Brew Notes (new bag)

I went through my last half-pound bag of coffee beans in only 9 days, of which I drank all but two of the cups. So, if we assume that I average 1.5 cups a day, and Cathy has an occasional glass of cold brew, I can expect to use up a pound every three weeks or so. Today, I opened a new 1-pound bag:

  • Beans: “Columbia Sierra Nevada” medium-light roast
  • Roaster: Zeke’s Coffee (Baltimore, MD)
  • 17g coffee / 250g water (1:14.7)
  • JX: 2 rotations (20 on the grind chart / 60 total clicks)
  • Water at 96°C 99°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 55g 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

The local grocery store has a pretty good selection of Zeke’s Coffee, all in 1-pound bags. I chose this one partly because it’s single-origin, and I’m looking to get a sense for how some of these taste so I can figure out what regions I prefer. Zeke’s labels their roasts on an 8-point scale, and this one is graded 3 out of 8, so I’m calling it medium-light. I used the same recipe as yesterday and the day before, with just a tiny bit hotter water. It seems like it was a good starting point, as the cup was pretty good, although I suspect there’s room for a little bit of improvement. I may try my next cup with boiling water, just to see if it brings out any different flavors.

Update (9/16): Brewed this again with water just under boil (99°C) and I do think I preferred it to yesterday’s. Flavor-wise, it was a little bit reminiscent of my most recent bag of light roast beans, which makes sense, because that was a blend that also included beans from Colombia. It will be several days before I brew this again, but I’ll likely stick with this recipe when I do. I also recently found an interesting AeroPress recipe that I’m curious to check out. The science behind it seems pretty sound, so I’m wondering if it’ll address the issues I’ve been having with weak AeroPress brews.

After-dinner brew

  • Beans: “Cold Brew Blend” medium roast (Guatemala/Colombia) from Local Coffee Roasting Co. in Roxana, DE
  • 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 55g 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

This cup was just about perfect — full-flavored, well-balanced, and well-extracted. It’s the same recipe that I brewed a few days ago. I added a few extra details here to try to document what I did as closely as possible. I find that I really prefer holding the kettle over returning it to the base after each pour. It makes the whole process seem more smooth and fluid, and I doubt that it makes much difference with regards to the water temperature. It does make me wonder if the volume of water in the kettle has any effect on the resulting brew (the more water in the kettle, the greater its thermal mass, so the longer it will hold its temperature) but I think that’s getting to the point of splitting hairs.

I do wonder why all of my AeroPress brews lately have been weak. Everything I read says it’s because the coffee is ground too coarse, the water temperature is too low, the steep time is too short, etc., but I’ve tried adjusting all of those, and the brew is still weak. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. I know it wouldn’t be weak if I brewed it at 1:10, but I feel like I shouldn’t have to — this evening’s pourover was fantastic at 1:15, and my French press cups are good at 1:13 to 1:14. To add to the confusion, it wasn’t too long ago that I was consistently brewing good cups in the AeroPress at 1:14, with different beans that are long gone now. I haven’t been able to replicate that success with any of my other beans. If I have to brew at 1:10, then I don’t see the point of using the AeroPress when I can get the same results with pourover using less coffee. I expect I’ll eventually sort this out, but in the meantime, it sure is vexing.

Fun with pourover

Trying to reset my pourover recipe for my current bag of coffee beans, as the past couple of cups have been a little bitter.

