Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Coffee Collective - Book Review

The Coffee Collective - Good Coffee. A textbook for coffee lovers

(The book is Danish. GOD KAFFE – En grundbog for kaffeelskere)

I have been reading this book made by The Coffee Collective (TCC).
It's about coffee from earth to table.
The edition I have received is a hard cover, and the quality seems really good, the pages has a good thickness and the paper holds nice quality. Also the design and the graphics gives a high quality feel, all thru the book.

The book is divided in chapters separately describing parts of coffee – from seed, handling, harvest, 
brewing etc.

I will share my opinion at the entire book - keep in mind I'm not a book reporter. I can only share my thoughts and visuals on a personal level mainly to coffee perspective.

The book is put together brilliant, from the start with a single been placed in the very right soil, till cleaning of your brewing equipment in the end.
First you are thought how to taste and explain what you experience while tasting, this is useful when you are brand new to the world of coffee, and need to explain a professional what kind of coffee you would like.  
Almost 1/3 of the book is about the farmer, and how he handles the beans, both the right and wrong way. TCC gives their perspective at what they think is good and correct, but always keep their opinions at a personal level. I found this part extremely useful in my future quest for green beans. I didn’t know much about afterharvest and handling of green beans, but I sure do now. I have many more preferences to navigate with now. With that said, the chapter is somewhat a bit long, and at some points it gets a bit too complicated and doll. When using space explaining several chemical compounds, I am out.

They give a small, bit too small for me, learning about roasting. Not enough to learn from, that you happily start roasting afterwards. But it is a subject to write entire books on alone.

The brewing section is really good. All brew methods which are up in time are explained and thoroughly shown. Everyone can use their methods and you are left with no doubts or questions. Very satisfying to read.
They finish with cleaning and maintenance of the equipment. And they also make sure to tell how important it is.

All in all I think the book is very enlightening, many first time coffee consumers will sure benefit from this.
They have a tendency to get a bit to advance at some points, at least from the fact that the book addresses to novices. But when you have finished reading you are defiantly equipped with enough knowledge to buy a descent coffee, equipment and everything else needed to make lovely coffee.

What I like very very much, is that with every explanation there are a picture, or a drawn illustration to visualize the text, and for a tool like me, that’s the best thing ever. Furthermore the pictures are beautiful and the colors are amazing.

People who know a lot about coffee, have the equipment and roast at home, properly won’t get too much out of reading this book, at least they know much of the inside already. But if you like me enjoy everything about coffee, it sure is cozy to spend some time on. After reading I now use it as an encyclopedia.

If you are brand new to coffee, you have to read this book, or a basic book like it. You will save yourself many headaches by doing so. Like I said you will be suited to go in to your local special coffee dealer after reading.



Sunday, February 17, 2013

iPhone Cup Holder Cover

Well how about that. A cover invented for those of you who text, Facebook or twitter all the time while drinking coffee on the go.
The Dutch company are looking for 15000£ for investment, and expecting to sell at 21£ a cover.
If you think this is the greatest idea ever, go contribute at their page.
I find my self not going there whilst looking kind a critical at the whole thing. As the article say, hot liquids very close to my iPhone ?
Make your own impression.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Coffees From Øristeriet

Along with the Aeropress, I had generously, three different coffees sent to me from Øristeriet for review.

First off:

Colombia Bucaramanga

Øristeriet describes Colombia Bucaramanga as a classic Colombia with a good balance, full body and complex taste. The coffee berries are picked by hand, and only the fully mature berries are selected.
All of the coffees are delivered in a airtight bag, with a one-way valve. Just the way I like it.
The beans look good, they are all similar and the roast is very even. I got them only one day old of roast, and had to leave them for a few days. Opening the bag, a lovely and powerful scent of chocolate hits me. I tried it as french-press an aeropress.
This is a typical Colombian coffee, it’s a bit mediocre. But in my perspective it’s a good Colombian bean.
It is my opinion that this coffee easily over extracts and gets bitter. With that in mind, I set the grind coarser, added a bit more water and reduced the extraction time.  
Getting the parameters right, leaves me with a smooth and powerful cup. The aromas of chocolate are clear also in taste. The first notes are nutty, then a little smoked and last the earthy and chocolaty notes.
It’s what I would call a great morning coffee. I like the fact that it is powerful and in the morning I like some bitterness, and this coffee provides just the right amount.

