Saturday, 24 May 2008

Microwaved Coffee Roasting pt.2

So after a quick revision of the rum used, i've switched to a thicker plastic container, which has been used many times for heating up my sons baby food, and therefor shouldn't melt (should it?!)

This time the whole was placed in the base of the container with the lid affixed after the raw coffee is inserted.  Don't know if you can see them, but i've also cut small holes into this container.

This time I roasted for 2mins checking the roast every 30 seconds.

I hit the first crack at around 1:30 and finnished the roast at 2mins exactly. This is what came out.

By no means perfect, but no too bad for a second attempt. This however, is what the container looked like.

Clearly some more work is needed here, but the coffee didn't look all the bad. So I removed the obviousely scorched beans and ground the rest in the k10, set for a cupping.

As the coffee was some really old green beans that had been lurking in the back of my coffee cupboard, i'll save you from any tasting notes as they'd really be of no use, suffice to say that the coffee tasted like coffee. Just as it should. Nothing deeply culinary about it, but not too bad at all.

The next step will be getting some fresh green whose profile I understand, and so will be able to compare against. And yet another revision of the drum. It seems that it was the direct heat from the actual beans that melted the plastic, and not the ambiant heat of the atmospere or gas. Consequently i think the next revision will be cutting out some silicon based bakeware to fit into the plastic drum/container and thus, remove any direct contact with the plastic. Hopefully this'll help distribute the surface heat more evenly and result in less scorching of the beans, but only time will tell.

Microwave roasted coffee (it was only a matter of time) pt.1

Spawned by an interesting thread at a local forum, and after being unable to find much on the topic, I thought it might be interesting to investigate the possibilities of roasting coffee in a microwave. Really it doesn't seem that crazy an idea (to me anyway), and after a quick wiki search the following description is found:

"A microwave oven, or microwave, is a kitchen appliance that can come in many different sizes and styles employing microwave radiation primarily to cook or heat food. This is accomplished by using microwaves, almost always emitted from a magnetron, to excite water (primarily) and other polarized molecules within the food to be heated. This excitation is fairly uniform, leading to food being heated everywhere all at once (except in thick objects), a feature not seen in any other heating technique."

Hmm, sounds promising, so it's off to the drawing board to figure this out.
In order to roast coffee you need heat, and aggitation.  Obviousely the heat comes from the microwaves, and the only form of aggitation available (without shaking the whole microwave) is a small rotating wheel at the base of the Microwave.
The answer seemed simple, turn the microwave on it's side and rig a small 'drum' to the rotating wheel.  The 'drum' in this case is a small sour cream tub (with a few divets cut into it to further agitate the beans and allow for some air flow) with the lid attached to the base wheel.

Now beans in the container and the whole thing is fixed onto the lid in the microwave.

I shut the door, set the timer to 8mins and away we go...

Thirty seconds later I open the door (the smell tipped me off) and discover this

Hmmm, clearly this drum has some flaws ;P Here's a shot of the beans to illustrate the consistancy and roast level at 30 seconds.

Clearly some work is needed, but at least we've seen that it is posible to use a microwave to roast beans.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Pura Milk Jugs

Now I know these aren't new, but I haven't seen much posted about them so I thought I'd comment my two cents worth.  Now these have been designed with the aid of David Makin (the current Australian Barista Champion) and so when I first heard about these I was very excited.  However, to be fair, these have been design for the masses, and not specialty coffee nutters so I have to keep my judgment fair.

The first thing I noticed about these (besides how colourful they are!)  is the damn size of them.  AFAIK they only come in 1ltr, which is absurb, even for those 16oz buckets of coffee.  And though they are fairly forgiving in terms of different quantities of milk to be textured, they do work best foaming 600mls at a time.

The next most noticable thing is definately the shape (for which many jokes can be made).  This shape does however make it almost impossible not to create a fantastic tornado effect while texturing your milk which is fantastic for awesome microfoam.  The spout here does let the whole thing down however.  It makes precise latte art hard, but for traditional cap's the foam falls into the cup quite well.

On to the 'ergonomic' handles.  Hate them!  I've seen these on quite a few different milk jugs aimed at the domestic market and personally find better control of the jug with a closer hugging handle.  Personally I don't see what positive function these handles achieve, but it's probably related to minimising RSI.

On to the overview;  They make suppurbly microfoamed cappuccino milk, aided by the shape of the jug and and sheer volume of the milk being heated.  However, I would have loved to have seen these jugs with a phat, alessi stlyed, pouring lip to aid with the latte art, and smaller sizes available.  But they certainly serve their purpose well, and I think they're a great step towards to the systematic genocide of the old school westfields/90's/sea froth that we're all down right scared of.

Here below are some pictures of the jug in action and the quality it produces plus a short video (I must apologise for the quality, i shot the whole thing on my phone with one hand while trying to do the rest with the other ;)


Take that, Soy decaf latte!!

Sorry the pic is so small. Just snapped this pic and blogged it from my fone while eating breakfast.

