• Beans: “Guatemala (Single Origin)” from Rise Up Coffee Roasters (Easton, MD)
    • Roast level: Medium
    • Origin: Guatemala (Asociación Chajulense, Quiché)
    • Roast date: 3/26/24
    • Purchase date: 4/9/24 at Green Valley Marketplace in Elkridge, MD
  • V60:
    • 21g coffee / 300g water (1:14.3)
    • JX: 20 (60 clicks)
    • Water at 95°C
    • Recipe: Single Cup V60 Pourover with slow pour

I brewed my first cup of these on Sunday afternoon (4/14), using grind setting 20, and it was really good. The flavor was great with no bitterness and low acidity. Just as an experiment, I nudged the grind one “click” finer on Monday morning, and another “click” finer this morning (Tuesday), but those cups did not taste as good — not bitter, but just lacking the flavor of the first cup. I returned to setting 20 this afternoon, and it was much better. I have a hard time believing that such a tiny adjustment to the grind made such a big difference in taste, but I guess anything is possible. It will be interesting to see how subsequent cups turn out.

Black Acres Lexington Market Blend

  • Beans: “Lexington Market Blend” from Black Acres Roastery (Baltimore, MD)
    • Roast level: looks like lighter end of medium*
    • Origins: Mexico Mico de Noche, Organic Colombia Sierra Nevada
    • Tasting Notes: Cherry Cordials, Praline, Rich Chocolate
    • Purchase date: 3/22/24
  • V60:
    • 21g coffee / 300g water (1:14.3)
    • JX: 19 (57 clicks)
    • Water at 95°C
    • Recipe: Single Cup V60 Pourover with slow pour; draw-down finished around 2:50

Cathy picked this bag up at Lexington Market (surprise, surprise). The web site says it is a dark roast, but I think that may be a mistake — the beans have a tan to light brown coloring, with no oils visible on the surface. To my (admittedly amateur) eye, they look like a light to medium roast. In any case, I’ve been brewing them like a medium roast, with good results so far. I made my first cup 2 or 3 days ago at setting 25, but it tasted weak. 20 was an improvement yesterday, and 19 was a little bit better still today. It had pretty good body with a definite hint of cherries and a mild bit of acidity.

4/8: For the moment, 18 appears to be the best grind setting. It seems to bring out most of the chocolate flavor, which complements the fruitiness nicely and results in a nice, well-balanced cup. I tried it at 17 (slightly finer) but did not like it as much — it seemed to have a bit less sweetness and a bit more acidity. It will be interesting to see if I need to tweak things as the beans age, but I may go through them quickly, as I don’t have any others at the moment.

4/9: I decided to brew a cup with my ceramic size 1 V60, which I had not used in a while. I kept everything else the same, and I used my old tried-and-true preheating method of sticking a Fernco cap on the bottom of the dripper and filling it with water from the kettle. I pre-moistened the filter at the same time. Later in the day, for comparison, I brewed a second cup with the plastic size 2 V60. The first big thing I noticed was that with the ceramic V60, the water drained down a lot faster. It was finished by around 2:30, vs. 2:50-3:00 for the plastic V60. I’m not sure if this is because of the different geometry of the dripper, different filters (size 1 vs size 2, but both Hario brand unbleached paper filters), or something else. The cup brewed in plastic was better than the cup brewed in ceramic: the former had more flavor and body, and while the latter wasn’t bad, it was a little bit thinner, likely because the faster drain-down led to less extraction of the grounds. I’m curious to see if this is more related to the size of the V60, or the material, but to determine that, I’d need to buy a plastic size 1 V60. In any case, with the ceramic, it might make sense to use a finer grind to try to slow down the brew a little bit. I’m fine just sticking with the plastic, but I have a lot of size 1 filters to use up.

4/14: I used the rest of these up this morning. Like the beans I bought in Morton a month or so ago, I had to start grinding these finer to keep the cups from getting weak. I finished up at grind setting 15, and at that setting, the draw-down finished at around 3:00. The last few cups were still pretty good, if not quite as good as the first few cups.

