Readers share: scientists, faster cold brew, coffee as it sits

I am very thankful that people share coffee news and articles with me every once in a while. I’m going to share them forward with this post, and share a few other articles that relate to them.

This one was in The Economist in January of this year, “Can scientists save your morning cup of coffee?” I was given the PDF; you’ll need a subscription to read the full article.

Related, “How coffee is both a hero and a villain in the climate change story.”

This next article about cold brew ready in under three minutes surprised and amused me. Ultrasonic cold brew coffee ready in under three minutes. Cold brew is easy; it just takes time. Apparently that time is too long for some. If you want the touted benefits, supposedly less bitter, less acidic, and smoother coffee than hot brewed coffee, but you want it when you want it without planning ahead of time, this might be for you. It holds zero interest for me. I’m also not a fan of cold brewing coffee, though I tried it to have the experience of brewing it and to taste it.

This last article in Serious Eats is in the vein of experimentation I did for the cold brew and Big Joe did for pour-over extraction time. Serious Eats’ is much more thorough and scientific, not like our dabbler experiments. The brother of the person who shared the article is a professional chef. “What Happens to Your Coffee As It Sits, and the Science Behind It.” It’s an interesting article!

I went to the home page of Serious Eats to find out more about who’s behind the website, and today the home page featured another coffee related article! I read tonic water, espresso, and thought, “something for hubby.” And the first line was, “I once spent a summer in Norway as a teenager, so I know firsthand the experience of unending daylight.” The article is titled, “Hold the Foam: This Is the Chilled Ingredient I’m Adding to Espresso This Summer” and the second line says, “Cold, refreshing, and perfectly bittersweet, espresso tonic is an iconic summer drink.” I’m feeling kind of curious. I bet Big Joe is, too. I often substitute SodaStream self-carbonated water for tonic water or soda water in drink/cocktail recipes, and hubby has convinced me that they aren’t the same.

Maybe the Norwegian in the household will serve up an AeroPress tonic some hot, late morning (no fancy espresso maker in the house). This Memorial Day and graduation weekend has been rather rainy. These have been the most consecutive days of sizable rain we’ve had in 2024, and some days it was already raining in the morning. Two days we had moments of white-out, fog, or sitting in low clouds. It’s not all blue skies all the time in Hawai’i.

Thank you to readers N.K., S.W., and P.T. for sharing articles.

Big Joe stumbles across a free cupping session

A little while ago I got another series of texts from Big Joe in Seattle. According to Wikipedia, “Seattle is regarded as a world center for coffee roasting and coffee supply chain management.” (You know, Starbucks.)

“I stumbled across a free coffee cupping session at Caffe Vita. Every Friday at 10:00 a.m. apparently. About 20 of us got to taste 12 different coffees. We used clean spoons to put coffee into our individual cups. It’s not the same as a complete end to end cupping per person of course. Sam here is their director of coffee experience. I think a lot of roasters from Portland to Seattle have one hour a week where they offer free cupping.

I asked her about the coffees which were all in funny little bags. She had collected these at coffee industry trade events. Free samples really. But she had brought a lot of her favorite unusual ones. A lot of light roasts. Fair amount of Ethiopia and Guatemala. Pretty interesting. Fruity

A couple of the coffees tasted so much like fruit juice and not coffee, and that was pretty exciting. I didn’t really want to own those coffees though.

[Joe bro] says that Stumptown always had a good cupping, and [Joe bro] and I are going to a cupping at Coava when I’m passing through Portland next week. There are websites that list all the cuppings in Portland and Seattle, separate sites or people on Reddit or blogs.”

So that’s a good tip for those of you living in or visiting the Seattle/Portland areas, interested in cupping. Here are links to some older posts I wrote on cupping:
Intro to Cupping
Cuppin’ da Bea’s Knees
Cupping to improve your palate

Grinding coffee, a coffee engineering class, and Nordic roasters

My recent posts have mostly been only lightly related to coffee, so it’s time to share some coffee tips and info that’s been out there. There are lots of links in this post, maybe fun if you feel like going down a coffee rathole for a while. By the way, I don’t have any financial incentives for what I write here or links I provide, other than keeping our coffee website active and maybe entertaining, distracting, and/or educating you. I think it has been very cold in many places in the U.S., so maybe reading things on the internet about an everyday hot beverage could be a nice distraction.

People have occasionally asked me my opinion of what I think matters most when brewing coffee. I think it’s freshly grinding the coffee, whether it’s our coffee or others’ beans. Those inexpensive “grinders” are often choppers that chop the beans to random sizes. Hold it longer, it chops more. I’m a fan of burr grinders which will give you consistent particle sizes. Burr grinders cost more. If it doesn’t make a difference to you, don’t bother. If you have a chopper/pulverizer, see if you can borrow a friend’s burr grinder. You can brew two cups of coffee and compare. If you don’t have a burr grinder you can borrow and test out, you can buy an inexpensive hand burr grinder and do the same experiment. If you think it’s worthwhile, maybe you’ll eventually upgrade to an electric burr grinder, and you can use your hand grinder when you travel or go camping. Here’s an article that compares hand grinders. I can’t vouch for the ones they tested or the tester. Just consider it a starting point for your own research. This article is from 2020, but is still interesting, “How Have Hand Grinders Evolved?”

On the subject of grinding, in December there was a little buzz about spritzing roasted coffee with a little water prior to grinding. It’s supposed to reduce the static during grinding. This is the more science-y article and this is the Perfect Daily Grind easier-reading version. If you want to geek out on the topic of static in grinding, read this.