Tanzania MACHARE Estate

Roaster describes the coffee as a fantastic after dinner coffee, with rich and bright taste, nice acidity, perfect balance and soft finish. Also organic and rainforest alliance certified.
The aromas from this coffee is very earthy, the smell of coffee is strong and bright. Like the other coffees the roast is very good looking. The surface is smooth, and the beans are similar.
I must concur with the roaster about the after dinner part. Right after dinner this coffee is perfect.
Handled a little delicate this coffee can come out super smooth, and with all the floral notes intact. But like the Colombian bean it is very fragile to over extraction and bitterness, but it’s not like it’s not consumable if it turns out a bit over extracted.
It holds great taste, and I really enjoy it when brewed very light.
Just for fun I tried it as a cold brew to, and it did very well this way, brewing over night in the fridge.  

Espresso Unica Organic

This blend is described as a well balanced espresso with a lively kick, because of the blend composition and the fact that it is roasted a bit light.

The blend contains
Balmaadi, Misty Valley
Guatemala Ceylan Y Anexos 

I taste many coffees, both my own blend and roasts, as well as coffees bought and provided to me.
This particularly blend is in my top three of espresso coffees, both single and blends. I am super excited about this coffee, the balance is as mentioned one of the best I have ever had.
As a standalone espresso, brewed with a ratio at 55% you should get at cup that fills your mouth with big richness. When I hit the sweet spot, I am overwhelmed with deep chocolate, perfect acidity turning to a slight nutty aftertaste with notes of caramel. It's really good. As a matter of fact, I have been drinking a lot more stand alone espresso and Americano than I usually do, since I started this blend. 
As a cappuccino or cortado, it is just powerful enough to kick thru the milk and give a creamy balance with a very nice balance between milk and espresso. 
I can only recommend this blend, both for those of you who drink espresso black and the ones who drink with milk. 

All three coffees cost 35$ a kilo, roasted. I haven’t tried many coffees at such low price which was that satisfying. But I have tried much more expensive that were more disappointing though.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Aeropress.. The Indispensable Coffee Gadget ??

I had a Aeropress send to me by the Danish distributor Øristeriet.

I have never tried an Aeropress, but I have read a lot on several coffee boards. I have actually never read anything bad about the device. Therefore I must admit my expectations are relatively high.

"The AeroPress is a device for brewing coffee. It was invented in 2005 by Aerobie president Alan Adler. Coffee is forced through a filter by pressing the plunger through the tube. The filters used are either the AeroPress paper filters or disc shaped thin metal filters. The device consists of two copolyester cylinders. One cylinder has a rubber plunger and fits inside the larger cylinder to create an airtight seal, similar to a syringe."

Opening the box: 
It looks very simple. All the parts are in the box, according to the manual.

One thing that comes to mind right away is this text:

With no knowledge of the Aeropress (AP) I can tell that it’s a lie. Espresso is made under 9bars of pressure. STOP calling strong coffee espresso. 

With that out of the system, it’s on to the manual.
The manual are very straightforward, describing how to brew, clean and a guide to the webpage with videos. No more than you need. I like that.


I have read ahead before receiving the device, and found some of the brewing methods I would like to try out. But before doing so, I tried the method provided by Aerobi. Video by Aerobi
I wouldn’t recommend this method.
There are some simple steps to do before even brewing that makes a significantly difference to the taste and brewing process. Besides that, I just don’t think it provides a good cup of coffee. But try it yourself; taste is different for all of us.

In the following methods I follow this procedure do to every brew:

Pre heat the entire device under hot water, especially the rubber end of the plunger. This makes the whole pressing phase a lot easier, and the seal tighter.

Soak the paper filter in plenty of water. There a lots of tang in the filters, soaking the filter washes them and other unappealing tastes out.   

I have been working with three different brew methods, all of them I have tried with different grind settings. The grind setting and extraction time, has very big influence in the taste of the coffee using an AP. The ones I write down are with the settings I find the best. I have been using two different coffees also provided by Øristeriet, these will be reviewed in another post. Bottom line is that no matter which bean I have been using, the grind setting should be the same to extract the best brew.

Method one:   
13g coffee, ground coarser than drip, but slight finer than French-press.

Place the AP upside-down.
Add 220g water. I like it best at approximately 80C. Make sure to add the water in small circles soaking all of the ground beans (this applies to all three methods).
Leave to brew for three minutes.
Stir for 20 seconds.
Leave it for 40 seconds.

Add the plunger and press down. 
But when you hear a wheezing sound, stop the press, from now on it’s all bitter. Try to get the press to last for 25 seconds (this applies for all three methods).
This way you should get a firm, and strong coffee, I think it’s fairly bitter. It suits me well in the morning.