  • Beans: “Cold Brew Blend” medium roast (Guatemala/Colombia) from Local Coffee Roasting Co. in Roxana, DE
  • 17g coffee / 250g water (1:14.7)
  • JX: 2 rotations (20 on the grind chart / 60 total clicks)
  • Water at 94°C
  • Recipe: A Better 1 Cup V60 Technique (see below)
  1. Make small indentation in center of coffee grounds
  2. 0:00: Pour 55g of water to bloom
  3. 0:10 – 0:15: Gently Swirl
  4. 0:45 – 1:00: Pour up to 100g total (40% total weight)
  5. 1:10 – 1:20: Pour up to 150g total (60% total weight)
  6. 1:30 – 1:40: Pour up to 200g total (80% total weight)
  7. 1:50 – 2:00: Pour up to 250g total (100% total weight)
  8. 2:00 – 2:05: Gently swirl
  9. Drawdown finished around 2:45

A few notes: I’m back to the original grind setting that I used the first time I brewed the beans. I also used 17 grams of coffee (vs 18), and started out with the water a degree or so cooler. Last night, I rewatched the Hoffmann video linked above, and the only thing he did that I haven’t been doing was to make a small indentation in the center of the grounds, so I added that step. During the brew, I had previously been putting the kettle back on the base in between all of the pours, but today, with the exception of the longer pause after the initial bloom, I just held on to the kettle the entire time. This seemed to make the process more smooth and fluid. Lastly, I skipped the final “swirl”, but not intentionally — I just forgot. These tweaks all seem very minor, but collectively, who knows?

The cup turned out just fine. Nothing mind-blowing, but very drinkable. The first couple of sips tasted bitter, but then it mellowed out. I’ve noticed this phenomenon a lot, particularly with pourovers. For some reason, it seems even more pronounced with these beans. Not sure what causes it, but maybe it’s something to do with my palate. Anyhow, I’ll stick with this methodology for my next few cups, and see how it goes. I do want to try brewing these beans with the AeroPress some time in the next couple of days.

New Brew

I finally opened the last of the three half-pound bags of beans that I bought in Delaware in early July. These beans are from the same roaster, and the same countries of origin, as my recent bag of light roast. I’m wondering if they took the same blend of beans and just roasted them a little longer.

  • Beans: “Cold Brew Blend” medium roast (Guatemala/Colombia) from Local Coffee Roasting Co. in Roxana, DE
  • 18g coffee / 250g water (1:14)
  • JX: 2 rotations (20 on the grind chart / 60 total clicks)
    • 9/7: Grind setting 18 (54 total clicks) had better flavor
    • 9/8: Bitter today at 18. Will try 19 (57 clicks) tomorrow
    • 9/9: Still bitter at 19. What is going on? Maybe I am swirling too much…
  • Water at 95°C
  • Recipe: A Better 1 Cup V60 Technique (see below)
  1. 0:00: Pour 60g of water to bloom
  2. 0:10 – 0:15: Gently Swirl
  3. 0:45 – 1:00: Pour up to 100g total (40% total weight)
  4. 1:10 – 1:20: Pour up to 150g total (60% total weight)
  5. 1:30 – 1:40: Pour up to 200g total (80% total weight)
  6. 1:50 – 2:00: Pour up to 250g total (100% total weight)
  7. 2:00 – 2:05: Gently swirl
  8. Drawdown should finish around 3:00

This was a perfectly pleasant, if unspectacular, cup. It was a good strength, and well-balanced, with no bitter or sour notes, but not much in the way of complex flavors, compared to the beans that I just used up. I’ll probably try grinding the beans a little bit finer next time, just to see what happens. Also, I’d be remiss not to try using them for cold brew, so I’m going to do that soon (likely tomorrow afternoon). Could be there’s a reason they’re sold as a “cold brew blend”. 😀

Another ridiculously hot early September day on tap, but this morning’s ride to work felt like any other summer morning commute. In spite of dry conditions, I opted for the road bike, because I figured it’d be easier to avoid overheating during the ride home later this afternoon.

Update for 9/9: For some reason, the past two cups I’ve brewed using this recipe (setting 18 yesterday, 19 today) have been on the bitter side. Not sure what I’m doing differently, except to note that on 9/7, I’m pretty sure I forgot to “swirl” the V60 after the initial and final pours, and the cup turned out better. Could it be that the “swirling” is leading to overextraction? If that’s the case, I can try to either skip the swirling, or make the grind coarser. I may try door #1 first, and I may also try making a cup with the AeroPress, just for kicks.

