vrijdag 27 maart 2015

Sweet Lupin Coffee Roasting (hold your burrs)

Roasted lupin seed, photo by http://www.lupinfood.eu
Food Design
Two young product & food designers, Johanna Lundberg (SWE) en Lydeke Bosch (NL) visited me to roast sweet lupin seeds for 'coffee' preparation. Their thesis project for the HKU University of the Arts in Utrecht, The Netherlands is an exploration of the many possibilities for sweet lupin seed in the food industry.

They posted a blog about this visit on their own new website.

Not Poisonous
Most lupin flowers that we find in gardens and parks carry poisonous seeds and the few people that have consumed lupin seeds only know them as pickled snacks that have been soaking in salted water for days to remove the bitter taste.

The sweet lupin variety however is quite edible and can be used as a major ingredient to bake a cake, make a salad or prepare soup.

Roast Profile
I had found some basic numbers about roast temperatures for lupin and we used my Fracino Roastilino roaster with the programmable controller connected to the computer running Artisan software, to try out several roast profiles.

Roast profile, recorded by Artisan

The above profile seemed most successful. The tiny beans did not noticeably expand in size but inside the hard husk the bean had darkened much like a coffee bean. Inside it's even two halves just like coffee beans mostly are.
Roasted lupin bean inside husk

Two halves of roasted lupin bean 
Back at the University, Johanna and Lydeke organized a tasting session with fellow students to see which roast and what preparation most students would appreciate. The light roast smelled and tasted like peanut butter but the darkest roast was found sweet and pleasant. The Aeropress was the most convenient method.

Impression of lupin coffee tasting session layout, photo by http://www.lupinfood.eu
Links at the bottom of this blog lead to several articles about lupin farming.

Fair Trade Local
One advantage of lupin coffee is that it is easier to do "fair trade" or even "direct trade" and it is not hard to travel the world to actually visit the farms (an exotic destination for traditional coffee traders), because they are often just an hour's drive away. One can look around on the farm, make selfies with kind hearted farmers in the background, maybe even visit the local school to make a donation and still be back home for dinner!

Bust my Burrs
At my place we also tried to prepare espresso. Johanna and Lydeke had brought a little electric grinder with rotating blades but I wanted to impress my guests and demonstrate how much better a big conical grinder would do the job. I started the motor of my HG One, fed just a few of the beans into the 83mm conicals and when that seemed to go well I poured in a handful. The burrs seemed to manage the hard shells well enough but there were probably too many fines because the espresso machine blocked completely once I started a flow of hot water in the brew group. We had to let that rest.

Right after this fun visit though, the grinder failed to deliver coffee grinds that gave me a normal extraction. I got the impression that grinding the lupin husks had maybe been not such a good idea of mine and I now understand better why some grinder manufacturers explicitly state that their grinder should only be used to grind roasted coffee beans.

I ordered new burrs which were delivered three days later and in the picture below you can see the difference. Before drawing any final conclusion, I would need to see similar photos of burrs that have been grinding coffee beans for two years and are stil doing an excellent job. They might show a very similar wear, or much less of it.

Well seasoned burr or ruined? Close up of inner burr.

Jagged details of cutting egde on inner burr.

New burrs arrived (top and left, outer / inner burr).

Detail of new inner burr cutting edges.
A friend who bought his HG One grinder at the same time as I did, made pictures of his burrs which look better. They are also still sharp along the entire cutting edge despite some minor use damage: https://plus.google.com/photos/103891203427503601922/albums/6131236781421165713

To end with some last visual candy by Johanna and Lydeke, a dish of unroasted lupin beans in their husks:

My friend John points out that in the past, lupins were much sought after and in fact, there is one historic scene saved on video that shows how a villain on horseback holds up a coach on gunpoint and steals all the lupins aboard:


woensdag 18 maart 2015

Who Triggered Varoufakis

A friend of mine, a psychiatrist, writes me:

The new psychobabble word I hear is "trigger." I suppose it may have some genuine use in PTSD where intrusive thoughts are instigated by particular sensory inputs, smells often or sounds, and these "triggers" are reproducible. I think they should probably be called false reminders.
The treatment of course is to seek out more and more of these triggers and learn how to not be reactive.
However I hear the word trigger now from patients to mean "something else, not I, made me feel this way." Someone who had many affairs told me today when he is out with his wife he "gets triggered" in a restaurant where he met a woman he has slept with. Or his latest lover works at the same place, just the shift after him so he sees her still, and certainly is a "trigger" he needs to "work on." I think he means he gets reminded or feels guilty or horny or gets a hard-on. But "trigger" sounds like a symptom so how can you be mad at the poor guy?
Parents say "school triggers his bad behavior." Huh?? That's like saying potable water triggers bad behavior or air does or being born does. I will mark this word as one I will never utter to a patient or professional.
"Act out" is another one I never use. People use it when they mean "act up." "Act out" has a specific psychoanalytic meaning during a long term psychoanalysis. There's no other time to use it and no one gets that treatment anymore.
"School triggers our darling boy to act out." Sheesh!
Two words I hear & read a lot these days are “amazing” and “bizarre”. In social media people need to be brief about an experience or a video they want to share with others and it has to be amazing and/or bizarre or else no one will pay attention. So everyone seems to meet the most amazing people in  bizarre circumstances.

“Bizar” is also a Dutch word and even our prime minister uses it often. Just in the past weeks: the possible exit of Greece from the Euro zone is "bizarre", an armed man entering a tv studio was "bizarre" and again Greece is "bizarre" in considering opening their borders to loads of fugitives.




I wonder what is left to say when something happens that is truly bizarre.

In a speech, the Greek Finance minister Varoufakis said he would like to “stick the finger to Germany” and he held up “the finger”. When he was asked about this during a recent interview with Günther Jauch, Varoufakis flatly denied it, claimed the video was manipulated and he even posted a link to the “real” interview on his twitter account. But in that same link, one can see him “stick the finger” and saying that quote literally.

"stick the finger to Germany"
In that same clip, at 44:44 the camera shows a huge poster hanging on the back wall of the auditorium, a poster about the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, with the text “never sorry” and… a fist with “the finger”:
Ai Weiwei and "the finger"
Maybe Varoufakis had been staring too long at the poster across the hall from him, and trying to impress the boy and girl students he felt prompted to make the same gesture.

Varoufakis could claim "It wasn't me, but Ai Weiwei who triggered my hand making that vulgar sign."

dinsdag 17 maart 2015

Cup & Refract with your Roaster: Jeremy Challender video

I found it very revealing to watch the video (see below) of Jeremy Challender telling the story of him and his colleagues struggling for years to begin to understand how their roasters influence the taste and extraction rate of their coffee.

He explains how the VSTlabs refractometer enabled them to measure the extraction rate and this possibility pushed them on a course to see how a different water quality could improve their extractions. Then they moved to bigger burr grinders to see how much that would help get better coffee in the cup. And they tried all sorts of fashionable tamper shapes. Still, their coffee proved to be under extracted, time and time again.

They tried, as many have done years ago, updosing, up to a triple dose for a single espresso to get that  boost in taste at the cost of even more severely under extracted coffee. Today, no one at the 'cutting edge' of specialty coffee plays with these high doses anymore.

Eventually they figured out that some roasts work better. Very dark beans may give a "desired" value of extraction when measuring the Total Dissolved Solids but in most current specialty coffee places baristas avoid these roasty, smoky ash aromas associated with very dark roasts.

Many baristas today look at the Nordic Approach in coffee, a Scandinavian tradition of using light roasts that are still fully developed.

Challender found a way to use cupping to evaluate coffees offered by their favorite roasters, with a free app called CuppingLab on his iPhone to grade the coffees and decide which coffee source works best for the desired taste and extraction in their business.

It gradually became clear to him that there is a measurable variance in the roast profile of roasters. The "same" beans will behave different on a new shipment and it was noticeable when the head roaster of a roasting company went on vacation and someone else took over.