Verona St Julien’s Breakfast Blend

  • Beans: Julien’s Breakfast Blend from Verona Street Coffee (Dubuque, IA)
    • Origin: Central America / Indonesia
    • Roast level: medium to medium/dark (3/5 per web site)
    • Purchase date: 3/20/24 at Hy-Vee Grocery Store in Omaha, NE
  • AeroPress in hotel room:
    • 1 heaping AeroPress-sized scoop beans plus “a little more” (18-20g)
    • JX Grind Setting 20 (60 clicks)
    • Prismo with 1 paper filter and metal filter
    • Heat water to boiling in microwave
    • Start timer and pour enough to wet grounds
    • Stir and let sit for 45 seconds
    • Top up to about 1/2″ below top of AeroPress chamber
    • Stir front to back 5 or 6 times
    • Steep until 3:00
    • Stir front to back 5 or 6 times
    • Press slowly
  • AeroPress with measurements:
    • 18g coffee
    • 250g water at 95°C (ratio 1:13.9)
    • 50g initial pour
    • Everything else same as above
  • Tasting notes: roasty, smooth, full-bodied

I bought a 12oz bag of these beans at the beginning of our NCAA Tournament trip to Omaha. There was no roast date listed on the bag. The web site lists the origins as Central America and Indonesia, and the roast level as 3 out of 5. I’d definitely call this a medium/dark roast, based on the appearance of the beans (dark and oily), as well as the aroma and taste. My first cup at grind setting 15 was bitter, so I backed off a half turn to 20, and the subsequent cups have been pretty smooth and tasty, in spite of inexact brewing parameters and hotel room tap water. It will be interesting to compare when I get home and try them with the V60.

3/26: I brewed an AeroPress cup at home today, using the same technique I used at the hotel, with more precise measurements (see above). The flavor and strength were similar to the hotel room cups, but I think it was slightly better overall, probably due to higher brewing temperature and/or better water quality (filtered vs straight from the tap). I may end up just brewing all of these beans with the AeroPress, as I like how the cups are turning out, and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

3/31: For the past 2 or 3 days, I’ve been brewing 300g cups with grind setting 20, 21-22g coffee, and 250g brew water at 95C (about the max that will fit in the AeroPress) and then diluting with 50g of bypass water. The cups have tasted similar to the earlier ones I’ve brewed, so this seems like a good way to get a larger cup.

4/8: I brewed my last 12g of beans with 120g water (1:10) using the same AeroPress recipe I’ve used all along, except I skipped the bloom step and just poured all of the water at once. I really liked the result — it was strong, rich, and smooth, and just about the right amount. I think a larger cup would have worn out its welcome — kind of like an imperial stout, a little bit of really strong coffee goes a long way. I’m not sure how widely available this brand is at retail outside of Nebraska/Iowa, but I’d certainly buy it again.

LnB Organic Fair Trade Peruvian

  • Beans: “Organic Fair Trade Peruvian” from Leaves ‘n Beans Coffee (Peoria Heights, IL)
    • Roast level: medium
    • Purchase date: 3/9/24
  • V60:

Started these off at grind setting 29, only because that setting had been working well with the beans I just used up. It wasn’t bad, but had a very slight hint of acidity. I tried it a little bit finer at 28, and got a really good, smooth cup. I then tried 27, and it wasn’t quite as good, so I went back to 28, and I think I’ll stay there for the time being. Compared to my past few bags of Zeke’s, these beans are similar in that they grind pretty cleanly and don’t leave much residue in the grinder, but they take several seconds longer to draw down.

3/17 (Happy St. Patrick’s Day): acidity creeping in at 28 this morning, so this afternoon, I tried 26, which is the finest I’ve ground these so far. It was very good at this setting, so maybe finer is the right idea after all. I definitely felt the caffeine in this cup, so maybe 1:14.3 is a little too strong, though. FWIW, the draw-down finished at around 2:45-2:50 at this setting.

3/19: After 2 days of really good cups at setting 26, both cups today tasted weak and watery. I don’t think anything changed WRT water temperature, ratio or my brewing technique, so I’m not sure what happened. I guess I’ll try it finer tomorrow morning.

3/20: Adjusted grind to 24 this morning, and I think it was a little bit too fine, as it was starting to taste bitter. It will be another 6 days before I brew these beans again, but when I do, I’ll try 25. Could be that 25-26 is good, and I just need to adjust the ratio as the beans age, but I won’t know for sure until next week.

3/26: Setting 25 was not an improvement today. The cup tasted weak and lifeless. I haven’t changed anything WRT technique or recipe vs 10 days or so when I was getting fantastic cups, so my only conclusion is that the beans must be getting past their prime. I think I’m going to switch to AeroPress and see if I can get better results with immersion.