Method two:
17g coffee, ground as with drip. Place the AP upside-down. Add 220g water.
Stir for 10 seconds. Leave to brew for 30 seconds. Add the plunger and press down.
This method provides a very clean cup. All the volatile notes are preserved, and there are very low bitterness. This is my favorite.

Method three:
14g coffee, ground slightly coarser than drip.
Place the AP downside-down.
Add 220g water.
Place the plunger to stop the brew from dripping.
Leave to brew for 45 seconds.
Stir quickly, replace plunger and press down.

This method is somewhat in the middle. It also provides a very rich and clean cup, but with a little bitterness. It’s a little more difficult because of the downside-down method.


This is just some of the things I have tried. I think there is endless possibilities to the AP, shifting just one of the parameters a bit changes the entire cup. This I also what makes the AP so much fun.

Sum up:

Reading the quotes on the box, all super positive from significant coffee people in the world, 
leaves you with a; “okay, easy now” feeling. But I have to admit, the AP has changed my entire perspective of black coffee. Being used to French-press and espresso, it’s a lot of fun being able to change the entire flavor by just extracting for another 10 seconds, and still get a good cup from it.

This is defiantly becoming my everyday brew method.

Especially in the morning the AP is amazing. In the early morning I add a bit more coffee, brewing 
a bit longer, and I get the feeling of a strong cup, waking me up. In the later morning hours, I do it the other way around and get a clean cup with super balance.
Beside the ability to control so many things easily, it’s very quick to clean, which is also a great benefit.

Youtube provides numerous videos and how-to’s, also the World Championship is worth watching.
I think it’s amazing, and defiantly here to stay. Still haven’t heard about or met anyone who was disappointed with their AP.   

Do enjoy this wonderful coffee equipment. With the low price versus brilliant opportunities it’s a must buy. 

Again a big thanks to www.Ø for supplying the device for a test.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Coffee Collective - Raw Bean Espresso Blend

I have received this blend from The Coffee Collective (TCC), it’s a raw bean blend with three different sorts:

50% Daterra, Brasil

30% Finca Vista Hermosa , Guatemala
20% Kieni, Kenya

First look is intriguing, just looks sharp. Good looking bag.

TCC describes it as a sweet and creamy coffee with a taste of marzipan, caramel and notes of vanilla. TCC is a reputable coffee distributor with several cafés in Denmark. The owners are world champion baristas, top of the line roastmasters and they really know their coffee. It is a direct trade which is kind of a trademark for TCC, securing a better harvest, better rights and prices for the farmer.
It costs 32$ per kilo – raw bean.

Opening the bag to weigh off 250g, I noticed a very sweet and fresh scent. Usually I don’t like the smell of raw beans, but this one is almost floral. The beans are consistent, and clean.

I am doing a simple standard profile, starting with a drying phase, trying to hit 1st crack in 8-10 minutes and end the roast at maximum full city or the beginning of 2nd crack. I will roast in my Coretto

First batch

This first batch got a little dark. And it was to detect in the espresso, it was extremely rich and heavy. No acid or floral notes. I defiantly like an espresso that way, but there are much more potential in these beans. This roast was perfect for cappuccinos IMO. But as a standalone espresso it was a little doll. But I’m sure it’s because the roast went almost Vienna.First crack appeared at 202 C – bean temperature. And second crack began softly at about 216 C.

Second batch

This second and last batch, I am not going to take any further than 207 C, I don’t want to reach second crack, but still a bit over half way between the cracks.

I cut the roast at 207 C but first kept it there the last 2 minutes.

Common for both roasts is that they are a bit uneven in color, because the three different sorts don’t roast similar.         

Hit it right at the sweetspot this time. Perfect balance between the notes. It’s still very rich and thick. When brewing, the crema is amazing.

The mouth feel is really good. Thick and oily, while still bright in taste. I can very clearly taste the caramel, and the marzipan cuts thru after a short while. The vanilla is still hidden for me. But it is a great well balanced blend. The floral and slight acidy notes hits from the start and wears of while coming down the sides of the tongue. At this point the sweet caramel feel is already doing its thing. After finishing the shot, the taste was strong and lasted for a long time.

Made a cappuccino to, and it did really good here as well. When fresh made, it was a bit dreary, but when cooled till about 50C the notes came thru and it became extremely creamy.
Usually I like blends the best in milk based drinks. This is no exception.     

I always think it is difficult to get the same potential from a bean, as the roaster selling the raw bean. But one can’t expect to roast as precisely on a home roaster. This particularly bean is quite easy to handle and it’s forgiving to roast. The inexperienced roastmaster can with no worries buy this coffee.