Zeke’s Market Blend (second bag)

  • Beans: “Market Blend” from Zeke’s Coffee (Baltimore, MD)
    • Roast level: Medium (5/8)
    • Origin: Central and South America
    • Roast date: 5/13/2024
    • Purchase date: (TBD) at Green Valley Marketplace in Elkridge, MD
  • AeroPress:
    • 18-19g coffee / 250g water (1:13 to 1:14)
    • JX: 25 (75 clicks)
    • Water at 90°C
    • Prismo with metal and paper filters
    • Pour to 50g, stir to wet, and bloom until 0:45; top up to 250g and stir 5-6x; cover and steep until 3:00; stir 5-6x; press slowly

This is my second bag of these. I previously bought them last October, and I settled on kind of a convoluted V60 method where I used hotter water to bloom the grounds and then diluted the water to cool it before brewing. I didn’t want to go to that much trouble, so this time, I just tried V60 with 90°C water and grind setting 20(?). This was similar to what I did the first few times with the last bag, and the results were similar, too — it was on the bitter side. Since the beans are ever so slightly on the darker side of medium, I decided to try the AeroPress, which I don’t believe I had used at any point with the last bag. After an initial bitter cup at grind setting 20, I settled on the above, which was smooth and chocolaty. Rereading my first linked post from October, it looks like I ended up at a slightly finer grind setting (23) with V60, which is interesting, because I usually end up grinding finer with the AeroPress than with pourover. However, every bag is different, and taste always wins out over what seems logical on paper.

5/27: For the past couple of cups, I have reverted to a similar technique to last fall’s, using the AeroPress instead of V60: Heat water to 99C; pour to 50-60g; stir to wet; cool kettle water to 82-86C; bloom until 0:45; top up to 250g and stir 5-6x; cover and steep until 3:00; stir 5-6x; press slowly. Today’s cup was the best so far, and I used 20g coffee at grind setting 22 (2 turns + 6 clicks). It was a nice, smooth, rich cup. This brewing technique seems to work well with Zeke’s Market Blend, but I’ve never tried it with any other beans. I wonder if it would be worth trying with some other medium to dark roasts. The only downside is that it adds an extra step to the process, and sometimes (particularly first thing in the morning) I’d rather just keep things simple.

Second and third paddle outings of the season

So far, I’ve done well with my informal New Year’s Resolution to get out on the water earlier in the season. I’ve been out the past three Tuesday mornings, each time launching from Solley’s Cove Park. Last week, I paddled most of the way down Marley Creek, which is the longest creek upstream of the launch. Cathy came along as well. The last time I paddled here was early November 2022, and that day, I identified several potential hiding places for a geocache series I’m thinking about putting out. I checked each of the sites last week, and all but one still seemed viable. I have yet to paddle all the way to the headwaters of Marley Creek, which looks like around 6 miles round-trip, or a little bit farther if I check out all of the side channels along the way. Today, I paddled Furnace Creek and Bell’s Cove, which lie to the north of Marley Creek. I am pretty sure I did the same paddle last year — it’s a shorter creek than Marley, so I paddled all the way to the headwaters. My somewhat meandering route ended up being 5.4 miles round trip. I identified a few geocache sites along here as well, though there aren’t as many good ones as there are along Marley. A lot of the shoreline is severely eroding, a huge amount of it is developed (as is the norm in Anne Arundel County) and some of the more natural areas have posted private property signs.

I am working on trying to find a good setup to haul 2 kayaks plus our new SUP on the van at the same time. It looks like I can fit J-hooks for two kayaks outside the rack towers on either side of the van. The SUP mount should then fit in the middle. I have a love-hate relationship with J-hooks, as it seems like about 50% of the time, I don’t get the kayak side-on enough when I’m hefting it up there, and it ends up partially horizontal, requiring me to “finesse” it back and forth until it slips into the J-hook, all the while hoping it doesn’t fall. If I can get my loading technique down, I suspect the hooks will work OK on the van, though, at least for the short term. The Thule Hullavator loader looks nice, but I don’t think I’d be able to get two of them up there in addition to a SUP mount (and they cost $900 each). A trailer is another option, but most of them can’t accommodate a 16-17′ sea kayak. So, at least for now, I’m back to the J-hooks.

Also on the subject of kayak loading, as often happens this time of year, I’ve managed to tweak my lower back. My back is in remarkably good shape for all the abuse I’ve put it through over the years, but I’m not in my 20s any more, so I have to be more careful with it, which means not bending over and lifting heavy stuff (the old “lift with your knees” cliché). I’ve found that when my back is acting up, it doesn’t like me picking anything heavy up off the ground at all, whether I “lift with my knees” or bend over at the waist. That presents an issue with loading kayaks, as they’re heavy, and they’re usually on the ground. For today, I took the J-hooks off the Honda Civic and put a set of cradles and rollers on that had been on the van. Then, I used a rope extension on the kayak’s pull handles, so I could lift the boat up one end at a time without bending at all. Finally, I used my trusty boat loader extension that slides out of the crossbar and supports one end of the kayak while I lift the other side up. The combo worked out pretty well, and I managed to do my loading and unloading without aggravating my back.