3/27: My usual AeroPress technique at 1:14 (ish) and grind setting 20 yielded a thin-bodied cup, which makes me suspect even more that the beans have degraded. I’ve been storing them in a Fellow vacuum canister, but haven’t been terribly impressed with these canisters, as they seem to slowly lose their seal over several days. I’ve moved the beans to a mason jar, because at least I can be confident it’s airtight. I tried pourover again today with grind setting 25 and a stronger ratio of 1:12.5 (24g coffee / 300g water) and it was better, but still tasted a little bit acidic/under-extracted. I’ll probably keep the strong ratio and start slowly adjusting the grind finer to see if I can get any improvement, or if it just starts getting bitter.

3/28: V60 at grind setting 24, 24g coffee and 300g water was a huge improvement over the past few days. The only thing of note is that I pre-wet the filter with water from the insta-hot tap, which I hadn’t been doing recently, but I doubt that made a huge difference. I could probably go a little bit finer still with the grind, but this was a good start. I don’t have many of the beans left, though.

4/2: Brewed the last of these (all except for about 7-8g) at grind setting 25 and 24g/300g. I didn’t check these notes ahead of time, and forgot that I had most recently been using grind setting 24. Probably not much of a difference either way. Today, I made a point of trying to slow down the water flow rate by pouring as slowly as the kettle would allow. The result was a pretty good cup.

4/7: I had 7-8g of beans to use up, so as an experiment, I ground it really fine (JX setting 10) and brewed it with 90g water (roughly 1:12) at 95C using my go-to AeroPress method (bloom with around 15g water until 0:45, top up to 90g, stir 5-6x, steep until 3:00, stir 5-6x again, press slowly) and although the cup cooled off quickly due to the low volume of water, it had pretty good flavor and body. I was surprised that it wasn’t bitter. So, these beans seem to like a really fine grind, at least after they age for a few weeks. There’s at least an outside chance I’ll try them again the next time I’m in the Peoria area, though I’d say more likely I’ll try something else from the same roaster, just for the sake of variety.

Travel Brewing

Last week, I took my first stab at brewing decent coffee while traveling. Here’s what I packed:

  • AeroPress, plus:
    • scoop
    • stirring paddle
    • several paper filters
    • Prismo accessory with metal filter
  • 1Zpresso JX hand grinder
  • Zeke’s Snow Day Blend beans (in a mason jar)

I put all of this into my checked bag. TBD is whether I’ll be able to fit all of this into carry-on bags. Glaringly absent: a scale, a mug, and a way to heat water. I measured beans by volume using the scoop. To heat the water, I used drip coffee machines at three different hotels, and a Keurig at the house where I stayed the final two nights. I used bottled water in the hotel rooms, and tap water with the Keurig. I was a little bit worried that the typical paper hotel room coffee cups wouldn’t hold up to brewing with the AeroPress, but they worked just fine (granted, I didn’t press very hard).

Figuring that the coffee machines wouldn’t get the water quite up to full boil, I went with a medium roast. I could probably have used a darker roast as well. For a light roast, I’d probably want access to a stove or microwave to bring the water to full boil.

To brew, I used a medium/fine setting of 15 on the JX, which is 1.5 turns. I used 1 heaping scoop of beans plus “a little more”, depending on how strong I wanted the coffee. I used a paper filter in addition to the metal Prismo filter. I then added the grounds, heated 1 paper coffee cup full of water in the machine, and filled the AeroPress up enough to cover the beans, stirred, and bloomed for 45 seconds. I then filled the AP up to near the top. No need to use two cups for this, as the Prismo keeps the water from leaking out (lacking a Prismo, I could probably also have inverted the AP). Then I stirred back-to-front a few times, steeped until around 3:00 (using my phone as a timer), stirred again, and pressed slowly. The resulting coffee was not bad. It was not quite as good as a perfect pour-over cup, but it was well-flavored and well-bodied, and fairly consistent from day to day. I’ll likely try this again the next time I travel.

Zeke’s Snow Day Blend

  • Beans: “Snow Day Blend” from Zeke’s Coffee (Baltimore, MD)
    • Source: Bali Blue Krishna (Indonesia) / Tanzania Peaberry
    • Roast level: medium (4/8)
    • Roast date: 2/19/24
    • Purchase date: 2/27/24
  • V60:

Similar story to pretty much everything I’ve been brewing with my plastic size 2 V60 lately: I started too fine, and am slowly adjusting coarser in an attempt to make the coffee not taste bitter. This was starting to taste pretty good at 28 today, but could maybe go a couple more clicks. I think that my rule of thumb for light to medium roasts is going to be to wait until 10 days to 2 weeks past roast date, and then start with a grind setting of 28 to 30.

3/11: I brewed my first pourover with these in 9 days, using grind setting 29, and it was quite good. I’ll keep this setting for the next few cups, and see how it goes.

