Friday, August 31, 2012

The Able Kone

Less than three months after Able launched their successful Kickstarter campaign to fund a production run of its latest Kone coffee filter, their beautifully designed white boxes have begun appearing in mailboxes and Instagram feeds around the world.

The new Kone and soon to be released ceramic brewer raised $150,000 more than the initial $5000 requested for tooling and production costs. Now with over 1200 backers supporting Keith Gehrke, the founder of Able Brewing, it’s become clear that his company’s new life after Coava, will create a bright new path on its own.

The Kone is a reusable, stainless steel coffee filter originally designed to fit the Chemex coffee maker, but can really be used with any vessel that supports its size and shape. The filter uses hundreds of thousands of micro-sized holes, created using a process of photo-etched steel, to form a precise filter pattern for uniform extraction.

I prefer not to compare the Kone with Chemex paper filters, because there is little comparison in the resulting coffee. The Kone is a unique brew method that incorporates pour over techniques to produce a heavier, oil-rich brew that’s still cleaner than a French press, which many people enjoy more than paper.

I’ve used the Kone since the first version was released more than 2 years ago. It’s been great following the progression of the filter and the company as it’s been refined over the years. The third and newest version is no exception.

The most obvious changes in the new design is the black plastic ring around the edge along with a new blunted tip. My reaction to the black ring was negative at first for altering the elegant, streamlined aesthetic of previous versions (it also slightly affects how well it sits in a Chemex).

However, once I handled the new Kone, the extra rigidity added to the shape and structure by the plastic ring becomes obvious and appreciated. For the coffee shops who use the Kone all day long, the new lip will greatly improve emptying spent grounds and seemingly extend the filters overall life.

The new blunted tip not only makes the Kone safer to handle, but it eliminates the small gap found on the tip of older versions, which was a clear path for fine grounds that increase sediment in the cup. This new “cap” plays a part in catching fines and helping produce a cleaner cup overall than the previous Kones.

With even smaller holes and a new pattern that becomes more concentrated near the tip, the new Kone offers more uniform passthrough as well. More of the water makes its way to the bottom, instead of leaking dramatically through the sides of the filter.

When the first Kone came out, I thought it looked incredible and worked great. It was new and there was nothing to compare it with. Once version 2 came out, the first one suddenly looked and felt like a prototype and the quality of the brew greatly improved.

The latest version, while losing some of its elegance, looks like a retail-ready product that could be sold on the shelves of Williams-Sonoma. From the packaging to the product itself, there’s a much greater feeling of value.

Below I’ve run an experiment to illustrate the progression of the Kone and how much the sediment has been reduced with each new version.

I brewed coffee with each version of the Kone using the same parameters and technique: 40 grams of coffee to 600 grams of water, 30 second bloom followed by a slow and steady center pour, using a medium grind (5-O on a Baratza Vario-W).

After each coffee was done brewing, I poured the result through a rinsed, white V60 filter to capture the sediment. Results pictured below begin with version 1.

Overall, the new Kone is a great improvement over its predecessor. From its reinforced new structure to the increased clarity in the cup—if you were a fan of previous versions then you’ll love the latest. If you’re just now discovering the Kone or have been waiting to purchase one, this is definitely the best version so far and you’ll be happy you waited.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rocket R58: Final News!

The Rocket R58 dual boiler espresso machine 

This will be the last update of the Rocket R58 before a hopeful real review of the dual boiler, which Im looking forward too a lot. Nevertheless in the meantime Whole Latte Love have produced two videos from May regarding this newly launched espresso machine and it's kind of interesting because one of the videos actually shows the inside of the Rocket R58.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Grady´s Cold Brew

Barely a year has passed sine Grady Laird quit his magazine production job to launch Grady´s Cold Brew, a "New Orleans-style" coffee concentrate available in 32-ounce bottles. "It´s been insane", says Laird, talking from his new Brew Compound, a 6,000 square-foot combination space on the north side of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. The Brew Cove is a tenfold expansion of the Brew Cave (Lairds first HQ) and his staff his doubled to six employees.

