Espresso with honey

Related entries in Brewing tips, Recipes with Coffee

Now, here is something I have not tried: espresso with honey. Don't know why I didn't think of it before. I do like things sweet, after all.

Well, Coffee Kid Mark Prince did think of it. Seriously. Trying 15 types of honey to find the one that was perfect with espresso. His final choice: Volcano Island Honey.

Here is Mark's recipe for the perfect honey espresso:

One heaping demitasse spoon (probably less than a teaspoon) of the honey, dripped into a preheated cup. Sit the cup in a bath of boiled water, so the honey melts. Prep your shot - I pull a very short double - about 45-55ml. Brew the shot right into the cup on top of the honey. They won't mix, even though the honey is melted, so place the cup on a saucer, and stir with the demitasse spoon you used to dish out the honey.

Sounds amazing. Can't wait to try it. Will need to figure out where in Vancouver I can get it done this way though :) Ideas?

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Cooling Coffee Beans after Home Roasting

Related entries in Brewing tips, Coffee Education

INeedCoffee's James Cameron has a very good intro to how to cool your coffee beans after self-roasting. He says that it is the most overlooked part of home roasting.

The process of roasting your own coffee beans is easy once you have a basic understanding of how it works. Home roasting is catching on rapidly and has been touted as the fastest growing hobby in the United States today. While simple, it does require some knowledge to produce roasts that are truly great. Understanding the entire process is mandatory in order to deliver the ultimate cup of coffee.

The number one problem in producing great coffee roasted at home is the failure to cool the roast quickly after roasting. Coffee is ”roasted” rather than “baked” and for good reason...

I've yet to try home roasting. I'm actually rather intimidated by it, since I am becoming rather picky about my coffee. So, that said, I think there is a lot to be learned. Maybe, after I soak up some knowledge on the topic, I'll be able to dive in.

James says that roasting at high heat quickly will allow convection between the beans and the heat, so the beans never really 'bake,' a process which can make them taste rather flat. They need to crack, and this won't happen in the bake situation. So, the same baking happens if you do not cool your beans properly. By not cooling them quickly, you are effectively allowing them to bake themselves past their peak point. This is why the roasters have those serious fast spin cycles to toss and cool the beans.

James makes a good point with home roasters. How the heck are you supposed to cool your beans in the same chamber they were just roasted in? That's insane!

So, James takes his knowledge of using sample roasters to come up with an idea for an effective way for everyone to cool their beans. He has instructions for how to build a cooling pan at home really easily over on his site or visit his site for great home roast info.

Easy easy to clean your coffee grinder: rice!

Related entries in Brewing tips
Yeah I know, sounds nuts.  I don't know where I picked it up but it does work.  This trick is intended for the blade-type grinders.  I also just did this so I know it works great.  So, you simply put a scant 1/4 of dry rice (use cheap rice, not your exotic jasmine rice) in the grinder and grinder away.  The dry rice scours the grinding area and picks up stray coffee too.  You wouldn't believe how shiny and clean my grinder is right now.  I dump the remnants into the compost pail (the rice is now basically seed meal) and wipe out the grinding area and lid (which doesn't get all that clean) with a paper towel or cloth.
This cleaning trick works great if you have to use your grinder to grind spices.  You keep the coffee out of the spice and the spice out of your coffee.  It also is good to do once and a while to get old rancid gunk out as well.
Give it a shot!

Tris Hussey is the Chief Blogging Officer for Qumana Software and Managing Director of Qumana Services.  He can be reached at tris AT qumana DOT com or tris AT trishussey DOT com.
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Green Coffee

Related entries in Brewing tips

Green Coffee sells, direct, green beans for you to roast at home.

Here are the 5 suggested methods of roasting:

1. with a home coffee roaster (they recommend Freshroast Plus)
2. in a popcorn popper
3. with a heat gun in a stainless steel bowl
4. on the stovetop in a wok or cast iron pan
5. in the oven

If you want further instructions, email me and I will supply.

Freshroast Plus:

Here is Roland's podcast with Green Coffee.

Barista tip: prime the mug!

Related entries in Brewing tips

A great tip for making your coffee experience extra special. Make sure to prime your cups. What does this mean? Just sit some hot water in the cup for a bit, then empty it before serving. This will make the cup nice and warm.

Why do this? So the heat from the coffee is not dissipated into the cold cup!

This is also very important to us consumers at coffee shops - please make sure our personal mugs/travel mugs get primed prior to serving! Cheers!