Zeke’s Colombia Huila

  • Beans: “Colombia (Huila)” from Zeke’s Coffee (Baltimore, MD)
    • Roast level: Light (2/8)
    • Roast date: 4/20/24 or 4/28/24 (second digit of day hard to read)
    • Purchase date: 5/2/24 at Green Valley Marketplace in Elkridge, MD
    • Process: washed
    • Tasting notes: Orange, caramel, milk chocolate
  • V60:
    • 21g coffee / 300g water (1:14.3)
    • JX: 18 (54 clicks)
    • Water at 99°C
    • Recipe: Single Cup V60 Pourover with slow pour

I started these at setting 19 a couple of days ago, and it seemed like it needed to be a little finer, so I went with 18 today. This was a good cup. It will be interesting to see how I need to adjust things over the next couple of weeks. Some of it depends on the actual roast date. If it was 4/28, I expect I’ll need to tweak things quite a bit; if it was 4/20, probably a little less so. A couple of the bags on the shelf clearly read 4/28, so I’m wondering if mine is actually 4/28 also, with the bottom half of the 8 chopped off. But, it could also be 4/20. Who knows?

5/11: I have settled on setting 19 for my most recent several cups, and they have been fairly consistent, with some slightly better than others, but overall pretty good. I can definitely taste a hint of orange, as advertised, and the overall roastiness balances the acidity out nicely.

Rain Run

We appear to be back in a rainy weather pattern for at least the next several days. When it’s wet or rainy out, and I want to go running, I’ve always focused on trying to keep my feet dry. Vibram FiveFingers with toe socks do not work — the water ends up soaking through the socks, and my feet get cold. I’ve also used my Xero Terraflex hiking shoes (particularly in the winter) and they work well with wet pavement, but not rain, as they aren’t fully waterproof. The only truly waterproof shoes I currently own are my Altra Lone Peaks, and while they’re fantastic for mountain biking, I find them too heavy and bulky for running. Xero makes a waterproof trail shoe, as does Vivobarefoot ($$$), and either of those might eventually be an option. Today, though, I decided not to bother trying to keep my feet from getting wet. Instead, I wore the Vibrams with heel cups and no socks. I ran 9 miles with the temperature in the low 50s and off-and-on drizzle. My big worry was that my feet would freeze, but that didn’t happen. Instead, I noticed kind of a wet suit effect: the insides of the shoes got wet almost immediately, but thanks to body heat, the water never felt uncomfortably cold. It was definitely more comfortable than wearing the Vibrams with socks, although it likely wouldn’t work in really cold weather. I’d be interested to see how it works with temperatures in the 40s. Rounding out my wardrobe were calf compression sleeves, running shorts, long-sleeve athletic top, Gore-Tex running shell with hood, and Sweathawg head band. Most of my shorts have leg pockets which I use to stash my phone, but today, I used a small lumbar pack which fits underneath the shell, and it did a good job keeping my phone dry. Running without socks is going to require that I wash the Vibrams more frequently, but overall, this seems like a good option for rainy days during the warmer months of the year.

Run to UMBC

I tried my hand at running from home to UMBC today, which I had never done before. I had spent yesterday afternoon setting up a new computer at the office, and needed to pop in this morning to make sure the Apple Migration Assistant had finished moving all of my stuff over (it took several hours, but it worked great). I only needed to be there for the morning, so it worked out well to run over and then get a ride home at lunchtime. I stuck to roads, following a route that I’ve biked thousands of times. It was interesting seeing everything from a different vantage point. The overall route was just under 7.5 miles, which is about the same distance as my usual weekday loop from home. A couple of months ago, I picked up an Osprey Duro 1.5 running vest, mainly as a way to carry more water with me in the summer. It came in handy today, because I carried more stuff than I would on a typical run, and while the Duro 1.5 isn’t exactly a backpack, it had the extra capacity I needed. This was the 3rd or 4th time I’ve run with the pack, and it seems like it will work out fine. There’s a little bit of sloshing from the water reservoir if it’s filled to capacity (1.5L) but I ran with 1L today, and didn’t notice any sloshing. The vest doesn’t get in my way, and it doesn’t seem to rub anywhere where chafing might become an issue (July and August will be the true test, though). As I had kind of expected, it does get rather wet from perspiration (particularly from my back) so I’m probably going to have to wash it regularly in the summer to keep it from getting too funky. To me, it seems like an acceptable trade-off to being able to carry more water, which I definitely need in the summer. If I combine the 1.5L reservoir with my 16oz soft water bottle, I’ll be able to carry about 0.5 gallon. I just need to supplement that with something that will replenish electrolytes (gel packs?) and I’ll be ready to take longer runs in the summer.