"Until a couple of months ago, there were just three of us doing literally everything: putting labels on the bottles, sanitizing the bottles, filling the bottles, shipping everything, cleaning."

Grady´s Cold Brew might look like an overnight success from the outside, but Laird spent years seeking out a suitable project, first floating the idea of a European-style doner-kebab shop. "I realized I´s be eaten alive, trying to run a restaurant in New York City without the right experience", he says. Iced coffee came next: "I was trying to figure out why everyone´s perfectly comfortable making their own hot coffee, but when it gets hot outside, everyone switches to buying iced coffee", adds Laird.

When Lairds started he didn´t know anything about the cold brewing technique and the first attempts off heating up a pot of coffee and then rapidly cooling it down didn´t go well. Then Laird looked into the art off extracting a great cold brew, which was grew in popularity in the coffee nerds society at that time. He found that a brew should take about 12-20 hours of extraction time, which was a very simple process, but not one people would pursue themselves on the hot days.

Grady´s cold brew was made by stepping coffee and chicory overnight, which makes it suitable for pouring in milk or water (hot or cold). Laird soon found himself running up and down the stairs of the Conde Nast Building, where he worked until last year, talking orders from fellow magazine staffers.

Chicory - is a caffeine-free herb that is as a popular coffee substitute, as well as an ingredient in New Orleans Coffee or Chicory coffee recipes. Unlike decaf coffee, chicory is naturally caffeine free. To make Chicory root into a substance, the root is pulled up from the ground, washed, dried, roasted, finely cut and then steeped or brewed. Chicory´s roasting process gives it a roasty flavor roughly akin to that of coffee, and is part of the reason why Chicory is a popular coffee substitute, as well as a fairly common ingredient in coffee recipes. After the Chicory root is roasted and cut up (or ground) it is ready to be steeped or brewed. Chicory is more water soluble than coffee, which means you need to use a lot less of it when brewing it with coffee or instead of coffee.   

"I quickly realized the reactionI was getting was not people pitying my little business, but actually addicted and really jonesing for it."

Now Grady´s Cold Brew is firmly established in the much-derided, much-emulated Brooklyn artisanal food scene and is planing to widespread with regional microbreweries (U.S.).

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cafe, Venezia

Antica Torrefazione Di Caffe

Deep within the heart of the Italian town, Venice – lies a dedication of how greatly coffee should be appreciated. A little roastery, Antica Torrefazione Di Caffe has taken a lead off becoming the single roastery in Venice, where green beans is transformed into a balanced cup and here from appreciated not only by the locals, but also tourist. 

Green coffee beans directly in the shop

Coffee History
The history of coffee has been documented as early as the tenth century AD, where its use was largely restricted to the native beans of Ethiopia. Here highlanders first farmed the coffee plant, however it was the Arabs who saw the trading potential and sold the beans to northern Africa where mass-cultivation occurred. Early 14th Century explorers upon seeing the coffee drinking in the near east labelled it as a drug, reporting the many medicinal benefits from consumption in the morning. From there, the beans entered European and Indian markets in the 17th Century, where the popularity of the coffee became widespread, as "the wine of Arabia".

Gigant roaster in the back room

Coffee was first introduced to Europe from Egypt through the Italian city of Venice, where a flourishing trade between the local businessmen and Arabs enabled a large variety of commodities and goods to be imported. Merchants sold this coffee to the wealthy in Venice, charging them greatly for the privilege of drinking this exciting new beverage.

A neverending que

Due of its eastern roots, coffee in Italy was at the outset considered a sinful and deemed as an Islamic threat to Christianity. However its popularity grew regardless, and Pope Clement VII upon wisely sampling the heathen drink was instantly enamored by the unique taste and aroma.Consequently, it was decided that far from religious conspiracy, it would be a great sin to banish such a delightful drink and thus is was deemed Christian beverage - giving rise to the first Italian coffee house.