3/14: Used these up today. This has been one of my favorite blends from Zeke’s. Once I got the grind setting dialed in at 29, every cup was very consistently good. I also brewed several cups with the AeroPress while out of town, and those cups were good too (if not quite as good as the pourovers) in spite of inconsistent water temperatures and bean/water ratios.

Orinoco Ethiopia Yirgacheffe

  • Beans: “Ethiopia Yirgacheffe”
    • Medium roast
    • Roaster: Orinoco Coffee & Tea, Ltd. (Jessup, MD)
    • Roast date: Unknown (best by 10/28/24)
    • Purchase date: 2/20/24
  • 20g coffee / 300g water (1:15)
  • JX: 30 (90 clicks) for V60; 13 (39 clicks) for AeroPress
  • Water at 95°C
  • Recipe: Single Cup V60 Pourover, Light/Medium Roast AeroPress (TBD)

Taking some time to get this dialed in with the V60. I started at grind setting 20, and it was way too bitter. I brewed a couple of cups around 25/26, and they were less bitter, but still lacking. I backed off to 30 today (2/23) and it was the best cup so far, but seems like it could be better. The V60 drains really quickly at this setting: it is mostly finished by 2:30.

For AeroPress, I used this recipe with 250g water, 17g coffee, and grind setting 13. The flavor was good, but it was a little bit lacking in body, so I’ll start nudging it finer.

2/24: Brewed AeroPress with grind setting 12 this morning, and it was unpleasantly bitter, which kind of surprised me, given how it turned out at 13 yesterday. This afternoon, I brewed V60 at setting 29, which seemed a little better than 30. Will try at 28 tomorrow.

2/25 (morning): (V60) bitterness creeping in at 28. Seems like 29/30 may be the best setting. Could this be an issue with the beans being too “fresh” again? I wish I knew the exact roast date..

2/25 (afternoon): Went back to setting 29 with V60, and it was the best cup I’ve had to date. The only difference from yesterday afternoon’s cup was that I stirred the grounds with a spoon during the bloom phase instead of swirling.

2/27: Even 30 was bitter yesterday!! 32 was better today, but thinking 31 might be the sweet spot (today, at least 😀). This was the first time I had ever used a setting coarser than 30. These beans are behaving similarly to the last two bags of Zeke’s beans that I started brewing just a couple of days after the roast date. This lends credence to my theory that they may have been too “fresh” when I started brewing them.

3/1: I never quite figured out how to get a consistently good cup with these beans with the V60. However, I brewed a very good cup with the AeroPress this morning: 17g beans to 240g water (around 1:14), Prismo + metal and paper filters, 95°C water, JX grind setting 15 — pour 50-55g, stir, bloom until 0:45, top to 240g, stir 4x, steep until 3:00, stir 4x, press slowly. This cup was full-bodied and strong, with good flavor. That was the last of the beans, but noting this as a good starting point for when I eventually buy more of them.

Zeke’s Love Roast No. 9 V60

  • Beans: “Love Roast No. 9”
    • Medium/Light roast (3/8)
    • Roast date: 2/5/2024
    • Tasting notes: Raspberry Wine
  • 20g coffee / 300g water (1:15)
  • JX: 20 (60 clicks)
  • Water at 99°C
  • Recipe: Single Cup V60 Pourover
  • Drawdown finished around 2:40

This was a very good cup right out of the gate. It was maybe a touch on the strong side, but that’s not a bad thing. I don’t think I need to make any adjustments for my next cup.

I’m noticing a trend with pourovers where the cups start off really good when the beans are fresh, but then I have to start tweaking things (typically grinding finer) as the beans get further past the roast date. Sometimes, I end up switching to immersion (AeroPress). It will be interesting to see what happens with these beans. I’m storing them in a vacuum canister, which ostensibly should keep them fresh longer, but that doesn’t seem to have made a difference with other beans. Maybe I’d be better off freezing beans that I can’t use within a week. It might be fun to try buying a pound of beans, freezing half and storing the other half in a vacuum canister, and see if there’s any difference with how the cups taste after a couple of weeks.

