zaterdag 18 april 2015

Tasting a Roast Without 'Cupping'

Reading about cupping and attending a few cuppings with experts hasn't given me the confidence to do any of it myself. In a cupping company I am primarily concerned about avoiding someone else's mucus on my spoon.

Still it would be handy if I could do something like it to taste my own roasts right after roasting.

Presently I take 10g of beans right after cooling down from the roaster, grind it (always the same grind setting on the same grinder) and measure it using the Tonino. It gives me a number that tells me how much darker / lighter this roast is than another one in similar circumstances.

The grinds then sit on the table for a few hours before I throw them out. Sometimes they yield a mesmerizing coffee perfume and sometimes hardly any smell comes off. This also helps predict how the espresso will be a week later, especially if I save three different samples of roasts done in quick succession. If one seems dead to my nose, the other sends out plain 'coffee' aroma and the third practically sings a song to the senses, I can tell that this third will probably be the most expressive one in the cup a week later.

Still it would be nice to be able to tell more a little sooner.

To try this, I dusted off a french press that I have had in a closet for about 6 years:

I used the 10g of grinds, added 200ml of water at 85ºC, waited 3 minutes, pushed and poured 100ml of coffee in a cappuccino cup.

The coffee tasted soft and sweet (Costa Rica, FC @ 200ºC, development 21%, weight loss 15%, volume gain 40%, drop temp 218ºC, Tonino#93).

Later, I used this recipe:
10g of grinds, an hour after roasting, added 150ml of water near 90ºC, waited 3 minutes, pushed, poured out 85ml in a cup, tasted soft-sweet-bread-spicy, measured TDS 1.3, VST Coffee Tools app showed 19% extraction.

donderdag 16 april 2015

Fun and cheap scale

The new fantastic Lunar scale by Acaia is not available yet but there's another little scale that looks great I think. It's most likely not as water proof but it promises to endure some rough treatment. And it's very cheap: mine was just € 13,50 (ex shipping) from one of the online stores specializing in home growing of plants. Good for coffee too!

PS they have a 0.01g precision version of the same scale now as well.

donderdag 9 april 2015

vrijdag 27 maart 2015

Sweet Lupin Coffee Roasting (hold your burrs)

Thanks to the editorial staff of Daily Coffee News for featuring this item on their news site!
Roasted lupin seed, photo by
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
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:

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."