continue to improve.

Stoney Creek Paddle

I had been hoping to get out for one more paddle this season, so I was happy I was able to make it happen this morning. I decided to check out another new-to-me launch, namely Green Haven Wharf in Pasadena. This is about 20-25 minutes from home (depending on traffic) and provides access to Stoney Creek. Last year, as part of a larger improvement project, Anne Arundel County added a nice car-top boat launch. Before that, it looks like there was an unofficial launch that was a short carry from parking. It is free to launch here, and there is parking for several vehicles, but no bathroom facilities. With air temperatures in the mid 50s and water temperatures in the upper 50s to low 60s, I opted to wear my wet suit. I hit the water at around 9:00am, and was out for two hours. The day started off overcast, but the clouds burned off while I was out, and I finished the paddle in bright sunshine. While it was a beautiful day to be on the water, it was definitely on the windy side. I started out by checking out a couple of small coves just upstream of the launch, but soon ran out of real estate and turned back downstream. My initial goal was to paddle all the way out to the Fort Smallwood Rd bridge, but I ended up turning around a little bit short of it, because the water was getting choppy and I was fighting against the wind. With the wind at my back, I headed back in the direction of the launch, and checked out a couple of smaller coves along the way. The water was fairly calm here, and it was quite enjoyable. I saw a couple of kayak fishermen out at one point, but other than that, I had the water entirely to myself. All in all, I covered around 5 miles.

I’m pretty sure this was the latest in the season that I have ever paddled. I’d lay odds on this being my last paddle of the season, but you never know. In any case, I really enjoy being out on the water this time of year, and I could see myself eventually buying a dry suit and getting into year-round paddling. Probably not this year, though.

Zeke’s Harvest Moon AeroPress

I had not used my AP in a couple of months, so I decided to dust it off today:

  • Beans: “Harvest Moon” medium roast (Indonesia/South Asia)
    • Roaster: Zeke’s Coffee (Baltimore, MD)
    • Roast date: 10/30/2023
  • JX: 2 turns (Grind setting 20)
  • 96°C water
  • 15 grams coffee / 200 grams water (1:13.3)
  • Two paper filters, pre-moistened
  • Recipe: An AeroPress Recipe by Tim Wendelboe
  1. Set AeroPress up in standard orientation and rinse filters
  2. Add 200g water to AeroPress
  3. Stir 3 times back to front
  4. Insert plunger and pull up to stop dripping
  5. Steep for 60 seconds
  6. Remove plunger and stir 3 times back to front again
  7. Insert plunger and press slowly

This recipe is actually very similar to one I tried back in September with a different batch of medium-roasted beans. According to my notes, that cup tasted “thin bodied”. Today’s cup, however, was pretty good. Here are the main differences:

  • 95°C water in Sept., vs 96° today
  • One paper filter in Sept., vs 2 today
  • Grind setting 18 in Sept., vs 20 today — September’s was slightly finer
  • Beans 10.5 weeks past roast date (vs 2.5 weeks)

The single biggest difference here was bean freshness. It’s possible that September’s beans may have been starting to get a little stale. Anyhow, I’ll probably try another cup using these beans with this recipe, and see if it turns out similarly to today’s.

I’m hoping to work the AP back into my “rotation” a little bit more frequently, as I’m considering using it as an option for making coffee while traveling. The idea would be to dial a recipe in for a light to medium roast, figure out the quantities of water and coffee used (to eliminate the need for a scale), and pre-grind enough beans for my trip. Then I would pack the AeroPress and ground coffee, and in theory, all I’d need at my destination would be a way to boil water.

11/22: After a slightly bitter cup a couple of days ago, I dropped the water temperature to 90° today and the resulting cup wasn’t bad. Setting 20 is on the coarse side of the “AeroPress range” on the 1Zpresso grind chart, so I might try it a little bit finer next time, just to see what happens.

11/25: I’m currently still at 90°, which seems to work well. Yesterday, I used grind setting 19, and today I tried 18, both of which have been good, with today’s maybe slightly better, although the difference is subtle, and as I’m tasting the cups 24 hours apart, also could be somewhat subjective. I think I’ll just keep nudging it finer and finer until it starts to taste over-extracted, at which point I’ll know it’s making a difference. 😀 I do think that I should probably start using an insulated mug when brewing at lower temperatures this time of year, as today’s cup cooled off very quickly in my ceramic mug, in spite of my having preheated it.

11/26: I think we are finally hitting the point of diminishing returns at grind setting 17. It was still a reasonably good cup, but with a slight hint of bitterness. So, the ideal setting would seem to be 18, or possibly one of the two positions between 18 and 17.