2/12: Things here are going similarly to how they went with Zeke’s Holiday Roast. Both are light to medium roasts, and with both, I brewed my first cups just a couple of days after the roast date. Initially, the cups were very good at grind setting 20. Then, they started tasting bitter, and I had to adjust by grinding coarser. Today, I backed off to grind setting 25 (an extra half turn), and that did the trick — it was a good cup, similar to my first. I’m not sure what chemical process (out-gassing?) causes this phenomenon, but it doesn’t really matter, as long as I can adjust my process to account for it. In particular, at least in the case of light-to-medium roasted beans from Zeke’s, maybe I need to let them “age” until about a week past roast date, then start them off at grind setting 25 or so. In any case, it will be interesting to see if I need to make further adjustments as the beans get older. I have them in a vacuum canister, but they’re the only whole beans I have right now, so I’ll probably go through them kind of quickly.

2/15: Still making things coarser. I have worked my way to 27 as of this morning, 10 days past roast date, and it wasn’t bad.

2/16: The relentless bitterness is still working its way into my cups. Even 28 was bitter this morning, so this afternoon, I backed all the way off to 30 (3 full rotations), and that seemed to chase the bitterness, at least for now. 30 is the grind setting I typically use with the French press, but it was my first time grinding this coarse using the pourover method. It’s at the very end of the pourover range on the 1Zpresso grind chart. I’m curious if I’ll ever get to the point where I can go several days without adjusting the grind, but whatever the case, this has been educational.

2/19: I have used grind settings between 29 and 30 for my last several cups, and they have all been pretty consistently good. The beans are two weeks past roast date as of today. They’re the only ones I have right now, so they won’t last much longer. However, I’ve learned that for more consistent results, I should probably let lighter roasts “age” until about 10 days past roast date before I start brewing them.

Rise Up Organic House Roast AeroPress

  • Bean info and V60 pourover notes
  • 16 to 17g coffee to 250g water (around 1:15)
  • Prismo with metal and paper filters
  • Grind setting 12 14
  • Water temperature 95C
  • Add coffee, start timer, pour 45 to 50g water
  • Return kettle to base, stir to wet grounds evenly, and bloom until 0:45 (I just left the stirrer in the AP for this step)
  • Top to 250g water and stir front to back 4 or 5 times, finishing around 1:15
  • Cover and steep until 3:15
  • Stir front to back 4 or 5 times again
  • Press gently, finishing around 4:30

This is pretty much the same technique I used with Zeke’s Hippie Blend (a light roast) recently, except I stirred instead of swirling during the bloom step, and I also steeped it about 45 seconds longer. This cup was not bad, but tasted slightly over-extracted, so I’m probably going to want to grind the beans a little bit coarser next time. I’m thinking about trying setting 14.

2/8: I’m almost out of the beans, but noting for posterity that setting 14 was pretty good. I didn’t steep quite as long (maybe until 3:05) but doubt that made any difference.

Rise Up Organic House Roast V60

  • Beans: “Organic House Roast” (Medium roast)
    • Roaster: Rise Up Coffee Roasters (Easton, MD)
    • Origin: Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Sumatra
    • Roast date: 1/4/24
    • Purchase date: 1/24/24
    • AeroPress notes
  • 20g coffee / 300g water (1:15)
  • JX: 18 (54 clicks)
  • Water at 95°C
  • Recipe: Single Cup V60 Pourover with size 2 plastic dripper

I started at grind setting 20, then tried 19 (still a little acidic) and then went to 18, which was an excellent cup. I’ll keep it there for my next cup.

2/1: The last couple of cups at 18 have been really good. Quick technique notes: I am brewing into a ceramic mug, which I am not preheating. To preheat the plastic V60, I put the filter in it and then run some water from the insta-hot tap over it, then swish it around to wet the entire filter evenly. During the initial pour for the bloom, I also run a little bit of water down the sides of the filter to wash off any coffee grounds stuck there. For subsequent pours, I pour in slow spirals, into the bed only, avoiding the sides.

2/6: Not sure what’s up, but I have been having a run of weak, acidic pourovers over the past few days, with both these and some other beans. While grind setting 18 initially gave me several pretty good cups, the past couple have tasted under-extracted. Today, I went to setting 16, and it was better, but still not quite up to snuff with the cups I initially got at 18. Nothing has changed with my brewing equipment or technique, and I don’t think there’s been much variance in the brewing temperature. Could it be related to bean age and/or storage method (bag vs vacuum canister)?

2/9: Used these up today. I had 26 grams left, so I brewed a larger cup with 400g water using the two cup method I have used in the past, pouring to 250g after 50g bloom, and then topping up with the remaining 150g. I went back to grind setting 18. While this cup was not quite as good as my first few cups, it was better than my more recent smaller cups, and on par with the cup I brewed in the AeroPress yesterday. The common thread here is more immersion time — the V60 takes longer to draw down with more water and more coffee. Maybe the beans just need more time to extract as they get further past roast date.