This article talks about a class offered at University of California Davis, The Design of Coffee: An Introduction to Chemical Engineering. That class sounds fun to me. An excerpt about why it’s a relevant class now: “Coffee plays a huge role in culture, diet and the U.S. and global economy. But historically, relatively little academic work has focused on coffee. There are entire academic programs on wine and beer at many major universities, but almost none on coffee.” (I didn’t realize there are entire academic programs on wine and beer.)

Lastly, I’ll share two articles I find interesting because of Norwegian Hubby. In 2019 on our first full day in Oslo, my husband’s brother took us on a crazy urban bike ride to try coffee at Tim Wendelboe’s cafe in the trendy Grünerløkka neighborhood. Wendelboe is quoted extensively in this article from February last year, “Are Nordic specialty coffee roasters still as innovative as they once were?” If you’re into the “right” glass, e.g., Riedel, for drinking certain wines or similar for different beer styles, you might be interested in Wendelboe’s inspired coffee cups.

How to make espresso while traveling

A few weeks ago our friend in Maui sent this photo with no explanatory text. I said, “What’s that? Beer? Bike pump?” Answer: “You should know…” Then I had to look a little closer. I had been so focused on the pump, I hadn’t noticed the little black grinder. Since *I* should know, I figured that must be a coffee hand grinder. Then the pump must be some coffee device. I was thrown off by the Brewed on Maui glass that looked like the glasses from Maui Brewing Company. I was also led astray by all those Hoy Hoy roach traps.

Almost a week later, I received a link to this video, solving the mystery:

The barista is a friend of our friend, who traveled to Maui with all the paraphernalia to make his coffee. By the way, I asked, and he is not a coffee professional, just does this for the enjoyment of it all. To me, the most challenging part looks like pouring the hot water down that narrow tube. What are all the gadgets?

1Zpresso hand grinder
Timemore black mirror timer/scale
Alsainte distribution tool with tamper
Espresso Forge manual espresso press

I shared the video with our Italian friend, loyal coffee customer, who must have his daily quality espresso. He replied with:

His wife interpreted the response as, “All of this for an ‘americano’?”

Today I received these photos. The barista is back on the mainland and apparently now out of his Bea’s Knees coffee.

Brew it in a sock or in a chemistry lab? Or just drink Folgers?

Ah, the elaborate rituals we go through, and the stuff with which we improvise, all for a good cup of Joe. A customer/friend/Rune’s former-coworker, BLV, lives in the Lake Tahoe area. Her parents live seven minutes away. In BLV’s family, she and the siblings were born in one country, raised in another, neither of which was the parents’ two different countries of origin, and they’ve ended up in the U.S., the melting pot. Got that?!

A few weeks ago her mother was remembering when she was young, the slow pouring of hot water through a *sock* into the pot of coffee, in a pan of warm water on the stove.  BLV shared pictures of the coffee grinder her mother inherited from her aunt Madeleine. Her mom no longer uses the grinder; it’s just fond memories.  Nowadays Mom scoops ground Folgers.

What is it with Folgers?!! That’s what my grandparents drank on their/this Kona coffee farm. If you missed it a few months ago when I posted it, National Public Radio (NPR) aired an interesting piece, “Folgers, a throwback brand in the age of nitro lattes, wants to be cool.

I searched to see what the latest is on the Folgers rebranding effort from 2022, but couldn’t find anything insightful. One thing I discovered, probably part of last year’s marketing hype, is that there’s a Folgers contest, where you can win “a damn good $10,000 golden scoop for your damn good coffee.” I guess if your coffee is cool, as in “hip” or whatever expression, you have to tout it as “damn good coffee.” You have until March 1 for the contest. Tell your parents, BLV.

Another friend told me about a book she’s reading, Lessons on Chemistry, which is what reminded me that I forgot to share BLV’s sock brew story and photos. Lessons on Chemistry is fiction about a female scientist in the 1950’s battling uphill in a world run by men. One of the scenes is of her making coffee in her kitchen/lab. Grinding coffee with mortar and pestle, using beakers, bunsen burners & pipettes. She served this coffee to a neighbor who watched with disbelief and enjoyed the most “heavenly “ coffee imaginable, still wondering why she didn’t use Folgers.

Since even my social worker friend has now tried ChatGPT, I asked it to draw the chemistry lab brewer, and, instead, immediately out came this helpful description to set up a coffee brewer. Once I remembered ChatGPT doesn’t draw, I did use Dall-E to generate a satisfactory feature image for this post. And I’m not letting myself get sucked in, playing with all the tech. Just like I never got enamored with Siri, Alexa, or Google. I did have the thought that ChatGPT could write my blog post, but if you write from your thoughts, real experiences and stories, I don’t think the chatbot will replace humans. Or? …

Materials:

  • Beaker (preferably heat-resistant)
  • Bunsen burner
  • Tripod stand
  • Wire gauze
  • Heat-resistant mat
  • Pipettes
  • Coffee grounds
  • Water

Steps:

  1. Place the Bunsen burner on the heat-resistant mat.
  2. Set up the tripod stand and place the wire gauze on top of it.
  3. Place the beaker on the wire gauze and fill it with water.
  4. Place the pipettes in the beaker, making sure that they are submerged in the water.
  5. Turn on the Bunsen burner and adjust the flame until it is blue and not too high.
  6. Wait for the water in the beaker to boil.
  7. Add the coffee grounds to the beaker using the pipettes.
  8. Let the coffee brew for a few minutes.
  9. Turn off the Bunsen burner and remove the beaker from the tripod stand using tongs or heat-resistant gloves.
  10. Allow the coffee to cool before serving.

Note: This setup is not a standard method for brewing coffee and can be dangerous if not done properly. It’s important to exercise caution and follow safety protocols when using a Bunsen burner and handling hot liquids.