The owner of the Italian coffee roasters

Named for the beverage that it served, the first cafe in Venice opened around 1683 and soon became synonymous with comfortable atmosphere, conversation, good food - this adding romance and sophistication to the coffee experience.

Different roasted beans for home purchase
The heart of the roastery
The professional Barista

Historically most Italian coffee is brewed strong and fast in the form of espresso, which is perhaps why this country developed various milk based coffees such as the cappuccino and latte. The inventive to develop this type of coffee was not due to its superior taste, but a shrewd 18th Century Italian businessman who sought to reduce the time his workers spent on their morning coffee break. Thus a lever driven machine was developed to force water through tightly packed ground coffee, incidentally creating a stronger more aromatic brew. Although the strong association between Italy and coffee can be deemed somewhat of a misnomer as only humble amounts are grown in this country, early Italian culture welcomed the drink as if it were their own and did much to advance its status of the beverage worldwide.

Making a cappuccino
Blue Mountain Jamaica for home purchase
The final cappuccino

Were would you find a coffee cafe that sells Blue Mountain Jamaica for home purchase and also respects the coffee enough too roast the coffee yourself as the only one in miles around? Well this little oasis in the middle of Venice did that and I must say Im impressed!

// Hendrup

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Attento Thermometer by Espresso Gear

Attento Thermometer by Espresso Gear

The Attento Thermometer is created by Espresso Gear and has been a cheap guidance for my journey off steaming perfect micro-foam - considering the price off the gadget versus a micro-foam course.

Espresso Gear began its journey in 2000 with funder Lars Wallin. Espresso gear is a Swedish invention, design and production company, focusing on the contemporary specialty espresso market. Whether you´re a seasoned barista, home brewer or an espresso enthusiast, products at Espresso Gear have been specifically designed to make the entire espresso making process pure fun. Espresso Gear´s incredibly crafted barista tools including tampers, knock boxes and frothing thermometers help you create consistent shots and creamy, velvety milk again and again.
The Attento is a thermo-label, which you stick onto your favorite pitcher - I have chosen my Steel Series pitcher, because off the thin sides so the thermometer can reveal the actual temperature inside the pitcher.

The label has liquid crystal slots, which indicates the accurate temperature by turning black from green (shown in the above picture) - a pros of this particular thermometer is that is shows the exact temperature versus standard frothing thermometers that suffers from delays. These standard thermometers is often up to several seconds out of sync with the actual temperature of the milk, which the Attento also can be if placed upon a Motta pitcher with thick sides.

The delay time of the standard frothing thermometers is a natural effect of all probe thermometers, which isn´t the case with the Attento, because the liquid crystals don´t wait to turn black when a certain temperature have been reached, they react instantly.

Another pros towards the Attento is that is stuck upon your pitcher - perhaps your favorite pitcher - and will therefore always be with you in the challenge of producing perfect micro-foam - compared to the standard thermometers, which is often left hidden in the drawer. In other words, once you have put the Attento on a pitcher it stays there for years to come, showing the temperature of every latte you serve day in and day out.

The Thermometer is dishwasher safe

The Attento thermometer is of course dishwasher safe, so you finally can secure the quality of every latte drink you serve. Highly durable, professional quality - the Attento quick becomes a must-have in the frothing process and will sharpen your skills within a couple off times.

In other words, my standard thermometer has never been used since.

// Hendrup

Thursday, August 16, 2012

E61 Thermosyphon

Thermosyphon system with E-61 group

The E61 Thermosyphon (the process that keeps the group hot) is quite simple, but perhaps not always clearly understood. It is however, important to ensure your shot is extracted at the right temperature to make the perfect espresso. The graphical picture above shows where hot water enters/leaves the chamber at the top of the group. This hot water can be taken from high up on the boiler of a single boiler (non-HX machine) or directly from the top of the heat exchanger on a HX machine.

The water returns to either a lower point of the boiler or heat exchanger and because it has given up some heat to the group - it sets up a convection current which starts water slowly circulating from boiler/HX to group and back.

Only the portion of the group shown above the brew group area - actually has water circulating within it. The heat travels to the rest of the group by simple conduction through the brass of which the group is conducted.