To me, it was a surprise to see how even highly experienced baristas know very little about roasting and when the coffee in the cup disappoints them, they first look at the "magic" of their espresso machine (temperature profiles, pressure profiles), the water conditioning system, the grinder, their recipe, possible distribution errors revealed by using a naked portafilter.

For most baristas the roaster and his roastery remain a mystery.

Challender explained a few things he knows about roasting but that was little more than the difference between baked and roasted, and how beans somehow 'pop' and grow twice as big (it's actually more like 40-45% gain in size, with 10-15% loss in weight).

Challender says that many baristas will profit from knowing more about roasting, cupping and using the refractometer.

He does not mention a helpful device like the Tonino to check roast color. He also does not specify how different water conditioning systems or different grinders affected taste and extraction but I'm grateful for him being so open, giving the audience a look inside the mindset of a barista.

Challender mentioned the Q-Grader course a few times, an excellent way to become a certified expert at cupping. At 2000 UK Pounds it is an expensive course, though, and probably too expensive for baristas who typically make little money. Those who take the course can move on to become green coffee buyers and travel the world.

He provides a very useful way for baristas to communicate in an efficient manner with their roasters, providing feedback to them so they will know which roast profile of what day has worked best for a specific customer. His hints for a simple consistent cupping routine using the new app also empower baristas to make it easier for them to select which coffees to buy.

dinsdag 10 maart 2015

Culling Roasting and Tasting Sumatra Mandheling

A friend brought me a few kilograms of green beans. Mandheling from Sumatra.

Indonesian beans are not for everyone but I am fascinated by the tones that people call 'earthy'. This origin, if harvested and processed well, reminds me of the spice tea aroma that I delighted in at the Seattle Pike Place Market in 1976 (It may or may not smell like that there today, probably different). Plus something of licorice and bay leaves.

The beans that I received needed a lot of sorting though. A good number of them had been cracked and dented by the washing mills that take the fruit pulp off the coffee cherries, others had dark and broken ends, some were tiny as pin heads, had minuscule dark holes bored by insects or pale spots from moisture.

Unsorted beans
Sorting through these beans again and again is time consuming but very pleasant once one has let go of the notion that time is money. I thought of the women workers who usually do this in the countries of origin, sorting through a large pile which will be sorted again by another, and another. So much time invested to make the crop more consistent and valuable.

It is a great time to dream, to remember, to make plans.

Beans sorted once on the left, first set of rejects on the right 
The reward for me is hopefully a delicious cup, untainted by the wounded beans that would have given the coffee an awful taste.

Next, the roasting. Immediately after roasting, as soon as the beans have cooled to around 37ºC, I take out 11g to grind, smell, and then measure the color using a Tonino. If the grinds seem to be asleep still, not releasing much aroma, this is a warning that my roast profile may be lacking. Then when both color and aroma are promising, it's a few days waiting before an espresso will reveal if I did the beans justice.

The first batch that seemed good had a dry after taste so I made sure the next roast had a more articulate rate of rise in the temperature during the last part of the roast while still not roasting too hot in order to retain the specific Indonesian aromas, not toppling into the boring realm of simply "dark coffee".

The next batch turned out better. I love this coffee. Still, part of that may be caused by my own effort, hoping it will turn out well and wishing it so that I overlook any faults in the tasting. I invited the friend who brought me the beans. He likes the extraction as well and next I have taken a bag to my friends at the Trakteren specialty coffee shop, hoping to hear their verdict soon.

17g of Sumatra Mandheling, ground on HG One, extracted on LONDINIUM I, 32g in 32s

PS a reply from Edward & Eric at Trakteren (Dutch original below): "Frans! Just tasted that Mandheling... wonderfully thick and sweet... delicious mouthfeel... just what you want as espresso aficionado... roast is also spot on with regard to acidity... especially for this Indo."