Saturday Morning Update

Here’s what I brewed this morning:

  • Beans: “Angel Albino Corzo-Chiapa” medium roast (Mexico) from Amity Coffee Roasters in Greenwood, DE
  • 18g coffee / 250g water (1:14)
  • JX: 2 rotations less 6 clicks (18 on the grind chart / 54 total clicks) Note: subsequent cups at this setting tasted bitter — better at 2 rotations / grind setting 20 / 60 total clicks
  • Water at 95°C
  • Recipe: A Better 1 Cup V60 Technique (see below)
  1. 0:00: Pour 60g of water to bloom
  2. 0:10 – 0:15: Gently Swirl
  3. 0:45 – 1:00: Pour up to 100g total (40% total weight)
  4. 1:10 – 1:20: Pour up to 150g total (60% total weight)
  5. 1:30 – 1:40: Pour up to 200g total (80% total weight)
  6. 1:50 – 2:00: Pour up to 250g total (100% total weight)
  7. 2:00 – 2:05: Gently swirl
  8. Drawdown should finish around 3:00

This turned out just about perfect to my taste. I just have to make sure to remove the spent grounds immediately after the drawdown finishes to avoid the slight bitterness I alluded to yesterday. I have enough beans left for 4 more cups, and I don’t think I need to tweak this recipe any further (although I’m slightly curious to try the beans in the French press, just to compare). I’ll likely use this recipe as a starting point for my next bag, which is also a medium roast.

This morning was beautiful, with temperatures in the upper 50s/low 60s and low humidity. With a heat wave looming, I seized the opportunity and got out just before 8 and ran 10 miles. I am hoping to get myself conditioned to run 10 miles once a week over the cooler months, and after a few more of these, I should be ready to tackle my short-term goal of running the entire BWI Trail loop, which (according to gmap-pedometer.com) is about 10.7 miles.

This and That

I’m trying a new WordPress theme out. I had been using “Twenty Twenty” for a long time, but never liked that it didn’t have a widget sidebar. So, I’m trying one out called “Simple Life”. It’s responsive, has a sidebar, and seems fairly lightweight, without a lot of bells and whistles and other stuff I don’t need. So, I’ll probably use it for a while until I get tired of it.

As promised yesterday, I brewed a pourover cup of my medium roast Mexican coffee beans using 18 grams of coffee to 250 grams water (around 1:14) and it was just about the perfect strength. It did have a tiny touch of bitterness that I didn’t notice yesterday, but I think that was because I wandered away and let the coffee sit and drip for a little too long. I’ll fix that tomorrow, and if it’s not perfect, I’ll try it just a tiny bit coarser.

I did my usual Friday morning session at the climbing gym today, and felt pretty good after climbing 8 routes ranging from 5.10- to 5.11-. There definitely is a huge difference in my energy level between my morning and evening climbing sessions. I suspect part of it is because I typically commute 22-25 miles on the bike on the same days as my evening climb sessions, with the 8-mile homeward leg wrapping up an hour or so before I leave for the gym. Something probably needs to give there…

Brew Notes

  • Beans: “Angel Albino Corzo-Chiapa” medium roast (Mexico)
  • 20g coffee / 250g water (1:12.5)
  • JX: 2 rotations less 6 clicks (18 on the grind chart / 54 total clicks)
  • Water at 95°C
  • Recipe: A Better 1 Cup V60 Technique (see below)
  1. 0:00: Pour 66g of water to bloom
  2. 0:10 – 0:15: Gently Swirl
  3. 0:45 – 1:00: Pour up to 100g total (40% total weight)
  4. 1:10 – 1:20: Pour up to 150g total (60% total weight)
  5. 1:30 – 1:40: Pour up to 200g total (80% total weight)
  6. 1:50 – 2:00: Pour up to 250g total (100% total weight)
  7. 2:00 – 2:05: Gently swirl
  8. Drawdown should finish around 3:00