I think that a general mistaken impression could be that the space within the group, where the hot water circulates, is much larger than it actually is - another point to remember is that this chamber is far from empty, because it also has the E61 "mushroom" assembly inside it.

The far point of the group (the bit you lock your portafilter into) reaches about 90 degrees when brew-able in a HX machine and will be a little cooler in a non-HX machine. Any machine whether single boiler, HX or dual boiler, should always have the group (where the portafilter locks in), at a lower temperature than the brew water.

NOTE: the temperature of the E61 group can be further managed by the use of various "thermosyphon restrictors", really little plastic washers with different sized holes in them placed in the pipes leading to and from the group.

// Hendrup

Monday, August 13, 2012

Moka Pot by Bialetti

The little man with the mustache is the Bialetti macot

The "caffettiera", "macchinetta del caffé", "Italian coffee pot" or "moka pot" is a stove top coffee maker, that produces excellent coffee by passing hot water pressurized by steam though ground coffee. During the 1920s Bialetti noticed the laundry methods used by local woman - the wash was boiled in tubs with a central pipe in the middle, this pipe would draw the soapy water up and redistribute it over the laundry. Bialettis creative mind brought him to the conclusion that a simple coffee machine could be fashioned on this model and could produce almost espresso coffee in private homes.

At this particular time, other Italian coffee firms were busy trying to create new and better ways to brew coffee - using pressure rather than steam to extract the best from the coffee beans. Nevertheless the high pressure - lower than boiling water solutions of companies like Gaggia were to take years of developing.

These modern "true" espresso machines would remain fairly large and costly, using complex systems to attain their superior results. Italians were still used to the steam pressured "espresso" machines that dominated the coffeehouse scene and were therefore open to simpler solutions that would give them the same style coffee at home.

The Bialetti moka pot, model Elegance

In 1933, after some years of tinkering and solving technical problems Alfonso Bialetto invented the Moka Express. Bialett´s coffee machine, made of Aluminum, was similar in shape and design to silver coffee services popular in well to do homes. Thus he combined modern technology with the Italian tradition for elegance and craftsmanship. The Stovetop "espresso" machine was simple and compact, yet capable of making the power packed brew associated with the large espresso machine of the espresso bar. The express claim of Bialetti was that "without requiring any ability whatsoever" yet one could enjoy "in casa in espresso come al bar" (an espresso in the home just like one in the bar).

It hereby first patented by Luigi De Ponti for the Italian firm Bialetti in 1933, that today still produce this specific model under the name - Moka Express.

The Moka pot has become very popular in Europe, but also in Latin American countries and has also become an iconic design, which is displayed in modern industrial art museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper-HewittNational Design Museum, the Design Museum and the London Science Museum.

Moka pots have been design in many shapes since its patent in 1933 and come in different sizes - mostly of the current models incl. the original design are made from aluminum.

Water chamber and coffee basket

Seeking espresso
If you are seeking true espresso, then be prepared to spend several hundred dollars on a high-quality espresso machine, like you see in restaurants or cappuccino bars. These machine use high-pressure water to produce the espresso versus some home machines (even the $100 models found at ex. Wal Mart and other places), do not produce enough pressure to create espresso like you find in a coffee bar.

A very reasonable alternative for home use is an "espresso pot", called a moka in Italy. The moka is a simple device that uses steam pressure to force water through a strainer to make espresso. It won´t be exactly like the espresso you find in bars, but it can come close. The moka pot is an inexpensive alternative of making good caffe.

"Be aware of this brewing method, because a 2-ounce shot holds the same caffeine level as an 8-ounce cup of drip coffee." 

Ground coffee filled into the filter

How to brew
The moka pot is a very simple device, but nevertheless is including a full step-by-step brewing guide below;

1. Fill the espresso pot with cold water. The inside of the pot is usually marked with a line to show the fill level. If not, then fill it up to the relief valve on the side (the water should not seep wrought the strainer when you insert it). This will waterlog the coffee and possibly affect the flavor.