They went on to point out, though, that far in the aftertaste they still sense a hint dryness like I have had before in my roasts. Before they assumed this had to do with the stocking of the beans but they suggest I work on the roast profile a bit more.

PS 2 The friend who originally bought the large bag of Mandheling does not like the sorting as much as I do. He sent my photos to his importer and he's getting a refund! I think the sorting is well worth the result in the cup. And while sorting, I can listen to the Coffee Awesome podcast!

donderdag 5 maart 2015

A New Model Button Tamper from Londinium

It has been in the making since last summer and was announced months ago. A new style tamper which allows 'nutating' better and deeper than most tampers. Straight walled tampers help you to tamp straight down but nutating, the soft rolling around of the tamper base to get a better leveled puck, is not so easy with the straight walls.

With this new tamper you need to watch carefully and make sure your tamp is level als when it is, the extraction can be delightful (of course also depending on beans, grind and timing).

Below are some photos of the unpacking and a first espresso:

Steam Poached Egg using an Espresso Machine

[A big thankyou to the editors of Daily Coffee News for writing a feature about this blog: http://dailycoffeenews.com/2015/03/05/could-steam-poaching-be-the-next-big-thing-in-eggspresso-perfection/]

One for the series 'Hey I Did Not Know You Could Do THAT With An Espresso Machine'...

Sometimes I use a small heat proof plastic container to quickly make myself apple sauce from sliced apple, or I warm up a small Asian meal in it by inserting the espresso machine steam wand through a hole in the lid.

Now I found that it is very easy to prepare an absolutely delicious 'steam poached' egg in the same way. An egg poached in water can taste a bit watery but this way the egg keeps its own clean quality. A sprinkle of salt and pepper help to enhance the pure simple joyful treat.

Small speciality coffee places could easily offer this lunch bite without the need for any kitchen equipment.

I use the powerful LONDINIUM I home lever but any other professional machine should be able to do this just as easily.

PS March 15 2015:
Gábor Laczkó from http://www.naked-portafilter.com was inspired to take this project one step further! He used a giant lever machine to steam his eggs and sent me pictures of the beautiful result:

La San Marco lever

dinsdag 3 maart 2015

Tamper Base: Flat or Convex best?

In august last year I posted a blog about the difference, if any, between flat based tampers an convex based tampers:


My conclusion then was that I could not detect a significant difference.

I do like my little effective Londinium Button tamper but I mostly use it to tamp a puck absolutely flat in order to measure the roast color with the Tonino device. For extractions I mostly use the Intelligentsia Black Cat convex. I have ordered the latest Londinium button tamper which allows 'nutating' of the coffee puck so I can't wait to test that.

This morning I noticed a tweet by R. Justin Sheperd reporting a dramatic "mind blowing' difference between flat and convex tampers:

I had not thought to test the difference with a refractometer and I have the VSTlabs TDS meter at hand so I set out to see if I can replicate the Sheperd results.

Shepard did not specify his method, what refractometer / app used, what baskets if any different, et cetera.

In my tests, using the LONDINIUM I machine, three different origins were used:  Sumatra Mandheling, Peru and Colombia, roasted Tonino # 107, # 116 and # 103 respectively, so all in the "light roast" spectrum, roasted 23 and 26 February.

Each time 18g of beans were ground on the motorized HG One with 83mm burrs, in the same grind setting for both tampers and into the IMS filter basket with size codes B68 2Th16.5 E.

The same naked portafilter used every time.

Preinfusion: 7 seconds every time.

I monitored the extraction time, flow and weight with the Acaia scale.

Mandheling and 27mm spanner
For every shot I used a freshly unwrapped syringe and I used three different filters for the measurements, frequently comparing the same extraction through another type syringe filter to make sure the filter was not causing a significant difference. No difference was seen, just the flow from the original VST filters is much better and they do not easily break under pressure like the cheaper filters do.

Distilled water was used to calibrate the refractometer between each set of  measurements.

Test setup
The Sumatra Mandheling had a slow flow, 35g out in 28s with 10.7 TDS yielding a 21.6% extraction for the flat base, 34g out in 48s and 10.7 TDS -> 20.9 % EXT, which is practically identical.