This is the same V60 recipe I’ve been using for light roast, with 20g coffee (vs 15), proportionally more initial bloom water, and slightly lower water temperature. I wanted to try brewing a stronger pourover cup, and it appears I have succeeded. This tasted well-extracted and very rich. I’m going to try my next cup at 1:14 (18g coffee / 60g initial pour) and see how that turns out. Over the past 3 days, I’ve now brewed 2 different AeroPress recipes and 1 pourover cup with these beans, all at roughly the same ratio. Both of the AeroPress cups tasted weak, but the pourover was strong. The pourover method is obviously doing a better job of extracting the beans, which makes me wonder what I could be doing differently with the AeroPress. It’s pretty clear that just upping the ratio is not the answer. I suspect that I need to be grinding the beans a lot finer, and/or increasing the steep time. But, if I get consistently good results with pourover, I’m inclined to stick with that for the time being.

More Pourover Notes

My AeroPress has been a little bit neglected lately, as I’ve been really enjoying the pourover cups I’ve been brewing with my bag of light roast beans. Both the pourover and AeroPress methods take about 5 minutes (start to finish) to brew a single cup, so going forward, I’ll probably be using both, depending on the beans and (to an extent) my mood. Two things I’ve learned over the past week:

  • With pourover, small adjustments to the grind size seem to have a larger effect on the finished cup than with the AeroPress. The first few pourover cups I brewed tasted a little bit sour and under-extracted, but at just a slightly finer grind (6 clicks on my JX), I’ve been getting fantastic cups.
  • When brewing single cups with boiling water, the coffee will cool to a drinkable temperature faster if I use a room temperature ceramic mug instead of an insulated Hydro Flask mug, so I can enjoy it sooner and without burning my tongue. 😀

Morning Notes

After alluding to it yesterday, I brewed a cup of pourover coffee this morning using this recipe, with the same beans and a slightly finer grind. I went back and forth over whether to try it coarser or finer, eventually settling on finer just because of how my earlier pourover cups have tasted. I used a setting of 18 on the JX grind chart, which is two rotations minus 6 clicks (54 total clicks). I think this was the right call. The cup had a little bit more fruitiness than the cup I brewed with the AeroPress, with more body to balance out the fruity acidity than my previous pourover cups. Now I’m wondering how fine I can go before it starts to taste bitter.

The weather was quite pleasant this morning, and the past several days have been dry, so I hit the trails and commuted to work through PVSP on my mountain bike. It was my third bike ride in 4 days. On the HoCo side of the river, I rode Belmont Trail to Morning Choice to Lewis and Clark to Garrett’s Pass, which is a route I take frequently. It was a great ride, except something stung me on my arm at one point. I am wondering if maybe I ran over an underground hornet’s nest, and one of them got me. If that’s the case, I’m glad I was moving fast (and I’m not allergic)!! We’re still in heavy summer growth season, but with a few exceptions, the trails I rode were not overgrown. Upper Soapstone Trail, which is on my route home, may be another story, so I’ll see how that is doing later this afternoon.

Pourover vs AeroPress

I’ve brewed the same light roast coffee beans with the same pourover method four times now, and the results have been fairly consistent — good cups that could probably be a little bit better. Today, for comparison, I went back to my AeroPress, using a recipe I had tried once before with these beans. Other than the brewing method, the main differences were that I used a slightly coarser grind with the AeroPress (2.5 turns on the JX vs 2 for pourover) and also a little bit higher ratio (1:14 vs 1:16.67). Both cups seemed good strength-wise. The AeroPress cup was stronger, but the pourovers weren’t thin or weak tasting. They did have more of a noticeable fruity/acidic taste than the AeroPress cup. I think, overall, the AeroPress cup was a little bit better, but I’m curious to see what happens if I try the pour-over with a different grind size. I’m just not sure whether to try it coarser or finer.