2. Insert the strainer assembly into the base. (alternately, you can fill the assembly first, then insert it - it´s a personal preference)

3. Fill the strainer with ground espresso coffee. Ensure that you do not get any ground on the outside rim of the container. There must be a perfect seal at this point or else the water will spew out once it begins to boil. Simply wipe any excess grounds off before assembling the pot. This is one reason why some people fill the strainer first then insert it.

Warning: Do not pack the espresso down! This could possibly clog the system and generate too much pressure. Although acceptable for commercial machines, packing the espresso in this type of pot can be dangerous.

4. Assemble the pot. Once again, ensure that no grounds are on the outside rim. Screw the pot onto the base by holding the pot itself, not the handle. The handles can break easily - depending on the model (but is also replaceable).

5. Place the pot over a low flame. A low flame increases the brew time, which enhances the flavor - at a later step, you´ll want a slow trickle of espresso instead of a full-force fountain.

In some of the below pictures, you´ll notice a small metal piece under the pot. This piece is common for Italian stoves and is available at any hardware store.

6. You should see some coffee begin to emerge and then suddenly see a cough or perhaps sneeze of coffee with a puffing sound that goes along with it. Soon after this, coffee will begin to come out int a steam. The steam should begin as a rich red-brown and progressively get lighter in color. Once the steam has become the color of yellow honey the brewer should be removed from the heat source and the lid closed. Use hot pads to avoid getting burned.

7. Wrap the bottom of the pot in a chilled bar towel or run it under cold tap water. This will stop the extraction, resulting in coffee that is sweeter and more full-bodied. It will also decrease the odds of the coffee developing a metallic taste. The idea is to get a relatively small amount of coffee, which has very concentrated and rich flavors.

8. Wait until there is no more coffee coming out, then pour into cups. If you have more than you are going to drink at once, pour the excess into a thermal carafe, because leaving it in the brewer will result in a bitter and harsh tasting coffee.

Assembly the moka pot for brewing
Moka pot on heating source

After every use: Empty the spent grounds from the coffee basket, wash out the base and run water out the collecting chamber. Dry everything with a rag and let the three pieces dry separately. This will avoid having a dank, odorous smell later - after an hour, everything should be dried enough to assemble it back together.

After two-three weeks: Time to disassemble and wipe everything down, including the coffee oils that we have tried to eliminate after each use. This cleaning includes popping off the O-ring and the metal filter. Take a blunt, flat knife and slowly work it under the O-ring, while trying carefully not to damage it - use a lifting motion to pop if off. Remove the metal filter, which should come off right away as the O-ring was the only piece keeping it in place.

Now that everything is disassembled, use a paper towel and wipe every inch of the pot. I advocate using a paper towel than a rag, because a paper towel seems to absorb more coffee oils. Additionally, you can see how dirty the moka pot really was. The only tricky part is getting the paper towel inside the spout of the moka pot - I use a small pencil of thermometer and wrap the paper towel around it, then inserting it into the grimy, small place.

Moka starts showing after five min. brew time
The brew is almost finish
The final brew

The stovetop moka pots make dark, dense coffee. Tasty (millions of Italians can´t be wrong) but it ain´t espresso and the crema will be minimal. The taste is in general more sweet, sirupy tasting - more of the light flavors can´t be achieved using this brewing method, but will produce a drinkable black moka.

// Hendrup

Friday, August 10, 2012

Diviso, a newly introduced coffee drink

A shot extracted from half espresso/Redespresso

The 15.02.2012 started a new adventure, because I received a package from Tekompaniet (a swedish tea supplier), the generous delivery contained two bags of 250 g. Redespresso, a serving spoon, a Redespresso filter basket and a magazine of the products offers by Tekompaniet. I´d only used one bag of the Redspresso powder, due to the capacity of the bag, but for a week ago I found the second bag in my kitchen closet and went experimenting.