Source: the advertiser, page4

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Happy 3rd birthday Simply Coffee!!

Last saturday marked a milestone 3 years roasting and trading at Simply Coffee, located in rundle st, kent town. Passionate owners Peter and lucy's boutique and very hands on approach to coffee roasting have made this place a favourite coffee haunt of mine and countless other regulars for many years now. In fact, it was the very first place we went to from the hospital when my son (pictured above celebrating) was born, even before going home!!
I wish peter, lucy and sally all the very best in the future and urge you all to pop in and wish them well.
While you're there check out peter's panama, kenya or yirgacheffe which are all big on my list of favourites, or ask them nicely to blend you up some 'champion blend'. Which I used to to serve up my espresso's at the 2008 state comp.

Once again congratulations and well done on 3 exciting years of roasting, and here's wishing you many many more!!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Png robusta

Just a quick little post about this little gem i tried the other day at the Coffee Barun .  This robusta from PNG (i'm unsure of the exact region but feel free to ask/comment if you're really interested and I'll find out) shows suprisingly clean flavours and poises itself as a great alternative from the monsooned malabar we're all used to.
I'm not usually a big fan of robusta's (in any percentage) though they do have their place, and by no means does this change my oppinion greatly (perhapse widens it slightly though).  However i was suprised by the slight sweetness and defined acidity this brought in the cup.  Initially I was even getting some soft berry notes with a lingering cocao finnish though this was all but lost as the coffee aged just a few days.
So added to a blend fresh off the roast, it can bring a fantastic touch to an already great blend of coffee, and certainly boost it's profile through milk, but without the harsh or very abrupt flavours that can exist within this varietal.
Another greatly suprising coffee.

Friday, 16 May 2008

R miguel meets the aeropress.

Finally the coffee I ordered from r miguel in minnesota has arrived, and with a cheeky little bonus of around 150gms of ka'u from hawaii. So it was straight out with the aeropress to get buzzing. At 8 days off the roast and without aust customs manhandling my coffee like they did last time i was very excited to get grinding and start brewing.  Method of choice for today, the aeropress, a very simple coffee brewing device that i love for it's ease of use, cleanliness and ability to imitate (not replicate) many different styles of coffee brewing.

I decided to brew using both the standard method (as per the instructions that come with the unit that everyone seems to have a problem with) and mark prince's preferred aeropress method (see here) which we'll call the inverstion process.

First off, the inversion method and Wow, what a cup!  On the nose you're immediately met with a lush, tropical fruit salad and a very interesting background aroma of macadamia (something i've never experienced with such certainty in coffee).  Its flavour is filled with lots of sour, ripe tropical fruits that meld together to create a great melange of flavour, dominated by mango.   This was an exciting coffee that i'd love to enjoy for breakfast with a big bowl of fruit in summer time, maybe even iced.

Now on to the standard method;  What i found here was a much more rounded fruit (still very tropical) flavour, very lush and mouth watering.  All nuances of macadamia were lost, but a very pronounced mango still remained, bringing with it a very pleasant but bright sweetness.

To compare the end result of the two brewing methods, i'd have to say that i found the inversion method a lot more interesting, with greater clarity of flavour in the cup.  Though with the increased intensity of flavour brewed here it bordered on being almost sickly.  I must say that I enjoyed the result from the standard method a little more.  While some nuances were lost, or at least subdued, the final result was a great deal more balanced and enjoyable.

The Next step will be espresso and i can't wait!!

Monday, 5 May 2008

And the winner is... ABC'08

Huge day today!! Between the extremely high level of competition and the havoc caused by my son, it was an exciting but exhausting day all round!!
For me, the real standouts were
1) hazels performance; immaculate, with so many creative ideas
2)David Makins purpose built...well...everything was pretty crazy to watch. A very purposful and well thought out performance.
3)Jen's Sig drink, so delciousely porty, such a fantastic post dinner drink. 4)the passion and dedication of everybody here on the day!
5) Anne's table setup, my wallet felt empty just looking at it!
Check out the photo's here, they're pretty impressive.
After a bit of controversy and a whole lot of fun it was the Big favourite, David Makin who took the title with a huge score of 848!! Con (Vic) came in second with Jen (WA) in a very deserving third (only half a point separated the two!!). I'm somewhere down the line which i'll post about soon, but for know i'm busy enjoying the lingering aftertaste of a well made comp.

And the winner is... Open heat

After a day of impressive performances it was con who stole the show and came up on top for the open heat. That means two competitors from Vic in the Nationals tomorrow. A great performance from habib maarbani and catherine ferrari for their winning performances at the latte art and cupping comps!!

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Keeping it gangsta', david Seng.

Looking very shmik in his 1950's gangsta two piece. David scored very highly at the melboure regionals and has certainly paved his way well for a great competition career to come.

Con, the definate favourite today

Huge latte art, though looking a little thin on the cap's. A very polished routine, it'll be interesting to see how the judges place him.

Opens under way!!

Here is vanessa from epic in perth showing the judges how they roll in wa. A great competitor, many more to come