Peru, flat: 35g in 31s, TDS 9.5 -> 19.1% EXT
Peru, convex: 35g in 24s, TDS 9.0 -> 18.1% EXT

Colombia, flat: 36g in 37s, TDS 8.7 -> 18% EXT 
Colombia, convex: 37g in 36s, TDS 9.3 -> 19.8% EXT

In the 'flat Colombia' extraction, my distribution was probably a little sloppy as some early 'thin' drops appeared in one spot on the bottom of the filter basket but luckily during the pre-infusion this channel closed. Still a little lower % EXT which I think was caused ore by the early dripping than by the tamper.

My conclusion is that once more I cannot see any significant difference in the results between the two tamper bases.

I sent my findings to Andy Schecter who owns a vast array of high end machines, one of these a Londinium I like I have. His view is that my results have too much variance to catch the (small) difference between tamper bases. In his memory, when he tested it over a series of extractions, the difference was just 0.5% in extraction, nowhere near the 6+% that Sheperd saw using his setup.

Shepard told me he will write a more specific blog about his methodology and results so then we will know more. He suspects the difference in his case is his espresso machine which is not capable of the 7 seconds pre-infusion like my Londinium I can facilitate.

To narrow down my findings, I did some more tests this morning. As Andy Schecter specified, to get near-scientific I would need to to a large series of tests with just one bag of beans and discard any outliers in the results. 

Another friend on a Dutch coffee forum suggested that I should not only weigh the beans going into the grinder but also the weight of the portafilter before and after adding the coffee grinds. 

Kfir Shabo, another L1 aficionado in Israel, advised to dose 17g instead of 18g in the basket.

I took 4 measurements with beans from Tanzania, 2 roasted by a friend nearby and 2 roasted by myself. 

Tanzania roasted by John:
Flat: 17g in, 36g out, TDS 9, EXT 19.8 %
Convex: 16.7 in, 36g out, TDS 8.7 EXT 19.4%

Tanzania roasted by me:
Flat: 17.0g in. 36g out, TDS 10, EXT 21.9%
Convex: 17.0g in, 35g out, TDS 10.4, EXT 22.2%

I agree that I would need to do a lot more detailed testing to find a consistent difference between both tamper bases but I sure do not see a dramatic difference between both extractions.

PS March 6, 2015: A fellow on a Dutch coffee forum has also tested the difference between flat and convex tampers. Over a series of extractions he sees a very small advantage in the use of a flat tamper, but just like Andy Schecter reported earlier, more in the proportion of 0.5-0.1 % than the 10-12 times higher difference of "mind blown" Sheperd quoted at the beginning of this blog:

De koffie: El Salvador La Ilusion van Single Estate

Tamper vlak: Reg Barber 58,4 mm
Tamper convex: Espresso Gear Primo Convex 58mm
VST 18 grams filterbakje
18,5 gram gemalen koffie (exact afgewogen in filterbakje)

shot 1 : tamper vlak, 35,2 gr espresso, 30 sec, tds 10.1, EXT 20,01
shot 2 : tamper convex, 35,3 gr espresso, 26 sec, tds 9,9, EXT 19,69
shot 3 : tamper vlak, 34,9 gr espresso, 29 sec, tds 10,3, EXT 20,23
shot 4 : tamper convex, 35,1 gr espresso, 25 sec, tds 9,8, EXT 19,39
shot 5 : tamper vlak, 35,1 gr espresso, 30 sec, tds 9,9, EXT 19,56
shot 6 : tamper convex, 34,6 gr espresso, 23 sec, tds 9,4, EXT 18,33
After taking the measurements, as he was cleaning up, he realized he'd started off by first (before logging his measurements) tweaking the grinder for the day, testing for the best extraction using the flat tamper. The results might have been different had he first and foremost selected the best grind setting for the convex one but by then he was ready to start with the rest of the day and not repeat it all again. I'm grateful for his input!