First off, if you want to read some off the Redespresso reviews, click the links below;

The adventure started back in 2005, because of Carl Pretorius´s habit of drinking too much espresso. Carl was supposed to take a coffee break, but one day he went in the kitchen searching for alternatives for an espresso shot, at that time the rooibos tea was fairly close to the espresso machine and he started experimenting. The course was set, he didn’t want a decaf or tea, but something with the health benefits of the tea. He found the right quality of rooibos tea and the right grind setting for the espresso shot and started serving for friends. The feedback was positive and this lead the rooibos cappuccino went on the menu, at some of Carl’s friends who owned a coffee shop. Redespresso was hereby introduced to the cafĂ© environment and the awards started roiling in, actually the firm won five awards in just five years. Three of the awards was for the invention, including the first South African tea company to earn coffee´s highest honor at The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) by winning the Best New Product (Specialty Beverage Award 2008/09). In the same year, Tea Expo 2009 voted Redespresso as a Top Ten Best New Product, cause of their use of tea in untraditional way. In other words, this company have grown exponentially both in size and in reputation.

Red espresso consist purely of African rooibos tea and is patented grinded fine enough to be used in your own espresso machine for a nice shot of red espresso. If you don’t know what rooibos tea is, here is an explanation; Rooibos is definitely not coffee/espresso, as you might expect, it’s a tea extract and is sometimes known as bush tea or red tea. It’s originally grown in South Africa and holds no caffeine, but contains an antioxidant level that far exceeds tea or coffee. Therefore a con of this brewing is that its healthier, cause of the ten times more antioxidants than in normal rooibos tea. Quote Redespresso article   

The divided puck from a standard filter basket

The general idea was too create an espresso based drink, which didn´t contain a high level of caffeine, but instead where a drink that you could enjoy multiple times a day with an improved taste compared with a traditional cappuccino.

The answer came using my 18 g. VST filter basket, which I filled with 9 g. of ground espresso coffee as a bottom layer and poured 9 g. of Redespresso powder on top, with a following tamp. When I received the package from Tekompaniet it contained a special Redespresso filter basket, with fewer holes, so it could keep the resistants - therefore the idea was to press the ground espresso coffee in the bottom and thereby create resistance in a normal filter basket.

"The thought of this was to create an espresso drink with low caffeine with antioxidants and a coffee flavor in symphony with the fruity flavors from the Redespresso powder. It was a brilliant success!"

The top foam layer of the final drink

Taste and flavors
You might wonder whats so special about this particular drink compared with ordinary cappuccinos etc., and the answer is simple -  the full silk bodied texture combined with a traditional coffee flavor spiced with all the fruitiness from the Redespresso powder is truly amazing. The Diviso cup holds a very rich flavor, where the first flavors of traditional coffee appears, hereafter achieves the Redespresso signature by the taste off sweet herbs along with a lot of varies red berries.

Delicious brown-redish edge of the top foam layer

Redespresso contribute
The Rooibos grounded tea is very sweet and contains a lot of delicate flavors of herbs and black tea without a single note of bitterness. When brewed straight as an espresso shot, its extremely creamy and pleasant to drink - first off the taste is quite astonishingly, because you are left wondering what flavors you have tasted. Its therefore hard to narrow down the different notes that appear in this drink, because of the flavors being combined in a truly fusion.

In my world it was nothing less a revolution, a completely new paradigm between the world of coffee and tea. I have tasted all of these exact flavors before, but not in such a concentrated, creamy and silky way. I still wonder how ground rooibos tea can give away such deep, completed and attractive flavors - but its working.

Nevertheless joined with half amount of freshly ground espresso coffee, the ground rooibos simply lifts the flavors of the cup and gives away a beautiful, creamy and silk textured body.

The result next to the divided pucks

Name of the drink
The name originates from the italian word "Diviso", which plainly means "divided" - because of the separation of normal ground espresso coffee and Redespresso powder in the puck - which harmonizes in both flavors and texture of the shot.

* This is a world premiere of the Diviso and you will therefore not be able to purchase it at any coffee bar - but join and spread the word about this wonderful drink. If you haven´t tried the Redespresso powder, order a package here.

// Hendrup