Barista tip: don't serve by the rim

Related entries in Brewing tips

A great tip from gauperaa - don't serve us coffee by holding the rim of the cup.

Please, at all times, always serve by the cup handle, holding the full cup, or by using a saucer. Remember where our lips must go!

Funny observation, but true.

Travel French press...real life field test

Related entries in Accessories, Brewing tips, Coffee Machines
I was in Vancouver yesterday and my portable French press came with me--of course!  I also found the website for the company--PlanetaryDesign--though the style I have doesn't seem to be available any more--coffee storage in the bottom.  So how did it perform?  Very well.  It started off with regular coffee and the regular lid--the mug holds almost a full four cup pot, btw--and as you would expect it kept the coffee warm for a good long time.
Later in the afternoon, when I needed a nice pick me up, I pulled out my little reseviour of Rhumba, heated some water, and press-to1!  Coffee!  Usually, I have to say, I'm not a fan of French press coffee black., but this was okay.  Next time I'll make sure the water is quite hot and add some milk before I put the plunger lid on.
A good travel mug for sure!
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Melita/Cone brewing tips

Related entries in Brewing tips
According to Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen the cone brewing system made popular by Melita is the best way to brew...for now.  Okay so what's the best way to do it?
The key, they say, is for your coffee to be done brewing in 4-6 mins and using something like 180 deg F water.  Now I neither time my brewing or test my water for temperature, but I have found that if I make coffee in my 2 cup cone filter in the following way I get a great cup.
My favourite mugs are 1.5 cup mugs.  Don't know why, just happens to be so.  So I heat 1 2/3 cups of water up in the microwave.  Regardless of what you think of microwave energy, this is an energy efficient way to heat the water.  My microwave takes about 4 mins to get the water to the right temperature.
So while the water is heating I either scoop two scoopers (the little conical coffee measures) of ground coffee or two scoops of beans.  Grind, if needed, other wise I put the coffee into a #2 unbleached coffee filter in my little 2c holder.  I like unbleached filters for environmental reasons, not only am I not supporting the use of chlorine in the bleaching process, I compost the filter and ground and don't want it in my garden, thank you.  That being said Thrifty Foods sells cone filters bleached with ozone (O3) or hydrogen peroxide (H2O2).  These are fine and used a whole pack and didn't notice any odd flavours in my coffee.
Okay once the water is hot I pour enough to cover all the grounds well then stop.  I let this drain through and site for about another minute.  This gives the grounds a chance to moisten and expand.  Coffee grounds are hydro-phobic (repel water), so this step helps the brewing process tremendously.
Once the grounds are good and wet, I pour in the rest of the water, slowly.  If I'm careful and go relatively slowly I can get the rest of the water in this way without a pause.  Then I wait, and often forget, for it to finish.  When all the water has perked through you're done.  Now, this is all going into the mug I'm going to drink out of, so if you're brewing into a larger vessel, you'll have to pour in stages or the cone will overflow (bad, and messy).
I'm a stickler for the proper water to coffee ratio, so if I had a larger cone and vessel I'd either still heat the water in the microwave or heat it in a tea kettle and pour into a measuring cup (this would also cool the boiling water a bit so you don't overbrew your coffee making a bitter cup).
Hope this helps you make a great up o' Joe!
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Grinder out of whack?

Related entries in Brewing tips

If you have a grinder, it may not be doing its job, especially if it's not tuned properly. A good shot of espresso needs a fine grind. It needs to achieve that crucial 25second shot for most midrange espresso machines.

All the tips you need for your grinder are here!

Thanks Coffee, Tea or Blog? for the link!

America's Test Kitchens does: The 'New' Coffee Makers

Related entries in Brewing tips, Coffee Machines, Espresso Machines
Okay so how much are you willing to spend on a coffee maker?  And is a $200 coffee maker going to make a better cup of coffee than your basic Melita cone on a cup?  America's Test Kitchen--PBS Cooking show--recently did some testing on The 'New' Coffee Makers (free registration required).  So they tested some of the cool new machines, including vacuum method ones that don't look like a bad piece of lab equipment ready to shatter if you put anything other than the best coffee in them.  Their verdict?  These new vacuum ones produce coffee, strong and rich, in the optimum 4-6 minute range, but cost a lot.  They also say that if you like "weak American style coffee" the cone filters are still tops.  There is still hope for the perfect cup, though...they're still looking for coffee Valhalla.
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